Case Alert: November 2002
Appellate Division Applies Oswin Standards to Post-AICRA Verbal Threshold Claims
On November 6, 2002 the Appellate Division handed down a pair of important decisions which will affect the handling of all auto accident bodily injury claims subject to the verbal threshold. Rios v. Szivos and James v. Torres recognize the continued vitality of both the summaryjudgment model and the “serious impact” requirement imposed by the landmark pre-AICRA case of Oswin v. Shaw.
The Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act of 1998 (AICRA) added the requirement that a plaintiff subject to the verbal threshold file a treating or certified physician’s certification of permanent injury. The plaintiff’s bar interpreted the certification provision as precluding consideration of a summary judgment motion whenever a plaintiff has submitted an adequate certification. Many trial courts accepted this argument and refused to consider summary judgment motions in the face of an appropriate certification – even in the context of cases which the courts agreed would have been dismissed under the “old” verbal threshold! [MORE]