A soft tissue injury occurs when a person damages any of the muscles, tendons or ligaments in their body. This can occur in a number of ways during an accident. The severity of such an injury can range from minor to severe. Whether or not you are entitled to financial compensation for such an injury depends on several factors.
In New York State the first factor to consider is the type of accident that you are involved in. There are two types of negligence claims in New York State, motor vehicle accidents and everything else, which falls under the label, non-motor vehicle accidents. (Slip and fall, assault, etc.)
In the case of a non-MVA, a person is always entitled to receive compensation for any type of soft tissue injury, whether minor or severe, if they are injured due to someone else’s negligence. The amount of the compensation completely depends on the severity of the injury. The more significant the injury the more compensation a person is entitled to receive.
In motor vehicle accidents, a different rule applies. In order to recover compensation for a soft tissue injury in New York State, a person must suffer a “serious injury”. The legislature attempted to define that term in Section 5104 of the New York State Insurance Law. Unfortunately, the definition created by the lawmakers has led to much confusion in the legal field with many conflicting decisions by various courts. Whether or not a person has suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident may depend on the judge deciding the case and the way that judge interprets the voluminous case law on the subject.
So, what should you do if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffer a soft tissue injury? First, make sure that you have your injuries addressed by a competent doctor that not only provides excellent care, but also documents your injuries and treatment thoroughly.
Second, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney that can advise you on whether or not your injury is likely to qualify as a serious injury under the law. While even the most experienced lawyer can not give you an absolute answer to the question, they will be able to differentiate between the type of injury that will likely qualify as a serious injury and those that will not. Further, since these cases are not always black and white, an experienced attorney will be able to effectively argue your case and give you the best possible chance at receiving fair compensation for your injuries.