It’s difficult enough to make ends meet in good times, and when tragedy strikes the challenge is much greater. That’s why the law allows people to collect compensation when they are injured due to the carelessness or recklessness of another. In such cases, there are often medical bills to pay, lost earnings, out-of-pocket expenses and pain and suffering – and it’s not your fault. We can help you with many types of negligence cases including Traffic Accidents, Slip and Falls, Medical Malpractice, Discrimination, Child Injury, Police Brutality, Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, Construction Accidents, Premises Liability, Product Liability and more. If you don’t see your accident or injury listed, just give us a call – we can think outside the box.
For generations, we have been helping people collect the compensation they are entitled to in their time of need. The grandchildren of our former clients come back to us because we treat every client with compassion and respect. We take cases that other lawyers turn down, and we take on cases that other lawyers drop. Why not call us first?
Each type of traffic accident has it’s own laws, regulations, and timetables. Medical bills, lost earnings and out-pocket-expenses are paid by “no-fault” insurance in most cases, but if you are working at the time, it’s usually covered by worker’s compensation. Motorcycle accidents are an exception to “no-fault.” If the accident involves the City of New York, a “Notice of Claim” must be filed within 90 days of the accident. Hit and run accidents often involve an “uninsured motorists claim.” There is more than one way to get your property damage paid, depending on the circumstances.
If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, taxi, Uber or Lyft accident, bicycle accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, bus accident, subway or train accident, pedestrian accident, boat accident, plane accident or any other type of accident involving a motor vehicle, we can help you.
Medical Malpractice occurs when a practitioner fails to use the appropriate practices, and their mistake causes serious harm to the patient. There are many types of medical malpractice including “failure to diagnose” a condition, misdiagnosis, negligence impacting pregnancy and childbirth, surgical mistakes and mistakes in prescribing or administering medication.
There are sub-specialties including pediatric malpractice, dental malpractice, birth injuries, neonatal malpractice and genetic testing/wrongful birth. These cases are complicated and require experienced dedicated attorneys with the resources to bring cases to trial.
Civil rights actions are based primarily on violations of the First, Fourth and Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution. They are bolstered by Statutes such as Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, The New York State Civil Rights Law, The New York State Human Rights Law and The New York City Human Rights Law.
There are many types of Civil Rights actions that can be brought on your behalf, such as Employment Discrimination (Sexual Harassment, Unequal Pay, Hostile Work Environment,) Bullying at School, Housing Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Police Misconduct (False Arrest and Brutality,) Inmate Abuse and Neglect and more. Call us first if your civil rights have been violated.
Property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises safe. When injuries are caused by such things as uneven sidewalks, snow and ice, falling objects, insufficient security, inadequate lighting, unsecured mats and rugs and falling objects, property owners are liable for paying damages to victims. When an adult “slips and falls” on a property, they must prove that they were “invitees” and had a right to be there, but when children are injured on property that has an “attractive nuisance,” such as a swimming pool with no fence, the owner can be found liable as well.
Premises Liability claims include slip and fall, sidewalk falls, elevator and escalator accidents, bar/nightclub assaults, dog bites, ceiling falls, lead poisoning, asbestos injuries, liquor liability and “Dram Shop,” and more. Why not call us first?
As an attorney and a mom, Senior Partner Alyce B. Wittenstein brings her compassion and knowledge of children’s issues to help families get the compensation they deserve when children are hurt. Injured children need treatment for their physical injuries, and an understanding of the trauma they’ve endured. Children are more likely than adults to be struck by vehicles while walking and riding their bikes. Parents should know that the Federal Government and New York State have recently strengthened laws that protect children in school from all forms of bullying, so parents can take action against schools that fail to comply. Property owners have a higher duty of care to children.
It doesn’t matter how big or small the item is, or how much you paid for it: if it injured you, you may be eligible to file suit. Items may be as small as a cigarette lighter or as large as a car, the fact remains that these products came with unreasonable risks and resulted in a loss on your part. Similarly, a bouncy ball need not have been particularly expensive for it to cause the need for expensive surgery if your child has the misfortune of swallowing one.
New York Worker’s Compensation provides many benefits for workers but severely limits situations where an employee can sue their employer. There are exceptions that apply specifically to construction work, especially work at high elevations and work with explosives and other inherently dangerous devices. There is sometimes a sub-contractor or other third party that can be sued for a construction accident. There are other types of dangerous jobs that can lead to injuries and claims such as working in refineries, mining and chemical plants.
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PERSONAL INJURY LAW
FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAW
The United States Judicial System included both a federal courts court which can each hear different types of case. There are two basic types of cases heard in American Courts – Civil and Criminal. The focus of the criminal law system is to punish violators of the law, both to protect others from their conduct and to deter people that might contemplate committing crimes. Civil law is intended to compensate those whose person or property has been injured by the wrongful conduct of another person. In addition to money damages, civil law can provide for an “injunction” to stop the harmful conducting from continuing.
American civil law includes breaches of commercial duties, such a broken contracts of other failures to meet business obligations, and also includes remedies for harmful conduct that causes injuries to others. The underlying principle is to promote proper conduct among citizens by providing remedies for breaches of duty. There are two major types of breaches – breaches of an agreement between parties and breaches that arise “out of operation of law.” The second type is where most civil litigation happens.
A breach of civil law is called a “tort.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “tort” as “a private or civil wrong or injury, including an action for bad faith breach of contract, for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages and/or an injunction.” American tort law is based on the British common law system of jurisprudence. This means that the application of laws is based on Judge’s opinions on cases, which is something that is constantly evolving. Any decision might be reversed, affirmed, reconsidered or might even make its way up to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.
