The issue in this car accident case is whether, under New York’s insurance law, the plaintiff suffered a “serious injury” when she lost her 1-week old pregnancy as result of the car accident. Under New York Insurance Law § 5104, in order to recover for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must have suffered a serious personal injury. Examples of injuries that are deemed serious include an injury that results in death, dismemberment, disfigurement, loss of the use of a body organ, or loss of a fetus.
In December 2002, the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in a car accident in Troy, New York. As a result, the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the defendant, stating the serious injury she suffered was the loss of her unborn child. In response, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgement dismissal based on 2 issues: 1). The loss of a 1-week pregnancy is not a serious injury; or 2). The plaintiff’s miscarriage was not caused by the car accident.
Defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s miscarriage was not caused by the car accident is based on the plaintiff’s own deposition testimony that she was told by a physician’s assistant that her miscarriage was not caused by the car accident. In addition, the defendant submitted a report from a doctor who asserted that his medical opinion was that the car accident did not lead to the plaintiff’s miscarriage. Despite what she stated in her deposition, the plaintiff also submitted an affidavit of her treating doctor who maintains that the plaintiff’s miscarriage was indeed caused by the car accident. Thus, the plaintiff argues, there is a triable question of fact.