Accidents and injuries are, at the very least, inconvenient. Causes of accidents vary vastly, as do their injuries. Even with a seemingly minor injury there is always the unfortunate chance that it could develop into something much more debilitating. The time of a personal injury case rests on this uncertainty, but can also be prolonged by the other party’s cooperation (or lack thereof). The process generally takes anywhere from six months to two years, give or take.
Seek Medical Attention
You should always seek medical attention immediately after an accident or injury. Regardless of how slight you think your injury is, it could always be more serious. After an accident, you may go into a state of shock, preventing you from immediately feeling pain. Or you may ignore a bruise that is in fact indicative of internal bleeding. Not only does this put your health at risk, but the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it will be to later prove that the accident actually caused your injury. Even if you are able to prove that the accident was the initial cause of your injury, failing to seek medical attention immediately may prevent you from being fully compensated for neglecting to promptly treat the initial injury. It is therefore vital you seek medical attention immediately to increase your chances of a full recovery.
Consult with an Attorney
While calling the insurance company may seem like the next logical step, you should consult with a personal injury attorney first. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and will assess whether you have a viable personal injury case, advise you on your options, and estimate your case value. The majority of people who choose to independently settle their claim with an insurance adjuster receive a much lower settlement than those working with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney will not only deal with insurance adjusters for you, but will negotiate the highest settlement amount. If an attorney believes you are entitled to a larger settlement, they will give you the option to accept the settlement amount or file a lawsuit to pursue the full value of your case. Once you decide to retain an attorney it will be on a contingent fee arrangement.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
To more accurately determine your case value and thus the compensation you deserve, attorneys refer to a legal concept called Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is defined as “the point when a condition cannot be improved any further or when a plateau in a person’s healing process is reached.” Basically, this means that you should wait six months before you consider settling your claim. Documented complaints lasting six months can establish a permanent impairment, which plays an important role in establishing a comprehensive case value (future medical needs, lost wages, pain and suffering). You should also be aware that if you settle your case before undergoing a related surgery, you will not be compensated for that surgery – settling your case prevents you from asking for additional compensation.
File an Insurance Claim or Demand Settlement
Generally, claims are filed against the at fault-party’s insurance company. After doing so, a claims adjuster will be assigned to investigate the claim and try to negotiate the settlement. In some instances, your attorney will send a demand letter to the other party demanding a settlement for your injuries. This generally happens when the other party does not have insurance, or an insurance company is not involved.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When a settlement cannot be reached, the next option is filing a lawsuit. Under New York Statute, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within three years of your injury or accident. Filing a lawsuit can motivate the other party to increase their settlement offer to avoid the costs of litigation or a hefty jury verdict. Your attorney will file a complaint on your behalf. The other party will then file an answer to the complaint, along with any counterclaims they may have (which your attorney will to respond to). For more information on whether you should go to trial click here.
Discovery is the pre-trial process where the parties exchange evidence and information. This will help both parties form their arguments and predict their chances of attaining a favorable outcome at trial. This will often motivate the parties to settle before trial as it will expose the weaknesses and strengths of their cases and provides a more inclusive expectation of what the actual value of the case is. Discovery includes interrogatories, depositions and independent medical examinations (IME). Interrogatories are written questions submitted to opposing parties and require a response. Depositions are essentially interviews under oath which deposes both parties and witnesses. An IME is a medical evaluation given by the other party’s doctor of choice to assess your injuries. The discovery process is a lengthy one.
Mediation and Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are two approaches to attaining a pre-trial settlement. Mediation is where the parties agree upon a neutral third-party to help the parties come to a settlement. The settlement will only be binding if both parties agree to written terms and is signed by both parties. Arbitration, on the other hand, is always binding. Arbitration is a hearing conducted by a neutral third-party (who is often a retired judge or esteemed lawyer). Mediation is never required, but judges may suggest it if they believe a settlement is within reach.
If no settlement can be reached, then the case goes to trial. However, the parties are able to settle any time up until the final judgment is rendered. The length of trials vary vastly, ranging from hours to months. Trials can be unpredictable, but the best way to protect your best interests is by choosing an experienced attorney to represent you.
There is a new article on our Must Know Info page written by Mark Glen Sokoloff about pursuing FELA claims. It outlines the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) and points to a recent case in which attorneys with Hach & Rose, LLP were able to obtain a $1.4 million verdict on a FELA claim.
