New York is considered a “no fault” state for purposes of automobile accident insurance. This means that, when a Syracuse car accident occurs, the driver of the two cars involved in the accident are reimbursed by their respective insurance companies, such that neither party must prove fault against the other.
There is an important exception to this general rule, however. In situations in which someone suffers a “serious injury” in an automobile accident, there is the possibility of a traditional personal injury lawsuit against the allegedly at-fault driver.
Serious injuries include, but are not necessarily limited to, situations in which the victim is disfigured, suffers a fracture, or has permanent physical limitations due to the accident.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a motorist and her passenger, who sought monetary compensation for injuries they suffered in a 2013 motor vehicle accident caused by the alleged negligence of the defendant bus company and its driver. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the plaintiffs had not suffered “serious injuries” (as that term is defined by New York Insurance Law § 5102(d)) in the crash. The Supreme Court of Kings County denied the defendants’ motion as to the motorist but granted the motion as to the passenger.
The Court’s Decision on Appeal
The New York Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision. In reviewing the evidence pertaining to the motorist, the court noted that the defendants had submitted an orthopedic surgeon’s report opining that the motorist had a normal range of motion in her knee and her wrist and a radiologist’s report to the effect that the motorist had not suffered any recent traumatic injury. In opposition to this, however, the motorist had submitted the report of two physicians, who found that she had been injured in the accident and had suffered a 33% restriction in range of motion in her knee as a result. In the appellate court’s opinion, the motorist had raised a triable issue of fact as to whether she had suffered a serious injury to her right knee due to the accident. Hence, the trial court had properly denied summary judgment to the defendant as to the motorist’s claim.
As to the passenger, however, the court found that there was no triable issue of fact as to whether he had suffered a serious injury within the definition of § 5102(d); thus the appellate court agreed with the lower tribunal that summary judgment to the defendants was appropriate as to the passenger’s claim.
Speak with a Helpful Personal Injury Attorney in Syracuse
Negligent drivers can cause significant personal injuries and even wrongful death to innocent motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. If you or someone in your family has been hurt by a careless driver, you should talk to an experienced Syracuse car accident attorney about filing a claim in a court of law. To schedule a free consultation regarding your case, please call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, today at 315-479-9000. Please note that those who are injured or who lose loved ones due to another’s negligence have a limited time for filing a claim, so please seek legal advice about your situation as soon as possible.