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Because Your Initial Injuries Don’t Seem to Meet the Serious Injury Threshold, It Doesn’t Mean that You Will Not Ultimately Have A Valuable Personal Injury Claim

Chapter 51 of New York State’s Insurance Law, otherwise referred to as the ‘NYS No Fault Insurance Law,’ limits the ability of a motor vehicle accident victim to bring a lawsuit for injuries. If the victim is not ‘seriously injured’ as defined under the law, then the victim will be limited to the benefits provided under New York State No-Fault; $50,000 aggregated for medical expenses and lost wages. The intent of the law is to alleviate the strain on the court system by disallowing minor motor vehicle disputes from seeing the inside of a courtroom. The flip-side for the victim is that regardless of fault, an automobile insurance company pays the benefits for medical benefits and a portion of lost wages. The threshold for determining what constitutes a ‘serious injury’ in New York State is fairly simple. The victim must meet one of eight of the following criteria in order to pursue a claim for personal injuries in the NYS Courts:

  1. Personal injury which results in death;
  2. Dismemberment or significant disfigurement;
  3. Loss of a fetus;
  4. Fracture;
  5. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  6. Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
  7. Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
  8. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

Sections 1 through 4 are clearly defined; however 5 through 8 are open for interpretation and are constantly and intensely litigated by both plaintiffs and defendants alike. Defining these criteria to determine whether the client meets the serious injury threshold is continuously defined by motion practice, trials, and appeals.

We get phone calls all the time from people with injuries where an attorney has told them they do not have a case, or they do not have a valuable case due to the threshold law. On countless occasions, people have come to us with what looks like a threshold case and later on as their injuries fail to heal, and the case later has values of hundreds of thousands of dollars or even over a million dollars. Patience is the key here! Many lawyers often look to settle these cases early or outright reject them. At Hach & Rose, LLP, we understand that many of these cases take time to understand the full injury picture. Your personal injury case should be treated like a valuable asset, and a poorly timed decision can make an enormous impact on the ultimate result.


New York ferry crash results in 37 personal injury claims

A total of 37 personal injury claims were filed against ferry commuter service line SeaStreak LLC in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey between January and May 23, which was the deadline for claims to be filed, regarding the January 9th crash that injured 83 passengers. Many of them sustained head trauma and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crash.

According to the Ashbury Park Press, the vessel hit the Pier 11 dock; however, details surrounding the crash are still vague and the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the case.

Reports gathered about the accident revealed that the ferry captain lost control of the engines at the time of the crash, a fact that the captain readily admitted.

Our lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP, are committed to helping victims of other people’s negligence seek compensation through personal injury claims. Get in touch with us today at (212) 779-0057 if you’ve been harmed in an accident caused by someone else’s careless actions.


Your Construction Accident Case Needs to Stand Up in the Appellate Courts

Very often we handle cases where we know the success or failure of the case falls into a “gray area” in the law. What this means is that the lower court or as we call it in the State of New York, the Supreme Court’s, decision on the interpretation of the Labor Law could be appealed to the Appellate Division which is a panel of Judges who decide whether the Supreme Court’s decision was correct. Over the last two months alone, our firm has been successful on two appeals that have dealt with interpretation of the New York Labor Law — THE STATUTE THAT EXISTS TO PROTECT CONSTRUCTION WORKERS.

One decision was granting summary judgement to a construction worker who slipped on a construction site and the Supreme Court found the defendant responsible. An award of summary judgment on a Labor Law 241-6 case is rare and one we are very proud of. The second decision was in favor of a worker who fell through a ceiling and had not been provided with proper fall protection. Both favorable decisions were due to great preparation and an eye toward the potential appellate decision. It is very important that lawyers make sure they are prepared to win cases at the Supreme Court level and in the appellate courts as well!!!


Bill seeking higher penalties for abandoning a hit and run scene passes New York Senate

The New York State Senate has passed a bill that allows greater fines and penalties to be meted out to people who will leave the scene of a vehicular accident.

The bill introduced by Ken LaValle increases prison time for a hit and run to a maximum of 15 years in prison by changing the offense to a Class C felony. Fines, too, will also automatically increase.

The current law puts hit and run offenses under a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders, meaning they can be charged with up to a maximum of one year imprisonment. On the other hand, if the perpetrator of a vehicular accident chooses to remain at the scene but is found to be impaired by alcohol or narcotics, the offense will automatically be upgraded to a Class E misdemeanor, meaning the suspect can get up to a maximum of four years of imprisonment.

Suffering through the repercussions of a hit and run accident can be difficult, and our legal team at Hach & Rose, LLP, can help you through this. Learn more about obtaining compensation after going through such an accident by calling (212) 779-0057.


When the “Last Best Offer” Isn’t the Best

We often hear from clients that they have had personal injury claims in the past where an attorney has told them “this is the best we can do.” Insurance companies and the lawyers that work for them are in the business of making money. This means they want to pay as little money as possible to resolve a personal injury lawsuit. In determining how much money a claim is worth, an insurance company must weigh how much money a plaintiff’s attorney will recommend to their client. A major factor in this evaluation is whether the law firm representing the plaintiff is willing to go to trial. Many firms will accept what they believe to be the “last best offer” from the insurance company prior to proceeding forward with the expenses and risks of a trial. Insurance companies are very aware of which law firms will take the case to trial to obtain the best possible result for their clients and which law firms look to settle claims before trial.

