The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York (IIABNY) is pressing legislators in the Empire State to defeat a bill it says would expand the role of the jury in deciding whether or not a lawsuit can proceed, thus weakening their state’s no-fault auto insurance system. The bill, IIABNY says, would expand the types of injuries for which a person hurt in an automobile accident could sue the responsible party, and would also require that juries, rather than judges, make the determination of whether or not an injured person may sue another.
Accordinto to IIABNY the measures in question, Senate Bill S7518 and Assembly Bill A10739, which were introduced by Senator Antoine M. Thompson (D – Erie and Niagara Counties) and Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D – Staten Island), also broaden the legal definition of “serious injury” to include such injuries as torn muscles, injuries requiring minor surgery, and less serious neck and back injuries. In addition, a jury rather than a judge, would be responsible for deciding whether an injury meets the legal definition of “serious” or not, preventing judges from quickly eliminating those lawsuits which do not qualify for exception in the no-fault system.
IIABNY chairman David M. Gelia explained to the press, “If this proposal becomes law, minor injuries from fender benders will end up in the courts. This will delay recoveries for the injured, bog down New York’s already overburdened court system, increase the cost of handling these claims and eventually result in higher auto insurance premiums for every vehicle owner in the state of New York… We believe New York’s no fault insurance system can and should be improved with common-sense reforms. This legislation is a major step in the wrong direction.”