A woman was involved in a motor vehicle accident sometime on October 9, 2009 at the corner of Bellmore Avenue and Sunrise Highway in Nassau County, New York. The police arrived at the scene but no ambulance responded. The woman alighted from her car all by herself and after the initial investigation by the police the woman drove her car from the scene of the accident to her office.
The woman said she felt pain in her lower back and she experienced headaches. She went for an x-ray and consulted a doctor who recommended that she undergo treatment from a chiropractor. She went and saw the chiropractor for about a year and then she stopped seeing the chiropractor and went instead for physical therapy for a few months. She eventually stopped the physical therapy.
As of the time she filed this suit in damages, she was no longer receiving treatment for her injury. She claims that as a result of the accident, she lives in constant pain and she suffered spinal injury particularly, injury to her cervical and lumbar spine. She claims that she has lost significant motion in her spine and she asserts that this spinal injury qualifies as “serious injury.” She claims that the spinal injury has caused a limitation on her use of her spine which prohibits her from her customary daily activities.
The defendants (the other driver who figured in the motor vehicle accident and his insurer) both filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that there is no serious injury.
The only question before the Court is whether or not the spinal injury complained of by the plaintiff is serious injury.
The Court in Suffolk noted that the defendants submitted the affirmations of physicians who conducted examinations of the plaintiff just before trial and they concluded that there is no compression deformity of the discs on the spine of the plaintiff. An MRI was performed on her and there is no evidence of impingement on the nerves in her spine as she complains.
The physicians opined that the accident may have caused strains on the cervical and lumbrosacral spine but that the strains she experienced were mild and would have resolved in time and without treatment.
With this proof, the Court held that the burden of proof has shifted to the woman to prove that there exist material issues of fact that need to be tried before a jury.
The woman has submitted the MRi findings of the doctors who examined her at or around the time of the accident in October 2009 and they found herniations (swelling) of the cervical spine and that the swollen parts are impinging on the nerves.
An orthopaedist who examined the woman in 2009, 2010 and 2011 has also submitted his findings that the woman is partially disabled as the range of motion in her spine has been significantly reduced. He also opined that the reduction in motion in her spine was a direct result of the accident in 2009.
A neurologist whom the woman consulted in 2010 has also submitted his finding that not only was there a decrease in her range of motion but that there is numbness, tingling and weakness in her neck and spine. He had recommended physical therapy.
The plaintiff submitted her own affidavit stating that after the accident, she missed work for a few days. She could not do much else after work and on the weekends for four months other than stay in bed resting. She stopped seeing the chiropractor and the physical therapist because she had not noticed any improvement and because her insurance had stopped paying for the treatments.
With the submission of the woman’s evidence in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that the motion for summary judgment is denied.
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