September 2011 Archives

September 30, 2011

Central and Syracuse NY Injury Lawyer Gets "Reviewed" By Client.

Thumbnail image for fan.jpgIt's nice to be appreciated. And sometimes clients who appreciate my work write online "reviews" of me. I was flattered and honored to read the following review of my work from a client whose case I recently tried. Here is her review of my work from the attorney rating and review website "AVVO":

Mike Bersani recently represented me in a personal injury lawsuit, which resulted in a settlement on the fourth day of the trial. In meeting with Mike several times before the trial, I sensed he was a competent, kind, intelligent person. On the first day, jury selection, it was obvious what a remarkable individual he is. Not only is he intelligent but he is also one of the most respectful and kind attorneys I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I am in the law enforcement profession and routinely work with attorneys. Mike is in a class by himself. He regarded the court attendants, jurors, witnesses, for both sides, and other attorneys with the utmost kindness and respect. He demonstrated integrity and class in the courtroom. I was extremely impressed by his knowledge of my accident. He knew my case as well as I did. On the fourth day of the trial, a settlement was reached. There were two Defendants in this case, and Mike was able to reach settlements with both parties. One of the Defendants offered a settlement on the first day of the trial, but Mike's awesome presentation of the case resulted in their offer increasing, daily. By the fourth day, both parties were eager to settle for an amount that was considered fair. I am proud to tell others about this amazing attorney and would highly recommend him.

All of us at Michaels & Smolak aim to keep every single client completely satisfied with our services. We appreciate the kind words and devotion of our former clients, and we look forward to satisfying our future clients.

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

September 29, 2011

Save New York's Scaffold Law!

Thumbnail image for scaffold.jpgI read in the New York Law Journal today that a coalition of business groups has formed to once again attack Labor Law §240, known as the "Scaffold Law", and its sister Statute, Labor Law §241. The Scaffold Law has, in my humble opinion as a Central and Syracuse New York construction accident lawyer, saved countless lives in New York by holding employers and owners of construction sites responsible for workers' falls from scaffolds (among other things). The other Statute, Labor Law §241, provides additional protection, not only from falls, but for many other types of common construction "accidents" (I put "accidents" in quotes because most of them are not true accidents, but rather the result of employers and others encouraging or allowing their workers to cut corners on safety).

The "new" coalition is made up of the usual suspects: The Business Council of the State of New York, the Associated General Contractors of New York State, Unshackle Upstate, and the New York State Builders Association. These guys get together every five years or so to take another whack at our dear Labor Law, so far, thank God, without success! If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try . . .. Well, you know.

According to the article, the new coalition's leaders believe Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration may be more "business-friendly" than his predecessors', and that the time is right for delivering a knock-out blow to these safe construction-work statutes. And they may be right! But even if they are "right", what they are doing is wrong. They are putting profits over safety, and in my book, and I hope in Mr. Cuomo's, that's like finger nails on a blackboard.

My advice to Governor Cuomo: Hey --- there's nothing wrong with being a "friend" of business, but being a "friend" of safe work practices is even better. Put safety first, Gov. Thanks for listening.

You can read my prior blog posts about Labor Law 240 (the "scaffold law") here:

Syracuse New York Construction Accident Lawyer Looks Up And Sees Labor Laws Being Broken!

Can I Be Sued If Someone I Hire To Remove Snow And Ice From My Roof Or Fix My Leaky Roof Falls? Central And Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyer Explains.

"Worker in Geneva New York Who Fell from Scaffold Probably Has a Slam Dunk Case against Wal-Mart", Geneva New York Injured Worker Lawyer Says.

Central New York Construction Accident Lawyer: Construction Workers Injured in Binghamton New York Scaffolding Collapse Have Solid Case

OSHA'S Increased Construction Site Safety Enforcement in Syracuse and Central New York May Help Decrease Syracuse New York Falling Construction Worker Lawsuits.

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

September 24, 2011

Central New York Injury Lawyer Recommends Using Projection Technology At Trial

exhibit view.jpgIn the Watertown New York personal injury jury trial I wrapped up this week, I used some technology that I feel really made a difference. It is called "Exhibit View", and is a kind of trial presentation software. You load this program onto your laptop, and then connect your laptop to a projector. You then can project exhibits, for example photos and medical records, onto a screen for the jury to see.

The neat thing is that all the jury sees on the big screen is the exhibit itself, not all the paraphernalia you are using to enlarge, mark and move the exhibits. For example, when you want to highlight a portion of the text in the exhibit, or circle it in red ink, the jury sees the highlighting or red circling magically appear on the screen. They don't see you "grab" the highlighter icon or red "pen" and move them over the text. Only you can see the "tools" you are using on your laptop screen.

