On March 16, 2003, two cars were involved in a head-on collision in an expressway in Brooklyn, New York. Both the drivers of the two cars claimed damages for serious spinal injuries they allegedly sustained. Both claim that they lost the function of their lumbar or cervical spine. Both claimed bulging discs at the cervical spine, herniated discs at the lumbar spine, sprain and nerve damage. The drivers sued each other as well as their insurers for damages.
Both submitted magnetic resonance imaging scans which their medical experts used as basis to find that there were degenerative changes in the cervical and lumbar spine which show herniation (swelling).
However, the medical reports issued by the examining neurologist at the time of the accident only found the two drivers to be suffering from cervical and thoracic spinal sprain and right shoulder sprain. In the weeks that followed the accident, the same attending neurologist made follow-up reports of the development of the injuries sustained by both the drivers and reported that the spinal sprains have resolved themselves. Even the sprain in the right shoulder and right arm were also resolved. This is evidence, according to the insurers, that neither driver sustained serious injury such that they can be compensated under the Insurance Law. There is no evidence that links their injuries as caused by accident.
For their part, the drivers both answered the contention of their respective insurers that the injuries sustained by them were not serious injuries. They both claimed that at the time of the accident, their injuries were “serious” enough to cause them pain and to cause them to refrain from their normal activities. They could not go to work and had to rest in bed. They both claim that is only thanks to rigorous physical therapy. They produced authenticated medical records from the neurologists and radiologists they consulted who all opined that the bulging and swollen discs of their cervical and lumbar spine were all directly caused by the accident.
The insurers filed motions for summary judgment asking that the complaints against them be dropped. They both claim that while both the drivers sustained injuries as a result of the accident, their injuries may not be serious injuries as defined by the Insurance Law such that the insurers cannot be made liable to pay therefor.
The only question before the trial court was whether or not the summary judgment should be granted and the case against them be dismissed. The trial court granted the summary judgment. Both drivers then appealed.
Upon appeal, the only question before the Court is whether or not the order granting the motion for summary judgment was proper.
The Court held that the insurers gave acceptable preliminary proof that the two drivers did not sustain a serious injury as it is defined under the Insurance Law. The drivers have succeeded in proving that they both suffered from bulging or swollen spinal discs. However, swollen spinal discs by themselves cannot be considered as acceptable evidence of a serious injury.
Both the drivers have to submit proof that the swollen spinal discs constitute serious injury that would disable them from doing their usual work and daily activities. The Court held that when they submitted scans and reports of their own physicians, the two drivers have raised a material issue of fact that has to be tried. That is to say, both the drives were able to submit evidence that raised an issue of fact which a jury alone can determine.
Thus, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the material issue of fact raised by the two drivers.
Were you involved in a motor vehicle accident? Did you sustain a spinal injury? You need to be represented by a New York City Spinal Injury Lawyer who can present evidence of a serious injury. A New York Spinal Injury lawyer must be able to present objective tests performed and conducted by licensed physicians on which they can base their opinion that your spinal injury is a serious injury. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, their NYC Spinal Injury attorneys are willing to represent you, they can present evidence in your behalf and argue your case before the courts. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today and ask to speak with any of their NY Spinal Injury lawyers on staff. They are ready and willing to render legal advice.