Nothing brings us more joy than seeing our clients recover
We care about you.
Don’t you hate having to wait for the compensation you deserve?
We understand how frustrating it can be when the insurance companies won’t cooperate. It doesn’t have to be that way. We will protect your rights during this difficult time. We are here to help.
Nothing brings us more joy than seeing our clients recover
We care about you.
Don’t you hate having to wait for the compensation you deserve?
We understand how frustrating it can be when the insurance companies won’t cooperate. It doesn’t have to be that way. We will protect your rights during this difficult time. We are here to help.
Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP
5113 South Park Avenue
Hamburg, NY 14075
Phone: (716) 648-3030
Fax: (716) 648-0810
Our practice is dedicated to serving the residents of the Western New York region, including Buffalo, Hamburg, and the Southern Tier with sound and effective legal representation.
Our experienced trial attorneys have successfully handled every type of personal injury case from sex abuse, car accidents, slips & falls, dog bites, and construction accidents, in addition to employment matters involving sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
When you find yourself seeking legal counsel, call Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP and set up a consultation. We’re here for you.
Personal Injury Attorneys Erie County, NY
The aftermath of a personal injury can prove to be a trying time. Even after the initial shock of an accident has worn off, pain and complications from an injury can take a significant toll on one’s emotional and physical well-being in the weeks, months, and even years that follow. On top of this, an injured person may have to contend with hefty medical bills, and when combined with the loss of income that can come with recovery, the resulting situation can quickly drain a bank account. The one-two punch that ensues after a personal injury can outweigh the severity of the injury itself, making it all too difficult for accident survivors to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One way to survive this taxing time and to meet any financial needs is to file a claim for damages, but the often-convoluted process of filing personal injury claims might appear too intimidating to attempt. However, legal action is the only pathway to receiving compensation and seeking justice from the party responsible for the injury. Our personal injury attorneys in Erie County NY will know how to maneuver around the obstacles that arise during lawsuits, and you can trust our personal injury attorneys in Erie County NY will advocate indefatigably on your behalf.
Filing Personal Injury Claims
How Do I Know if I Have a Legitimate Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury includes any injury that was caused by the negligence of another. Liability is found in personal injury claims when the wrongdoer has failed to exercise the level of care required, as determined by law; there is proof that the victim was injured; and there is proof that the victim’s injuries were caused by the wrongdoer’s carelessness. For personal injury cases, a victim may receive compensatory damages that usually cover past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and at times, damages for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages can be awarded to compensate the victim for emotional and physical suffering, embarrassment, and inconvenience.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Case?
There is a time limit before which people can bring their cases or file their claims, but the length of this period varies due to all the factors in play. How was the claimant injured? Where was the claimant injured? Who injured the claimant? The length of time to initiate an action will differ according to the answers to those questions. That is why it is important to seek counsel immediately after an accident or injury. This way, an accident attorney can preserve a claim and make sure to file it before the time limit is reached. If a personal injury claim is not filed before the relevant statute expires, the claimant will be out of luck.
Waiting too long before filing can be problematic, especially if a case involves a government agency or entity, because of certain time limitations that govern the filing of Notices of Claim. The deadline for Notices of Claim deadline is typically 90 days, but in rare instances, the deadline can be reduced to a mere 30 days. This means that the time in which one can file a lawsuit is only a year and 90 days—much shorter than most traditional personal injury cases, which allow three years from the date of the occurrence. Medical malpractice claims are different in that dental and medical claims allow two and a half years.
When it comes to medical and dental claims, determining the length of their statute of limitations period can be an exercise in extensive litigation all by itself. Because time limits can be variable, a claimant should consult with personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY right away. An experienced personal injury attorney in Erie County, NY should make the decision about the filing process because waiting too long can become a huge disservice to a claimant.
How Much is My Injury Case Worth?
The value of a case is determined on an individual basis. Even superficially identical cases, such as those concerning a broken arm, can be worth vastly different prices. One person’s broken arm may be worth a lot more than another’s due to a multitude of factors. Was the claimant more active before the injury? Is the claimant now unable to do her or his job any longer due to the injury? Can the claimant no longer pursue hobbies or other life activities? In our firm, every claim is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Commercials in which people ask, “What is your case worth?” are solicitations for clients to consult other accident attorneys for a second opinion. The actors on television are not really the individuals who were injured; claimants who have won multi-million-dollar recoveries were seriously hurt, and they are highly unlikely to be seen smiling and dancing about the lawsuit. Serious cases such as these are no laughing matter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Claims
Do Personal Injury Cases Settle Before Court?
Many clients ask whether going to trial is mandatory. In fact, our office is often able to achieve great results for our clients without proceeding to trial or even commencing litigation. While it is possible to resolve personal injury claims without going to court, this is not always the situation; some cases simply require a trial, and we are prepared to advocate for our clients.
What Is No-Fault Coverage?
When a driver or a passenger is involved in a car accident, the no-fault coverage for whatever vehicle he or she is in will apply. No-fault coverage means that the driver and all passengers will receive these benefits regardless of whether their car was at fault. A driver or a passenger will obtain $50,000 of initial coverage for such things as medical expenses as well as lost wages up to $2,000 a month. He or she will also collect some incidental expenses for the first year, including $25 a day for help with housework, mileage for traveling to and from doctor appointments, and things of that nature. These are among the basic benefits of no-fault.
In order to secure those benefits, the claimant has to submit a no-fault application within 30 days of the incident. This is not too difficult for the owner and operator of the car involved in the accident. However, a passenger filing a claim must be proactive; the insurance company that covers the driver or owner of the car may not reach out to any of the passengers. If you were a passenger in a car accident, our firm will immediately reach out to that insurance carrier on your behalf, make sure that your no-fault application is filled out, and convince the carrier to grant you those benefits. It may be necessary to use no-fault, rather than your own health insurance, to cover your medical expenses because then there is no lien if you eventually obtain a recovery.
Can I Recover Damages if I Am Partially at Fault?
In Erie County, NY, people who are injured in accidents for which they are partly to blame can still file lawsuits. If you are at fault for any part of the accident, your degree of fault will be considered later in the lawsuit, and any damages that you are ultimately awarded may be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear for causing the accident.
Nevertheless, partial fault is not a bar to a lawsuit, and you should consider seeking an accident attorney’s advice regarding whether you can still make a legitimate personal injury claim. If you worry that your actions caused or contributed to an accident, an accident attorney can tell you whether you can still bring the claim. A victim in an accident should not forfeit her or his right to bring a legitimate claim because of baseless guilt.
Can I Recover Damages for Emotional Stress?
Many of our cases involve an emotional component. Part of the damage instruction that a court provides to a jury involves loss of enjoyment of life. We often work with clients who undergo counseling and begin to take medication, and these issues carry over into their marriages. We have occasionally brought loss of services and loss of consortium claims related to the toll that these issues can take. Emotional damages also play a big part in cases in which someone is severely injured and can no longer perform simple tasks. When a claimant can no longer continue hobbies or even everyday activities, it often has an emotional impact on her or his enjoyment of life.
What Does the Discovery Phase Entail?
As we begin the process of signing up a lawsuit, many of our clients are curious about the process. We seldom simply put a case in suit right away; we prefer to conduct our own investigation before any insurance company gets involved. We like to collect our clients’ medical records and ensure that we know exactly what we can expect during the case. Only then do we put our case in suit. After we put the case in suit, we serve a summons and complaint, and the other side hires lawyers and submits an answer.
The answer to our complaint may contain some defenses, and we must address those. There may be some counterclaims against us and some cross-claims against other parties for causing this injury to occur. If multiple defendants are involved, that part of the process, the paper discovery phase, can become quite complicated. We then respond to all subsequent requests, such as demands for discovery, demands for bills of particulars, and sometimes interrogatories. We finally send all our requests, completing the great paper exchange.
There can be contention about what will be turned over and what will not. Delays in litigation occur when other parties refuse to supply the information we need, requiring a court to order the other sides to turn over the required information. In addition, we have to take depositions, which entail providing testimonies under oath in a law firm’s office before a trial. Plaintiffs must give testimony, and the plaintiff’s spouse and some of the witnesses to the accident may also be deposed. We also depose the defendants; we want to question the person who was driving the car or the people who manufactured the product. We want to interview everyone who may be able to contribute information to the lawsuit on record so that we may prove our case.
Once the deposition process is done, either side may make motions to the court for summary judgment, which refers to a dismissal of or ruling in the case. If that motion is granted, the only thing the jury has to consider at the trial is the quantity of damages. This can be crucial; if a judge rules ahead of time that one party is responsible, the requisite 9% interest will start to run from the date of that ruling. By the time we get to trial, we will have a sizable interest add-on to whatever verdict is reached.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
Until we know more about a specific case, it is tough to know how long a case will last. Claims in advertisements about the expected duration of a case are often demonstrably false. The time until settlement depends on how the claimant’s medical treatment is progressing.
I prefer not to settle any personal injury claims until I am sure that my client has recovered from the majority of her or his medical issues. What would happen, for example, if a claim about a neck complaint were settled early, but cervical surgery was required after a few months? At that point, the value of that client’s case would increase dramatically, but the case was already settled. As personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY, we need to be patient.
The other primary cause of delays in these cases can be the deliberate actions of insurance company and their lawyers. It is important to understand that some insurance defense lawyers are paid by the hour, which could become a motivating factor. Court congestion can be a problem, so we try to get our cases scheduled for trial as quickly as we can. Unfortunately, some judges’ schedules are backed up as much as a year or longer, so it is not always easy to arrange an immediate trial date.
In those situations, we sometimes try to pursue other avenues such as mediation or arbitration in an attempt to resolve cases. For these reasons, giving an accurate blanket answer about how long a given case is going to take is highly unlikely. Our firm will nevertheless move as quickly as it can, and we will pursue a fair ruling based on all of the circumstances that are presented for each specific case.
Should I Take the First Settlement Offer in an Injury Case?
Clients may feel tempted to accept offers made early in their cases, and although we have an obligation to present every offer to our clients, our advice stays the same: Never take a first offer. We know that first offer is never the last offer; no one offers the bottom line number the first time.
Settlement discussions involve a long negotiation process, and that first offer is usually made straightaway. Even in cases where there is no settlement discussion until deep into the litigation, the first offer is never more than a starting point—just as our settlement demand is a starting point. Once there is a response to our settlement demand, we begin the negotiating process, during which we delineate the strengths of our case in an effort to obtain maximum recovery for our client.
Can I Settle a Personal Injury Case Without Consulting an Attorney?
We always recommend that injured persons enlist personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY early on, as lawyers are best prepared to negotiate with insurance companies, accurately assess the value of claims, and determine the nature and extent of claimants’ injuries. If an insurance representative is making an offer to a claimant, there is more money available than the offer would suggest.
Should I Tell My Doctor About the Accident?
When you are seeking treatment for injuries you sustained in an accident, it is imperative for you to tell your doctor what happened that caused the pain. Your doctor needs to know that you have been in an accident and which effects the accident has had on your health.
All the notes your doctor makes are going to become part of your permanent medical record, so accuracy and consistency are key. Remember that if you are admitted to an emergency room and you explain to those doctors how the accident happened, you will need to provide the same explanation at a later time to your primary care physician and any other subsequent treatment providers. In this way, all the doctors who have examined you can all clearly understand that your symptoms do indeed stem from your accident.
What Are Independent Medical Examinations?
