Defendants in personal injury cases often seek to end a case through summary judgment. In New York automobile accidents, they often allege that the plaintiff does not meet the “serious injury threshold.” In the recent case of Solomatin v. Fisher, the Second Department of the Appellate Division considered whether summary judgment was properly granted on the grounds that the plaintiff had not sustained a “serious injury.”
Under the New York Insurance Law, a person injured in an automobile accident may only bring a personal injury case for negligence against the other party if he or she has sustained at least $50,000 in basic economic losses or suffered a “serious injury.” A serious injury is specifically defined under the Insurance Law. The statute sets forth the specific results of a serious injury, including a non-permanent injury or impairment that prevents the injured person from performing nearly all of his or her usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 days during the 180 days after the injury or impairment was sustained. NY Ins. L. 5102(d).
In a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff has not sustained a serious injury, the defendant has the burden of making a prima facie case that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury as defined under the Insurance Law. If the defendant does so, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff.
In this case, the plaintiff alleged that she had sustained the type of serious injury described above and that she had been unable to perform her usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 days in the 180-day timeframe. The court noted that the defendant “failed to adequately address the plaintiff’s claim…” Since the defendant did not make a prima facie case that the plaintiff had not sustained a serious injury, it reversed the trial court’s order for summary judgment.
In cases in which the defendant does make a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to present evidence in opposition to the defendant’s motion that raises a triable issue of fact. When, as here, the defendant does not meet its burden, the court does not have to make a determination regarding the plaintiff’s evidence in opposition. The court here, therefore, did not determine whether the plaintiff had provided evidence that would raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the injury met the threshold.
Our New York car accident attorneys understand the importance of properly evaluating the extent and nature of the injuries and damages before a lawsuit is filed. The plaintiff must be able to prove he or she has sustained a serious injury of the nature claimed, so it is very important that the plaintiff’s attorney has complete information regarding the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
More Blog Entries:
Kester v. Sendoya – Seek Immediate Medical Treatment After Accident, December 26, 2014, New York City Car Accident Lawyer Blog