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The Serious Injury Threshold in New York Car Accident Personal Injury Claims

Kristen M. Dombroski
Mar 18, 2022
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Motor vehicle accidents can result in a range of physical, mental, or emotional damages for those involved. After a motor vehicle accident, some individuals seek opinions from physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, or other medical providers. Some individuals have physical examinations, therapy, MRIs, CT scans, EMGs, x-rays, surgeries, or other treatment. Medical evidence is used to determine whether there is a connection between the injury and the motor vehicle accident. Medical evidence is also used to determine whether an injury is considered serious within the meaning of the insurance law.       

In a car accident case, the injured person can make a claim or sue the negligent driver only if the injured person has suffered a "serious injury."  While any motor vehicle accident may have a serious impact on an individual’s life, the insurance law defines a serious injury as one that has a permanent nature, such as involving death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, a fracture, loss of a fetus, significant limitation, permanent consequential limitation, or permanent loss of use of a body part. § 5102(d). In other words, generally, an injury is considered serious when it causes death or a long-lasting physical impairment.

Alternatively, the insurance law defines a serious injury as one that has a non-permanent nature that prevents the individual’s typical daily activities for at least three months after the accident. § 5102(d). When determining the severity of the injury, Courts review an individual’s pre-existing medical condition, physical restrictions, and gaps in treatment.  

The serious injury threshold does not apply to motorcycle accidents.  

If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury, a car accident lawyer can help. It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney early to investigate your options, and preserve crucial evidence. Please contact us to learn more.

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About the author: Kristen M. Dombroski represents those with serious injuries in the Rochester area. Her capabilities cover personal injury resulting from a variety of situations including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall injuries and other situations where injury results due to the negligence of others. Please feel free to contact her directly at or (585) 512-3526.



This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

About MCCM

McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high-quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979.  With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.

We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England.  They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts.  For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.