This motion presents the question of whether a plaintiff uninsured driver may, in a tort damage trial, offer evidence of damages which an insured plaintiff would have recovered under personal injury protection (PIP) benefits of the New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act. N.J.S.A. 39:6A-1 et seq. This issue is unresolved by the act and has not been determined by any court.
N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 provides:
Evidence of the amounts collectible or paid pursuant to sections 4 and 10 of this act to an injured person is inadmissible in a civil action for recovery of damages for bodily injury by such injured person.
Defendant contends that this section forecloses plaintiff from proving or recovering any damages which would have been
recoverable under a PIP policy if plaintiff had been insured. Defendant argues that (1) "collectible" refers to those benefits plaintiff would have collected if insured, and (2) the Legislature intended to penalize plaintiffs who failed to comply with the compulsory insurance scheme by denying them PIP type damages. This court does not agree.
The legislative intent must be determined by an examination of the purposes of this legislation. New Jersey P.B.A., Local 29 v. Irvington , 80 N.J. 271, 282-283 (1979); Asbury Park Bd. of Ed. v. Hoek , 38 N.J. 213, 231 (1962). It has often been stated that the purpose of automobile "no fault" legislation was to insure prompt reimbursement to injured persons without the necessity of proving fault. Cirelli v. Ohio Cas. Ins. Co. , 72 N.J. 380, 386 (1977); Hagains v. Government Employees Ins. Co. , 150 N.J. Super. 576, 580-581 (Law Div. 1977); Iavicoli, No Fault & Comparative Negligence in New Jersey , at 89 (1973). The court in Hoglin v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. , 144 N.J. Super. 475 (App.Div.1976), said:
The purpose of our No Fault Law, as of most no fault legislation, is to afford reparation or at least partial reparation for the objectively provable economic losses resulting from automobile accidents. See Am.Jur. 2d, No Fault Insurance , § 1 at 3 (New Topic Service, 1973). Our law requires prompt payment of medical expenses, lost wages, essential services, survivor benefits and funeral expenses to certain classes of persons injured in an automobile accident without regard to negligence, liability or fault and without having to await the outcome of protracted litigation. N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4 and 39:6A-5. See Ortiz v. Safeco , 136 N.J. Super. 532, 535 (Law Div. 1975, mod. on other grounds 144 N.J. Super. 506 (App.Div.1976); Harris v. Osorio , 125 N.J. Super. 468, 469 (Law Div. 1973). [at 479-480]
The Supreme Court has indicated that N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 should not result in double recovery.
A corollary of this principle was the statutory recognition that the injured person who was the beneficiary of the PIP payments could not and should not recover from the tortfeasor the medical, hospital and other losses for which he had already been reimbursed. See N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12. Otherwise he would have ...