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April 13, 2014

Central NY Injury Lawyer's Advice To Young Lawyers

old and young lawyer.jpgAdvice to a young personal injury lawyer:

Hey there young fella. Look at me! Grey hair is creeping up the side of my scalp. I am within shouting distance of 60-years old. I am now a veteran New York personal injury litigator. My running stride is slower, and aches and pains sometimes plague me, but hey, I'm wiser, too. So listen up young whippersnapper! Here's a few lessons I've learned about life in this high-stress, time-consuming job you've chosen.

(1) Keep learning. No matter how good you are, someone else is always better. So be humble. You need to keep learning this trade until the day you die. Never think you know too much.

(2) Keep caring. Try to keep on caring about those you serve. After you have represented a few hundred seriously injured clients, you can get jaded and stop feeling for them. There are two reasons not to let this happen to you: (1) you can't effectively represent seriously injured people if you don't "feel their pain"; (2) your humanity barometer will go crashing to the floor if you let it. Do you want to be a good human? Then care. Really care.

(3) Keep giving back. Even though our job is stressful-as-all-hell, and even though we sometimes have to put in ungodly hours, we are so damn lucky to have a job that pays well and is interesting and exciting at times. 95% of humans are stuck in a rut of boring, oppressive jobs, or worse, have no job at all and live in dire poverty. If you don't think you need to give back, ask yourself where along the road you lost your humanity. Get on a few boards, give generously to not-for-profits, and go volunteer at something. Side benefit: You might get some clients that way, too.

(4) Keep a balanced life. Family and friends matter even more than your job, especially family. Being a good dad, or a good husband, wife or partner, will give you more satisfaction in the long run that just being a good lawyer.

(5) Keep outside interests. Read, travel, play the kazoo in a punk band - whatever floats your boat. But, geez, don't just be lawyer.

(6) Keep in shape: It's the best stress therapy besides sex and beer. Oops - did I just say that? Seriously, Ride a bike, jog, jazzercise - whatever. You and your heart really need this. Side benefit: I can't tell you the number of brilliant case strategies that have occurred to me during those lonely runs.

See ya in Court, kiddo.

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

April 8, 2014

Suing For Compensation Beyond Workers' Compensation For New York workplace Injuries.

Picture of Michael Bersani .jpgCan you sue for compensation beyond your workers' compensation benefits if you are injured on the job in New York? Maybe. Find out how by watching my new video about New York personal injury lawsuits for on-the-job injuries.

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 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

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 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


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

December 9, 2013

"But I didn't Say That!" The Consequences For Your New York Personal Inury Case If Your Doctor Misquotes You In Your Medical Records.

medical records.jpgDoctors, nurses, physicians' assistants and other medical providers are not always good listeners. I know this from personal experience, but also because they frequently misquote my clients in their medical records.

For example, I once had a client who tripped on a broken-up walkway on the way into a store and suffered a serious knee injury. But the emergency room record said that the patient had "slipped and fell" and injured his knee.

"Slipped", "tripped", what's the difference, right? For the doctor, none. For me, the difference was crucial. The doctor made this mistake because it didn't matter to him how the plaintiff came to fall; for the purposes of diagnosing and treating the patient, his or her only concern was that he fell, and what part of his body he landed on. So he was only half listening when the patient told him how he ended up falling. He was more interested in learning what part of the knee hit the concrete, where it hurt, and whether the patient had mobility there.

So why did the distinction matter to me? Because later when I would call the insurance adjuster to try to settle the case, the adjuster was likely to say, "your client has no credibility. He now says he tripped and fell, but he told the doctor at the ER that he SLIPPED and fell." The implication is that I, his attorney, went out to the scene and decided it would be a better case if he tripped on the broken-up concrete. But nothing could be further from the truth.

If a case like this goes to trial, I can often keep my client's alleged statement to the doctor out of evidence. In fact, New York law says a patient's alleged statements in medical records are admissible (as part of a "business record") only where they are "germane to the diagnosis or treatment of plaintiff". Otherwise, they are inadmissible hearsay.

In other words, if the patient's statement is helpful in determining a diagnosis or a course of treatment for the patient, the statement gets into evidence, but if is not, I can keep it out.

In the above example, whether the client SLIPPED or TRIPPED is not germane to the diagnosis or treatment. The fact that he FELL is germane, but how exactly he came to fall is not germane, which is precisely why the doctor got it wrong in the medical record - it did not matter to the doctor how my client came to fall. What mattered was that he DID fall, and that he landed on that knee that now needs a diagnosis and treatment.

