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No Fault? No Problem (NJ)

June 13, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Liberty-v.-Penske.pdf">Liberty v. Penske</a></em>, the New Jersey Superior Court was asked to address whether: New Jersey’s No-Fault Act, N.J.S.A. 39:6A-9.1 compels arbitration when there is a disputed question of fact regarding whether a party is a tortfeasor.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">By way of background, in October 2016, a tractor trailer being operated by a CEVA employee collided with a pickup truck driven by Eugene Jerinsky in New Jersey. Jerinsky was injured as a result of the accident and subsequently obtained no fault benefits through Liberty Mutual, his insurance company. After all was said and done, Liberty Mutual requested that Ceva, who was self-insured at the time of the accident, reimburse the claim because its employee was at fault. Ceva declined and then Liberty Mutual requested an arbitration to arbitrate the reimbursement claim. Ceva again declined.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In September 2017, Liberty Mutual filed suit against Ceva. The main issue being whether the reimbursement claim should be heard by an arbitrator or a judge and jury. The lower court ruled in favor of Ceva, stating that a judge or jury had to first determine the employee’s fault before an arbitrator could hear a reimbursement claim. The appeals court disagreed. The court held that arbitrators can determine issues of fact. It stated that whether or not the Ceva employee was at fault involved a factual question of negligence. In the end Liberty Mutual was allowed to arbitrate the claim.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Long story short, this is a win for insurance companies in the State of New Jersey looking to arbitrate PIP reimbursement claims.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thank you to Marc Schauer for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:chayes@wcmlaw.com">Colleen E. Hayes</a> with any questions.</p>

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