Articles Posted in claims against the government

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Earlier today, a crane collapsed across the span of the Tappan Zee Bridge resulting in injuries to at least three people as they swerved to avoid fallen debris. The crane collapse has caused a shutdown of the outdated and structurally insufficient bridge wreaking havoc on traffic in the area. The bridge is closed indefinitely.

The crane was being used in the construction efforts of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The construction project, a $4 billion endeavor, has already seen several other major incidents resulting in deaths. In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members. In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man.

There has been no shortage in crane accidents in the recent past, and despite the high stakes of these construction projects and the obvious need for safety, these accidents continue to happen. The engineers and contractors who are responsible for the placement, operation, management, inspection and control of these cranes must uphold their duty to ensure that these types of accidents don’t occur.

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On July 18, 2016 at 7:35 A.M., two NJ Transit Buses crashed causing injuries to no less than 15 people. The accident occurred in the Manhattan-bound tube of the Lincoln Tunnel. Both buses were filled with commuters bound for the New York Port Authority.

Commuters were incensed with NJ Transit and took to social media to voice their outrage as the avoidable accident injured many people and caused long residual delays.

Attorneys from Leav & Steinberg specialize in litigating claims following accidents that were caused by the negligence of others. In the past we successfully resolved a case that involved a multiple bus accident that occurred in the Lincoln Tunnel. The plaintiff in that action was a bus passenger who suffered a laceration to his chin and injuries to his jaw.

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Eddie Fernandez
As I read the recent stories across the county of police officers using excessive force and taking the life of two men; I was reminded of the events of August 12th, 2012 right here in the Bronx.  28 year old, Eddie Fernandez, enjoying a day in his neighborhood was run down by a NYPD Police officer who decided to use his vehicle as a dangerous weapon and take the life of this young man.

Whether it was the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or the killing of Philandro Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, the ongoing debate rages around the country.  When should or can a police officer use a level of force they know will or likely to cause serious injury.   Under the general definition an officer may use deadly force when he or she is threatened with the same force or the perpetrator is acting in a way that causes a likelihood of serious injury to others.

When my firm was retained by Eusebia Ramirez to represent her on behalf of her son, Eddie Fernandez for the unlawful and excessive force used, I immediately hoped that some video would exist that would show what happened that day.  Luckily, video surveillance does exist and the story it tells, rivals those recently shown around the country in the recent shootings.

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During the summer of 2013 our client, a 10 year old boy from New Jersey was injured while playing football at a field located in Manhattan. The game was organized by youth football league and held at a field owned by the City of New York.  During the course of the game our client sustained a fractured wrist after being tackled and landing on the base of a soccer goal.  Unfortunately, when the field was set up for the football game a soccer goal was placed on the side of the field causing an increased risk to the players.

Since this case involved at least one municipal defendant we were required under New York Law to file a Notice of Claim against the City of New York within 90 days. After the Notice of Claim was filed the City of New York is given the opportunity to conduct what is called a 50-h hearing to determine the facts surrounding the accident.  Once the 50-h hearing was held we then filed a lawsuit naming both the City of New York and the private youth football league as defendants.

Both defendants tried to argue that that there was no liability against their respective clients since our client “assumed the risk” of injury by paying football, which is an inherently dangerous game.  Alexander Kran, III of Leav & Steinberg successfully argued that this was not an “assumption of  risk” case since the defendants had increased the risk of injury to our client by placing the metal soccer goal next to the field where our client was playing football.  Therefore, it is important to always protect your legal rights and consult with one of the attorneys at Leav & Steinberg so that we can examine the facts and circumstances and provide you with our legal advice.

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It was with great anger that I read the article from the NY Times discussing a South Carolina man who was fatally shot by a police officer after being pulled over for a broken taillight on his vehicle. As Walter Scott the driver was outside the vehicle, a scuffle ensued. Certainly we would expect the officer to use that force necessary. However, due to video captured by a bystander, Mr. Scott is seen running away, when Officer William Slager fires multiple shots at him when he is at least 15-20 feet away. What is captured on video next is terrible.

The officer approaches Mr. Scott see that he has been wounded, handcuffs him, but then walks back to where the vehicle was, picks up his Taser gun and drops it right at the foot of a dying Mr. Scott. This, he hoped, would be his alibi that he feared for his safety and that Mr. Scott had used the Taser on him and fled with it.

Officer Slager is being charged with murder.

The brazen acts of this officer are both shocking and upsetting. It reminded me of the matter in which my firm, Leav & Steinberg, LLP is representing the Estate of Eddie Fernandez who was killed by NYPD Office McClain in August 2012. At that moment, Eddie was riding away on his dirt bike, when officer McClain, who had already used his police vehicle to strike one dirt bike rider, makes a U-turn and crosses into oncoming traffic and strikes the back of Eddie’s dirt bike with his vehicle. Clearly using his vehicle as a deadly weapon. Eddie died as a result of the very serious injuries sustained. A young man, who had taken care of his mother was gone. The distraught family has sought criminal and civil charges against Officer McClain and also Federal Civil Rights violations against the officer and the NYPD.

