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New York Court Explains the Evidence Needed to Establish the Lack of a Serious Injury in a Car Accident Case

In lawsuits arising out of car accidents, plaintiffs typically have to demonstrate not only that the defendant caused the collision but also that they suffered damages as a result of the crash. In some cases, though, defendants will not dispute liability but will argue that the plaintiffs did not suffer damages as a result of the accident. The evidence needed to establish that a plaintiff did not sustain a serious injury in a car accident was the topic of a recent New York appellate opinion. If you were hurt in a collision, it is wise to confer with a knowledgeable Syracuse car accident lawyer about your possible causes of action.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was driving her car when she was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim and arguing that she suffered serious injuries as defined by New York insurance law. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the trial court to dismiss the complaint. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Evidence Needed to Establish the Lack of a Serious Injury

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that the defendant argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury as a result of the accident and that any injuries the plaintiff had were pre-existing and were not causally related to the accident. In support of her motion, the defendant provided a report from a medical expert who opined that the plaintiff’s harm was degenerative in nature.

The court noted, though, that the defendant’s expert failed to review the plaintiff’s imaging studies that were taken prior to the accident or address the issue of whether any pre-existing conditions the plaintiff suffered from were exacerbated by the accident, as required to demonstrate, prima facie, entitlement to summary judgment. Further, the expert did not indicate that the plaintiff suffered from a limited range of motion or cervical pain prior to the accident.

Thus, the court found that the defendant failed to produce evidence showing that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff’s injuries all existed prior to the crash and were not caused in any way by the subject incident. As the defendant failed to meet its burden of proof, the appellate court stated there was no need for it to evaluate whether the plaintiff’s response to the motion was sufficient. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Lawyer

Car crashes often lead to significant trauma, but people that cause collisions will often argue that no injuries were sustained in an effort to avoid paying damages. If you were hurt in a car accident, it is smart to meet with a lawyer to discuss your rights. The Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your options for seeking damages and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.



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