If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
Basic Requirements for a Personal Injury Claim in New York
Most claims are filed on the grounds of negligence, meaning the defendant (at-fault party) failed to demonstrate reasonable care in preventing harm. For a valid personal injury claim, the following four elements must be present:
Duty of Care
The defendant owed you a legal obligation to exercise the same care that a reasonable person would under the same circumstances. This duty can be established or assumed and will depend on your case’s unique situation, and what a reasonable person would have done. For example, drivers owe other people on the road a duty of care to obey traffic laws and avoid collisions; doctors have a duty to follow appropriate standards of care given the patient’s condition, etc.
Breach of Duty of Care
After confirming the defendant did owe you a duty of care, you must be able to demonstrate that they somehow breached that duty. Meaning they failed to provide the standard of care expected of them in your situation, causing your injury. Some examples of a duty being breached include:
- A driver texting while driving and causing an accident. (Car accident lawsuit)
- A surgeon operating on the wrong body part. (Medical malpractice claim)
- A doctor prescribing a medication the patient is knowingly allergic to. (Medical malpractice claim)
- A grocery store manager failing to clean up a wet floor for an extended period of time. (Premises liability claim)
- A manufacturer creating defective airbags (defective product lawsuit)
This element involves being able to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your injury. In other words, your injury would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s actions.
There must be evidence that you suffered losses, typically in the form of a physical injury, property damage, or psychological harm, in order for there to be a personal injury case. For example, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc. Without losses, the court cannot award compensation.
New York’s Serious Injury Threshold
When it comes to personal injury claims that arise from car accidents, your injury must meet the state’s serious injury threshold to have the grounds for a case. To hold the at-fault driver accountable, you must have suffered one of the following medical conditions:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- A permanent loss or use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- A permanent disability or limited use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- A non-permanent injury that prevents you from the performance of your daily activities for at least 90 days within the 180-day period immediately following the accident.
If your injuries fail to satisfy the serious injury threshold, you cannot file a personal injury claim in Westchester County against the at-fault driver or their insurer.