Statute Of Limitations Not Extended By NJ Court For Accident Victim

In a decision last week, an NJ court ruled that the statute of limitations in a NJ personal injury case, as a result of a NJ car accident, will not be extended by the “Discovery Rule” in an NJ verbal threshold – limited tort injury case.

In a typical New Jersey car accident – NJ personal injury case, a Plaintiff has two (2) years to bring a lawsuit against the person or entity that negligently caused the Plaintiff’s injuries. The Discovery Rule, which is recognized in many states, permits people to extend the two-year statute of limitations if the injury could not have been discovered (for whatever reason) within the two-year post-accident period.

The NJ verbal threshold – limited tort law requires that a NJ physician certify (NJ Certificate of Permanency) the permanency of the injuries of a car accident victim.

The Plaintiff in this case attempted to extend the statute of limitations because he claimed that he was not certain that his injuries were permanent in the two-year period following the NJ car accident. The NJ Appellate Division did not agree with the Plaintiff and stated that the Plaintiff knew or should have known whether or not the injuries were permanent.

This case raises an interesting question. Because NJ car accident law requires a “permanent” type of injury in order to recover under the NJ limited tort – verbal threshold law, what happens if permanency, under medical standards or guidelines cannot be determined in this two year post-accident period? I think the courts should look at this issue on a case-by-case basis. What do you think?