July 2011 Archives

July 31, 2011

Seneca Falls Personal Injury Lawer? Really?

seneca county courthouse.jpgWith internet search engine optimization techniques, many New York personal injury lawyers from as far away as New York City pretend to be "Seneca County personal injury lawyers" or "Seneca Falls Accident Lawyers". Just do a google search with those words and you will see what I mean. You can even do a search like "Waterloo personal injury lawyer" and those far away firms show up on page one.

Those far flung law firms are just fishing for cases all over the State. But they are not familiar with the Seneca County judges and juries. And that's critical when trying a Seneca County personal injury or medical malpractice case. You have to know your audience. That's why I would never post myself on the net as being a "New York City personal injury lawyer". First, it wouldn't be true. And second, personal injury and medical malpractice victims down there are best represented by lawyers from down there who "know the ropes" in New York City courts, and who understand jury mindsets in the City.

My law office is in Auburn, New York, and I live in Geneva New York, many of my personal injury and medical malpractice clients hail from Seneca Falls and Seneca County. Our law office handles many personal injury and medical malpractice cases in the Seneca County Courthouse. We know the judges, and they know and respect us. And we know the jury pool. And we are the only law firm near Seneca County who handles almost exclusively personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We don't do real estate closings or transactional work or criminal defense. We do only one thing, personal injury and medical malpractice, because by doing only that one thing day in and day out every day, we get really, really good at it. And we do it on a regular basis in Seneca County, and that is why I can say without misleading anyone that we are Seneca County personal injury lawyers and "Seneca Falls personal injury lawyers."

And if you check out our website, or better yet, if you ask other lawyers and local judges, you'll see that we are among the best of the best "Seneca County personal injury lawyers" and"Seneca Falls personal injury lawyers".


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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 30, 2011

"Hey Mr. Tough Guy" -- NY Injury Lawyer Explains What NOT To Do When You Get Injured In A NY Car Crash

Hey Mr. tough guy. You had a really good New York car accident case after that car pummeled you from behind. It was all his fault. You were just minding your own business waiting for light to turn green when --- bang! --- that bozo ran right into you. Then your head snapped back and forth like a bobblehead doll gone bonkers.

Thumbnail image for neck pain.jpgA Central and Syracuse New York car accident lawyer like me could probably could have gotten that bozo's insurer to pay you some good money for all you have been through --- the pain, the pills, the physical therapy, the trigger point injections, and the future almost certain fusion surgery. But you blew it. How? You refused medical treatment at the scene, and then tried to tough it out for a month before you finally dragged your butt into a doctor's office.

Now the insurance adjuster won't pay your claim. This is how she is thinking: This guy's neck pain can't have been caused by the car accident because he never sought medical treatment, or complained about pain, until a month after the accident. If he were hurt in the accident, he would have immediately, or at least the next day, gone to the hospital. If I take this case to trial, I can probably get the jury to believe he decided to milk his neck pain for all its worth by saying it started right after the accident when in fact it did not start until a month later and had nothing to do with this car accident.

Mr. Tough guy, next time you get clobbered in your car, or on your motorcycle, or wherever, especially if it is someone else's fault, don't take any chances. Don't assume you can tough it out, that it will get better on its own. If some part of you hurts, for Christ's sake, get to an E.R. and get it checked out. You are not in a good position to judge the seriousness (or lack of seriousness) of your injury. Leave that to the professionals. The extent of your injury might not become fully apparent until later. If you check out fine, all you have lost is a few hours in the E.R. instead of being home watching T.V. And a lot of E.R.'s have T.V.'s! And aside from protecting your health, you get the side benefit of having documented that your pain started when you were struck. Then the insurance adjuster won't be thinking you are scamming her, or that she can convince a jury you are scamming her. She knows, and I know, that jury's are very skeptical of personal injury claimants like you.

Now get ready for trial because your case won't settle. And take some extra pills with you --- you will be sitting in the courthouse all week.

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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

July 22, 2011

Central New York Bus Accident Lawyer On Seneca County New York Thruway Bus Accident

bus.jpgAt about 1:30 a.m. last night, a Canadian tour bus and a tractor trailer collided and erupted in fire in the eastbound lanes of the New York State Thruway, in the Town of Junius, Seneca County, between exists 41 and 42. This is very close to where I live (Geneva) and work (Auburn). The tractor trailer driver was killed and about 35 of the 50 or so bus passengers were injured. Many of the victims were transported to area hospitals, including Geneva, Auburn and Newark-Wayne Hospitals, and some were brought to Rochester and Syracuse.

This tragedy comes on the heels of another deadly bus accident in Steuben County less than a week ago, which killed two and injured 35. That Steuben County accident appears to have been caused by a blown out tire. This most recent bus accident appears to have been caused by driver error.

Some folks might say that the Steuben County was no one's fault --- the tire just blew. Not so fast! From my experience as a New York bus accident lawyer, blown tires can be caused by, among other mistakes: (1) failure to inspect or change the tires on a regular basis; (2) placing improper tires on the bus; (3) a product defect for which the tire manufacturer can be held liable. Also, the driver may not have been trained to properly control the bus with a blown out tire, or may not have reacted properly.

