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Frequently Asked Questions -Car and Motorcycle Accidents, Slip and Falls and Medical Malpractice-

Car Accidents in New YorkIs Hiring An Auto Accident Lawyer Worth It?

It’s always worth it to hire a New York auto accident lawyer because the insurance companies won’t deal with you fairly. If you don’t have a lawyer on your side; if they insurance company offers anything for settlement, it will be a lowball number. To really know what your case is worth and what you’re entitled to, you need to have your own experienced New York car accident lawyer; someone who does a lot of this type of work; otherwise, the insurance company will lie to you and cheat you; they will tell you your case isn’t worth anything and they will try to get you to sign away your rights for as little as possible. You definitely need a good New York car accident lawyer to protect your rights.

How Long is Too Long to See the Doctor After an Accident?

If you’re having neck pain or back pain, especially if it leads to numbness in the arms or fingers or the legs, see a doctor right away because those are signs of a nerve injury. If the neck or back pain hasn’t gone away after a few days, you should see a doctor, probably a specialist, such as an orthopedist or a neurologist, who specializes in the neck and back. Often, when you have a nerve injury the longer you wait the worse it will get. Also, if you don’t see a doctor soon, the insurance companies will try to claim your injuries aren’t related to the accident, or that if you are really badly hurt, you would have already seen a doctor. By waiting and suffering in silence, car accident victims hurt themselves.

How Much Will I Get For My Auto Accident?

What you get depends on a number of factors. Typically, in New York State, we have what’s called a no-fault system, so if you are out of work because of your injuries, if you’re a pedestrian the car that hits you has to pay for your lost wages; within two weeks after you get them the proof that they need, including a no-fault application (which must be filed within 30 days), a disability letter from your doctor and a proof of verification from your employer, the insurance company should start issuing you checks for lost wages. The other component to any car accident is damages for pain and suffering, and that depends on the nature, extent and severity of the injury and whether it can be proven that the injury is permanent, which makes it imperative to see a proper doctor.

Pay Zero Upfront for An Attorney to Work on Your Auto Accident Case?

For auto accident cases and personal injury cases in general, our New York trial lawyers work on contingency, which means we lay out the costs for your case. We don’t think people who are injured should have to pay upfront, so we do the work and then we get paid at the end, and only if you recover money. Our attorneys believe that your ability to obtain justice should not depend on how much money you have or whether you can pay a lawyer up front. If you don’t recover, you don’t owe us anything; it’s as simple as that.

Are Insurance Companies Evil?

Insurance companies are what they are and they are looking out for their best interests, not yours; they try to pay as little as possible and they will try to avoid paying what they justly owe you. I don’t know if they are evil, but all insurance companies are the same and it is in their interest to cheat you.

What Happens if You Get Into An Accident With the Wrong Person?

The only wrong person to get into an accident with is someone without insurance; if that happens, New York law provides for underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist benefits through your insurance, which means that coverage is required in New York, unlike many states. If the person you get into an accident with has no insurance, or a vehicle flees or runs away from the scene of the accident, the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corp. will take over, as a state fund that provides benefits to accident victims who have been injured because of irresponsible and uninsured drivers. If An Accident is Your Fault, Can You Still Get Compensation? The answer to that depends on the level of fault you are. New York recognizes a comparative fault rule, which means the amount you can recover is based on your level of fault, which means even if you’re 90 percent at fault; you could still recover 10 percent of the damage you suffered. It really depends on how much you are at fault, which is why a lot of the fight in an auto accident case comes with being able to prove the other person was at fault. You see this a lot in intersection accidents, in which both drivers claim they had the green light or the right of way.

What Not to Do When You’ve Been in An Auto Accident?

The main thing you should not do is nothing; if you’ve been in an accident, you should document everything that could your case, you should carefully take pictures, and you should fill out a no-fault application within 30 days of the accident, so that you don’t lose those benefits. One of the big things you shouldn’t do is to try to use your own private health insurance. What you should not do is nothing; you should take affirmative steps to protect yourself; report the accident, fill out the no-fault application and see the doctors who specialize in treating the type of injury that you have received.

Do Pictures Really Make a Difference?

If there’s been a significant impact and a lot of damage to the vehicle, pictures definitely make a difference. If the jury can sympathize or understand that a lot of damage was done to the car, it’s easier to understand that you’re hurt; they tend to sympathize with people who have been through a traumatic event and people can look at a picture and really understand what someone went through.

Pictures of someone heading into or just coming out of surgery, or lying in a hospital bed or pictures of injuries; all of that creates a real feel for what someone went through, so they’re always a good idea.

Medical Malpractice in New YorkMedical Malpractice, An American Threat that Many Times No One Does Anything About.

