March 27, 2014

Central NY Injury Lawyer's New Videos

Picture of Michael Bersani .jpgThere's something new at Michaels & Smolak: Personal injury informational videos. I have filmed about 20 so far (but not all are posted yet). Each runs for less than 5 minutes, and usually more like 3 minutes. Check them out here! For example, want to learn how a New York personal injury deposition works? Just click on the video. Want to know what your New York personal injury case is worth? Well, there's a video for that, too.

Why am I posting these videos? Two reasons: (1) To answer some of my clients' most common questions about their personal injury and medical malpractice cases and (2) To showcase our intimate knowledge of New York personal injury law to web searchers looking for a Central New York personal injury lawyer.

Filming them was easy. No notes needed. I am talking from memory because I know this stuff so well after nearly 20 years of doing it.

I have to thank my partner Jan Smolak for the technical help on this. He picked out the high definition camera, taught me how to work it so I can film myself, and does all the editing.

So, dear reader, check out a few of my videos, and let me know what you think by emailing me at the address below. Please, no rotten tomatoes! 

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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

March 12, 2014

Central & Syracuse NY Injury Lawyer Discusses New Bicycle Safety Gadgets

bicyclists racing.jpgYesterday the sun peeked out from its cloudy winter hide-away, prompting me to go for a noon-time run in shorts and a t-shirt. Alas, today winter blasted back, closed our local schools, and kept me at home working from my computer. For my workout today I donned my cross-country skis and traipsed through some nearby woods.

But yesterday got my mind on spring. My daily workout will soon include bicycling. In the good weather, I try to put in at least 150 miles a week on my road bike.

I have a steady companion when I am out on the roads on my bike; fear. Why fear? Because I am a New York bike accident lawyer. Because many of my clients lives have been destroyed by a car or truck. Because one of my cousins was killed on bike last year. And because I personally have had some close calls.

I try to do everything as safe as I can out there, including using blinking lights on the front and back of my bike even during my daytime rides.

The biggest problem for us road-bikers is that cars don't see or hear us. But there may be good news for me and other bike enthusiasts, as can be seen in this New York Times article titled "Gadgets to Boost Bike Safety".

Here is a summary of the new bicycle safety gadgets the article discusses:

• A small lightweight bicycle horn that emits the full volume and sound of a car horn. Watch and hear it work here!

• A new sophisticated bicycle lighting system that reacts to surrounding light levels and movement. For example, if the cyclist swerves or brakes, the lights flash in a pattern similar to those on an ambulance or a police car. Watch it here!

• An inflatable neck scarf -- called a Hovding -- that inflates and transforms into a helmet - like an airbag for the head -- when it detects an impact or that you are falling. Watch it here!

This is all cool stuff. It makes road-biking a lot safer. But still, the safest thing you can do is follow the rules of the road and be on the lookout for those pesky vehicles. Never, ever assume any of them see you.

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 Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


February 20, 2014

Bill In Albany Would Allow Lawsuits By Wrongfully Convicted Even If They Gave False Confessions.

jail.jpgThese days, thanks to the "Innocent Project" and advances in DNA testing, more and more victims of wrongful conviction are able to prove their innocence, even after many years behind bars.

This gets them out of jail, and under certain conditions, arms them with a claim against the State of New York to get money compensation for their nightmare behind bars. In New York, Court of Claims Act section 8-b says the wrongfully convicted can seek compensation from the State if they prove they are innocent and "did not by their own conduct bring about the conviction." Courts have interpreted this language to mean that someone who falsely confesses to the crime cannot sue for compensation. After all, if you tell the D.A. "yeah, I did it", you arguably "brought about your own conviction", right?

Maybe. But that begs the question of why someone would confess to a crime they did not commit. Sounds silly to people who have never been under the grueling pressure of a tough interrogation for hour upon hour. But it makes sense to some of the accused at the time. Lengthy, tough interrogations do something to the human psyche. Sometimes people crack. Some folks have weaker constitutions than others. Especially those with serious mental or psychological problems, or who are too young to know what they were doing.

The proof is in the pudding. Of the twenty-seven people in New York who have had their convictions overturned by DNA evidence since 1991, ten -- more than a third -- had falsely confessed or pleaded guilty.

