Central New York Injury Lawyer Blog

doctor badYour Central New York medical malpractice lawyers, Michaels & Smolak, have a quiz for you: What percent of doctors do you think end up paying 32% of all medical malpractice claims? In other words, what percent of doctors are so bad, so careless, so negligent, that they account for nearly 1/3 of all medical malpractice payments to patients? Do you think it might be 20%? 10%?

Wrong. One percent! That’s right, 1% of docs end up paying 32% of med mal claims. That’s because they are TERRIBLE doctors. That means that if the American Medical Association and medical malpractice insurance companies (“the medical establishment”) would be so kind as to boot out only one in one hundred doctors, medical malpractice payments would go down by 1/3. Insurance companies would save millions of dollars. The medical malpractice premiums the remaining doctors pay would conceivably be reduced by 1/3.

And get this: Ninety-four percent of all doctors have no medical malpractice claims brought against them. None! So conceivably if the medical establishment would weed out the “bad” six percent, medical malpractice claims would cease to exist.

Now, what does the medical establishment do about these statistics? Do they banish the bad docs?  No!  Instead they blame the lawyers. (We’ve been the world’s favorite scapegoat ever since Shakespeare said, “first, let’s kill all the lawyers“).  The medical establishment lobbies our legislatures to ban or strictly limit malpractice claims, not the malpractice itself.

They call it “tort reform”.  I call it shooting the messenger to avoid  addressing the message.

Doctors who accumulate multiple malpractice claims are a threat to the health care system, a threat to you, and a threat to your family.  They are a cancer that must be extricated from our health care system.  But instead, the medical establishment wants to make suing those bad doctors either extremely difficult or impossible.  They want to leave the cancer alone, and silence those who call our attention to it.  After all, a medical malpractice lawsuit is a form of speech. It sends a strong message to the medical community:  “This doctor should not be in business”!  But the medical establishment wants to shield rather than shun the bad docs who are getting sued time and time again.

The medical profession is a white wall of arrogance.  Their message is, “how dare those lawyers who sue us!  We’re MEDICAL DOCTORS!  We should not be held accountable for our mistakes!”

Look.  I’m not saying bad docs should not be allowed to make a living.  They can surely find some kind of medical-related occupation.  Just keep them away from us, the patients!  That’s where the medical establish should be focusing their efforts.  Instead, they aim their big guns at nice guys like me.  Go figure . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY & Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

 

White Semi-Truck parked in forbidden spot.

underride crash

In the last few decades, the way we build cars has drastically reduced deaths and serious injuries.  As Central New York car and truck accident lawyers, we know.  Our car crash case volume has gone down, and the injuries are often less severe.

Some of the greatest safety improvements are at the front of the car, which is now designed to absorb a great deal of crash impact — accordion like.  This, accompanied with airbag deployment and seat belts, saves hundreds of lives per year.

But all these safety features are of no avail if the car you are riding in slides under the back of a tractor trailer or truck.  The occupants’ heads get crushed  against the back of the trailer (see second photo above).  The structures designed to absorb the energy of a crash are bypassed, as they slide underneath. The airbags and safety belts can’t do their jobs at all. It is literally a “head-on” collision.  That’s your head, not the car’s.

“Underride guards” are designed to prevent this scenario.  They hang down from the back ends of box trailers and semitrailers, as shown in the first photo. They save lives.  But they do not save as many as they could.

Regulations (by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or “NHTSA”) now require underride guards to sustain only a 30 mile-per-hour impact. Cars that crash faster usually break off or bend in the underride guard so that it does no good.

Watch this video to see what I mean:

The NHTSA is now proposing that the requirement be raised to 35 miles per hour. This is already the requirement in Canada. Manufacturing new trailers with the stronger underride guard will cost, on average, an extra $229 per trailer.

Well worth the cost in our opinion.  In fact, in our opinion, the protection should be extended by 5 miles per hour every decade until we reach 60 miles per hour.  This fairly balances industry cost concerns with public safety.  And it brings us forward to safer and safer cars.

We look forward to the day when we will no longer have ANY car crash clients.  Unfortunately, there are still plenty of other injuries out there to keep this Central New York personal injury law firm busy!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Syracuse NY Truck Accident Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

 

abilifymirapex

The personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Michaels & Smolak have come across some strange injuries in their line of work.  But we recently met perhaps the strangest ever.  What I am about to tell you might seem like a total fabrication. But I am not making it up. This is not April 1. This law firm is involved in a case just like the ones described below.

The case involves the anti-depressant drug Abilify, which, like the Parkinson’s drug Mirapex, can have a very bizarre side effect:  Compulsive gambling. That’s right.  Big time, pathological gambling.  When it has this side-effect, the patient tends to gamble away his or her life savings.

