Articles Posted in Sidewalks

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Sidewalk
When Lt. Brendan Connolly a New York City Firefighter was responding to a local emergency, the dangers of being a firefighter were always in the back of his mind.  Smoke, trapped locations, innocent victims needing help.

However, the roads of New York City are often so dilipadated and filled with potholes and ruts that when his fire truck hit a recurring defect in a city street of Cypress Hills, Queens his life would change forever.

As reported here in the New York Post, Lt. Connolly fractured his spine and has been rendered disabled from working because of a sinkhole that has been recurring.  Neighbors report that this problem has been recurring for years.  Yet, the ability to legally recover against the City of New York for this defect is fraught with many hurdles.  Some nearly impossible to overcome.

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Spine
One of the most common injuries sustained by those involved in an accident is a back or neck injury.  Many consider these “soft tissue” injuries and the term has been used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of the injury.

In fact, a disc injury which is really a connective tissue injury can be more debilitating and significant than a fracture to a bone.  A fracture can often heal and or calcify.  A disc injury to the spine will never return to the anatomic design it was in before the trauma.

Simply put a herniated disc is a rupture to the intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae running from the base of our skull to our coccyx or sacrum.  In all we have 33 discs and they act as shock absorbers for the body.  They allow the spine to move, bend, function in a normal way.

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This morning, a terrible tragedy occurred as a crane collapsed in TriBeCa around 8:30 A.M. Early reports indicate that at least one person has been fatally injured, and two others have sustained serious injuries.

The massive crane, operated by Bay Crane, now lays down the path of Worth Street stretching from West Broadway to Church Street.

It appears the crane was working on 60 Hudson Street, a longtime industrial building undergoing renovation to luxury apartments. The crane was parked on Worth Street.

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Appeals coming to fruition now were in the making long before 2015 arrived and the New York Appellate Courts have already decided thirty or so snow and ice cases this year. Many more will be coming. As we prepare for the next big storm that’s coming, let’s examine some general legal issues. For purposes of this blog, we will stick to the basics and not assess each and every fact in detail (quite unlike what this firm does when prosecuting real cases). We will also point out the major caveat that each and every case is unique. A case’s existence and outcome will vary based on a multitude of factors that will not be fully explained in this blog.

Envision this. You are a young attorney who is preparing for trial. On your way to the office last Saturday morning, you slip on the marble floor of your large office building lobby, sustaining serious injuries. Unfortunately for your injuries, there is no case. A vestibule floor that was inherently slippery due to its smoothness is not an actionable defect. See e.g. Beceren v. Joan Realty, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 00324 (2nd Dept. 2015).

Next scenario. It’s still Saturday. You receive a surprise flower delivery, but since your office is technically closed and the firm’s secretary is not working, you go down to the lobby to get it. Unbeknownst to you, before you arrive on the scene, the delivery man spills water from the vase onto the floor. You slip on it, sustaining serious injuries. Here, you could establish fault of the flower delivery man and/or the building officials if you can show that they created the spill or had sufficient notice of the wet condition that caused the slip and reasonable time to clean and/or warn. See e.g. Weiss v. Gerard Owners Corp., 22 A.D.3d 406, 803 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1st Dept. 2005).

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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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Blue bicycles emblazoned with “citi bike” are becoming ubiquitous around New York City. On May 27, 2013, the Citi Bike program opened to Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The program started with 6,000 bicycles at more than 300 stations. The “city has added more than 350 miles of bike lanes in recent years” in order to accommodate the Citi Bike program. While biking is healthy and doesn’t add to air pollution, a biker must be cautious and aware to prevent injury.

Injuries While Biking

“About 800 deaths and more than half a million emergency room visits related to bicycling occur in the United States each year. Head injuries account for about two-thirds of hospitalizations and three-fourths of deaths. … Helmets would prevent about 85 percent of head injuries.”

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Subways and taxis are common ways to get around New York City. But an ever more common and older method of transportation is walking. There are sidewalks throughout Manhattan and the boroughs. And on these sidewalks are many pedestrians walking to various destinations.

The City of New York Parks & Recreation department has a program called Walk NYC. It “is a free program that encourages New Yorkers of all ages to get fit while enjoying the outdoors. With funding provided by Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Parks will staff locations throughout the city with trained walking instructors to lead one-hour walks.” Walk NYC has locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. There are many parks around New York within which to take a stroll. Central Park, Battery Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach are all great parks to take walks through.

Sidewalk Walking

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Sustaining an injury, whether it is a slip and fall or a car accident or something else entirely, can be a scary and confusing time. For many people, sustaining a serious injury is among the lowest points in their lives. It can be particularly confusing when someone else is at fault for your injury. While no one wants to think about bringing a lawsuit immediately after an injury occurs, it is in your best interest to prepare as though a lawsuit will occur.

First, you need to make sure that your medical needs are taken care of. It will not do you any good to start any of the other steps if you have not ensured that your medical needs are met. In fact, it may hurt your lawsuit if you neglect your medical needs, as the defendant could argue that your injuries were increased by a failure to seek immediate medical attention.

Evidence

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In New York, injured people can recover for the conscious pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that they suffer as a result of injuries they sustained in an accident. Conscious pain and suffering, according to the Pattern Jury Instructions (PJI) 2:280, is “pain and suffering of which there was some level of awareness by the plaintiff”. Loss of enjoyment of life, according to the PJI, includes the “loss of the ability to perform daily tasks, to participate in the activities which were a part of the person’s life before the injury, and to experience the pleasures of life”. The threshold of “some level of awareness” in order to recover under the law had to be set by the Court of Appeals for purposes of simplicity.

When a person brings a personal injury case, he or she waives the physician-patient privilege as to mental or physical injuries or conditions, but only as to those that are affirmatively put in issue by him or her in the lawsuit. The party seeking the disclosure of mental or physical health information (defense counsel) bears the burden of making an evidentiary showing that the condition is in controversy and discovery may proceed under the statute. Defense counsel will ordinarily not be able to show entitlement to discovery of a medical file pertaining to treatment for an injury to the cervical spine in 2008 when the plaintiff is making a claim for a 2011 foot fracture.

What if a plaintiff claims that she suffers from anxiety as a result of a fractured foot that occurred in a 2011 accident? Does it render her complete file of psychiatric records discoverable? Or what if she claims that she lost the enjoyment of her life as a result of the fractured foot she sustained in the 2011 accident? Does this claim render her entire physical and mental medical file discoverable?
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