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New York Serious Injury Law

Motor Vehicle Accidents


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New York Serious Injury Law

Given the high volume of motor vehicle accidents that occur on a yearly basis throughout the State of New York, the legislator deemed in its wisdom that it would be appropriate to restrict the rights of people to recover damages for their injuries sustained in these auto accidents to only those that have suffered “serious injuries.”

The guarantee in the United States Constitution to the right to jury trial in any matter in which the amount in controversy exceeds $25.00, notwithstanding, this law has been held to be constitutional. Though it must be noted that this author has significant doubts that such a law is valid and not an infringement upon our civil rights. As the case may be, we must live with the law that we have.

What this means is that in order to recover monetary compensation for non-economic damages – i.e. pain and suffering – sustained in a New York motor vehicle accident, the injured party has the burden to establish that he or she sustained a “serious injury” as defined by § 5102(d) of the Insurance Law. The statute enumerates 9 injury classifications that if any one of them is established or satisfied the injured party may be entitled to receive damages or compensation for the motor vehicle accident related injuries he or she sustained.

The Insurance Law defines a “serious injury” as a personal injury which results in at least one of the following:

  • Death;
  • Dismemberment;
  • Significant disfigurement;
  • 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.
It is best not to read too much into the plain language of the statute. Certain classifications are obvious on their face, such as death or fracture. There can be very little argument whether such an injury meets the threshold. Other classification, however, have been the subject of dispute for years. There is a mountain of New York cases that have interpreted the law in this regard. Generally, the law has boiled down to an attempt to restrict what are known as “soft tissue” cases. A herniated disc, for example, is considered a soft tissue injury. Of course, it should be noted that a heart attack is a soft tissue injury. Linguistic classifications, therefore, serve little purpose, but we are stuck with the law as it exists until the legislator deems otherwise.

As someone who may have been injured in a New York motor vehicle accident, it is important not to make any assumptions, but to seek the advice of an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

What is within your control, however, is to be sure to follow the advice of your doctor. The law does imposes other restrictions upon car accident victims from recovering for their pain and suffering. For example, any unexplained gap in medical treatment against the advice of your doctor can result in the court dismissing your case for failing to meet the serious injury requirement under the law. Stopping treatment merely because your no-fault benefits have been terminated has been held not to be a sufficient reason to cease treatment against the advice of your doctor.

New York City Auto Crash Lawyer

With his years of experience, Mr. DiMartini knows the law and can guide you through the entire legal process. Since 1987, he has assisted people injured in car accidents throughout the New York City Metropolitan area to get the just compensation they deserve for their motor vehicle accident related injuries. He has obtained millions of dollars in compensation for his injured clients.

Personal injury law is all we do. We get results!

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury in a New York City car accident, we are here to fight for your rights. Call Mr. DiMartini directly at 1.844.299.0030. You can also contact us online. The consultation is free. There is never a fee unless we win your case!

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