In a recent case, the Plaintiff managed to jump out of the way of a fire department vehicle which struck a person standing next to the Plaintiff. Thinking that she was not seriously injured, the Plaintiff did not pursue litigation.

The seemingly minor injury eventually turned into a serious injury which required knee surgery. The Plaintiff indicated that she had been stymied in an attempt to obtain information from the Police Department because she was not directly hit by the offending vehicle, and she failed to report any injury at the time of the accident. This set of circumstances led to the late filing of the Notice of Claim.

At a hearing regarding the motion to file the late Notice of Claim, the court noted the testimony of the individual that was hit by the vehicle supporting the Plaintiff’s contention that she was present at the scene and time of the accident. The Court also noted that the municipality was well aware of all the relevant facts surrounding the accident because of the police presence at the scene and because it was the agents of the municipality which performed the acts of alleged negligence complained of by the Plaintiff.

Finding the reasons for the Plaintiff’s delay in filing were reasonable, and that no prejudice inured to the municipality, the Court allowed the late Notice of Claim.




During the last week of May of this year (2010) alone, there were two serious construction site accidents involving falls from significant heights. One involved a worker at a residential building falling fifty feet while he was working on the building’s steel framework. The other involved a worker at the Throgs Neck Bridge.

The first worker died after falling fifty feet. The bridge worker fell 15 to 20 feet off a ladder and was seriously injured.

With respect to the worker that died, officials indicated that it seemed as if he was not wearing a safety harness ! It is precisely this point to which we direct our attention.

There are several facts that make accidents at construction sites unique in the area of Personal Injury Law in New York:

  • Construction site accidents are among the most frequent accidents that occur;
  • The resulting injuries are among the most serious that occur;
  • Public policy is very inclined to seek protection for injured workers and their families;
  • the law, especially with respect to liability (who is responsible for the accident that occurred) is not at all necessarily what the layman might think it is–the law can be extremely complex.

The fact that the worker that fell and was not wearing a safety harness should not, and does not, eliminate the possibility that the worker or his family will have a THIRD PARTY LAWSUIT available to him. This would be in addition to any workers compensation claim the worker or his family might have.

It is truly esential when dealing with a construction site accident that a personal injury attorney, in addition to a workers compensation attorney, be consulted. As we have noted on previous blog postings, this could mean very substantial differences to the injured worker and his family. Because of the law’s complexity in this area, be very certain the Personal Injury Attorney chosen is well experienced in this important area of law.


Good Samaritan Laws: Liability for Voluntary Acts | New York Personal Injury Attorney


A recent news item in New York City showed portions of video from a surveillance camera.   Twenty or more people simply passed by a man that was lying on the street.   It happened that that man had just saved a woman from a knife wielding attacker and in the scuffle, had himself been attacked.   No one stopped to help this man for an hour after the incident, and the “Good Samaritan” eventually died of his wounds for want of a “Good Samaritan” to come to his aid..   Prompt attention would have saved his life.
It is difficult to understand the motivation of anyone that would simply ignore another human being in grave distress.  Certainly, however, the public policy in most, , if not all, states, and definitely in New York, is to encourage the performance of life saving acts. To this end, there is a “Good Samaritan” law (Public Health Law, Article 30, Section 3000-a) that specifically establishes protection for anyone acting as a “Good Samaritan.”

The law applies in the following circumstances:
—It applies to ANY person (and NOT just medical personnel)
—The person must act without any expectation of monetary  compensation
—The act must take place outside a hospital or other medical facility

Under those circumstances, the person rendering the aid will not be held liable for either injuries or death allegedly caused by any act of that “Good Samaritan” while rendering aid, UNLESS it is determined that the “Good Samaritan” was “grossly negligent” in performing his acts.

