On September 23, 2005, the claimant was in the course of his employment as an Essex County Sheriff's Officer, and was a passenger in a motor vehicle being operated by his co-employee. As his vehicle approached an intersection, another motor vehicle disregarded the stop sign controlling traffic in his direction of travel, causing a collision. Immediately following the collision, the investigating police officer requested that tortfeasor produce a valid insurance identification card. The tortfeasor could not produce a valid insurance card, and received a summons for operating an uninsured vehicle in violation of NJSA 39:6B-1.
During the collision, the air bag deployed, and the claimant's body was thrown backward and forward, which caused immediate pain to his neck and pressure over his right eye. Emergency services were called to the scene, and he was placed on a backboard and taken to the emergency room at University Hospital. Following discharge, he came under the care of an orthopedic surgeon due to complaints of right sided back discomfort and shooting pains down his right leg as well as neck pain. An MRI of the lumbar spine indicated aherniated disc at L5/S1 with right S1 nerve root compromise. The claimant underwent three epidural steroid injections at the S1 nerve root without significant relief. Due to continuing low back discomfort, the claimant underwent a right L5/S1 microdiscectomy and microdissection of the nerve root. The postoperative diagnosis was right L5-S1 extruded disk herniation.
The claimant continued with follow up care, but his symptoms persisted and he developed increased sciatica. A new MRI was ordered which indicated a recurrent right L5/S1 disc herniation. The claimant underwent a revision discectomy and decompression fusion. The claimant was eventually discharged from care with a final diagnosis causally related to the accident of right L5/S1 recurrent disc herniation.
Due to the extensive nature of claimant's injuries, he applied for and received State Accidental Disability. The claimant's vocational expert determined that as a result of the accident the claimant would lose a large amount of future income.
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