Posted on February 28, 2014 in Automobile Accidents
An Access-A-Ride shuttle van made an illegal U-turn striking a man’s SUV and leaving him with leg, neck and back injuries, including disc herniations. The man retained Carol L. Schlitt and the Schlitt Law Firm to represent him in an effort to obtain compensation for his injuries. We investigated the case, assessed the damages and sent a Settlement Proposal to the defendant’s insurance company. When the case did not settle quickly, we filed a lawsuit to protect our client’s rights and to increase our leverage to force a favorable settlement. After a new round of settlement talks, we have now resolved the claim making for a very happy client. We love coming through for our clients!
The Facts of this Manhattan Car Accident Case
Our client drove southbound on the Harlem River Drive and exited at West 155th Street. He could see an Access-A-Ride shuttle van ahead of him on the exit ramp. As both vehicles approached a red light, the Access-A-Ride van swung left to make an illegal U-turn on to Eighth Avenue. While making this turn, the shuttle bus hit the front passenger side of our client’s SUV. An ambulance took our client to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital—Allen Pavilion for treatment of injuries to his right leg, neck and back.
Meeting the New York Serious Injury Threshold in this Car Accident Case with Soft Tissue Injuries
In all negligence cases, we need to prove two main points: the liability of the defendant and the value of the damages suffered by the plaintiff. To determine the amount of an award we follow this formula:
Liability X Value of Damages = Court Award
In motor vehicle cases, we also must prove that the plaintiff fulfills the definition of a serious injury as defined in New York’s Insurance Law (also known as the “No-Fault Law”). This is the “serious injury threshold.” If a plaintiff fails to meet the serious injury definition, then the courts will dismiss the case. It can be difficult to meet the serious injury threshold in a car accident case with soft-tissue injuries, but there are ways in which soft-tissue injuries do meet the New York State definition of a serious injury.
As a result of the car crash in this case, our client suffered extensive soft-tissue injures:
- Moderate disc bulge at L4-L5 with focal right foraminal disc protrusion
- Right neural foraminal narrowing at L4-L5
- Effacement of thecal sac at L4-L5
- Focal central disc bulge at L5-S1
- Restriction of motion of lumbosacral spine
- Right lumbar radiculopathy
- Neck pain
- Right ankle sprain
- Right wrist sprain
We were able to demonstrate that his injuries met the definition of a serious injury through these arguments:
- The man had immediate complaints of injuries and pain at the accident scene
- An ambulance took him to the emergency room
- Emergency room doctors confirmed the injuries resulting from the car crash
- His injuries were confirmed through objective testing, including MRIs and an EMG test
- He received treatment over more than ten months in including over 40 visits each for physical therapy and acupuncture
Obtaining a Settlement in this Car Accident Case with Soft-Tissue Injuries
We investigated the incident by obtaining the police report, obtaining photographs of the scene, seeking witnesses, interviewing our client and preparing diagrams of the car crash. We obtained our client’s medical records and our nurse reviewed them, preparing a chronology of his treatment and background research on his injuries. We also conducted a case law review to identify the value put on similar injuries in other cases. Using this information, we prepared a case assessment for our client.
The defendants in this case included two municipal agencies, the MTA and the NYCTA. Bringing a claim against a municipal agency in New York requires filing a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the incident and filing a lawsuit against the NYCTA within one year and thirty days of the incident. We filed a lawsuit in this case to protect our client’s rights and to increased leverage in settlement talks.
After filing the lawsuit, we renewed our settlement efforts and sent a Settlement Proposal to the claims management firm handling this case. Our Settlement Proposal reviewed the facts of the incident, our theory of liability and presented an assessment of damages based on our medical and case law review. We also attached all of the pertinent medical records and other evidence. This package gave all the necessary information to the adjuster to justify the maximum compensation and allow for a rapid settlement. In this case, we obtained a favorable settlement one week after sending the updated Settlement Proposal.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with car accident cases. At the Schlitt Law Firm, we would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. There is never a charge for the consultation. You can call us at 1-800-660-1466 or email us.
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney. Remember, past results do not guarantee similar outcomes in the future.
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