Click here to read Mr. Sokoloff’s article.
Whether you settle your case or take it to trial, your choice of representation will dictate how much compensation you receive. Choosing the first attorney who takes your case is simply not enough to achieve the results you deserve. You must take into consideration things like experience, fields of specialization, past results, and even the size of the firm.
The Right Experience
This is pretty self-explanatory but worth mentioning. Do not just choose an attorney with the most years of experience; choose one who has the most relevant experience. Choosing an attorney with 30 years of experience primarily in Corporate Law to represent your Personal Injury case clearly is not the best choice. Use the attorney’s or law firm’s website to research whether they have experience handling cases similar to yours. You can also use their website to reveal whether they have trial experience. While many cases settle, choosing a respected trial lawyer not only increases your chances of a favorable outcome if your case does end up going to court, but also encourages the opposing party to offer a fair settlement to avoid the courtroom altogether.
Playing the Fields
As mentioned above, years of experience is only helpful if it is relevant to your case. Some law firms will advertise they take cases in many fields which essentially means they specialize in none. Choosing a firm that specializes in a certain field means you are not getting the player but the entire team. Attorneys in a firm are invaluable resources to each other and collaboration between knowledgeable attorneys leads to better results and helps expedite the road to recovery. Specializing in a certain field enables attorneys to estimate your case value based on personal knowledge, pursue the best course of action to get your full recovery, and can avoid endless negotiations with uncooperative opposition. They will also have the groundwork laid out for you even before walking in the door since they will already have the resources and legal knowledge relevant to your case.
Results are usually listed on an attorney’s or law firm’s website. If they are not listed, this could be an indication that they have none worth listing. Results pages may demonstrate how many cases a firm has taken and the financial successes of those cases. Looking at listed results will also help you form an idea of how much you may be due, and help you realize the law firm that encourages you to settle for a fraction of what you think you deserve is probably not the right law firm for you. This is not to say settling is never a good idea, but choosing a law firm that does not prepare their cases for trial will settle for lower amounts in order to avoid the litigation process. Successful litigation firms receive both higher settlements as well as higher verdicts. While settling your case may be the smartest move, settling for a law firm never is.
Contrsuction Accident Victims
Construction work is an inherently high-risk job. It is therefore vital for construction workers to be aware of the remedies available to them for injuries sustained on the job and the necessary steps to receive compensation. Hach & Rose, LLP specializes in construction workers’ injuries, and we encourage injured workers and their loved ones to contact us with any questions they may have.
Representing Construction Accident Victims
Hach & Rose, LLP regularly achieves some of the largest jury verdicts in the state of New York for workers injured on construction sites. We obtained a $13,000,000 jury verdict for an injured union painter who fell from a ladder and sustained a traumatic brain injury. We also obtained a $12,800,000 jury verdict for a woman who suffered a severe neck injury due to defective construction. These cases are heartbreaking, and no amount of money can ever undo the damage done, but we dedicate ourselves to ensuring the victims and their families are given the opportunity to live as good a life as they deserve. We do this by preparing every case for trial – always ready to fight for the absolute highest recovery for our clients.
The Importance of Reputation
Obtaining such high jury verdicts warns the opposition that Hach & Rose, LLP has aggressive and highly-skilled attorneys who do not back down from a fight. Our reputation has been a powerful tool in obtaining faster recoveries for our clients without compromising the results – defendants agree to significant settlements to avoid facing our attorneys in court. These results include:
- $3,525,000 for a worker who fell from a makeshift ladder
- $3,500,000 for a stone mason struck by a piece of sheetrock
- $2,600,000 for a worker who was struck by a backhoe
- $2,500,000 for a worker who was injured when a piece of construction debris fell from a building
- $2,000,000 for a construction worker injured by a falling pipe
- $1,800,000 for a construction worker struck by a vehicle due to a lack of a barricade
- $800,000 for an engineer who tripped and fell over debris
- $225,000 for an engineer who hurt his wrist falling from a ladder on a construction project
You Are Not Alone
There are so many unpredictable dangers present at construction sites and are inherent to construction work. While Hach & Rose, LLP understands it is impossible to control all of these unpredictable dangers, we believe that those injured by such dangers must be compensated accordingly. Whether an injury is caused by a construction company overlooking the need for a barricade or the negligence of a fellow worker operating equipment, an injured victim should never feel like they are alone or without recourse. Where others fail to protect construction workers, Hach & Rose, LLP is there to defend them. If you have been hurt on a construction site, contact us to learn more about how we can help you.
