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.
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.
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.
The answer to this question, like most everything in the context of a personal injury lawsuit, is that “it depends”. On the bright side, the laws of New York State relating to construction accidents have been written in a manner that is very protective of workers on job sites, and especially so as to workers who suffer injuries from “gravity-related” accidents such as falling from a scaffold. However, to obtain compensation for even the most devastating and life-altering construction injuries, injured workers must prove that their case qualifies pursuant to stringent and exacting legal tests that have been set up by the courts to evaluate whether compensation is due in any particular construction accident lawsuit. By using the example of a worker who has fallen from a scaffold on a New York construction site and sustained injuries thereby, this article hopes to educate readers about some of the legal hurdles that must be cleared in order to obtain compensation in a New York construction accident lawsuit.
Police officers, just like the rest of us, make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes result in very serious car accidents. If you are the victim of a car crash involving a police officer who is speeding, runs a red light, drives on the wrong side of the road, or commits some other act of egregious negligence, you may think that obtaining compensation from the police officer, as well as the police department and municipality for whom the police officer works, will be easy. After all, the police officer was so audaciously negligent, how can you lose?
If the defendant were anybody apart from a cop, you would almost certainly be entitled to collect compensation from that person if they committed any of the aforementioned negligent acts in connection with operating a motor vehicle on the public roadways within the State of New York. However, the New York State Legislature, in recognition of the fact that police officers often must respond quickly to emergency situations, has bestowed certain privileges upon police officers (in addition to operators of ambulances and fire trucks) when they are conducting “emergency operations” that permit them to violate the rules of the road in certain specific manners. If a police officer was engaged in any of the four privileged categories of privileged conduct contained in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1104(b), you will have to prove that the officer’s conduct was “reckless”, instead of simply “negligent”, to collect any compensation from them in a car accident lawsuit.
On Sunday, March 18, 2018, a first-of-its-kind tragedy occurred in Arizona: a self-driving car from Uber’s fleet of autonomous vehicles (which are currently undergoing real-world testing, some of it occurring on Arizona’s public streets and highways) killed a pedestrian. The victim – a woman from Tempe, Arizona – was killed while crossing the street in her home town. The tragic occurrence of a pedestrian fatality due to the negligent operation of a motor vehicle is, unfortunately, not exactly an uncommon occurrence, whether in New York City, Arizona, or anywhere else in the United States. What makes this tragedy especially notable is that it constitutes the first reported case of a pedestrian fatality caused by an autonomous, AI-powered, self-driving vehicle anywhere in the United States. The New York Times covered this story this week, and you can read more about it by visiting the New York Times’ website and searching for the article.
While much of the public discussion regarding this tragedy centers around the phenomenon of artificial intelligence and its exponential growth and potential to upend society as we know it, this article attempts to analyze this horrific milestone from the perspective of a New York car accident attorney. Thus, we ask the following pertinent question, the answer to which will likely become of extraordinary importance to the everyday lives of New Yorkers as the ubiquity of artificial intelligence grows, and which will surely feature in any debate regarding the opening of New York’s roadways to driverless vehicles: Who would be responsible for this horrific tragedy, and thus liable to be sued for compensation in connection with the wrongful death of this poor woman, had this accident occurred in New York? Continue reading
In many very serious personal injury lawsuits, the issue of economic loss – whether it be in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, lost fringe benefits, or lost government benefits such as Social Security – is the most important component in determining the value of a particular case. While these cases also involve substantial amounts of “non-economic” loss (i.e., pain and suffering) to the accident victim, the amount of money that will be ripped from their pocket due to their injuries and resultant disability can be staggeringly high. One of the most important differences between economic loss and non-economic loss in context of a personal injury lawsuit is the ease with which these losses can be quantified. Non-economic loss is intangible, and it is often very hard to value a person’s pain and suffering with a finite dollar amount. Economic loss, however, can be quantified down to the very last penny. For this reason, both in context of settlement negotiations, and while a jury is deliberating over the evidence presented at trial, economic loss is often much more powerful and persuasive than non-economic loss; and, in fact, presenting substantial economic losses can boost the amount of non-economic loss that will be awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit.
When there are substantial economic losses involved in a personal injury case (generally, this is the case when an accident victim is totally disabled from working after a serious injury), a good personal injury attorney will hire an economist to quantify all of the economic losses caused by a tragic accident. This expert analysis is very important, especially when long-term future losses are involved. Economists have special training that allows them to explain the full effects of all economic losses that an accident victim may have suffered, and can apply important statistics and mathematical formulas (e.g., growth rates, inflation) to items of damages such as future medical bills and future lost wages that show that the economic loss suffered by an accident victim is actually much larger than a simple layperson’s analysis would demonstrate. For this reason, an economist is often a solid investment in a very serious personal injury case, especially when the case involves a permanent disability, and top personal injury attorneys will use this important tool to maximize the compensation to which their clients are entitled.
