The New Jersey Legislature is working on a new bill that would eliminate counsel fees and costs for violations of the state's Consumer Fraud Act that are technical in nature. Typically, if your consumer rights are violated, you can file a claim in court and recoup your attorney fees and costs. However, this new bills tries to eliminate counsel fees and costs being paid in Consumer Fraud cases involving technical errors on the contractor's end and did not result in any ascertainable loss to the victim or consumer.
The original purpose of the act was to ensure that victims of consumer fraud had greater access to legal representation by allowing the person at fault to cover the legal bill. Under this new bill, this same luxury will not exist, which means the contractor will either get away with it or the consumer will need to figure out a way to pay for expensive litigation.
We will update you if this bill is passes and the law changes.
The following scenario is quite common:
-Plaintiff is driving, minding her own business. She stops for traffic, when all of a sudden, she is rear ended by another vehicle. She is shaken by the accident, but doesn't go to the emergency room or a doctor right away because maybe it will heal on its own with rest. Her injuries do not heal and she finally makes an appointment with a doctor. Her shoulder and hip hurt a lot. Her doctor orders an MRI and it turns out her shoulder and hip both have a tear. She follows the recommended treatment, but it doesn't help the shoulder. Finally, the only option is shoulder surgery. The woman goes to see an attorney and finds out she has a limitation on lawsuit option selected on her policy. She pursues her claim with the attorney, except the auto insurance carrier, Allstate, will not pay her for her injuries. She sues and has a trial.
What happens next in this woman's case is not the average case. Her attorney tries the case and the jury finds that her injuries meet that language of the verbal threshold statute and award her money. In 9 out of 10 cases in New Jersey, a jury does not award any money to a plaintiff with a limitation on lawsuit option. However, this case was different because we are talking about a shoulder that needed and had surgery. This changes the ball game. Allstate rolled the nice by delaying paying this woman for her injuries and a jury rewarded the woman with a $200,000 award. The jury said her injury was permanent, which is needed to pierce the limitation on lawsuit option in this case.
Kristy L. Bruce enjoys the satisfaction of helping change someones life for the better. She hopes you enjoy this blog.