NEW YORK COURT SAYS COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL
EXAMS NOT NECESSARY IMMEDIATELY AFTER AUTO
ACCIDENT TO PROVE SERIOUS INJURY
After an auto accident in New York, plaintiffs must show that they suffered “serious injury” in order to obtain non-economic damages, like compensation for pain and suffering. Anyone filing a crash-related legal claim must prove the full extent of injuries caused by the accident. Many victims, however, receive only cursory, treatment-orientated exams in the immediate aftermath of accidents-not comprehensive medical assessments.
Although appropriate in anticipation of litigation, New York’s highest court says that plaintiffs are not required to obtain comprehensive medical exams soon after an accident in order to establish the existence of serious injury.
Medical Exams Following an Auto Accident
In Perl v. Meher, the New York Court of Appeals addressed legal claims filed under New York’s No-Fault law by three plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were involved in three separate car accidents, all three claimed to have suffered from serious injuries and sought compensation.
However, two of the plaintiffs introduced evidence showing that they had received only cursory medical reviews immediately after their accidents. Detailed, quantitative medical assessments of their injuries were not obtained until months later. The defendants challenged these medical examinations as insufficient since they occurred long after the accidents in question.
However, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that there was nothing unusual or improper about car accident victims receiving relatively unobtrusive, treatment-orientated medical exams following a crash, then waiting to comprehensively document resulting bodily damage until a lawsuit became imminent.
The court said that some form of medical report immediately following an accident may be necessary to pinpoint the crash as the cause of injuries, but there is no requirement that injuries be fully catalogued contemporaneously in order to preserve the right to file a legal claim.
Luckily, in light of the court’s ruling, future motor vehicle accident cases in New York will not be barred simply because victims did not receive full medical exams immediately after the crash.