Pain in the Neck
Q: I am a state trooper. I pulled over onto the shoulder and activated my emergency lights, intending to make a U-turn to assist another police officer who was involved in a traffic stop. After coming to a stop, my vehicle was rear-ended in a chain reaction collision involving two other vehicles. As a result of the collision, I sustained injuries to my shoulder and neck.
Following the accident, I sought treatment for neck pain and associated numbness and tingling in my arms and radiating pain down my neck. Since the accident, I have consistently complained of chronic neck pain, and there has been significant decreased range of motion in my cervical spine. My doctor says that I sustained a cervical sprain/strain, superimposed on pre-existing degenerative changes.
A: Where, as here, a moving vehicle is involved in a rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle, then the driver of the moving vehicle must give an adequate, nonnegligent explanation for the collision. If you stopped suddenly and abruptly, then the two other vehicles might have a sufficient explanation to overcome the inference that they were negligent. However, it sounds like your stop was not that way. From what you tell me, you appear to have a solid case that the drivers who rear-ended you were negligent.
Under the No Fault Law, in most actions arising out of negligence in the use or operation of a motor vehicle in New York, there is “no right of recovery for non-economic loss, except in the case of a serious injury”. (Insurance Law § 5104[a].) Under Insurance Law § 5102(d), one category of serious injury is “significant limitation of use of a body function or system”.
So long as you have (a) objective medical evidence with regard to your cervical injuries, such as CT scans and MRIs, (b) quantitative evidence with respect to your diminished range of motion and (c) medical opinions that such injuries were causally related to the accident, you appear to have a strong case for serious injury under the ‘significant limitation of use’ category.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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