Here's an example of how I used it: After the defense attorney had cross-examined my plaintiff regarding a "history" of the accident taken by one of her doctors that was inconsistent with her testimony about how the accident happened, I did a re-direct of her in which I blew up on the screen, one at time, about five entries from other medical records where the "history" accurately reflected my client's account. I was able to highlight, before the jury's eyes, the key entries giving the accurate accounting of the accident. My client testified that each of the entries I was highlighting accurately reflected how the accident happened. So now it became visibly clear that the one "rogue" account of the accident, which defense counsel had made so much of, was due to the doctor's error rather than my client changing her story.

I think having the jury see the medical records, with relevant portions highlighted, on a large screen was far more effective than simply having my client read the entries from the paper exhibits on the stand.

By the way, we do not have any financial or other interest in Exhibit View, so this is not a "plug", but I would recommend it to other personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers who want an easy, cheap, and effective way to project exhibits in the courtroom.

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


September 23, 2011

Central New York Injury Lawyer Recounts Trial Success Story

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for courtroom.jpgI just emerged from a week-long personal injury trial in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York. The defendants who injured my client had offered us only about 1/5 of what we felt the value of the case was, so we took it to trial.

Every day, as our proof went in, defendants' offer increased, as we held firm to our number. Yesterday, the second-to-last day of trial, they finally offered us what we had told them the case was worth all along. Case settled.

I would like to think that this result had something to do with my courtroom skills, but the truth is it had more to do with an appealing client and appalling defendants. She is an honest, hardworking single mom who struggled to overcome an injury that was not her fault. They shot themselves in the foot by refusing to accept responsibility for clear negligence on their part.

I wasn't the only one struck by this good guy - bad guy contrast. The few jury members I talked to afterwards confirmed it.

For this New York personal injury lawyer, it sure feels good to be on the right side of the civil justice system.

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

September 11, 2011

Central New York Injury Lawyer Describes His Experience In Manhattan On 9/11/01

twin towers.jpgTen years ago today I flew into NYC to attend a meeting of the Amicus Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA). The Amicus Committee, of which I was, and still am, a member, submits amicus curiae ("friends of the court") briefs in important cases on appeal in New York State where the rights of injured people are likely to be greatly affected. I am proud to have been selected to be a member of the Amicus Committee, and to submit briefs to fight for the rights of New York personal injury victims.

But I never made it to that meeting 10 years ago. On the shuttle bus from JFK airport to the midtown tunnel, the guy sitting to my left cried out, "did you see that"?! We all looked. We saw fire and smoke spewing out of a gaping hole in one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The man informed us that a plane had just run into the tower. Someone commented, "what an idiot - how could that pilot have failed to see the towers on such a clear day"!

When we emerged from the midtown tunnel and got off the bus in Manhattan, everywhere people were talking about a second plane having struck the second tower. We were under attack. All of us headed to the nearest bar with a TV, and the rest, of course, is history.

The meeting place for my NYSTLA Amicus Committee conference was right next to the World Trade Center, so not only was our meeting canceled, the building that was to accommodate us was evacuated.

Here are my memories from the next 3 days, in stream-of-consciousness form: Fire trucks covered with white dust, but with "we love you!" and "you're our heroes" written in the dust by some unseen hand, heading north, from the Towers, along the Avenues, carrying crest-fallen firemen; people lining the streets to applaud the crest-fallen firefighters as they returned in their dust-covered trucks to their stations as they clearly grieved lost brothers-in-arms; people placing flowers by the firehouses of fallen fire fighters; me walking down as far south as I could, to Canal Street, to the police blockade, and watching the white smoke from the towers slowing drifting towards Brooklyn across the incongruently blue, peaceful sky; trying to give blood at the nearest hospital, and being told that they were at full capacity and could take no more; watching more TV in bars, learning who had attacked us, and then feeling fear and unease (I am ashamed to say) whenever I saw someone who looked Muslim or North African; learning that all the tunnels and bridges in and out of Manhattan were closed, and realizing I was trapped in Manhattan for who-knows-how-long; then days of watching more TV from bars and restaurants, where people were friendlier, and kinder, than I had ever known people to be; finally boarding a train to carry me out of Manhattan, which was so stuffed with standing passengers that it reminded me of the trains I had seen in Nazi war movies carrying Jews to concentration camps; and finally arriving home and hugging, like I had never hugged them before, my wife and two small children.

Peace to all my readers on this 9/11/2011.

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

September 9, 2011

Michaels & Smolak Again Named in US News' "Best Lawyers In America"!

usnews2.gifAw shucks, folks, it was nothin', really . . .

No, wait a minute. We are going to leave all modesty aside for a moment: Here's the news: Michaels & Smolak has been bestowed once again (for 2011) with a "first tier ranking" in U.S. News "Best Lawyers in America" for personal injury litigation firms in the Syracuse, New York metropolitan area.

Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review (they ask other lawyers and judges about us). Other lawyers are asked this question; "If you could not handle a case yourself, to whom would you refer it?" Lawyers are asked to give nominees 5-1 numerical grades - 5 for a lawyer the voter would certainly refer a case to, 4 for a lawyer the voter would probably refer a case to, etc. Those with only the very highest "grades" make it to the list of "Best Lawyers in America".