But try explaining all that to an insurance adjuster! Believe me, she won't understand it, and then I have to put the case in suit and try it. The adjuster will then learn, at trial, that I was right. Meanwhile, my client has had to go through a trial that should never have happened.

By the way, you'd be surprised how many New York personal injury lawyers don't know that statements by their clients in medical records that are not germane to their treatment or diagnosis are inadmissible as evidence. Be sure to hire one that does!

P.S. I'm available.

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 and Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


November 26, 2013

Meet "Everyday Hero" Tim Coolbaugh

Thumbnail image for IMG_3331.JPGThumbnail image for IMG_3292.JPG
As 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.

Now let me tell you about one of our recent "Everyday Hero" winners, Tim Coolbaugh.

For many guys Sundays means the couch, a brew and a game. Not for Tim (though he loves all three of those!). He has more important things to do. You can find him on Sundays rescuing and transporting abandoned dogs to and from Syracuse to Binghamton, Rochester, Albany or Canada. The only compensation Tim receives is the love of the dogs (and an occasional cat). He gives his time, use of his car, and his money. Why? To save dogs, many of which have been abandoned by "puppy mills" that can't sell them for a profit.

Tim is one of only a few guys in a volunteer field heavily populated by women.

Many other volunteers help rescue these unfortunate animals. But Tim has gone above and beyond, helping save hundreds if not thousands of dogs. Recently Tim made three separate runs, for a total of 500 miles, all in one day!

If you want to help out with rescuing dogs, there are animal shelters and animal protection societies near where you live. Give them a call and find out how to help out.

Our thanks go out to John Dibernardo for nominating Tim.

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


October 9, 2013

Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyers at Michaels & Smolak honor "Everyday Heroes" at Syracuse Crunch games!

crunch_2012_primary.jpgAs all of Auburn and Cayuga County knows, all summer long, at each home Auburn Doubleday baseball game, Michaels & Smolak honored a"Hometown Hero", that is, a local community volunteer who had given his or her time and talents to a local charitable organization. In front of the whole crowd, we regaled them, and their family and friends, with free game tickets, food, drink, etc.

But that was not enough for us. In fact, the program's success only whetted our appetite for more! So now we have expanded the program to all of Central New York.

This fall and winter, and all the way through April, "Everyday Heroes" will be nominated, selected and then honored at all Syracuse Crunch home hockey games this winter.

What's really cool about this program is how it recognizes that volunteering is not just an individual effort, but a family, community one. If family and friends aren't right next to the volunteers while they are giving of their time and talents, then they are often helping them balance things at home and work so that they can volunteer. That's why we at Michaels & Smolak are again treating not only the volunteers, but their family and friends as well.

Have you noticed an Everyday Hero in your community or neighborhood? Let's thank them together! Nominate someone today for a chance to win 4 tickets to a 2013-2014 Syracuse Crunch home game, $40 food vouchers ($10 per person), 1 parking pass for the Oncenter Garage, 4 custom hockey pucks and recognition on the video board during the game.

Come on, help us honor our Everyday Heroes 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 and Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

August 23, 2013

CNY Injury Lawyer Posts From Guatemala . . .

1236746_10201899072505171_1829587463_n.jpgI'm posting this blog from my hotel here in Guatemala City where I am hanging out with my two clients, Hugo and Lucio, shown in the photo with me. You guessed it, I'm the tall one.

I already blogged about why this Central NY injury lawyer had to come all the way to Guatemala to take their testimony. Today's blog is about how much I admire these guys. Why? They are outstanding fathers.

Several years ago they realized the three dollars a day they were earning working the corn fields in their pueblo wasn't ever going to fill the hungry little mouths at home. So they did something about it. They "went north", as they call the trek to the United States around here.

Yes, they broke a few immigration rules along the way. I am not going to tell you that was "right". But letting your little ones go hungry ain't right either. What would you have done in that situation? You'll never know, will you?

So yes, they "went north". "Up north" they worked their asses off for five years or so, sending almost every sweat-soaked peso back home to those hungry little mouths. Meanwhile, they didn't see their wives or kids for all those years.

Then they got blown up in a propane gas explosion. Now they are having trouble feeding those little mouths again. You can't see it in the photo, but they have burn scars all over their bodies.

I won't go into who is to blame for that explosion. A jury will hear the full story one day. I hope the lawsuit I filed on their behalf will one day help them feed those mouths again.

I like to think of myself as a good dad. Heck, I take my kids to Disney World and save up for college, don't I? But that seems to pale in comparison to what these guys have done for their kids: moving to a country where they don't understand the language or culture, working their asses off in a brutal job under a hot sun for 12 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week, missing seeing their kids grow up, all so they could give their kids a decent meal every day.

