New York law requires a motor vehicle accident victim provide evidence of a “serious injury” before bringing a personal injury lawsuit. Serious injury includes any “significant limitation of use of a body function or system.” More specifically, the law requires proof the alleged injury prevented the victim from performing “substantially all” of his or her daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident.
Knee Pain Not Enough in New York
In arecent case, a Suffolk County Supreme Court judge dismissed a personal injury lawsuit because the plaintiff failed to demonstrate he suffered a serious injury. The lawsuit arose from a 2010 motor vehicle accident. The defendant was driving down a hill when he crossed a double-yellow line and collided with the plaintiff's vehicle. The plaintiff argued the defendant's negligence caused the accident.
The plaintiff presented medical evidence of a torn meniscus in his left knee which required arthroscopic surgery and ongoing injections to treat arthritis. The court said that was not enough to sustain his lawsuit. “A tear of the meniscus is not evidence of a serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injury and its duration,” Judge Joseph A. Santorelli said in a written order. The judge noted the plaintiff's medical examination revealed a “normal range of motion” in the injured knee.
More importantly, the judge said the plaintiff's own testimony failed to establish any significant limitation of his daily activities within the required 90-out-of-180-days period. The plaintiff “only missed one day of work” because of the accident and stopped physical therapy after a few months. He was also able to resume his normal physical activities, such as baseball and bowling, albeit with some residual knee pain.
Getting the Right Legal Help After an Accident
If you have suffered a serious injury in an automobile accident and want to hold the negligent party responsible, it is important to document any limitations to your “usual and customary daily activities,” which is the standard required by New York law. This includes not only restrictions on your ability to work but also perform routine household or leisure activities.
And as explained above, these limitations must last for at least 90 of the 180 days following an accident. This usually requires extensive documentation from a qualified medical practitioner. A court is not going to accept a plaintiff's unsubstantiated claim he or she was disabled for the required 90 days.
No one should attempt a lawsuit without first retaining the services of an experiencedNew York personal injury attorney. New York law sets a very high threshold just to get an automobile accident case heard by a jury. That is why you need an attorney who understands accident litigation and the types of medical and other evidence required by a judge.The attorneys at Waldhauser & Nisar, LLP can assist you with any litigation arising from a car, truck, bicycle, or any other kind of accident. Contact our Long Island offices today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.