Recently our law firm was asked by an injured construction worker to take over a case after receiving a settlement offer of less than one hundred thousand dollars, which his attorney recommended he accept. After our firm took over the case, it was resolved two years later for two million dollars. Our firm was involved in another similar situation this year where an insurance company was willing to pay one hundred thousand dollars immediately prior to trial. While many attorneys would have recommended this settlement amount to their client, our law firm proceeded to trial, which resulted in a jury verdict in the amount of four hundred thousand dollars. This return of four times the “last best offer” demonstrates to insurance companies that at Hach & Rose, LLP, trials will occur when their “last best offer” is not in the best interest of the client.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we pride ourselves in obtaining the best possible result for our clients, not the result which is the “last best offer” from an insurance company.


New York appeals court declares workers’ compensation ruling final

In a 4-1 decision, the New York Court of Appeals decided last week that a workers’ compensation ruling in a personal injury case is binding, saying “findings of fact that are necessary for an administrative agency to reach are entitled to such effect.” This means that the plaintiff will not be allowed to litigate an issue in a personal injury lawsuit that had already been decided on in a previous workers’ compensation case proceeding.

The decision stemmed from a personal injury lawsuit filed by Jose Verdugo, which sought compensation from damages sustained in a 2003 construction site accident after no longer qualifying as a disabled person in a 2006 workers’ compensation hearing.

When you’ve sustained harm as a result of a construction accident, whether caused by your employer’s negligence or not, call an accident attorney from Hach & Rose, LLP, today. By calling (212) 779-0057, you can discuss how you may be able to pursue compensation against the party responsible for your losses.


Hach & Rose, LLP help construction accident victim win large verdict

In 2007, construction worker Victor Munoz was working at a Times Square hotel when he suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of falling from a ladder at the site.

Mr. Munoz was near the hotel loading dock, painting a beam, when the ladder became unsteady, causing him to lose his balance. He fell and landed on the concrete below, striking his head on the pavement. Sadly, this devastating work-related accident caused Mr. Munoz to suffer permanent brain damage, resulting in a loss of hearing on his right side and the inability to keep his balance.

The New York personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP, represented Victor and his wife, Elvia, in a lawsuit against the Hilton Hotel Corporation. The jury in the case determined that the hotel property owners were negligent in their safety procedures, and therefore awarded $13,020,857 to Mr. and Mrs. Munoz. The award includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.

For more information regarding this case, please click here.


Construction Accidents, Municipalities, and Notices of Claim

The construction and repair of roads, buildings, and bridges will always be needed as they make up the very infrastructure of modern society. At times, though, working on such projects can be hazardous to those on the job site due to the negligence of others. When, in New York, a construction worker is injured due to the negligence of a municipality, there is a requirement that the injured worker file a notice of claim within ninety (90) days of the accident in order to proceed with a possible suit.

An example of the notice of claim requirement is embodied, in relevant part, in General Municipal Law § 50-e: A notice of claim is required to be filed “within ninety days after the claim arises . . . and shall set forth . . . (2) the nature of the claim; (3) the time when, the place where and the manner in which the claim arose; and (4) the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained so far as then practicable . . . .”

Quite often there are circumstances where construction workers are injured on municipal property during the construction of municipal buildings, schools, and roadways. In many circumstances when workers are not aware of the notice of claim requirement and fail to contact an attorney within ninety (90) days of the accident, their claims are not preserved and their ability to file a lawsuit can be relinquished forever. Failure to file a notice of claim can prevent a person from recovering lost wages, benefits, past and future medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages.

If you are hurt in a construction accident and it may be due to the negligence of a municipality, it is important to file a notice of claim within ninety (90) days of the accident.

Our firm has achieved jury verdicts and settlements for injured individuals in the amounts of $13 million, $8 million, and $6 million, in addition to many others.

If you need legal help following a construction accident, contact the New York personal injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, today.


Motorcycles and No Fault Insurance

Traveling in New York can be a daily struggle for individuals attempting to commute to work, school, social gatherings, and other events. Thus, many people turn to motorcycles for transportation. Riding a motorcycle is commonly considered the fastest and easiest method of traveling through traffic, moving around buses and trucks, and avoiding other obstacles on the road. Unfortunately, however, motorcyclists are often injured as a result of the fast pace that these bikes can travel and the lack of protection they provide to riders.

Auto insurance typically covers the damages resulting from motorcycle accidents. However, sometimes long and costly lawsuits are brought to court to determine the party at fault in these incidents. In an attempt to reduce the number of these court battles, many states, including New York, have adopted “no-fault” insurance systems. Under no-fault auto insurance programs, it does not matter who caused the accident. Instead, this law requires the insurance companies of the parties involved to pay up to $50,000 for the various damages one faces as a result of the accident, such as lost wages and medical expenses.

It is important to note, however, that no-fault auto insurance specifically excludes drivers and passengers who commute via motorcycle.

Our firm has much experience representing clients involved in personal injury claims arising from motorcycle accidents in New York. In a case where the passenger of a motorcycle was hit by the door of a limousine, we successfully reached a settlement for $1.7 million. In another case where the passenger of a motorcycle was struck by an oncoming vehicle, a New York jury determined that $8 million dollars was to be paid to the injured passenger.

If you need legal help following a motorcycle accident, contact the New York personal injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, today.


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