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Pinter v. Parsekian

Decided: October 31, 1966.

DREW PINTER, AN INFANT BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, KATHERINE PINTER, AND KATHERINE PINTER AND JOSEPH PINTER, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
NED J. PARSEKIAN, DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Gaulkin, Lewis and Labrecque. Labrecque, J.A.D.

Labrecque

Defendant appeals from judgments in favor of plaintiffs following a jury verdict.

On February 7, 1963 an automobile driven by Joseph Pinter in which Katherine Pinter, his wife, and Drew Pinter, his son, were passengers, was involved in a head-on collision with another driven by one Richard Solarczyk. The collision occurred on Solarczyk's side of the highway, and Pinter's presence

there was explained by the fact that his vehicle had been proceeding on its own proper side of the highway when the driver of an unidentified vehicle passed it on the right, forcing it, without impact, into the oncoming traffic lane where the accident occurred. The present action was instituted against the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles under the "hit and run" section of the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund Law, N.J.S.A. 39:6-78.

Joseph Pinter, the driver, died shortly before the trial from causes unrelated to the accident. The sole question raised on appeal is whether the trial judge erred in permitting plaintiffs' treating physician to testify as to a "history" obtained from decedent on February 15, 1963. We hold that he did.

Plaintiffs' sole medical witness was Dr. George F. Frederick, who saw Joseph Pinter on February 15, 1963. He was permitted to testify over objection:

"Q. And did Mr. Pinter give you a history of an accident that had occurred?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you give us that history, doctor?

A. On February 7, 1963, at 10:45 P.M. while travelling south on Amboy Avenue in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in the vicinity of the refineries, another car cut us off, forcing us over to the left side of the road * * * and an oncoming car hit us in the left front of the vehicle."

The rule is well settled that declarations of an injured person as to his condition, symptoms and feelings, made to a physician for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment, are admissible in evidence, State v. Gruich, 96 N.J.L. 202 (E. & A. 1921), while statements as to the cause of the symptoms or conditions are generally held to be inadmissible. Helminsky v. Ford Motor Co., 111 N.J.L. 369 (E. & A. 1933); Clayton v. Jersey Central Power & Light Co., 19 N.J. Super. 546, 555 (App. Div. 1952), certification denied ...


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