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If a fracture can be linked back to a car accident, can it meet the serious injury threshold?

Eden, NY |

My friend hurt her back in a car accident, I think it was a herniated disc. She needed an operation. This operation sometimes resulted in her leg giving out when she tried to walk. One day her leg gave out she fell and broke her ankle. Can this broken bone meet the serious injury threshold because the accident was the proximate cause of this injury?

Attorney Answers 10

Posted

Any fracture (the tip of your pinky finger; for example) that is caused by a motor vehicle collision meets the "serious injury" threshold in NY. Did you know that a herniated disc w/spinal fusion and the implementation of screws and a bracket may not. How absurd and offensive. Your friend needs a qualified personal injury attorney asap. If there is a lawyer in the case, then to be blunt, something is wrong here. Good luck.

Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff www.nyelderinjurylaw.com

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Asker

Posted

Even if the broken pinky (for example) wasn't caused in the accident itself, but as a result of the injuries sustained?

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Posted

Ah, now I understand. No, the fracture would have to be a direct consequence. The subsequent injury would go to the extent of the damages.

Asker

Posted

That is what I was afraid of, thank you so much for your help, Mr. Adams.

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Posted

I just read the case posted by Mr. Rothstein and agree completely with his analysis. Good job, Eric.

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Posted

Ps. I know a highly qualified lawyer (colleague of mine) who practices near Buffalo.

Posted

Your friend should speak with an attorney ASAP. Many personal injury attorneys, such as myself, offer free 30 minute consultations to discuss the details of her case.

The above is general information only and is not legal advice. The information provided does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney until we sign a retainer agreement.

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Posted

In a New York motor vehicle accident, In order to have a cognizable claim, an individual must suffer as a result of the auto accident what the law defines a Serious Injury. You should consult a local attorney to speak with them about the particular facts of you case.

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Posted

your friend should seek legal consultation without delay.

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Posted

That is actually a very good question. It can certainly be argued, and likely successfully, that this secondary injury was causally related to the accident.

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Posted

My train of thought was that the secondary injury, the broken foot, would never have happened if my friend had not been in the car accident to begin with, and therefore the secondary injury could be directly linked to the accident itself and possibly qualify as a serious injury.

Posted

That argument failed in Ives v. Correll, 211 A.D.2d 899, 621 N.Y.S.2d 179 (3d Dept. 1995) but the decision suggests that it could work with the correct facts. There are probably cases directly on point.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

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Philip Leslie Franckel

Philip Leslie Franckel

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I agree that the argument failed in Ives v. Correll, 211 A.D.2d 899, 621 N.Y.S.2d 179 (3d Dept. 1995) but only because Ives' attorney failed to prove that the fracture was caused by the car accident. The court stated "plaintiffs failed to competently establish that a fracture plaintiff sustained one month after the accident, when she twisted her ankle on an uneven area outside her house, was causally related to the events of November 30, 1990." In Ives, the court simply observed that the plaintiff fractured her ankle in what on its face looked like a subsequent and unrelated accident. The court then noted that the plaintiff did not prove that the subsequent accident was a sequella of the first accident. The plaintiff's attorney was either unable to get the plaintiff's orthopedic surgeon to state that it was his professional opinion that the accident, in which the fracture occurred, was caused by a symptom of the injury sustained in the car accident or he simply failed to ask. The converse of this decision shows that had the plaintiff successfully proved that the second accident was caused because of a symptom from an injury in the first accident, the court would have found that the fracture was related to the car accident and therefore met threshold. An analogy, not involving threshold, is where someone falls in a hole causing a partial tear of the meniscus. The person doesn't get surgery but a year later, his knee gives out while walking down the sidewalk and he now needs surgery. The partial tear continued to get worse with normal wear and tear. The incident a year later was not a 2nd accident but a symptom of the injury caused in the first accident.

Posted

Your friend should contact a local personal injury attorney. You can find many competent attorneys through the AVVO website or contact the erie county bar association's lawyer referral. Our firm would be happy to give your references as well.

If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. This response does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. Thank you and good luck.

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Posted

Yes

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It could

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Posted

A herniated disc, more often than not does not satisfy the "serious injury" threshold to qualify as a sustainable claim that would withstand a motion for summary judgment. However, it is quite probable that the ankle fracture would be a direct consequence of the back injury, thus satisfying the basis for a claim. Consult with a personal injury attorney right away. Ask your treating physician if a narrative report could be drafted connecting the disc herniation as the probable cause of your ankle fracture.

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