Evidence of “Serious Injury” Precludes Summary Judgment for Defendants in Tractor Trailer Accident Case

In Contreras v. United Rentals (North Am.) Inc., a car accident case, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, denied defendants’ motions for summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint on the ground that they did not suffer a “serious injury” within the meaning of New York Insurance Law § 5102(d).

Marcos Conteras was driving, and Nydia Contreras was a passenger in, a car struck by a tractor trailer. After evaluating the standard for summary judgment, the legal standards for the pertinent “serious injury” categories, and the medical proof, the court held that the defendants failed to meet their burden on summary judgment.

The court noted, for example, that Marcos Contreras

received acupuncture about twenty times for the pain in his lower back and right shoulder. … He experienced inability to tie his shoes. His sex life is gone. His children had to rock him out of the bed so he could get up. He can no longer mow the lawn. He cannot carry the groceries for his wife. He cannot paint. He had to hire a housekeeper to do the laundry and heavy work around the house. He cannot sleep, sit, or move comfortably. He has pain in his right knee, and at times, his back pain consumes him for three or four days. He cannot pay football, or baseball, or catch with his son, or play in the church league, or coach.

This is a reminder that, in addition to the necessary analysis of medical evidence, these cases are, at their core, about the devastating effects that injuries have on peoples’ lives.

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