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



Getting a Recovery from Falling Tree Branches and New York City

May 17, 2012

The New York Times this week had a remarkable series of articles on serious injuries from falling tree branches.  These trees were either located in New York City parks or located on city streets.  See part Ipart II, and part III.

We had discussed this problem previously in various posts, such as here and here.

The Times focused on very serious injuries and instances where the City failed to maintain its trees. 

Essentially, New York has doubled the time schedule of pruning its park trees from once every 7 years to once every 15 years.  Also, the Parks Department has no real preventative maintainance program.  Apparently, it reacts only to a problem after a tree branch or the entire tree falls.  It does little to nothing to prevent an accident.  Last, it appears that parks personnel are not trained in tree health, and they are unable to see a problem before an accident.

We applaud The Times for shining a light on this topic. 

Mark E. Seitelman, 5/17/12,

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,

Getting a Recovery for Your Accident Case; Hiring a the Right Lawyer and the Right Doctor Is Crucial

March 2, 2012

It is crucial to hire a reputable and honest lawyer and doctor for your accident case.  If you do not, you may lose your right to recover.  

        If it is too good to be true, . . .

This was brought home yesterday when the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced indictments on a No Fault ring involving lawyers, doctors, medical offices, and “runners” working out of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.  See the story here.  We have seen similar sweeps and arrests in the past.

The end-result to the honest client is that he may forfeit his right to recover. His case will be classified as a “fraud” by the insurance company.  It will be marked “NO PAY”.  Furthermore, there will be a problem in getting medical records because those records will be confiscated by the prosecutor as evidence.  The client’s doctor who has been convicted cannot set foot in a courtroom.  Consequently, the client cannot prove his injuries.

The injured client should be aware of the hallmarks of an illegal lawyer or medical operation:

  • the injured client is offered money by a “runner” to come to a doctor or lawyer.  Often the payoff will be $1,000+.  Sometimes, there will be separate payments to the injured client from the lawyer and doctor!
  • the client is approached either in the hospital or shortly thereafter by a “runner” who will steer the client to either a doctor or lawyer or both.
  • the client never sees the responsible doctor even though the doctor “signs-off” on all reports and billing.  The client only sees medical assistants and therapists.
  • the client is asked to sign “sign-in” sheets in advance so as to “save time.” 

If you are approached by a runner, RUN.  If you are offered a few bucks to sign-up with a doctor or lawyer, realize that they may not be in business when you need them.  You will be unable to prove your injury.

In short, go to an honest and reputable lawyer and doctor. 

If you have been involved in an accident, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 3/2/12,

Getting a Recovery for Sidewalk Falls; Falling on Leaves and Other Debris

November 16, 2011

In a fall on autumn leaves or other debris on the sidewalk, the adjoining premises owner or business may be liable.

The New York City Administrative Code was amended to impose liability on the adjoining property owner as follows:

  • Owners of commercial property will be liable for the condition of the sidewalk;
  • An owner of either an one-, two-, or three-family home will not be liable so long as the owner resides in one of the units, and the building is solely residential; and
  • An owner of a multiple dwelling or apartment house of four units or more will be responsible.

Prior to this change in the law the City of New York was responsible for all sidewalks, and recovery in this type of case was almost impossible.  Recovery against the private owner is more likely.

In order to prove a case against the property owner the injured party must show that the owner had notice of the fallen leaves or debris.  The mere fact of the accident is not enough.

In a case involving leaves or other debris or trash, it can be helpful to find witnesses who can state that the condition for a long period of time before the accident.

If you have been injured in a sidewalk fall, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/16/11,

Recovering for New York Sidewalk Accidents; Getting to the “Root of the Problem”–Tree Roots and Sidewalks

June 28, 2011

New York City’s laws can be a minefield regarding sidewalk falls.

We recently had a case illustrating this point.

Our client tripped on a raised flagstone in front of The New School, a private college.   It appears that the cement was raised due to a tree root that had pushed-up the cement block.

    An example of a sidewalk damaged by tree roots.

Under the recently enacted Administrative Code sec. 7-210, the adjoining premises owner would be liable for the condition of the sidewalk.  However, the City is responsible for the tree well and the tree. 

We filed suit against the New School.  In turn, the college filed a third-party action against the City claiming that the City’s tree uprooted the sidewalk, and the City’s tree roots caused or contributed to the broken sidewalk.

The City moved to dismiss stating that it had no liability for the sidewalk and that responsibility falls on the adjoining property owner.   The college claimed that the defect was caused by the City’s tree.

The Court ruled that responsibility resides with the private property owner.  The City is out of the case.  See the decision here.

We have written extensively about sidewalk accidents in prior posts.  If you have been injured due to a broken sidewalk, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/28/11,

Getting a Recovery for Fire Injuries; The Illegal Apartment

April 28, 2011

Illegal apartments have been in the news lately.  See, e.g., this story and this story.

On Monday morning a family of three died in a fire in their apartment on Prospect Avenue in Bronx.  The owner had carved-up a legal two family home into multiple illegal apartments without adequate exits.

Belmont, Bronx, building where Juan Lopez, 36; his wife, Christina, 43, and son Christian Garcia, 12, died in an early-morning blaze on Monday. Eight were injured in fire. 

      The scene of a recent fire at Prospect Avenue,  Bronx, New York

Such illegal firetraps are nothing new.  We wrote about them in this post in 2008.

In view of the recent deaths the New York Daily News  is urging the City to be more vigilant and shut-down illegal housing.  Unfortunately, this housing has a ready market among the poor and working class who cannot afford better housing.

An illegal apartment can be dangerous from a number of reasons:

  • Inadequate number of exits.  Generally, a multiple dwelling must have two means of exit or egress. 
  • Lack of ventilation and windows.   Many illegal apartments are in basements next to furnaces and boilers emitting carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless toxic gas.
  • Unsafe building materials.  Owners use substandard sheetrock and other materials which may allow the spread of fire.
  • Inadequate and illegal electrical systems.  Owners may tend to use unlicensed handymen rather than licensed electricians.
  • Failure to install smoke detectors.

The owner’s violation of the building and fire codes can be used as evidence of negligence in a lawsuit against the landlord.

Early investigation is a key to success in a lawsuit.  Investigation can included an inspection by fire and building experts.  A lawyer should be retained early.

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/28/11,

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