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Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment in Case Seeking to Avoid Limitations of New York’s No-Fault Law After Car Accident

New York is considered a “no-fault” state for purposes of automobile accident litigation. However, that does not mean that there is no possibility of filing a Syracuse car accident lawsuit against a negligent driver in which an innocent motorist, passenger, or pedestrian suffers serious personal injuries or wrongful death.

There are several situations that take a vehicular accident outside of the limitations of no-fault. While each case must stand on its own facts, generally speaking the more serious the plaintiff’s injuries are and the more short or long-term disability the plaintiff has due to the crash, the more likely it is that he or she can get past the no-fault threshold and file a traditional negligence lawsuit against the responsible party.

In such situations, the plaintiff may seek payment for his or her medical expenses and lost wages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and other damages. The injured party’s spouse may also be able to seek monetary damages for loss of consortium.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case arising in the Supreme Court of Erie County, the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant, averring that she had caused the crash and seeking monetary compensation for his injuries. The defendant sought summary judgment on multiple grounds, including assertions that the plaintiff had failed to offer sufficient proof of permanent consequential limitation of use and significant limitation of use. The defendant also asserted that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed based on the “90/180” category of the applicable statute.

The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Outcome on Appeal

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, modified the lower court’s ruling to grant summary judgment to the defendant on the 90/180-day category of serious injury under Insurance Law ยง 5102 (d) but otherwise affirmed. With respect to the 90/180 issue, the court noted that the plaintiff had been able to resume his work as an anesthesiologist within a week after the accident, as his physician did not place him on formal work restrictions.

As to the permanent consequential limitation of use and significant limitation of use categories, however, the reviewing court found that the defendant had failed to meet her initial burden as to these categories insomuch as her expert witness had failed to explain the basis for his conclusion that the plaintiff’s condition was “purely degenerative” when there were observable changes in the plaintiff’s pre- and post- accident MRI scans of his cervical and lumbar spine.

Contact a Syracuse Attorney

Devastating physical injuries can occur in a matter of seconds when a careless motorist causes a motor vehicle accident. The effects of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in such a collision can take weeks or months to heal; in some cases, the injuries never fully resolve. Tragically, wrongful death may even result in some cases. If you have questions about filing a liability claim in a Syracuse car accident case, you can reach the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP to set up an appointment by calling 315-479-9000.

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