Robertelli Obtains Summary Judgment for Auto Owner’s Insured

December 23, 2019 | Insurance Coverage

In a case where Plaintiff alleged a traumatic brain injury with post-traumatic neurological deficits, John Robertelli obtained a dismissal of all Plaintiff’s claims by way of summary judgment based upon the statutory bar contained in New Jersey’s No Fault Law that prevents suits by uninsured drivers in New Jersey.

Initially, Plaintiff provided information indicating that he was insured by an auto policy issued by Liberty Mutual on the date of the accident. Subsequently it was revealed that the Liberty Mutual policy was cancelled prior to the date of the accident, rendering Plaintiff uninsured.

A Motion for Summary Judgment was filed based upon the statutory bar contained in N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(a), which bars all claims for both personal injuries and property damage where a claimant is a driver or a passenger of an uninsured vehicle. The Motion was heard by the Honorable Henry P. Butehorn J.S.C. in Monmouth County.

In granting the Motion, Judge Butehorn adopted our arguments across the board and held that, given the legislative intent behind N.J.S.A 39:6A-4.5(a) and the analysis of the statute as explained by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the statute provides an absolute bar to any claim made by an uninsured driver or the passenger of an uninsured motor vehicle for personal injuries or property damage.

Judge Butehorn also rejected all “equitable” arguments made by Plaintiff in that he was unaware that he was uninsured and/or conversely, that he made that fact known to Defendants early on in the litigation. Judge Butehorn went on to state that Plaintiff was neither forthright nor prompt in providing his insurance information to Defendants and the fact that Plaintiff was uninsured on the day of the accident was not revealed until Counsel was pressed by Defendant.

Judge Butehorn concluded that the principles of statutory construction and the legislative intent behind the statute do not create an exception where a claimant alleges that he was not made aware of the policy cancellation by his auto insurer. Judge Butehorn added that there is no reference in the legislative history or in the statutory construction of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(a) that Plaintiff’s knowledge or fault creates an exception to the statutory bar or that it be required that Plaintiff was “ culpably uninsured” for the bar to apply.

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