Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Imagine the following scenario, which is quite common in Bronx personal injury lawsuits: After years of litigation, your personal injury case finally comes up for trial; and after a month-long trial, the jury awards you a substantial amount of money as compensation for your injuries. However, several months have passed, and your personal injury attorney explains that the defendants are still refusing to pay.

Why, you might ask are the defendants refusing to pay when a jury has decided that you are owed compensation? Shouldn’t a jury verdict, rendered after years of litigation and a long trial, be the end of the story? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions can often be “no”. This is because, even where a jury has found in your favor, defendants and insurance companies in New York personal injury lawsuits have the absolute right to appeal to the trial judge, as well as to the appellate courts (which may include, in the New York State Court system, the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals), and ask that the jury’s verdict be modified or thrown out entirely. This article discusses some of the ways in which, even after a favorable jury verdict, defendants may still try to deny you the compensation that is rightfully yours.

Continue reading

In the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits, the threat of a jury trial is a powerful tool against defendants and their insurance companies. The prospect of being forced to try to explain away seriously negligent conduct to a group of concerned citizens (the jury), especially in cases where that negligent conduct has caused catastrophic injuries to an innocent accident victim, is often too great a risk for a defendant and his or her insurance company to take and forces favorable settlements. This is because juries can award virtually unlimited sums of money to an injured plaintiff; and, especially in cases involving life-altering injuries, a jury’s sympathy for an injured accident victim may, in practicality, prove to be more important to the jury than the evidence or the law in rendering its verdict.

However, there are some personal injury cases in which, for a variety of reasons, a skilled accident lawyer may believe that a jury will not view the case favorably. These reasons can include the relative severity of the injuries (i.e., the injuries are not very severe, or the injuries did not cause the accident victim to miss any time from work or incur any significant medical bills), the fact that the injured victim had pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries that can easily be conflated with the injuries caused by the accident underlying the lawsuit, or that the case is venued (i.e., the case was brought in a particular court, such as Westchester County) in a county in which juries are known to be unfriendly to particular types of personal injury cases. In such cases, your accident lawyer may decide that foregoing a jury trial and placing the case before an expert neutral “Arbitrator” (a lawyer or retired judge) for a final and binding decision is the best way to maximize the available compensation in the case.

Continue reading

When parents send their children to school, they generally assume that they will be properly monitored, kept safe and protected from harm.  Inevitably, however, New York City’s school children do, on occasion, suffer injuries – sometimes very serious injuries – while at school.  Of course, a parent’s first instinct and priority is to make sure that their injured child receives immediate medical attention to treat their injuries.  After the immediate emergency of the injury has been dealt with, however, parents want to know how and why their child was permitted to be seriously injured while they were supposed to be under the care and supervision of school officials and teachers.  If a parent suspects that negligence of the school’s faculty, staff and/or administration is to blame for their child’s injuries, and the child’s injuries are potentially permanent, exploring the possibility of bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the school may be advisable.  In this article, we discuss how a parent might go about bringing such a personal injury lawsuit if their child was injured at a public school within the City of New York.  It should be noted that many of the procedures and rules discussed in this article may not apply if the child was injured at a private school, or due to the negligence of anyone apart from public school officials, staff or teachers.

Continue reading

Whatever you think about President Trump, it is undeniable that he has kept his campaign promise to stringently – and, in many cases, cruelly – enforce the immigration laws of the United States of America.  Though he has not successfully put forth any significant immigration legislation in Congress, he has stepped up – to a seemingly-exponential degree – enforcement of existing laws and rules, and has also signed several Executive Orders directing immigration officials and agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (known as “ICE”) to increase efforts to find and deport hard-working, law-abiding, though undocumented immigrants.  In following the President’s orders, ICE has undertaken extremely-unsavory – nay, un-American – tactics in an effort to catch, process and deport undocumented immigrants in New York and all over the United States.

Among these distasteful methods of furthering President Trump’s agenda to deport more undocumented immigrants involves conducting raids and searches at courthouses across New York State, catching undocumented immigrants as they attempt to comply with our laws, respond to legal process, or seek justice to which they are entitled.  This tactic deprives the undocumented from vindicating their legal rights – yes, the undocumented do have a substantial number of legal rights and do have access to our courts – and puts the undocumented at risk of suffering inhuman and un-American abuses without the possibility of the legal recourse to which they are entitled.

Continue reading

Among the hallmarks of President Barack Obama’s signature piece of healthcare legislation – known officially as The Affordable Care Act, but most-commonly referred to as “Obamacare” – was its expansion of Medicaid benefits to more Americans.  By way of background, Medicaid is a program run by the several States which is designed to provide medical coverage to vulnerable individuals among the population, and has a means test (i.e., an income-based test, as well as an asset-based test) to determine eligibility for benefits.  Prior to the passage of the Obamacare law, generally, only the neediest Americans had access to Medicaid.  This left many hard-working Americans who simply could not afford the high cost of health insurance and whose employers did not offer health insurance benefits in connection with employment without health insurance coverage.  For these Americans, a single serious illness or injury in the family could – and often did – lead to abject financial ruin, as, without health coverage, the medical bills associated with a serious illness or injury were simply too large to pay.  This was, unfortunately, the case of many victims of serious personal injury accidents or medical malpractice, who, despite having been injured by no fault of their own, were left to contend with mountains of medical bills that they simply could not afford to pay.  Even for those victims who were ultimately awarded compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice lawsuit, during the years in which their case was pending, these bills often went unpaid as the victim and their family simply did not have the money.  Furthermore, these unfortunate victims often were denied the medical care necessary to treat their injuries, as, without healthcare coverage, many physicians and hospitals would refuse to treat them because payment for medical services simply could not be made.

