New Yorkers are no strangers to car accidents. With such a populous state that depends on personal mobility for work and recreation, there were over 220,000 car accidents in New York City alone in 2018.

Many New Yorkers are also likely aware of the particular difficulties in recovering damages sustained in a car accident, especially if that accident resulted in “serious” injury. How does New York State define “serious” injury and what recovery options are available to residents?

Qualifying factors for serious injury

New York is one of the few states with “no-fault” auto insurance and accident compensation laws. These laws preempt civil lawsuits for car accidents involving minor damage or injury. No-fault laws seek to keep courtrooms focused on cases with higher stakes. As such, when a New Yorker suffers injury from a car accident, policyholders first file a claim for damages and injury with their own insurance company.

When an accident results in serious injury, New Yorkers may file a liability claim against the driver at fault to cover the higher medical bills and damages. The following conditions qualify as a serious injury under New York law:

  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent impairment of limb or organ
  • Limitation of a bodily system or function
  • Fully disabled for 90 of the 180 days following the accident

The resulting lawsuit will seek to establish fault among the involved parties. A doctor’s examination must accompany these determining factors. To recover damages, New York uses the “pure comparative negligence” standard. A judge will compare the fault of all involved parties and convert those concepts into percentages. Damages awarded to parties are then reduced by these relative percentages. For example, if a driver sues to claim medical expenses of $10,000, but a judge finds them to be 30% at fault, the reward becomes $7,000.

Legal assessment of claims

Those involved in a car accident that resulted in serious injury, as defined by New York law, may have questions about filing a potential liability claim. Those suffering from debilitating injuries that have significantly impacted their life can find answers with a local attorney experienced in motor vehicle accidents.