Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

By Uncategorized

When someone dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another, including murder, the surviving members of the victim’s family may sue for wrongful death. When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you are seeking damages for the survivors’ loss which includes lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship and expenses for the funeral. The right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death is fairly new, common law did not allow this kind of lawsuit. Every state in this country now has some kind of wrongful death law.

Wrongful death claims involve all types of fatal accidents from simple car accidents to medical malpractice or product liability cases. People, companies and government agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently. To file a wrongful death lawsuit in New York State the following must be shown:

– The death of a person
– The death was caused by wrongful conduct or negligence of another
– The wrongful conduct/negligence could be subject of a lawsuit where the person harmed could have recovered damages if they didn’t die (pain and suffering)
– Survivors who have suffered specific damages due to the death

A wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who suffer damage from the decedent’s death, otherwise known as the real parties in interest. Unlike many other state, New York places the responsibility for filing a wrongful death claim to the personal representative of the deceased persons estate. New York State will not allow a family member to bring a wrongful death claim to court unless that family member is also the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. New York law allows the following individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit:

– The decedent’s spouse
– The decedent’s children
– The decedent’s parents
– The personal representative for the estate of the decedent

Damages awarded in New York wrongful death cases depend on the specific facts that are demonstrated in court. Damages have been awarded in New York wrongful death cases for losses such as:

– Funeral and burial expenses
– Reasonable medical, nursing and other health care expenses related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness
– Wages and benefits lost between the deceased person’s final injury or illness and his or her death
– Value of support and services the deceased provided to family members
– Value of parental nurturing, care and guidance to surviving children
– Lost inheritance suffered by surviving children
– Conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased due to the final injury or illness
– Nine percent interest on the damages award, calculated from the date of birth

New York State does not allow surviving family members to recover their own damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish or loss of companionship even if the deceased is a child. Parents may recover damages for the lost value of services such as household chores, performed by the child but the amount is reduced by the reasonable cost of caring for the children until they have reached adulthood.

A wrongful death claim in New York must be filed within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death. This is known as a statute of limitations, bars wrongful death claims from being filed in New York courts if more than two years have passed between the date of death and date of filing. New York does not stop the statute of limitations from running if the personal representative of the deceased person is a child or legally incapable of filing the claim. In these specific cases, the guardian of the child or incapable person is expected to file the wrongful death claim instead.

Nothing can take away the pain and suffering of losing a loved one but if the loss is due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover damages. Contact Losi Gangi if you feel you have a valid wrongful death claim at 716-854-1446.

How Do You Prove Liability for a Vehicle Accident?

By Personal Injury

A car accident can happen on a highway, or country road and can be a head on collision or you can be hit on the side from someone leaving a parking lot.  One of the most common types of collision is getting rear ended from behind.  Most of the time people think that rear-end car accidents are always the fault of the driver who rear ended the car in front but this is not always the case.

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.  You are considered negligent if your actions fall short of what a reasonable person would or would have not done under the circumstances that led to the accident.  To prove that one of the drivers were negligent in a car accident, you have to prove that a duty existed.  All drivers owe one another a duty to exercise care when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  You must prove the other driver breached their duty by:

  • Failing to pay attention to the road and look out for hazards
  • Failing to stop within a reasonable time
  • Failing to drive at a reasonable speed
  • Failing to maintain control of the vehicle
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Failing to follow at a safe distance

Third, you must prove the other driver’s breach of duty was the cause of the accident and you must establish that you were left with actual damages either to your body or the vehicle as a result of the accident.

The driver of the car that rear-ends another vehicle will almost always be considered at least partially negligent.  Every driver has a duty to follow other vehicles at a safe distance.  This is due to the driver sometimes suddenly slow down or come to quick stop to avoid a hazard in the road or heavy traffic.  You are expected to have enough distance between you and the car in front of you to prevent a collision in case an unexpected stop may occur.

It is possible for the driver of the car that gets rear-ended to be negligent as well if any of these scenarios happen to take place:

  • A driver reverses suddenly
  • A driver stoops suddenly to make a turn and fails to execute the turn
  • The driver’s brake lights do not function
  • A driver gets a flat tire but does not pull over or turn on the hazard lights

New York is a pure comparative fault state.  This means each defendant is only liable for his or her percentage of fault and allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99% at fault.  Recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault.  Accident victims can recover some compensation for their injuries no matter how negligent they were even if their degree of fault is higher than the defendant’s.

