mountain-of-trashI was sad to learn of the accidental death of a Seneca Meadows employee last Saturday. Seneca Meadows is a local (Seneca Falls and Waterloo, Seneca County, NY) landfill which (controversially) takes in tons of trash from all over the Northeast.  It is a huge operation involving many machines and vehicles.  This is not the first fatality there.

The victim, employed by Seneca Meadows, was operating a “tipper machine” when he was struck by a tractor trailer being backed up to unload garbage onto the tipper machine. The driver of the tractor trailer was not employed by Seneca Meadows, but rather by another company, which is good news for the victim’s family.

Why is that good news?  Because the family — unlike the families of most on-the-job wrongful death victims — has a good chance of getting fairly compensated. Most victims of on-the-job injuries are not fairly compensated because their only resort is workers’ compensation, which offers only an embarrassingly small sum of money for the loss of a father, husband, and breadwinner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need I say more?