In the context of personal injury law, the term 'serious injury threshold' is often thrown around, but what exactly does it mean? Mainly, how is it applied in the state of New York? To help clarify this important concept, this article will delve into the legalities and implications of the serious injury threshold in New York.
What is the Serious Injury Threshold?
The serious injury threshold is a term used in personal injury cases to describe the level of injury a person must sustain to be eligible to file a lawsuit for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In simple terms, not every injury qualifies for a lawsuit. The injury must be severe enough to cross a certain 'threshold.'
Serious Injury Threshold in New York
New York State has specific laws that define what constitutes a 'serious injury.'
According to the Insurance Law Section 5102(d), a serious injury is defined as an injury that results in:
- Significant disfigurement
- 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
- 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.
Why is the Serious Injury Threshold Important?
The serious injury threshold is crucial because it directly impacts an individual's ability to seek compensation for non-economic damages in personal injury cases. If an injury does not meet the threshold, the injured party may be unable to recover damages for pain and suffering.
Proving Serious Injury
Proving that an injury meets the serious injury threshold often requires substantial medical evidence. This can include medical records, expert testimony, and sometimes even visual evidence like photos or videos.
In many cases, insurance companies will dispute whether an injury meets the threshold in an attempt to limit their liability. Therefore, it is essential to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of New York's serious injury threshold law.
Medical evidence is one of the most crucial elements in proving a serious injury. This can include medical reports and records from a plaintiff's physicians, which demonstrate the extent and seriousness of the injury. Such documentation might detail the nature of the injury, the treatment provided, the prognosis, and any permanent or long-term effects.
The medical evidence should show that the injury falls under one of the nine categories defined as 'serious' in New York law. These include death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, fracture, loss of a fetus, permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system, and others.
The 90/180 Day Rule
One specific rule often comes into play in these cases: the 90/180 day rule. According to this rule, if a party could not work for at least 90 days within the 180 days immediately following the accident, their injury could be classified as serious.
In some cases, you might have to show that you sustained a financial loss in excess of basic economic loss. Typically, this means you sustained more than $50,000 in combined medical expenses and lost wages.
Expert testimony can also be valuable in proving a serious injury. Medical experts can explain the severity of the injury, the impact on the injured party's life, and the connection between the injury and the accident.
In some cases, visual evidence like photos or videos can help demonstrate the severity of an injury. This could be particularly relevant in cases involving disfigurement or physical impairment.
It is important to note that the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. Therefore, having a comprehensive collection of evidence is essential to successfully prove a serious injury.
Given the complexity of these cases and the high stakes involved, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and help gather the necessary evidence.
This article provides a general understanding of how to prove a serious injury in New York. However, personal injury law is complex and varies on a case-by-case basis. For specific legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney.
Why You Need an Attorney
Understanding the serious injury threshold in New York is crucial for anyone involved in a personal injury case. It dictates who can file a lawsuit, what damages they can seek, and how they must prove their case. Therefore, anyone injured in an accident should consult with our knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to discuss their case and understand their rights under New York law.
Schedule your initial consultation with our attorney at the Law Office of Seni Popat, P.C.