If you have recently been involved in a car accident and have been injured call the attorneys at Losi & Gangi at 716-854-1446 for a free consultation and review of your case.

Article adapted from: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/is-fault-automatic-rear-end-car-accident-case.html

Show your local representatives why injured workers are so important and shouldn’t be forgotten about.

By Workers Compensation, Workplace Safety

                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

            Losi & Gangi wants to take the time to tell our clients, affiliates and friends how happy we are that you allow us to work for you. We appreciate everyone who lets us fight on their behalf when it comes to their legal matters. Whether you were hurt at work, hurt in a motor-vehicle accident, or slipped and fell, you shouldn’t be punished.

             The Injured Workers’ Bar Association on behalf of claimant attorneys, and injured workers across the State of New York has been fighting to correct the broken legal system we find ourselves in.

              Please read the information from https://www.protectinjurednewyorkers.org.  Next please go to the website and voice your opinion by submitting your electronic letter to the local representatives in your area. This will show the amount of people being effected by the below information, but most importantly shine a spot light on how injured New Yorker’s are being treated as a whole.

            Workers’ compensation payments, meant to serve as income protection for workers injured on the job, have been declining in New York since the 1990s. Legislative and administrative changes in 2007 and 2017 decreased workers’ compensation benefits and minimized employer costs, leading to its steady decline.

            New York was the first state in the nation to adopt an effective and efficient workers’ compensation system. Today, New York ranks 29th in workers’ compensation.

           While injured workers have been receiving low workers’ compensation benefits, if any at all, insurance companies have been making billions. A recent report by James Parrott at The New School found that insurance companies profited $1.6 billion from New York workers’ compensation in 2018 alone.

           We need a workers’ compensation system that works for Hard Working New Yorkers.

Legislative Bills currently being proposed are to help fix the protections that are supposed to be in place for injured workers.

  •   Bill A9900/S7850 would provide a hearing for every workers compensation case to allow injured workers to be heard
  • Bill A9955/S7954 would define temporary total disability as the inability to perform the job, in which injured, or a job offered by the employer that has been modified to meet the abilities of the injured worker
  • Bill A10472/8396 would enact the COVID-19 injured workers’ protection act to offer protections to workers who contracted the virus on the job
  • Bill A9920/S7726 would amend Section 35 (Safety Net) to define extreme hardship and apply it to cases with 50% LWEC
  • Bill A9924/S7751 would include a presumption of permanent total for those on social security disability insurance as a result of an injury or inability to perform sedentary work
  • Bill A10067/S7843 would provide a live verbatim stenographic record, make decisions issued in the native language of the injured worker, and make a hearing or stipulation required at the closing of the case

               These bills will make New York the leader it once was in protecting injured workers. With your support, we can ensure that all working New Yorkers have the protections they deserve.

                If you have questions about this article, please visit the website above. Contact our office at (716)-854-1446, if you want clarification on these issues and submit your letter to show your approval to take back your injured worker protections.

 

What is Willful Negligence?

By Uncategorized

Negligence is caused by the failure to behave with the level of reasonable care that someone of ordinary prudence under the same circumstances.  This behavior usually consists of actions but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.  Proving negligence is required in most claims from car accidents to slip and fall cases.  Negligence claims must prove four things in court: duty, breach, causation and damages/harm.

In order to win a negligence case, the plaintiff must prove these four elements to show that the defendant acted negligent:

  1. Duty – The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances
  2. Breach – The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way
  3. Causation – It was the defendant’s actions (or inactions) that actually caused the plaintiff’s injury
  4. Damages – The plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s actions

Ordinary Negligence

A reasonable person requires individuals to act in the same manner as a reasonably mindful person would under similar situations.  Ordinary negligence is when an individual acts in a way that a reasonably mindful person wouldn’t. Under negligence law, it is required that individuals take a reasonable measure to protect themselves and others from danger.  Negligence law establishes a responsibility for reasonable care.  Any person who doesn’t follow this responsibility and harms another individual may be financially liable for any damages that occur.

Ordinary negligence applies to:

  • Ordinary claims
  • Catastrophic accidental injury
  • Defective products

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care, which is likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to persons, property, or both.  It is more difficult to claim or prove gross negligence because it involves:

  • Conduct that is a significant leap from the guidance by which a competent and reasonable person would act
  • A serious or high degree of negligence
  • Behavior which was taken out of line from a normal, reasonable person
        • Typical care is not taken
        • An absence of any kind of diligence
        • No care is taken whatsoever

Courts have characterized gross negligence as a reckless and unmistakable abuse of duty to the legal rights of others.  Under a wrongful death statue, proving gross negligence is mandatory in order to qualify for punitive damages.

