Articles Posted in Litigation Strategies

Published on:

In July 2011 a 54 year old worker from the Bronx fell on a defective and dangerous staircase. He immediately felt pain to his knee and shoulder. He was transported from the scene and left with a knee brace and told to follow up. Over the following few weeks, he felt pain in his lower back; pain that was becoming disabling.

The client retained Leav & Steinberg to represent him for the serious injuries. Immediately after being retained, L&S set up an inspection of the premises so that we could ensure that the staircase was inspected and we would be able to prove it was negligently maintained.

We commenced litigation and after a short time, the defendant and their insurance suggested we sit down at a mediation. The client had undergone a knee and shoulder arthroscopic surgery at this point. At the mediation, they extended an offer of $150,000.00 in full settlement. Partner Daniela Henriques advised the client that at this stage the settlement was less than adequate and moreover the medical course of treatment revealed that his lumbar spine was becoming worse. We suggested he reject the offer and we proceeded forward.

Published on:

On November 22, 2016, a 6,500 pound I-beam became loose as it was hoisted into place at a construction site in Briarwood, Queens.  The I-beam fell four stories, killing a crane operator and a flag man.  A link with more information about the accident can be found here.  New York City has many laws and safety regulations which protect workers and other individuals at and near construction sites.

Despite such laws, those in the construction industry, often working within tight time and financial constraints, push the limits of those laws and of safe construction.  This can often result in tragedy.

When choosing a law firm to represent someone killed during construction, the surviving members of the family must consider all aspects of the firm’s background, experience, ability to take the case to trial as well and most importantly the firm’s reputations among the defense and insurance industry.

Published on:

Brooklyn resident, Frank Musella, a 37 year old married father of two young boys,  was doing his usual work at the Department of Sanitation in Staten Island on July 29th, 2015 when he began having chest pain.  He went outside and was found immediately unresponsive, having suffered what appeared to be a heart attack.  911 and EMS were called.  From reports received, and due to ongoing issues with the EMS transmission radio system and its WI-FI network, delay occurred in getting to him.  This delay, it is claimed may have created the inability to revive and treat him.  He passed away later that day at Staten Island University Hospital.  An autopsy performed showed that he had severe blockage in his arteries.  He had regular check ups with his doctors and was always told he was okay except for high cholesterol.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP was retained to investigate the circumstances of his death including the delay by EMS as well as the medical care provided by his primary care doctor and a cardiologist who had seen him in months and years prior, but failed to diagnose any emergent cardiac condition.

A suit has been filed naming the City of New York and their EMS service for negligence.

Published on:

Chicago-Marathon
This blog is often filled with stories of clients who have sustained serious life altering injuries and have asked LEAV & STEINBERG, LLP to represent them in seeking the legal justice and adequate compensation due to the negligent actions of others.  Very often the cases take years to progress through litigation.  Very often at each step of the way (depositions, discovery inspections, physical exams) there are pitfalls and things that must be carefully planned in order to achieve success.  The outcome is usually a result of the hard work in preparation.  My personal life over these past six months is quite similar.

As this weekend approaches, I have been checking the weather in Chicago for Sunday.  Mostly sunny, high of 65 and low of 52.   Looks like perfect running weather.  If it was only that simple.  I made the decision to enter the lottery to run the Chicago Marathon about 6 months ago.  Luckily I got in.  That was where the hard work begins.  I have trained for the last 4 months with six days of working out and varied my runs with heart rate training, pacing sessions, and interval speed work.  The goal, to qualify for the Boston Marathon for April 2018.

I have previously run 4 marathons and have gotten within 4 minutes of qualifying.  That has not stopped my determination.  I am hopeful this year will be the year.  I am focused and mentally ready.  As my trainer has told me…the hay is in the barn….  time to run…  The last few weeks are tapering weeks so the running has decreased and the level of rest increased.  This can be tough as many of you on the east coast know….its mallomar season.

