What is Considered a Serious Injury in a Car Accident?

What is considered a serious injury in a car accident.

When it comes to car accidents, New York is one of 13 no-fault insurance states. As a result, every driver involved in a car accident can obtain no-fault insurance benefits. All drivers must carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. When a driver is involved in a car accident, they can seek repayment for medical bills and a portion of lost time at work through their PIP policy. However, if the victim of a New York car accident would like to bring a lawsuit, they must prove that their injury meets New York’s “serious injury requirement.”

Does My Injury Qualify as a Serious Injury in New York?

If you or your loved one have been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering whether your injury is serious enough to allow you to bring a lawsuit. Under New York’s serious injury laws, the following types of injuries are considered serious enough to bring a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • A bone fracture
  • A significant disfigurement
  • The 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
  • A significant limitation of use of a body function or system

 

The 90/180 Day Rule

If your injury does not fall into one of the categories listed above, you could still be entitled to benefits. You will need to show that a doctor has determined that your injury or impairment, while non-permanent, prevents you from performing all of the material acts of your day-to-day life substantially. You will need to show that your injury prevents you from engaging in their day-to-day activities for 90 days or more during the 180 days immediately following the car accident. 

This rule is commonly referred to as the 90/180-day rule. Essentially, victims can file a lawsuit if they can present medical evidence that they could not perform significant daily activities for at least three out of the six months following the car accident. If you fall into this category, it is important that you undergo a thorough medical evaluation immediately after the car accident. Ensure that you follow all of your doctor’s orders and take your prescribed medication. 

If you have been referred to a specialist, make sure you attend all of those appointments as well. Keeping all your medical records and documentation is crucial. You may also want to consider keeping a journal and writing down the ways your injury has negatively affected your day-to-day life. Doing so will help you prove that your injury is serious enough to justify a personal injury lawsuit.

 

Proving The Seriousness of Your Injury

Most of the types of serious injuries are relatively straightforward, such as a bone fracture or death. With some, there is more room to argue on each particular definition. Numerous cases have tried to clarify and define all of these categories. In all serious injury cases, your injuries will need to be objectively verified through diagnostic testing and a medical opinion.

New York courts have repeatedly held that an injury is not considered serious when no objective medical tests or diagnostic procedures can confirm a person’s pain and/or limitations. If you believe that your car accident injuries qualify as a serious injury, you should expect that the insurance company or at-fault driver’s attorney will challenge you. In these cases, receiving a letter from your doctor saying that you have been seriously injured will not be enough to prove your case.

You will need to show evidence that connects your injury and the car accident. You will also need to show the methodology your medical provider used to arrive at his or her conclusion that you have been seriously injured. Your doctor should provide details and reasoning as to their findings regarding your injuries. If there are gaps in your medical treatment, the court might question the expert’s medical opinion because they did not treat you continuously after the car accident. 

If you have a pre-existing condition or trauma after the car accident, the defense may try to claim that that incident caused your injuries, not the car accident. You will need to show that the medical evidence in your case establishes that your injuries are from the car accident and not from a pre-existing condition or another accent.

 

Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Proving that your car accident injury is serious is the first step to recovering compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, proving that you have a serious injury is often challenging. There will probably be an insurance company or a defendant disputing your claim that you have suffered a serious injury. Working with experienced legal representation will protect you from negotiations and communications with other parties. 

In personal injury cases, the defendant or the insurance company may try to claim that since you did not have a serious injury, you are entitled to last compensation. They may try to offer you a low settlement, saying that you will not be able to take your case to court because you cannot prove that you have a serious injury. 

Your attorney will ensure that you do not accept a settlement offer that is far too low. Additionally, your attorney will be able to immediately begin collecting the evidence you will need for a successful claim, such as medical records, expert testimony, and witness statements. While your attorney works on your case, you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

 

Speak to a New York Serious Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you deserve fair compensation. Contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Stanley Law Offices to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can fight for you.