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New York Appellate Court Agrees that Summary Judgment is Proper When Plaintiffs Did Not Suffer Serious Injuries in Auto Accident

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 ยง 5102(d).

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint on the ground that neither plaintiff had sustained a serious injury.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s order. According to the appellate tribunal, the defendant had met her burden of showing that the plaintiffs did not suffer “serious injuries” within the meaning of the applicable statute. Although there was evidence that one of the plaintiffs had suffered an injury to his spine and left shoulder, there was insufficient proof that these injuries were “serious” or that they resulted in any permanent or significant limitations. In the court’s opinion, there was also competent medical evidence that the injury in question was not caused by the accident giving rise to the lawsuit at hand.

As to the other plaintiff, the court agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff suffered from certain preexisting conditions and that surgery had been suggested several months before the accident happened. The plaintiff having failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response to the defendant’s prima facie evidence regarding lack of permanent injury, the defendant was entitled to summary judgment.

Get Legal Advice About a Car Accident Case

Serious injury accidents and fatal collisions happen with alarming regularity. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash caused by another’s careless driving, you should talk to a lawyer about the process of filing a claim seeking fair compensation for your serious injuries. To schedule a free consultation with an established Syracuse car accident attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP now at 315-479-9000. We don’t get paid until we have successfully resolved your case, so please do not let concerns about paying legal fees keep you from seeking the advice you need at this difficult time.

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