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Court Explains New York’s Serious Injury Threshold in Car Accident Cases

People injured in car accidents will often pursue claims against the person that caused the collision. Pursuant to New York law, though, people involved in car crashes can only recover damages if they suffer serious harm. Recently, a New York court discussed the serious injury threshold in a matter in which it ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. If you were harmed in a collision, you could be owed compensation, and you should consult a Rochester personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in a car crash. Specifically, the defendant, who was driving a tractor-trailer, rear-ended the plaintiff, who was driving an SUV. The plaintiff reportedly sustained injuries in the accident and, therefore, filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant driver and his employer. Following discovery, the defendants moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint via summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff had not demonstrated that he suffered a serious injury as required to recover damages. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

New York’s Serious Injury Threshold in Car Accident Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that under New York’s no-fault insurance system, people hurt in car accidents can only recover compensation if they sustain serious injuries. Serious injuries, the court noted, include personal injuries that result in permanent consequential limitation of use of a body part or organ, substantial limitation of a system or bodily function, or a medically determined impairment or injury that is non-permanent but prevents a person from performing all of their normal activities for at least 90 of the 180 days after the accident.

For injuries that allegedly fall under the permanent and significant categories, the courts require quantitative objective evidence with respect to the limitations, and the evidence offered must show that the limitations are not merely mild or slight. Objective evidence is also needed to establish non-permanent injuries. In the subject case, the court held that the defendant met its burden of producing competent medical evidence in support of its position that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury due to the accident. In response, however, the plaintiff failed to show objective evidence demonstrating that he suffered serious injuries in the accident. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Seasoned Rochester Personal Injury Lawyer

Car accidents can cause economic damages and bodily harm, and people hurt in collisions caused by negligent drivers can often recover compensation in personal injury lawsuits. If you were hurt in an auto accident, it is smart to talk to an attorney about what claims you may be able to pursue. The seasoned Rochester personal injury lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your options and assist you in seeking the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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