Getting a Recovery for a Car Colliding with a Building

May 29, 2012

A car hitting a building is not that unusual. 

Here are some examples:

  • The vehicle strikes the client’s backyard fence and goes through the fence.  The client falls when trying to avoid the car.  He gets injured.
  • The automobile operator loses control and goes through a storefront of a jewelry store.  The client, a worker in the store, is struck by the car.  Additionally, the store owner sustains his own personal injury and property damage to his store (e.g., damage to the storefront, wrecked display cases, business interruption, etc.).
  • The out of control vehicle strikes a private home and partially goes through a bedroom wall.  The client, the homeowner sleeping in the bedroom, is injured due to the impact although the vehicle does not touch him.

In these cases, the vehicle operator’s negligence will not be an issue.  The outcome will depend upon the nature of the damages and injury.

If you have had this type of accident, please feel free to contact us at 800-581-1434 or letters@seitelman.com

Of course, our prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome in your case.


Biclycling Accidents; Getting “Doored”

May 11, 2012

A frequent accident is called “dooring” by the bicycling community, i.e., the biker colliding with a car door suddenly being opened in the cyclist’s lane of travel. 

The law imposes a duty upon the vehicle operator and his passengers not to open the door on the side of moving traffic unless it is reasonable and safe to do so.  See Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1214.

Therefore, the driver or his passenger may be found negligent as violating a statute depending upon the facts of the case.

The bicyclist would be afforded medical insurance and lost income coverage through the motor vehicle’s no fault coverage.  Under the no fault law, the biker is deemed a pedestrian.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to contact@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 5/11/12, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Your Attorney’s Fee in Accident Cases and Insurance Lawsuits

April 19, 2012

Clients ask  whether they can separately recover their legal fees on top of the recovery for their injury or damage?  Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”

This question makes sense in that if the defendant did not injure the client, the client would not be put to the expense of hiring an attorney to get a recovery.  After all, the client is not profiting from the lawsuit.  He is merely being made “whole” after a loss.   

Under the so-called “American rule”, which is recognized in New York, each party of the lawsuit is responsible for his own legal costs.  In comparison, under the “English rule”, the winner can recover his legal costs against the losing side.

A disadvantage of the American rule is that the injured party is not made “whole”.  He must pay a portion of his recovery for his legal fees.  On the other hand, an advantage is that a losing plaintiff will not burdened with defendant’s legal costs if defendant wins.

 An exception to the rule is where either statute or a contract provides for the award of legal fees.  But, as a general rule legal fees cannot be recovered in personal injury, property damage, and breach of insurance cases.

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/19/12, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery from a Bankrupt Corporation; Good Luck!

April 6, 2012

If you have had the misfortune to get injured by a major corporation in bankruptcy, we have a bit of advice:  good luck!

We have a score of clients who have been injured by A & P, Food Emporium, Pathmark, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and Interstate Bakeries.  All of theses defendants are bankrupt even though they are still doing business (with the exception of St. Vincent’s).  Our clients injured by these corporations have little possibility of a recovery.

A case example is Hostess Brands.  We recently read that Hostess Brands, formerly known as Interstate Bakeries, has filed for bankruptcy protection for a second time on January 11, 2012.  Hostess makes many of America’s iconic breads and cakes, such as Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and Ding Dongs.

It seems that Hostess Brands is unable to compete.  It seeks further relief from its obligations.  Essentially, it wants to pay its debtors and retired employees less.  Otherwise, it threatens to liquidate the company.  

Its move to file for a second bankruptcy has delayed all settlements.  We had two clients injured by Interstate Bakeries trucks back in 2004, and we settled their cases almost six years ago.  We have yet to see a dime! 

Therefore, if a corporate defendant goes bankrupt, your recovery may either be delayed greatly or vanish. 

It is highly ironic that an injured person has less of a chance of getting a fair recovery from a bankrupt A & P than from a bankrupt Mom & Pop Grocery, Inc.   This is because A & P self-insures.  In other words, it has no insurance, and it can settle for pennies on the dollar.  In comparison, if Mom & Pop has an insurance policy, it is more likely that the injured client will get a fair recovery.