Willful, Wanton, Reckless Conduct

Willful misconduct is considered further along the misconduct charts since willful misconduct is:

  • Intentionally or voluntarily committed
  • Reckless or intentional

When trying to prove willful, wanton, reckless behavior, a prosecutor will try to provide evidence that a significant harm was the result of the defendant’s actions. The two main differences between negligence and willful, wanton, reckless conduct are:

  1. The defendant intentionally or knowingly disregarded all risk
  2. The risk would most likely result in substantial harm

Plaintiffs looking to seek punitive damages from injuries must prove that the defendant engaged in willful, wanton, or reckless behavior.

Willful misconduct and gross negligence insurance policies vary by state, but the general terms say that acts of:

  • Negligence are covered
  • Gross negligence are not covered
  • Willful misconduct are not covered

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a lawyer, especially if you have missed work and have accruing medical bills.  Call our experienced team at Losi & Gangi today for a free consultation at 716-854-1446.

Article adapted from: https://www.upcounsel.com/willful-negligence

How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

By Personal Injury

Social Media has become part of our every day life.  Nearly everyone has an account on one of the many social media platforms.  We wake up and scroll through our feeds, check Twitter as our first news source and upload pictures of our meals, family and amazing sunsets we’ve seen. Sometimes we even press send before we have even had a minute to think about what we have posted!  Our phones are never more than 2 inches from our hands often times with our computers and tablets close by.  Social media is accessible at every month, date and time but did you know, nothing you post is ever really private? 

If you have recently been injured in an accident and are pursuing a personal injury claim, social media can be your worst enemy.  Shared posts, videos and photos on any social network may negatively impact your case.  You may think that sharing the details of your injury or accident is harmless but on the contrary, could have an adverse reaction.  If you are tagged in photos that document you out with friends or on vacation this could contradict your injury claim that you are unable to work. 

Photos that show that you are able to leave the house, dine out or go to the gym can also effect your injury claim.  Insurance companies can find these posts and use them against you.  This could result in a reduced settlement or to the extreme of no settlement at all.  The insurance company is trying to minimize your injuries and shift the blame to you for the accident so going to find evidence on your social media accounts isn’t out of the question.  When in doubt, stay silent online and don’t post!  If you must be on social media, try and limit your presence until your case is completely resolved. 

Every social media platform has their own privacy settings, where the user can limit who sees their profile and what they post.  Many people are unaware of these settings or realize that their profiles are public for all to view.  By changing your privacy settings, it can protect you from anyone looking at your page.  Even privately posted information on social media platforms can be used in a personal injury case.   When you adjust your privacy settings, don’t allow access to your pages by people outside of your own connections and do not allow your friends to share your posts and information.  After an accident or when you file your claim, avoid friending additional connections, as they could be representatives of the insurance company or opposing counsel.  Do not only rely on the privacy settings, cover yourself and don’t post anything.

It is your personal injury attorney’s job to accurately describe the extent of your injury including how the injury has had a negative impact in your daily routine and how the defendant and their actions caused the injury.  Any details about your injury that you post on social media could be mis represented and conflict with the story that your legal team is trying to present in court.  Sometimes witnesses will be called in to give testimony on your behalf and you wouldn’t want to contradict any information that they will be providing. 

The defense team will attempt to use your own words and photos against you if it contradicts what your legal counsel is claiming in court.  If your lawyer has claimed you have suffered physical injuries and mental distress from an auto accident and there are photos of you online contradicting your injuries (dancing, boating, skiing, etc.) your claim may be thrown out.  To protect your self and your personal injury case follow these steps:

  • Tell your friends and family to avoid posting about your accident and injury
  • Limit your social media presence until your case is resolved
  • If you must post on social media, be aware of what you are posting before you share with the public
  • Before posting, change your privacy settings to ensure that nobody outside of your connections can see your posts and photos
  • Avoid friending or adding any new contacts that you don’t recognize
  • Do not post any angry comments about the defendant or your case

If you have been recently injured and would like to speak to a lawyer, call the attorneys at Losi & Gangi at 716-854-1446 for a free consultation.  We achieve real results for our injured clients and make sure you are represented fairly in your case. 

