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Plaintiff Fails to Satisfy NJ Threshold Statute

September 9, 2016

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In New Jersey, motor vehicle accident plaintiffs must establish they were permanently injured to satisfy a defendant’s threshold motion.
In <a href="http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a2050-14.pdf"><em>Peek v. Luo</em></a>, the plaintiff was struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bike.  Plaintiff filed suit alleging permanent injuries, and served an affidavit from his treating physician stating that he sustained scarring of his lung and decreased lung function.  However, plaintiff did not serve a medical expert report certifying that he sustained a permanent injury.
The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to meet the requirements of the verbal threshold statute in New Jersey, which requires the plaintiff to establish that he sustained a permanent injury.  The trial court granted defendant’s motion, finding the treating doctor’s affidavit was insufficient. The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, along with an expert report from a second medical doctor opining that the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury.  The court denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, noting that the plaintiff should have served the expert report during the discovery period.
On appeal, the court agreed that the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration should have be denied since, at the time of the initial dismissal, plaintiff had not yet provided objective, credible evidence proving a permanent injury.
This case highlights the importance of the defense monitoring whether a claimant has met the requirements of the verbal threshold statute.  The case also highlights the importance of serving a timely medical expert report.
Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.
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