During the litigation process, claimants may be asked to go for a physical exam, also known as an “independent” medical examination. This term can be a misnomer; this exam is conducted by a medical professional paid by an insurance company. There is nothing independent about the people who perform these examinations. These doctors often approach these exams with a viewpoint that slants their findings toward what the insurance carriers would like to see.
These “medical exams” require our clients to be examined by either a no-fault doctor, a workers’ compensation doctor, or a doctor who was hired by an insurance company in a regular lawsuit. These doctors examine our clients, review their records, and then render opinions on whether they were injured in the accident, whether there is any degree of permanency involved, and related matters. There may be nothing independent about these doctors, but our clients are legally mandated to attend these exams.
When an exam is related to a lawsuit, we send a representative, such as someone from our office or an independent agency, along with our client to monitor the exam. The representative makes sure that our client is not being asked to complete paperwork that he or she should not complete. The representative also ensures that, when we see the final report submitted by the doctor, the report coincides with what genuinely occurred during the exam.
Can I Discontinue Medical Treatment?
Some clients express that they want to discontinue treatment with their medical providers, but we always discourage them from doing so. First and foremost, their goal is to recover, and discontinuing treatment cannot possibly produce the best results. In the long run, as far as a lawsuit is concerned, a claimant has an obligation to continue her or his treatment and work consistently toward getting better. If the claimant does not do so, the attorneys for the insurance company will capitalize on this at trial. The company may very well claim that, by discontinuing your medical treatment, a claimant has failed in her or his duty to mitigate damages.
By deciding not to maximize your medical treatment, you may even make your condition worse. The insurance company can use that information to reduce the amount you receive when the jury renders its verdict. This defense is even sometimes used to convince a judge to dismiss a case. In order to ensure that your injuries continue to get better, you should continue your treatment. We always urge our clients to continue their treatment to make sure they reach the maximum possible recovery level.
Is There a Minimum Number of Medical Bills That I Have to Accumulate if I Want to File a Personal Injury Claim?
When you are injured in any kind of accident, your medical treatment becomes relevant to a potential lawsuit, particularly with regard to the damages for which you might be making a personal injury claim. Your bills will be included in a potential lawsuit as part of those damages. The total may be relevant to how much your case is worth, but it certainly does not prohibit you from contemplating a lawsuit to advance your claim simply because your medical bills haven’t yet reached a certain number.
What Do I Do if My Unpaid Medical Bills Are Sent to Collections?
In any situation where an accident has occurred, the worst thing to do is to let medical bills accumulate. If you are represented by an Accident attorney, you should provide your medical bills right away. It is not uncommon for an attorney to reach out to medical providers, notify them to let them know a potential personal injury claim is under consideration, and learn that the providers would be willing to stay any collection proceedings until a resolution has been reached.
Even if your lawsuit is not yet filed, it is still possible to get those creditors to hold off on further adverse collection action; they will delay action if they receive notice of a potential claim from your Accident attorney. If you are not yet represented by an attorney, you should contact your medical providers directly via their billing department and explain that you are not neglecting your bills. Once you provide this information, the providers can delay sending your bills to collection and adversely affecting your credit history.
Private and Public Property
What Types of Injuries Qualify as Slips and Falls?
A “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” is the generic term for an injury which occurs when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. It includes falls as the result of water, ice or snow, as well as uneven changes in flooring, poor lighting or a hidden hazard without a sign, such as a gap or hard-to-see hole in the ground.
Fall-related injuries are of large concern, mostly to older individuals. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2005, 15,800 people aged 65 and older died from slip and fall-related injuries, 1.8 million aged 65 and older were treated in emergency rooms for slip and fall-related injuries, and over 433,000 of these people were hospitalized.
If you are on someone else’s property and you injure yourself as the result of a dangerous condition, the landowner or business proprietor may be liable for your injuries due to premise liability. If you are a property owner and someone injures him- or herself on your land, you may find yourself legally responsible for any injuries that the person sustains.
I Slipped and Fell on a Residential Property. What Should I Do?
If you slip and fall on another person’s property, be sure to gather any evidence you can as soon as possible. Witnesses forget. Evidence is lost. The contributing condition may be repaired or replaced. Taking pictures, making sure that you get witness statements, and collecting evidence are all crucial. Reach out to one of our personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY immediately so that he or she can begin to gather evidence. Especially in a slip and fall case, the evidence can uphold or ruin your personal injury claim.
What Do I Do if I Slipped and Fell on a Faulty Step?
We have handled numerous claims involving defective staircases. In these cases, several factors must be considered, including whether the stair treads are uniform. Sometimes we see deviations where one step is nine inches high and the next only seven inches high. Other times, staircases are too narrow or the railings are not graspable. We see railings that are inadequate, and this causes clients to fall. It is important to make sure that, when someone is about to slip and fall, the person can at least try to prevent the fall. If the railing is insufficient, this is a safety liability.
We have consulted with experts to help us with those cases, and we have gained a wealth of expertise over the years about unsafe stairways. If we cannot schedule an expert to inspect a staircase, we go to the site ourselves to take pictures and measurements, check railing heights, examine at the stair tread, and evaluate the widths and heights. We also make sure to note whether there is a slip-resistant surface on the stairs. All those factors come into play when determining whether or not someone was negligent or responsible for your injuries.
Who Is Responsible if I Was Injured on Property Owned by a Municipality?
If you or someone you know are injured in a public park or on a piece of property owned by a municipality, it is important to keep certain things in mind. This is a different scenario than that which would apply if, for example, you were to be injured on a friend’s porch during a visit. When a municipality owns the property—whether it is a park, a street, or another venue—certain time limitations exist within which you need to notify the municipality that something about their property was dangerous and caused injury.
Those notifications, called Notices of Claims, must be brought within 90 days of the date an injury happens, and that is a small window within which to take action. It is important to consult with one of our pers attorney as soon as you can so that they can begin the process of preparing and serving that Notice of Claim. There are cases when that time limitation can be extended, but you certainly do not want to be in a position of being prohibited from bringing a personal injury claim at a later date because you failed to meet that initial 90-day time frame.
Is the School Responsible If My Child is Injured?
Aside from issues related to education or whether bullying has been occurring at the school, I often field calls from parents about disciplinary proceedings injuries that their children have sustained while at school. If your child comes home from school with an injury, it is important to know what happened and exactly how your child was hurt. If the injury occurred during a regular school activity, it is likely to have been the result of certain risks to which all children are subject. A child being hit by a ball during gym class is significantly different than a teacher bringing a dangerous and improperly contained animal to the school. The mechanism of injury is essential, and a case can stem from whether the school failed to respond appropriately.
Schools are not responsible for ensuring the absolute safety of children; however, accidents for which the school might be liable can occur on a regular basis. The most important thing to remember is that, if you are likely to be making a personal injury claim against the school, certain time constraints must be met. You will need to put the school on notice properly, usually within 90 days of the occurrence. The sooner that you consult an attorney, the more easily that your accident attorney can protect your right to pursue potential personal injury claims against the school.
Do I Still Have a Claim if I Was Injured While Trespassing on Private Property?
Trespassing cases can be complicated. The mere fact that someone is trespassing does not mean the property owner is not liable, especially in cases in which a hidden danger exists on the property. For instance, if a person walking through a property falls into an unmarked hole, the landowner may be responsible for that person’s injuries because of that undisclosed hazard. Of course, there can be variations to this scenario: perhaps injured person is a repeat trespasser, and this can affect the legitimacy of the personal injury claim. Every case is different, it is not a guarantee that, just because the injured person was trespassing, the landowner is not responsible.
How Do I Notify the Property Owner After a Slip and Fall?
A property owner must be notified before a personal injury claim can be brought against her or him. But in many situations, it may be best not to notify the property owner right away. It is more important to reach out to an accident attorney first, as the attorney can hire an investigator to take pictures, get statements, and speak to other people who may have been injured by that same dangerous condition. If you notify the property owner before taking those steps, the owner may dispose of evidence or repair the condition that caused the accident, and it may not be possible to recreate that condition.
What Is Premises Liability Law?
Premises liability law is the body of law which makes the person who is in possession of land or premises responsible for certain injuries suffered by persons who are present on the premises. Personal injury claims may be filed for injuries that are the result of equipment that is used on the property. In addition, injuries that may be the result of another person’s actions on the property may be the responsibility of a property owner, especially if the owner fails to provide adequate security on the property. Although some premises cases, such as “slip and fall” cases, can seem simple, the law now favors the premises owner in some states. Thus, in assessing a premises liability case, it is often helpful to consult with personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY.
How Serious Are Animal Incidents?
Every year, thousands of innocent people suffer from dog bite Injuries. Some are seriously injured, and some are killed due to dog bite injuries or animal attacks. Annually, there are more than 850,000 dog bites requiring medical attention, and over four million dog bites ranging from minor injuries to serious bodily injury and even death.
In the United States alone, approximately 100 children are bitten by dogs every day, and about 92 of these children will need medical attention. While dog bite fatalities are rare, statistics show that 15 to 20 people are killed in vicious dog attacks every year. Most dog bites are to the face, causing infection, trauma, and scarring. Wounds can be classified as cuts, lacerations, abrasions, crushing wounds, or punctures. These wounds can often result in fractured bones and disfiguring scars. Surgical repair may be needed, and eyesight or hearing can be permanently damaged.
If you were injured by an animal, you can sue the person who has—or should have had—control over the animal. A dog owner is required to control and restrain her or his animal in order to ensure public safety. The dog owner may be held responsible if you are on public property or if you are legally on private property. Dog owners may be held accountable for injuries given by their animals if their dogs were not properly secured on their premises on a leash or if the owners knew that their animals were prone to violence.
How Do I Know if I Have a Solid Dog Bite Case?
A viable dog bite case is one in which it is possible to prove that the dog has demonstrated at least some vicious propensities. It is even more helpful if the dog also looks ferocious, as this visual image tends to help the bite victim’s case. There is much more jury appeal when, instead of a little toy poodle that rips into a victim’s face, the dog involved is a Rottweiler or a pit bull.
When it comes to setting up the liability for your dog bit case, it is important to be able to show that you, as the client, did nothing that could have caused that dog to act the way it did. In other words, you must demonstrate that you either were minding your own business or reached down to pet the dog immediately before the dog attacked you. The dog’s propensity for violence and your lack of culpability two major factors that we look for when proceeding with a dog bite case.
Who Is Responsible if I Was Attacked by a Dog?
The most important thing to remember about a dog bite case is that the dog’s owner is primarily responsible for making sure that her or his animal is restrained properly and does not pose a risk to anybody else. Even so, in certain circumstances, individuals other than the owner may be responsible; if an owner goes on vacation or asks somebody else to watch the dog for a moment, the person put in charge of the animal assumes the responsibility to make sure the dog is properly restrained.
Whenever a dog bite or other type of dog attack occurs, the victim should gather as much information about the dog as possible, including who might be responsible for the dog and whether that individual or the owner was watching the dog at the time of the attack. Also, the local municipal dog catcher will have access to information as to whether the dog is properly vaccinated or poses any other sort of health risk.
What Should I Ask the Owner of an Animal That Bit Me?
First and foremost, you need to find out whether the animal is up to date on its shots. If not, the animal needs to be tested to make sure it is not rabid, thereby sparing you additional medical treatments. In cases like this, you will have to show that the animal has previously shown vicious propensities. These cases are difficult because, especially when dealing with other people’s pets, this propensity issue can be hard to prove.