Continue reading

According to just about every television show or Hollywood movie ever made about a legal case of any kind (including personal injury cases), once a jury returns a verdict in favor of one party or another, the case is over.  Many a famed courtroom drama has ended just after the jury delivers its verdict, with the final scene often depicting a cathartic and celebratory scene on the courthouse steps between the victorious lawyer and his or her clients.  However, in this regard (as in many others), cinematic depictions of legal cases of all sorts are, to phrase it generously, inaccurate.  In a real personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit, a jury verdict in favor of an injured plaintiff is very often not the end of the case.  This is because, under the court systems of every state across the United States, including the Federal Courts of the United States, the losing party at trial has the right to “appeal” various aspects of a jury verdict against them to a higher court and request that the jury verdict be overturned.  The post-verdict appeal process is extremely complicated, and to address all of the salient aspects of this process would require authorship of a textbook, rather than a blog post.  In this article, we explore some very basic concepts pertaining to the post-verdict appeals process as applied to personal injury and medical malpractice cases in the state court system in New York.  The reader is encouraged to take the following lesson from this article:  The jury verdict is not the end of the story, as the appeals process is expensive and fraught with risk; thus, if possible, it is usually advisable to attempt to obtain a final settlement of a New York personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit (settlements cannot be appealed in almost every circumstance), rather than proceed through a jury verdict and an appeal.

Continue reading

Ultimately, the goal of most every personal injury and medical malpractice case is to obtain compensation for a person who has been injured.  New York law recognizes several categories of damages in these cases, which include, but are not limited to, pain and suffering, lost earnings and earnings capacity, and medical expenses.  In personal injury and medical malpractice cases involving very serious injuries – those which leave an injured victim with a lifetime need for ongoing medical care and treatment – the cost of future medical care is often the largest item of damages for which the injured person can receive compensation.

An important tool used by skilled personal injury or medical malpractice attorneys to prove future medical expenses is known as the “life care plan”.  In brief, a life care plan is an analysis of the future medical needs of an injured person which describes appropriate and necessary future treatment and its costs.  In fact, while the main focus of the life care plan is future medical costs, they also help to substantiate an injured victim’s claims of future pain and suffering.  In this article, we explain the details of what a life care plan is, and its value to personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers representing very seriously injured people who require long-term medical care and treatment due to having suffered very serious injuries at the hands of negligent actors.

Continue reading

When a victim of negligence – whether due to a serious personal injury accident or medical malpractice – brings a lawsuit seeking compensation from those who caused him or her grievous harm, the victim (known as the “plaintiff” in the parlance of the courts) is obligated to prove that the negligence of each defendant was a proximate cause of all personal injuries claimed by the plaintiff.  It is not enough for an injured person simply to allege negligence in order for compensation to be paid.  Every single element of an injured victim’s claim – which vary, depending upon the circumstances through which the victim’s injuries came about – must be proven in accordance with certain standards in order for an injured victim to obtain compensation from those who have done him or her harm.  This requirement to prove all of the elements of a case in accordance with applicable legal standards is called the “burden of proof”, and applies to every personal injury and medical malpractice case brought under New York law.  If an injured victim does not meet his or her “burden of proof”, their case will be dismissed and no compensation will be awarded, no matter how serious the victim’s injuries may be.  It is also true that the “burden of proof”, in some instances during a personal injury or medical malpractice trial, is placed upon the defendant, such as when the defendant make a summary judgment motion asking the court to dismiss an injured victim’s personal injury or medical malpractice case.  In this article, we will explore the general concept of the “burden of proof” in medical malpractice and personal injury cases and how it is applied in practice.

Continue reading

If you slip and fall because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property – say a puddle of water on a supermarket floor, or grease on a staircase within a restaurant – your natural instinct may be to assume that you are automatically entitled to collect compensation for any injuries that you sustain as a result of this type of accident.  After all, in almost all slip-and-fall accident cases, had the property owner or management of the establishment at which such an accident occurred bothered to remove the dangerous condition that caused you to fall, your accident would not have occurred.  However, collecting compensation in a slip-and-fall accident case is not as simple as pointing the finger at whoever is responsible for maintaining the property.  The law has established several elements that even the most seriously injured person must prove in order to collect compensation if they have slipped, fallen and become injured.  If an injured person cannot prove every one of these elements by a “preponderance” of evidence (i.e., by a showing that it is “more likely than not” that each element of the test is satisfied), their case will likely be dismissed, leaving them unable to obtain any compensation at all, no matter how serious their injuries may be.

Continue reading

This article is the second of two parts of our series on the taxability of personal injury and medical malpractice settlements and verdicts for residents of New York State.  We hope that you enjoy reading it, and invite you to contact us with any questions you may have by calling (718) 354-8000 today.

The General Theory: Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Settlements and Judgments are Not Income and Thus are Not Taxable.

When a person suffers a serious injury, they experience a loss that is referred to as “damages” under the personal injury laws. This loss, in a personal injury lawsuit, is categorized into different elements, which can include pain and suffering, lost wages (both past and future), medical bills (both past and future), as well as other categories of damages that may arise depending upon the circumstances of the particular case. When a jury awards damages to an injured plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, the jury is, essentially, giving the plaintiff money to compensate them for what they have lost due to having been injured. This concept is the same when a personal injury plaintiff receives a settlement for the damages they have incurred.