gavel.gif (3462 bytes) News from ATLA

New law governing NJ’s no-fault system may be bad for injured victims; Results of ABA poll on justice system

From the Association of Trial Lawyers of America President Mark S. Mandell


Many of you are familiar with New Jersey’s three-year insurance battle culminating with a bill passed last year essentially tightening the existing no-fault system. Following passage of this legislation, the insurance commissioner passed the rules and regulations to implement the legislation. Rather than provide you with the underlying language, which amounts to about three inches of paper, ATLA has prepared a copy of the Table of Contents along with a summary highlighting the major problems within the regulations.

You can see by the summary that the legislation that passed may only make New Jersey’s auto situation worse.

The regulations went into effect on March 22 despite a challenge by the New Jersey Coalition of Health Care Professionals on the underlying medical treatment restrictions. A hearing on that issue is pending on May 12 after the New Jersey Supreme Court denied a stay of implementation. Other insurance organizations, such as the American Insurance Association, have taken issue with the insurance commissioner’s mandatory 15 percent rate reduction. A stay on the commissioner’s order was initially granted by the Appellate Division, but subsequently overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The case is set for another April 1 hearing.

The insurance industry claims that the formula contained in the legislation will not possibly result in a 15 percent rate reduction. The commissioner’s response was that the insurers should forget the formula and simply implement a 15 percent rate reduction across the board. Meanwhile, the NJ Senate voted unanimously on March 22 in favor of the commissioner’s new regulation. A vote is pending in the Assembly.

The method used to implement the medical treatment restrictions in New Jersey is something that the insurance industry seems to be resorting to more often. Since they are less likely to pass something this extreme through the legislative process, although that is becoming more realistic, they are resorting to the regulatory process which may not necessarily require public hearings and input from those who are familiar with the tricks of the insurance industry. It is more important than ever to monitor what is taking place within the insurance commissioner's office in your state.

In other news, the American Bar Association has recently released the results of its national poll, which strongly favors the justice system (no distinction was made between civil and criminal). Among the highlights are:

-Personal experience (63%)
-School or college courses (59%)
-Books/library (58%)
-Jury duty (57%)
-Lawyers (43%)
-Materials available from courts (43%)
-Television news (41%)-Family (40%)

The entire report is available on the American Bar Association web site located at

I thought you might be interested in such positive results about the civil justice system.

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