Can a “Soft Tissue” Injury Qualify as a “Serious Injury”?

Posted: July 24, 2022

Doctor giving soft tissue ultrasoundIn New York State, motorists and pedestrians injured in a a car accident can receive compensation for pain and suffering if they sustained a “serious injury.” However, there are some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking a serious injury must be demonstrated. New York law lays out several categories of injuries that qualify as a serious injury.  

While “soft tissue” injuries are not explicitly stated, they may nonetheless satisfy the threshold, depending on the degree to which the injury affects the individual.  

What is a “Soft Tissue” Injury?

Generally speaking, a soft tissue injury occurs when a person sustains damage to a muscle, ligament, tendon, or other soft tissue. In other words, soft tissue injuries usually refer to injuries that do not involve a broken bone. These injuries typically arise from situations involving sudden physical trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents.  

Soft tissue injuries commonly sustained in motor vehicle accidents include, but are not limited to: sprains, strains, contusions (bruises), tendonitis, bursitis, and various whiplash injuries.  

Soft tissue injuries can last for a long time, sometimes leading to years long symptoms. The following explores how a soft tissue injury resulting from a car crash may qualify as a “serious injury” for the purpose of receiving compensation for pain and suffering.  

Can You Recover Compensation for a “Soft Tissue” Injury?

A soft tissue injury can qualify as a “serious injury” under New York law if the injured person can establish that the injuries qualify under one of the specifically enumerated categories. Categories often invoked include the significant limitation of use, permanent consequential limitation of use, and “90/180” categories, which read:  

  • permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;  
  • significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a 
  • medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment. 

The language of these categories may seem complicated, but an experienced attorney can explain how courts have interpreted this language, and what must be shown to establish a “serious injury.”  

Someone who sustained a soft tissue injury in a car accident may be more likely to receive compensation for pain and suffering if the injury was not pre-existing. That is, a claim for pain and suffering will be more likely to succeed if the person was free from the injury before the accident, thus helping to prove a causal link between the accident and the injury. However, if a person did have a preexisting injury, that person can still assert a claim if it can be shown that the preexisting injury or condition was aggravated or exacerbated. The fact that someone may have had prior complaints of pain does not mean that the trauma of the collision did not make a preexisting condition worse.  

Does Your “Soft Tissue” Injury Qualify for Compensation? 

If you sustained a soft tissue injury in a car accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering. Contact one of the experienced car accident attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. to help determine whether your injury qualifies as a “serious injury.”  Contact us 24/7 by submitting a form online or by calling (844) 444-4444.

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