Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know About New York’s Serious Injury Requirement
Although you are usually entitled to No-Fault benefits if you were in a car accident, not every injured person is legally entitled to recover monetary damages for pain and suffering. In fact, you can only recover damages for pain and suffering if you sustained a qualifying injury as defined under the law. Here are some important things you need to know about qualifying injuries under New York’s serious injury requirement
What is the Serious Injury Requirement?
If you were hurt in a car accident, and are seeking damages for pain and suffering, Article 51 of New York’s Insurance Law requires you to prove that your injury is a qualifying injury. This is commonly known as the serious injury requirement.
To satisfy this requirement, you must prove that your injury meets at least one of the 9 categories specifically set out under the law. If your injury does not, however, your case will be dismissed. The 9 qualifying injury categories are:
3. Significant disfigurement;
5. Loss of a fetus;
6. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
7. Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member;
8. Significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
9. Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
While some of these categories are very specific, like death or fracture, other categories have been criticized as being too vague. For example, when is a disfigurement significant or a limitation of motion of use significant? These types of questions are at the core of so much of the litigation in this area of the law.
How is the Serious Injury Requirement Issue Raised?
The serious injury question can be raised by a defendant in an application to dismiss your case. This is commonly known as a threshold motion. In a threshold motion, the defendant will request that your case be dismissed claiming that your injury is not a qualifying injury, ie., that your injury does not meet any of the 9 qualifying type injuries listed above.
When this happens, the Court will review the medical evidence and decide whether the medical proof is sufficient for a jury to reasonably find that your injury is potentially a qualifying injury. If the Court denies the defendant’s motion to dismiss your case, the case proceeds to trial.
It is important to know that the Court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to dismiss your case does not mean that your injury is, in fact, a qualifying injury. Instead, it only means that the judge believes that there is enough evidence to let the jury decide the question.
How Do I Prove a Serious Injury?
Proving a serious injury requires objective medical proof. The mere claim that some part of your body hurts, without supporting objective medical evidence, is usually legally insufficient. Courts generally consider X-rays, MRIs and electro-diagnostic testing as the type of objective evidence that is necessary to support a serious injury claim. In addition to diagnostic testing, the medical reports of treating doctors, as well as the testimony of the injured party are also important.
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If you have any questions concerning New York’s serious injury requirement, contact our experienced car accident attorneys by email or by calling (800) 762-9300. You can also get started by simply filling out one of our case intake forms and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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