Early contact with our office will allow us to talk to the mailman, the UPS driver, and FedEx drivers who deliver to the home of the animal’s owner. We will ask these individuals whether the dog has ever shown aggressive tendencies. Our investigator has even recorded the dog acting violently toward others on video. That proof can bolster these types of personal injury claims. Dog owners tend to be protective of their pets, and they do not want to admit fault.
Which Types of Damages Can I Recover in an Auto Accident Claim?
You are eligible to receive coverage for both past and future medical expenses in auto accident lawsuits. You can also be reimbursed for lost wages and lost benefits. Lost wages include both past and future wages that were not and will not be earned by people who are rendered unable to work. If you have a construction-related job in which you are making $80,000 a year and you can no longer work due to your injuries, there is a hefty future lost wage component to consider. Also included under the umbrella of lost wages and benefits are lost pension benefits, lost Social Security benefits, and lost 401(k) benefits. We try to analyze all these factors by hiring accountants and economic experts to calculate the costs and maximize our clients’ recovery.
A second main component of damages are pain and suffering damages, such as emotional suffering, physical pain as a result of the injuries, surgeries, and similar medical struggles. As with wages and benefits, pain and suffering damages comprise both past and future pain and suffering. In cases involving more severely injured patients, we may consider a loss of services or consortium claim, which signifies the added damages that we ask a jury to award to the spouse of the injured party.
When Must the Scene of the Accident Must Be Investigated?
When we receive a call from a person who was involved in a collision or some other accident, our first questions are, “Did you get photographs? Is the scene the way it was? What happened to the vehicles? Where are the vehicles?” We want to obtain pictures of the vehicles right away, and we want to make sure the vehicles’ black boxes are preserved. The best time for us to get involved with an investigation is immediately; we want to see things in exactly the condition they were at the time of the accident. We can only see the condition of the location of the accident if someone takes photographs.
When it comes to automobile claims, memories can become unreliable. People who may have witnessed an accident may provide one version of events a day after the accident, but make an entirely different personal injury claim several months later. In these cases, the devil is in the details, and every aspect of the case must be solid before litigation can begin. The investigation stage is critical, and that makes it imperative for people to contact their attorneys as soon as they are able.
How Do Motorcycle Injury Cases Differ from Auto Accident Cases?
One of the major differences between auto accident and motorcycle injury cases is the fact that motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance. When the victim of an accident sustained her or his injuries while in a car, certain insurance coverage protects the individual when it comes to paying for medical expenses, replacing lost wages, and covering incidental expenses to a certain extent. With motorcycles, however, because no-fault protection does not apply. there is no such insurance coverage. If you do not have high-quality health insurance of your own and you have been injured while riding a motorcycle, your medical problems may become more expensive than you would have anticipated.
The injuries related to many motorcycle claims can be catastrophic. If you do not have health insurance available, the coverage on the other side may be limited, which can impact our firm’s ability to help you to receive substantial damages. If you are hurt as a result of a driver’s ignorance, that party may have less in coverage than the cost of your injuries. All people who ride motorcycles should make it their number one priority to have proper health insurance in place. They can buy supplemental medical coverage on their motorcycle policy, though the coverage can be somewhat expensive. As a motorcyclist, supplemental insurance can be a lifesaver. It is essential that motorcyclists carry proper health insurance and that they include the proper supplemental underinsurance coverage.
If you are injured on a motorcycle, keep several facts in mind. First, the no-fault law in New York State does not apply, indicating that you will be responsible for your own medical bills unless you purchase specific coverage through your own insurance to cover your vehicle. You should always wear a helmet, and you should only ride a motorcycle with someone who is safe, who knows how to operate the bike, and who follows the rules of the road.
If you intend to use the warmer seasons here in Western New York as an opportunity to ride your motorcycle, you must consider talking with peour insurance agent or contacting your insurance company about purchasing additional coverage. If you enjoy riding your motorcycle, in order to ensure that you will receive necessary care in the event of an accident, you must have coverage that will pay your medical bills through your motorcycle insurance, as opposed to personal insurance.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Although we always encourage our clients to wear helmets for their own protection and safety, it is still possible to bring a personal injury claim in situations where they are injured on a motorcycle while they were not wearing a helmet.
Depending on the nature or extent of the injuries and which body parts were injured, damages may not be affected by whether the driver was wearing a helmet at the time. If you were in a motorcycle accident while you were not wearing a helmet, you should not decide against bringing an action. Ask personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY to investigate, order your medical records, and gather the facts of your case. Once your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY has accomplished this, you will be able to determine whether failure to wear a helmet made a difference.
What if I Was Injured While Driving a Vehicle For Work?
A common misconception is that employees are bound by workers’ compensation when they sustain injuries while in a work vehicle or in the process of traveling in a work-related capacity. In the event that you are injured during the course of your employment, your employer is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, which pays a portion of your lost wages and covers your medical expenses. If your injuries were caused by somebody outside your employment, however, worker’s compensation may not apply. For example, we once had a personal injury claim brought by a delivery person who slipped and fell in the entranceway of a business to which he was making a delivery, and we were able to garner a sizable recovery for that client. In contrast, if you are driving a delivery truck when another driver runs a red light and hits you, you may file a lawsuit against that driver, but this is entirely separate from workers’ compensation. You are not necessarily bound by workers’ compensation simply because you have been injured at work.
Is a Bar Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?
Unfortunately, people are sometimes injured by drunk drivers who do not have much insurance coverage. If we can pin down where the person was drinking, we may have a cause of action against that bar or restaurant called a “dram shop cause of action.” If the establishment carries dram shop coverage, that may offer an avenue that we can pursue in our efforts to obtain complete compensation for injuries, though the standards for proof in those cases are difficult to meet. In these cases, for example, it must be shown that the person was being served, even when the establishment knew they were intoxicated. Other dram shop cases, such as those involving service to an underage drinker, are more straightforward; if a 20-year-old is in a bar and gets drunk, it is clear that the underage drinker should not have been drinking in a bar.
Dram shop coverage is not something every bar carries because it is quite expensive. Our firm has found that early involvement helps us to better determine where the drunk driver was drinking. The person who caused the injury is often involved in a criminal case, and sometimes the criminal defense lawyer is willing to cooperate with the victim of the accident. Being forthcoming in helping the injured person get compensation for her or his injuries might help the drunk driver at the end of the case, when a judge will deliver a sentence.
Do I Have a Claim if I Was Injured on a Boat?
Our firm has worked with clients who have been seriously injured on boats due to driver intoxication or operator negligence. If you were injured while on a boat, you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for negligence against the owner and/or the operator of the boat.
Does Home Insurance Cover Recreational Vehicle Accidents?
We were recently approached by a client who had, unfortunately, been seriously injured as a passenger on someone’s recreational vehicle. We assured the client, who was unsure about which next steps to take, that it was possible to file a personal injury claim against the vehicle’s owner for the medical expenses brought on by the injuries sustained in the accident.
What Is Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Insurance?
We should all have supplemental underinsurance coverage on our policies, and all drivers should ensure that their policies include supplemental coverage, which can be purchased through insurance companies, to protect them if they ever find themselves in an accident. That supplemental coverage can have the same limits, though, as regular coverage that protects drivers who are at fault in an accident. Our recommendation is that drivers should have a minimum of $500,000 in regular liability coverage, as they will also be eligible to have $500,000 in supplemental coverage.
Who Fixes My Car After an Auto Accident?
If you have collision coverage on your own insurance policy when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and your car is damaged, you will contact your insurance company and let it know about the accident. Most likely, your policy will include a deductible, and the amount of that deductible might determine whether you want to process your property damage claim through your own insurance company. If your deductible is high, you may be discouraged from processing the property damage through your own insurance policy.
You will also have the option of using the other party’s insurance coverage to pay for your property damage as long as the other party is at fault for causing the accident. A common hindrance to using the other party’s coverage is the time and negotiation involved. When people use the offending parties’ insurance coverage, they may not feel that they are paid a satisfactory amount for their vehicle. The delays involved in processing your property damage claim using somebody else’s insurance coverage might be a deterrent. Your vehicle might be repaired more quickly if you process your personal injury claim through your own insurance company. Both options are available, and the decision as to whether one option is preferable to the other in your circumstances rests with you.
Car Accident Attorneys Erie County, NY
Being in a car crash just might be the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to you. Especially if you are whisked away by an ambulance and need emergency medical treatment. Serious injuries from car accidents can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on a driver or passenger. When a person is injured in a car accident, there are special considerations which must be addressed. You should contact our experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY as soon as possible.
New York is a “No-Fault” state, which means that medical bills and lost earnings are paid by the no-fault insurance carrier. Strict deadlines apply with respect to obtaining benefits pursuant to no-fault. When someone is injured in a motor vehicle collision, it is especially important to consult with a personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY for this reason.
Car Accident Injury Medical Attention
When you are injured by another vehicle in an auto accident, it’s foremost important you seek medical attention immediately. Save all of your medical bills and reports as proof of your injuries, so that we can be sure you receive full reimbursement for these expenses.
We want to help you get a fair settlement so that you receive the full financial support you deserve. If you have been injured in an accident and are left with medical expenses and other damages to reconcile with, contact us as soon as you can.
Accepting Insurance Offers
Insurance companies are usually the first to offer you a settlement for your accident, which means their offer is usually a low one. When an insurance company offers you a settlement, it’s important you review it to make sure all of your injuries and expenses for your injuries have been confirmed. If something is missing from the offer, or they are not giving you enough to treat your injuries, call us.
Often times, cases are worth more than what an insurance company is agreeing to pay you, so you should avoid accepting an offer that doesn’t give you the full support you deserve.
We will fight on your behalf to get you the most we can for your physical and psychological injuries. You should never have to pay for damages done to you due to the negligence of another person.
Experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY
The medical, financial and emotional consequences can linger for years after an occurrence that only takes seconds. When a person is injured as a result of the negligence of another in the operation of a motor vehicle, the law may provide compensation to the injured. The law also requires that insurance be maintained on every vehicle operated in New York so that compensation can be paid. It is often said that a no-fault carrier (someone’s own insurance company) becomes another adversary, making it difficult for injured people to get the benefits they are entitled to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY?
There have been times where people have been seriously injured in auto accidents and they don’t get a lawyer involved for a long time. They say, “Why do I need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY?” Well, because the insurance company for the vehicle that may have hit you are not thinking about your best interest. They’re thinking about their best interests and how they can save money on the claim. We’ve had cases where insurance carriers reach out to clients early on and offer them a minimal settlement, even though they may have been seriously injured.
You need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY to protect your rights. There are certain time limitations in doing certain things, and we talk sometimes about no-fault applications. Also if you’re hit by a municipal vehicle, you have even shorter time limits to file a claim. Usually there’s a 90-day limitation on filing a notice of claim, and then you only have a year and 90 days to file an action.
If you wait to get personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY involved, you’re hurting your chances of getting your full recovery. If you don’t get personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY involved, you’re not making sure that the case is investigated properly, and a properly investigated case leads to better recovery.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident Injury?
Many times, people that have been seriously injured in car accidents call us and want to know what the next step is. The next step is to get an investigation done and get your no-fault application done. Many times, when people are involved in accidents, police officers are on the scene. They don’t necessarily get all the witnesses names, so we want to go out to the scene, canvas the area, see if we can find witnesses. We talk to the witnesses that are on the accident report and maybe get some recorded statements, photographs of the area – skid marks, things of that nature – and maybe even get an accident investigation company involved right away to maybe do some cause-and-effect types of things.