What constitutes “Gross Negligence” can differ in different situations.  One word of advice, stay within your sphere of abilities.  If you have never taken a course in CPR, or learned how to utilize a defibrillator, be reluctant to utilize those capabilities.  A first step should always be to seek professional help if available.  Most important: the motivation should always be to assist the person in dire distress–and certainly not to render yourself a “hero.”
One more word of advice: No one is required to lend assistance–unless, of course, you are responsible for the dire situation in which the injured party finds him or herself.  If,  however, the decision is made to assist someone, the injured person  must not be left in a worsened condition than before the assistance began. So, if you decide to take an injured person to a hospital and, after driving a block you decide you’d rather not do it, for whatever reason, you cannot simply dump the person in the middle of a street where traffic now becomes a real hazard in addition to whatever injury the person sustained.


Collapsing Cranes | Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer


Within just the last several months there have been a spate of crane accidents in New York City, some of which have resulted is serious injury and even death. The latest crane collapse occurred in Brooklyn , at a construction site. Four workers were injured. Not long before that a large crane “tilted,” hitting a 25 storey building.

Before these incidents, the City of New York has seen crane accidents over a period of years.  With injuries come lawsuits, and cases have been going to trial. Just this month (April, 2010), in a case that involved the death of two construction workers in May, 2008, in a crane collapse, a judge  took the rare step of fining the City of New York, one of the defendants in the case, for failing to provide documents to the Plaintiffs as ordered by the court . There was also a criminal case pending against the owner of the crane company for taking inappropriate steps to repair a part of this crane that had previously cracked.  It was this part that caused the crane to subsequently collapse.

In the collapse of the crane into the 25 story building, New York City suspended the operator’s license.

It was determined that because the operator left the crane in other than the safest position possible, the collapse occurred.

In a criminal case that may well be symptomatic for so many of the problems the City faces at construction sites, the City’s former chief crane inspector pleaded guilty to “receiving bribes”.  His career with the City spanned 26 years.  He admitted he took bribes over the last several years to basically provide abbreviated and inadequate inspections of cranes, as well as crane operator qualifications.

It was after the second of two crane collapses in 2008, that resulted in a total of nine deaths, that the City began to seriously crack down on inspections.  The City then also began a program of “beefing up” its crane inspection system.

Crane collapses are almost invariably serious events involving drastic injuries.  Those seeking to bring a lawsuit based upon crane accidents would do well to investigate carefully the reputation and experience of any personal injury lawyer that they consider retaining to represent their interests.


Intentional Torts | NYC Personal Injury Attorney


We noted previously that a “tort” is simply a civil, as opposed to a criminal, wrong, committed against another. While criminal acts often result in incarceration to the perpetrator, the consequence flowing from the performance of a civil wrong, or “tort”, is the imposition of money damages imposed upon the “tortfeasor” and awarded to the injured party.

“Torts” are divided into those that are “intentional” and those that are unintentional.

They can be distinguished rather easily by answering the question:  Did the person (“tortfeasor”) engaging in the particular action, purposely want the results of that act to occur OR was it “substantially certain” that a reasonable person could see that the results of that action would occur.

D, driving his car, sees T, who insulted D’s wife last week, on the sidewalk.    D wants to scare the daylights out of T so he decides to drive his car on to a busy sidewalk.  T is not hurt but, as D swerves, he hits P, an uninvolved pedestrian, severely injuring him. D committed an  ”intentional tort”  with respect to P !

The distinction between an intentional and unintentional tort, in the field of Personal Injury law, could be crucial and devastating.     The “Statute of Limitations” for unintentional torts is virtually always three years in New York State (with certain exceptions such as in the field of medical malpractice).   However, lawsuits based on “intentional torts” have a Statute of Limitations (the time within which a lawsuit MUST be brought) in New York of only ONE year.   Consequently, for this and many other reasons we have been pointing out, consulting with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney just as soon after you suffer an injury as possible can mean the difference between realizing compensation for the injury you sustained or forfeiting that possibility through ignorance and inaction.


