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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Under New York law, there are certain categories of injuries that can take a case outside the limitations of the “no fault” laws that would otherwise apply (and limit the injured person’s recovery substantially). Of course, as with everything else concerning Syracuse car accident cases, the insurance company that insured the careless driver will probably argue that the case should stay within the confines of no fault – thus saving them a payout on an injury claim caused by their negligent or reckless insured. Ultimately, these issues are resolved by a judge (and a jury if the case proceeds that far) – at least in cases in which the injured person retains counsel and fights for his or her legal rights, rather than allow the insurance adjuster to decide what is or is not due the victim.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case were the parents of a minor child who was allegedly injured in a car accident caused by the defendant driver. The wreck happened when the car in which the child was riding was struck from behind by the defendant driver while waiting to turn left. Neither the minor child nor his mother (who was driving the car) sought medical care immediately after the accident. However, both later complained of injuries that they believed were caused by the crash. The parents filed suit against both the driver and owner of the vehicle on the minor’s behalf, and the mother sued in her own right, as well, seeking monetary compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses caused by the motor vehicle accident.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint. The Supreme Court of Broome County partially granted the motion, thereby dismissing the mother and the child’s claims of serious injury under the permanent consequential limitation of use category and dismissing the mother’s claim of serious injury under the significant limitation of use category. The defendants appealed the trial court’s denial of the remainder of their motion; the plaintiffs cross appealed.

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After a Syracuse motor vehicle accident, the drivers, eyewitnesses, and first responders likely have their own opinions as to who caused the crash – Driver A or Driver B, assuming it was a two-vehicle accident. However, in some situations, it is determined that the parties have shared fault in causing the wreck. Under New York law, a party’s monetary recovery in a negligence case is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to him or her by the finder of fact. Thus, insurance companies have an incentive to blame the opposing party if at all possible, so as to pay a lesser amount of damages even if their own insured was “mostly” to blame. Thus, it is very important that a person who has been hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle collision talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that his or her legal rights may be protected.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the Supreme Court of Steuben County, the plaintiff was a woman who was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle when it collided with a dump truck that allegedly ignored a traffic control device. She filed suit against the owner and operator of the dump truck, as well as the driver of the motorcycle. The dump truck owner and operator filed a cross claim against the motorcycle driver, alleging that he was to blame for the accident and seeking indemnification and contribution. The motorcycle driver passed away while the lawsuit was pending, and the administratrix of his estate was substituted. The trial court granted the administratrix’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the cross claim asserted against her.

The Court’s Ruling on the Issues

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department reversed the trial court’s order granting the administratrix’s motion for summary judgment on the cross claim of the remaining defendants. The court noted that, in moving for summary judgment, the administratrix had the initial burden of showing, as a matter of law, that the motorcycle driver was operating his motorcycle in a lawful and prudent manner and that “there was nothing [he] could have done to avoid the collision.” In the court’s opinion, the administratrix failed in this burden.

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A Syracuse motorcycle accident can cause serious, life-threatening personal injuries or even death. Those who have been hurt or lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash have certain legal rights, including the right to file a negligence claim against the person or persons responsible for the accident. If the claim is successful, the victim or his or her family may receive payment for medical treatment, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses caused by the accident. It is important that legal action be taken promptly, as there is a strict statute of limitations in these types of cases. Claims not filed within the time set by state law are likely to be dismissed.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate court case, the plaintiff was the guardian of a motorcyclist who was injured in a 2012 accident that occurred when the motorcyclist hit a utility pole after swerving to avoid a car that was exiting a driveway. The guardian filed separate lawsuits against the driver of the car and the county in which the accident occurred, alleging that the motorist was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the county was negligent in failing to maintain the vegetation along the street where the accident occurred and in designing the street with a certain curvature. After the suits were consolidated, the county filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Supreme Court of Tompkins County denied. The county appealed.

The Decision of the Appellate Court

The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the county’s motion for summary judgment. The court first noted that the driver of the automobile that had pulled out in front of the motorcycle had explained that he did so because his view was obstructed by trees, bushes, and the curve of the road. According to the appellate tribunal, it was undisputed that the county had a duty to maintain the street in a reasonably safe condition; that duty included trimming vegetation within the street’s right-of-way to assure visibility of traffic.

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Although New York is a “no fault” insurance state, those who suffer serious personal injuries in a Syracuse car accident caused by someone else’s negligence may be able to recover money damages from the person whose breach of duty caused the crash. Generally speaking, there is an exception to the usual provisions of no fault when an accident caused by another’s negligence causes death, dismemberment, disfigurement, permanent loss of use or impairment of a body part, or a non-permanent injury that keeps the injured person from his or her usual activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the collision.

