Settlement for Fall at Rockefeller Center

July 18, 2012

We obtained a $90,000 settlement for a client who fell at Rockefeller Center.

The client slipped on steps at the skating rink.  She sustained a fractured ankle. 

It had just rained, and the granite steps were unduly slippery due to the combination of rain and the treads’ wear over the years.  Our expert opined that this combination made the steps unreasonably slippery as evidenced by his slip resistance meter.

We were able to settle the case despite the fact that the client did not hold onto an available handrail.  Also, she was wearing flip-flops.  Furthermore, Rockefeller Center’s expert opined that the steps were safe.  The stairs met the building code when built in the 1930’s, and that the steps were not unduly slippery based on his own slip resistance readings.

We have had a number of cases at Rockefeller Center including falls in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (behind the statue in the skating rink), a restaurant in the basement, and service driveways.

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

PRIOR CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE A SIMILAR OUTCOME.

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$210,000 Settlement for Construction Accident at Rego Center Shopping Mall

May 30, 2012

We recently obtained a settlement of $210,000 for our client’s construction accident while working in constructing the Rego Center Shopping Mall in Rego Park (Queens), New York.

The client fell while on the job.  He was carrying various wooden forms, and he claimed to have tripped due his foot getting entangled in a cable left by another contractor.  The client sustained various knee injuries requiring surgery.

Liability turned on Labor Law 241 (6) and whether the client did indeed trip due to a cable or other factors.  This issue and damages were highly contested.

Please note that prior case results do not guarantee a similar result in your case. 


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.


Getting a Recovery from Crane and Construction Accidents; The View of a Crane Operator

May 23, 2012

The New York Times‘s article, “In a Crane at 1,100 Feet, There Is No Room for Error” provides the viewpoint of a crane operator atop 1 World Trade Center.  It relates what a crane operator does and the dangers of the job.

The point of the story is that crane operators must be extraordinarily careful, well-trained, and calm.  The smallest mistake can result in death to not only the crane operator, but other workers.

It is noteworthy that most crane deaths in New York City have occurred due to an equipment failure rather than the operator’s negligence.

Where there is a crane collapse construction workers in New York have a unique source of recovery.  Labor Law 240 (1) makes the building owner/developer and the general contractor liable in the event of a crane failure.  The owner and contractor are strictly liable where the crane was unsafe.

The Labor Law has proven to be a valuable source of recovery for injured construction workers, especially the surviving family in the event of an operator’s death.  Unfortunately, corporate interests, including the insurance industry, seek to rescind it so that injured crane workers are left “blowing in the wind.”  The New York State Trial Lawyers Association, unions, and other consumer and public interest groups are fighting any weakening of Labor Law 240 (1).


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 Construction Accidents; Is It Construction or Cleaning?

February 22, 2012

New York’s Labor Law section 240(1) is often invoked in construction accidents because it imposes strict liability upon the building owner and the general contractor.

However, there is a difference between “construction” activities versus “cleaning.”  “Construction” will be protected while “cleaning” will not.  This was highlighted in a recent case, Dahar v. Holland Ladder & Mfg. Co. (Court of Appeals, February 21, 2012, # 23).

In Dahar plaintiff was injured while working at West Metal Works which was making a “wall module”.  This wall module was least seven feet high and was being made for Bechtel National for installation in a nuclear waste treatment plant.

          After the module was made, it had to be cleaned before being shipped to the nuclear waste plant.  Dahar was cleaning the module.  While standing on a ladder provided by his employer, West Metal, the ladder broke causing him to fall.

Dahar sued Bechtel and the landlords of his employer’s facility under authority of Labor Law section 240(1).  This statute imposes liability upon the building owner and contractor for a fall from a faulty ladder during construction.

The court ruled that the worker did not get the protections of the Labor Law.  In essence, he was “cleaning” rather than engaging in construction.

Although the Labor Law will afford protection to a worker who cleans the site during the course of construction, Dahar was cleaning a completed, manufactured product rather than a construction site.  The court apologized the situation to the situation of a bookstore employee climbing a ladder to dust-off a book.

However, each construction accident presents it own unique set of facts which should be reviewed with an attorney as soon as possible.  For example, cleaning windows of a commercial building will be covered while routine cleaning of a home will not. 

If you have been involved in a construction accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-251-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 2/22/12, www.seitelman.com.


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