RES IPSA LOQUITOR | The Act Speaks For Itself


As we have discussed before, a sustainable lawsuit requires an injured party to demonstrate the liability (fault) of another, at least to some degree, in having caused the incident that resulted in that injury.   Most often this is done through witnesses, with the injured party themselves being the most frequent of these witnesses.

There are numerous other sources of direct proof that can show the target of the lawsuit (the Defendant) failed to act with “due care” based upon a duty the Defendant had with respect to the injured party.


In a recent case (Keyser v. KB Toys, Inc.) in Suffolk County New York, a shopper was injured by falling boxes piled high in a toy store. No employees were near the boxes. The jury found for the defendant toy store.  The judge set aside the decision !!  (Yes, a judge can do that saying that, according to law, there simply was not enough evidence to permit the jury to decide the way it did !!).

The injured party (the Plaintiff) had presented the theory of RES IPSA LOQUITOR which the judge believed was not adequately overcome by the Defendant. This theory is based on the thought that, unless someone was negligent, there are certain events that simply do not occur !

For “RES IPSA LOQUITOR” to be applicable in a case, three elements are necessary:

1. the accident that happened must be of the type that normally would not occur unless there was negligence–an “absence of due care,” by someone;

2. the Defendant had a “duty of care” toward the injured party, specifically in relation to the object that caused the Plaintiff’s injury;

3.  the Plaintiff was in NO WAY responsible for the occurrence of the event that lead to the Plaintiff’s injury.

The “Resp Ipsa Loquitor” doctrine is an important tool in the arsenal of the experienced Personal Injury Attorney.   This article should clearly demonstrate to the layman that, even in the event it would seem to an injured party that it would not pay to being a lawsuit since “no one is at fault”, there may well be a party that is, indeed, responsible and who should be compelled to fairly compensate the Plaintiff for injuries sustained.


Stop & Frisk | NYC Personal Injury Attorney


In 2009 there were approximately 575,000 “Stop & Frisk” reports filed by NYPD officers. Of these, only about 6% resulted in arrests, and another 6% resulted in a summons being issued. The position of the Police Department is that Stop & Frisks are an effective crime-fighting tool.  The Department holds onto the information it gathers in each Stop & Frisk “indefinitely,” with the intention of using that information, if necessary, in future investigations. Between 2004 and 2009 there were 2,798,461 “Stops” by the police, and 2,467,160 resulted in no action at all, yet each person stopped has a record with personal information on file with the police.

Certain members of the New York City Council have demanded that all the individuals, in instances where either no action was taken at the time of the “Stop”, or where action may have been taken but the person was later found “not guilty”, or was exonerated in some other way, be removed entirely from this database.  The majority of individuals affected are minorities (Black and Latino).

The final outcome of this tug of war between the New York City Police Department and the City Council has yet to be determined.  I will note, personally, as a former New York City council member, that it is my belief that any recalcitrance by the Police Department can be overcome by the City Council through the passage of legislation, if that is truly the Council’s desire.


Zone Of Danger | Bronx Personal Injury Attorney


We have seen that in “wrongful death” actions, the generally applicable rule in New York is that emotional trauma caused family members by the loss of a loved one is not a permissible basis for a “cause of action” in a lawsuit.

Is there ever a time when the emotional impact upon a loved one can be the basis for a lawsuit by that loved one?

The answer is “YES”. When the loved one finds themselves within what is known as the “Zone of Danger”at the time a member of their immediate family was injured or killed…

To be eligible to bring a “zone of danger” lawsuit for the emotional trauma and psychological impact an immediate family member’s accident had upon you, it would be necessary to demonstrate not only that it was an immediate family member that was involved, but that:
—You were also in such proximity to the accident victim that you could well have been injured yourself;
—You were aware of the fact the immediate family member was being seriously injured or killed as the event was occurring;
— You have valid medical proof that you suffered a psychological injury as a result of that accident (psychological or psychiatric medical treatment).

Zone of Danger cases are relatively rare since the requirements to bring such a lawsuit are very stringent. There is a general perception that whereas physical injuries are usually subject to objective tests, psychological injuries might be more susceptible to fraud and so conditions are created that make the infliction of psychological injuries more plausible.

