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New York’s “Serious Injury” Threshold for Personal Injury Cases

New York is a no-fault vehicle insurance state, which means individuals typically turn to their own insurance carrier to pay for medical expenses related to an accident. This no-fault system often prevents individuals from filing personal injury lawsuits against the alleged negligent party. However, individuals may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover additional compensation, but only if their injury meets the state’s “serious injury” threshold. Here, we want to define New York’s serious injury threshold and discuss why you may need an attorney for assistance with your claim.

Moving Beyond No-Fault Insurance

No-fault insurance has some benefits, but it also has some drawbacks. Indeed, individuals who are able to make no-fault claims after a vehicle accident often receive payments for their expenses faster than those who have to file claims based on driver fault. When a state has no-fault insurance requirements, like New York, drivers turn to their own insurance carrier after most accidents occur, regardless of who caused the accident.

This has the benefit of being a quicker process because the insurance carrier doesn’t need to investigate and determine who caused the incident before paying compensation (however, premiums can still rise for policyholders found to be at fault).

One of the main drawbacks of a no-fault insurance system is that victims may not be able to recover as much compensation as they would be able to in a fault-based insurance state. Crash victims typically will receive compensation for their medical bills and lost wages, but not for their pain and suffering caused by the crash. Additionally, the victim will be limited to recovering only as much compensation as allowed by the policy they purchased.

Under a no-fault system, crash victims usually cannot file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver unless certain thresholds are met.

Understanding the Serious Injury Threshold for New York

Car accident victims will be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against negligent drivers if the incident led to “serious injuries” as defined by New York law. They can do so even if they have no-fault insurance.

According to Section 5102(d) of the New York State Insurance laws, a serious injury is defined as any of the following conditions:

  • A basic economic loss of more than $50,000
  • Dismemberment
  • Severe disfigurement
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of use of a bodily organ, member, function, or system
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent limitation of a bodily organ or member
  • Significant limitation of the use of a bodily system or function
  • Significant limitation caused by any injury or impairment that prevents the victim from performing most all of their usual and customary day-to-day activities for not less than 90 days of the 180 days following the incident
  • Death

Working With an Attorney

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, reach out to an attorney today. A skilled car accident lawyer can help investigate your claim and work to establish that the serious injury threshold has been satisfied. An attorney can handle the entire claim on your behalf, including the negotiations with other parties and taking the case to trial if necessary.