Who is Liable for Sidewalk Injuries?

No one ever expects to walk down the sidewalk and succumb to injury. However, on occasion, conditions on the sidewalk may be hazardous and can lead to falls resulting in broken bones, sprains, herniated discs, head injuries, traumatic brain injury, and even permanent disability. Such injuries may arise due to snow or icy conditions; potholes; raised sidewalks; debris such as garbage, twigs, branches and/or slippery leaves.

It may be difficult to determine who is responsible for your sidewalk injury. However, in New York City, a statute exists that imposes liability on the owner of the property that abuts the sidewalk under certain circumstances, absolving the City of most liability. This means that the property owner is responsible for removing snow, ice, or debris; and repairing any damage or defects. Additionally, the City may issue violations for dangerous conditions and order the property owner to repair them. If the property owner fails to repair a dangerous condition within forty five days of notice, the City may perform the work and recover the debt from the owner, or else lien their property.

In order for a plaintiff to prevail in a personal injury action against a property owner for a sidewalk injury, the plaintiff must prove that the owner caused, or knew or should have known about the condition that led to the injury.

If you have suffered from an injury that was caused by a sidewalk condition, it is important to first seek any medical attention you might need. If possible, take a photo of the condition that caused the injury and get the contact information for any witnesses who observed the incident.

In dealing with personal injury cases, it is important to remember that there are statutes of limitation in as little as 90 days in some instances, which may bar a claim if brought too late. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a free consultation today.

Helpful Suggestions for Slip and Fall Victims

Slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of injury in America. For victims of slip and fall accidents, timely actions can significantly impact eligibility for damage awards.

Seek medical attention immediately. Following a slip and fall accident, a victim’s priority is to get immediate medical attention, regardless of whether an injury seems minor or not. Although many slip and fall accidents are relatively minor, some yield potentially serious complications such as fractures, broken bones, internal injuries and/or head trauma.

Aside from remedying immediate health problems, it is important to seek professional attention for your injuries and obtain a document, in writing, of a professional diagnosis of any injuries initially caused by the fall.

Document your claims as thoroughly as possible. Inspect the area where the slip and fall occurred for a potential cause such as snow, loose carpet, spilled food, ice or uneven concrete. Whenever possible, take photographs with a cellular phone or other picture taking device, which may help explain the cause of the fall. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Additionally, a victim should consider photographing his or her physical injuries that were a result of the fall.

If there are witnesses to your fall or the aftermath, write down their names, addresses and phone number. Witness testimony may be beneficial to supporting your argument in the case, should the property owner dispute the claims. For incidents that happen in businesses or stores, follow protocol by filling out the accident report and notifying the supervisor.

Your time to sue is limited; contact your attorney immediately. Under the New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214, victims who have injured in a slip and fall on someone else’s property has three years to file suit against the property owner. However, for those filing against New York State, the local government or most government agencies for damages, the General Municipal Law requires a Notice of Claims be filed 90 days after the claim arises, normally from the date of accident.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who handles such matters. Arze & Mollica, LLP provides legal representation to individuals who have suffered slip and fall injuries throughout New York City.  With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, and Manhattan, the firm also represents clients in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Call (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

New York Times Article Exposes Lapsed Safety on Construction Sites and the Accidents that Arise from It

Recently, The New York Times published an expose shedding light on the rising number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry over the last two years.  The investigation uncovered that although construction has risen by 11% in the last fiscal year, the rate of accidents has increased by a disproportionate 52%.

The Times called many of the accidents that occurred “completely avoidable,” concurring with a federal investigation’s findings of one of the accidents.  Many of the same safety violations continued to occur on the sites despite safety reports issued and lawsuits commenced.  According to a report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, many construction companies do not take violations seriously as they are aware of the limited number of OSHA inspectors and low penalties.

Most of the deaths and injuries that occurred on construction sites affected undocumented immigrants who may be fearful to speak out against safety violations on construction sites due to their legal status. The Times cited one recent tragedy in which an immigrant had fallen 140 feet to his death because he was not wearing a safety harness.  Additionally, guardrails had not been installed at the site, and the elevated platform did not meet the wall as required.  Investigators found that the worker had fake certification for safety training.  The safety administration fined the construction company $42,000 for these and additional violations.

Although the accidents that took place in Midtown over the last two years were highly publicized, they only made up approximately ¼ of the total accidents throughout the city.  Many more took place on smaller sites that employed non-union and untrained workers.

The Times referred to several tragedies that took place over the last two years on construction sites including the death of an immigrant worker from falling 14 feet due to lack of guard rails and supervision; the death of an immigrant who fell from a ladder because the construction company demanded jobs be completely quickly and without safety training; the death of a worker who fell through a floor opening as a result of slippery winter conditions that went ignored; the death of a worker who fell two stories and was not provided with a safety harness, extension ladder, or safe scaffold conditions.

Various agencies in New York City have begun cracking down and penalizing companies that disregard safety regulations.  For example, although criminality in construction accident cases has often been difficult to prove, the Manhattan DA’s Office filed manslaughter and other charges against two construction companies and managers last August.  The charges were filed after a worker was crushed to death as a result of willfully ignored safety regulations.  Additionally, the de Blasio administration is planning on implementing 100 additional building inspectors as well as new data tools and a code of conduct for the construction industry.  New York City’s investigation department also continues to conduct random inspections that it began in 2012 in an effort to deter the corruption that is so prevalent in the industry.

