What Is the Serious Injury Threshold in a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit?

The serious injury threshold in a pedestrian accident lawsuit is the result of New York’s no-fault auto insurance laws. It is the degree of harm that a victim must meet to step outside the no-fault system to file a personal injury lawsuit.

An injured person– even an innocent pedestrian– is not permitted to bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver unless their injuries fall within the statute’s definition of serious. Our New York City pedestrian accident lawyers review injury claims to determine whether no-fault benefits or a personal injury lawsuit are viable options based on the laws and the facts of the accident.

No-fault benefits available to injured pedestrians

When pedestrians suffer injuries because they are struck by a car or truck, they are eligible for no-fault benefits. Their insurance policy will provide personal injury protection (PIP) regardless of who was at fault. This coverage provides up to $50,000 toward medical expenses, and up to 80% of lost wages, to a maximum of $2,000 per month. However, it does not provide compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

For an injured pedestrian to be eligible for no-fault benefits in New York, the following must be shown:

  • The accident took place in New York
  • The vehicle was a passenger vehicle (personal or commercial) covered by the no-fault laws
  • The vehicle was registered in New York and had a current policy in place

The “serious injury” threshold

For a pedestrian to be permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, the injuries must meet the “serious injury” threshold. This would allow them to receive compensation for a greater range of damages. In New York auto accidents, a “serious injury” is one that causes more than $50,000 in economic damages or:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Fracture
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use or consequential limitation of a part of a body or body system
  • Non-permanent injury or an impairment that prevents a person from performing substantially all material acts of their customary daily activities for at least 90 days out of the 180 days immediately following the accident

It is a good idea to speak with New York City personal injury lawyers to understand whether your injury will allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Damages available in a pedestrian accident personal injury lawsuit

No-fault laws are designed to make the insurance claim process quick and easy for minor injuries. The trade-off is that the compensation does not go very far. Lost wages are not completely covered, and sometimes significant physical and emotional damages are left uncompensated.

However, when warranted, a personal injury lawsuit provides the opportunity for more complete compensation. Instead of a limit of $50,000, an individual may recover for their full losses up to the limits of the defendant’s resources. They may also make a claim for non-economic losses like pain and suffering, emotional damage, and disability. These damages may be significant when the injury is serious.

How to prove a serious injury

Sustaining a serious injury is not enough; you must also be able to prove it. Your evidence must show the extent of your injury, that the accident caused it, and that the defendant was legally to blame.

Your personal injury attorney will work to obtain the evidence you will need to prove these things. This can include medical bills, treatment summaries, employment files, and even the reports of medical and financial expert witnesses. When a skilled and experienced advocate takes the lead, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.

Contact us for a free consultation

If you or a loved one have been injured as a pedestrian in an accident, speak with Douglas & London about whether the injuries meet the serious injury threshold. For nearly two decades, we have been fighting for the rights of personal injury victims to receive full compensation. Call today to discuss your case for free.