“Serious Injury” Threshold of No-Fault Law Held Not to Apply to Passenger Negligently Left Overnight Seat-Belted in School Bus By on June 19, 2013

In Rivera v. Outstanding Transp., Inc., a handicapped person who was supposed to be transported to his home from F.E.G.S. Manhattan Day Habilitation Program in lower Manhattan was, instead of being returned home, remained in the bus as it was taken to a depot in Brooklyn where he remained overnight, unattended and unsupervised, in frigid temperatures. The bus driver subsequently pled guilty to Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person.  The bus driver and owner moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, and the motion was denied by Justice David I. Schmidt of Supreme Court, Kings County. 39 Misc. 3d 1228(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2013).

The defendants moved for dismissal on the ground that the plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury” as defined in the New York Motor Vehicle No-Fault Insurance Law.  Under the law, if a “serious injury” is not sustained, there can be no recovery for non-economic loss, better known as pain and suffering. The plaintiff alleged that he suffered the following injuries: Hypothermia; low body temperature; shivering with cold extremities; dehydration; rhabdomyolysis; hunger causing plaintiff to eat pieces of vinyl seating; difficulty urinating; fecal impaction and constipation, severe psychological trauma, manifested by extreme agitation, emotional anxiety, upset, nervousness, apprehension, tension, fear and nightmares.

Justice Schmidt denied summary judgment on the basis that the injuries were not proximately caused by the use or operation of the school bus. Although the incident occurred on a bus, Justice Schmidt found that the no-fault serious injury threshold did not apply because the motor vehicle itself must be the instrumentality which produces the injuries:

Ed's injuries did not occur as the result of a collision or movement of the vehicle, nor were they caused by a defect in or failure of the vehicle or any of its parts. Rather, the injuries were the result of defendants' abandonment of Ed and his exposure to cold temperatures for an extensive period. Such injuries would have occurred if Ed was left outside of the vehicle.

The court also noted that the bus had completed its route and was parked presumably with the engine no longer running, and that the injuries did not occur as the result of a collision or movement of the vehicle, nor by a defect in or failure of the vehicle or any of its parts.

The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims involving dangerous and defective products . If you or someone close to you has been injured by a product that was not properly manufactured, designed or labeled, contact the offices of Levine & Slavit in New York or Long Island for their help. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and surrounding areas including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients.

To learn more, watch our videos or go to our Injured? What Next? page.

Related to This

Levine & Slavit, PLLC Logo

Levine & Slavit, PLLC

The law firm of Levine & Slavit, PLLC has served clients in Long Island and the Greater New York City-area since 1957. We are a team of personal injury and wrongful death lawyers who work tirelessly for victims' rights. Our team is licensed and affiliated with the:

  • New York State Bar Association
  • New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners
  • Florida Board of Bar Examiners
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York

Please contact our practice online for a free consultation or call (212) 687-2777 to speak to an attorney today. 

Contact Us Today

Rate, Review & Explore

Social Accounts Sprite
Google map image of our location in 60 E 42nd St Ste 2101 New York, NY

Manhattan Office

60 E 42nd St
Ste 2101
New York, NY 10165

Open Today 8:30am - 5:00pm

By Appointment Only

Google map image of our location in 350 Willis Ave Ste 100 Long Island, NY

Mineola Office

350 Willis Ave
Ste 100
Long Island, NY 11501

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

By Appointment Only

(212) 687-2777 Send a message