Article Adapted from:  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/could-social-media-impact_b_9858366

Losi & Gangi Prevails in Two Death Claims under New York State Workers Compensation Law

By Workers Compensation

Under New York State Workers Compensation Law, a death will be deemed compensable if the Estate proves the Claimants work or work injury contributed, predicated, or played a part either directly or indirectly in the decedents demise.

Additionally, there are multiple presumptions in favor of the Estate that can be used in proving causation of the death to the decedents work.

After protracted litigation, Losi & Gangi was successful in obtaining benefits for two Estates in death claims under the Workers Compensation Law.

A registered Nurse working for the Buffalo Psychiatric Center was originally injured on 10/13/2010. She hurt her back, right shoulder, and neck. She had multiple treatments including surgeries and medications including opioids. Unfortunately, on 5/15/2013 the claimant committed suicide. On behalf of the Estate, Losi & Gangi claimed that the Claimants ultimate suicide was related to her pain, treatment, stress and opioid medications from her ongoing Workers Compensation Claim.

After protracted litigation, and shortly before trial, Losi & Gangi was able to obtain Workers Compensation Benefits for the claimant’s husband and two daughters from her date of death until present. Additionally, the husband will continue to receive weekly benefits for the rest of his life.

In a second death claim, Losi & Gangi obtained a settlement for the widow of a local Attorney who worked for a Personal Injury Firm.

The claimant was a 43-year-old attorney who, while arguing a motion in court experienced sudden onset of sharp and severe leg pain. He suffered an aortic dissection and was rushed to the hospital. After a lengthy hospital stay, the claimant ultimately perished due to multi organ failure and infection.

The defense presented evidence that the death was not related to his employment but rather it was due to some previous health issues. 

Just prior to trial, a settlement was obtained compensating the widow and avoiding the uncertainty of future litigation.

Which Parties Can Be Held Liable in a Car Accident?

By Personal Injury

You have recently been in a car accident.  Everything happened in a split second.  Was it a multi car pile up or did someone rear end you at a stop light?  After trying to piece apart everything that occurred how do you determine who was at fault?

Fault for causing an accident is either created by law or defined by common law.  Common law recognizes four basic levels of fault: 

  • Negligence 
  • Recklessness (wanton conduct)
  • Intentional misconduct 
  • Strict liability (regardless of fault) 

Negligence means careless or inadvertent conduct that results in harm or damage.  One can be negligent by failing to yield the right of way or actively doing something like running a stop sign.  

Reckless or wanton conduct is when there is a willful disregard for the safety and welfare of others.  Strict liability may be imposed, even in the absence of fault for accidents involving certain defective product or extra hazardous activities.  

Under common law, individuals who have caused a car accident have committed a tort, a private wrong against another.  If you have committed a tort you are referred to as a “tortfeasor”.  Many car insurance policies refer to people who are at least partly at fault for an accident. If the driver has engaged in intentional or reckless misconduct such as drunk driving there is no question who would be at fault.  When there has been a car accident it can be harder to determine who is at fault.  Sometimes more than one motorist may be found responsible in the case of an accident and multiple tortfeasors will become part of the case.  The state will have to determine who must pay for the damage to the property and individuals who were involved in the accident.   

Every state has different laws on how vehicles can operate on the road.  Many of these statues are versions of the common law while others are the result of legislative initiatives.  Any violation of these statutes may lead you to be considered negligent in the case of your accident or fault may be established by citing a statute that has been violated.  The easiest way to apply proximate cause for an automobile accident is to see whether the accident would or would have not have occurred if there were no violations in congruent with the accident.  

The police don’t always come to the scene of an accident but if they do they usually make an accident report especially if there was any sort of injury.  Make sure to get a copy of the accident report from the police officer after it is filed.  These reports are the observations that the police officer has made at the scene of the accident.  If any tickets were issued they will be documented in the report and it will contain evidence of any liability.  This report may be key evidence for your insurance company.  If there is an error in the police report, it can be fixed especially if there is a factual error.  If you feel the error has to do with who is at fault you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately to represent you in your case.  

State traffic laws, otherwise known as vehicle code are often put together in easier terms as rules of the road.  You can find these at your local DMV or online when you research vehicle codes.  Have the exact wording of the code so you can relay it to your insurance company.  When no fault car accident liability is involved the insurance company will try to settle immediately since the accident will be one driver’s fault.   

