Court Explains Serious Injuries Caused by Car Accidents as Defined by New York Law

Car crashes frequently cause cervical strain and sprain and other neck and back injuries. Whether such injuries are compensable depends, in part, on whether they are deemed serious as defined by New York Law. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion discussing what constitutes serious harm in a case in which the plaintiff was ultimately denied the right to recover damages. If you suffered injuries in a collision that was brought about by someone else’s negligence, you could be owed compensation, and it is prudent to speak to a skillful Buffalo car accident attorney regarding your potential damages.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff was involved in a collision with the defendant, which was her fourth car crash in five years. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that his negligent operation of a vehicle caused her to sustain a serious injury as defined by New York’s insurance laws. Following discovery, the plaintiff served the defendant with a bill of particulars alleging that she sustained serious injuries to her spine that significantly limited her bodily function. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiff had not, in fact, sustained a serious injury. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Serious Injuries Under New York Law

Under the No-Fault Law, the right to pursue non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a car accident is limited to those cases in which the individual suffered a serious injury. In turn, New York’s insurance laws define serious injuries as the consequential and permanent limitation of use of a member or organ and a substantial limitation of the function or use of a body system. In determining whether a limitation of a function or use is consequential or significant, the court will assess the medical significance of the injury and its qualitative nature or degree, based on the typical function, use, and purpose of the injured body part.

A defendant moving for summary judgment must establish that a plaintiff did not sustain a serious injury through competent evidence. If the defendant meets this threshold, the plaintiff must submit objective medical evidence that demonstrates there is a question of fact regarding whether an injury is serious. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant met his burden of proof with regard to establishing the plaintiff’s injury was not serious. The evidence the plaintiff submitted in response, however, did not demonstrate that a triable issue of fact existed. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Confer with a Dedicated Buffalo Car Accident Attorney

While some people involved in car accidents walk away unscathed, others suffer significant injuries that greatly impact their ability to engage in the activities of daily life. If you suffered a neck or back injury in a car crash, you might be owed damages, and you should confer with an elite Buffalo car accident lawyer about your options. The dedicated personal injury attorneys of the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. can examine the circumstances surrounding your accident and advise you of your avenues for seeking compensation. You can contact us through our form online or at 716-839-3939 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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