In New York, “minor” injuries may not be enough to build a strong personal-injury claim against an at-fault driver. Generally speaking, a successful claim for pain and suffering requires an objective medical diagnosis confirming an injury that’s legally defined as “serious.”
New York law defines a serious injury to include one that prevents someone from performing “substantially all … usual and customary daily activities” for at least 90 days during the first 180 days after an accident. This “90/180” serious– injury category is defined in its entirety as:
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.
That New York is a no-fault insurance state means certain injury-related expenses are covered regardless of fault. After a New York motor-vehicle accident, the applicable no-fault insurer is generally responsible for paying for its insured’s “basic economic loss,” including medical expenses, lost wages, and other reasonable and necessary expenses up to $50,000.
But, while no-fault insurance covers certain medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, claims for pain and suffering—which can include not only physical pain but also “emotional anguish” and “loss of enjoyment” of life—requires evidence of serious injury.
Someone who files a personal-injury claim against an at-fault driver can potentially recover non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, as well as certain economic losses that are not covered by no-fault.
The 90/180 rule does not require evidence of a permanent injury. In fact, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering even if your injuries are non-permanent and have, in fact, resolved.
Some of these terms may appear vague or ambiguous. What qualifies as a “significant limitation of use of a body function or system” is not always clearcut. New York courts have developed rules and guideposts not in the statutory definition.
If you are a car accident victim, you may not immediately realize you’ve been seriously injured. Because of the trauma and shock of the accident, you may have an injury—such as whiplash, a concussion, or even emotional trauma—that doesn’t fully present itself until days later. For this reason, it is often a good idea to get checked out by a medical provider if you suspect injury.
If you’ve been in a car accident, watch for symptoms of injury, including:
Diagnostic tests and documentation of injuries and progress during treatment can help a doctor determine whether your injury is considered “serious” under New York law.
If you were hurt in a New York car accident, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help identify whether you must establish a “serious injury,” whether you can show that you sustained one, and advocate on your behalf to help ensure you receive maximum compensation.
In New York, the law generally provides three years from the date of an accident to file a claim for personal injury. This period can be much shorter, with even shorter notice of claim requirements, depending on the parties involved. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years. Of course, the actual limitations period will depend on the unique circumstances of any case. An experienced attorney can identify all applicable deadlines. Time limitations can vary depending on the circumstances because every situation is unique.
The time limitation for filing a no-fault accident claim is typically 30 days from the date of the accident unless the injured person can submit written proof providing clear and reasonable justification for the failure to comply. A no-fault claim is different from a claim for pain and suffering, which is normally asserted in a bodily injury liability claim.
If you were injured in an accident and believe your injury or injuries are serious, you may be looking for an experienced injury attorney who can help you receive maximum compensation for pain and suffering, regardless of whether your injuries qualify as a “serious injury” under the “90/180” category or another serious injury category.
If you are looking for help asserting a bodily injury claim after a car accident, the car-accident injury attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. can review your case and help determine your options. You can contact us 24/7 by submitting a contact form online or calling (844) 444-4444.