Serious Injury Threshold For Car Accidents


In New York State, a car accident victim must have a serious injury, as defined by the law, in order to sue the person who caused the injuries.

Under NY State Insurance Law 5102(d), a serious injury is defined as:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • 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

While the conditions above seem like obvious “serious” injuries, many of them have been cause for dispute. For instance, is a scar on the leg a significant disfigurement? Or, is a hairline fracture a serious injury under the meaning of the statute? Different courts have interpreted the law in different ways.

The most litigated of the categories is “limitations of a body function or system.” This is often referred to as a “soft tissue” injury. What consitutes a permanent limitation? How is it measured? How do you prove that you have a significant or permanent limitation? The answer depends on your injury, the results of your diagnostic tests (MRIs/EMGs), and most importantly, whether or not your doctor finds that you have a permanent limitation.

There has also been litigation over the 90/180 day rule. What activities constitute a person’s usual and customary activities? Their work? Their recreational activities? Their activities of daily living? How is this measured? How is this medically determined? Who makes the medical determination? All great questions whose answers depend on the facts of your case and the court that will be deciding your case.


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About the Author

Jason B. Kessler Attorney At Law is a full service law firm where attorneys with their extensive experience provide strong & Aggressive defense against Personal Injury cases.