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A primer on New York’s no-fault auto insurance

At the very least, auto accidents are a major inconvenience, and at worst, they can be life changing events.  If you’re involved in a car accident, the best thing you can do is accept it and take the necessary steps to put it behind you.

New York laws require that if someone is injured or killed in a car accident, all drivers are required to stay and attempt to render reasonable assistance.  Not doing so means a driver can be charged with hit-and-run and face severe penalties, including fines, jail time and loss of driver license.

Many accidents are caused by one or more drivers being negligent, defective auto parts or when roads are not well maintained.  Regardless of who is at fault, New York is one of 12 states that have enacted no-fault auto insurance.  This ensures that an insurance company will pay for medical expenses, lost earnings and related costs, no matter who is at fault in an accident.  Enacted in the 1970s, the goal of the law is to speed up compensation and avoid drawn-out litigation to determine who is at fault.  In New York, every driver is required to maintaina minimum liability insurance of:

  • $25,000/$50,000 for injuries
  • $50,000/$100,000 for deaths
  • $10,000 for property damage caused by one accident

Drivers are covered by this blanket coverage, assuming they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or engaged in any criminal activities at the time of the accident.

This means drivers do not have to sue other drivers who were at fault in an accident.  They must simply file a claim with their own insurance provider within 30 days of the accident.  It is important to note that no-fault insurance does not cover damage to your own vehicle, it only covers damage to the other driver’s vehicle and personal property.

While you can file a no fault claim, one thing it does not cover is compensation for pain and suffering.  To pursue a claim for these damages, you’ll need to retain a car accident lawyer and file a separate suit.

Isaacson, Schiowitz&Korson LLP proudly serves New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Nassau and surrounding communities.  Contact us for a free consultation at (212) 267-6557.

Determining who is liable is the key in a construction accident lawsuit

Construction projects in New York City present some additional challenges that go over and above the same type of projects in other cities.  Projects almost always have a vertical component to them intensifying the level of danger for construction workers.  And unfortunately, each year, countless workers are injured on the job due to accidents such as falls, electrocutions, being crushed or struck by any number of objects on a job site.

Virtually every accident is due to negligence in some shape or form.  Workers who suffer injuries or are killed on jobsites may haverecourse to seek damages by filing workers’ compensation claims against several parties, which allows them to be reimbursed for medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses.  They may be able to file a separate lawsuit for pain and suffering as well.

The biggest challenge a lawyer may face when dealing with a construction accident is trying to prove who is liable.  On the surface, this may seem like a simple task, but on a big construction project, there are many people who may share liability.  Determining which entity to hold responsible can be difficult.

Property owners – sometimes property owners turn over control of a job site to a general contractor. Other times, they retain control.  This is a good place for an attorney to start.

A general contractor – If control of a site is ceded to a general contractor, they may or may not retain control.  In some instances, they may turn over partial control to any number of sub-contractors.

Sub-contractors – Electricians, plumbers, glaziers, or ironworkers may create an unsafe environment for their particular part of the job, making them the responsible party if an accident takes place.

Engineers – Sometimes, safety flaws begin in the design process, which can be traced all the way back to architects and engineers.

Equipment manufacturers – Construction accidents involving cranes seem to make headlines on a regular basis in New York City.  This is a classic example of an equipment manufacturer who may have brought defective equipment to a job site, or it may be a case of the general contractor allowing the use of the crane during a time when it was not safe to do so, maybe due to high winds or in heavy rain or snow.

Isaacson, Schiowitz&Korson LLP proudly serves New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Nassau and surrounding communities.  Contact us for a free consultation at (212) 267-6557.

Do I need to hire a medical malpractice lawyer?

Sooner or later, we all need to seek medical care for any number of reasons.  A broken bone, an emergency appendectomy or to get treated for heart disease.  The list of possible ailments is almost infinite.

In New York City, and throughout the country, when we seek care we have every right to assume that the treatment we receive will be what we need to give us the best chance at getting healthier.  Unfortunately, the human body is a fickle machine, and there are no guarantees, despite a medical team’s best efforts.

