Two construction and repair crewmen from the water district were riding in the car of a co-worker on their way to work when their car was hit in the rear end by a truck driven by an employee of an iron works company.
Both the Bronx crewmen were injured. The other crewman, the one sitting in the back sustained spinal injury from the force of the impact of the collision. His spinal injury consisted of bulging discs in the cervical spine and in the lumbar spine. Because of these injuries, he suffered painful muscle spasms, migraine headaches and numbness in the right arm and shoulder. He was treated in the hospital and was confined to bed for six weeks following the accident. After the confinement, the crewman could not return to his regular job as repair crewman because he could not lift materials. He had difficulty bending down and he could not sit or stand for long periods of time.
Both the crewmen filed a suit in damages against the two drivers of the motor vehicles involved in the car accident. They both claimed compensation for damages under the Insurance Law for the spinal injuries and fractures they sustained as a result of the accident. The driver from the iron works company filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that the injuries sustained by the crewmen were not serious injuries and so they are not compensable injuries. The L.I. crewman was examined by independent physicians but the physicians examined the crewmen two years after the accident.
A serious injury is one which brings about loss of life or loss of a limb, substantial disfigurement; loss of a fetus or loss of the use of an organ or system. If the injury is not permanent, it should prevent the injured person from performing his usual and customary activities for ninety to one hundred eight days after the accident.
Here the crewman did not allege that he permanently lost the use of any body part. He did prove that the injury he sustained in the accident limited his physical activity. He was not able to do the customary activities or perform the regular work he used to perform prior to the accident. He alleged that his neck and back had limited range of motion after the accident.
The finding of loss of range of motion in the cervical spine and lumbar spine cannot be based on the mere complaints of the crewman. There must be objective medical tests and diagnostic methods used to arrive at the findings of loss of range of motion.
The fact of having limited use of the spine and the fact of the loss of range of motion are both issues of fact which must be proven. There must be documentation by medical professionals who will attach the results of medical tests, x-rays, CT Scans or MRI scans on which they will base their opinions.
The independent physicians who examined the crewman one year after the accident based their opinions on the MRI and CT Scans of the crewman taken at or around the time of the accident. They themselves did not subject the crewman to MRIs or CT Scans. The independent physicians did not even mention in their report that they conducted range of motion tests themselves. They based their own report on the same range of motion tests conducted at or around the time of the accident. The reports of the attending physicians of the crewman stated that he had significant loss of range of motion in his cervical and lumbar spine.
Thus, the defendant iron works company failed to submit admissible and credible proof on its motion alleging that the crewman did not sustain serious injury. The case is remanded for trial to determine the issue of liability for the serious injury.
Were you injured in the spine during a motor vehicle? Before you file a suit in damages, consult with a New York Spinal Injury Lawyer from Stephen Bilkis and Associates first. Ask advice from the NYC Spinal Injury Lawyer as to the most viable cause of action you can bring. Ask the New York City Spinal Injury attorney what evidence you need to procure and submit to prove your claims. Come and visit the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates in the New York area. Speak with their NY Spinal Injury lawyers who can represent you in court.