New York Serious Injury Threshold
Mora v. Riddick
Take for example the recent case of Mora v. Riddick, 69 A.D.3d 591, 893 N.Y.S.2d 149 2nd Dept. 2010).
In Mora, the injured party sustained serious injuries from a medical perspective, including herniated and bulging discs, and tendon tears. Nevertheless, the Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the dismissal of the case. How could this happen when there were significant injuries sustained by the plaintiff?
In New York, the law requires that in order to recover money for injuries sustained in a car accident, the injured party must establish that she sustained a “serious injury” as defined by the Insurance Law § 5102(d).
The objective evidence must generally come from a recent examination by a doctor based on objective testing as to what the limitations are and their duration.Courts have interpreted this to mean that in order to recover even where there is a significant injury medically, the plaintiff must submit in addition objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injuries and their duration. Merely having the plaintiff testify as to what these limitations were is insufficient, since that is a subjective point of view.
The objective evidence must generally come from a recent examination by a doctor based on objective testing as to what the limitations are and their duration. Moreover, any reports submitted must be affirmed or they will not be considered admissible evidence by the court.
In Mora, the plaintiff submitted unaffirmed medical reports from plaintiff’s treating physician. The Court, therefore, properly found that these reports were insufficient to support the injured party’s claim. Moreover, even though the reports indicated that the injured party suffered from herniated and bulging discs, and tendon tears, the Court was bound to find that these injuries were not “serious’ as a matter of law since there was an absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injuries and their duration.
In Mora, the Appellate Division properly decided the case as it was presented to it by the plaintiff. Given the lack of admissible evidence and objective evidence, the Court’s hands were bound to dismiss the claim. Therefore, even though the injured party had significant injuries medically, she was not entitled to a recovery under the law.