Rear end collisions are the most common type of car accident.  When a car hits you from behind it is almost never your fault even if you were stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.  According to basic driving rules, is that you are supposed to leave enough room in front of your car to stop if the car the car in front of you stops abruptly.  When the damage on the car is at the rear end of one and the front end of the other you will clearly be able to see who was at fault.  But what if the driver that rear ended you said someone pushed into them from behind causing the chain reaction? This doesn’t affect their liability for the damage done to your car.  Although usually the other driver is at fault, if you were negligent by having your brake lights on or a flat tire you could partially be at fault as well.  This is known as comparative negligence and could reduce your monetary compensation.  

Left turn collisions are almost always at fault of the driver who is making the left hand turn.  Cars coming straight into the intersection most always have the right of way.  If the car going straight through the intersection is speeding or runs a red light, this may shift some of the liability away from the car that is turning left.  If the car started to turn left while it was still safe but was forced to stop because of some unforeseen circumstance, the liability may be shifted.  

While most accidents can be resolved at the scene by exchanging insurance information sometimes injuries can show up at a later time.  If you have recently been in a car accident and have been injured call us today at 716-854-1446 and we can make sure you get fair representation in your case.  

Article adapted from: https://injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/car-accident-liability-proving-fault-in-a-car-crash.html

What To Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?

By Personal Injury

“Slip and fall” is the term used in a personal injury case where a person slips or trips and is injured on someone else’s property.  This usually falls under a premises liability claim.  Slip and fall accidents usually occur on property owned or maintained by another person. The property owner may be held legally responsible in the case of your accident. Many dangerous conditions include poor lighting, a wet floor, changes in flooring and cracked public sidewalks.  A slip and fall cause might occur when someone slips and falls outside when there is ice, rain or snow or falls into a hidden pothole or drain hole.  

When a person gets injured in a slip and fall on someone else’s property, they must prove that the cause of the accident was a dangerous condition and that the owner knew of this condition previously.  A dangerous condition must present an unreasonable risk to a person on the property and it must have been a condition that the injured party should not have anticipated under the circumstances.  

In order to show that a property owner knew of a dangerous condition it must be proven that: 

  • The owner created the condition 
  • The owner knew the condition existed and negligently failed to fix it 
  • The condition existed for a length of time that the owner should have found and corrected it prior to the slip and fall incident 

For the property owner to be held liable, it must have been foreseeable that his negligence would create the danger that is at question.  There must be a responsible party whose negligence caused the injury.  

To be legally responsible for the injuries someone suffered from slipping, or falling on someone else’s property, the owner of a store, restaurant or other business must have caused the spill, worn spot, or dangerous surface or item.  They should have known of the dangerous surface because a “reasonable” person would have repaired if upon discovery or on the opposite end, they knew about the dangerous surface but did nothing about it.  If a slip and fall happens on a commercial property, there are often a number of people and entities that may be held responsible for the injuries.  

In a residential property, landlords may be held liable to tenants or third parties for slip and fall injuries on rental properties.  To hold a landlord responsible for an injury the tenant must show that the landlord had control over the situation that caused the slip and fall, repairing the condition would not have been unreasonably expensive or difficult, a serious injury was the foreseeable consequence of not fixing the condition and the landlord’s failure to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident cause the tenant’s slip and fall injury.  

Special rules apply when a slip and fall injury occurs on a property owned by a local, state or federal government entity.  There are very specific and stringent notice requirements and broad immunity provisions that sometimes guard government objects from liability for injuries that occur on their property.  If you are injured on government property, call your attorney immediately so they can give you the proper information you may need for your lawsuit. 

Slip and fall accidents can be very pricey and if the fall was caused by another person or business, filing a lawsuit may be the only way you can recover medical expenses, loss wages and money for pain and suffering.  Call your attorney as soon as possible since there are time limits where you can file a personal injury lawsuit.  

What You Should Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident? 

