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With the United States slowly easing into the first few stages of reopening, some business owners and politicians have expressed concerns that this progress may be thwarted by a “new pandemic”, personal injury lawsuits. In light of COVID-19 recovery, some are petitioning for protections that will shield businesses from liability concerns regarding coronavirus infection risks stemming from reopening. Currently, it’s unclear whether Congress will decide in favor of protecting business owners from such lawsuits.

Calls for New Legislation

A medical professional securing their face mask
In New York, State Legislature has approved liability protections for healthcare providers in anticipation of a wave of lawsuits related to COVID-19 fatalities. Legal teams representing small businesses nationwide are requesting Congress to extend these protections to employers who fear that they may fall victim to frivolous lawsuits claiming employees or customers contracted the virus at their establishments. However, not everyone is on board with establishing this liability shield, as it could lead to potential dangers for the public due to the negligence of organizations caused by failure to adhere to duties of care. Edward Steinberg, the president-elect of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, voiced his opposition to this legislation by stating that, “Big businesses aiming to shirk responsibility and shift costs onto workers will make it harder to get Western New York up and running.”

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As cities and states begin to reopen while the United States continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees who are asked to return to work have concerns about contracting the virus. What’s more, lawmakers and business advocacy groups are pushing for a federal liability waiver, which would eliminate employer liability for COVID-19 infections among workers. In a recent Newsday article, attorney Edward Steinberg voiced his concerns for New York City workers, which are summarized below.

Inconsistent Safety Precautions

A person standing outside wearing a mask

While Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated face coverings and six-feet social distancing for essential businesses throughout the state, the government is not currently tracking how well companies are following these orders. What’s more, many individuals have expressed confusion about the safety requirements. This lack of oversight puts employees at risk as they return to their jobs. Those who support the waiver call it a way to help employers adapt to changing regulations. Advocates fear that frivolous lawsuits would threaten businesses that act in good faith to keep workers safe as they reopen.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regularly inspects offices, construction sites, and other work environments to help keep employees safe. Employers are expected to take preventative steps to protect their staff. There are several different levels of OSHA violations.

De Minimus

A construction worker holding a piece of wood

This is the least serious of the OSHA violations. De minimus violations include things that don’t have a direct impact on the health or safety of workers. Citations are not issued for these offenses, but they are discussed and resolved verbally.

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On March 15, 2020, both our state and city closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Many businesses were shuttered, and sadly, thousands of New Yorkers found themselves unemployed or furloughed, many of whom were our clients. Those clients had been seriously injured before this health crisis and were relying upon our team to help them seek justice. Though our firm had to work remotely, Leav & Steinberg LLP is still committed to our 21-year tradition of providing high-quality lawyering and customer service to every client. Listed below are just a few of the matters that we have resolved during the COVID-19 crisis as of April 29, 2020.

The outside of a courthouse, representing the personal injury lawyers at Leav & Steinberg LLP in New York, NY
$812,000.00 settlement at a virtual court conference and virtual mediation for a 65-year-old retired Department of Education aide. The client slipped and fell on water from a hole in the lobby of her building that was caused by a plumbing leak. The building owner and a contractor were aware of the condition before the accident. The client did not report the accident but did seek emergency treatment the next day for neck pain and eventually underwent cervical spinal surgery. The defense argued her cervical problems were pre-existing as she had received treatment for her neck and lower back before this. Further, unrelated to the accident, the client had diabetes, suffered renal failure, and was on dialysis.

$225,000.00 settlement at virtual mediation for a plaintiff who was lawfully operating her motor vehicle when she was rear-ended by a truck. The driver argued that the plaintiff’s vehicle wasn’t visible. As a result, our firm motioned for and won summary judgment. The client sustained a knee injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery, but no ligament tear was found. However, we were able to show the films and reports to an expert radiologist who opined that other injuries were sustained.

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Although scaffolding is a necessary part of the many construction projects in New York City, it can increase the risk of falls and other injuries. If you’ve been in an accident related to scaffolding, you may be entitled to compensation. Let’s explore New York’s scaffolding laws and how a personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.

