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What Does It Mean When Someone Tells Me That New York State Has a ‘Serious Injury Threshold’ for a Motor Vehicle Accident Personal Injury Case?

March 11, 2022

There are many states that are known as No-Fault States. However, all of these states have different rules as to what it means to be a no-fault state. New York is one of many states that has their own unique No-Fault system and process for car accidents that occur in state. Just like it sounds No-Fault means that the insurance company for the car you occupy (or if you are a pedestrian the car that comes into contact with you) will be responsible for paying certain benefits no matter who is at fault for the accident. These benefits include among other things medical expenses, partial payment of lost wages, medical equipment, transportation costs for medical appointments and household expenses, relating to injuries sustained in the accident. However, to receive such benefits one is obligated to file a No-Fault Application, also known as a New York State Form NF-2, within 30 days of the accident.

Having a No-Fault system in place is seen as a good public policy decisions by the State and it is why such was created, however it is a popular opinion that the decision to become a No-Fault state was not taken well by insurance companies and that is why the State of New York also installed what is known as the ‘Serious Injury Threshold’. What this means is that in order to receive compensation for your pain and suffering and/or anything not covered by the No-Fault carrier you must have what is deemed to be a ‘Serious Injury’ as defined by Article 52 of the New York State Insurance Code.

The “Serious Injury” Threshold

For most New York motor vehicle accident victims it is not apparent if their injury is a “serious physical injury.” At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein located in Westchester County, New York we have spent years studying this serious injury threshold to fight for our clients so they can be compensated for their injuries and other losses.

In Article 51, also known by many as the “No-Fault Threshold rule”, defines what is a “serious injury” as one of the following:

  1. Death;

  2. Dismemberment;

  3. Significant disfigurement;

  4. A fracture;

  5. Loss of a fetus;

  6. Permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function or system;

  7. Permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member;

  8. Significant limitation of the use of a body function or system; or

  9. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured party from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety (90) days during the one hundred and eighty days (180) immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

The Importance of Your Attorney for Such Cases

Because of the complexity of the “serious injury threshold” it is of vital importance for a New York State motor vehicle accident victim to ensure that they have the right representation. Having an attorney that really understands the ins and outs of the threshold can make all the difference on the outcome of your case. Many attorneys will tell potential clients that they have handled these cases before but that does not mean that they actually have the proper understanding on how to actually litigate properly to help prove that their client has an injury that is defined by the “serious injury threshold”. Some other attorneys also will not even take these cases because they state the New York state “serious injury threshold” is just too difficult to be successful. The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. has been representing motor vehicle accident victims throughout New York and Westchester County including Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, White Plains and Yonkers for numerous years and our experience with the “serious injury threshold” is the reason why we are so successful in these cases. Our clients have always commented on how much they appreciate how we help them navigate the process and help them to understand the “serious injury” laws of New York.

One Major Exception to the “Serious Injury” Threshold

Motorcycles are not defined as a motor vehicle per se under the New York insurance law and as such are not covered by the New York “Serious Injury” Threshold. The opinion of many is that motorcycles are seen as recreational vehicles and thus should not be afforded the benefits of No-Fault. Although this can cause certain limitations for an individual harmed while on a motorcycle, what it does allow that person to do is sue the at-fault party with only minor injuries and/or damages including pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages and medical bills.

So Does My Injury Pass the “Serious Injury” Threshold?

It is sometimes very difficult for a motor vehicle accident victim to understand whether or not their injury passed this threshold. Many times a person is certain that their injury satisfies the threshold when in actuality it does not. Similarly, many times an individual mistakenly is sure that their case will not qualify under the threshold. This law is very difficult to understand. That is why it is best to consult with an attorney. From Briarcliff Manor, New York the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. have the experience and knowledge to help motor vehicle accident victims throughout the County of Westchester and State of New York navigate the “serious injury threshold” of New York. The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. will provide all the information and counseling you need concerning the benefits under No-Fault including lost wages and medical bills.