Don’t believe me, right? But it’s true. The evidence now is clear.  So clear that warnings are required on the drugs in most countries – including Canada — but not yet the U.S.A , where the drug lobby is more powerful.  In the U.S.,  lawsuits are swarming around the creators of the drugs (Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals for Abilify, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim for Mirapex).  The legal theory is “failure to warn”.

As I said, the evidence is clear.  This is not some condition lawyers invented (think “the Twinkie Defense“).  Examples of the drugs’ unusual side effect abound.  One plaintiff who was never a gambler sued Abilify after he lost almost $100,000 at the casino.  A 68-year old man gambled away $200,000 in six months while on Mirapex for his Parkinson’s condition.  Neither plaintiff received any warning that the drug could make him want to gamble. A 2013 FDA report showed that Abilify was responsible for at least thirty compulsive gambling episodes. (By the way, it can also make you into a compulsive shopper.)

Why do Abilify and Mirapex make some people want to gamble? They manipulate dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. When you are on the drug, your brain seeks the pleasure/reward of “winning”.

But unfortunately, Abilfy and Mirapex do not make you more likely to win!

If you or your loved one has taken either Abilify or Mirapex and has become a compulsive gambler or shopper, call us for a free consultation about your rights.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Abilify and Mirapex Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

 th

Only a few years ago the price of a drone was so far out of the average household’s reach that you probably didn’t know anyone who owned one. Look around you now. You probably know many drone owners. In five years perhaps most people will own one. That’s because they have become smaller, cheaper, and are getting cheaper still.

Drones are not just a hobby. They serve many useful business purposes: Inspecting cellphone towers, shooting pictures for multidimensional real estate portfolios, maybe eventually even delivering pizza. But they can also be put to nefarious or negligent use: Snooping on people, following or harassing them, interfering with other aircraft.

Want to see a cool video?  Watch this one of one drone capturing another:

Are we heading to a world of “star wars” with drones?  Will drones be bumping into electrical wires, houses, cars and people?  Will personal injury lawsuits involving drones become as common as auto accident lawsuits today?  Only time will tell.

But the point is we cannot allow the skies to become the wild west. We need REGULATIONS. I know the “R” word is a dirty word to some people, especially a certain brand of Republican, but what options are there? We are a land of laws. The task for our regulators and law makers is to protect our privacy and safety without infringing (too much) with our liberties in the sky.

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead (after all, these machines FLY). Just before Christmas, they promulgated a regulation requiring that drones be registered. Now they know who is flying what. But that’s just a start! The FAA has proposed rules to limit most drones flying beyond daylight hours and requiring commercial users of small drones to keep their aircraft within their sight. That may seem too restrictive to some, but it makes sense to me with this being a new technology, and given recent near collisions with helicopters and airplanes.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
NY Drone Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

29906170001_4711937433001_FLINT-STILLOne thing you godda love about lawsuits is “discovery”. It’s what goes on right after you sue and the party you sued answers. Then you get to ask them to turn over almost any document relevant to the claims or defenses. Almost any document that has any possible relevance at all is game.

And sometimes you turn up some real gems. It’s what I call “getting the goods”.

Think about the lawsuits in the 70’s against Big Tobacco. Imagine finding – hidden in the reams of papers turned over to you – internal reports admitting that Big Tobacco manipulated nicotine levels to “hook” smokers to their dangerous product. Or that they knew their product caused cancer even as they denied it publicly.  It’s a “gocha” moment! How much money is that kind of evidence worth at trial!?

Which brings me to the subject of this blog post:  The Flint, Michigan water scandal.  Lawyers have now filed three suits against the State of Michigan on behalf of Flint residents who have suffered from the toxic water they have been drinking. Two additional suits – class-actions – have also been filed against the Governor and others. And guess what those lawyers are going to ask for? emails. Internal mems.  All the communications in any form between the various governmental and health agency heads and underlings.

The key issue in a case like this is:  What did they know and when did they know it? More specifically, when did the authorities know that the kids of Flint were drinking water poisoned with led, and when did they finally do something about it. That “gap” is going to be crucial. Also crucial will be when they should have known the water was harmful, but did not care enough to find out.

As with any juicy scandal, there are already signs of a cover-up. When Gov. Rick Snyder was asked this week when he learned the water was harmful, he couldn’t recall. And the health department has been stalling on responding to a college professor’s request for public records that might show who knew what and when.

Stay tuned for “Watergate II“!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.

Today this Central New York personal injury lawyer was quoted in a prestigious world-wide newspaper, the Financial Times.  The newspaper has an average daily readership of 2.2 million worldwide and has 4.5 million registered users and over 285,000 digital subscribers.  Many investment professionals rely on the Times for discerning economic and investment trends.

The article was titled, “Drones Crash into Regulatory Thicket”. The quote, taken from a telephone interview with me, went like this:

Michael Bersani, a personal injury lawyer in Auburn, New York, said he was expecting an increase in drone-related injury cases, but had not seen any uptick in drone injuries this Christmas. “I think it’s a question of time, because you’ve got the inexperienced recipients of these gifts, and there is plenty of potential for people to be injured”.