Of course, automobile accident liability insurance companies fight hard against a finding that would take a particular case outside the scope of the no fault statute, and it is up to the court system to determine each case on its own merits.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed from the Supreme Court of Nassau County, the plaintiffs were involved in an automobile accident that they alleged was caused by the defendant driver’s negligence. They filed suit, seeking to recover money damages for their personal injuries. The defendant sought summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs’ complaint should be dismissed because neither of them had sustained a “serious injury,” as that term was defined in New York Insurance Law § 5102(d).

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A Syracuse car accident can leave an innocent driver or passenger physically injured, either temporarily or permanently. It is important that a person who has been hurt in an accident understand the nuances of New York insurance law as he or she navigates the claims process.

An established motor vehicle accident attorney can help guide the injured person through the process, explaining concepts such as “negligence,” “no fault,” and “serious injury.” The defendant’s insurance company is already very familiar with these terms, of course, leaving the injured person at a serious disadvantage – as if being injured, unable to work, and without a vehicle was not enough.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case that was filed in the Supreme Court for Monroe County and heard on appeal by the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department, the plaintiff was a man who filed suit against the defendant driver, seeking monetary compensation for injuries he alleged sustained in an automobile accident that occurred when the defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.

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New York is a “no fault” state for purposes of automobile accident claims. While “no fault” does not mean that a negligent driver can never be held liable for a Syracuse car accident caused by his or her failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner, it does require an injured individual to first look to his or her own insurance coverage in relatively minor accidents.

When the provisions of no fault apply, each person’s own insurance company should pay his or her medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs relating to a motor vehicle accident.

In order to take a car wreck case outside the each-party-pays-their-own-expenses concept of the no fault law, an injured person must be able to prove that he or she suffered a serious injury. Examples of such an injury include fractures and broken bones, disfigurement, disability, and limitation of the use of part of the body.

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Under New York’s no-fault insurance laws, not every person who has been involved in a car accident has a right to sue the person responsible for the accident. Likewise, only those who meet certain exceptions to the no-fault rule can file the equivalent of a personal injury claim against their own uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier if the negligent party had no insurance (or too little insurance).

An experienced Syracuse car accident lawyer can review your case and help you determine whether your case meets the threshold for seeking compensation for personal injuries caused by another’s negligence.

In the event that suit is filed, it will ultimately be up to the trial court – and possibly the appeals tribunal, if review is sought – to determine whether the case falls within the purview of no-fault or whether your injuries were significant enough to take your case outside the limitations of the statute.

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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.

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In a Syracuse personal injury lawsuit arising from a car wreck, bicycle accident, or truck collision, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. In order to do this, it is important that the accident be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and by experienced professionals who know what to look for.

As the case proceeds towards trial, one or both parties may summary judgment, asking the court to determine an issue as a matter of law based on undisputed factual allegations. While summary judgment can be a useful tool under certain circumstances, it is not always appropriate, as a New York appellate court recently found.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a bicyclist who was allegedly struck by a motor vehicle owned by the defendant corporation (and presumably driven by its agent). The plaintiff filed suit in the Supreme Court, Bronx County, seeking monetary compensation for personal injuries suffered in the accident. Prior to trial, the plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion, and he appealed. On appeal, the plaintiff also sought review of the trial court’s denial of his motion to preclude the defendants from submitting an affidavit in opposition to his motion for partial summary judgment and/or to preclude them from testifying at trial.
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Although New York is a “no fault” state for the purposes of automobile accident liability, this does not mean that a negligent driver can never be held accountable for the injuries of a person hurt in a crash. To the contrary, if someone sustains serious injuries in a New York car accident, he or she may be able to seek compensation from the negligent driver for damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Even if the no-fault threshold is not met, the injured person may have other options, including a claim against his or her own insurance company or, possibly, a claim against his or her employer’s disability insurance company.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court case, the plaintiff was a woman who brought suit against the defendant insurance company in the Supreme Court of Greene County, New York, seeking no-fault lost wage benefits. The plaintiff had been involved in a 2013 car accident that left her unable to work for an unspecified amount of time. She took a leave of absence from her employment and received short-term disability benefits from her employer’s insurer. However, the plaintiff was later terminated from her employment due to her alleged failure to comply with her employer’s leave of absence guidelines.

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