Published on:

Ladder accident
On August 10, 2012, while climbing down a ladder at work our client was caused to fall when the ladder tipped over as a result of being placed on wet Masonite. On the date of the accident the client was a 33 year old non-union electrical worker.  He left the job site by cab but upon arriving home he was in such excruciating pain he went to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted and diagnosed with a fracture to his pelvis and a herniation to his lower back.  The client tried to treat conservatively with physical therapy.  In February of 2013 the client attempted to return to work but due to his pain he was forced to go back out on Workers Compensation.   A former client of Leav & Steinberg, who knew the plaintiff from the neighborhood was discussing his accident and pointed out that he should speak with an attorney and recommended Leav & Steinberg given the success we had for him in the past.  After this meeting, the client contacted our office and retained us.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately filed a lawsuit alleging Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 241(6), specifically Rule 23 Section 1-21(b)(4)(ii). Over the course of the next two years the client was required to undergo two surgeries; (1) for a torn labrum in his hip and (2) a lumbar fusion in order to stabilize the vertebrae at L4-5.  Leav & Steinberg, LLP completed discovery and had the matter placed on the trail calendar less than 3 years after the date of accident.  The parties participated in Mediation where an offer of $1,500,000.00 was made.  Upon the legal advice of Leav & Steinberg, LLP this offer was rejected by the client.  A motion was also made by Daniela F. Henriques, Esq., for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability pursuant to Labor Law Section 240(1).  The motion was still pending on the date of the settlement.  The defendants’ position on the motion was that the accident was caused solely by the decision of the plaintiff to use equipment that was not safe and not secured.

In light of the fact that the trial was scheduled for October, 2016, the defendant’s again requested that we participate in a second non-binding mediation.   They further argued that the client had made a good recovery and that his work history was sporadic.  In addition, they argued that given his intelligence and other skills he could return to employment and earn an equal salary; even if not as an electrician.

Published on:

summer camp
As the summer is winding down, I was thankful that my three kids will be returning home from sleep away camp this weekend.  Seven weeks of organized fun, controlled environment with loving and caring counselors and directors to make sure that my kids and others are safe.  As a personal injury lawyer, I am always concerned about the safety of individuals and was thinking of some of the recent camp cases my firm has handled.

When you sign up to send your child to camp, you are entrusting them with the duty to provide your child with a safe and reasonable environment.  Camp activities include, sports, waterfront activities, art, music, as well as many intercamp Olympics and color war.  Some of the greatest memories kids have are those made during these summers.

Yet, many camps fail to provide the most basic when it comes to reasonable care for the safety of its children.  Recently, I represented a young boy who was at a camp.  They had a banana boat ride.  Many of you may know that this is the ride where 4-5 kids sit on a banana shaped tube and a motor boat pulls the kids.  The goal was usually a fun ride along the lake.  Of course, the counselors and probably the kids, in an effort to make it more “exciting”, have the motor boat drive in a way to cause the banana boat to twist and turn in the wake and knock the kids into the lake.  Seems harmless.  Well it would be if you provided the kids with safety rules and guidelines.  What if the child sitting in the front of the boat, closest to the rope, is not given any hand signals in which to convey that they are not feeling safe or feel like they may fall forward into the rope towards the engine of the boat pulling the banana float.  The sound of the engine and the noise from the movement is such that you cant verbally communicate.  Such was the case and my client suffered a severe laceration (over 100 sutures) from his shoulder around his arm onto his forearm.  This left a lasting scar and permanent residual problems.  Leav & Steinberg, LLP was able to prove that the activity was being performed in a dangerous way with inadequate supervision and training of the counselors and a lack of communication with the campers.   Though the camp felt this was not a case, we were successful in proving otherwise and resulted in a significant award for the child and a recovery of his medical bills.

Published on:

Tesla Logo
As an attorney representing car accident victims quite often, the recent news of two Tesla vehicles that crashed while in self-driving or autonomous driving mode raised a lot of questions.  From the attorney perspective, we are taught to evaluate an accident applying two major elements.  The first element is negligence, a two prong question.  First, d id the operator of a motor vehicle, operate his or her car in a way that was unreasonable under the circumstances.  The failure to operate your car in a reasonable manner is the first element of negligence.  The second element is proving that that failure, was a substantial factor or proximate cause of the accident.  The lines are blurred when we consider modern technology.  We must now consider whether the vehicle itself was negligent.

Tesla advises all of its owners that it’s autopilot feature DOES NOT mean that the vehicle is operating itself.  However, all marketing and news stories are describing the benefits of placing the car in autopilot mode and allowing the car and its sensors to sense the road and vehicles and obstructions around it.  Given this dichotomy, one must ask if the warning given is sufficient to free Tesla of any responsibility.

Joshua Brown’s death was the first reported death while operating a vehicle in autopilot mode.  This month, his vehicle collided with an 18 wheeler when the autopilot feature and the surrounding sun glare did not allow the vehicle’s autopilot features to react in a reasonable and timely manner.  The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this accident with a focus on fault of the vehicle’s autopilot features.