  • Get medical attention as soon as possible – This is important because some symptoms do not show up right away after the accident.  By getting a thorough exam from a medical professional you will be able to have your diagnosis in writing for any future legal matters.  If you have a broken bone, cuts or any other type of wound that was caused by the slip and fall document 
  • Inspect the area where you fell – Look around for the potential cause of the fall (weather conditions, uneven flooring or concrete, etc.) Write down what happened as soon as possible because it will help you in your case. 
  • Identify witnesses – Write down names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone in the area where the incident occurs (those who saw you fall and others who were around after the incident).  Even if someone did not see you fall, they might be able to describe your pain and the conditions of the floor, lighting, etc. after you fell. 
  • Follow necessary procedure – If the incident happened in a store or place of business you may need to fill out an accident report or notify a manager.  Make sure the store and manager knows about your accident immediately.  If anyone employed by the store makes a comment saying that your accident did not happen in the store or suggesting that this occurred before, take notes especially the name of person of who made the comment.  
  • Take photos as soon as possible – Try to take pictures of the scene immediately after the accident especially if conditions start to change.  If you do not get photos, you may be at the mercy of the property owner’s version of how they thought the slip and fall accident occurred.  Even if the condition that caused your fall is permanent or semi permanent (ice on the sidewalk, cracks in the concrete) take photos of the area as soon as possible to that you have a record.  
  • Stay at the scene to fill out an accident report and keep talk to a minimum especially about how the fall happened. 

After you submit your slip and fall claim, an attorney or insurance adjusters from the property owner or responsible party may approach you.  Be careful what you say especially since these people work for the opposing party and their insurance companies and they will pay you as little as possible in your case.  Don’t make simple mistakes by saying too much.  

Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  They will know how to handle the insurance companies and the other party’s lawyers.  The attorneys at Losi & Gangi are experienced in slip and fall injury on property cases.  Call for a free for a free consultation and review of your case at 716-854-1446. 

Article adapted from:  https://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/slip-and-fall-accidents-overview.html

https://accident-law.freeadvice.com/accident-law/slips_falls/fall_what_to_do.htm

10 Critical Steps After a Car Accident in New York State

By Personal Injury

Even though the safety features in vehicles has become more advanced over the past few years, there were still over 2 million people injured on the US roadways in 2019.  Over 140,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries stemming from car accidents.  Car accidents often happen in a split second and there are a lot of factors that need to be put  into place after it occurs.  By knowing what to do and who to contact can help you build your case for a personal injury claim.  Here are 10 steps you can follow after you have been in a car accident:

Step 1 – Stop, Check for Injuries and Call 911

New York law requires drivers that are involved in an accident to immediately stop at the scene or as close as possible to see if anyone has been injured.  Call 911 and report the accident to the police.  The 911 dispatcher needs specific information to determine whether police, paramedics or tow trucks will need to arrive on the scene.  The dispatcher will need to know the location of the accident, read nearby street signs, give landmarks and describe what the scene looks like.  If anyone is complaining of pain, discomfort or is noticeably injured or if the accident is blocking traffic an ambulance and police will be sent. 

You are required to give the other driver your name and address, vehicle registration, drivers license information, insurance and license plate number.  If you are the one injured in the car accident do not refuse medical assistance.  Let the EMTs examine you and decide if you should go to the hospital for further tests and observation.  Seeking prompt medical attention after the accident can be crucial to the success of your personal injury claim.  The longer you wait to seek medical attention the greater the chance the insurance company will deny your claim.  If you have been injured and are physically unable to immediately contact the police you can wait until you are able to report the accident.  New York State does not require drivers involved in car accidents to assist those who may be injured.  Anyone who “voluntarily and without expectation of monetary compensation” gives first aid to the injured victim under the Good Samaritan law will not be held liable for the help given. 

If you hit an animal or a car that was unattended you should report the accident to the police.  For the unattended car, even though it is not required by law, you should leave a note with your name and contact information and a brief description of how the accident occurred.  If the animal was a dog or cat see if the animal is ok or needs help and try and locate the owner.  If the car accident resulted in injuries to any person or damage to property is $1,000 or more, you must file a report with the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days.  If the police came to the scene of the accident, they are required to file an accident report.  To obtain a copy of a police report, contact the local police precinct who investigated the accident. 

Step 2 – Preserve Evidence from the Accident Scene

The actions you take in the minutes following an accident are crucial for developing your vehicle damage and personal injury claim.  This damage can include: car repairs, medical bills including X-rays and MRIs, out of pocket expenses for prescriptions, wheelchairs and costs of travel to treatment, lost wages and pain and suffering.  Take photos if you have a phone or camera available.  This will help determine who was at fault if intoxication was involved and will capture potholes, road obstructions and street signs that were nearby.  Get the registration information, VIN number and make, model, year and license plate number of the other vehicle.  Record the weather conditions and time of day the accident occurred and ask the other driver for their license number, and contact information.  If a witness is present and willing to talk record their statement and make sure they sign off on the information they are giving with their name, address and signature. 