As for this most recent Thruway truck-on-bus collision, it is almost inconceivable to a New York bus accident lawyer like me that no one was at fault. Except in the rarest of circumstances, when two vehicles collide, driver carelessness or error is the cause. It is not yet clear whether the tractor trailer or bus driver, or both, were at fault.

Our heart goes out to the victims and their families. If there is a silver lining, it is that, from my experience, both the bus and the tractor-trailer probably have $2 million or more in insurance coverage. And they'll need it, too, because the victims, whose lives will be forever changed, will need to be compensated. And insurance companies don't hand over money without a fight. The victims will need to hire an experienced New York bus accident lawyer to fight for their rights.

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

July 19, 2011

Surveillance Camera Saves Another Central New York Supermarket Slip And Fall Case.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for banana peel.jpgI have already blogged about how surveillance cameras have made slam dunk cases out of slam dunk losers. Here's another example. Just this week I took in a doubtful slip-and-fall case. The plaintiff slipped and fell on some liquid of unknown origin in the produce section of a local supermarket. In the pre-surveillance-camera era, this case would have been a loser. Why? Because you have to show either that the supermarket created the spill, or knew about it and did nothing to fix it, or failed to notice it when it should have noticed it. And how do you prove that when it is just as likely that an inconsiderate shopper made the mess and did not report it a minute before the slip and fall? In the pre-surveillance camera era, I would have turned this case down.

But I did not turn it down, and for one reason: surveillance cameras. I knew there was likely to be a surveillance video that would tell the story of what happened. So I wrote to the supermarket, told them I was representing the slip-and-fall victim, and demanded that they preserve the video subject to legal sanctions if they did not,

Today I received a phone call from a supermarket insurance adjuster who informed me that the video shows a customer spilling a drink 15 minutes before the slip-and-fall, and then shows a supermarket floor inspector walk right past the spill without seeing it, and then shows my client turning a corner and slipping on the spill. It is a slam dunk because the supermarket employee was clearly negligent in performing his floor inspection, which caused him to overlook the obvious spill, and my client was blameless because she could not have noticed the spill before she turned the corner.

Moral of the story for my fellow Central and Syracuse (and beyond) personal injury lawyers: Before you turn a supermarket slip and fall case down, demand to see the surveillance tape.

July 14, 2011

New York Injury Lawyer Discusses Salem New York House Explosion

fire.jpgThree are dead and several injured, including a baby, in this evening's two-level house explosion in Salem, NY,

From my experience handling propane and gas injury cases, I can tell you this has all the hallmarks of a propane explosion: An extremely violent explosion completely demolishing the home, debris blown hundreds of feet out from the epicenter, insulation hanging from trees, shingles and other debris strewn everywhere, mattresses, too. Even cinder blocks are blown far from where walls once stood.

One of the survivors, a renter, said he had called his landlord about a propane leak earlier in the day. That probably means that he smelled the leak. If he did, he should not only have called his landlord, but he should also have gotten out of the house until the leak was fixed, and should have warned others to get out, too.

If you smell propane, get out, and get others out, without lighting anything, without turning on any switches, and without even calling from a phone. That's because any of those activities can create a tiny spark that will ignite the propane in the air, and cause an explosion. Go to a neighbor's house and call your propane supplier immediately from there. They should send someone immediately to investigate and fix the leak.

Depending on what the investigation reveals, the landlord may be held liable for not responding to this serious warning early on. The propane providers may also be liable for failure to properly warn, and for having improperly installed the propane delivery system, or for failing to properly inspect the propane delivery system for leaks on a regular basis. There are many other possible theories of liability, against various people and entities, depending on what the investigation turns up. The injured and their families should hire competent New York gas explosion injury lawyers immediately. Those lawyers should then hire competent explosion investigators and experts immediately to capture all the evidence before it disappears.

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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 11, 2011

Those Mother-Of-All-Personal-Injury-Cases -- Syracuse And Central New York Accident Lawyer Explains.

2010.jpgMost New York personal injury cases settle soon after the injured victim has finished her medical treatment. At that time, her personal injury lawyer and the insurance adjuster can see the full extent of the injury. At that time, most New York personal injury lawyers, including myself, sit the client down, advise them on what a fair settlement would be, and then get the insurance adjuster to offer that, or more.

Sometimes, though, no matter how skillful a personal injury lawyer is at negotiating with insurance adjusters, he or she can't get the insurance adjuster to offer fair compensation for the injury. When that happens, the next step is to advise (the decision is up to the client) the client to let us sue. Usually after we sue, and the insurance carrier sees we mean business, the case is resolved either by settlement or trial within a year, or at most two.

But once in a while a case just takes a course of its own -- a long one. I am talking about those rare, but unforgettable, crazy, complicated, over-the-top, seemingly never-ending cases. Right now I have two such cases that I have had in suit for more than 5 years. The first one has been up on appeal twice (I won both times) and still has not gotten to trial. It is likely to go up on appeal one more time before we finally get to trial. After trial, who knows, maybe another appeal.

The second involves 10 plaintiffs and, at one time, involved about 14 defendants, and is complicated by the fact that all my clients are from Central America and Mexico.

