Cars have become a necessary part of the lives of many people. Public transportation is limited or even nonexistent in many parts of the country. Even if public transportation is an option the schedule may not work for your needs or the amount of time to get to your final destination may be unreasonable for you. Therefore cars are popular even in cities like Washing DC, Boston and New York even though they are known for their public transportation systems. But with the increase of the use of cars, comes the increase of accidents. When accidents occur, getting compensated by whoever is at fault can be difficult.
Take for example, the New York case of Womack v. Wilhelm. Sharon Womack (“Womack) and Benjamin Wilhelm (“Wilhelm”) got into an accident, in which Womack sustained injuries. She believes she should be compensated for those injuries. The main issue in the case is whether Womack suffered a “serious injury”. Under New York laws, it is not enough to have been injured in an accident; there must be a significant injury as opposed to a mild or slight injury in order to receive damages. Under Insurance Law, part of proving that you have a significant injury is showing that you, the injured person, were prevented from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute your usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident.
In this case, because Wilhelm was trying to end the case early, without going to trial, it was his responsibility to show that Womack was not seriously injured and was not prevented from doing her daily activities. In this case, Wilhelm used Womack’s own doctor reports to prove his side of the case. In accident cases where your injuries are a factor of the case, the plaintiff is required to both seek her own medical attention as well as allow any defendants to have their own, or court chosen, physician review her and/or the other doctors’ notes. In this instance, Womack went to the emergency room within a week after the accident and later followed up with her own doctor. Wilhelm had Joseph Elfenbein (“Elfenbein”), an orthopedic surgeon review Womack’s medical records and perform an independent medical examination of her for the case. Elfenbein found that while Womack was injured, there was nothing in her previous doctors’ files or his own check up of her, which gave him reason to believe that there was significant damage.
When given the chance to defend her version of events, Womack was unable to give sufficient evidence. Her medical reports showed that she was injured but not the degree of injury. Because this case required Womack to have a significantly limiting injury to go forward, the lack evidence specifically stating the severity of her injury meant that the court had to assume it was not severe. Womack also testified that her injuries limited her daily activities for a couple of months, but did not claim that she was actually unable to perform her work duties at any point in time.
Bringing a strong case to court requires a lot of information. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help. Someone who knows the specific facts you need to prove can help you ask the right questions and get the evidence you need. If you have been injured, you should contact an experienced attorney today.
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