Step 3 – The Role of Police at Accident Scenes

When police arrive at the accident scene they have several different tasks they need to take care of:

  • Arrange care for the insured
  • Secure the accident scene with flares, pylons, tape, etc.
  • Search for physical evidence, including skid marks, obstructions, debris in the road, etc.
  • Question drivers, passengers and witnesses to get information about the accident
  • Conduct field sobriety tests
  • Run warrant checks
  • Issue traffic tickets
  • Give drivers a “case” or “service number” so they can obtain the police report

Wait until the officer is done investigating the accident to speak to them. If the officer is asking you to identify yourself and provide information you must comply but if you are being questioned about the possession of drugs or any other criminal activity, you have the right to remain silent.  If the police officer decides that you violate New York’s traffic laws, you may be issued a traffic ticket.  By signing the ticket it becomes an agreement that you will appear in court at a later date, not necessarily that you are guilty.  At this time you may enter a plea of not guilty to challenge the ticket. 

Step 4 – Call Your Insurance Company and Report the Accident

Call your insurance company as soon as you are able to.  They will open an investigation and a claims adjuster will contact you.  Most insurance policies have a Cooperation and Notice of Occurrence clause that refers to the contractual obligations between the driver, the insured, and the insurance company, the insurer.  This clause requires the insured to notify the insurers of the accident, regardless of fault and to cooperate throughout the investigation.  You should contact your insurance company even if the accident wasn’t your fault.  This is an important step because the other driver might tell their insurance company that you were the one at fault when in fact they caused the accident.  The investigation may show the other driver is fully or partially at fault for the accident due to texting, speeding or engaging in some other form of negligent behavior. 

Even if no one was injured you should still report the accident to your insurance company.  Some injuries such as neck or back pain can take hours or days to appear when you originally thought that you were fine.  The other driver may not have car insurance and that can affect your outcome.  Get as much information from them as possible and let the insurance companies handle your claim.  Sometimes at the scene of the accident, the other driver or passengers may say that they are not injured but at a later date they will file false claims saying they have whiplash to receive compensation from the accident. 

When the car accident is reported to your insurance company, a claim number will be assigned.  Make sure you keep this claim number handy because you will need it throughout the process.  You are not required to give a recorded statement to the claims adjuster but once you do what you say becomes permanent even if you later change your mind about what happened at the accident scene. 

Step 5 – New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law

New York State relies on a no-fault car insurance system also known as Personal Injury Protection (PPI) coverage.  No-fault is designed to cover medical bills, out of pocket expenses and lost wages if you get into an accident.  PIP does not give compensation for pain and suffering.  PIP covers bodily injury expenses regardless of who caused the accident.  This means you don’t have to sue the other party’s insurance company, just contact your own carrier and file a clim. 

You can pursue your injury claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company if you are seriously injured.  A serious injury happens when your medical expenses exceed $50,000 and can include death, loss of a fetus, bone fracture, permanent loss of the use of a body organ and a medically determined injury or impairment that is not permanent but keeps you from performing your normal routine for at least 90 days.  If you have been seriously injured in the car accident, file a personal injury claim with your own insurance company (first party claim), file a personal injury claim with the at fault driver’s insurance company (third party claim) and file a lawsuit against the at fault driver. 

Step 6 – New York Auto Insurance Requirements

The minimum auto insurance liability coverage required by New York law is

  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death of one person in one accident
  • $50,000 for body injury and $100,000 for death of two or more people in one accident
  • $10,000 for property damage in one accident

New York required no fault of at least $50,000 to pay medical expenses, lost earnings and other necessary expenses within a reasonable doubt related to injuries suffered in an auto accident.  Auto insurance policies issued in New York State must also provide uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injuries in an amount equal to the policy’s liability limits for bodily injury coverage. 

Step 7 – New York’s Pre Comparative Negligence Law

Pure comparative negligence law occurs when an accident that occurred in New York State results in injury damages that exceed the no fault requirements.  The victim in an accident can still seek compensation from the negligent driver even if the victim shared some responsibility for the accident.  The amount of compensation the victim receives will be lessened by the percentage of their own contributing negligence to the accident. 

