Katter Law Firm NYC Personal Injury Blog

Friday, November 11, 2011

Four things NOT to do after a car accident

What Not to Do After a Car Accident

There are many potential missteps after you have been involved in an auto accident. In the minutes, hours and days following a car wreck, it can be difficult to think clearly or to take note of important factors involving liability and compensation. Even if your injuries are minor and your vehicle is not damaged, you should follow these guidelines to protect yourself and preserve your right to compensation for your injuries, vehicle damage or lost income. Often times, your damages are more serious than they appear at first glance.

Don’t Apologize
Even if you think you are clearly at fault for the accident, don’t accept blame or apologize to anyone. The police and insurance adjusters will investigate the collision and determine where the fault lies. If it lies with you, you will most certainly be notified. But affirming your guilt before all the facts are discovered can only serve to undermine your personal injury claim or a potential defense if you are on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Don’t Compare Notes
Avoid rehashing the accident with the other involved parties. You do not want to inadvertently admit fault for the accident, or make other statements that undermine a future legal claim. Additionally, swapping stories can cause confusion in your own mind regarding what happened immediately before and during the collision. Of course, you should give your statement to the police, if applicable. But further communications regarding the accident, your injuries, damage to your vehicle, or associated expenses for medical treatment or car repairs should be limited to your attorney.

Don’t Get into a Dispute with Other Drivers or Passengers
Tempers can sometimes flare. People may be hurt, property may be damaged. Nobody is getting to their destination, and everyone may be concerned regarding various obligations and future travel arrangements. If other parties become upset, agitated or violent, you should simply walk away. By refusing to engage in emotional dialogue – or worse, a physical confrontation – you avoid turning a routine fender bender into a major altercation which can result in its own legal ramifications.

Don’t Call the Insurance Company
If you think there is any reason why the insurance company may dispute your claim, you should speak with an attorney first. The attorney can advise you regarding what to say – and what not to say – to the insurance adjuster, or can communicate with the adjuster on your behalf. Insurance companies train their adjusters to ask specific questions designed to make your case look as weak as possible. Your insurance company should help you when you’ve been involved in an accident – that’s part of what you pay for – but ultimately the bottom line is of primary importance. The insurance business is far more profitable when the insurance companies do not have to pay out claims.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Your Legal Rights Are at Risk


A little noticed proposal in Governor Cuomo’s draft Budget (Proposal No. 131) would severely limit the rights of patients injured by medical error across New York and would endanger their safety. It would cap non-economic damages (legal awards for pain and suffering) in med. mal. cases at $250,000.

Proposal No. 131 would eviscerate fundamental rights of medical malpractice victims, even though it was prepared with no public discussion in a flawed process. It was drafted by hospital industry executives without input from any advocates for the civil justice system and few, if any, proponents of patient rights. It would deny due process and equal access to justice –vital legal rights– to all New Yorkers.

The $250,000 cap is completely arbitrary, has no basis in fact, and has no connection whatsoever to the size of a patient’s injury or how an injury affects their quality of life. It discriminates against the most vulnerable members of our society – injured women, children, the elderly the disabled, the poor and minorities. Since individuals in these groups often earn less money than other injured patients, their injuries are more likely to include non-economic damages. Generally they would have the most difficulty proving an economic (out-of-pocket) loss. 

A study published in the February 2011 American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that when a hospital focused on patient safety it eliminated all avoidable deaths and injuries and reduced malpractice payments by 90%. Proposal No. 131’s Draconian damages cap would increase medical costs by eliminating incentives that encourage doctors and hospitals to emphasize patient safety.

 I am proud that as Tort Section Chair, I assisted in having the New York County Lawyers' Association join with the NY State Bar in opposing this harmful measure. Click here to read the press release.

 Please follow click here for an easy way to write to your legislators to ask them to oppose this dangerous proposal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brrrr…It’s Slippery Outside!: Who's Legally Responsible for Injuries from Slips and Falls on Icy Walkways?

New York’s recent snow storms and frozen temperatures have forced many of us to experience the hazards of walking on slick snow and ice covered sidewalks and steps. Unfortunately, too many of us have slipped and fallen on the frozen ground. 

Slips and falls on frozen surfaces often result in serious, disabling injuries, with broken wrists and ankles high on the list.   
If you’ve been hurt due to a fall on an icy walkway, what are your rights?

Generally, in New York City, a property owner is required to remove snow or ice from a sidewalk on or  abutting its property and make the sidewalk safe for pedestrians after a snow or ice storm has ended (of course, there are exceptions). If someone is injured as a result of the owner’s failure to clear the sidewalk, as legally required, the owner is required to pay money to the injured person. The measure of money damages may include payments to compensate the injured person for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.    

If you were injured after a trip and fall on a slippery, frozen, surface, an experienced personal injury attorney can help to evaluate the facts to determine whether you have a case. Here are some important questions that will be considered:   

  1. Did you slip and fall on snow or ice that remained on a sidewalk or step, after a previous storm?
  2. Did you suffer an injury as a result of that fall?
  3. Did the property owner fail to remove snow and ice and make the sidewalk safe, as the law requires?

Let's hope that the groundhog's forecast of an early spring is right.  Until then, please exercise caution while walking outside. If you do fall on snow or ice, know your rights. Call my office at 888-LAW-HELP (888-529-4357), if you have any questions.

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