Articles Posted in Litigation Strategies

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Waivers of liability were designed to inform participants of hazards involved with certain activities and protect the individual or company from lawsuits in the event of injury. However, they’re sometimes abused by companies who use the waivers to dodge all responsibility, even in the case of negligence. And, in some instances, waivers of liability are not enforceable in New York. While there are many reasons a party can be found responsible despite the use of a waiver, there are three circumstances that typically nullify waivers of liability.

You Paid for the Service or Activity

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It’s not uncommon to be asked to sign waivers of liability at gyms, skating rinks, pools, and other amusement facilities. However, if you paid for entry into these venues, the owners or operators are not exempt from negligence claims under New York law. In these cases, the waivers exist simply to make attendees or participants believe that their legal rights are limited.

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If you have little to no experience with legal procedures, you may be hesitant about your initial consultation with a lawyer. Attorneys are a great resource for legal advice and can answer your questions, but the initial consultation is usually more productive when the clients come prepared. Here are a few steps you should take in advance of your meeting to ensure you get the most out of it.

Come Organized

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Coming into the office organized can help you have a successful initial consultation. Have your notes in order and bring any relevant documentation you think will be useful in discussing your case. The more information you have, the better. We’ll be able to sort through it all and tell you what’s relevant and helpful.

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When a person is injured in an accident caused by another person or entity, he or she can recover damages for pain and suffering as well as other costs. In New York, the court award for pain and suffering in a personal injury case depends on the extent of the injury and the future prognosis, including the psychological and emotional as well as physical impact. If you or a loved one pursues a personal injury claim because of a negligent action by an individual, business, or organization, the court will consider proof of pain and suffering when determining the final damage amount.

Expert Testimony

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Gather documents from health care providers that detail the physical and mental effects of the accident. Your medical doctor must include information about how the injury has impacted your ability to function and the surgeries, treatments, and pain-relieving measures that will be required as you recover. If you are experiencing psychological effects related to the accident, seek care from a mental health provider such as a psychiatrist or therapist. He or she can provide notes about how the trauma has impacted your emotions, cognition, and overall mental health, including depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress symptoms that have arisen after the accident.

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a natural disaster, it can be challenging to bring your case to court. However, in circumstances in which the injury cannot be attributed simply to an “act of nature,” the negligence of an individual or organization may be to blame.

Protections Under Insurance

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Insurance companies can be difficult to work with, especially when it comes to receiving benefits. When you enroll in an insurance plan, carriers often make the information they want you to see obvious while hiding the fine print and legal jargon in case you ever need the coverage. Many people don’t realize the importance of having a trusted insurance representative or understanding the details of their policies until they need benefits, only to be turned down by their insurance company. A trusted lawyer can help you determine if you have a case against the insurance carrier.

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If a claimant doesn’t file their case within the specified time limit, they will not be able to seek compensation for their damages in court. Understanding how the statute of limitations works and how long it lasts for different claims can determine what relief is available to an injured party.

General Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

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Personal injury is a type of tort law, which imposes liability on actors who breach a duty of care owed to the injured party. Most personal injury cases get to court under a claim that someone breached their duty of care by acting negligently and that the negligent act was the cause of someone else’s injury. The general statute of limitations for negligence claims in New York is three years, meaning an injured party has three years to file their claim, starting from the day of the accident. This three-year period applies to slip-and-fall cases, products liability, and most other negligence claims.

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It was just over 20 years ago that Daniel Leav & Edward Steinberg decided to venture out on their own and start a firm.  For several years it was just them and a small support staff; employee #1 hired in October 1999 and still with the firm today.   The firm has grown into a staff totaling 25 employees including 9 attorney’s.  We proudly celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2019.  As a measure of our success, the firm continues to get most of its clients from old happy clients as well as from other attorney’s who wish to have Leav & Steinberg, LLP handle their personal injury matters.

We are also proud to advise that we started off this year with record number of resolved matters including several million dollar cases.  Some of interest are:

$2.3 million for a  NJ resident, in his mid 20’s who was struck by a Canadian truck while driving on the NYS Thruway.  We were able to bring this action in the Southern District of New York and the matter proceeded to trial before being settled at private mediation.  The client had sustained a shoulder injury and also underwent a lumbar surgery.  The matter was referred to us by a NJ Law Firm that realized that while they could handle the matter in Federal Court, they wanted the expertise and experience of Leav & Steinberg to maximize the recovery for the client.

