How Does the Serious Injury Threshold Work in New York Car Accident Lawsuits?

When you have been injured in a car accident in New York, it is important to understand how the New York Insurance Law “serious injury” threshold works. Since New York is a “no fault” state according to insurance laws, each injury victim in a car crash is responsible for using his or her own insurance to seek financial compensation for injuries after a collision. However, in many cases, an insurance claim cannot provide full compensation for an injured person’s losses. When another driver was at fault for the wreck, this can be incredibly frustrating. However, New York law does allow an injured plaintiff to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in situations where that injured plaintiff sustains injuries that are defined as “serious.”

Statutory law in New York defines a “serious injury,” yet some of the definitions are difficult to fit to an actual injury. We want to tell you more about the “serious injury” threshold, and to discuss some common injuries that occur in motor vehicle collisions in Rochester that may rise to the “serious injury” definition.

What is a “Serious Injury” Under New York Law?

According to New York Insurance Law § 5104, an injury victim in a car accident is said to have a serious injury that can allow her to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if she has sustained an economic loss of more than $50,000 and has suffered one of the following types of injuries as defined by the statute:

  • Death;
  • Significant disfigurement;
  • Fracture;
  • Dismemberment
  • Loss of a fetus;
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; and/or
  • Medically determined non-permanent injury that prevents the individual from performing substantially all of the acts that comprise their daily activities for at least 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury.

Some of these definitions may be obvious, such as death, as well as dismemberment, which typically refers to a traumatic amputation. Yet the statute does not specifically explain how some of these other “serious injuries” often look in practice. Some of the following types of injury, depending upon the facts of your case and the severity of the injury, certainly may qualify as a “serious injury” such that you can be eligible to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. An experienced Rochester car accident lawyer can help you to show that your injury does in fact meet the definition of a “serious injury” under New York Insurance Law.

Examples of “Serious Injuries” Under New York Law

When the law refers to a “loss of a fetus,” it is, in effect, referring to a maternal injury that results in a traumatic miscarriage. For example, a study reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discusses the ways in which automotive crashes can result in injuries that lead to a traumatic miscarriage, including “placental abruption, uterine rupture or laceration, and direct fetal injury.” If you have suffered one of these injuries in a motor vehicle collision, an attorney at our firm can help to show that the car crash injury led to the “loss of a fetus,” and that you should, therefore, be eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

When it comes to injuries that result in the permanent loss of use of a body organ, function, or system, or a non-permanent injury that lasts for a sufficiently lengthy period, you should know that a variety of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries (SCIs), and other catastrophic injuries likely qualify under New York law. While some types of TBIs like concussions only result in temporary losses, many forms of brain trauma and spinal cord injury result in temporary and permanent disabilities that require months of rehabilitative therapy and multiple surgeries. In some cases, these injuries never heal and leave the injured victims with permanent disabilities that make it impossible to return to work in any capacity. If you have suffered a TBI or an SCI, you should certainly speak with a Rochester car crash lawyer about whether you may be able to file a claim. 

In addition, it is also important to know that a “fracture” is just another term for a broken bone, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Whether you suffered a partial fracture or a complete fracture that has left you in a disabled condition, you should learn how a New York car accident attorney can show that your broken bone is considered to be a “serious injury” under New York law.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Rochester

If you need assistance showing that your injuries should be defined as “serious injuries” so that you can file a lawsuit after a car accident, a Rochester car accident attorney can assist you. Call King Law today at (585) 270-8882.



May 26, 2022

When Are Property Owners Responsible for Personal Injuries?
Read More

November 17, 2023

New York Passes Clean Slate Act
Read More

August 31, 2022

Answers to Your FAQs About Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim
Read More

August 25, 2022

4 Rules When You Get Pulled Over for DWI in New York
Read More