Of course, the big thing that’s prevalent now is video, whether it be from cameras that are installed by government agencies or businesses. We’ve had many cases where business cameras catch an accident and it’s very helpful down the road.
The other thing, too, beyond the investigation, is that with a car accident case, your no-fault coverage on the vehicle you were in, whether you were driving the vehicle or you were just a passenger, whatever coverage is on that vehicle, insurance will help pay for your medical expenses and lost wages and some of your travel expenses for medical appointments. To get those benefits, you have to submit an application within 30 days. We help you do that. We go through the process with you and make sure it gets to the insurance carrier. Those are the first steps we want to get going with.
Who Pays My Car Accident Medical Bills?
When you’re seriously injured in an auto accident, people automatically worry about their medical expenses. Especially in this day in age where many people have high deductibles, private insurance plans, or you might have to pay three or four thousand dollars out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.
The good thing with car accident cases is that whatever vehicle you are in, whether it’s your vehicle or someone else’s, the no-fault coverage on that car insurance policy will pay for your medical expenses, so that’s a wonderful thing. There are no deductibles involved and even if they don’t cover all of the expenses, the medical provider cannot go after you for the difference; they’re locked into that rate that’s set by the insurance carriers as to what can be paid. That’s the benefit of the no-fault coverage.
The negative side of no-fault coverage is that sometimes they send you for what’s called independent medical examinations to try to stop your medical payments. We get involved in that situation. We send representatives with clients to those examinations to make sure that those benefits are continued.
How Long Will This Take?
Auto accident cases can be resolved sometimes fairly quickly. Although sometimes they go on for quite a few years. Some of our cases are resolved within the first twelve months, sometimes they take three or four years depending on the severity of the case and how much the other side fights. Car accident cases are a little different because you have to prove you sustained a “serious physical injury” as defined under the insurance law.
Many times, we get in disputes about whether someone indeed has a serious injury. Sometimes those involve motion practice – where you’re asking the court to predetermine whether someone had a serious injury – and sometimes those cases get appealed. When you appeal a case, it has to go to a higher court. People write briefs and they go for argument, and those things can take years, unfortunately.
When we get a case, we try to streamline cases because we know there could be bumps in the road and hiccups down the way. We want to make sure that we get things going as quickly as possible so if there is an appeal or something like that, we’re not looking five or six years down the road. In some cases, maybe it’s only two or three years.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid?
Some of the most detrimental mistakes we see people make after they’ve been seriously injured in an auto accident is not getting consistent treatment for their injuries. We’ve seen it over and over again where people will go to a doctor and say, “I’m fine,” or they’re continuing to have problems and they don’t follow up. When you don’t follow up and you don’t follow doctor’s orders, it could ruin your claim. Insurance carriers look at what you did to get better. If two years down the road you say, “Well, I have this disability in my shoulder,” and they find out that you were recommended to do physical therapy to help improve the function of that shoulder and you didn’t do that, that’s going to be a strike against you and may affect your ability to recover the full value of your injury.
Another big mistake is not getting personal injury attorneys involved right away. Investigation of claims is one of the most important things to do. We jump on cases right away, get investigators involved, get out to the scene, and take pictures. If you wait six months until after the accident, you’re not going to get that evidence. If there were witnesses to the accident and we can’t find them because the evidence trail has become stale, that’s going to hurt you. People’s memories fade. Even if we have a name of a witness, that witness’ account of the accident is going to be much more accurate the week after the accident than it is six months after the accident. There’s a big incentive to get involved early and get witness statements early.
Should I Talk to My Insurance?
The short answer is no. I can tell you right now, they’re usually recording those telephone conversations and they’re going to use what you say against you down the road. Sometimes you may say something out of context, and next thing you know it’s being used against you down the road.
You have insurance on your vehicle, and it’s your insurance carrier’s obligation (if there’s even a property damage claim) to make sure that they get contribution from the other carrier. If there are situations where we have to reach out directly to the other carrier, we like to do that for the client or be with them on the phone while they’re speaking with the carrier. If there is something being recorded, we want to make sure that we get a copy of that right away as a condition of speaking with them.
Sometimes there are situations where you want to speak with them to expedite getting another vehicle, because sometimes people don’t have collision coverage on their vehicles and they need to get a car immediately. The other carrier wants a statement as to how the accident happened, and we try to limit those statements as much as we can.
What Are the Benefits of No-Fault Insurance in New York?
When you’re involved in a car accident, the no-fault coverage for whatever vehicle you’re in will apply. No-fault coverage means you’ll get these benefits whether or not the car you were in was at fault. You’ll get $50,000 of initial coverage for such things as medical expenses and lost wages up to $2,000 a month – so it’s not great, but it’s something. You also get some incidental expenses for the first year, including $25 a day for help around the house if you need it, mileage for going back and forth to doctor appointments, and things of that nature. Those are the basic benefits of no-fault.
In order to secure those benefits, you have to submit a no-fault application within 30 days of the accident. Usually, that’s not too difficult when you’re the owner and operator of the car; however, if you’re a passenger, you sometimes have to be fairly proactive because the insurance company that covers the driver or owner of the car may not be reaching out to you. That’s another reason to get in touch with us quickly – because we will immediately reach out to that insurance carrier, make sure your no-fault application is filled out, and make sure you have those benefits. It’s important to use no-fault to cover your medical expenses – rather than your own health insurance – because then there’s no lien if you eventually obtain a recovery down the road.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Determining the value of an auto injury case is a case-by-case analysis. Many factors go into it including the severity of injury. There are some injuries that you can’t even think of what the value would be; losing a limb, losing your eyesight, and things of that nature. Then you have other types of injuries that may involve fractures with some disability or back and neck injuries. How do you determine that disability, and how do you determine the value of that case? We do a few different things. We send people, at times, to vocational rehabilitation experts to see what type of work they can continue to do. We send people for other evaluations to determine what their medical needs will be.
All of those factors play into whether someone can continue to work or not. Are they able to continue with their normal daily activities? There are some people out there that are very active; people that are exercising on a regular basis, maybe even be involved in amateur athletics to some extent. If they can’t do that, the case, that particular injury, may have a lot more value to them than it would be to somebody else who has a more sedentary lifestyle, who isn’t as active.
There are a lot of different factors that go into play. To give someone an exact number on a case early on, I think, is improper because you really have to wait to see how the injury affects someone overall before you make an assessment of full value.
What Will I Be Compensated For?
In a car accident situation, there are many damages you can recover. The basic damages you can recover are your expenses for medical and lost wages. When we say that, in a car accident situation, it’s those medical and lost wage expenses that aren’t covered by your no-fault coverage.
The big thing, of course, is pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering damages is a case-by-case basis based upon the severity of the injury and how it’s affected someone’s life in total. When we say affect your life, we don’t just mean whether or not you can work or not, but how it’s affected you socially. Are you able to do the things you used to do? How has it affected your ability to care for your family? How has it affected your ability to have meaningful relationships with your spouse, and things of that nature? There’s a lot of factors that go into deciding the value of the case and what damages you’re going to get down the road.
Who Fixes Your Car After an Auto Accident?
If you have collision coverage on your own insurance policy when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident and your car is damaged, you will contact your insurance company and let them know about the accident. Most likely, your policy includes a deductible and the amount of that deductible might determine whether or not you want to process your property damage claim through your own insurance company. If your deductible is high – like $500 or $1,000 – you may be discouraged from processing the property damage through your own insurance policy.
You also have the option of using the other party’s insurance coverage to pay for your property damage – provided they’re at fault for causing the accident. Often, however, the problem with using the other party’s coverage is the time and negotiation involved. When people use the offending party’s insurance coverage, they may not feel that they’re getting paid a satisfactory amount for their vehicle. Also, it may take a little time for that insurance company to determine who was at fault for the accident. The delays involved in processing your property damage claim using somebody else’s insurance coverage might be a deterrent. You might just get your vehicle repaired more quickly – and with less hassle – by processing your claim through your own insurance company. Both options are available to you, and the decision as to whether one option is preferable to the other in your circumstances rests with you.
What If I’m Injured While Driving a Vehicle for Work?
People sometimes think that if they’re injured in an accident while in a work vehicle or in the process of traveling in a work-related capacity, they’re bound by what’s called workers’ compensation; however, that’s not always true. Let me provide a little clarification as to what workers’ compensation is. In the event that you’re injured during the course of your employment, your employer is required to maintain what’s called workers’ compensation insurance which pays a portion of your lost wages and covers your medical expenses.
If your injuries were caused by somebody outside your employment, however, that may not be the whole story. For example, if you’re driving a delivery truck when someone runs a red light and hits you, and you’re injured, guess what? You can have a lawsuit against that other driver, and that is entirely separate from workers’ compensation. There is an important interplay involved there. Just because you’re injured at work doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bound by workers’ compensation.
Can I Recover Damages If I’m Partially at Fault?
Oftentimes, when someone is injured in a car accident they think, “Okay, I’m injured, but maybe I was partly to blame for causing the accident. Can I still bring a lawsuit?” In New York, the answer is, “Yes, you still can.” If you are at fault for any part of the accident, your degree of fault will be considered later on in the lawsuit, and perhaps the damages you are ultimately awarded – if you’re awarded any – will be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear for causing the accident.
Partial fault is not a bar to a lawsuit, and you really should consider consulting with an attorney to learn whether or not you can still make a legitimate claim. Don’t be discouraged just because something you did may have caused or contributed to the accident. If you do, you may give up your right to bring a legitimate claim just because you think – erroneously – that something you did may have contributed to it. It’s worth consulting with a personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY to learn whether or not it’s a claim you can still bring.
Should You Take the First Settlement Offer in a Car Accident Case?
Many times, clients get a little too anxious when it comes to offers received on their car accident cases – some of them very early on – and, although we have an obligation to present every offer to our clients, we always tell them, “Listen to me. It’s too early. You never take a first offer. We don’t know where your medical treatment is going to go – you’re still treating.” We never do that. We know that first offer is never the last offer. No one gives their bottom line number first.
People have to understand that settlement discussions involve a long, negotiation process, and that first offer is usually made early. Even in cases where there’s no settlement discussion until you’re deep into the litigation, the first offer is never more than a starting point – just as our settlement demand is a starting point. Many times, there’s no offer until we issue a settlement demand. Once they respond to our settlement demand, we get into the negotiating process, talking about the pros of our case and the cons of theirs in our effort to get our client the maximum recovery.
Should You Tell Your Doctor About the Car Accident?
When you’re seeking treatment for injuries you sustained in an accident, it’s very important for you to tell your doctor what happened that caused you to start experiencing your pain symptoms. Your doctor needs to know that you have been in an accident, and exactly what happened.
Keep in mind that all of the notes your doctor makes are going to become part of your permanent medical record, so it’s very important that you be accurate and consistent. Remember too, that if you go into the ER and explain to those doctors how the car accident happened, you’ll want to be able to give the same explanation later, when you go to your primary care physician or any other subsequent treatment providers. That way, they can all clearly understand that the symptoms you’re having do indeed stem from your accident – that one event.
Can Discontinuing Medical Treatment Devalue Your Car Accident Claim?
