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Emma v. Romano

Decided: September 11, 1975.

MARY EMMA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH R. ROMANO, DEFENDANT



Bilder, J.s.c.

Bilder

This matter arises out of a rear-end automobile accident in which plaintiff passenger in the front car alleges she was injured as a result of the negligence of the driver of the rear car. Defendant, in addition to his denial of negligence, has asserted as a separate defense that plaintiff's injuries were confined to the soft tissue and her medical expenses were less than $200, the threshold established under our No Fault Act, thus barring her claim pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8.

It appears from the uncontroverted affidavits that the accident occurred when the car in which plaintiff was riding was struck in the rear when it stopped at an intersection to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle traveling on the intersecting street.

Plaintiff brings a motion for summary judgment as to the issue of liability, arguing that there is no genuine issue as to the negligence of the defendant. Plaintiff has joined

this with a motion to strike the separate defense, and defendant has brought a cross-motion for summary judgment on the basis of the same defense. All of the relevant facts have been stipulated with respect to the question of whether the statutory threshold has been met.

Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to her left index finger and back. The accident occurred on November 18, 1974.

Initially she was seen by a doctor who rendered a bill of $55. This doctor treated her for the injuries to her finger from November 19, 1974 until he discharged her December 18, 1974. His bill was for four office visits, each of which encompassed treatment.

Thereafter, on January 3, 1975 she was seen by an orthopedic surgeon who rendered a bill for $160. His bill included $125 for three office visits and four physiotherapy treatments. There was in addition a $35 charge for an X-ray of the lumbosacral spine taken on the occasion of the first office visit.

Thus plaintiff's bills without the X-ray charge total $180 -- less than the threshold provided by N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8. With the X-ray charge included plaintiff's bills exceed $200 and her claim is not barred.

Plaintiff argues that the statute does not exclude X-rays from the medical expenses unless solely diagnostic. It is her contention that the X-ray in this case, although diagnostic, should be considered as part of the doctor's ongoing treatment and included within the threshold amount, citing Harris v. Osorio , 125 N.J. Super. 463 (Law Div. 1973), supplemented 125 N.J. Super. 468 (Law Div. 1973). She does not contend the X-ray was given as therapy.

N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8, a part of the New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act -- more commonly known as our No-Fault Act -- provides as follows:

Every owner, registrant, operator or occupant of an automobile to which section 4, personal injury protection ...


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