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July 15, 2024

In personal injury law, estimating the value of a case becomes notably complex when contending with pre-existing or degenerative injuries, particularly in the aftermath of car accidents. Car accidents encompass a wide spectrum of impact, ranging from minimal collisions with negligible damage to severe crashes resulting in extensive vehicular damage and bodily harm. Understanding the interplay between these variables is essential in determining causality, liability, and ultimately, the compensation owed to the injured party in New York.



Car accidents present a unique scenario where the severity of impact directly influences the likelihood and extent of exacerbating pre-existing or degenerative conditions. In instances of minimal impact with minimal damage, the challenge lies in establishing a causal link between the accident and the exacerbation of the claimant’s pre-existing injuries. Medical research often indicates that certain injuries, such as bulges and herniations throughout the spine, may not be solely attributable to the incident but rather indicative of pre-existing conditions or normal wear and tear of the human body.



On the other hand, severe impacts resulting in significant vehicular damage and bodily harm provide a more compelling case for causality. The force exerted during such collisions can exacerbate pre-existing injuries or degenerative conditions, leading to tangible impairments and limitations that warrant compensation. In these instances, the severity of the impact serves as a crucial piece of evidence in substantiating the claimant’s assertions regarding the exacerbation of their injuries.



In New York, establishing causality in car accident cases involving pre-existing or degenerative injuries requires a meticulous examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. Expert testimony from medical professionals plays a pivotal role in elucidating the extent to which the accident contributed to the claimant’s injuries and any subsequent exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.



Moreover, the assessment of damages in such cases necessitates a nuanced approach that accounts for both the pre-existing condition and the exacerbation attributable to the accident. While the pre-existing condition may diminish the overall value of the claim, the severity of the impact can mitigate this reduction to some extent. Courts and insurance companies often employ a proportional approach to calculating damages, wherein the compensation awarded reflects the degree of exacerbation caused by the accident.



For example, in cases where a car accident exacerbates a pre-existing spinal condition, the compensation awarded may be reduced by a percentage reflective of the contribution of the pre-existing condition to the injury. However, the severity of the impact and the resulting exacerbation can bolster the claimant’s case and lead to a more favorable outcome in terms of compensation.



All these factors are dictated by the:



Article 51 of the New York State Insurance Law, also known as the “No-Fault Law,” defines a “serious injury” as one of the following:



  1. Death;
  2. Dismemberment;
  3. Significant disfigurement;
  4. A fracture;
  5. Loss of a fetus;
  6. Permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  7. Permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member;
  8. Significant limitation of the use of a body function or system; or
  9. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured party from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety (90) days during the one hundred and eighty days (180) immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

This law outlines on what kind of injuries you should have in order to be compensated for the personal injury or specifically a car accident case. The key is to use all medical data, testimony and evidence of causality to be able to pierce threshold in order to be compensated for a car accident case.



In conclusion, estimating personal injury cases in New York arising from car accidents involving pre-existing or degenerative injuries requires a thorough examination of the impact, both literal and figurative, of the incident on the claimant’s health and well-being. While minimal impacts with minimal damage present challenges in establishing causality, severe impacts offer clearer evidence of exacerbation and resultant impairments. By navigating the nuances of causation and damages within the framework of New York State law, courts and legal practitioners can ensure that injured parties receive fair and just compensation for their losses.



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