First and foremost, your goal is to get better, and discontinuing your treatment won’t produce the best results. In the long run, as far as your lawsuit is concerned, you have an obligation to continue your treatment and work consistently toward getting better. If you don’t, the attorneys for the insurance company will throw that in your face at trial and say that, by discontinuing your medical treatment, you failed in your duty to mitigate your damages.
The fact is that you may even make your condition worse by deciding not to maximize your medical treatment. The insurance company can also throw that information in front of a jury and use it to reduce the amount you receive when the jury renders its verdict.
Truck Accident Attorneys Erie County, NY
Truck accidents cause numerous physical, emotional and financial pains for victims and their families. Have you or a loved one been involved in a truck accident? An experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY at Chiacchia & Fleming can help.
Truck accidents are on the rise in the U.S. According to the latest NHTSA statistics, accidents involving semi-trucks have risen 17% since 2009. Today, this type of accident accounts for more than 3,800 deaths each year in the U.S.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident? The attorneys at (LAW FIRM) are here to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY who understands what you’re going through. After an accident, you should be concerned with getting better – not fighting with trucking companies and insurance adjusters. That’s our job. Our personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will help you manage legal process and fight for the maximum compensation for you and your family. Call personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY today for a free case evaluation.
How personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY Can Help
To help prevent trucking accidents, professional truck drivers must adhere to specific federal, state and local rules and regulations. Unfortunately, the industry is notorious for bypassing these laws and regulations.
Truck drivers are often pressured to work long hours without sufficient sleeping breaks, and unsafe equipment is used without proper maintenance. These accidents may be caused by numerous other factors, including driver drug/alcohol use, distracted driving, or improper Commercial Driver’s License training.
A trucking company or truck driver’s negligence puts innocent drivers in harm’s way. Yet, the challenge for victims is proving the negligence of the driver or trucking company. Major trucking companies are protected by aggressive legal departments and million-dollar insurance policies. These companies often bully victims into accepting undervalued settlements that don’t fully cover costs caused by their emotional, physical and financial suffering.
A qualified personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will work hard to help victims defend their rights and fight for immediate compensation to pay for medical bills and lost wages. When you hire personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY, your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will investigate your accident, determine fault, and file claims with insurance companies on your behalf.
At Chiacchia & Fleming, our process starts with a thorough investigation of your accident. This helps us prove negligence and strengthen your case. Our investigation process includes:
- Reconstructing the accident scene with industry experts
- Finding and collecting black box information
- Meeting with investigators and first-responders to gather information about the accident
- Investigating a trucking company’s safety records
- Determining if motor safety regulation were violated
- Determining fault in the case
Types of Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
Victims and their families are forced to respond to new stresses following an accident. Medical bills and lost wages puts financial strain on families, and physical pain and emotional stress can take years of recovery. Following a fatal accident, families and survivors may experience a lifetime of emotional distress.
Victims are entitled to financial compensation to pay for the financial, physical and emotional burdens of an accident. Those injured in trucking accidents have two types of compensation available to them: Compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory Damages. Compensatory damages help victims pay for the immediate and long-term consequences of an accident. Compensatory damages help cover:
- Medical bills and rehabilitation
- Lost wages and disability
- Loss of normal life (e.g. not being able to return to hobbies)
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (e.g. damages for personal relationship strife)
Punitive Damages. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages. This type of compensation is awarded by the jury if your case goes to trial, and it is used as a financial punishment for gross negligence or malice. Ultimately, your attorney can help you determine if punitive damages are an avenue to pursue in your case.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in an Accident
In the immediate aftermath of a truck accident, you may be badly injured or in shock. The safety of yourself and your passengers should be your top concern. If you’re able to, there are several steps you can take help protect your case.
- Call 911 – Contact first responders immediately if you’re able to. Your safety and the safety of your passengers should be your most important concern. Wait for medical help at the scene. If you’re in harm’s way, move to a safe location within visible distance of the scene.
- Talk with Police – You may be in shock or seriously hurt following an accident. In this case, you won’t be able to talk with law enforcement. Yet, police officers will want to hear your recollection of the accident and the steps that led up to it. Provide them with as many details as you can remember, but do not admit fault.
- Collect Evidence from the Scene – If you’re able to, begin collecting evidence. Take photographs and videos of the scene with your cellphone, and collect the names and contact information of witnesses. Additionally, document any injuries that you might have with photos and note where you feel pain.
- Do Not Admit Fault – The trucking company’s lawyers and insurance companies may contact you. You’re not required to talk with them. In fact, it’s best that you don’t. If you do talk with them, DO NOT admit fault. This can be used to harm your case, even if you inaccurately admit to being at fault. The best solution: Refer any legal or insurance inquiries to your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY.
- Seek Professional Legal Advice – The legal process can be overwhelming. An attorney helps you manage the process immediately and fights for immediate compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, etc. You can contact personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY from the scene, if you’re able to, or within a few days of your accident. The key is to move quickly: personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will help you protect your rights immediately following an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Contact a Truck Accident Attorney?
After a commercial truck accident, you want to make sure that you get personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY involved immediately because the investigation stage of that accident is very important. There could be several different insurance carriers on the line as it relates to a specific truck. The truck itself may be owned by one company. The trailer may be owned by another company. The box that’s being towed by the company may be owned by somebody else. There may be another company that secured the load to the truck. Say the accident happened because a load shifted in a truck; there may be another company involved that was responsible for securing the load to the truck before it got on the road.
There are a lot of different moving parts to these types of accidents, so it’s really important to make sure that you get personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY involved right away to start pursuing that investigation. That investigation may include making sure that video is secured. If the accident happened on an interstate or something, they may have some video. That could be very important in determining who caused the accident.
What Are the First Steps in a Truck Case?
The recommended steps after a commercial truck injury are really kind of two-fold. One is to make sure that your medical treatment is being paid for. We would like to make sure that you file your no-fault application promptly to make sure that you are getting your medical paid for, your lost wages, and things like that.
The second part of that is doing the investigation. We make sure that we have the names of all witnesses that may have seen the accident. We get written and recorded statements from them. Memories fade over time. It’s not enough that you just got a name and number from somebody; that’s easy. You want to get that person’s recollection of the accident while it’s fresh in their mind. There’s nothing worse than talking to a witness two years after an accident versus a month after an accident, because the recollections are going to be totally different; people’s memories fade, so it’s important to get involved right away and get those people locked in.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident Injury?
If you’re seriously injured in a commercial truck accident, of course the first thing you have to worry about is your medical treatment at the scene. If you can, be aware of what’s going on around you. If there are witnesses that come up to you and say, “Hey, I saw everything that happened,” try to get their number or their name, because many times, when the police get to an accident scene, things are kind of chaotic and they may not get the names and numbers of all the witnesses. If you can do that, it’s really important.
Going forward, you may have some obligations as far as filing a claim with your car insurance company, even though this truck may have been at fault for your accident. Your medical expenses and lost wages are going to be covered through the no-fault provisions of your car insurance policy, so you have an obligation to file an application for those benefits within 30 days. You want to make sure you do that as quickly as you can.
Should I Talk to Insurance Companies?
We discourage our clients from talking to the trucking company lawyer or the insurance company for the trucking company because, you have to understand something, they don’t really care about you. They may act like they do, but they don’t. Your best interest is only going to be looked after by your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY, not them. They want to make sure that they pay the least amount of money possible on claims. They’re not out to make sure that you’re fairly compensated, so don’t ever think that.
Many times, you get involved in conversations with them, and they start asking you a lot of different questions. You may become confused. You end up saying something that may not be correct. You’re locked into that because, many times, these conversations are recorded. Your best practice is when you get contacted by the company or their insurance company, is to say, “I have personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY. Let me talk to him, and then maybe we can have a discussion jointly down the road.”
Who Can I Sue?
There could be many people that you can sue regarding a commercial truck accident. Of course, you have the operator of the truck, the owner of the tractor of the truck, the trailer that’s being pulled, and the company that may be doing the maintenance. Another person or entity that could be sued could be a construction company or a municipality, or the New York State Thruway Authority might be on the hook. Say that you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, but the reason that commercial truck deviated from his lane is because maybe there was a barrel from a construction site in its way and they were trying to avoid it, or there was a hole in the road as a result of improper maintenance or construction that caused this vehicle to leave its lane or do something that caused the accident. We have to make sure that we have all those angles covered. There may be a multitude of defendants, and you’re not going to get that information unless you get involved early on in the investigation and get people in the know that can tell you who is responsible for maintenance, or who is the person directly responsible for overseeing the work at the construction site where the accident occurred. There are a lot of moving parts, and that’s why you want to get your investigation done early.
How Much is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
With a commercial truck case, determining the value of your injury is a case-by-case basis. We look at the severity of the injury. Did someone lose a limb? Did they, God forbid, lose their eyesight or something really catastrophic? Those cases are actually somewhat easier to value. It’s the other cases where you may have a neck injury or a back injury that are harder to value. Those injuries may prevent you from working or doing your normal and customary activities. When you have those kinds of cases, making sure you get fully compensated is really important.
Sometimes we have to hire experts, because you may have this back injury and you may need future back surgeries, so we need to determine how much medical care you’ll need in the future and what that future care would be. With that, what future household services will you need? Say your injury was such that you need to hire someone to plow your driveway, cut your lawn, things like that. There’s a value to that, and we hire experts to make sure that those values are presented to a jury or an insurance company to make sure you’re fully compensated.
Last but not least, you have your pain and suffering damages and of course that’s a case-by-case basis. Someone who has a serious physical injury at age 20, is going to have a case worth more than someone that may be at age 70, just because of life expectancy. This person that’s 20 has another 60 years of pain and suffering they have to live with, so that could increase the value of their claim.
Will My Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?
Commercial truck injury cases go to trial usually when there’s a dispute about what happened during the accident. Many times, the value of a case can be resolved between the attorneys if there’s a clear indication of how the accident happened. If both sides are pointing fingers at each other and there are other defendants involved, those are the kind of cases that end up in a court room and go to trial because there’s no clear indication of who did something wrong. Of course, there could be disputes over the value of an injury, and sometimes you get insurance companies that are locked in and say, “No, we only think this case is worth x number of dollars,” and we think it’s worth much more than that. Those are the cases that are going to see the inside of a court room.
What Should I Know About Truck Accident Claims?
Commercial truck accident claims are a little different than car accident claims in that many times you have a lot of different defendants involved. We talk about the simple car accident case: someone runs a stop sign, for example, and there are two cars involved in an accident. When you have a commercial vehicle involved, there are more moving parts because the owner of the tractor that’s pulling the rig may be different from the rig that’s being pulled, and there may also be a maintenance company involved in maintaining the trucks.
We recently had a lawsuit against the company that was involved with maintaining the vehicle. Our claim was really based on what they did in causing our client’s injuries by failing to maintain the vehicle properly. There are a lot of moving parts to these cases. There could be a multitude of defendants. We want to get that case going right away because, when you have a multitude of defendants, we end up having a lot of litigation and that takes a lot of time, especially if there are appeals to higher courts about court rulings. It’s better to get involved in these cases early and get them moving.
How Long Do I Have to File?
There are certain time limitations of filing claims against a commercial trucking company; usually it’s three years if it’s a private entity. With that, we’re not telling you that you should wait three years. Some of the reasons that make that quite obvious is that we want to make sure that if witnesses are going to be questioned, that their memories are going to be fresh. If you wait the three years to start lawsuits and questioning witnesses, you may get some very different answers to your questions than if you would have got involved right away and tried to hurry the process along.