Now a new bill, the Unjust Imprisonment Act, would amend §8-b of the Court of Claims Act to allow people who have confessed or pleaded guilty to a crime they did not commit to sue the state for damages. The bill would also extend the statute of limitations for such suits from two years to three.

Interestingly, the bill comes from the desk of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is also responsible for defending claims, including wrongful conviction claims, brought against New York State. But he decided to do "the right thing" regardless of the consequences to his office. And for that he deserves our praise.

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 Wrongful Conviction Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

February 16, 2014

Why this Central NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer Would Not Get "Caught Dead" In The Auburn Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.

emergency.jpgIf you were my client, and you read the following headline in our local Central New York Newspaper, the Syracuse Post Standard, what would you do?:

"Central New York Injury Lawyer Worst in Nation".

Or what about this one:

"Auburn Injury Lawyer Charged with Misconduct Agrees to Never Practice Again".

I'll tell you what you would do. You would run down to my office, grab your file, bring it to a good New York personal injury lawyer, and never look back.

Well, the Auburn Memorial Hospital, right here in Auburn New York, has had precisely these kinds of headlines in recent times. In January 2013, a Syracuse Post Standard headline read, "Auburn Hospital Worst in Nation". The article went on to explain how Auburn Memorial was facing the biggest Medicare pay cut of any hospital in the nation under a new Federal payment system that rewarded or penalized hospitals based on how well they cared for their patients.

Then in January of this year another headline ran, "Auburn ER Doc Charged with Misconduct Agrees to Never Practice Again". The article explained that the ER doc had been censured for failing to maintain records, failing to adequately diagnose and treat patients, and failing to admit patients that should have been admitted, and inappropriately discharging others. Note: On the bright side, he did not cut off the wrong leg of any of his patients :)

So now you know why, if I were ever to have a heart attack or stroke here at my personal injury law firm office in Auburn, New York, I would, with my last conscious breath, emit two words: "NOT AUBURN!"

And that's sad because I love Auburn, love working here, love the people here, and think is a great small city. But Auburn Hospital, unfortunately, is suffering the same fate as many small regional hospitals --- tight budgets and red ink tempt them to cut safety corners and to hire docs and other staff from the bottom of the barrel. (Don't get me wrong -- there are lots of great docs and nurses at Auburn Memorial Hospital --- but there are also some very bad ones, as the story about this substandard ER doc demonstrates).

We have a right to better care. Auburn may be the back waters of Syracuse, but it is not the Third World. We're in the United States of American, damn it! If small regional hospitals like Auburn can't deliver medical care at an acceptable level of competence, they have no business being in business. Geez, just Mercy-flight us all to SUNY Upstate. It would be cheaper, and more efficient, than maintaining a substandard hospital in Auburn.

And please, don't go blaming us Central New York medical malpractice lawyers for the problem. No sir, we make no apologies. The medical malpractice lawsuits we file are the the effect, not the cause, of the negligent delivery of medical services at Auburn and other hospitals. Yes, we have sued Auburn Memorial Hospital for its doctors' malpractice. And no, we won't hesitate to do so again should our clients suffer the terrible consequences of the substandard medical care delivered there. The "sting" of our lawsuits spurs hospitals like Auburn to deliver better care, and without the threat of that sting, dangerous cost-cutting would likely cause medical care in Auburn, and elsewhere, to spiral down to Third-World levels of care.

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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

February 4, 2014

Can You Sue For An Unwanted Marijuana High? Central NY Injury Lawyer Explains.

cannibis.jpgMarijuana is now legal for medical purposes in about twenty States and for recreational purposes in two (Colorado and Washington). New York appears poised to follow suit, at least for medical purposes. That makes for a lot of legal pot smoking. But not everyone who wants, or medically needs, marijuana's effects likes to smoke. So marijuana stores are stocking up on tasty ways for customers to eat their way to that same high, including gummy bears, dew drops, chocolate truffles, and other sweets all laced with mind-altering THC. Some of them contain ten times as much psychoactive THC as a casual pot smoker might take.

So what's the problem? Once a customer removes these goodies from their carefully labeled "marijuana" bags or boxes, they look just like the sweets commonly available in any grocery store candy aisles. They don't look like a drug. In fact, they look like pretty tasty treats. They then become an "attractive nuisance" to the unwary and hungry. Small children are especially attracted to the colorful delicious looking candies or chocolates. Unsolicited, unexpected highs are bound to happen.

