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I shot the photo above from my bathroom window in Geneva, New York.  The video below shows the same scene but in vivid motion.  Watch it!

Why did I shoot this video?  Because I wanted to show my readers what a law-suit-waiting-to-happen looks like.

coronavirus-image-300x169At Michaels & Smolak, we were glad to reopen our office to the public on June 5th in compliance with the New York State Phase 2 guidelines. Although the office is now “open for business”, we will continue to offer virtual appointments for clients who prefer to stay home.  The health and safety of our clients and staff is our first priority, so we are actually encouraging “virtual” meetings rather than in person meetings for the time being.  But the choice is yours!  Please call 315-253-3293 or email us at reception@michaels-smolak.com  to schedule an appointment and specify whether you prefer to “meet” with your attorney by telephone or in person or by a virtual format such as skype or Facetime or Zoom.

You can view our in-office COVID 19 office policies below.  We hope to see you soon!

GUIDELINES FOR IN-PERSON APPOINTMENTS

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Mel Gibson was born in Peekskill, New York.  But somehow he got his first big acting gig (in the movie Mad Max, his break-through role)  in Australia in 1978 at age 22. But why was this Peekskill, New York-born US citizen in Australia? Because his parents decided to emigrate there when he was 12 in 1968. But why did his parents decided to emigrate there? Because his father’s New York personal injury lawyer obtained a $145,000 settlement for him for work-related injuries.  This gave Mel Gibson’s father the money to move to Australia, where his family was originally from.

If Mel Gibson’s father’s personal injury lawyer had not gotten Mel Gibson’s father a $145,000 settlement, Mel Gibson would never have ended up in Australia, where his acting talent was discovered.

So as you can clearly see, a New York personal injury lawyer (the one who represented Mel Gibson’s father) is responsible for the meteoric rise to stardom of actor Mel Gibson.  Thus, every time you watch movies such as Mad Max, Lethal Weapon and Braveheart, you should thank a personal injury attorney!

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You read that right.  If you are injured in New York, whether in New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo or the Southern Tier, do NOT hire a lawyer who claims to be a “specialist” or “specialized” in New York personal injury. Why?  Because if the lawyer you hire calls himself a “specialist” in New York personal injury law he or she is either (1) an idiot or (2) unethical or (3) both.

Why an idiot?  Because if he is in fact a New York personal injury lawyer he should know that New York’s lawyer advertising rules prohibit him from holding himself out to be a “specialist” in personal injury law.  If he is not an idiot, he is just plain unethical.  Why unethical?  Because if he knows the law (as he should) he is deliberately violating New York’s  legal advertising rules. That’s unethical.

A lawyer in New York can’t say she is a “specialist” in personal injury claims, nor can she say she is an “expert” in personal injury law or claims.  Those two words (“specialist” and “expert”) are verboten.  What lawyers can say is that they “handle” or “concentrate” in personal injury claims, or that they don’t do anything but personal injury cases, or even that they do nothing but live, breath, think and dream about personal injury cases.  But “specialize” and “expertise” are not allowed.

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As a New York personal injury lawyer (serving mostly the Syracuse and Central New York areas), I have pretty strong opinions about so-called “tort reform” (which we personal injury lawyers call “tort deform”):  I’m against it. Generally, tort reform is just a power-play by big business, the chamber of commerce and insurance companies to get a free pass to act negligently and injure people without having to pay the price.  The “price” of their negligence is shifted to the people who can least afford it:  Their injured victims.

But I agree partially with the corporate/insurance lobby’s newest call to arms:   They want immunity from coronavirus tort lawsuits for businesses that open up to the public.  I agree that restaurants, gyms, and retail stores should get some kind of immunity. Total immunity, no, but rather “qualified” immunity.  I’ll explain what I mean further down.

But first, why would a New York personal injury lawyer like me be in favor of a form of personal injury lawsuit protection for certain businesses?  Because I want America to get back on its feet. This damn virus has slammed with particular vigor at our retailers and restaurants.  Some will never reopen.  Those that will are going to need some help.   Our restaurants and retail stores are like a boxer who has been felled by a near knockout punch.  We need to allow him to get back up on his feet before we can engage him in more fighting.  Otherwise, we could kill him. (For a contrary view, read here).

file-139x300The old me

IMG_0454-225x300The coronavirus me

This Central New York and Syracuse area personal injury lawyer hasn’t set foot in his office in three weeks.  (He also hasn’t shaven in three weeks, but that’s another story).  Have I been on vacation?  No.  Have I been laid off because of the coronavirus?  No. (Since I’m self-employed I would have to fire myself!)

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Introducing this year’s proud recipient, the second ever, of the Syracuse University College of Law’s prestigious Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship: Joseph Tantillo.

Congratulations Joe!

More about Joe in a minute.  But first something about the award itself.  Last year we announced that M&S’s senior lawyer, Lee S. Michaels, had established and endowed the Syracuse University College of Law Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship. Lee, a die-hard S.U. supporter, graduated from the Law College in 1967, was active in alumni activities and events for many years, and has been teaching trial practice since 1990 and deposition practice there since last Fall.

boating-300x199Summer is fast approaching in New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes area.  And boating is a great way to enjoy the area safely during this coronavirus era. As far as I know, the virus cannot be transmitted through lake water, and as long as you are on your boat with household members, you don’t have to worry about those pesky little masks or that annoying six-foot social distancing rule.  Whether you live in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Ithaca, or any place in between, boating is a great way to get out and enjoy the treasures of our Central New York way of life!

But please do so safely, and legally.  To help you out, I have prepared a chart comparing New York’s automobile laws to its boating laws.  After that, I will discuss the differences between boating accidents and car accidents that I have discovered after nearly three decades of litigating both boating accident cases and car accident cases throughout New York State.

New York Boating Law Compared

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Since this blog post is about death, I have decided to feature one of the oldest and most famous icons in history:  The grim reaper.  Throughout history, this imaginary figure has personified death.  And what a powerful image!  Wielding his sickle, he “reaps” his harvest of human beings, cutting us all down (eventually) like blades of grass.

Before the modern area, which ushered in antibiotics and modern medicine, the grim reaper was ever-present, cutting down humans of all ages.  You were as likely to be his victim if you were young as old.  Most parents lost a few young children to his insatiable appetite for fresh crops.

In the modern era, we have gotten use to the idea that death (usually) befalls only the old.  The grim reaper today prefers mature crops, and leaves the young, green shoots to grow.

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Above: Central NY Injury Lawyer on bike leg of a triathlon.

Spring has sprung in Central New York, and despite the “shelter-in-place” orders in some cities, in Central New York we are at least allowed to go outside and get some good old-fashioned exercise.  For me, that means biking.

I’ve been out three times so far. With the coronavirus keeping many motorists off the road, it’s very safe out there.  So few vehicles to watch out for.  I’ve even been taking advantage of the light traffic to travel some roads around Geneva, New York, where I live, that I normally avoid because of heavier-than-average traffic or because there are no good shoulders to ride on.

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