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New York Court Discusses Necessity of Proving Serious Injury Pursuant to Insurance Law 5102


When a person decides that they want to file a personal injury lawsuit in New York, they are required to submit proof to the courts that their injury is a severe injury as defined by the requirements of Insurance Law § 5102. That means that they must also show that they meet the requirements of Insurance Law § 5104 as it regards non-economic loss. When the elements of the injury are not in compliance with these codes, then the person will not be allowed to file the suit. A lawsuit in New York, alleging a personal injury may not be filed if the injury is merely an inconvenience. In order for an injury to be determined severe it must render that person unable to work for a substantial amount of time and/or prevent that person from continuing to work in their chosen career field.

The injuries that are defined as serious injuries are spelled out in the law. They are defined as injuries that deprive a person of the use of a limb, or actually results in the amputation of a limb. Some spinal injuries and brain injuries may also qualify as severe. In order for the spine injury or brain injury to be categorized as serious, it must be so pervasive of an injury as to render the person unable to function on a daily basis as they were accustomed to performing. The ability to continue participating in daily activities that they were able to participate in prior to the injury would mean that the injury will not be considered a severe injury under the law.

In October of 2009, a woman was involved in a traffic accident at the intersection of Bellmore Avenue and Sunrise Highway. The accident occurred in Nassau County in the State of New York. At the time of the accident, the police determined that the vehicle that hit hers was at fault in the accident. At the accident scene, the woman left her car, walked around the scene, and was able to drive her vehicle to work after the accident. She later went home and stayed out of work for one day. She started to see a chiropractor following the accident because she claimed that she was having headaches and pain from personal injury that she incurred as a result of the accident. She was x-rayed by the chiropractor and went to see him two to three times a week for several months into the winter of 2010.

In the winter of 2010, she started physical therapy. She attended physical therapy sessions two to three times a week until she stopped in the summer of 2010. At this point, she saw an orthopedic doctor several times in an attempt to get relief from her symptoms. Following 2010, she stopped receiving treatment for her injuries and continued on with her daily routines. In accordance with the laws of New York, although her x-ray report and follow-up doctor reports indicated that she had sustained a spinal injury that involved compression of her spinal column and several dislocations of vertebrae, she testified in court that she was only in bed from the injury for one day. She also testified that overall, she has only missed less than a week of work obtaining treatment for her injury. Because the statute requires that the injury be severe and pervasive enough to prevent the patient from performing daily activities that she did before the injury, the woman has effectively ended her own lawsuit by stating that she was only inconvenienced one week because of her injuries. The court in review of this testimony determined that the woman did not suffer a severe injury as defined by the law. Her case was dismissed.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its car accident Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Our spinal injury lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a personal injury Lawyer, you could lose precious compensation to help your family.

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