This is not just a hypothetical problem. The New York Times reports that a growing number of children are seeking treatment after accidentally consuming marijuana. The children, many of them toddlers, are taken to the ER because they seemed strangely sleepy and disoriented.

It is true that marijuana, even if consumed by children in high doses, poses no life-threatening dangers. But that doesn't mean it's "harmless". Children or even adults who don't know why they are feeling so strange might suffer fear, panic, emotional turmoil ("am I going crazy?!). They are also at risk of falling and hurting themselves or of getting into a car accident because they got behind the wheel not realizing they were going to end up stoned.

When they go to the hospital and are eventually diagnosed with - well - being stoned, there's no antidote --- they just have to lie back and try to enjoy it.

But what if they DON'T enjoy it? Assuming there's no car accident or trip-and-fall, can they sue someone simply for having been subject to an unwanted high? Or can they sue on behalf of their young child if he or she unwittingly consumes some of these THC laced sweets? And who would they sue? The manufacturer, the store, or the friend who accidentally left them lying around, unlabeled?

If I were representing such a plaintiff, I would sue all of the above. I would sue the manufacturer and store for failure to warn. I would argue that they had a duty to somehow distinguish their product from regular food products with some kind of engraving or stamp on the chocolate or gummy so that even without packaging they would be distinguishable. Or they could shape all the sweets into the highly recognizable cannabis leaf form. I would also sue the "friend" who left these "sweets" out and about with no warning. How careless! His or her homeowner's insurance should provide coverage.

The real question, though, is, what is such a case worth? Can you, or your child, get any significant monetary compensation for an unwanted, even frightening, high? Would the likely verdict merit the long and hard-fought litigation? We'll have to wait and see how these cases shake out. Some brave personal injury lawyers will bring the first few cases while the rest watch and wait. Those first few verdicts will give us a kind of "pulse" on the jury value of such cases. Then we'll know whether they are worth the trouble and risk.

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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

February 2, 2014

How New York Personal Injury Lawyer Can Be Spiderman's Superhero.

images[5]-thumb-300x224-13274.jpgWho wouldn't want to be Spider-man? His outfit is so much cooler than Superman's. And what about swinging between skyscrapers by spitting that web-gook from your wrists? Isn't that a more thrilling way of getting around than that all-so-boring Superman extended-arm flight?

Not so fast! Be careful what you wish for. At least that's what three Spider-man actors are saying.

Let me take you back to December of 2010, when I blogged about Spider-man's incredible 30-foot plunge to the stage floor in a Broadway performance of the musical, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Light". His spider-swing-line failed, catapulting him to the stage below in front of a horrified crowd of Spider-man fans. But Spidey -- as I like to call him -- in true superhero fashion, recovered and returned to the show within months. The show must go on!

I don't know if Spidey sued for negligence, but he should have. Whoever designed or installed that swing-line did a terrible job and should have had to pay the consequences. How could that line fail to support him without there being some negligence?

Then the actor who eventually replaced Spidey 1 -- whom I'll call Spidey 2 -- was injured on the same stage (not clear how). He sued the stage equipment provider for $6 million.

That was not, however, the end of Spider-man's stage saga. Last August another Spider-man -- Spidey 3 -- was injured in the same theater when his foot got caught between a mechanical lift and the stage. He suffered serious foot injuries requiring "surgeries and amputations" according to the New York personal injury lawsuit he filed last week in Manhattan.

Yes, being Spider-man is clearly a dangerous job. And a certain amount of assumption of the risk clearly comes with the job. But when injuries are caused at least in part by someone's negligence, even Spider-man has right to recover.

Think about poor Spidey 3. He's a young dancer-actor with a serious permanent foot injury that may deprive him of millions and millions in income over his lifetime. It makes no sense that his foot would get caught between the mechanical lift and the stage without some kind of defective design there. A proper design would not have left a wedge wide enough for his foot to get caught.

Folks, keep in mind that us New York personal injury lawyers can be superheroes, too. You might say, "I'm not the suing type", but when you're hurt, can't work, can't pay the bills, and your kids are paying the price, too, and it's all because someone else wasn't careful, believe me, you'll be "the suing type" soon enough.

