During a personal injury case such as an automobile accident lawsuit, one of the questions you may be asked is how severe your injuries are/were and if they can be legally defined as “serious”. A doctor’s definition of a serious injury is not always the same definition followed by the U.S. court system. Therefore, it becomes essential to know exactly what constitutes as a serious injury according to the law.
Which injuries get defined as “serious” varies slightly from state to state. This is due to the fact that insurance laws differ in most states. In the state of Kentucky, a serious injury is defined as a physical injury which “creates a substantial risk of death or which causes seriously and prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ”.
For a more detailed definition, many Kentucky and federal courts use the following definition which originated in New York’s Hyacinthe v. United States case in 2009. This definition states that a serious injury is defined as a personal injury which results in any of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- 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 ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment
New York, like Kentucky, is a no-fault state when it comes to filing insurance claims. In automobile accident cases, some courts will refer to the New York definition since it’s more detailed and is based on no-fault policies, but when it comes down to it, both definitions effectively state the same thing.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an automobile accident or other type of accident and is questioning the severity of their injuries, it’s always a good idea to speak directly with a trusted doctor or attorney who can evaluate the injuries from a legal standpoint. In many cases, the severity of your injuries is linked directly to how you can effectively perform your customary daily activities. If your injuries have made a significant impact on your work, schooling, or daily activities, there’s a good chance your injuries may be considered serious.
Make sure to keep track of how exactly your injuries have limited your activities when filing a lawsuit. The more details you have, the better. Keep track of your pain levels, physical limitations, and days you were forced to take off work/school. Also be sure to make copies of any and all medical documents which refer to your injuries, medication, or any side effects that were experienced. All of this information is potential evidence. In the case of an automobile accident, you will also want to document everything on this list to help your case reach a verdict as quickly as possible.
For information specific to Kentucky personal injury laws or to meet with a caring, local attorney who can evaluate your legal needs and set up a free case consultation, contact Todd W. Burris today. Todd Burris specializes in all Kentucky personal injury cases—including automobile accidents. It’s tough to navigate the legal world after being part of an accident that may not have been your fault. Let us help you get back on your feet again.