If you have been injured in a construction site accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who handles such matters. Arze & Mollica, LLP provides legal representation to individuals who have suffered construction injuries throughout New York City.  With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, and Manhattan, the firm also represents clients in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Call (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

“5 to Drive” Campaign Encourages Parents to Discuss Driving Safety with Teens

October 18-24, 2015 marked National Teen Driver Safety Week as declared by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The campaign, called “5 to Drive” encourages parents to discuss the five most dangerous and deadly behaviors in which teen drivers engage.

The five teen driving behaviors that cause the most injuries and fatalities include:

  • Drinking and driving
  • Texting/cell phone use when driving
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Speeding
  • Including more passengers than fit safely in the vehicle

It is important to discuss safe driving with teens.  As young and inexperienced drivers, they need to develop safe and responsible habits early on that they will carry with them into adulthood.  The campaign encourages parents to discuss safety measures with teens throughout the learning to drive process.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has cited motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for individuals 15-20 years old nationwide.  The statistics are alarming- in 2013, 2,614 teen drivers were involved in fatal accidents and another 130,000 were injured.  According to a survey, only 25% of their parents had discussed driving safety with their teen drivers.

The physical effects of a car accident can be devastating and include debilitating life long injuries as well as death.  If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Is a Botched Cosmetic Surgery Procedure Medical Malpractice?

People choose to undergo cosmetic surgery for many reasons, whether to improve self-confidence, or fix an aesthetic issue that may sometimes have resulted from an accident, etc.  Cosmetic surgery is extremely popular.  In fact, over fifteen million cosmetic surgeries were performed in 2014.  While the majority of procedures run smoothly, occasionally, a doctor can be negligent in performing their duties.  Procedures that are not performed properly can arise in severe injury, disfigurement, or even death.

Some types of injuries that may be the result of cosmetic surgery procedures gone awry include:

  • Complications arising due to anesthesia
  • Nerve damage
  • Bruising and blood clots
  • Infections
  • Internal organ damage
  • Blood loss
  • Dissatisfaction with the results
  • Death

It is important to do thorough research and make sure that the doctor you choose is qualified to perform the procedure and has experience doing so.  While some procedures may be riskier than others, it is wise to make sure that even if you are only having a minor procedure done, the doctor you choose has the proper experience and credentials.  While the results of a surgical procedure are never guaranteed, if the doctor’s care fell below the accepted standard of care in the field, you may be able to bring a claim for medical malpractice.

If you have had cosmetic surgery performed on you and suffered injury or disfigurement due to the doctor’s negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal remedies.  It is important to not delay in speaking with an attorney about your malpractice case, as there are statutes of limitations in place that may bar your claim after a certain amount of time.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Brooklyn Construction Site Wall Collapses Leading to Tragic Death of 19 Year Old Worker

Another construction tragedy recently occurred in New York City.  At a Bed-Stuy construction site, a cinder block wall collapsed killing a 19 year old construction worker and injuring two others.  At the site, a one story commercial building was being converted into a five story structure that would also include residential units.  The cinder wall was designed to hold back soil at the bottom of the building, but was not properly stabilized.

A complaint was received by the Department of Buildings last May, alleging that workers were not wearing masks on an asbestos abatement site, and that a wall at the location was “not stable.”  The complainant also took photos to document the violations.  Despite the Department of Buildings issuing a stop work order in July, the owner and contractor continued making repairs at the site.

The Department of Buildings had received a total of nine complaints related to construction on the site since August 2014 ranging from FDNY requests for structural integrity tests to citizens’ nuisance related complaints.  A city official had commented that proper precautions were not taken regarding the excavation, and adequate support was not provided at the site.  According to a New York Times article, the 19 year old victim of the collapse told his mother about several “close calls” that had occurred at work.

Construction accidents have been on the rise in New York City.  According to statistics provided by the Department of Buildings, the number of construction related accidents in the first half of 2015 is equal to the number of accidents that occurred in all of 2014.  The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has recently formed a Task Force to address the issue of construction site safety violations.

Construction accidents are frequently preventable with proper safety precautions.  If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed in a construction accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  Contact an attorney who is experienced in representing clients who have suffered injuries due to construction site related injuries.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Construction Companies Charged Criminally for Death of Young Worker

The Manhattan DA’s Office recently filed criminal charges against two construction companies for the death of a 22 year old worker last April. The companies allegedly ignored warnings issued by inspectors to the site that dangerous conditions existed and disregarded federal safety regulations. The excavation of the site went as deep as fourteen feet without the fortification required by both city and federal law for excavations deeper than five feet.

On the morning of the tragedy, another warning was issued regarding the unsafe conditions surrounding the excavation. After the inspector spent two hours persuading the supervisor to tell the workers to leave an unsupported thirteen foot trench, the supervisor finally called on the workers to leave. However, the victim did not understand English and was ultimately crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt that caved in on him. Ironically, the deceased worker had paid $500 for an OSHA training course in scaffolding safety, despite the company’s financial ability to provide it for him.