Hey, my suit-and-tie lawyer outfit might not be as exciting as Spider=man's skin-tight blue-and-red costume, but when I'm on my game, in Court, I can be someone's superhero . . . even Spider-man's!

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 Superhero Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


January 28, 2014

Can Uber (The Mobile Phone Driver-Rider Connection Service) Be Held Liable For a New York Car Crash?

index.jpgMove over taxi services. You're sooo "old school"! I mean, come on, making us stand on a corner and hale you down? Geez.

Uber is the new black. Just download the Uber app on your smart phone and it will "connect you with a driver at the tap of a button", according to the Uber webpage. An Uber driver will appear out of nowhere, having almost instantly obtained your location from his or her Uber drivers' app. No cash exchanges hands -- the rider's "fare" is paid automatically through his Uber online account.

Uber essentially connects freelance, self-employed drivers with anyone needing a ride in major cities, including New York City. It now operates in 26 countries and 50 cities. But at least here in the U.S. sticky questions are coming up about Uber's liability for crashes its drivers might cause.

For example, just recently in San Francisco an Uber driver hit a 6-year-old in a cross-walk, killing her. The victim's family has just filed a wrongful death suit against not only the driver, but Uber as well.

The legal problem with this in New York, and elsewhere, is that normally there are only three proper targets for a lawsuit where negligent driving is to blame: The negligent driver, the owner of the vehicle he was driving, and, if the driver was employed and on-the-job at the time of the crash, the employer.

But there's the rub. Uber claims it is not an "employer" of the Uber driver, but rather that the drivers are independent contractors who, owning and caring for their own vehicles, choose to participate in Uber's driver-rider matching service. Uber compares itself to the auction site eBay, connecting a buyer and seller (driver and rider) and not liable for what happens between them. It thus washes its proverbial hands of liability for any accidents.

There's a problem with this logic, though. Uber may be the next Ebay, but Ebay doesn't have the same capacity to kill and maim its users. Uber does because it could screen drivers based on their driving records. Also, what happens when an accident is caused by an Uber driver looking down at his Uber app to confirm where and when to pick up a rider? Or what if the driver runs someone over while pushing a button on the Uber app to confirm an assignment? In such cases, shouldn't Uber be held liable for distracting the driver?

The issue is coming to a fore because the company is becoming wildly popular in big cities all over the world.

Here's the rule I would espouse: Uber should be held liable for failing to screen for safe drivers and for any accidents caused by its drivers' use of its Uber app. Uber is in the best position both to screen its drivers and to enforce safe uses of its app. Such a rule will make Uber drivers safer and protect all of us. Beyond that, Uber should not be held liable for mere Uber driver error. It should, however, require its drivers to have the same amount of commercial liability insurance as cab drivers in the cities where they operate.

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 New York Auto Accident Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

January 26, 2014

Do Meniscectomies Relieve Meniscus Tear Pain? Central NY Injury Lawyer Discusses Recent Study.

meniscus.jpgI recently read about a Finish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that one of the most common types of knee surgery (a meniscectomy) is worthless. The meniscus (see photo), by the way, is the cartilage of the knee located on either side of what is popularly known as the "knee cap" (patella). It acts as a shock absorber.

The removal of (either part of or the entire) meniscus, known as a "meniscectomy", is a simple operation: Small incisions are made for inserting the arthroscope (a small surgical camera) inside the knee. A tool called a "shaver", guided by the surgeon, then trims torn meniscus and smooths the edges.

In the study, 146 patients with torn menisci were divided into two groups, one to receive real meniscectomies, and the other to receive a "fake surgery", in which blade-less shavers were rubbed against the outside of the knee cap to simulate the sensation of having an actual meniscectomy.

The study showed that the same percentage of patients in each group claimed to have benefited from the "surgery".

Wow.

I personally have undergone two meniscectomies (right knee lateral and medial) about 5 years apart. For me, both meniscectomies worked like magic: before the operation, my torn meniscus would start causing a sharp, stabbing pain after about a mile of running. After the surgery, in only about a month, I was out running my usual 5 to 7 miles painfree.

Many of my clients, Central New York personal injury accident victims, also end up with meniscectomies when a knee is twisted or knocked about in an accident. They have also usually gotten significant relief from the surgery. But after this Finnish study, I have to worry whether eventually health insurers and others will stop paying for meniscectomies. After all, the Finish study is basically saying the surgery is worthless.