Let's face it; as a dad, I'm a slacker compared to these guys.

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


August 17, 2013

"Beam Me Up Scotty" -- Central NY Injury Lawyer Discusses Courtrooms of the Future

beam me up.jpgNext Tuesday I'll be jumping on a plane to Central America. But I won't be on vacation. I'll be representing my Guatemalan clients as they get deposed, remotely, by video, from Syracuse, NY. There'll be an interpreter with us.

How did I end up in Guatemala on a case? That story made the front page of the New York Law Journal and the Syracuse Post Standard. I blogged about that here.

Technology has changed every aspect of law practice. A few decades ago, what is about to transpire would have been impossible. Your Central NY injury lawyer will be sitting next to his clients in Guatemala City while insurance defense lawyers in Syracuse New York ask them questions by video. We will see those lawyers on the screen, and they will see my clients. They will be face to face. It's kind of like Star Trek. "Beam me up, Scotty"! The video of my clients will later be presented to the jury.

I wonder if the "courthouse of the future" will be completely digital and remote. A "virtual" courthouse. Instead of appearing physically in the Courtroom, witnesses will pop up on a large courtroom screen from whatever city or town they reside in. Lawyers, too. Perhaps brick-and-mortar "courthouses" will be totally replaced by virtual ones.

The sticking point for us lawyers is that we believe, perhaps incorrectly, that a witness' credibility is easier to judge live. Live testimony allows for better viewing of moist foreheads, blinks, twitches, stray glances, and body shifting. Those witnesses could be just nervous, or lying.

But with the pace of technological advances, who can doubt that, within the next 100 years, we will be able to project a 3D-high-definition image of a witness that almost exactly duplicates the live person? Then what? Will I be able to try my personal injury lawsuits from my living room? How about from a vacation home in Fort Lauderdale?

Sound incredible? Too sci-fi for you? Well what do you think attorney Abraham Lincoln would have said if someone had told him that lawyers in the future would be taking live depositions from 1,000 miles away (Syracuse to Guatemala) through something called a "screen" . . . ??!!

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 Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


July 31, 2013

There's Something About Mary . . .

Mary.JPGI recently blogged about our paralegal Ellen Williams' retirement after twenty eight years of outstanding service. Although Ellen is, in our view, irreplaceable, we nevertheless did our best in trying to replace her.

We believe we hit the mark with Mary Jones. In the photograph above she is at the Zonta Club of Auburn Women's Golf Tournament (which this law firm sponsored).

Mary comes to us with a long history in the "justice business". She was a paralegal in real estate law for seven years, in bankruptcy law for 5 years, and at the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office for twelve years. She was also clerk for the Cayuga County Legislature for five years.

We didn't just plop Mary down in Ellen's still-warm chair. Mary "shadowed" Ellen for a few months before Ellen retired. Yes, she is still "learning the ropes", but she's a fast learner, a self-starter, and we expect her to be fully operational in no time at all.

She's ahead of the learning curve so far. For example, she worked tirelessly and with great skill to help get me ready for a recent personal injury jury trial I had in Onondaga County.

So, dear clients, you will be hearing from Mary instead of from Ellen from now on. Please welcome her to our team - and to your case. If you have any questions about your case, you can email her at mary@michaels-smolak.com, or call her at the number below.

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 Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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

July 29, 2013

Michaels & Smolak Honors "Hometown Heroes" All Summer Long At Auburn Doubledays' Home Games

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for united way.jpgThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for doubledays.jpgGiving back to those who make Cayuga County strong is a priority for the Auburn New York personal injury lawyers at Michaels & Smolak. That's why Michaels & Smolak is honoring United Way of Cayuga County volunteers as "hometown heroes" at all Auburn Doubledays home games this summer.

How does this Michaels & Smolak charitable program work? We asked the United Way of Cayuga County to nominate volunteer "heroes". They chose dozens of volunteers who work with their 23 partner agencies and 41 programs throughout Cayuga County. At each home game, one United Way volunteer is publicly recognized and honored as a "hometown hero" and receives six game tickets and food vouchers for his or her family and friends. A different volunteer is honored at each home game, with a total of 38 volunteers honored. Michaels & Smolak funds the program, including the free tickets and food for the "hometown heroes".

What's really cool about this program is how it recognizes that volunteering is not just an individual effort, but a family, community one. If family and friends aren't right next to the volunteers while they are giving of their time and talents, then they are often helping them balance things at home and work so that they can volunteer. That's why we at Michaels & Smolak are treating not only the volunteers, but their family and friends as well. We are proud to "take them out to the ballgame"!