Published on:

Worker
At Leav & Steinberg, LLP we are often retained by construction workers who are injured during the course of construction, demolition or excavation work.  Under various sections of the Labor Law of New York, a worker in injured has  many legal rights and remedies to pursue to recover for pain and suffering as well as past and future loss wages.  In addition, as many times the injuries are life altering and permanent; often requiring future medical care.   For these select cases, our firm seeks to recover damages for the future medical cost the client will need.  In our ongoing effort to maximize a client’s recover, establishing a Life Care Plan for their future medical costs will allow us to negotiate a successful settlement and at trial to present competent evidence of these expenses so a jury can award both fair and adequately compensation.

The recovery of future medical expenses may seem both obvious and not necessary. Some lawyers might tell their client, not to worry they have Workers’ Compensation benefits and will or can use that for future medical care.  Others might say that the client’s private health insurance will cover them after the case is settled.  Lastly, as many client’s with permanent injuries apply for Social Security Disability which comes with both a monthly economic payment as well as Medicare, the attorney or firm will lead client to believe he or she can use Medicare and have no worries.   All the above are incorrect and without proper planning, presentation and obtaining the requisite proof a client can be without proper medial coverage for his or her accident related injuries.

The reason the options just mentioned are wrong and would lead the client to a false sense of security is because there are various laws, both State and Federal that state how a client, in a construction accident, can and should prepare and protect for future medical care.  Under present law in New York, when a client settles his or her third party lawsuit (that is a suit against someone other than their employer) while injured on the job, their Workers’ Compensation benefits usually end.  The reason is that under Section 29 of the Workers Compensation Law, a compensation carrier, is allowed to take a credit for the net award the client/employee receives from the third party case.  This credit creates a “holiday” in which the compensation carrier is not obligated to make payments.  For example: if an injured party settles a third-party case and nets after attorney fees, expenses and liens, $300,000.00, workers compensation will not have to pay this client any compensation benefits until he has used up that $300,000.00.  So if he was getting $30,000.00 a year in benefits at the time of settlement, he will not get compensation benefits for 10 years.  At that point the client can apply for benefits to continue but often has reached a certain age, passed away or is no longer entitled to benefits.   So advising a client that he can keep getting compensation benefits for medical is not going to be correct.

Published on:

Court Image
The Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals held that General Motors failed to properly disclose its knowledge of ignition switch defects and accordingly it will now have to face many lawsuits for injuries and other damages, that were once dismissed as part of its bankruptcy filing.

In 2009 General Motors declared bankruptcy.  In doing so, it sought to take any of its viable assets and in an organized sale, transfer them to a new entity now known as “new GM”.  When a company files for bankruptcy they must disclose claims known or likely to be known.  The reason is that when bankruptcy is granted, all debts known or likely to be known are wiped out and the company gets to move forward as a new “reorganized” entity.

Though GM was near financial collapse and the Court did want to maintain a company with thousands of employees, they are not above the law.  The safety of many was at risk and many injuries and deaths had occurred due to defective ignition switches which had caused movement stalls and air-bag non-deployment.  The cause was simple: the poorly improperly designed  ignition switch could slip from the run position and therefore cause many features to fail while in operation.

Published on:

  • Bed sore

When one is admitted to the hospital, it is always due to a medical condition; either emergent or developing. Whether serious or just for monitoring the hospital and its staff must always remember, the safety of the patient is paramount.  Unfortunately, what often happens with those who are laid up is that their body begins to breakdown and develop what is knows as pressure ulcers or “bed sores”.

Bed sores develop when the body is caused to rest in one particular position for too long.  As many who are in the hospital have injuries or ailments that restrict movement, hospitals have protocol in place for observing the patient, monitoring any development of bed sores and of course, when seen, enacting a protocal ranging from rotation, to dressing application to adjusting the patient so that part of the body can heal.  The development of bed sores is not at all uncommon but with proper medical care and supervision can be avoided.  At the very least, any initial sign of a bed sore, can then be treated so as not to cause the spread or further deterioration of the skin.  Such bed sores are extremely painful and debilitating.

In pursuing a recent medical malpractice case on behalf of a patient who was in the hospital for unusual abdominal pain, Leav & Steinberg, LLP was asked to investigate how the patient could have developed not just stage 1 bed sores but sores that progressed all the way to a stage 4. Sadly our client passed away only a few months after developing the bed sores, but the family was distraught that he could have endured such a horrific and painful ending to his life, despite being under the constant care and supervision of what was supposed to be trained nurses and doctors.