One of the biggest reasons no one does anything about medical malpractice is because doctors are trained to deny it; they testify against other doctors; they are ostracized by other doctors. Also the doctors who commit malpractice always claim it’s a complication or attribute the cause to something else. Fortunately, our experienced New York medical malpractice attorneys have lots of experience understanding the medical records, the tests and we regularly consult with physicians who are willing to tell the truth, analyze and give us opinions as to what really happened, including how these injuries or worsening of these conditions occurred to the point that we have been able to successfully prove a number of medical malpractice cases.

Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Medical Malpractice Case.

Choosing the right attorney is critical, because not every personal injury lawyer can do it; medical malpractice field is very nuanced, and many attorneys aren’t familiar with it. Prior to filing suit, you need to get an opinion from a doctor of the same specialty who can give an opinion that the defendant doctor deviated from good and accepted medical practices. If you don’t sign a certification that you’ve consulted or received that opinion, then your case is subject to dismissal, so you need an experienced attorney who is familiar with the procedures, is familiar with the tests and who can find the appropriate doctors to testify on your behalf; all of that is critical to proving the case.

Top Three Examples of Medical Malpractice.

There are many different forms of medical malpractice and our attorneys have successfully handled a number of them. One typical form of medical malpractice is where a doctor doesn’t order an x-ray, an M.R.I or other tests, so they miss something. For example, we’ve seen a number of cases in which doctors have not ordered x-rays and there has been a fracture and because they didn’t cast or immobilize the fracture, the fracture displaced.

Another type of case is when people present with symptoms that can be cancerous and the doctors just kind of blow them off as general complaints and they don’t do the testing necessary to find the cancer. That means it develops from stage I where it can be contained and treated to stage III or worse, in which case the cancer metastasizes. At that point it’s usually too late, so they have reduced the fighting chance the person did have.

Another type of malpractice is where doctors just go beyond their skillset. For example, if a basket breaks while trying to remove kidney stones and they can’t get the basket out, there will sometimes be a kidney blockage. If that happens, the good and accepted medical practice is to put in a nephrostomy tube; if they don’t, the kidney can fail and become septic or worse.

Another common type of malpractice out lawyers see are birth trauma cases, such as when an infant experiences what’s called shoulder dystocia, in which the shoulder gets lodged beneath the pubic bone; too often, young doctors simply pull the head, which can cause the brachial plexus to rip, which can interfere with the use and growth of the baby’s arm and cause the arm and hand to not grow. This is a classic case; the typical accepted practice is what’s called a McRoberts maneuver or a corkscrew maneuver, in which the doctor tries to manipulate the mother’s legs or turn the baby in such a way that its shoulder becomes free of the pelvic bone without pulling the head.

Slip and Falls in New YorkHow Do I Know My Slip-and Fall Case is Worth Pursuing?

For slip-and-fall to be worth pursuing, there must be culpability or negligence on the party you want to sue, meaning the owner of the property will have to have been negligent in either its ownership, operation or maintenance of the property. In layman’s terms, that means for example, if you slipped on the stairs, you’d have to show that there was something wrong with the stairs. If the area was slippery, you’d have to be able to show that the property owner knew the substance was there and didn’t clean it up for a long period of time.

Our New York slip and fall lawyers have been able to prove a lot of these cases, in a variety of situations such as in supermarkets in which someone says, “Clean up in aisle 4” and someone slips and falls ten minutes later. We’ve had a lot of defective stair cases and we’ve had a lot of staircase slips and falls in which we brought in engineers to identify defects, such as broken treads or lack of a handrail.

A lot of times, especially in New York City, sidewalks are broken or in disrepair, and it’s the responsibility of the property owner adjacent to the sidewalk to have remedied that, and if they haven’t, there is typically liability.

If you sustained injuries in a large chain because of a slip-and-fall accident, you should definitely hire an experienced lawyer who has dealt with cases like this before. In cases where there are significant injuries, we get orders to preserve the video evidence or surveillance footage, which can often help us prove that a condition was present that caused the fall and the staff did nothing to clean it up. We’ve been very successful in suing large chains or bringing claims against large chains.

I May Not be Able to Work the Same Way Ever Again. How Will I Get Compensated for That?

The only way to get compensated for significant permanent injuries that cause a reduced earning capacity is through a lawsuit. If there are significant injuries and our clients can’t work, we bring in economists to do projections on the value of the loss throughout the course of our client’s lives, and we use forensic accountants and forensic economists to value a person’s reduced earning capacity or reduced work life and we have made effective presentations to juries over the years.

Motorcycle Accidents in New YorkIs Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Really Worth It?