So who's right, the Finish study or my clients and me?

As I read the article again, I noticed that all the participants in the study had "wear-induced meniscus tears", not traumatically induced tears from sports-related injuries or personal injury accidents.

My meniscus was torn by running, a kind of trauma to the knee. My clients' were torn by accident trauma, usually falling on pavement or hitting the dashboard in a car accident. Perhaps therein lies the difference; trauma induced meniscus tears somehow are relieved through surgery, whereas old-age wear-and-tear ones are not.

So here's my note to the Finnish study folks: Redo the experiment with trauma-induced meniscus tears, will ya?

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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169


January 25, 2014

Hospitals Rip Off Patients And Tax Payers By Prodding ER Docs To Keep Patients Overnight Unnecessarily.

money doctor.jpgHospital care in this country is sick. Sadly, old-fashioned medical "care" is giving way to the "big business" model. Nothing new about that. Profits are being exalted over patient care. Again, nothing new. But the news about Health Management Associates, a for-profit hospital chain based in Naples, Fla., is simply over the top.

The New York Times reports that, in order to entice their ER docs to drum up more profits, the hospital chain carefully tracked each physician's ratio of admitting, versus not admitting, ER visitors for overnight stays. Worse, each physician had a visible-to-others color-coded "score card": green (good grade), yellow (watch out!) or red (failing grade). "Green" docs were given bonuses while the reds' jobs were on the line.

The goal? To inflate the company's payments from Medicare and Medicaid by admitting patients who really don't need to be admitted to a hospital, like -- and this really happened -- an infant whose temperature was a normal 98.7 degrees for a "fever".

This is what happens when community based not-for-profit hospitals are transformed into large, corporate, profit-driven ones. Good health care is no longer the real goal - big profits are. Sure, there are advantages - economies of scale, efficiencies, some cost cutting - but at what price? Under this new model of health care, physicians become mere employees of large corporations who focus on making sick profits rather than making the sick profit from their services.

The head of the outfit -- the genius who initiated the twisted color-coded reward system for ER docs -- stepped down last year, but not before making $22 million in the last three years before he left.

Hello? Is there any justice out there? Well, some. Medicare and Medicaid, with the help of the Department of Justice, have sued the hospital chain to recoup payments. There may be criminal charges, too. But what about the patients who were persuaded to stay overnight for unneeded vigilance and testing? Can they sue for their lost time and the extra worry? Individually, probably not -- the cost of litigation would overwhelm any potential recovery. But there may be a class action lurking out there somewhere.

Let's hope so. A class action would be a nice shot-in-the-arm to this sick corporate hospital model.

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 and Syracuse NY Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

January 24, 2014

Beware Of Personal Injury "Settlement Mills", Central NY Injury Lawyer Explains.

mill.jpgI came across a Stanford law professor's study on the effect of "settlement mill" type personal injury law firms on personal injury case settlement results. If you're searching for a New York personal injury lawyer, it's worth a read! But since you probably won't read it (it is 63 pages long!) let me summarize it for you.

Before I go any further, I'd better explain what we mean by "settlement mill".
In the words of the law professor who did the study, a "settlement mill" is a "high-volume personal injury law firm that aggressively advertises and mass produces the resolution of claims, typically with little client interaction and without initiating lawsuits, much less taking claims to trial".

These personal injury firms make money by quickly processing a huge volume of cases (like a "mill" churns wheat). The cases must be under-worked because preparing a case for trial takes too much time. To get the case settled, they often take much less in settlement than the client would get if she had hired a dogged lawyer prepared to fight for her all the way to the courthouse doors. The mills make their money on volume, not quality, of work.

This way of doing business differs markedly from the traditional personal injury law practice, which we at Michaels & Smolak follow. In the traditional approach, personal injury lawyers take the time to build and advance each client's personal injury case. Even though it is time-consuming, and doesn't bring in the fast buck, in the end the client usually fairs better at trial or in a settlement. That's because the insurance company or its lawyer sees that we are well prepared to try the case to a jury, which could lead to a considerable verdict, and because we have uncovered nuances of the case -- overlooked by the "mills" -- that can make it stronger.