How Do New York’s Scaffolding Laws Affect My Case?

A person walking under a scaffolding tower
Because there’s an inherent risk in using scaffolding, New York City sets a strict set of safety standards that dictate how scaffolding should be erected and used during construction projects. These standards are put in place to protect workers and pedestrians from injury. If you’ve been hurt in an accident related to scaffolding, it may have been caused because these guidelines weren’t properly followed. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the negligent parties who didn’t follow the safety standards.

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Vaping is an increasingly popular recreational activity that involves nicotine and is used by individuals of varying age groups. Originally billed as a healthy alternative to smoking, research is beginning to suggest that might not be the case. Here are a few health risks that can be caused by vaping.

Nicotine Dependency

A silver vape

While vaping does remove some of the carcinogens that come from traditional cigarettes, it does not eliminate nicotine. Nicotine is the stimulant drug that is being consumed from the device, and it is known for being a highly addictive substance. This means that vaping can cause the same or higher level of dependency due to the high nicotine content of the product. For former cigarette smokers, this may not seem like a problem, but for those who may understand vaping as completely separate from smoking or have never smoked before, addiction may be unprecedented. Nicotine dependency can lead to irritability and mood swings, and can also invoke a greater financial drain than the user originally expected, as he or she may feel the need to purchase the drug on a recurring basis. Additionally, improper treatment of this addiction can make the situation worse.

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Though there are many safety regulations in the construction industry, accidents still happen. Whether these are due to bad luck or negligence, the factors that caused an injury must be investigated and addressed. Here are a few of the most common injuries construction workers experience.

Falls

Two people on a construction site
As one of OSHA’s “fatal four,” falls are made up of two categories: surface-level and from a height. Falling is the number one cause of fatalities in construction. Areas without protective ledges, like roofs and scaffolding, pose the biggest threat to worker safety.

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Train accidents often result in severe injuries and sometimes death. Research indicates that approximately 150 people every year get hit by moving trains, and at least 50 victims die. When a train accident occurs, the victims may find it necessary to sue the party at fault. Here is what you need to know about New York train accidents.

Common Types Of New York Train Accidents and Their CausesA subway train with the doors closed

Travelers using the New York City subway get exposed to risks and accident predisposing factors such as over speeding, braking failure, electrical malfunctions, intoxication malfunctioning subway equipment, and poor maintenance of trains. Additionally, sudden stops, operator negligence, and failure to label hazards may lead to fatal train accidents. While most train accidents occur due to the lack of preventive measures, some rare cases result from natural causes like storms and earthquakes. The most common forms of train accidents involve derailing, train collisions, and pedestrians getting hit by trains.

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Sticking to one lawyer throughout a case is both ideal and essential to developing a strong case. A client should only change lawyers if it is absolutely crucial. In some cases, an individual may feel dissatisfied with the services of their current lawyer, or there may arise a conflict of interest that calls for the change. You have the right to switch lawyers at any stage of your case, but you should consider various factors and follow all legal steps.

What Will Happen If Your Lawyer Gets Indicted

A person signing documents

When a lawyer gets indicted, they put their clients’ cases in serious jeopardy. Any legal issues associated with a lawyer may influence the judge to believe that even the client is not obliged to the law. Sadly, if a judge views your case from this perspective, it can be hard to obtain a fair ruling. If you find out that your lawyer is facing any legal issue, consider hiring the services of a different legal professional.

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Though everyone hopes that their loved ones are receiving quality care, many nursing home residents experience some form of neglect. According to several sources, about five million cases of elder abuse happen each year. Not all of these occur in nursing homes, but understanding different types of nursing home neglect can help you spot the signs of abuse and talk to your loved one about it.

Abandonment

Senior woman with their caregiver at home
Abandonment occurs when the nursing home employee who is responsible for caring for a resident deserts them. This can mean that they are not making the necessary amount of visits to the resident’s room. Abandonment can also include leaving a resident alone in a common area when they should be monitored more closely. This form of neglect defeats the purpose of placing a loved one in assisted living because it denies them the care they need. When you visit your loved one, keep an eye on how many employees you see helping residents.

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