Did you know that not every auto accident that leaves a person injured will be able to act as the basis for a successful lawsuit? This is true regardless of how negligent the other driver’s behavior may have been that caused the accident. This is because of New York’s “serious injury threshold.” Put in place to limit those injury types that can qualify as a valid basis for seeking legal action, the serious injury threshold can be both complicated and important to understand if you are contemplating seeking compensation for the harm you have suffered in an auto accident.
New York’s “Serious Injury” Threshold
New York is a no-fault state. This means that no-fault insurance benefits are available universally to car accident victims throughout the state. As part of the no-fault laws, the New York state legislature also established the serious injury requirement to limit what types of injuries would qualify a person to bring a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. An injury must meet the serious injury threshold in order for a person to be able to successfully bring an auto accident lawsuit. Without meeting the threshold, it really does not matter the level of negligence that may have caused the accident. A court will not hear the case.
Understanding the serious injury threshold injury, however, may not be as clear-cut as the law makes it seem at first. The law itself says that, in order to bring a personal injury lawsuit stemming from an auto accident, the plaintiff must have incurred a “basic economic loss” over $50,000 or suffered a “serious injury.” The law itself states that the following injury types will qualify as “serious injury”:
- Significant disfigurement
- Bone fracture
- Fetus loss
- Permanent loss, consequential limitation, or significant limitation of a body organ or member, function, or system
- Permanent loss of a body function or system
- A non-permanent, but medical determined injury or impairment that prevents the injured party from performing substantially or all of their usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 consecutive days immediately following the accident
Some of these listed injuries are pretty clear cut. Others, however, are bit more ambiguous. For instance, what does “significant disfigurement” mean? For the more ephemeral injuries listed by the law, we can look to how the courts have interpreted them. For instance, a New York Court of Appeals ruled that a “significant disfigurement,” for purposes of meeting the state’s serious injury threshold, means that the injury caused a condition that was so visible on the person’s body that a reasonable person would find it unattractive or objectionable. Alternatively, it would be a condition that would create pity or scorn from the community.
Personal Injury Attorney
Are you concerned about how New York laws such as the “serious injury” threshold will impact your claim or your ability to bring a personal injury lawsuit? Don’t panic. Instead, get trusted legal counsel from Attorney Michael LoGiudice. Contact us today.