Each day, accidents happen in and around Brooklyn, and people get hurt. The accident may be a car crash, or it may be a medical error at an area hospital. It may involve a dog bite, or perhaps you slipped and fell at a local retail store. The one common denominator in all of these accidents is that they were caused by someone else’s negligence.
If you were injured due to someone else’s fault, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries and related costs. An experienced Brooklyn personal injury attorney at Sibley Dolman can guide you through the options available to you based on the specific details of your case.
What Is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is an area of law that involves compensating those who suffer injuries due to negligence. It’s a fairly broad term, covering many types of accidents. Some of the practice areas involved in personal injury law include:
In August 2019, there were more than 5,000 traffic accidents in Brooklyn, resulting in injuries to 749 motorists, 543 passengers, 198 cyclists, and 224 pedestrians. Additionally, there was one motorist killed, as well as one cyclist and three pedestrians. Included in these statistics, provided by the New York Police Department, are the following types of vehicles, listed along with the number of accidents each type was involved in during the month:
- All-terrain vehicles: 5
- Ambulances: 101
- Bicycles: 632
- Buses: 403
- Fire trucks: 20
- Commercial vehicles with 6 or more tires: 1,390
- Motorcycles: 342
- Passenger vehicles: 14,066
- Pedicabs: 3
- Trucks: 1,126
- Small commercial vehicles: 159
- SUVs or station wagons: 11,868
- Taxis: 1,293
- Vans: 195
- Other types of vehicles: 5
- Unknown: 1
A recent report noted that there has been a sharp increase in the number of injuries to passengers riding MTA buses throughout New York City, as bus drivers swerve to avoid hitting cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles on their often congested routes. There has also been a recent upswing in the number of cyclist and pedestrian deaths and injuries, as well.
Another type of accident that falls under the umbrella of personal injury is premises liability. The most common type of premises liability accident is the slip or trip and fall accident. Private property owners, retail business owners, and government agencies all have a responsibility to keep their property safe and free from hazards that may injure their visitors. If they are negligent in safeguarding their visitors from property hazards, they could be found liable for injuries suffered. Some common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Broken or uneven sidewalks;
- Snow or ice on a sidewalk or walkway that is not cleared within a reasonable amount of time;
- Food, liquid, or debris on the floor;
- Boxes, merchandise, or other items in publicly accessible areas;
- Broken or poorly designed staircases;
- Improperly designed escalators or elevators;
- Open drawers or cords stretching across walkways;
- Loose carpeting or floorboards;
- Parking lot potholes; and
- Recently mopped or waxed floors.
Other Premises Liability
It isn’t just slipping or tripping hazards for which a property owner may face liability. Other types of premises liability cases include:
- Dog bites;
- Swimming pool accidents;
- Inadequate building security;
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises;
- Amusement park accidents;
- Water leaks or flooding; and
- Toxic fumes or chemicals.
Just because you injured yourself due to an unsafe property condition, it doesn’t mean that the property owner is liable. Fr them to be found liable, you must prove that the owner knew or had reason to know that the unsafe condition existed. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the liability in your case.
A multi-jurisdictional lawsuit filed in Brooklyn consolidates more than 1,100 lawsuits from around the country alleging that pharmaceutical drug maker Merck knew that its hair loss drug, Propecia, caused side effects such as sexual dysfunction and depression but failed to warn consumers about the risk. One of the plaintiffs in the suit lost her 40-year-old husband after he suffered from these issues for four years and ultimately took his own life.
The manufacturers of drugs, food, and other products we use in our day-to-day lives are legally responsible for ensuring that their products, when used as directed, are safe and perform as advertised. They also have the responsibility to warn consumers of known hazards associated with using the products. Product liability cases include lawsuits over defects or hazards caused by:
- Medications, including prescription as well as over-the-counter products;
- Food, both fresh and pre-packaged;
- Vehicle parts that lead to an accident due to defects or malfunctions;
- Vehicles, including bicycles, electric scooters, and other types of transportation;
- Products used for feeding and caring for infants;
- Children’s toys;
- Chemicals; and
- Products used in medical facilities to perform surgery or that are designed to be used inside a person’s body, such as hernia mesh.
We literally put our lives in the hands of our healthcare providers. Most of the time, this results in healing. However, an error on the part of a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or other care provider can result in injury. Medical malpractice is the term used for personal injury cases that involve a medical error. Common types of medical malpractice cases include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis;
- Wrong diagnosis;
- Birth injury, including errors that resulted in injury to the mother or fetus before birth, during the birthing process, during a C-section, or shortly after birth;
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong body part or the wrong person, causing additional damage during the surgery, administering the wrong amount of anesthesia, using non-sterile instruments, leaving medical instruments such as a sponge or a glove inside the body, or discharging the patient too early after surgery;
- Failure to treat; and
- Mistakes in prescribing or administering medication.