As I look back at the mothers-of-all cases I have had over the years, they all seem to have three things in common: (1) huge injuries (you don't fight for more than 5 years over peanuts); (2) lots of witnesses and/or parties (all of whom have to be deposed); and (3) complex legal issues (which sometimes leads to numerous appeals, which in turn puts the brakes on the case while everyone awaits the appellate decisions).

What's a 5-year old personal injury lawsuit file look like? If you stack it up on the floor, it can rise 10 feet high, or more. Yes it's tall, and heavy, too, both figuratively and literally. A five-year old case weighs on a lawyer. It becomes part of his life. He lives and breathes it. He often wakes up at night thinking about it. The lawyer has usually poured lots of money into the case, too, for the expenses needed to advance it.

When a case takes that long, I sometimes look back to see if I could have somehow made it go any faster. I have never found any significant delays that I have caused. Instead I see that the fight has been intense, complex, and drawn-out by long waits for lower court decisions, and even longer waits for appellate court decisions. I can't even blame my opponents for the delays --- if I catch them dragging their feet, I call their attention to it and, if they don't speed it up, I get the judge to put the screws to them.

It's hard to explain to a non-lawyer how any case on God's earth could take that long. "Justice is slow" is just a worn cliché, and doesn't explain anything.

I have been blessed with clients who understand the time it takes, know it's not my fault, and are blessed with large doses of patience. And thankfully, cases like these are one in a hundred . . .

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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


July 4, 2011

Emerson Park, Owasco, NY, Third of July Car-On-Pedestrian Collision

EmersonHrd1.jpgOwasco, New York's Emerson Park tradition of Third of July music followed by fireworks ended on a sour note this year. As pedestrians exiting the festivities were walking along Owasco Road toward Auburn after the fireworks at about 10:15, seven of them were struck by a car that was pushed into them by a pick-up truck. Thankfully, none of the injuries appear very serious. The victims were brought to Auburn Memorial or University Hospital in Syracuse. The drivers of both vehicles were young (only 19 years old).

We hope all the victims make a speedy and complete recovery. As an Auburn New York car accident lawyer, I am curious to know more about how this accident happened, and which vehicle's insurance will pick up the tab for the medical bills and any lost wages ("no-fault insurance"). Also, if any of the victims have a fractured bone, or an injury that keeps them out of work for more than 90 days, or that causes a long-term partial loss of use of a part of their body, they will likely qualify for "liability" coverage from one or both vehicles' insurance.

Will these young drivers have enough auto insurance to cover all these injuries? Most young people buy the cheapest insurance - which covers only $25,000 per injury/$50,000 per accident. Although the injuries appear modest, the policies could soon be depleted because so many were injured. On the other hand, under New York law, the owner of the at-fault vehicle is also liable, and those owners may turn out to be well-to-do parents (one of the vehicles was a Volvo), who might have significantly higher liability coverage limits.

Our advice to the victims? Call an Auburn New York car accident lawyer soon so that the insurance limits, and other important issues, are investigated as soon as possible. And get well soon!

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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

July 3, 2011

What is a "social Conscience Lawsuit"? Syracuse New York Personal Injury Lawyer Explains.

Thumbnail image for Picture of Michael Bersani .jpgPeople sue for different reasons, and usually for a combination of reasons. When accident victims hire me to file a New York personal injury lawsuit, they often seem apologetic for having to sue, explaining to me, "I'm not the suing type, but . . .".

Usually their voice turns a little angry after the "but", as they explain the reason they must sue. Often it is because the person or company that injured them didn't seem to give a damn about their safety or did not even apologize. They want to make them pay for their wrong.

Very, very often people sue because they have no choice; they can't work and can't pay the medical bills, and they need to sue just to stay afloat.

Sometimes, though, personal injury victims voice a different reason for suing. They say something like, "if I don't sue them, they will keep on doing this, and others will be injured, too. I don't want anyone else to have to go what I am going through". I call this the "social conscience lawsuit". This is a noble reason to sue. It is selfless. It is about social justice and the public good.

Suing people and companies who carelessly cause injuries helps reduce injury-producing behavior. Such lawsuits prevent future injuries by "teaching a lesson", not only to the careless or heartless defendant, but also to other people and companies who want to avoid getting sued. Those people and companies are likely to "mend their ways" if they feel the sting of a lawsuit, or see others who act like them getting sued.

Which brings me to the subject that prompted this blog post: A "social conscience" New York wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed by the mother of a dead 19-year-old sophomore fraternity "pledge" of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cornell University. He was "kidnapped" by his would-be "brothers", then tied up, blindfolded, and made to answer trivia questions about his fraternity. Wrong answers were punished with, among other things, forced vodka drinking. Eventually he passed out and died of alcohol poisoning.

This was not the first time. Since 1997, this same national fraternity churned out 5 similar deaths.

So the boy's grieving mother sued the fraternity. Why? I love this quote from her: "With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have."

Yes, personal injury lawsuits help make the world a safer place. And so do brave litigants such as this grieving mother. Courage -- and good luck -- mom.

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 Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169