If you have been injured in an accident, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to contact@seitelman.com.  

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/6/12, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Bicycle Injuries; Get a Police Report

April 6, 2012

The New York Police Department has started to track and report bicycle accidents in the same manner that it writes-up motor vehicle accidents.

This is good news for injured clients.

First, the NYPD and the Department of Traffic can study bicycle accident patterns regarding present and future bike lanes.  It will also allow study of the interaction of cyclists with pedestrians.  This will help traffic planning.

Second, this is good news in that injured bicyclists and pedestrians will have their accidents recorded in a detailed manner.  As we discussed many times before regarding motor vehicle accidents (see our prior post), the police report will prove the happening of the accident as well as identifying defendant.  

Therefore, if you have been injured in a bicycle-bicycle or bicycle-pedestrian accident, be sure to call the police to the scene so that a full accident report can be taken.

If you have injured in a bicycle accident, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/6/12, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Work Place Injuries; Workers’ Compensation Lost Income Rates

March 23, 2012

People injured at work are entitled to lost income under workers’ compensation.

These are the maximum weekly income rates:

For accidents occurring within these dates:

7/1/07 to 7/1/08            $500.00

7/1/08 to 7/1/09            $550.00

7/1/09 to 7/1/10            $600.00

7/1/10 to 7/1/11            $739.83

7/1/11 to 7/1/12            $772.96

For example, if your accident occurred on August 1, 2007, your maximum weekly income rate would be $500.   If you accident occurred on July 10, 2010, your maximum weekly rate would $739.83.

Unfortunately, the weekly rate does not increase during the worker’s life.  In other words, a person receiving $500 per week based on an August 1, 2007, accident would receive the same rate today as well as the future.  

The rates effective July 1, 2012, have not been set by the Workers’ Compensation Board.  The rates are based on the weekly average wage of New Yorkers.

Sadly, there has been no similar increase in lost income for no fault and state mandated disability.  In an automobile accident, the no fault income rate has been fixed at the lower of either $2,000 per month or 80% of the person’s monthly wages.  On the disability side, New York State disability is still set at the shockingly low rate of $170 per week. 

Ironically, the workers’ compensation rates were changed to keep-up with no fault.  The compensation rates had lagged behind no fault’s rates, and working men and women could not survive on the low weekly wage of $400 per week under the old law.  Now, the compensation rate exceeds no fault.  We look to the legislature to correct this inequality of lost income for victims of accidents.     

If you have been injured in an on-the-job accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 8/23/12, www.seitelman.com.  

I would like to acknowledge our workers’ compensation counsel for providing this information.  Thank you, Robert Bergman of Fogelgaren, Forman & Bergman of New York City.


Being Prepared for an Automobile Accident; Getting Non-Owned Auto Insurance

March 14, 2012

If you do not own a car you should consider buying non-owned automobile insurance.

This insurance will protect you in the event of an automobile accident with either a vehicle which is uninsured or unknown (the “hit and run”) or a vehicle which carries less insurance than your coverage.

We recommend this insurance in order to provide the best insurance protection to you and your family.  If you can afford this coverage we recommend it so that you are provided an extra measure of protection in the event of a very serious auto accident.

For example,

Assume that you did not own a car, therefore, you had no auto insurance.

Further assume that as a pedestrian you are injured by a hit and run vehicle.  You sustain a herniated lumbar disc, and you undergo back surgery.  You cannot return to work.

Under the minimal, required coverage of Motor Vehicle Indemnification Corp. (MVAIC), the most that you could recover is $25,000 from MVAIC.

However, let us assume that you purchased a non-owned auto policy with uninsured motorist coverage of $500,000.  You could recover the full $500,000 from your own insurance carrier.

The non-owned policy also protects you when you rent a vehicle or borrow someone else’s car. 

I recently purchased a non-owned automobile policy for my wife and me with $500,000 Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage as well as $500,000 bodily injury coverage.   The price?  A mere $99.

If you are able to afford non-owned automobile insurance, it is very wise purchase.

Mark E. Seitelman, March 14, 2012, www.seitelman.com.


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