Old Case, Good Law, Does Away with “Serious Life Impact” in Oswin v. Shaw

Climbing Mt. Everest on a pogo stick 

N.J. Supreme Court Case, DiProperous

Be done with Oswin v. Shaw

The prior version of the current limitation on lawsuit threshold was a nightmare for accident victims and their attorneys. In addition to pigeonholing your client’s injury into one of nine statutory categories, the Supremes held in  Oswin v. Shaw, 129 N.J. 290 (1999), the N.J. legislature intended an accident victim prove her injuries caused a serious impact on her life.

According to The N.J. Supreme Court decision in DiProspero v. Penn, 183 N.J. 477 (2005), the serious life impact test did not survive the enactment of AICRA:

The plain language of N.J.S.A.39:6A-8(a) does not contain a serious life impact standard. Nothing In AICRA’s preamble, its legislative history, or its policy objectives suggest that the Legislature intended this Court to write in that standard. The Appellate Division judgment is reversed and the matter remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Aside from the holding…

It is enlightening to read the manner in which the N.J. Supreme Court discovers the legislative intent to abandon the “serious life impact” test  of Oswin, supra.

Our analysis begins with the plain language of the statute. The language of the limitation on lawsuit threshold requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant caused a bodily injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement or significant scarring; displaced fractures; loss of a fetus; or a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement. In this case, DiProspero has alleged a permanent injury. The statutory language places no burden on plaintiff other than to prove that the injury meets one of the threshold categories. Given the unique historical background of AICRA and he prior judicial construction of a predecessor statute-the 1988 verbal threshold, we will also examine relevant canons of statutory construction, AICRA’s preamble, the Sponsors’ Statement to the bill, the Governor’s condition veto of AICRA, and the policy considerations undergirding the legislation to see whether they point to an interpretation different from the clear language of the statute

N.J. car accident lawyer

Ssssh....I'm thinking


Did the Supreme Court guess right? The N.J. Supremes must have been right on the money with this decision, or the NJ legislature would have revised AICRA. The Supremes and the Legislature have little difficulty correcting each other’s “mistakes.”

You may wish to read this entire decision.


About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information and beating NYC parking tickets for the driving community in NYC

One Response to “Old Case, Good Law, Does Away with “Serious Life Impact” in Oswin v. Shaw”

  1. In the U.K personal injury is big business, upto 3 years ago claims for personal injury were given to the highest bidder not the best solicitor for the victim. The Government introduced a scheme to reduce this highest bidder and regulated the industry though not all claims management companies adhere most do. Maybe in the U.S.A the Government should affer a similar scheme. Please direct your readers to personal injury solicitor belfast maybe we could offer some advice to them.


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