Meeting the “Serious Injury” Threshold in New York

Lever & Ecker, PLLC October 5, 2021 Car Accidents

The severity of motor vehicle accidents varies widely, and the injuries people suffer in accidents run the gamut from superficial cuts and bruises to severe and catastrophic injuries requiring immediate and urgent medical attention. In New York State, there is a legal threshold for “serious injuries,” so that a lawsuit or other claim may be pursued only if the injuries are of a certain severity, as defined under the law. Top New York car accident lawyers Lever & Ecker, PLLC can help determine if your injury meets this threshold and, if so, undertake the appropriate next steps on your behalf.

New York has no-fault laws governing car accidents. When you are injured in a car accident, under most circumstances your car insurance company is generally responsible for your medical expenses and certain lost income, up to $50,000, no matter who is to blame for the accident. However, if you have suffered “serious injury” as defined under the law, and the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may then pursue a claim (lawsuit) for personal injury against that other driver. 

What Is New York’s Serious Injury Threshold?

New York’s serious injury threshold is defined under Insurance Law 5102(d) as follows: 

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • 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, or
  • 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 ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment

The serious injury threshold provides a clear delineation between superficial wounds and those that are serious enough to warrant pursuit of damages through the legal system. A New York car accident lawyer can help you determine if your injuries are severe enough to overcome the threshold. 

Exceptions to the New York Serious Injury Threshold 

Motorcycle accidents are the main exception to the New York serious injury threshold. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, you can pursue the at-fault party for legal damages without having to prove that your injuries satisfied the serious injury threshold. 

Filing a New York Serious Injury Accident Claim

When you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, knowing what actions to take next can be challenging. Once you’ve received proper medical attention, the next step is a phone call to Lever & Ecker, PLLC. We have a process in place that sets you up for the best outcome for your case.

We will start with a case analysis, focusing on the facts of the incident. If yours is a viable claim, then we move forward to the next step: obtaining evidence, including police reports, surveillance footage and pertinent statements from any witnesses who may have seen what happened. Our office also obtains any other records that might help support your case. 

Perhaps most importantly, we will get copies of your medical records. Our team will also communicate with your healthcare providers to understand the extent of your injuries.

Because preexisting conditions can sometimes complicate the process, we excel at doing the very thing necessary to bring forth a successful serious injury claim: connecting your injury directly with the car accident in question. 

It is important to move expediently on serious injury cases. New York has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims, generally spanning three years from the date of the injury for claims against private individuals or companies (the time is much shorter for claims against municipalities). 

Schedule a Free Consultation with a New York Car Accident Lawyer 

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be traumatizing enough without having to worry about your chances of success when filing a serious injury claim. But you are not alone: as your New York car accident lawyer, Lever & Ecker, PLLC will guide you through every step of the process to help resolve the case in your best interest.

If you have sustained serious injuries in a car accident, reach us at (914) 288-9191 or (718) 933-3632. You can also contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and even offer weekend and evening appointments.