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What If My Injuries Never Fully Heal?

In the context of a personal injury claim or lawsuit, injuries that will never fully heal should support a significantly greater potential case value than similar injuries that do heal. Many specific factors should be taken into consideration to determine this potential case value. What, in as much detail as can be determined, are the consequences of the injury not healing? Disability from employment? If so, is there full or partial disability? What is the economic impact of such disability in terms of lost earnings and benefits? Is future treatment, including potential future surgeries, anticipated? How has the injured person’s quality of life been affected, and how will it be affected in the future? These are some of the questions that must be asked and answered in an accident injury case involving an injury that will never fully heal.

Many personal injury cases involve life-changing damages that will never fully heal. Although this is a stressful thing to hear from a doctor, with the help of one of our experienced personal injury lawyers you can fight for the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one is experiencing a severe injury that you were told may never heal, contact a New York personal injury lawyers at our firm today to determine the best way to begin the case process and move forward.

New York State Serious Injury Threshold

Although New York is a no-fault state, meaning that car accident victims first turn to their automobile insurer for compensation, severe injuries often call for money recoveries beyond the benefits provided under no-fault.   Pursuant to New York Consolidated Laws, Insurance Law – ISC § 5102(d). This law states that individuals involved in a car accident that suffer injuries deemed serious can file a lawsuit for compensation against the at-fault party. Victims that have an injury that will never heal typically meet these requirements, which deems them worthy of compensation.

Specifically, a serious injury is one of the following:

  • Death
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Fracture
  • A permanent consequential limitation of use of a body member or organ
  • A permanent loss of use of a body member, organ, system, or function
  • A significant limitation of use of a body system or function
  • A permanent consequential limitation to body member or organ
  • A “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 person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment”

Disputes Regarding Permanent Injuries

Although a permanent injury might sound easy to determine, disputes are not uncommon Such disputes arise between lawyers, insurance companies, treating doctors and doctors retained as expert witnesses in the defense of a lawsuit, especially with the final three categories on the aforementioned list. For example, muscle strains, herniated disks, and other soft tissue injuries can qualify as a serious injury and at times never heal, even though they are not specifically referenced in New York law. Due to the variation in the severity of such injuries, it is important for victims to contact a personal injury attorney to determine if their injuries are classified as severe.

Grave Injuries While In The Course of Employment

If an individual is injured on the job in New York in a way that will never fully heal, it may be classified as a grave injury. As per N.Y. Workers’ Compensation Law § 11, grave injuries are those that cause death; permanent loss of use or amputation of a leg, arm, hand, or foot; paraplegia or quadriplegia; and other serious injuries. In these cases, the victim can file a lawsuit against a third-party who caused the damage, and this third-party can in turn ask their employer to pay a portion of the settlement if they share liability. The reason the employer can be asked, or pressured, to contribute to a settlement when a grave injury is involved is because in these cases, the employer may be compelled to pay if the case is ultimately resolved by a court trial. 

Compensation Caps

New York is one of the only states that does not place any limits on compensation for personal injury cases, as per N.Y. Insurance Law § 5101. In the case of severe injuries that never fully heal, this means that victims can ask for compensation for the various damages stemming from their permanent injury.

These damages include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Medical bills (current and projected)
  • Scarring or disfigurement

New York Shared Fault Laws

Since New York is a pure comparative negligence state, compensation for severe injuries is adjusted according to fault as per N.Y. Civil Practice Law & Rules § 1411. For example, an amputee might ask for $500,000 for current and future medical bills as well as disfigurement, but if they are deemed 20 percent responsible for their injury, they will only receive $400,000.  This approach to damages is consistent with the idea that a responsible party should only be liable to the extent that their negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Fighting for Permanent Injury Compensation

If you or a loved one experienced a severe, permanent injury, contact a New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine how much you are entitled to for your suffering. Although the stress of a permanent injury can be debilitating, fighting for compensation can be a positive step forward from your suffering. No matter how you may have been injured, you can have your questions answered and concerns addressed now. Call our office for a free consultation and no-obligation case review at (516) 932-0400.

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