Traditional personal injury lawyers (like us) spend so much time on each case because we care about our reputation among the clients and the attorneys who refer us the cases. Since most of our cases come from referring attorneys and former clients, we need to continually "prove" ourselves to them. We have a smaller case load than the "mills" , but work each case more carefully and thoroughly.

In contrast, the big-advertising "settlement mill" lawyers don't care too much about word-of-mouth reputation. They are getting their cases not from former clients, and not from referring attorneys, but from bombarding airwaves and billboard. A dissatisfied customer is no big deal -- the next customer wont' come from her referral, but from advertising.

The law professor concludes that "settlement mill" clients generally fare worse (get less money in compensation) than the clients of traditional personal injury lawyers.

Here's a blog post from a Florida personal injury lawyer who also summarizes the Standford study (though not as briefly as I have).

Bottom line for my readers: Be careful what kind of New York personal injury law firm you hire. If they are on TV round the clock, and on every other billboard, they may be a "settlement mill", and you might want to talk to other lawyers regarding their reputation before deciding to hire 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 and Syrcause NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

January 23, 2014

More Funny Lawyer Advertisements, Posted By Central NY Injury Lawyer.

Lawyer ads! Godda luv'm: I've blogged about lawyer advertising before. It is an unfortunate necessity, at least for New York personal injury lawyers. We do very little of it compared to the "big advertisers" in Central New York, and we try to do it in a dignified, serious manner. You have to enjoy the humor, though, of those that take the opposite approach. So enjoy these lawyer ads, and don't miss the rappin' lawyer at the end:

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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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

January 10, 2014

Self-Driven Car Manufacturers Should Get No Free-Pass Around Tort Law

car sale lot.jpgCNBC reports that those sci-fi-like, self-driven cars ("SDC's"), also called "automated cars", will account for half of all vehicles on the road by the year 2035, with the first ones hitting the market by 2020. (You can see one operated here). The first generation of these vehicles will require someone in the driver's seat just in case the technology develops a problem--much like an aircraft autopilot. Truly independent SDCs requiring no human involvement will begin to be offered by 2030. (I blogged about these new cars here).

But CNBC also reports that Nissan Motor, one of the leaders of the new technology, cautioned that "because of the litigious nature of the American market, manufacturers might have to steer clear of the U.S. unless legislators take steps to protect the industry from a flood of frivolous lawsuits".

Forgive my skepticism, Nissan, but that is pure baloney. First, why would you fear "frivolous" lawsuits? If the lawsuits are frivolous, you will beat them and they will cost you almost nothing. What you are really afraid of are meritorious lawsuits, ones that will hold you accountable for the death and destruction your negligent design may cause.

Your request for a free pass around tort law is not new. It's the same damn argument car manufacturers have always made when they want to put a new product on the market: "Lawsuits will prevent progress". But all of history proves the contrary; vigorous tort law does not inhibit progress, but ensures progress in safety. The seatbelt, the air bag, crash resistance, anti-lock brakes - all of these were catapulted into existence by lawsuits.

What Nissan really wants is a get-out-of-jail free card to negligently design and manufacture dangerous vehicles so it can stuff its pockets with fat profits at the expense of Americans' safety. Don't give it to them! Good old fashion American tort law is the best engine ever designed for holding greedy corporations, such as Nissan, to the task of building safety into their products.

Bottom line: The only thing standing between the American people and unsafe SDC's is tort law. So let's not let the automobile lobby get their way on this one!

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 Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


January 9, 2014

How NY Medical Malpractice Law Discriminates Against The Young, The Old, And The Poor

nursing home woman.jpgI recently read an interesting online article entitled "Patient Harm: When An Attorney Won't Take Your Case". The article describes the sad truth that most legitimate medical malpractice victims will never find a lawyer to represent them because their injuries are too "insignificant" to be "litigation worthy".

You see, medical malpractice cases are extremely expensive to bring because (1) the doctors and their insurance companies will generally fight you all the way to trial and won't settle; (2) to prove your case, you need to hire at least one, and usually more, expensive expert physicians who will testify that the defendant doctor committed medical malpractice and who will describe the injuries he caused you.

Because medical malpractice cases are so expensive (the costs, not including attorney's fees, are generally at least $50,000 and usually closer to $100,000), the amount of compensation a jury is likely to give you for the injury has to be worth at least $250,000 to make it worth the lawyer's time, and worth the risk he is taking of going to trial and losing.