In a new video FAQ, Halina Radchenko of Hach & Rose, LLP discusses what a “no-fault” IME is. For more information from our experienced attorneys or to discuss a case with us, make sure to contact us at (212) 779-0057 today. Hach & Rose, LLP has built a reputation for helping individuals in New York City and the surrounding areas, and we are ready to help you in your time of need.
In “Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety” (the Vision), the U.S. Department of Transportation updated its safety guidelines for the testing, manufacturing and deployment of self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles. The new version is not only significantly more relaxed than its predecessor, but also emphasizes its voluntary nature “this Guidance is entirely voluntary, with no compliance requirement or enforcement mechanism.” Car manufacturers and technology companies are praising the new guidelines as they allow these entities broad discretion by “encouraging the self-establishment of industry safety norms.” Essentially, the DOT is advocating for these entities’ independence in establishing the standards for employee training, consumer educating, and overall quality in the autonomous vehicle industry. However, giving private businesses full reign to establish adequate standards for their own products creates the unavoidable risk of companies prioritizing their own financial self-interests over the interests of public safety.
While the Vision’s goal is promoting innovation in the autonomous vehicle industry, it is unclear how it will be implemented without stripping State and Local governments of regulatory power. In the Vision’s Introductory Message, U.S. Secretary for Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, contemplates “a future” where “the elderly and people with disabilities gain access to the freedom of the open road” with self-driving cars. However, this is rather a bold assertion as it presumes that either the States will proactively revise current legislation to reflect and support the self-established industry norms, or Congress will preempt the States from legislating on self-driving vehicles. The Vision states, “NHTSA is responsible for regulating motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and States are responsible for regulating the human driver and most other aspects of the motor vehicle operation,” yet it is unclear where on the spectrum a human driver behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle would land – under NHTSA’s or the State’s regulatory power? Assuming self-driving cars allowed the elderly and disabled wider access to “the open road,” this would necessitate a more lenient revision of licensing requirements as well as traffic laws and regulations.
It is inevitable that self-driving vehicles will lower both driver alertness and control as the driver will be allowing the autonomous system to maintain primary control over the vehicle. Minimizing human interaction could trigger an influx of potential concerns, including questions of accountability. If an autonomous system fails to acknowledge a red light or perceive a merging vehicle resulting in a crash, should the driver, the manufacturer, or both be held accountable and to what extent? Beyond liability, how will driver alertness be mandated, measured and enforced? Will autonomous vehicles substitute the driver or supplement driving? Misclassifying autonomous vehicles as substitute drivers instead of a complement to driving (and vice versa) could easily transform self-driving vehicles’ safety function into a safety hazard; under-reacting to a situation can be just as dangerous as over-reacting, and the hazards associated with both can be expected to increase as driver alertness decreases. According to the Vision, consumer education and employee training (which could minimize risk) should be the responsibility of the manufacturer, but it is highly unlikely a manufacturer’s commitment to public safety would come at the expense of finalizing a sale. So the final question is… how effective can we really expect self-serving safety standards to be?
Michael Rose of Hach & Rose, LLP was quoted by the Times Union in a story this week.
Attorney Rose is representing the family of Edson Thevenin, a man who was fatally shot by police. The officer who fired on Thevenin has been on paid administrative leave since April 2016, when the shooting took place. He was reinstated this week.
The Thevenin family’s case has yet to go to trial. In a statement, Rose outlined some of the thorny issues surrounding this reinstatement. “The current litigation on behalf of Edson Thevenin’s family will raise questions about this decision. The Thevenin family looks forward to their day in court.”
Read more about this developing story here.
Hach & Rose attorney John Blyth discusses what it means to be a “fall risk” when it comes to nursing homes and caring for the elderly. At Hach & Rose, LLP, we firmly believe that our loved ones deserve the utmost care in a nursing home, and if they are not properly monitored or taken care of according to their specific needs, the nursing home should be held responsible for their failures.
Our elderly loved ones deserve to live with dignity and proper care, and we will not stand for anything less than ideal treatment. For more information about your rights and the rights of your loved one, contact us at (212) 779-0057 today.
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