What happens when a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis or prescribes a course of treatment that fails to cure or makes things worse?  The results can be devastating.

As patients, when this happens, we have the right to challenge that care, asking the question of whether or not the doctor’s actions rise to the level of medical malpractice.  Proving medical malpractice can be difficult, especially going up against well-oiled insurance companies and seasoned legal teams.  However, if a patient and their lawyer can prove that a doctor did not meet the test of providing an appropriate standard of care, then the possibility exists that the patient may be able to collect a judgment based on the failure to meet that standard of care.

Proving medical malpractice is based on several things.  It must be proven that a doctor/patient relationship existed and that the standard of expected care fell short and created medical negligence.  Further, it must be shown that this failure directly caused harm to the patient and that there are quantifiable damages as a result.  Each of these elements has several offshoots that can be challenged in court, but at the very least, this framework lays out a broad overview of what a patient can expect if they are considering a medical malpractice suit.

Isaacson, Schiowitz&Korson LLP proudly serves New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Nassau and surrounding communities.  Contact us for a free consultation at (212) 267-6557.

The 4 steps to proving liability in an accident case

Although every accident is different, the one thing many of them have in common is that another person may be at fault for your injuries.  A good attorney has the ability to prove negligence on the part of the defendant, which will make them liable for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

There are four steps involved in proving negligence in an accident case.  They include:

  1. Did the defendant have a duty to provide a safe environment for you or for others who were injured? Of the four standards, this is the easiest point to prove because, in virtually all cases, society demands that a person behaves in a responsible manner when out in public.  A good example of this is that a person is acting irresponsibly if they break the speed limit while driving a car.
  2. Did the defendant breach the duty they have to the public? Again, if a person is travelling in a car at a high rate of speed, he can be caught on a radar gun or observed by a police officer and recognized as a speeder.
  3. Due to that breach, was the plaintiff injured? While this might seem like a no-brainer, what complicates things is an attorney may choose to file a claim against more than one party.  While the upside is greater, determining who is at fault and to what degree can get complicated in a hurry.  In a car accident, for example, debris in the road that was dropped by a different truck or a car, may create a challenge to a car that was going to be identified as the sole perpetrator of an accident claim.
  4. Did you sustain actual damages as a result of the injury? Going to a doctor or needing to get a car repaired are quantifiable and legitimate reasons to seek compensation.

Isaacson, Schiowitz&Karson LLP proudly serves New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Nassau and surrounding communities.  Contact us for a free consultation at (212) 267-6557.

 

Choosing the best possible personal injury attorney

If you’ve been injured through another person’s negligence, then chances are you will need to retain a personal injury lawyer to work closely with you as you seek to be compensated for your injuries.

In New York, choosing the right lawyer can not only mean the difference between winning and losing your case but also how large of a settlement you may finally end up with.  However, if you’ve never had any dealings in the legal world, just finding the right attorney can be a daunting experience.

Here are some things you should consider if you need to retain the services of a personal injury lawyer;

A focused practice.  You need to find an attorney that does one thing well, and that is to work almost exclusively on personal injury cases.  By itself, personal injury law is a vast area of practice, and it can take years for an attorney to gain the experience that will give their client the edge they need.  The attorney you choose should also be skilled and experienced in settling a case because the vast majority of personal injury cases never make it to trial.

A well-known reputation.  Many personal injury attorneys work in the same court system for many years.  Through those cases, they can build a name and a reputation for themselves, becoming well known to insurance companies, other attorneys and to the court system.  You can use this reputation to your advantage to gain the upper hand in many cases.

An objective point of view.  Look for an attorney who sets aside the emotional aspect of a case and instead focuses on the facts.  In a legal setting, facts are what will carry the day, and while your judgment may be clouded due to a swirling mix of mental, emotional and physical issues, to be effective, an attorney must be able to set those things aside.

Isaacson, Schiowitz&Korson LLP proudly serves New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Nassau and surrounding communities.  Contact us for a free consultation at (212) 267-6557.