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Electronic cigarettes continue to grow in popularity despite significant health dangers.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) “E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol.”[1] Electronic cigarettes come in a variety of sweet flavors and are being designed to be discrete. As many readers may be aware, a highly popular electronic cigarette, JUUL is designed to look like USB drives.  “According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.”[2]

As the popularity of electronic cigarettes grows so does our knowledge of the health risks.  A recent study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds association between electronic cigarette use and myocardial infarction (heart attacks).  The surveys found that “Daily e-cigarette use was independently associated with increased odds of having had a myocardial infarction.”[3]

A UC San Francisco survey of nearly 70,000 people found that every day use of e-cigarettes can nearly double the odds of a heart attack. [4]  “While e-cigarettes deliver lower levels of carcinogens than conventional cigarettes, they both deliver ultrafine particles – which are 1/50 to 1/100 the size of human hair – and other toxins that have been linked to increased cardiovascular and non-cancer lung disease risks.”[5]

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP is committed to excellence and client satisfaction. One may ask how this is accomplished? Where does Leav & Steinberg win their cases? The answer is simple. We win our cases at intake. From the second our clients walk through our doors; our firm is dedicated to achieving the most favorable outcome.

A young man was injured on his motorcycle when the defendant was making an illegal U-turn and struck him causing him to be thrown off his motorcycle. He then retained Leav & Steinberg, LLP where one of our associates met him at the hospital at his request. Our client sustained serious personal injuries and required approximately five surgeries after breaking his left leg in two places.

The defendant contested liability in that he denied that his vehicle ever came into contact with our client.

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP is pleased to report the resolution of a recent case.  Our client, after being unhappy with her first attorney, retained us to represent her.  She was employed as a Visiting Nurse and would have to travel to patient’s homes for consultation and evaluation for home nursing services.  On the date of accident, she was inside a building in the Bronx with a translator and security guard.   As the elevator went up, it suddenly stopped, and according to the client, then dropped and suddenly stopped short.   While her body was jostled about, she admitted that she did not fall to the ground.

She reported the accident to the building who in turn claim they checked it along with an elevator service company and the elevator was found to be working in normal order.   Our client, began feeling severe pain in her knee and back.   She was unable to return to work for a period of time and ultimately underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in the knee.  Furthermore, to treat her spine injury which involved her discs, she underwent a radiofrequency nerve ablation.  This procedure entails having a needle placed below the skin and with heat, the nerve is burned at the point it is impinged by the disc.  While the nerve will regenerate, the hope is that it will regenerate just slightly off the disc and relieve some of the pressure on the nerve.

When first retained, it became clear that our office would need to prove a history of problems with the elevator.  As our client, did not live in the building and did not know anyone there, partner Daniela Henriques, took the lead and began conducting an exhaustive search of the DOB (Department of Buildings).  Through her research and subpeonas we discovered a history of problems with the subject elevator.  This was the first part of her effort to prove liability and lock the defendant in to being responsible.   Under NY Law a party must exchange all work records, maintenance records and repair records.  Here the building owner, claimed that due to a flood, all records were destroyed and then the building was sold so any attempt at searching records would not reveal anything.  While this may sound good, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove the defendant knew about the dangers with the elevator and took insufficient steps to remedy.  The fear is always that at trial or just before, suddenly the defendant will reveal records showing that the elevator was working and a recent, prior to accident, inspection revealed no problems.    Daniela Henriques, as partner and in charge of our Motion/Appeal department, she moved for an Order precluding the defendant from ever offering any evidence or testifying to anything regarding their reasonable maintenance of the elevator.   This motion was granted and put us in a position of strength.

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During the construction phase of 1 World Trade Center, a 44 year-old laborer was caused to slip and fall from a ladder while working.  The ladder was supposed to be fixed with a kicker at the bottom and tied off at the top.  Though the client used the ladder during the morning work session without issue, he claimed that the kicker and tie-off were subsequently removed before he had his accident.  While on the ladder working at a height above, the ladder slipped and he fell approximately 15 feet.

He reported the incident at the scene and was taken home by a co-worker. He returned the next day but could not complete the tasks required of him.  He began to complain of pain to his neck and back.  The injured worker had prior back surgery but it was his position, which we supported with medical evidence and the fact that he returned to work for the last 10 years, that the prior injury had resolved and this new accident resulted in new complaints of pain.

The firm was retained and we immediately spoke with and secured several witnesses who saw the accident and/or the aftermath and would corroborate the client’s version.