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Qualified Physician Must Review MRI Film To Overcome NJ Verbal Threshold

March 5, 2009

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In the recent decision of <i>Agha v. Feiner</i>, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an MRI report must be supported by the trial testimony of a physician qualified to read the report before the MRI may be accepted as proof of plaintiff’s injuries. In <i>Agha</i>, the plaintiff’s MRI showed a herniated disc, but neither of his two medical expert witnesses had reviewed the actual MRI film (one of the witnesses had never viewed the film and the other was not qualified to read MRIs). Thus, the Supreme Court held that the MRI report could not be introduced as objective evidence that the plaintiff had suffered a herniated disc. More importantly, pursuant to the New Jersey Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA, <i>i.e.</i> New Jersey’s no fault statute that sets forth the verbal threshold standard) a physician must certify that a plaintiff has sustained a permanent injury based upon “objective clinical evidence” in order for the plaintiff to overcome the AICRA verbal threshold. Often, such evidence comes in the form of x-rays, MRI’s or other film studies. Thus, the Court determined in <i>Agha</i> that to pass the New Jersey verbal threshold based upon injuries observed in MRI film studies, a plaintiff must provide the trial testimony of a physician who has: 1) reviewed the film and 2) is qualified to read MRIs.
Thanks to Claudia Condruz for her contribution to this post.
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