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.
The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, urging the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim on the basis that he had not sustained a “serious injury” as that term is defined under the statutory insurance laws of the State of New York, particularly those concerning no-fault insurance coverage. The trial court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor, denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The defendant appealed, asking that the trial court’s decision be reviewed.
The Decision of the Reviewing Tribunal
The reviewing tribunal affirmed the lower court’s order denying summary judgment to the defendant. Generally speaking, under New York insurance law, each party is responsible for his or her own damages sustained in an automobile accident, regardless of who was at fault. However, there are certain exceptions to this general rule, meaning that there are situations in which a claim for damages can be maintained against a negligent driver in order to pursue financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Under New York Insurance Law § 5102(d), a person who has suffered an injury that prevents him or her from engaging in his or her usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately after the accident can seek compensation from the at-fault driver, even if the rules of no-fault would otherwise apply. Of course, the plaintiff must provide competent evidence – typically in form of a doctor’s statement – regarding his or post-accident physical condition in order for the exception to apply.
Here, the court determined that, even if the defendant had satisfied his initial burden on the issue of serious injury, the plaintiff had overcome this by submitting his treating physician’s affirmation, which raised a triable issue of fact on the issues of permanent consequential limitation of use, significant limitation of use, and 90/180-day categories of serious injury. Thus, the defendant was not entitled to summary judgment.
Speak to a New York Injury Lawyer
If you have been hurt in a car accident recently, it is important that you obtain reliable legal advice as soon as possible. There are many factors that can complicate a seemingly “simple” case, and it is important that an injured person be represented by counsel during the litigation process as early on as possible. For a free consultation with an experienced Syracuse car accident attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers today at 315-479-9000.