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New York Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Personal Injury Case Due to Failure to Provide Documentation to Take Case Out of No-Fault Provisions

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.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed to the New York Appellate Division, First Department, from the Supreme Court of Bronx County, the plaintiff was a woman who was involved in a car accident. She alleged that the accident occurred due to the defendant’s negligence and sought to assert a claim for personal injuries arising from the accident.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff had failed to show that she had suffered a serious injury related to the accident as required by New York Insurance Law ยง 5102(d). The trial court granted the motion. Nearly a year later, the plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the judgment (which had been granted by default). That motion was denied, as was the plaintiff’s subsequent motion to renew and/or vacate.

The Court’s Ruling on Appeal

The appellate tribunal affirmed the lower court’s ruling on the plaintiff’s motion to renew or vacate, holding that the plaintiff had failed to raise any facts that would have changed the outcome of the prior motions. She had also failed to present any reasonable excuse for having failed to provide those facts at the appropriate time. In so holding, the court noted that renewal is to be granted sparingly and was not a “second chance” for parties who simply failed to exercise due diligence in the first instance.

The court went on to acknowledge that, even if the case were to be considered on its merits on appeal, the result would be the same. This was because the plaintiff had not presented any reasonable excuse for her delay in obtaining medical documents in support of her “serious injury” claim. When medical records were finally provided, the report at issue did not provide proof of significant consequential limitations in the plaintiff’s shoulder related to the accident, in the court’s opinion.

Speak to a Lawyer About a Syracuse Injury Claim

At the law offices of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, in Syracuse, we handle a wide variety of car accident cases. To schedule an appointment to discuss your car accident case, call us at 315-479-9000 and set up a free case evaluation at your earliest convenience. Statutes of limitations and other time limits apply to personal injury cases, so please do not put off the call.

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