The article points out that, even when operated by professionals, drones have had some high-profile mishaps. Therefore, all the new drones gifted to armatures with little or no experience are bound to cause accidents.  The financial repercussions on the drone and insurance industries remain to be seen.

Read my other blog posts about New York drone injury lawsuits and drone law.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drone in New York, feel free to call me for a free consultation.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Drone Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.

I have recently blogged about New York drone personal injuries and about getting drone insurance.  Today I have an important reminder for all new blog owners (specifically to those of you who have received one for Christmas) that you need to REGISTER the drone before you fly it outdoors.

Specifically, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on December 14, 2015 that small unmanned aircraft (UAS), otherwise known as drones, weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, must be registered. Even a child flying a drone in the backyard has to register!  The three-year registration is only $5 registration, but the FAA is waiving the fee from December 21, 2015 to January 20, 2106 for new drone owners. You will also be required to have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating your drone.

If the owner of the drone is less than 13 years of age, then a person 13 or older is required to register the drone.

For more information, go to Faa.gov.

The penalty for failure to register?  Your drone will be “grounded”.  Just kidding.  It’s much worse. The FAA may slap a fine of up $27,500 on you.  Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Yikes! For crying out loud, REGISTER!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Syracuse & Central New York Drone Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.

Just the other day I blogged about a soon expected explosion in drone injury lawsuits. To summarize, this December, those drones look lovely all wrapped up under the Christmas tree, but soon they will take to our skies.  And fall from those skies.  Fall on things.  And on people.

If sales projections are accurate, tens of thousands of novice recipients of these gifts will try their hands at the controls of these small, unmanned aerial vehicles with spinning and unguarded rotors.

And guess what: Some folks are going to get injured!

Today I am blogging about the related issue of drone injury insurance coverage in New York.

Wait. What coverage? Is there even any insurance coverage for that? That’s a good question. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for general negligence on the part of the homeowner and his or her family, even where the negligence is not related to the home itself. But there are countless exclusions to coverage written into most policies, and one of them is “aviation” accidents.  Many insurance carriers, when faced with an onslaught of drone injury claims, are likely to argue that this exclusion encompasses recreational drones, which the Federal Aviation Administration classifies as “small aircraft.” On the other hand, some polices specifically say that “model or hobby aircraft not designed to fly people or cargo” are included in the policy, but some don’t.

So it’s confusing. Your best bet is to call your insurance carrier and ask whether drone liability is included. If not, there is separate insurance you can purchase to cover your drone. One such police is included in membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics ($75 per year membership fee). As a member, you will get $2.5 million in personal liability coverage from Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance, part of ACE Group.

Even if you don’t join the “Academy”, though, personal drones are easy to insure.  You can buy individual drone liability coverage from almost any private insurance agent.

If you or a loved one is getting a drone for Christmas, I highly recommend you call your homeowner’s insurance agent to see whether the personal injuries your drone may inflict are covered. If not, look into buying some drone insurance or joining the “Academy of Model Aeronautics” to get their group insurance.

Don’t fly unprotected.

Good luck!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Drone Liability Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

As we approach the end of the year, it is time for the Michaels & Smolak personal injury law firm of Central New York to give out its “Worst Personal Injury Lawyer Advertisement of the Year Award”. This year we have a hands down winner. No need to even talk about a runner up. Not even close. Hold your applause until after you view the winning ad by “The Texas Law Hawk”:

Need I say more?

Until next year. . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

0cd70268171212b504a54dd2083c6b04Drowsy driving kills thousands of people in the United States each year. We’ve all been there:  You are driving down a boring interstate highway at night.  You start to nod off and, just when you about to enter la la land, you “snap out of it” and clutch the wheel, your heart racing.  Scary, huh? And you were one of the lucky ones.  Other drivers, succumbing to the sirens of sleep, crash and burn.

But a new device being developed may keep drivers like you awake and save your life. Here’s how it works:

A Bluetooth headset fits on one ear and points an infrared sensor toward the eye to detect blinking. (See photo). The driver’s blinking frequency indicates drowsiness. The data is transmitted by Bluetooth to a smartphone. If the sensor detects drowsiness, the headset vibrates, flashes and beeps to alert — and awaken — the sleepy driver.

Simple, right? The device has not been perfected and is not on the market yet, but one day it will be.

But the creator of this device had better hurry up if it wants a return on its investment:  Self-driving cars will be taking over our roads within a decade. When cars are driving people, and not visa versa, the would-be “drivers” can just snooze away without the need for the new device.

Either way, car rides are going to get safer.  And that’s good news for everyone.  Yes, even for me, a guy who makes his living — in large part — suing for car accident injuries.  Hey — I’m a driver, too.  My commute is going to get safer just like yours.  My bank account may get smaller, but hey, small price (I hope) to pay for safety!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Car Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293