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What Qualifies as a Serious Injury in a Car Accident?

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New York City Personal Injury Lawyer I Greenberg & Stein, P.C.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and death in the United States. It is very likely that after a collision you may be left with injuries. These injuries can be severe in some circumstances, while others may only result in a few scratches. It can be difficult to characterize an injury as severe, but fractures, the loss of a limb or organ, and disfigurement are among the most common qualified as serious. Some severe injuries might also not be discoverable until a few days or weeks. Regardless of how serious your injuries were, you would almost certainly have to pay medical fees if you needed treatment. These medical costs may be fully covered by your insurance policy. But what if your injuries are severe and your insurance coverage is insufficient? In these types of scenarios you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or directly file a bodily injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.

Serious Injury Threshold Under New York’s No-Fault Laws

New York is a no-fault state, this means that you must file a claim with your own insurance company in order to be reimbursed for your medical expenses and lost wages. However, serious injuries implicate a lot of money in medical treatment and sometimes your personal injury protection cannot fully cover these expenditures. According to New York State laws, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to receive compensation if you resulted in a serious injury due to the collision. 

What is Considered a Serious Personal Injury?

New York Insurance laws classifies in Section 5102(d) the following injuries as severe:

  • A fracture
  • Loss of a limb
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of a body organ, 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
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Death

While some of these injuries can clearly be classified as severe, others are more subjective. Insurance firms will attempt to profit from this. How do you know whether a disfigurement is serious or not, or what constitutes a severe limitation? As a result, it is critical to seek professional assistance when filing a personal injury claim. Experienced lawyers can assist you in proving the severity of your injuries and negotiating a fair settlement with insurance providers.

Most Common Serious injuries

Some of the most common injuries that fall in the categories previously mentioned are these: 

  • Broken arms or legs
  • Severe neck injuries and whiplash
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Back injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Disfiguring facial injuries and scars
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Lacerations 
  • Death

What are the “Serious Injury” Threshold Exceptions in New York?

When your injuries are determined substantial, the serious injury threshold allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit or a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. There is, however, one exception to this rule. Motorcycle accidents are exempt from the “severe injury” criterion. If you were riding a motorcycle and were hit by another car, you have the right to sue the liable driver. So, even if you only had minor injuries, you can be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages in circumstances like these.

What If Your Injuries Aren’t Considered Serious?

You will have to use your Personal Injury Protection to cover your expenses if your injuries do not meet the criteria for being considered severe. However, there are a few drawbacks to this. Personal Injury Protection policy, for example, normally has a $50,000 limit, which means you won’t be fully covered if your expenses exceed this amount. Another disadvantage of no-fault rules is that you cannot be compensated for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Get Advice From a Personal Injury Lawyer in New York

It might be difficult to establish that your injuries are significant, and insurance companies will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. Furthermore, the law’s ambiguity in determining what constitutes a significant harm complicates matters. In cases like this, your best option is to get in contact with an attorney that has experience with cases like yours. Experienced personal injury lawyers will help you build a strong case to prove the severity of your injuries. At Greenberg and Stein P.C., our lawyers have helped lots of accident victims receive proper compensation for their damages. Our legal team has years of experience negotiating with insurance companies and defending our clients in court. Do not hesitate in contacting us at 212-969-8784 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.