Among the most important parts of any personal injury or medical malpractice case is the “discovery” process. “Discovery” refers to the exchange of information relevant to the claims in the case between the parties. The discovery process is how the evidence that will be used at trial is created. Among the evidence that can be – and quite often is – turned over in the discovery process and used at trial are photographs of the plaintiff’s condition after an accident, including those posted to a privatized social media account. These photographs can be used by the plaintiff to impress upon the jury the devastating impact of their injuries, thereby supporting the plaintiff’s claims of damages if they show that the plaintiff must walk with a cane or is in a wheelchair, for example. These photographs can also be used by the defense to demonstrate that the plaintiff’s injuries are not as bad as the plaintiff claims they are if they show that, shortly after an accident, the plaintiff was out and about and did not appear physically injured, for example. Obviously, what is depicted in photographs will determine whose side – the plaintiff’s side, or the defendant’s side – will benefit from this important evidence of damages.
In today’s world, many people post an incredible amount of information about their lives to various social media platforms. To many plaintiffs’ lawyers’ dismay, personal injury victims also participate in social media, posting information (including photographs) relating to their injuries and the facts of their case, often to the serious detriment of their cases. Despite lawyers’ warnings, clients inevitably forget, or even deliberately ignore their lawyers’ instructions, that any photographs that are posted to social media can be used against them in court. Even though social media is a relatively new phenomenon in our society, examples of errant social media posts which have seriously reduced the value of personal injury cases are abundant. Even when a plaintiff is truly injured, a photograph of them enjoying a moment of levity with family or friends – even if it is the only moment since their accident that they have actually enjoyed, or the only time that they have been able to fight through their pain to leave the house, put on a smile and have even a moment’s worth of fun – can devastate their claims. Our attorneys always counsel clients to completely cease use of social media platforms during the pendency of their cases, and for good reason.
Jesse Minc was quoted in the New York City Lens online news publication regarding an ongoing lawsuit against the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home in Bronx, New York. You can read the article here. This tragic case involved the premature death of a Bronx woman, whose family contracted with the funeral home to cremate her body and return the remains promptly to the family for funerary services. Unfortunately, despite months of inquiries by the family, the funeral home failed to respond and answer one simple question: Where is my sister’s body? As of the date of this post, this simple question has not yet been answered in a manner satisfactory to the family.
This particular case involves a claim known as “Loss of Sepulcher”, in which a deceased person’s next of kin file a lawsuit alleging that a particular defendant negligently interfered with their right to immediate possession of their deceased loved one’s remains. The plaintiffs in such a case can obtain compensation for emotional damages, which are presumed under the law.
These types of claims are often related to claims for wrongful death. Under New York law, and more specifically the New York Estates Powers and Trust Law, next of kin of a deceased person who is killed due to the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of another person may file a lawsuit claiming economic losses incident to the wrongful death of their relative. Wrongful death claims involve purely economic damages; to recover, the family must prove that they have, collectively and individually, suffered an economic loss as a result of the loss of their loved one (e.g., that they have lost a source of household income because the deceased person can no longer work and earn a living to contribute to the family income). If, under the circumstances, the deceased person endured a significant amount of pain and suffering in connection with their untimely passing, the family can also bring a claim for conscious pain and suffering in addition to the separate claims for wrongful death.
On January 27, 2017, Jesse Minc was quoted in the New York Post in an article regarding one of his cases involving claims by Alfrida Rodriguez, Michael Sanchez and David Velez against the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, Inc. in Bronx, New York. You can read the full New York Post article about this outrageous case here.
The family’s claims are being brought under the legal doctrine of Loss of Sepulcher. This important doctrine in personal injury law allows next of kin to recover for the emotional damages caused when someone interferes with their absolute right to promptly receive the remains of a deceased loved one for preservation and burial or cremation. This type of claim is distinct from a Wrongful Death claim because the cause of the death of the individual whose body has been lost or delayed in its delivery to the family is not at issue in the lawsuit, but only a delay or interference in the delivery of the body. However, this type of claim is similar to a Wrongful Death claim in that the claims accrue directly to the next of kin, rather than to the estate of the dead person. All of the next of kin of a deceased person whose body is lost, or unreasonably delayed in its delivery to the family, can recover for the emotional trauma and harm that they suffer. New York law provides that these damages are presumed (i.e., that, generally, a plaintiff does not have to prove that they required any sort of psychological or other medical treatment to be entitled to compensation). A Loss of Sepulcher claim is one of only a few types of negligence claims (as opposed to intentional tort claims) in which emotional harm is compensable without proof of a corresponding physical injury to the aggrieved person.