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.


$200,000 Settlement for Hip Fracture

December 29, 2011

We obtained a settlement of $200,000 where an elderly client fell while entering a mini-bus.  She sustained a hip fracture requiring surgery.

Defendant is a private shuttle service serving the Borough Park, Flatbush, Midwood, and Kings Highway communities of Brooklyn.  The client was being picked-up along with other passengers at 13th Avenue.  She claims that the mini-bus moved about one foot as she was entering.  She fell onto the sidewalk.

The driver testified that he did not move and that the client lost her balance on entering.  The driver stated that his vehicle was in park and that he had his foot on the brake as she was entering.

There was also an issue as to whether the bus had a safety interlock which would have prevented the bus from accelerating when the doors were open.  It was defendant’s position that even if the driver had tried to switch gears and accelerate, which he denies, the interlock would have prevented the vehicle from moving forward.

There was only one non-party witness to the incident.  He  was uncooperative initially, but after extensive investigation we were able to get his statement and eventually a deposition.  He stated that the bus moved about one foot.

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

Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Mark E. Seitelman, 12/29/11, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Your Auto Accident Injuries; Court Decision Places One Less Hurdle for the Injured Client

November 25, 2011

New York’s high court just removed one hurdle from recovery for people injured in automobile accidents.  See Perl v. Meher, Nos. 206-208, Nov. 22, 2011. 

The Court of Appeals held that the treating doctor need not quantify the injured client’s range of motion at the initial examination.  Lower courts previously ruled that the doctor’s failure to note and quantify the numbers would defeat a client’s recovery when the entire medical record is reviewed on a defense motion for summary judgment.

Mr. Perl’s physician testified that taking loss of range of motion readings at the initial examination would be useless because the injury is too fresh and acute.  He stated that it does not present “correct numbers.”  Plaintiff’s doctor relied on his own visual estimates of loss of range of motion.  The defense physician agreed with this approach.

Although the treating doctor is not required to take the measurements at the initial examination, he must do so later in the treatment in order to prove a “serious injury.” 

This case marks a victory for injured clients.  Generally, the courts have been on a steady march of defeating clients’ cases in defense motions for summary judgment.  Defendants have been able to get cases dismissed on papers without a trial.  Perl marks a retreat.  It is noteworthy that the decision was unanimous and was written by Judge Robert Smith, one of the court’s more conservative judges

Jubilation should be reserved because injured clients still have an uphill battle..  The courts have created a body of law and “a culture” hostile to the so-called soft tissue auto case.  Perl removes only one hurdle.  However, the Perl case is one small step in the right direction.

We salute a friend and colleague, appellate attorney Annette G. Hasapidis who handled the case in the Court of Appeals.

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

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/25/11, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Your Automobile Accident and the Emergency Doctrine

October 14, 2011

If a defendant driver claims that he was blinded by the setting sun and could not see the pedestrian, will the driver have a defense?  

New York’s top court says no.  See Lifson v. City of Syracuse (No. 157, October 13, 2011).

            Mrs. Lifson, a pedestrian, was struck and killed by an automobile while she was crossing a downtown street in Syracuse.  The defendant driver claimed that as he was driving west at sundown, he was blinded by the setting sun and that he could not see Mrs. Lifson.

The driver urged the emergency doctrine defense.  The emergency doctrine holds that when defendant is confronted with an emergency not of his own making, defendant will be excused from liability if he acted reasonably.  In other words, defendant will not be liable if he is faced with an unexpected emergency.

The Court of Appeals said that the emergency doctrine would not be applicable here.  The court said that being blinded by a setting sun while travelling west is foreseeable.  This does not constitute an unforeseen emergency.  The driver should have taken extra precautions.

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

Mark E. Seitelman, 10/13/11, www.seitelman.com.


Getting a Recovery for Your Automobile Accident; New York Court Upholds 30 Day Rule on Reporting Accidents

October 14, 2011

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has upheld the rule that an injured client must provide to the insurance company within 30 days of the accidents.  This is necessary in order to get medical coverage under no fault.  See New York Presbyterian Hospital v. Country Wide Ins. Co.  (No. 216, October 13, 2011).

In this case the injured client was hospitalized for 7 days immediately after the accident.  He did not furnish the insurance company notice of the accident.  The insurance company first received notice of the accident about 36 days after the accident.  This occurred when the hospital sent its $48,000 bill to the insurance company for payment.

Although the hospital was timely in sending its bill (i.e., 45 days from the date of service), the insurance company had no obligation to pay because it did not receive notice of the accident within 30 days.

Therefore, it is clear that the 30 day rule will be applied strictly.  We have written previously about the 30 day rule.  An accident victim must hire an attorney immediately after an accident.  A client’s failure to file within the 30 days can result in the denial of all of his medical claims.

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

Mark E. Seitelman, 10/14/11, www.seitelman.com.


$250,000 Verdict for Client in Auto Case

March 18, 2011

We obtained a verdict of $250,000 on March 17, 2011, in Supreme Court, Bronx County.

The client was a passenger in a motor vehicle that turned left onto an oncoming vehicle.  The client sustained a torn rotator cuff which required surgery as well as neck injuries.

The $250,000 includes an award of $150,000 for past pain and suffering and $100,000 for future pain and suffering.

Defendant’s insurance company offered only $10,000 during the trial.

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

Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Mark E. Seitelman, 3/18/11, www.seitelman.com.


Gettting a Recovery for Auto Accidents Involving Zipcar and Other Rental Vehicles

June 16, 2010

 

A Queens judge has ruled that Zipcars are no different from conventional rental cars.  See Minto v. Zipcar New York, Inc. 

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

Rental car agencies are protected from liability from negligent operation of its car by its renter.  In other words, the vehicle owner, the car rental company, will not be liable for the renter’s negligence in the event of an accident.  The federal law, popularly known as the Graves Amendment, has created this special liability protection to renting and leasing companies.  See our prior post, “Immunity for Car Rental Agencies–How It Works.” 

The federal Graves Amendment overrules New York law.  New York’s law provides that the vehicle owner is vicariously liable for the negligence of the operator.  The Graves Amendment only changes this rule regarding rental and leased vehicles. 

In the Queens case the injured plaintiff sued the operator of the other vehicle and Zipcar, the vehicle owner.  The court ruled that Zipcar would not be liable under New York’s law of vicarious liability.

Zipcar has a different arrangement than the typical car rental agency, such as Hertz.  Zipcar is a “car sharing club” in which members get “use” of a Zipcar for as little as an hour or part of a day.  A renter has to join the “club.”  In comparison, traditional rent-a-car companies rent cars for a minimum of one day, and there is no membership requirement.

The court found that Zipcar is no different from any other car rental agency.  The concept of the “club’ is a mere marketing device which does not alter Zipcar’s status as a car rental company.  Therefore, the Graves Amendment protects Zipcar from suit.

Although Zipcar is out of the case, Zipcar’s insurance will provide its renter-operator the minimum insurance coverage under New York law.  A future post will discuss the insurance of a rental car. 

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

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/16/10, www.seitelman.com.


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