The general contractor, its senior superintendent, the subcontractor, and its foreman have been indicted for manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

Construction accidents have been on the rise in New York City over the last few years. Since January 2015, ten deaths have occurred due to construction related accidents. Last year, twelve construction related deaths took place, compared with two in 2013. The Manhattan DA announced the formation of a task force that will look into safety issues surrounding construction sites.

If you have been involved in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Limousine Accidents

When a person gets into a limousine, they expect to be sitting in a luxurious vehicle as they are driven by a professional driver safely to their destination.  Many people use limousines for special events such as weddings, proms, or other celebrations in addition to renting them for business purposes.  However, like other vehicles, even limousines can get into accidents despite how safe they might feel.  Accidents in limousines may result due to the negligence of the driver, or due to the recklessness of another driver on the road.

A limousine driver has a duty to passengers to exercise reasonable care in the operation of the vehicle to ensure the safety of the passengers.  On occasion, an accident can result due to a driver’s negligence.  Sometimes a driver can become drowsy due to working long hours, or they can even be intoxicated.  If an accident arises in such situations, the company is liable.

If you were a passenger in a limousine accident that resulted in injuries, the insurance policy of the limousine company will pay for your medical bills, under New York’s No Fault Law.  The amount covered by this policy is usually limited to $50,000 for a combination of medical bills and/or lost wages.  However, there are situations in which you may deserve compensation for your pain and suffering for the injuries you may have sustained in such an accident.

If you have sustained injuries, property damage, or the loss of a loved one occurred as a result of a limousine, or any motor vehicle, accident, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your eligibility for compensation.  An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your legal remedies and rights.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

What is the Scaffolding Law?

Construction workers spend a great deal of time on scaffolds.  In fact, 65% of those in the construction industry work on scaffolds.  Accidents related to scaffolds are attributable to 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities annually.  With most of construction work being done at dangerous heights, it is important that these workers have legal protection.  You are generally barred from suing your employer in most instances, if you receive Worker’s Compensation benefits. However, the Scaffolding Law provides a remedy to workers who have suffered a height related injury and imposes absolute liability on building owners and/or general contractors.

Unique to New York, The Scaffold Law (NY Labor Law Section 240) was enacted in 1885, at a time when construction was booming in New York City, and skyscrapers were beginning to be built.  For many years debate has ensued regarding whether the law should be reformed.  Those who urge reform argue that the “absolute” liability standard should be replaced with a “comparative negligence” standard which would reduce the costs associated with construction projects and lawsuit settlements.  Those in favor of the current law argue that workers are able to receive just compensation for injuries under the statute.

The Scaffold Law applies to any construction worker who is working at a height and is not restricted to scaffolds.  In fact, the Scaffold Law applies to any device that operates at a height, in addition to allowing recovery for falling objects.  Workers are protected by the Scaffold Law if they are engaged in erecting; demolishing; repairing; altering; painting; or cleaning a building.  Additionally, erecting any elevation devices such as slings, braces, ropes, or hoists, are also protected construction tasks under the law.

Routine maintenance or cleaning done are generally not tasks covered under the law.  Further, those who are engaged in working on a one- or two-story family home cannot invoke the Scaffold Law, but instead it only protects construction workers who are working on a “structure,” as defined by law.  The law considers a “structure” to be a building, a boat, bridge, tunnel, garage, etc.

If you are a construction worker who has suffered injury due to a height related accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about construction accidents to discuss your legal rights and remedies.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600.

More MTA Subway Riders Surviving Falls Onto Tracks

In New York City, riding the subway is a way of life for the 4.3 million people who ride the system each day.  It is the way most New Yorkers commute and get to and from work.  Using the subway system is also a fast and convenient way for tourists and natives to get to different locations throughout Manhattan and the boroughs.

Recently, there have been many occurrences reported of subway-riders falling onto the train tracks.  However, according to a recent article published by the New York Post, statistics suggest that fewer of these accidents are fatal.  However, serious injuries can nonetheless still occur.  So far this year, 74 people have been hit by subway trains, representing a 20% increase from last year.  Last year, 25 people who fell on the tracks were killed, as compared to 18 this year within the same time period surveyed.

Additionally, the MTA has been testing new technology that would alert train operators if there is a person or object on the train tracks.  Such life-saving equipment would include thermal imaging devices, closed circuit television cameras, and laser sensors.  Implementation of the new system is expected to begin between 2015 and 2019 and may be critical in helping to avoid or eliminate injuries suffered by subway travelers who are caused to fall onto train tracks.

It is important to exercise caution when waiting for the subway.  Some safety tips include:

  • Do not get too close to the tracks when waiting for the train
  • Watch the gap when boarding the train
  • Never attempt to get onto the tracks for any reason
  • Do not push and shove your way onto or out of the train
  • Be cautious of the closing doors
  • Consider taking a cab if you are too ill to use the train

Serious injuries can still result from falling onto the subway train tracks.  If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as a result of a fall or other injury related to the city subway system, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights and remedies.  Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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