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General Questions About Personal Injury Law

A personal injury lawyer represents those have been injured in due to negligence or intentional wrongdoing by another person or entity. Personal injury lawyers often practice in a wide variety of in cases such as car, truck or motorcycle accidents, slip and fall cases, construction site injuries, medical malpractice and defective products claims. 

If you’ve been in an accident and have suffered a serious injury, a personal injury attorney can help. While there are no specific deadlines for contacting an attorney after an accident, the sooner you reach out, the better they will be able to assist.  At McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C., we offer a free consultation to review your claim. During this consultation, we’ll answer any questions you may have, review paperwork, and discuss how we may be able to help. Contact us today.

Personal injury cases occur when a person or people suffer harm from an accident or injury and another person or entity may be responsible for that injury. If the responsible party is found negligent or was found to cause harm intentionally, the injured party may be able to get financial compensation for the claim. Personal injury cases can be a result of many different types of accidents and/or injuries including car, truck or motorcycle crashes, dog bite injuries, medical malpractice, and more. See our personal injury law practice areas for a complete list of how we can help.

"Serious injury" is a term of art that has a defined legal meaning under the New York Insurance Law. The phrase typically is used in the context of a personal injury case arising out of a motor vehicle accident ("MVA"). In an car or truck accident case, the injured person can make a claim or sue the negligent driver only if the injured person has in fact suffered a "serious injury."

Some injuries clearly meet this standard. Under New York's Insurance Law, any fracture qualifies. Death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement and loss of a fetus also qualify. More challenging to analyze and define are the other categories that constitute a "serious injury":

  • permanent loss of use of body organ, member, function or system
  • permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • a 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

In preparing your car or truck accident case, we obtain and analyze the medical records prepared by the doctors and other health care providers that you have seen for treatment of your injury. We also talk with you about what you have experienced in the weeks and months following the accident. We then use this information to make a determination of whether you have sustained a qualifying serious injury.

Attorneys and vehicle insurance adjusters sometimes use the phrase "no-fault threshold" to refer to whether or not the injured person has in fact sustained a "serious injury." If the injured person has suffered a "serious injury," we might refer to that as "getting over the no-fault threshold."

Even if you did not have a qualifying "serious injury" in an car or truck accident, you are still entitled to so-called "no-fault benefits", which are sometimes referred to as "first party benefits." These include:

  • payment of your reasonable and necessary medical expense for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers
  • payment of a portion of your lost wages
  • certain other incidental expenses

What you are precluded from doing if you do not have a "serious injury" is making a claim against the negligent driver for monetary compensation for your physical and emotional pain and suffering.