We hope being publicly honored and treated will be an exciting reward for United Way's hard-working volunteers, and will inspire others in the audience to "step up to the plate" as volunteers as well.

The United Way of Cayuga County is committed to improving lives in our community by advancing the common good. It focuses on creating long-lasting changes that will better our community today, tomorrow and in generations to come. Donations to the United Way help fund 41 programs that assist thousands of people throughout Cayuga County. To learn more about the United Way, or to make a donation go to www.unitedwayofcayugacounty.org or call 315-253-9741.

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
Auburn NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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


July 28, 2013

Why Life In The Country Is More Dangerous Than In The City: Central NY Injury Lawyer Explains

fear.jpgSome things we think we know, even things we feel certain are true, turn out not to be, on closer examination, false. I have come across a recent example of this. I do not believe I have been alone in having assumed, all my life, that it is safer to live in the country than in a big city. Haven't you, too, always assumed life up here in peaceful Central New York is safer than in those dangerous big cities like New York?

Well, your assumption (and mine) was wrong! A recent study shows that cities are in fact safer than the country. If you think about it, I'll bet you can guess why. Here's a hint: It has to do mostly with cars and guns.

Give up?

Ok, I'll tell you. First, you have to understand that the most common causes of death-by-injury are car crashes and gun accidents. And guess where there are more guns? Yup, in rural areas like upstate New York. Sure, you hear about the gun violence in the big cities. But gun accidents are much more prevalent, per capita, in the country because guns are just so much more numerous there.

And death by car accidents is three times more frequent in rural areas than in cities. That's because city folks mostly get around by subway or bus and, even if they use cars or taxis, speed limits are a lot lower in the city, so accidents are less deadly than on our country roads.

True, the risk of death by homicide is higher in cities, but not enough to make up for all those car and gun-accident deaths in the country.

Add all this to the fact that, if you are injured, you can get to a good hospital faster in the city than out the country, and you can see why it makes sense that life in big cities is in fact safer than in rural places.

So am I packing up my suitcase and moving to the City where I'll be safer? No way! I'll take my chances up here in this dangerous Central New York rural area, where I'll continue to represent victims of our dangerous way of life, especially car accident victims.

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


July 20, 2013

The Travon Martin Effect In Central New York Personal Injury Cases

images.jpgThe jury probably did the right thing in the George Zimmerman case. Given the absence of good evidence about what happened between him and Travon Martin during those last five minutes, the defense established reasonable doubt about whether a crime, under Florida law, had been committed.

That doesn't mean Mr. Zimmerman is innocent (just not guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt") and it doesn't mean he was right for tailing a young man simply because he was black.

But what does this have to do with my Central New York personal injury cases? A lot, actually. Every time we represent an African American in a Central New York courtroom, we have to wonder --- will the jury treat him or her fairly? Will the jury harbor prejudices?

There is no question that a jury emphasizes more with victims who look, act and talk like they do. This is human nature. The more "different" someone is from you, the easier it is to distance yourself from their situation, from their suffering. And when that victim is black, the problem is magnified.

Example: I represent a young black man who was stabbed and sliced up in a Syracuse night club. We allege the night club was negligent in allowing the violent felon who assaulted him to circumvent the metal detector and security check and enter with a sharp metal instrument. Will the jury (which is predominantly white in all Central New York courtrooms) prejudge our client based on his race? Will they assume that since he is black he himself must be violent (he is not!), that he somehow provoked the attack (he did not!) or willingly participated in it (not!)? Would the jury harbor the same suspicions if our client looked like their (white) son or brother?

These are all questions we personal injury lawyers must address in "jury selection", the first part of the trial where lawyers get a chance to talk to prospective jury members about their possible prejudices. But the real problem is not the prejudices the jury will admit to - those we can deal with by removing jurors who admit they can't overcome their biases. The real problem is the prejudices that the jurors either won't admit to or don't even recognize in themselves. Those jurors will probably remain in the jury box - and their hidden prejudices may percolate into their decision making.

Be honest. You've got prejudices. If you are a fair-minded person, you do your best to overcome them, to judge people, in the words of Martin Luther King, by the "content of their character and not by the color of their skin". But that doesn't mean those prejudices aren't there, where they've remained imbedded deep in your subconscious since early childhood. Can you overcome them in the jury deliberation room? If you happen to be in my jury pool on this case, that's what I'll be trying to figure out . . ..

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 Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

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