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP often receives calls from people who trip and fall on a city sidewalk and are injured. One would assume since it is a city sidewalk the city would be solely responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalks. However this is not always the case.

In 2008 a law was passed by the NYC counsel shifting the responsibility to maintain and repair sidewalks to the building owner in most instances. The city is now only responsible to maintain and repair sidewalks adjacent to 1, 2 or 3 family, owner occupied houses. So if you fall on a sidewalk adjacent to a commercial building or high rise Apartment the building owners insurance company is responsible to compensate you for your injuries. However, it is very important to call Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately after any trip and fall so we can do a complete investigation and protect your rights. If the city is involved a notice of claim must be presented within 90 days.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who unfortunately fell and got injured after falling on a defective sidewalk. It is always best to call us immediately so we can protect your rights.

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On the evening of Tuesday, February 3, 2015, a Metro North train collided with an SUV that was stopped on the tracks near Valhalla station. As a result of this tragic accident, the driver of the SUV and five passengers on the train were killed. There were also numerous injuries to other passengers.

While investigators haven’t answered many questions about the crash. Their initial findings are shedding some light on what could have played a role in causing this accident.

Initially it appears that the driver of the SUV was in traffic that was inching toward the crossing, and when the warning lights came on and the crossing gates came down, the driver’s car was within the gates. One of the gates hit the driver’s vehicle, who subsequently got out of her vehicle to check for damage. Seemingly unhurried, the driver got back in the car and proceeded further onto the tracks.

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An explosion today in Manhattan’s East Harlem caused a piano store and an evangelical church to crumble to pieces, leaving a grim scene behind. The buildings, which were located near 116th Street and Park Avenue, also contained fifteen residential units. The incident was reported to be deafeningly loud, like a bomb. One witness described the feeling in his room nearby in the Taft Houses as similar to experiencing an earthquake and a car crash at once. The force of the explosion caused debris to spew onto elevated Metro North train tracks across the street, resulting in temporary suspension of service. Residential and commercial building windows nearby were shattered to pieces. People ran into the streets and gathered there in crowds. Smoke and flames poured out of the wreckage while first responders dug into the bricks, looking for survivors.

Two fatalities and twenty-eight injuries have been documented. The injuries range from minor to severe. One individual reported hearing loss and another individual seems to have suffered a brain injury. Almost two dozen of the injured are being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital. A handful are being treated at Harlem Hospital. Other hospitals with patients with injuries from this incident include NY Presbyterian, Weill Cornell, and Metropolitan Hospital. Numerous people remain missing at this time.

The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined. However, a Park Avenue resident notified Con Edison of a gas leak at 1652 Park Avenue at 9:13 A.M., approximately fifteen minutes prior to the explosion. The caller specified that the odor may have been coming from the exterior of the building. Con Ed’s work truck did not arrive at the scene until after the explosion. An eight inch low pressure gas main services this area; its condition is presently unknown.

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On the morning of Sunday, December 1, 2013, a Metro North train derailed while it was traversing a severely curved portion of the track in the Bronx near the Spuyten Duyvil station. All of the train cars veered off of the track. The locomotive and cars in the front deviated the most, nearly toppling into the water and ending up close to the edge of the shore. There were approximately one hundred to one hundred and fifty passengers on the train at the time. There were four fatalities and sixty-three injuries. Three of the four people who passed away were thrown thrown from the train after the windows blew out.

The cause of the derailment is under an ongoing investigation. The scene of the accident was promptly reviewed and secured by authorities who braced the cars which came to rest at an angle. Busted out windows laid on the ground nearby. The interior of the cars were ripped apart and passengers’ belongings were strewn about.

Engineer William Rockefeller has over a decade of experience with the Metro-North and survived with minor injuries. When he gave preliminary statements, he told first responders that he hit the brakes. There were three conductors on the train. Another official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, claims a last resort emergency brake technique was used.

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The doctrine of sovereign immunity dates back quite some time. Essentially, the doctrine states that you cannot sue the government. Fortunately, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act, where the federal government agreed to waive sovereign immunity in certain types of cases, particularly those against federal employees acting within the scope of their employment.

Allowing people to sue the government for torts committed by federal employees is more significant than many people realize. In fact, most people are not aware of the number of times they come in contact with federal government employees or government property. For example, if you share a road with a postal truck, visit a national park or receive treatment at a military hospital, you are being cared for by government personnel or using federal government property. And if you are injured while doing so, the Federal Tort Claims Act allows you to bring a lawsuit against the federal government.

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