The article points out that the law here seems to discriminate against children, the poor and the elderly because often it is only a "bread winner" who can prove sufficient economic loss to make the case worthwhile. For example if a 40 year-old computer technician earning $100,000 per year is the victim of medical malpractice and he can't work for the rest of his life, in lost earnings alone his case is worth a few million dollars. But the retired worker, or an unemployed one, or a child, often can't prove any real damages for lost wages, so their malpractice case won't be capable of bringing in a verdict big enough to entice a malpractice attorney to take on all that work and risk.

And that's too bad, because for many of these patients or surviving family, a lawsuit is their only hope to recover what, for them, isn't just "chump change", but real money they need, and it is also the only means they have to learn the truth about what happened to them or their loved one.

The sad truth is that most malpractice victims seeking a medical malpractice lawyer can't find one who will take their case. At Michaels & Smolak, we reject at least 90% of medical malpractice cases. And it's not because we don't want to help the victims, but because the damages suffered won't pay for the lawsuit! If we took on every medical malpractice case that walked into our door we would be shutting that door within a year. Unfortunately, sometimes reality gets in the way of real justice.

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 Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


December 31, 2013

Happy Most-Dangerous-Night-of-the-Year! (Central NY Injury Lawyer Explains)

Why is New Year's Eve so damn dangerous? Drunk driving is, of course, the biggest killer tonight. But drunk walking is a close second. Did you know that more people die while walking down the street tonight than any other night of the year? The dangers of dunk driving and drunk walking are easy to avoid; just stay home and celebrate with friends and champagne, right?

Yes, but even if you stay home there is one New Year's Eve danger you need to avoid tonight. Cork popping. No, not popcorn popping, cork popping. Champagne, a big New Year's favorite, incorrectly popped, causes serious blinding injuries each year. The pressure in those bubbly bottles can reach 90 pounds per square inch - more than most car tires. The cork can travel at a bullet-like 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, fast enough to rupture eyeballs, detach retinas and take out your eye, or the eye of a fellow reveler. Spending New Year's Eve on an ophthalmologist's surgery table is not a good way to bring in the New Year. And guess what --- it happens every year. Just ask your local emergency room doc.

But thankfully there's a surefire (no pun intended) way to slow down the cork's pace --- and thus make it a lot safer. Make sure your champagne bottles are well chilled. A warm bottle's cork explodes much sooner and with greater force than a cold bottle's. And here's some other safety tips for uncorking the bubbly:

Don't shake the bottle.

Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.

Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle, away from your eyes and others', while uncorking

Watch this video for a complete explanation of safe cork-popping:


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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169

December 28, 2013

Meet "Everyday Hero" Chris Rawlins!

131225_0000.jpgAs Syracuse Crunch fans all know by now, Michaels & Smolak, P.C., your Central New York Injury Law Firm, is honoring "Everyday Heroes" at all Syracuse Crunch home hockey games this winter. "Everyday Heroes" are local community volunteers who have given their time and talents to a local charitable organization. In front of the whole Crunch crowd, we regal them, and their family and friends, with free game tickets, food, drink, etc.

Let me introduce you to Michaels & Smolak's latest "Everyday Hero", eleven year-old Christopher Rawlins. Chris was born with Cerebral Palsy. He attends Reynolds Elementary School where he is an excellent student, plays the tuba and soccer, and participates in school plays. Chris has also participated in the Special Olympics and is a Jr Elk at the American Legion in Baldwinsville.

Nothing holds this kid back! He has a fantastic attitude, an infectious smile, and likes to keep friends and family entertained with knock-knock jokes. He is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and can rattle off statistics on games and players.

As you can see, Chris has not let the hard knocks of life knock him down. But there's more: He gives back! He regularly helps out at a local Music Fest to raise money for Cerebral Palsy and is an active member for other fund raisers as well. He approaches each new task with determination and pride in doing the best he can.

Congratulations to Chris for being an Everyday Hero, and to his family for helping him become the wonderful person he is. And thanks to Linda Wood for nominating him.

Come on, help us honor your Everyday Hero, right here, right now! It could be a friend, a relative, or just someone whose volunteer efforts you admire. Click here to nominate someone right now.

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 Toll Free 1-866-698-8169