New York City, New York (PressExposure) June 08, 2011 -- According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, the number of slip-and-fall accidents among subway riders has increased significantly. According to the article, "there were 1,488 accidents with at least one straphanger claiming an injury in the first three months of the year - up from 1,244 all of last year."
Nobody expects to be injured, but a personal injury that was caused by another person, a company or a governmental agency, may establish the basis for a lawsuit.
Laws are strict and complicated. Therefore, one should consult with a personal attorney as soon as possible after the incident to find out which courses of action are available and appropriate.
"Each type of lawsuit has its own statute of limitations - a set time limit for starting the lawsuit - which will be explained in detail by an attorney. If an injured person waits too long, the opportunity to sue the other party may be lost," said Paul Dansker, Esq., co-founder at Dansker & Aspromonte. Following are a few examples of injuries which may warrant a lawsuit.
Motor vehicle accidents and "slip and fall" injuries fall within the category of negligence cases that allow three years from the date of the accident to commence a lawsuit in New York State. Beyond this point, in the majority of cases, one cannot sue, regardless of the severity of the pain - even if one has experienced permanent disability.
A medical malpractice case against a doctor or hospital has a two-and-a -half year time limit. However, the time limit for commencing a lawsuit may be extended if the injured person is actively undergoing treatment for the condition by the same doctor or hospital that caused the malpractice or if a foreign object was left in his/her body.
Governments and municipalities set their own limits and procedures for lawsuits. The City of New York, for example, has a shortened statute of one year plus 90 days, but a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident as a prerequisite to any suit involving negligence for personal injuries.
The time limit can be interrupted by a tolling period that stops the lawsuit "clock." This means that certain circumstances may necessarily extend the statute period. Most commonly, this occurs in cases that involve a minor child. In New York State, for example, the tolling period lasts until a child reaches 18 years of age, due to the limited capacity of an underage child to make decisions on his/her own behalf. In effect, the courts will frequently allow the action to remain on hold until the child reaches the age of eighteen, but not in all cases and not in every jurisdiction.
Tolling also stops the case clock in the event of death or insanity of a party. In those cases, a guardian is appointed by the court to oversee the litigation on behalf of the person claiming the disability, and the statute will be extended to accommodate that action under the same theory that the injured person cannot represent him/herself due to a limited capacity to understand the case. Insanity, in this instance, must be proven in court in order to get the benefit of the extension of time.
The most common cause of personal injury is the automobile accident. As an injured victim, one has the right to sue to recover money for pain and suffering, as well as for physical and psychological impairments caused by the accident. No Fault benefits will be paid by the insurance company covering the vehicle the injured person was in. All reasonable medical, hospital and other necessary expenses, including lost earnings, up to a total of $50,000 will be paid regardless of fault.
Typically, the money awarded to an injury victim from a lawsuit or settlement comes from the insurance company providing liability insurance coverage for the vehicle and driver that caused the injuries. In some cases, the other driver's liability coverage may be too low for fair compensation. If the person injured was operating the motor vehicle and has uninsured motorist coverage on that vehicle, the injured party's insurance company may pay him/her additional money in consideration of the injuries, above and beyond what is received from the other driver's insurer.
One's rights are slightly different if neither that individual nor household members own a motor vehicle and an injury is caused by an uninsured motor vehicle. Under this scenario, the injured partymay have a right to make an uninsured motorist claim in New York State with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. The system makes money available to victims of injury by an uninsured driver, but the monetary claims are limited in New York State to $25,000 per person per accident.
If an injured party suspects that the other driver may have been consuming alcohol, he should be sure to tell his attorney. An impaired driver causing an injury can be sued for negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Furthermore, the bar/restaurant - and in some cases even the individual - that served alcohol to the other driver may be liable for violation of a law. A bar that is found to violate this law must pay monetary damages to any third person injured due to that intoxication.
The legal process for injury victims has so many limits and exceptions that the best strategy is to consult with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in this field. In the initial conversation, ask which parties can rightfully be sues and what time limits apply so there is minimal risk to missing a statute and losing your right to recover for sustained injuries.
Additionally, ask how much experience the lawyer has in court. In almost all cases, insurance companies and municipalities will pay more to the experienced litigator because they know that if they don't settle, there is a strong likelihood that a jury will award even more than they would have paid voluntarily in a settlement.
Knowing one's rights is always the soundest strategy.
Paul Dansker is co-founder of Dansker & Aspromonte Associates, the New York personal injury law firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents; slips, trips and falls; medical malpractice; brain injuries; and more. Dansker has represented thousands of clients and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars on their behalf. For additional information, visit Dankser & Aspromonte.