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Donnelly v. Foster

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


October 31, 2007

CHARLES J. DONNELLY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
VIOLA M. FOSTER, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND DON H. FOSTER, DEFENDANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Docket No. L-2309-03.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 3, 2007

Before Judges Wefing and Parker.

In this verbal threshold case, plaintiff appeals from a judgment entered after a jury awarded him medical expenses but denied his claims for non-economic loss because he failed to meet the verbal threshold. N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8a.

This action arises out of an accident that occurred on September 26, 2001 when plaintiff was operating a motorcycle and was struck by defendant at an intersection where defendant ran a red light.

Plaintiff's sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in entering an order on June 17, 2005, holding that he was subject to the verbal threshold. Plaintiff had moved to New Jersey less than a month before the accident. His vehicle, a 1997 Ford Probe, was registered in Georgia, where he had lived previously. The insurance on the Probe had lapsed for non-payment of the premium.

At the time of the accident, plaintiff was living with his parents but claimed he intended to return to Georgia. He did not own a vehicle registered in New Jersey. Although plaintiff claimed that he intended to return to Georgia, he did not retain a residence or an address in Georgia while he was living with his parents in New Jersey, and at the time of the accident, he was working in New Jersey. Auto insurance coverage was provided under his father's Allstate policy, which was subject to the verbal threshold.

Plaintiff argues that motor vehicle regulations do not require him to register his vehicles in New Jersey until he has lived in the state for sixty days. Since he was in the state fewer than thirty days, he maintains he had no requirement to register the vehicles here. That does not address the insurance issue, however. Since his Georgia insurance had lapsed for non-payment of the premium, he was uninsured at the time of the accident but for coverage under his father's Allstate policy. An immediate family member covered under an auto insurance policy cannot argue that he is covered by certain provisions of the policy - such as PIP - but not others - such as verbal threshold. Since plaintiff was covered under his father's policy for PIP purposes, the verbal threshold limitation in the Allstate policy applied to him as well. N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8.1a. ("The tort option elected shall apply to the named insured and any immediate family member residing in the named insured's household.") (Emphasis added).

We have carefully considered plaintiff's arguments in light of the applicable law and we are satisfied that they lack sufficient merit to warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Affirmed.

20071031

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