When seeking a car accident injury lawyer, look for one who understands the complexity of New York law. In New York, a car accident injury means you must prove certain things. You must establish that you suffered a “serious injury.” Article 51 defines a serious injury as multiple categories. This article will discuss how the highest court in New York has handled them.
How Do I Meet The Serious Injury Threshold?
Establishing certain “serious injuries” such as a fracture or dismemberment are fairly straight-forward. However, your car accident injury lawyer can explain that the last three categories. They contain language that is incredibly vague and has led to wildly inconsistent rulings across the courts.
The Court of Appeals recently took a step towards clarifying what constitutes a “serious injury” pursuant to Insurance Law §5102. In Perl v. Meher, 18 N.Y.3d 208 (2011), the Court of Appeals considered categories of “serious injury” cases that involve:
- Permanent loss of use of an body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury/impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents an injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury/impairment
Can A Car Accident Injury Lawyer Explain What This Means?
Previously, victims with these categories of “serious injury” had to present certain evidence. The doctor measures poor range of motion. The patient must also complain at the time of the the injury. The measured evidence of a “serious injury” often meant that physicians would have to designate a specific numeric percentage of loss of range of motion or use of body function to prove a claim of “serious injury.” Generally, this meant measuring a plaintiff’s range of motion with limitation and comparing it to the normal range of motion. They then calculate a percentage of loss.
In Perl, the Court of Appeals realized the problem with requiring medical evidence that was quantitative and contemporaneous. It punished plaintiffs who treated with doctors who were not savvy to the intricacies of Insurance Law §5102. Those physicians who are unaware of the requirements of this statute may not meticulously quantify measurements in their notes. This does not mean these physicians are not treating their patients properly. It simply means that they are thinking primarily about treating the patient first. They think about any litigation that their patients may be pursuing.
What does this mean for personal injury plaintiffs?
First, your car accident injury lawyer should explain that this means that a plaintiff can meet the bar even when his or her doctor does not document the amount of loss. A doctor can document a limitations by discussing what he or she sees. Therefore, a medical record that states that plaintiff has a permanent restriction of use of the injured area that was causally related to subject motor vehicle accident, and sets forth what activities this restriction limits, can be sufficient to establish a “serious injury.” Prior to Perl, this would not have been enough.
At The Platta Law Firm, we have the experience car accident injury lawyers you need. They will navigate this issue and all other issues arising from motor vehicle accidents. If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident, contact us immediately.