After a motor vehicle collision in New York, you might be wondering if you need to see a healthcare provider or need to make an appointment with your physician immediately. While some traffic crashes clearly require emergency care, and those injured in the auto accident will usually be rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment when there is an emergency, injuries that may still be serious but do not necessarily require immediate, emergency care can be more complicated. Can you wait until an upcoming annual appointment, for example, to have your doctor assess your injuries? Or can you wait until more obvious symptoms appear?
In short, it is critical to see a physician as soon as possible after a New York auto accident, and to continue receiving medical care as needed, since your medical records will be a key source of evidence in your New York car accident lawsuit.
Proving You Meet the Serious Injury Threshold
In order to be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit after you have been injured in a collision, you will need to prove that you meet the required “serious injury threshold” that is necessary to sue an at-fault motorist or another liable party. Your medical records are the primary evidence you will use to show that you have met the serious injury threshold. Accordingly, if you wait too long to see a healthcare provider after the crash, or if you stop seeking care from a physician, you may not have adequate proof to demonstrate that your injury is serious enough to warrant a personal injury lawsuit.
What constitutes a serious injury that meets the threshold requirement under New York law? Generally speaking, New York law requires that an injured person seeking to file a lawsuit has medical evidence of one of the following types of injuries cited in the statute:
● Significant disfigurement;
● Loss of a fetus;
● Permanent loss of use of a 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; 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 a person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
A car accident that results in a person’s death also meets the serious injury threshold under New York law, and surviving family members could be eligible to seek damages by learning more about the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Guarding Against Comparative Fault Allegations
What will happen if you wait to seek medical treatment and your injuries get worse as a result of your delay? The defendant might raise the issue of comparative fault and argue that you are not entitled to receive damages. Under New York’s comparative fault law, a plaintiff can still recover damages if that plaintiff is partially at fault. However, the plaintiff’s final damages award will be diminished by the portion of the plaintiff’s own fault.
Some types of injuries do not result in immediate symptoms, and those injuries can get worse if you do not receive medical care. By seeking immediate medical attention and ensuring that you have timely medical records, you can guard against comparative fault allegations from the defendant that suggest your own delay in medical treatment led your injuries to worsen.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer
Do you need assistance with your traffic collision case? Our New York car accident attorneys can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC today.