Every week, I field questions from potential clients regarding whether or not they have a personal injury claim stemming from a motor vehicle accident that can be pursued in the Courts. The answer can be found in the history of state No-Fault laws. The New York No-Fault law was passed in 1974 by the New York state legislature in an effort to deal with a crisis in the courts. There were too many car accident claims and not enough courts and judges. The effect of that situation was the creation of a log jam that prevented cases from getting a jury trial. The No-Fault law takes away your right to pursue an injury claim stemming from a lawsuit unless you have suffered a “serious injury” as defined by the law. The trade off for passing the law was that individuals who do not have a “serious injury” still can collect No-Fault benefits including wage loss (the minimum is 80% of your monthly wage loss, not to exceed $2,000 per month unless you’ve purchased more benefits in your insurance policy) and medical bills.
Article 51 of the New York No-Fault law define a “serious injury” as a personal injury which results in one of the following:
• Significant disfigurement
• Loss of a fetus
• Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
• Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
• Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
• 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 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the
injury or impairment.
Insurance Law §5102(d).
Frequently, it is unclear after an accident if someone with a spine injury has suffered a “serious injury” as defined by the No-Fault law. If it looks like a car accident victim has complaints that are consistent with a “serious injury”, it pays to take the step of having a consultation with an experienced lawyer who can protect your rights should a “serious injury” become clear over time. Start the process by calling for a free consultation.
Ira M. Maurer, Esq.
The Maurer Law Firm, PLLC
300 Westage Business Center Drive, Suite 360
Fishkill, New York 12524
Tel: (845) 896-5295