Michaels & Smolak is one of only a handful of Central New York personal injury law firms who made the "first tier" ranking.

So if other lawyers - including insurance defense lawyers we take on every day of the week --- think we are so great ---- hey, maybe we are!

Wait. I just remembered. Bragging is not cool. Sorry about that.

Aw shucks folks, it was nothin', really . . .

Keep safe (and hire a GOOD law firm)!

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

September 3, 2011

New York Personal Injury Lawyers MUST Read Their Clients' Medical Records

Thumbnail image for chest exray.jpgBoring. That's what reading medical records is. I've been reading and re-reading 15 years of medical records for a client whose case I am trying in a few weeks. Cup of coffee? Yes, Thanks. Yes, boring. Dry. Dull. It's a sure fire insomnia cure. So why do I do it?

Necessary. This is one job that can't be delegated to a paralegal or associate. If you are a New York personal injury lawyer, and you are going to try your client's injury case, you have to know, almost by memory, the medical records. And that means you have to read and re-read them. No shortcuts.

Your paralegal might give you a nice summary, or might highlight important entries. But if you are trying the case, you simply have to read them. Absorb them. Know them. Imbedded in these records is the story of your client's injury, which you must bring to life before the jury's eyes.

Especially where you are claiming an aggravation of a pre-existing condition, you simply can't afford to have any entries regarding the old injury come up as a surprise at trial. If you are not ready for them, they can bite you in the . . . .

I think I'll grab another cup of coffee , , ,

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

September 2, 2011

Tully High School Roof Repairman Who Fell From Roof Most Likely Has Solid Labor Law Case Against School District

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for constructionworkeronroof.jpgThis story just kills me. The Syracuse Post Standard reports that a construction worker repairing the roof of Tully High School fell from the roof this morning while members of the high school's girls cross-country team stood by and witnessed it. I feel terrible for the injured worker, but also for those poor kids who witnessed the tragedy.

And it was an avoidable tragedy. The law was not followed. I'll tell you more about that later, but first let me say that, in my experience as a Syracuse construction work accident lawyer, most fallen roofer injuries are serious, and life-long. Because the injuries from falls are so serious, New York has a special law to protect construction workers on rooftops and scaffolds. It's called Labor Law 240, or "the scaffold law".

Tully School District will almost certainly be held liable to the fallen roof-repair man. Why? Because under New York Labor Law 240, the owner of a building is, in almost all circumstances, strictly liable for all worker falls from the building's roof. The roof repair man should have been tied up with a lanyard or some other safety device, and apparently he was not. This is, generally, a clear cut violation of Labor Law 240.

The fallen worker will be entitled to workers' compensation through his employer, but also entitled to full compensation from the School District for all additional lost wages, past and future, as well as any additional medical expenses, and pain and suffering compensation. Tully School District, call your insurance carrier! Tully School District insurance carrier, call your lawyers! Fallen worker or his family, call a New York construction accident lawyer!

Other related blog posts:

Syracuse New York Construction Accident Lawyer Looks Up And Sees Labor Laws Being Broken!

Can I Be Sued If Someone I Hire To Remove Snow And Ice From My Roof Or Fix My Leaky Roof Falls? Central And Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyer Explains.

"Worker in Geneva New York Who Fell from Scaffold Probably Has a Slam Dunk Case against Wal-Mart", Geneva New York Injured Worker Lawyer Says.

Central New York Construction Accident Lawyer: Construction Workers Injured in Binghamton New York Scaffolding Collapse Have Solid Case

OSHA'S Increased Construction Site Safety Enforcement in Syracuse and Central New York May Help Decrease Syracuse New York Falling Construction Worker Lawsuits.

Keep safe!

You can email me at bersani@michaels-smolak.com

Mike Bersani

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com
Central NY construction accident lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

September 1, 2011

Recent Syracuse Truck Accident Caused By Faulty Brakes, Or Course.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tractor trailer.jpgThe tractor trailer driver knew he was in trouble. He was blearing his horn as his tractor trailer careened out of control down the West Seneca Turnpike hill the other day in Syracuse. The brakes on the truck had failed. Six vehicle collisions later, three people were taken to the Community General and Upstate University hospitals with, fortunately, non-life threatening injuries.

Too many tractor trailer air-brake failures have taken too many lives. Faulty brakes contribute to about a third of all truck crashes in the United States. Very few trucks on the road are checked for brakes as well or as often as they should be. Brake inspections require time and labor, and trucking companies often choose not to spend the time and money doing them.

In other words, truckers and trucking companies cut corners to reap bigger profits, putting all of us at risk.

This West Senecca Turnpike disaster is the end result of such selfish decision making by truckers. Yesterday a DOT inspection of the truck found - surprise, surprise - that it had inadequate brakes, which was determined to be the cause of the crash.

And they wonder why New York truck accident lawyers love to sue them!

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