Personal Injury Lawyers usually restrict their practice to handling tort claims on a contingency fee basis in order to allow people without enough money to hire a lawyer to pursue claims. It is usually advisable to hire a personal injury attorney that specializes in this area, and sometimes additional attorneys can be added to the team if he be. For example, for a wrongful death claim, it might make sense to have a Wills and Estates attorney on the team.
STATES OF MIND
Criminal acts can give rise to tort claims, and most often the conduct is intentional. An example is embezzlement. This is a crime punishment by many years of imprisonment, and the victim is certainly going to sue to get their money back whenever possible. This also comes up for assaults, which can give rise to claims for inadequate security. A sexual assault by an employer, will most likely give rise to a sexual harassment claim.
“The intent with which tort liability is concerned is not necessarily a hostile intent, or a desire to do any harm. Rather it is an intent to bring about a result which will invade the interests of another in a way that the law will not sanction.” WILLIAM L. PROSSER, LAW OF TORTS 31 (4th ed. 1971). The most common intentional tort is what’s called “trespass.” This is when a person intentionally enters the property of another, or causes somebody else to enter the property or remains on property after being asked to leave. When trespass occurs, and harm is done, the owner is entitled to be compensated.
Other common types of intentional torts are battery, assault, infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. These basic common law categories give rise to many familiar claims. For example, a false imprisonment case is a basis for a lawsuit for false arrest. Intentionally failing to provide correct medical results might give rise to a claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. A battery is “any unpermitted touching,” giving rise to a hostile work environment or peer-to-peer bullying case.
Penal Law Section 15.05 defines states that a person acts recklessly when ”he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in that situation. Examples of recklessness in the civil context would include driving at 100 miles per hour in a school zone, and, of course, our favorite law school example, “shooting a gun into a crowded room.” The victims of the shooting would have a claim against the perpetrator for his reckless conduct and also against the owner or operator of the property, if they knew or should have known that the person was dangerous.
Negligence is essentially “carelessness” and is, of course, the most common tort claim asserted. There’s nobody walking around that has never give “guilty” of some level of negligence. To have an actionable case, there must also be some type of injury, so if you forget to send your child to school with lunch, and her friend shares lunch with her, no real harm has been done, despite the obvious negligence. If you bump a car while parking, but there is no property damage and no injuries, it’s not a tort despite the negligence.
Negligence is not defined in a statute, it is a standard of “reasonableness” which is left to the “finder of fact,” (a judge or a jury) to determine. Common examples are speeding and failing to abide by traffic signals. For product liability it is failing to use the necessary care, or provide appropriate warnings and instructions, to make sure that a product is safe. The purpose of negligence claims is a “non-criminal” ways to regulate proper conduct in society.
The most common type of vicarious liability claims arise from the the employer-employee relationship. The law believes that because an employer is benefitting from the work done by an employee, they should also be responsible for their conduct. Employers are responsible for training, screening and overseeing their employees. If a bouncer at a nightclub uses excessive force to eject a patron, the owner can be held liable. This relationship also exists where an owner permits a driver to operate their car.
Some other examples of torts are premises liability, defamation, malicious prosecution, false arrest and an intentional interference with contractual relationships conspiracy, invasion of privacy, breach of fiduciary duty, etc. The list of all torts is very long, but the purpose of this article is to explain what torts are, not to list each and every tort.
Whether is it is an intentional, reckless or negligent tort, an experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney will be able to evaluate your claim and advise you about whether it is worth pursuing. Small claims can be handled in small claims court without an attorney, but larger claims are best handled with the assistance of a personal injury attorney.
What’s Needed to Prove a Tort (Personal Injury) Case?
Burden of Proof
The “burden of proof” starts with the plaintiff bringing the action. The claim must be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means essentially that it must be proven that it is “more probable than not.” (Black’s Law Dictionary.) This is a much lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for criminal cases. Having the “burden of proof” is important because if a plaintiff fails to “show a claim,” the case can be dismissed by the Judge on a Motion from the Defendants or the Judge can order it himself. This is to avoid clogging the courts with meritless claims.
The actor is required to conduct himself in a particular manner at the risk that if he does not do so he becomes subject to liability to another to whom the duty is owed for any injury sustained by such other, of which that actor’s conduct is a legal cause.” (Black’s Law Dictionary.) More simply put, this is the care an ordinary prudent would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. (Ibid) This duty requirement is what gives rise to need to follow traffic safety laws, keep a property safe and many other familiar claims.
It must be shown that “the act or omission played a substantial part in bringing about or actually causing the injury or damage; and that the act or omission played a substantial part in bringing about or actually causing the injury or damage; and that the injury or damage was either a direct result or a reasonably probable consequence of the act or omission.” (Black’s Law Dictionary.) This is a concept that is notorious for causing law students to bang their heads against the wall repeatedly, but it’s actually quite simple. The question to ask is “would this have happened but for the circumstances claimed.” In other words, it can’t be just a coincidence.
In practice, this comes up as an issue of “causation.” The Plaintiff, for example, is claiming a fractured leg, but X-rays from before the accident already show a fracture. There’s no denying that she has a fracture, it’s right there on the X-ray, but a fender bender with $250 in property damage to repair a scratch was not likely to have been the “proximate cause” of the accident. A premises liability example is when somebody claims they were injured because a neighbor’s tree fell on their property, but witnesses saw that the tree did not make contact with the Plaintiff, and that he fell and tore a ligament on his leg from a tree that fell on his own property. A trees fell and there was an injury, but the falling of the neighbor’s tree was not the proximate cause of the injury.