Also, there are situations where you could be involved in a municipality truck accident. If that’s the case, you may have different limitations in bringing actions and that could be 90 days filing a notice of claim and then a year and 90 days from the accident in bringing an action or you’re going to be out of luck.
Last but not least, time limitations are different from state to state. That’s why it’s important to get personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY involved. You’re going to want to know if there are certain time limits. Say you’re a New York resident and you’re on vacation, and you get in an accident in Virginia with a commercial truck, what are your rights down there? How long do you have to bring your claim down there? There are a lot of moving parts to these cases. You want to make sure that you have your time limits cemented so we know that we don’t miss anything.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Truck Accident Case?
Sometimes with truck accidents, they can be very severe, severe enough where someone loses their life. When that happens, that’s the ultimate catastrophic event and there are a lot of steps that have to be taken when there’s a death involved. We do our usual investigation of the claim, but because it’s a wrongful death action there are certain things that have to be filed in other courts. For example, in Erie County you have to start opening an estate of the person who was deceased and make sure that their beneficiaries are compensated in the end.
With a wrongful death claim, we’re trying to determine full value, and many times in a wrongful death case, you may have dependents. Say a gentleman is in his 40s unfortunately loses his life. He has young children. He has a spouse, a home to support, kids to put through school. That future loss of income stream to support that is a big part of that person’s damages, and we have to make sure that we get the proper experts in place to make sure that the jury and the insurance carriers know what the full extent of those damages are.
Request a FREE Case Evaluation
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to call Chiacchia & Fleming today. We provide 100% free, no-obligation case evaluations for victims and their families. Talk with an experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY today about your case, learn what next steps to take, and how we can help you.
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Erie County, NY
Were you recently involved in a motorcycle accident? We know what you’re going through. Motorcycle accidents are often horrific and life-altering for victims. In the U.S., for example, nearly 80% of accidents result in injury or death. In New York, motorcycle accidents cause more than 150 deaths per year. Often, these accidents are of no fault of the motorcyclist.
In fact, around two-thirds of accidents are caused by other motorists failing to yield the right of way. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering.
personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY can help. A qualified personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will protect you against undervalued settlements from insurance companies, ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, and manage the entire legal process, so that you can focus on getting better.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Western New York, we want to help. Call our personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY today for a free case evaluation and to learn more about your rights.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are common in New York, and often, they result in significant injuries for the motorcyclist. In fact, according to state statistics, motorcycle accidents result in nearly 4,500 emergency room visits each year and almost 150 deaths per year.
Unfortunately, this type of accident is rarely caused by the motorcyclist. The most common reasons for a motorist-caused accident include:
- Unsafe lane changes, e.g. failing to check a blind spot or signal a lane change
- Opening car doors into oncoming traffic
- Reckless driving and excessive speed
- Driving under the influence
- Following too closely
- Sudden stops
- Driver inexperience
Ultimately, motorists who cause a motorcycle accident may face civil or criminal liability. When you hire personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY, your attorney is responsible for determining fault and helping to protect your rights.
How Experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY Can Help
A personal injury attorney helps you build a case and manage the legal process in a number of ways. Your attorney may help with:
- Filing legal paperwork
- Investigating the cause of your accident
- Determining who is at fault
- Contacting witnesses and law enforcement
- Working with experts to recreate the accident
- Filing claims on your behalf
- Meeting with the negligent party’s lawyers
- Negotiating with the negligent party’s insurance company
Unfortunately, victims are often harassed by insurance companies and lawyers of the negligent party. These companies often bully victims or offer undervalued settlements/compensation for your injuries.
Your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY is your advocate against aggressive behavior. You are not legally required to discuss your case with insurance companies or lawyers for the negligent party. Any correspond from these parties should be forwarded to your attorney.
Types of Compensation for Victims
Victims of motorcycle accidents face new financial and physical challenges. They may be suffering from horrific pain, disfigurement or emotional distress. Medical fees, lost wages, and vehicle repairs create new financial stresses.
Victims are entitled to compensation for any and all emotional, physical and financial costs associated with the accident. There are two types of compensation: Compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages. Compensatory damages cover any out-of-pocket and future costs related to the accident, and are provided to make a victim “whole” following an accident. Compensatory damages may help cover:
- Medical bills and physical therapy costs
- Lost wages, future loss of income
- Property damage
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of normal life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Punitive damages. Cases in which gross negligence or malice was a factor, victims may be entitled to punitive damages. This type of compensation acts as a financial punishment for the negligent party, and it is awarded by a jury if your case goes to trial. Your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will help you determine if you are entitled to punitive damages.
What to Do If You’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, your health and safety are the most pressing concerns. Seek medical attention immediately. If you’re unable to contact first responders, witnesses or other motorists should contact authorities for you. A few other helpful tips include:
- Move from Harm’s Way – If you’re able to, you should move to a safe place near the accident scene if you’re in the path of oncoming traffic.
- Call 911 – Even in minor accidents, you should contact police. Do not walk away from an accident without talking with law enforcement, even if you do not notice physical pain or property damage.
- Talking with Investigators – Police officers on the scene will collect statements from affected parties. Provide as much detail as you can remember regarding the steps that led up to the accident, but do not admit fault.
- Collect Evidence – If you’re able to, take photos and videos from the scene using your cellphone. Additionally, collect names and phone numbers of any witnesses, note the weather and road conditions, and document any physical or property damage. Be sure to ask for the name and insurance information for other motorists involved in the accident.
- Do Not Admit Fault – When talking with law enforcement, other motorists, witnesses at the scene, or insurance companies, do not admit fault. This is important. Any admission of fault can hurt your case.
- Seek Legal Advice – Contact personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY as soon as you’re able to. Your personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY will file claims on your behalf, manage any negotiations, and serve as your advocate throughout the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Hire personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY?
If you’re seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, hiring an attorney early on is very important. The problem with motorcycle accidents is that they are not like a regular motor vehicle automobile case because there usually is not no-fault coverage on a motorcycle to protect you from increased medical expenses. With no-fault, there are no deductibles and things such as that.
With motorcycle cases, if you don’t have private health insurance, you are going to have a difficult time getting your medical expenses paid for. You want to get an attorney involved right away because we want to make sure there’s proper coverage to make sure those expenses are paid, and we want to get our investigation done as soon as possible. Many times with motorcycle cases, the injuries are more severe than with a car because, of course, you lack protection from seat belts and a metal frame.
We want to make sure that we have all the witnesses’ information that saw the accident and can tell us exactly what they saw to make sure that the responsible party is held accountable. If you wait too long to get witness statements and find witnesses, number one, you may not find the witness, and number two, even if you have witnesses’ names and you wait six months to talk to them, their memory of what happened may be a lot worse than it would have been a couple days after the accident.
What Should I Know About Motorcycle Accidents?
If you are injured on a motorcycle, keep several things in mind. Number one is that the no-fault law in New York State does not apply. Most of the time, you’ll be on the hook for your own medical bills – unless you purchase specific coverage through your own insurance to cover your bike. We always encourage our clients who ride motorcycles – or who are frequent passengers on motorcycles – to make sure that they and their family members have adequate coverage in case of an accident. Needless to say, you should always wear a helmet, and get on a bike only with someone who’s safe, knows how to operate the bike, and follows the rules of the road. Keep those things in mind.
Are Motorcycle Accidents Different Than Car Accidents?
People have asked me about the differences between motorcycle cases and car accident cases, and one of the major differences is the fact that motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance. We’ve talked about this before. When you’re in a car, certain insurance coverage protects you when it comes to paying for medical expenses, replacing lost wages, and covering incidental expenses to a certain extent. With motorcycles, however, there is none of that because no-fault protection doesn’t apply. If you don’t have good health insurance of your own, you could be in big trouble as far as your medical problems are concerned.
My experience has shown me that the injuries related to so many motorcycle claims can be very, very catastrophic. If you don’t have health insurance available to help you with these things, it could put us in a deep hole as far as your lawsuit is concerned because the coverage on the other side may be limited. If you get hurt because of someone’s negligence, they may have only $500,000 in coverage – and your injuries are likely to be worth far more than that. If that’s the case, you may have so much in medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance that we could be in a difficult situation. I tell all people with motorcycles that they should make it their number one priority to have proper health insurance in place. You can buy extra medical coverage on your motorcycle policy; however, it’s somewhat expensive.
The biggest thing, when it comes to coverage on your motorcycle – as we’ve talked about before with regard to auto cases – is to carry supplemental coverage for your motorcycle. If you’re injured and the person who injured you has only minimal coverage – say $25,000 – as a motorcyclist, your supplemental insurance can be a lifesaver. I tell everybody to get up to half a million dollars in coverage, and have half a million dollars in supplemental coverage.
If you’re on a motorcycle, you need to have that coverage just in case you are hit by somebody who doesn’t have a sufficient amount. Once you get the $25,000 from that other driver, you go back to your own company for the difference. That’s $475,000 you can get from your own insurance company to compensate you for your injuries. It’s very important that motorcyclists carry proper health insurance and that they include the proper supplemental underinsurance coverage.
Can I Get Motorcycle Accident Compensation?
If you’re seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, there are certain types of compensation that you can receive. The two basic ones are your medical expenses and your lost wages. When I include medical expenses, I’m talking about expenses for rehabilitation, and expenses related to whether or not – if you’re seriously injured – you need somebody to take care of you. Do you need someone to take care of your home? Mow your lawn? Plow your driveway? Expenses like that can all be part of a lawsuit. We call that loss of services type damages, where you need people to help you do what you used to do before the accident.
The other part is the lost wage component. The lost wage component is not only your past wages, but going into the future. If you’re a construction guy and you have a broken leg that prevents you from carrying things, you might be out of luck and have to be retrained and seek different employment, or you may not be employable at all in the future. There could be a significant lost wage component into the future.
The other part of it, of course, is pain and suffering damages. Your pain and suffering damages may be the biggest part of your case, especially if you’re not able to do what you used to do socially, and if you’re not able to do the things that you used to love to do. Say you’re a very active athletic person and you can’t do those things anymore, you may have substantial pain and suffering damages. A lot of times, people that have these pain and suffering damages become depressed and their relationships with their family become strained. There’s a value to that, and you have to make sure that you’re fully compensated for all of those losses.
What if I’m Forced Off the Road on Motorcycle?
Many times, drivers of motorcycles are forced off the road by other vehicles – because maybe that other vehicle didn’t see them – and they’re injured. The question becomes, can you recover in that situation? If there was no contact between the vehicle and your motorcycle, and that vehicle takes off and leaves the scene and we never find out who it was, you may be out of luck because there are provisions in the New York State Law that says unless there’s contact between a vehicle and the motorcycle – and we don’t know the identity of that vehicle that may have ran you off the road – then you’re going to be in trouble.
It’s important to try to at least get some identification of that vehicle. If that does happen to you, maybe there’s some video in the area. Many people have their own home security systems that have video and show the road, and it might be the difference between finding a car and not finding a car. Many times, there isn’t contact with the motorcycle, but the motorcycle has to take evasive action and ends up in a ditch, seriously injured. We want to make sure that we can find that vehicle – especially if there’s no contact – to make sure that you’re compensated.
Can I File Because of Hazardous Roads?
