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Dicks v. New Jersey Automobile Full Underwriting Association

Decided: January 24, 1992.

DWAYNE R. DICKS AND CAROLINE DICKS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW JERSEY AUTOMOBILE FULL UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT



Menza, J.s.c.

Menza

MENZA, J.S.C.

The question presented in this case is whether the trial Judge or an arbitrator decides the issue of whether an insured has met the verbal threshold where the insured seeks arbitration under the uninsured motorist (UM) provision of his policy.

There are no New Jersey cases which have decided this issue.

The facts are these:

Plaintiff was injured as a result of an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist. He now seeks, by way of an Order to Show Cause, to compel defendant to arbitrate his claim under the UM provision of his policy. Defendant refuses to arbitrate contending that the plaintiff has failed to meet the verbal threshold.

The policy provides:

We do not provide coverage under this endorsement for property damage or bodily injury sustained by any person:

2. For non-economic loss for bodily injury caused by an accident involving an uninsured motor vehicle unless that person has sustained an injury or incurred the medical expenses described under the tort option that applies in accordance with the NJ no-fault law.

The policy also provides:

If we and a covered person do not agree:

1) whether that person is legally entitled to recover damages under this endorsement; or

2) as to the amount of damages; either party may make a written demand for arbitration.

Defendant refuses to arbitrate arguing that the issue of whether the insured has met the verbal threshold is an issue of law which must be resolved by the courts before arbitration may begin. Plaintiff responds that New York law, the recommended reference for the interpretation of New Jersey law,*fn1 as well as New Jersey ...


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