It takes an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to recognize the possible availability of a Zone of Danger case, and to properly analyze the circumstances surrounding an accident to appropriately apply the requirements to be successful in such a lawsuit.


Municipal Liability | Can I Sue The City? | “Special Duty”


There is a basic rule that is applied when a lawsuit is contemplated against a municipal entity, such as the City of New York. That rule gives the City, or any municipality, “absolute immunity” for the acts of that government’s employees. This holds true even if those employees failed to act when they should have, or having acted, they did so in a negligent manner.

An individual resident of the City will have no basis for a successful lawsuit for injuries sustained through the acts of the City’s employees UNLESS that individual can demonstrate that a “SPECIAL DUTY” existed on the part of the City in favor of that particular individual.

The New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) established four “elements” that create a “SPECIAL DUTY” relationship between a municipality and an individual:
— the municipality assumes a duty to act on behalf of the individual;
— the municipality’s employees must be aware of the fact that a failure to act may result in harm to that individual;
— there must have been some direct contact between the municipality’s employees or agents and the affected individual; and
— the individual harmed must have been justified in relying upon the assurance given to him/her by the city’s employees or agents.
Without demonstrating the existence of each and every one of these four elements, the injury incurred through the acts or omissions of municipal employees may go entirely uncompensated.

An experienced Personal Injury Attorney will also be aware of the fact that certain broad areas of acts by municipal employees are not considered “governmental” in nature–which acts ARE subject to the rules of “Special Duty Relationships”—but are , rather, considered “proprietary” in nature, and are instead decided by ordinary rules of liability and do not require the establishment of a “special duty” in order for the city to be held liable.


Police Misconduct | School Safety Officers


In 1998 the New York City Police Department assumed direct responsibility for safety in the New York City public school system. While there are some police officers assigned to schools, the overwhelming number of Police Department personnel assigned to the public schools, for the purpose of maintaining a safe environment, are civilian employees of the Police Department known as “School Safety Officers.” School safety officers have the authority to stop and frisk students as well as question, search and even arrest students. Of singular note is that school administrators have no authority at all over the school safety officers in their school !

School safety officers receive 14 weeks of training before they are sent to their school assignment. A NYC police officer goes through a six month training course. Is it any wonder that the actions of many school safety officers often defy reason. It was the persistent and blatant disregard for the appropriate guidelines, leading to unlawful arrests and other abusive activity, that prompted the American Civil Liberties Union, together with the NY Civil Liberties Union, to bring a federal civil action calling for a drastic change in procedures. The ACLU stated that “Despite mounting evidence of systemic misconduct by police personnel in the schools, the NYPD refuses to even acknowledge any problems with its school policing practices.”

School Safety Officers have routinely broken school policing rules, used unwarranted excessive force, and have violated other school safety regulations and procedures.

According to the New York Daily News (January 21, 2010, page 26) the City of New York averaged 500 complaints against school safety personnel between the years 2002 to 2007. In 2008 that number jumped, according to the News, to 1159.School based personnel are subject to virtually the same rules, regulations and laws as would any other police personnel on the street, in dealing with the public. In fact, the population with which school safety personnel are dealing is entitled to extra consideration, not less, because they are, invariably, minors. Any act or behavior on the part of school safety personnel that deviates from acceptable norms and standards is, and should be, the subject not only of disciplinary action within the police department, but the party harmed should seriously consider a civil lawsuit for actions that are truly outrageous and unacceptable.

If contemplating a lawsuit, the injured party should not only seek a competent Personal Injury Attorney, but look specifically for one well versed in the area of police misconduct and abuse, including cases involving excessive force and false arrest.

Federal class-action lawsuit charges school safety officers subjected kids to ‘excessive force’

Read an article from the New York Daily News titled ” Federal class-action lawsuit charges school safety officers subjected kids to ‘excessive force”‘ by CLICKING HERE