Many times, motorcycle accidents happen because roads are poorly maintained. When that happens, you have to make sure that your investigation is done even quicker because usually you’re talking about a municipality being responsible for what happened in the roadway. A municipality has an obligation to maintain the roads so you have to make sure that you identify which municipality owns the road. It sounds simple, but it isn’t always simple sometimes. Sometimes you have municipalities caring for and having maintenance contracts on certain roads, and things of that nature, so we need to identify that.
We have to file what’s called a notice of claim with the municipality to make sure that they’re on notice of the claim, and then you might only have a year and 90 days from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. We want to make sure those things are done in a timely fashion. The big thing, too, is we want to get an investigation done. If your injury was caused by a hole in the road, or your injury was caused by some construction activity that was going on in the road at the time, we want to make sure that we can identify who these construction companies were, that caused your accident.
We had a case like that recently where we got an investigation done right away and we were able to determine the exact construction company that put down the loose stone on the roadway, and we ended up getting a nice recovery for a client. It’s important to get those investigations done early so we can identify who is responsible for the defect in the roadway.
How Does a Motorcycle Accident Insurance Investigation Work?
After a motorcycle accident, many times you’ll see insurance companies for the vehicle that may have hit the motorcycle reach out to you. My hard advice is not to talk to them, especially until you’ve talked to personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY. You have to understand that the insurance company for the other vehicle does not have your best interest at heart. Insurance companies make money by not paying out claims, and not paying money to people that may have been injured, so whatever you say to them early on may be locked in and used against you for the rest of your case. Before you go talking to an insurance company, you should be talking to personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY first.
Many times, these insurance carriers want to offer what’s called a quick settlement – “Here, here’s a few thousand dollars.” – and some people are desperate because they don’t have medical insurance, they’re out of work because of their injuries, and they take a small settlement, and then they’ve extinguished their rights going forward with a claim. Our best advice is not to speak with the insurance carrier. If you do, you want to be there with personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY so the personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY can kind of control the conversation and make sure that they’re not delving into areas they shouldn’t.
Can I File If I Was a Passenger?
Passengers of motorcycles have just as much rights as anybody else to recover for their injuries. In those situations, you may have two insurance policies to go after. Say it’s a motorcycle/car accident. If the car did something wrong, you may be able to find some coverage for your pain and suffering and other damages through that car insurance policy. You could also go after that insurance on that motorcycle if we can show that the motorcycle driver also did something wrong in causing the accident. As a passenger on a motorcycle, you might be in a better position than the rider as far as getting full compensation of your injuries, because there’s a couple different policies that we can go after.
As with the driver of a motorcycle, the passenger has the same kind of obligations that we would like to see as an attorney, and that’s getting somebody involved right away. Get an investigation going, find your witnesses, and get recorded statements. If we were representing a passenger on a motorcycle we’d want to get a recorded statement from that driver of that motorcycle immediately, and get recorded statements from the drivers of the cars and anybody else that may have saw things, so we can preserve your claim.
What If I Was Partially at Fault?
Under New York law, even if you’re partially at fault for causing an accident it doesn’t extinguish your right to recovery. There’s a thing called comparative fault, which means that more than one person can be responsible for an accident. Many times, jurors are left to determine how much a car was responsible for the accident and how much a motorcycle was responsible for the accident.
You may have done something in operating your motorcycle. Say that you were doing 52 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone and a guy pulled out in front of you. Maybe you were doing something wrong because you were going a little fast, but still, this guy should have been aware of his surroundings and not pulled out in front of you. That may be a situation where you have two people held accountable. Just because you may have done something wrong doesn’t extinguish your rights, and you should still talk to personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY because we can help weed those situations out and make sure that you get a recovery.
Can My Insurance Help Me with Medical Expenses?
As the weather in Western New York breaks, we’re starting to see some good, warm weather. That presents the perfect opportunity for people in our communities to begin driving their motorcycles and enjoying that weather. Part of what that means, unfortunately, is that we will begin to see a lot more accidents involving motorcyclists.
As a motorcyclist, you need to know that, when you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you are not ordinarily covered by no-fault. That means you would have to pay for any medical costs incurred for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident – either directly or by using your private health insurance – unless you purchase specific additional coverage to cover injuries that occur while you’re operating your motorcycle. If you are a motorcyclist who intends to enjoy the motorcycle season here in Western New York, you must make sure to consider talking with your insurance agent or contacting your insurance company about purchasing additional coverage that will pay your medical bills through your motorcycle insurance, as opposed to personal insurance, if you are involved in an accident.
Can I Still File if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
Clients sometimes ask whether they can still proceed with a motorcycle claim if they weren’t wearing their helmet. Although we always encourage our clients to wear helmets for their own protection and safety, it is still possible to bring a claim in situations where you’re injured on a motorcycle while you weren’t wearing your helmet.
Depending on the nature or extent of your injuries, and which body parts were injured, your damages may not be affected by whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time. You shouldn’t limit yourself by deciding against bringing an action because you weren’t wearing a helmet. Instead, reach out to personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY, have them investigate, order your medical records, and get the facts of your case. Then, you can see whether failure to wear a helmet really makes a difference. Of course, we always encourage everyone to be safe on the roads and wear their helmets.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, we want to help. Our attorneys are experienced in motorcycle cases, and we can help you successfully protect your rights and earn maximum compensation for your injuries. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. Contact experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY today to learn more about your legal options.
Construction Accident Attorneys Erie County, NY
As a construction worker, your obligation is simply to use the safety devices that are available to you. Sometimes when you do not do this and you are injured, this can be a hindrance in bringing a third-party claim. This will not necessarily eliminate such a claim, but your failure to use those safety devices can impede us from bringing a successful claim. Employers are the ones who are ultimately responsible for providing the proper safety devices. If you are not provided the proper safety devices, you will have a claim.
New York Scaffold Law
Insurance companies always want to change the Scaffold Law, but this law serves an important purpose: it puts a non-delegable duty onto general contractors and owners of property when they are doing construction work to make sure that there are proper safety devices in place when people are working from certain heights.
Often when injuries happen because of an elevated-related work hazard, the injuries are severe and permanent. They are putting the onus on the people who are in the best position to make sure that these safety standards and safety procedures are followed. The Scaffold Law in general says that the owner of a property or a general contractor has the non-delegable duty of ensuring that standards are met and procedures are obeyed. An owner or a contractor cannot pass that responsibility to somebody else; he or she must verify that there are proper safety devices in place to prevent injuries from an elevated-related work height.
Responsible Party for a Construction Accident Injury
In New York State, you cannot sue your employer directly for injuries that happen on a construction site. However, the case may be different for subcontractors and those who work for a contractor hired by an owner. If your injury is caused by the negligence of somebody else who is not within the employment of your employer, you may have a claim against that employer or the relevant subcontractor.
As stated, according to the Scaffold Law in New York State, general contractors and owners of property have a non-delegable duty to make sure that people are kept safe on a job site when elevated-related work hazards are present or likely. In those situations, you can sue if you are not a direct employee of the general contractor. You can sue both the general contractor and the owner of the property. Those are scenarios in which early attorney involvement can help you to determine where responsibility lies.
Telling Employer About Your Construction Accident Injury
The law requires that there be immediate notice to the employer. If the employer does not know that you have been hurt on the job, there can be controversy later regarding whether you were in fact hurt on the job. The insurance company that represents that employer at the workers’ compensation board will then allege that the injury did not happen at work, attempting to discredit and lay the blame on the employee.
If you are injured at work, you need to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Sometimes injuries are obvious; for example, if you fall into some sort of an excavation site, you will likely have a witness to your injury. In the event that you are injured at work and someone else did not hear or see the incident, especially if the injury relates to your back or your shoulder, you need to notify a colleague and your employer if you trip and fall and tear up your knee or tear up your ankle. People are going to be there to assist you.
In many of the cases we have overseen, our clients have been unaware of their responsibility to let their employer know. Every employer should possess workers’ compensation board forms, which you must ask your doctor to complete. Most of the doctors in New York know exactly how to fill out workers’ compensation forms.
Rights if Working as a Subcontractor
Some of our clients who were either subcontractors themselves or working for subcontractors have worried that they did not have valid claims. This is not true; it does not matter if an individual is a subcontractor to a general contractor or to an owner of property. If you are injured because of the negligence of somebody else on that job site, even the general contractor, you could have a claim. Because this situation may appear unclear, it is important to seek personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY guidance right away.
Our office hires investigators, does its due diligence, determines which witnesses are available, and finds out which contractors could be responsible for certain employees and activities on the job site. Immediate attorney involvement is necessary, as the construction site may not remain the way it was at the time that your New York construction accident occurred. When you are a subcontractor, prompt action is even more important because you want to make sure that your case is filed against the responsible parties.
Filing a Claim and Seeking Protection for a Erie County, NY Construction Accident
Who Pays for My Medical Bills After a Construction Accident Injury?
Workers’ compensation insurance policies are set up so that, no matter who is at fault, the workers’ compensation insurance policy covers the medical expenses of the injured party. In the event that you sustained an injury on the job and you are not sure who will pay your medical bills, rest assured that workers’ compensation pays everything. It’s even different than if you have health insurance.
If you go to a doctor, you will be asked for your Workmen’s Compensation Board number, or WCB number. Once your medical provider verifies this information, you will not be responsible for co-pays, and you proceed until someone challenges it. You get all your medical treatment covered, even surgeries, even second.
Can You Sue Your Employer for Negligence?
The overwhelming majority of the time, you may not sue your employer on the grounds of negligence. You are restricted to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Sometimes this inability to sue can prove to be a major hindrance; in one of our current cases, a client has been forced to replace one of his eyes due to a workplace injury, and he is unable to sue his employer for a situation that is truly the employer’s responsibility. Unfortunately, he will only be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
If a third party is at fault for your injury, however, you do have the ability to make a claim against the third party. Workers’ compensation exists to protect employees, allowing them to forego the burdensome responsibility of proving negligence in order to gain some recovery for their injuries.
Afraid of Being Fired for Filing an Injury Claim?
Section 120 of the Workers’ Compensation Law makes it illegal for an employer to terminate an employee because the employee has filed a claim. When claims are brought against employers for wrongful termination, though, they are not easy claims to prosecute. It must be definitively determined that the reason for the firing was the filing of a claim, and intent can be challenging to demonstrate. Employers will try to dodge responsibility and assert that the reason behind the firing was the need to replace the employee. The conversations that you have with your employer at the time that you are injured or fired are critical and must be recorded by you on paperwork as soon as you can. This way, it can be verified that the employer is terminating you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Claims in Which You Are Blamed for Your Injury
You are always eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim, whether you were responsible for your accident or not. Even if, for example, you fall off a ladder, there are certain provisions within the construction codes in New York State that you may use in your defense. When using a ladder, employers have to make sure that there are certain safeguards in place. If someone is on a ladder, the worker is required to use tie-offs, have someone else holding the ladder, make sure that the ladder is positioned properly, and ensure that the ladder is in working condition. Do not automatically assume that you do not have a claim because you think you may have done something wrong. Many times, there are certain safety standards that the employer, the general contractor, or the owner of the construction site was not following, and this lack of compliance with regulations could lead to a third-party claim, granting you compensation for your injuries in addition to workers’ compensation.
Third-Party Construction Accident Injury Claims
A first-party claim is your claim against your employer for workers’ compensation benefits. If you want to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and other damages that you might have, you would have to file a claim against a third party, someone outside of that employer/employee relationship. A third party could be another subcontractor, a general contractor, or an owner.