Again, not all mistakes mean a health care provider is liable for the resulting injuries. You must demonstrate that the provider deviated from the standard of care that a reasonably prudent doctor would have provided in the same circumstances.
Nursing Home Abuse
When New Yorkers place their elderly or vulnerable loved ones into area nursing homes, they place a lot of faith into those homes, as well. They trust that there will be sufficient staff at the facility to meet the needs of all of its residents, that the staff will be sufficiently trained to handle their loved one’s medical, physical, and social needs, and that the staff will treat their loved one with dignity and respect.
The staff of The Buffalo News recently published an op-ed calling for New York to revise its mandated reporter law to include elderly and vulnerable residents of nursing homes. The mandated reporter law currently requires certain individuals who deal with children, including school and medical personnel, to report suspected abuse. The call for a change to the law came after a case in which staff at a nursing home waited hours before reporting the sexual assault of an 88-year-old woman by another resident at the home. The assault was interrupted by a certified nursing assistant who walked into the woman’s room and found a male resident on top of her. Staff also neglected to secure the clothing and bedsheets as evidence of a crime.
Nursing home staff, while currently not mandated to report the sexual assault of a resident, are required by federal and state laws to provide certain necessities for their patients, including:
- Medically-related social services;
- Proper health care, including primary and dental care;
- Accurate dispensing of prescription medications;
- Dietary services to meet the resident’s daily nutritional needs;
- Necessary utilities such as electricity, heat, air conditioning, and running water;
- Social activities that are safe and appropriate for a resident’s physical abilities;
- Personal and financial privacy;
- Assistance with personal hygiene and mobility; and
- Treatment that doesn’t violate the resident’s right to dignity and respect.
Nursing home abuse and neglect aren’t always easy to spot and the resident isn’t always able or willing to come forward with a complaint about their treatment. Some signs of nursing home abuse or neglect include:
- Unexplained injuries;
- Signs of restraint;
- The refusal of a caregiver to allow you to be alone with the resident;
- A sudden change in the resident’s behavior;
- Witnessing a caregiver belittling, controlling, or threatening residents;
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or bruising around the breasts or genitals;
- Stained, bloody, or torn underwear;
- The elderly person being left by the caregiver alone in a public place;
- Unsafe living conditions;
- Soiled clothing, bedding, or dirty conditions within the facility;
- Unusual weight loss or dehydration;
- Missing items from the resident’s room;
- Lack of medical care;
- Evidence that the resident was given too much or too little medication; and
- Insufficient medical staff.
If you’ve been injured on the job or have suffered a work-related illness, the state’s Workers’ Compensation Program enables you to receive benefits such as pay for missed work, prescriptions, and medical expenses. Additionally, New York is one of the few states that allows workers to obtain compensation even if the injury they suffered occurred outside of the course of employment. The money is made available not through the state, but rather through an insurance policy that the employer has purchased. Workers’ compensation policies are required for nearly every type of employee working for a for-profit business, including:
- Full-time employees;
- Part-time employees;
- Leased employees;
- Seasonal workers;
- Family members; and
An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you file your claim, appeal a denial of benefits, and answer your legal questions pertaining to your rights under the program.
Highlights of New York’s Personal Injury Law
The following are highlights of New York’s personal injury law.
- The statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is three years. However, if your claim is against a city or state agency, you have 90 days to file a claim with that agency.
- New York is a no-fault state regarding traffic-related crashes and insurance. What this means is that drivers are required, upon registering their vehicles within the state, to provide proof of a Personal Injury Protection policy. In an accident, if the policyholder or family members named on the policy are injured, coverage of medical expenses will first be provided by this policy. Only those whose injuries exceed the limits of their policy or who suffer a serious injury are permitted to file a personal injury claim in court. A serious injury is defined as one that causes death (see also Wrongful Death) or dismemberment, loss of a fetus, significant loss or limiting of function of a body organ, member, or system, significant disfigurement, or the inability to work or participate in normal daily activities for at least 90 days.
- New York follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule. This means that, even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may still seek compensation from other at-fault parties through a personal injury claim.
- Because there is no statute on the books regarding dog bite cases, the state generally follows the “one bite” rule. What this means is that a dog owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone and the bite victim can prove that the owner should have reasonably known that their dog might bite. For instance, if the dog had previously bitten someone else, then the owner has reasonable knowledge that the dog may bite someone in the future and must take precautions to safeguard others from being bitten.
An example of damages you may be eligible to receive through a personal injury claim include: medical expenses related to the injury both past and future, missed work due to your injury or for appointments related to your injury, the loss of future earning capacity, repair and replacement of property damaged in the accident, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and support to your loved ones due to your injury.
Bear in mind that some of this information may vary depending on the case.
Our Brooklyn Personal Injury Attorneys Are Standing By
Contact Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, or call us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), for further information or a free consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.