Step 8 – Retain an Attorney or Represent Yourself

Some personal injury claims can be handled without legal representation while others require an attorney.  Two types of injuries that occur from car accidents are soft tissue and hard injuries.  Soft tissue injuries include strains and sprains to tendons or muscles, minor bruises, first degree burns and whiplash.  Soft tissue injuries usually don’t result in substantial medical bills and since they don’t involve complex issues of law, a victim can usually negotiate their own injury claim with the insurance company.  Hard injuries are more series and include head trauma, fractures, gashes that require stitches and other injuries that require extensive medical care.  Hard injury claims often require filing a lawsuit. Compensation for a serious injury claim can be substantial and by representing yourself, you won’t be as effective as an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Step 9 – When to Consider Filing a Small Claims Court Lawsuit

If you are unable to settle your injury claim, you may want to file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Small claims can be filed in city courts that may not exceed $5,000 and under $3,000 in town or village court.  Here is why you should file in small claims court:

  • The at fault driver was uninsured or under insured
  • Your car or other personal property was damaged and the cost to repair it is under the small claims limit
  • The insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation in the settlement
  • The insurance company denies your claim
  • You can’t find an attorney who will accept your case 

Step 10 – Know the Statute of Limitations

Whether you handle your own personal injury claim or have an attorney represent you, New York’s Statute of Limitations will apply.  A Statute of Limitations is the time period in which you have to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit.  If the statute of limitations expires (3 years) you forever lose your legal right to pursue compensation from the at fault driver or their insurance company.  If the statute of limitations is about to expire and you haven’t settled your claim, you must file a lawsuit to stop the statute from running out.  This makes your case exempt from the statute of limitations expiration date. 

The injuries that occur from a car accident could mean life long pain and suffering.  If you were recently involved in a car accident and need legal representation call Losi & Gangi at 716-854-1446.  We will represent you throughout every step of your case and make sure you get the compensation that you deserve. 

Article adapted from: https://www.injuryclaimcoach.com/new-york-car-accident-guide.html

Five Steps to Developing an Effective Workplace Safety Program

By Workplace Safety

Five Steps to Developing an Effective Workplace Safety Program

If you are an employer of any size, it is important to prioritize and put workplace safety first to protect both your employees and your financial assets.  You should have a workplace safety plan put into place but if you don’t, here are five steps you should be following to ensure your employees are safe while at work

Step 1: Demonstrate Company’s Commitment to Workplace Safety

Make workplace safety a company-wide value.  Add a sentence in your company’s mission statement so it becomes top of mind.  Management should reflect these values not only in their words but their actions.  They should conduct a thorough investigation and give detailed reporting of every workplace accident while encouraging employees to follow proper safety procedures. 

Step 2: Assess Workplace Risks and Hazards

You will need to get a professional assessment of the everyday hazards specific to your workplace.  Management should release a company wide survey to give employees the opportunity to express their concerns confidentially.  Since the employees work in these conditions every day, it is important to get their opinions and they can often give insight about risks that aren’t obvious to someone who isn’t privy to them on a daily basis.  During both the professional and employee assessments, make sure to create a distinction between workplace hazards (building layout and design), activity hazards (anything related to machinery) and environmental hazards (air quality, chemicals, fumes, etc.)

Step 3: Create a Written Protocol for Employees

Once you have determined all workplace hazards, you can sort to create the blueprint for your safety program.  Employee job descriptions must be clear in writing and must state specifically the issues and requirements regarding safety and health responsibilities.  By having these requirements in writing, it saves room for error when employees are unclear and may need further explanations of their job requirements. 

Step 4: Emphasize Employee Education

After the safety guidelines have been created, you need to relay the information to your employees.  Training should be done when employees are first hired but once new procedures or equipment have been introduced, you should be training your employees on the new protocol.  If you notice new hazards or an employee has transferred, training should be done to refresh the current team.  By constantly reviewing and training your employees, they will be up to date on proper safety guidelines and less mistakes will be made.

Step 5:  Implement and Evaluate 

You should be investigating all workplace accidents no matter how small you may think they are.  Most incidents are usually preventable and once you determine the cause you can figure out a solution so that this does not happen again in the future.  Accidents open the door to making working conditions safer for the employees in the future.  All employee feedback whether anonymous or not should be kept at the forefront.  Workplace duties and employees are always evolving and new safety risks can rise every day.  This is sometimes faster than most employers realize and you don’t want it to be too late where an accident could be fatal. 

Once you put these steps into place, your workplace safety program should be executed immediately to your employers.  Hold dialogue between employees and employers and encourage questions to be asked.  If you have been injured at work due to an unsafe workplace call Losi & Gangi today at 716-854-1446 and speak with one of our attorneys.  

Article adapted from: https://www.ehsinsight.com/blog/5-steps-to-developing-an-effective-workplace-safety-program