You may want to make sure that you have an idea of potential third parties at the initial stages so that you can determine who is responsible for what on the construction site, allowing you to properly determine against whom you may file your third-party claim. To illustrate, people can be involved in automobile accidents while driving a company vehicle, and though these people may not be able to sue their employers for the accident, they can sue the individuals who caused the accident.
Filing Both a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Third-Party Construction Accident Injury Claim
Employees can file workers’ compensation claims and still preserve their right to sue other parties for their injuries. You cannot receive medical coverage without filing a workers’ compensation claim, but if you do have a third-party claim, the workers’ compensation carrier will assert that it has a lien, and there are certain provisions in the workers’ compensation law that give the carrier that right. You may have to pay some money back to the workers’ compensation carrier once a case is settled.
Hiring personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY
The Best Time to Hire personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY
If you’re injured on the job, you need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY like our firm provides. You need that sooner rather than later. The reason for that is that witnesses forget things quickly, and it’s important to have an accident attorney in our investigative team out there to look at the site immediately and measure it because cites change. If it’s an excavation site, you know they’re going to finish the job whether you got hurt or not. They’re going to move on, so you need to get pictures.
This can be critical to winning lawsuits. The earlier the better on a Erie County, NY accident attorney. We’ve sent investigators out the afternoon of injuries just to make sure we’re able to retrieve and save the worksite and what it looked like and get early statements from people if we can. People tend to forget things, even serious accidents. They can’t remember this or that date that it happened or where they were standing or how badly hurt the person looked at first instance. It’s critical to get a construction litigation attorney such as provided by our firm out just as soon as possible to get statements and to take pictures.
Do I Need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY?
A workers’ compensation lawyer is not necessary in certain situations. If you have lost a finger or shattered your back in an accident, you probably need a workers’ compensation lawyer. If you have a more serious injury, you will need personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY to make sure that your rights are protected. However, if you have sustained a simple, routine injury that will keep you out of work for a couple of weeks, the workers’ compensation wages will kick in automatically, and you will not require personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY. You will merely receive some workers’ compensation wages through your carrier and place of employment.
New York Construction Accident Success
We have handled all types of New York construction accidents, including falls from ladders, bridges, buildings, and scaffolding. We have represented people who have been injured because their worksites were unsafe. We have assisted in claims regarding incidents in which people were hit by falling objects and not protected.
We have experienced the most success with the cases in which we became involved early. For these cases, we visited the site of the accident, took photographs of the site, talked to the witnesses, and obtained fresh accounts about the incident. Representing a client at the beginning of a case is key, as the recollections of witnesses several months after an accident are not as clear as they should be. Clients who have asked for our help soon after they have been injured tend to receive million-dollar verdicts and settlements.
Slip and Fall Lawyers Erie County, NY
If you have a slip and fall injury that occurred on someone else’s property in New York you should call an experienced personal injury attorney right away.
New York has slip and fall premises liability laws to protect you if you suffer injuries due to neglect on another person’s property.
An experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY can help you file a claim for any injuries that are the result of equipment that is used on the property. Also, injuries that may be a result of another person’s actions on the property may be the responsibility of a property owner, especially if the owner fails to provide adequate security on the property.
A “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” is the generic term for an injury which occurs when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. It includes falls as the result of water, ice or snow, as well as uneven changes in flooring, poor lighting or a hidden hazard without a sign, such as a gap or hard-to-see hole in the ground.
Trust Our Experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY
Although some premises cases, such as “slip and fall” cases, can seem simple, in some states the law now favors the premises owner. Thus, in assessing a premises liability case, it is often helpful to consult with a personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY. Here at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP we take these issues seriously to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Fall-related injuries are of large concern, mostly to older individuals. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2005, 15,800 people aged 65 and older died from slip and fall-related injuries, 1.8 million aged 65 and older were treated in emergency rooms for slip and fall-related injuries, and over 433,000 of these people were hospitalized.
Our personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY Will Fight to Get You the Compensation You Deserve
If you are on someone else’s property and injure yourself as the result of a dangerous condition, the landowner or business proprietor may be liable for your injuries due to premise liability. If you are a property owner and someone injures himself on your land, you may find yourself legally responsible for his or her injuries. Either way, you should seek the advice of personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY right away. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys in Erie County, NY for a free consultation. Let our experience work for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall on a Residential Property?
First, be sure to gather any evidence you can, and do it sooner rather than later. Witnesses forget. Evidence is lost. The contributing condition may be repaired or replaced. Taking pictures, making sure that you get witness statements, and collecting evidence are all very important. Reach out to counsel sooner rather than later too, so that they can immediately begin their efforts toward gathering that all-important evidence for you. Especially in a slip and fall case, that evidence gathering can make or break your case.
Should I Notify the Property Owner After a Slip and Fall?
Although the answer to that question is yes, I would caution you to remember that, in many situations, it’s best not to notify the property owner right away. It’s more important to reach out to an attorney first so that they can hire an investigator, perhaps send someone out to the property to take pictures, get statements, and speak to other people who may have been injured by that same dangerous condition. If you notify the property owner before taking those steps, they may get rid of some evidence or repair the condition that caused you to fall, and you can’t recreate that condition. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s important to reach out to counsel first and have them take the appropriate steps, including notifying the property owner.
How Long Will My Slip and Fall Case Take?
Slip and Fall cases can take anywhere from six months to six years to resolve. Sometimes they take longer because of how much the other side fights. Sometimes we may have three or four people that we’re trying to hold responsible for a slip and fall accident, and then you have these other defendants filing motions, either against you or each other, to try to get out of a case. When that happens, you get the courts involved. When the court is involved, they have to make decisions, and those decision can be appealed. If they’re appealed, it could take a year to a year and a half for a case to be appealed. That’s why you see sometimes that these cases take multiple years.
How Long Do I Have to File?
There are certain time limitations to filing slip and fall claims, just like any other claim. If it’s a case involving a municipality – say you’re walking down the City Hall steps and you fall on ice –you may only have 90 days to file what’s called a notice of claim with that municipality, and a year and 90 days from the date of the accident to file your actual lawsuit. When you’re involved with a municipal situation, you really have to make sure you act quickly and get your notices out, and do a quick investigation, so you can determine what, if anything, the municipality did that caused the condition resulting in your fall.
The other slip and fall situation is maybe a private entity. Usually there’s a three year statute of limitations to bring claims in the private entities. Say you’re going into a Walmart or some other “big box” store, and you slip on something on the floor or you slip on ice in the parking lot, usually they have three years to file a claim. Do we recommend waiting three years? Of course, we do not.
We preach over and over again that it’s good to get these claims filed and started right away, so we can make sure that we have our witnesses. We make sure that we have our video evidence preserved. Many times, these businesses have video and if you don’t put them on notice right away, they either destroy the video or it gets written over every 30 days, and you may have lost your opportunity to find critical evidence that will support your case.
Are Tripping Hazards a Reason to File?
Tripping hazards are a big thing that we see in a lot of our trip and fall cases. Tripping hazards could be a lot of different things. It could be a rug that wasn’t put down properly. It could be a hole in a sidewalk. It could be a piece of strip from a door that became dislodged. It could be a lot of different things. When you see these types of imperfections involving a trip and fall case, you need to make sure that you get somebody out there and get photographs, and get measurements, and stuff like that. Try to interview people: how long was that hole there? How long was that defect in the stair? How long was that railing loose? When you have a defect-related case, there are a lot of things you want to do right off the bat to make sure that you preserve your claim.
Can I File for a Faulty Handrail?
Sometimes injuries are caused on staircases by a faulty handrail. They’re not secured properly, the handrail’s too low, or it isn’t graspable. You’ve probably seen these stairways where they have 2x4s or 2x6s as handrails. Well, that’s not good enough. The law requires that you’re able to grasp onto the railing, in case you do stumble, and that it prevents you from falling.
Railings serve a purpose. Railings make sure that if people do happen to stumble on stairs – because people do –handrails are there to make sure that they don’t fall. You have to make sure that that handrail is properly secured, that it’s the right height, and that it’s proper as far as being able to grasp onto.
It’s very important, in these types of cases, to get photographs, measurements, things of that nature. We have code enforcement experts that we use on a regular basis, that get out and get the proper measurements, and then we can look at building codes and property maintenance codes to determine whether or not the owner of the property was in compliance. If they weren’t in compliance, you have a pretty strong case.
Can I File for a Slip and Fall Injury on a Faulty Step?
We’ve handled quite a few claims involving defective staircases. In fact, we’ve had a couple recently that almost mirrored each other. Several factors must be considered, including whether the stair treads are uniform. In other words, is each step the same height as the one before it? Sometimes, we see deviations where one step is nine inches high and the next only seven inches high. Other times, staircases are too narrow or the railings aren’t graspable. When I say graspable, I mean that you should be able to grab a hand railing and get a strong grip by putting your hand far enough around it to secure your hold. Many times, we see railings that are inadequate, and some of that causes clients to fall.
You’ve seen those railings that look like a 2×6 or 2×4 – and I know people think they look kind of cool – but people need something they can grab onto to prevent themselves from falling. Let’s face it, any number of things can happen on staircases. For instance, there could be slippery substances on the stairs that can cause people to fall. It’s important to make sure that, when someone is about to slip and fall, they can at least try to prevent their fall. If the railing isn’t sufficient, that’s not going to work.
We consult with several experts to help us with those cases and, over the years, we’ve gained a wealth of expertise about what to look for with stairways. If we can’t get an expert out there right away, we go to the site ourselves to take pictures and measurements, check railing heights, look at the stair tread, and evaluate the widths and heights. We also make sure to note whether there’s a slip-resistant surface on the stairs. All those factors come into play when determining whether or not someone was negligent or responsible for your injuries.
How Do I Prove I Wasn’t at Fault?
Many times, when we get involved in these cases, the other side tries to blame you for your accident, that you weren’t being careful enough when you were walking. Well, how do we disprove that? One, of course, is by eyewitness testimony. You get your witnesses to say, “You know, I saw her walking in the store. She wasn’t running; she wasn’t doing anything crazy.” One thing they always say is, “What type of footwear did you have on?” “Well, I had good footwear. They had a good sole on them. It wasn’t like I was running around in flip flops, or bad shoes, or things like that.”
Getting your witnesses involved right away and getting an investigation done helps get rid of that defense that you did something wrong. We want to make sure that we get that investigation done and have our witnesses to show that you didn’t do anything wrong. Part of that investigation, many times, involves video. If there’s video that shows your fall, great! It might show that you did nothing wrong and that it was totally a result of the imperfection or the slippery stuff that was on the floor that caused the accident, and nothing that you did.
Can a Warning Sign Ruin My Case?
A warning sign can affect your slip and fall claim because it’s putting you on notice that there’s a dangerous condition and that you should be more careful. If you’re going into a department store and you see “wet floor” signs, and you decide, well, I’m just going to run in the store, knowing you see those signs, then you weren’t careful. That could affect your ability to recover. It also comes into play where you may see these in stores where they have uneven pavement coming in and out of a store or some businesses. Because of their old structures they’re not quite surface level, and they may have signage.
When you see those types of signs, you have an obligation, as a pedestrian, to obey them and watch where you’re going. Those things can be used against you, so if you see those warning signs you have to, of course, be careful of what you’re doing, but sometimes even the warning signs aren’t good enough. Sometimes floors are just so slippery and wet, and you’re being as careful as you possibly can and you still go down. Then, the owner of the property is on the hook.