According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. According to the New York DMV, there were 299,452 car accidents in New York State in 2014. This breaks down to about 24,954 crashes per month, 5,758 crashes per week, 820 crashes per day, 34 crashes per hour, or one crash every two minutes. Some injuries resulting from car accidents may resolve within a matter of days without any medical treatment at all. Serious injuries may become permanent and result in some level of physical disability.
As a result of a motor vehicle accident, a woman suffered catastrophic bodily injuries, including fractures of the L3-L4 vertebrae and the right femur, both of which required surgery. She also suffered a right ankle fracture, multiple rib fractures and bilateral pneumothorax. The accident happened when she was driving in the right lane of an interstate highway, while pulling a pop-up camper. At some point, she drove through a construction zone where the left lane was closed, and traffic was merging into the right lane. Close to the construction zone, a tractor trailer rear-ended her vehicle, pushing it into another vehicle. The police, fire department and ambulance arrived at the scene. Subsequently, she was transported to a hospital where she had to stay overnight.
The injured woman sued the tractor trailer company and the driver for damages sustained as a result of the accident, including pain and suffering. She claimed that the defendants were negligent in keeping their vehicle under control, keeping a proper lookout, stopping or slowing down, operating the vehicle while using a mobile telephone, and following too closely behind. She also claimed that the company negligently entrusted their vehicle to their employee. The defendants denied liability and disputed the circumstances of the accident. They argued that the injured driver was negligent, could have avoided the accident, cut into traffic ahead of their vehicle, and that their actions were not the sole cause of the accident. The court, however, agreed with the plaintiff’s arguments and granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to liability.
The amount of damages had yet to be established. It is worth noting that under the unique New York State serious injury threshold law, the injured party must prove that he or she sustained serious injury, which means that the injuries must fall within one of the statutory categories. Serious injury is defined as personal injury which results in one of the following: 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; or 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.
Here, the threshold was met as the plaintiff sustained multiple fractures. The injured driver contended that as a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident, she has been unable to work. She complained that everyday activities with her family are painful and difficult. She also testified that has problems with prolonged sitting and walking. She stated that, even though the surgery improved the condition of her lumbar spine, she still suffers from pain and has residual limitations. Medical experts hired by defense testified that the plaintiff fully recovered from injuries sustained in the accident and any residual limitations are caused by aging changes. They also claimed that the spinal surgery was not medically necessary.
After long deliberations, the jury found that the plaintiff sustained a serious injury. Jurors awarded plaintiff over $6,700,000.00 including $5,300,000.00 for pain and suffering, and over $1,400,000.00 for medical expenses.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact The Platta Law Firm for a free legal consultation by calling 212–514–5100 (24/7), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting our law firm in Financial District of Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions using the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.