Recovery for Serious Injuries
Under New York’s no-fault insurance law, victims of automobile accidents can generally recover compensation for their injuries from their insurance company up to their policy limit, which at a minimum is $25,000 for bodily injury. If your injuries exceed the limits of your no-fault policy, you may be able to sue the other driver for negligence, but only if your injuries are defined as “serious” under the law. While you may justifiably feel that your injuries are quite serious, it is important to understand the legal definition of “serious injury” as it applies to personal injury lawsuits.
New York Insurance Law section 5102 (d) defines “serious injury” as a personal injury which results in any one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement;
- A fracture;
- Loss of a fetus;
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
- A 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.
Some of these categories are not hard to establish, while others are more subjective. For instance, what constitutes a “limitation of use of a body organ or member” or a “significant limitation of use of a body function or system?” Not surprisingly, insurance defense lawyers will strenuously argue that a particular injury does not meet the applicable statutory definition claimed by the plaintiff. “Limitation of use” is as much a legal definition as it is a medical one, and these issues must often be litigated in court as a threshold matter before a case of negligence may even proceed. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney present your case is just as important as having a knowledgeable and experienced doctor treat your injuries.
If you have been injured in a New York motor vehicle accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation regarding the nature of your personal injury and whether you may be able to recover from the negligent driver for the full amount of your damages.