It’s always worth to hire a New York accident attorney, especially with motorcycles. For example, in New York State, motorcycles don’t get benefits under the no-fault law, so it’s necessary to look to other avenues for compensation. Motorcycle accidents require a more thorough investigation; often, the driver will claim they didn’t see the motorcyclist or that the motorcycle was going too fast or weaving.

We can often defeat these claims by finding other witnesses, or be able to isolate and identify the point of impact or establish that the driver had a clear view for quite a long period of time, and it’s impossible for the motorist not to have seen the motorcyclist. Motorcycle accidents are different; you really need an attorney who has handled motorcycle accident cases before and we certainly have.

Are Insurance Companies on My Side When It Comes to Motorcycle Accidents?

Insurance companies are never on your side; they are there to save themselves money and make a profit at your expense, and they will always try to minimize what you’re entitled to, and they will flat out lie to you and claim you don’t have rights. You need an experienced New York motorcycle accident attorney on your side to properly protect you.

What Happens if I Get into a Motorcycle Accident with Someone Who Doesn’t Have Insurance?

In that case, you would generally have to go to your own insurance company, if you have an underinsured or uninsured motorist policy, or you can go the MVAIC, which is a state fund for people who are hit in motorcycle accidents by people who are financially irresponsible or unidentified, like, in a hit-and-run scenario.

Do Courts Hate Motorcyclists?

Courts won’t hate motorcyclists, they’re open to everyone, and many lawyers and even judges ride motorcycles, so you shouldn’t have to worry about prejudice from being a motorcycle rider in New York.

Does Not Wearing a Helmet Make a Difference in My Motorcycle Case?

The law in New York is that all riders have to wear helmets, so if you’re not wearing one in an accident, you’re breaking the law and that’s a problem. Also, if you have a head injury that would have been prevented had you been wearing a helmet that will partially be your fault. On the other hand, if you have arm, leg, shoulder or back injuries, the helmet would not have prevented the injury, so it really doesn’t matter that you were not wearing a helmet.

What Are the Worst Kind of Motorcycle Injuries?

Death is the worst kind of injury anyone can get in any type of accident. That said, we see a lot of severe injuries with motorcycle accidents, including, spinal fractures, leg fractures and significant nerve injuries, many of which require surgery, since the rider is essentially unprotected. There can be many serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, including burn injuries, or road rash, from sliding after they fall off the bike.

What is the Role of Insurance Companies in a Motorcycle Accident Case?

The law in New York is that there is really no no-fault available for motorcycle accidents. Typically, you’ll be looking at your own health insurance company to pay your medical bills. Of course, if there is an individual responsible for the accident, their insurance company is responsible to pay for your pain and suffering and if you are unable to work, but you have to really go after them with a lawyer to represent you, or they will try to cheat you.

What is the First Step After a Motorcycle Accident.

Seeking medical treatment is always the first step; you always want to make sure you are okay and be properly diagnosed and getting the treatment you need if you’re not. The second step should be to seek a lawyer who can protect your interests and get you the compensation you’re entitled to.

How Will You be Compensated if Injuries Don’t Allow You to Work the Same?

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in New York and you can’t work like you used to or do the same type of work, we will typically hire a vocational expert and an economist expert to do an evaluation of what you were able to make before the accident and what you are able to make now and we will go after the insurance company for that plus an amount for pain and suffering. We’ve handled motorcycle accidents virtually in every court in New York, including the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens and we’ve had a good deal of success.

The Surprising Truth on How Motorcycle Accidents Typically Happen.

Most motorcycle accidents happen because the drivers aren’t checking their blind spots and aren’t seeing the motorcyclists, not because motorcycle riders drive recklessly; that’s really a small percentage of accidents. Typically, the most common motorcycle accidents occur when a motorcyclist is staying stays in his lane and goes straight and a bigger vehicle changes lanes or makes a left turn into their path.

Three of the Biggest Misconceptions People Have About Motorcycle Accident Cases.

The biggest misconception is that they think that motorcycle accidents are treated the same as car accidents under New York law. For a motorcycle accident, your insurance company isn’t responsible to pay your medical bills and they aren’t responsible to pay your lost wages. For those, you have to go to your own health insurance company and you have to sue the other party at fault to pay for the damages you sustained.

This next big misconception is that all motorcycle drivers are reckless or wild; in fact, most motorcycle drivers are law-abiding citizens who enjoy riding motorcycles and they do so responsibly.

The third big misconception is that motorcycles are dangerous. What’s actually dangerous is the other drivers on the road who don’t keep a proper lookout for the motorcyclist.

What Should You Ask Your Lawyer About Your Motorcycle Accident?

You should ask your lawyer about any questions and concerns you have, what your legal rights are and you should ask them what recourse you may have in terms of proving the other side was at fault and getting you the compensation you deserve.

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The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph