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Not trying to brag or boast or “holier-than-Thou” anyone, but I just need to say how proud I am to be part of a personal injury law firm that doesn’t see money as the be-all-and-end-all of the practice of law.  And yes, there are plenty of personal injury firms that do.  Not us.  Not Michaels & Smolak.  We are damn good at what we do, second to none, in the personal injury litigation field.  Our results are outstanding.  Look us up.  Ask around.  You’ll see. But besides being damn good at what we do, we also try to be just plain “good”.  And sometimes folks notice and we end up getting awards for it.  Like the one in these recent photos:

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Call us old-fashioned, but we still see the practice of law as a service, not just a money-making machine.  We treat each client as a human being, whether their case is large or small, whether we stand to make lots, or little, or no money at all representing them.  I mean this when I say it – it is NOT about the money.  It is about helping people.  I won’t lie – we make a good living at this.  But the money not only allows us to live comfortably and bring up our families in financial security, it also allows us to give more back to our communities.

Helping our injured clients is not enough.  There are many people of limited means who need legal help for reasons other than having suffered injuries.  That’s why a couple of times a month, at prearranged times, our lawyers sit at Auburn’s public library for two-hour stretches to give completely free legal advice to any stranger who shows up.  It’s called the “Volunteer Lawyers Project”.  The program is well publicized in Cayuga County, where our main office sits, so we get plenty of takers.  If we can’t help the folks who walk in to see us because their problem is not in our wheel house, we figure out how to get them to cheap or free legal help elsewhere.  If we can help them, we do.

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This is an update on the crazy serial hit-and-run dude I talked about in two past blog posts.  Anyone interested in following the story (and believe me, it’s worth it!) who has not read those two prior posts should read them now by clicking here and here.

Long story short, a NASCAR-loving nut job had a nasty habit of plowing into other vehicles, always from behind, and always as the victim was moving forward.  He appears to have been using innocent motorists in Ontario, Wayne and Seneca Counties to enact fantasy NASCAR races. Here’s his homepage on Facebook:

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Click and blowup the image above and you can see a few of his favorite things (mentally insert the song “these are a few of my favorite things” here):  NASCAR and death.

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Me finishing up a triathlon race a few years ago

Hello fellow cyclists.  Hope you have been as lucky as I have been and have found time dust off that winter-stored bike for your first ride of the season.  Actually, I have already been out three times and logged over 150 miles.  The wind has been a bit stiff – sometimes more than 20 miles per hour – which sure makes it tough going out (I usually start out into the wind) but a “breeze” heading back in.

In case you’re not familiar with any of my bicycle blog posts, let me explain that I am not one of those self-proclaimed “bicycle accident attorneys” who has never been on a bike since they turned 12 and who barely knows the front from the back of a bicycle.  Nope, not me.  I am an avid cyclist who understands cycling and the dangers we cyclists face, and to boot knows the New York bicycle law inside and out.  My firm and I have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured cyclist in the Syracuse and Finger Lakes area.  I live in Geneva NY – where I do most of my cycling – and work mostly out of our Auburn NY office.

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Click on the image above so you can read it.  We honestly don’t do all the pro bono work we do for the recognition.  We do it because we want to give back. Nevertheless, it is nice to be recognized.

Thanks to all our wonderful staff who help us do good work.

Keep safe!

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My last blog post described how I got whacked by a hit-and-run driver and then chased him down.  You can read that blog post here.  Some of my readers commented that I was a stubborn fool for pursuing him at fairly high speeds on a snowy day.  I agree.  As it turns out, though, my stubbornness may have paid off and made the roads safer for my fellow motorists in Wayne, Seneca and Ontario Counties.  Read on to find out how!

As I explained in my prior post, I kept up my hot pursuit until the 911 operator asked me to cease it.  But by then I had at least gotten his license plate number and several pictures of his tan-colored Chevy pickup truck.  Seneca County law enforcement now knew who owned the vehicle, a Lyons NY resident.  Here’s one of the pictures I snapped of the offending vehicle while on the chase:

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After I posted my blog, several of my readers from the Geneva area tipped me off about Facebook postings they had seen describing a similar tan-colored pickup truck deliberately rear-ending folks. Could this be the same guy?

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This Central New York car accident lawyer was involved in a hit-and-run and a wild chase.  So buckle up and follow my story!

Last Tuesday morning, I was heading east on Route 318 through the Town of Tyre, Seneca County, NY, my usual route to get from my home in Geneva to my office in Auburn.  I had been following a slow-moving tractor trailer on the slippery, snow-covered road.  The tractor trailer was going 55 miles per hour.  A rust-colored pickup truck trailed me.  The tractor trailer then moved into the left-turn lane at the intersection with Route 414 to turn left toward the Thruway.   I slowed down to about 30 mph behind the tractor trailer as it moved into the left-turn lane.  I kept going straight through the green light.  Just after I passed through the intersection, I glanced up  and noticed the rust-colored pickup truck growing large – quickly — in my rear-view mirror.  I knew I was going to get wacked, and hard, so I braced for it.

Here’s a google map showing the approximate location of where I got rear-ended:

Last night my wife Alejandra and I attended the Geneva YMCA’s fundraiser, the “Frost Fest”, at Three Brothers Winery right along the eastern shores of Seneca Lake.  Here is a photo of us sitting on the ice thrown:

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Yes, lots of beautiful ice carvings.  And lots of other great stuff to see and do.  Local wine, beer and restaurant tastings and to top it all off a huge fireworks display.

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And notice the beautiful moon-lit evening:

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On January 28 of this Year New York’s legislative bodies put the final touches on the “Child Victims Act”.  This is HUGE.  The new law will extend the statute of limitations for suing both sexual predators and anyone who negligently allowed the abuse to take place, including institutions such as schools, little leagues, boy scouts, counties who place children in foster care, churches, temples, and virtually anyone who knew or should have known of the abuse but did not do what they should have done to prevent it.

The previous statute of limitations was 23-years-of-age.  Now it’s 55.  But if the childhood victim is now older than 23 years of age, and his or her statute of limitations was thus expired before this new law passed, there is only a short window of time to sue:  from August 14 of 2019 through February 14, 2020.

Until this law took effect, New York lawyers had only two words to say to a victim of childhood sex abuse who wanted to bring a claim after his or her 23rd birthday:  “Too late”.  Now those two words will be:  “Sign here”.

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As a longstanding NY personal injury lawyer, I have seen my clients’ right to privacy disintegrate over the years.  And just when I thought it could not get much worse, it got worse. Let me tell you about it.

First, though, a little background. When you sue for personal injuries, you give up some of your privacy.  The insurance company lawyer has a right to pry into your medical records, at least to the extent they are relevant to the injuries you are claiming from the accident.  So if you are claiming a broken right arm, for example, they have a right to scour through any medical records related to your right arm, whether from before or after the accident.  But they would not have the right to look at records for treatment unrelated to that arm.  You don’t give up all your privacy, just that much of your privacy that is related to the injuries you are claiming.

Now, if you are claiming that your injuries have hampered your lifestyle – as they often do – and that you can no longer do certain things you used to do, the insurance company lawyers can try to uncover evidence that you are either lying or exaggerating your disability.  For example, they can have investigators secretly trail you and try to catch you – on camera – performing activities you claim you can’t do.

Happy New Year’s readers!   In my last blog I talked about my New Year’s plan to volunteer on a week-long assignment in an immigrant detention center near the Texas-Mexico border. I was to help asylum seekers advance their claims.  Not really in my wheelhouse, since I am a New York personal injury lawyer.  But I speak Spanish, and am married to a Guatemalan, and wanted to help out with all the Central Americans claiming asylum on our border right now.  I am writing now to report that my efforts were successful.  Here is an article by a reporter at the Finger Lakes Times about my journey.  Thanks for reading!

Mike Bersani

BORDERLINE: PART II: Freedom fighter

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