Proof of serious life impact not part of AICRA – DiProspero v. Penn

In the landmark case of Oswin v. Shaw, 129 N.J. 290 (1992), the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that in order for a plaintiff to maintain an action under the verbal threshold for pain and suffering, he or she would have to prove the injury in question fit within one or more of nine statutorily defined categories and that the victim had suffered a “serious life impact.” In 1998, the Legislature enacted the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA) N.J.S.A. 39:6A-1.1 et seq. which replaced the verbal threshold with a so-called limitation on lawsuit threshold, N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a).

AICRA contains only six categories of serious injuries and no statutory requirement of a “serious life impact.” Given the enormous impact that Oswin v. Shaw had on the Legislature in enacting AICRA, was it the Legislature’s intention to require that plaintiffs continue to establish a “serious life impact” as a result of the accident and injury? In essence, is the entire holding of Oswin v. Shaw part of AICRA?

This morning, in an opinion written by Justice Albin, the Justices ruled that the “serious impact” element required by Oswin v. Shaw IS NOT part of AICRA and accordingly, plaintiffs have no need to offer proof on this issue in suits for pain and suffering resulting from an automobile accident.

There is no doubt that the opinion in this case, captioned DiProspero v. Penn will have an immediate, serious life impact on both the plaintiffs’ and automobile insurance defense bar in New Jersey and may spark additional legislation related to AICRA.

Download a copy of DiProspero v. Penn

Category: Muni-Mail Archive