Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal Injury Lawyer

litiGator

New York, NY

Male, 34

I represent all types of accident victims who have suffered injuries through the fault of others. Whether it's a motor vehicle accident, trip/slip and fall, injured on the job, wrongful death, products liability, toxic torts and many more, I help my clients receive compensation for their medical bills, lost time from work and the pain and suffering they have endured and will continue to endure from their accident.

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Last Answer on April 24, 2013

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How many hours do you work per week?

Asked by RR almost 10 years ago

Before I answer this question, keep in mind I am definitely the exception and not the norm when it comes to the amount of hours I work. My day usually starts in Court, so it depends on what I'm doing on a given day. But usually I have to be in Court by 9:30-10. I usually leave the office around 6pm. I do not bill by the hour though, I get paid on a contingency fee (percentage of case I settle). If I had to watch my billable hours, I would definitely be working longer hours. I have friends that work over 60 hours per week. The amount of hours you work really depends on the field of law you are specializing in.

How do I get out of jury duty?

Asked by Slim666 almost 10 years ago

The bottom line is, if you don't feel you can be fair and impartial based on the facts of the case which the attorneys tell you about during jury selection, then you won't be on the jury. For example, if you're sitting on a car accident case and either you or somebody close to you in your life has been in a car accident and that experience would make it difficult for you to judge the facts of the case fairly, then you will be dismissed from the jury for cause.

What part of your job drives you the most insane?

Asked by Blue Lou almost 10 years ago

This question is easy. By far, the most frustrating part of my job is that the documents we need to prove our case are usually in the sole possession of the very person (or company) we're suing. Plaintiffs have the burden of proving their case. It's the plaintiff that must produce evidence sufficient to prove their case at trial. Defendants can sit back and do nothing at trial and still win if Plainitff hasn't proven their case. However, the only way to obtain the evidence we need to prove our case is to request it from the defendant. For example, if we have a client that tripped and fell because of a defective sidewalk, we have to prove "notice". Which means we have to produce evidence which would show that the defendant knew the sidewalk was defective but didn't fix it. This can come in the form of prior complaints, repair orders, maintenance and inspections records, etc. However, it is the defendant who possesses these documents. Thus, the only way we can win our case is if the person (or company) we are suing actually turn over the very documents that would incriminate them. So when we request the records from the defendant and we get the standard "none in our possession" response, there is simply no way to know if this is truthful or not.

How can we discourage frivolous lawsuits? Obviously we don't want companies to get away with selling dangerous products that they know are dangerous, but we also don't want artificially higher insurance costs because a few bad apples are living off of faked lawsuits. I've heard that in the UK, there's some disincentive for suing and losing (e.g. perhaps you pay the oppositions legal costs if you lose.)

Asked by girthy almost 10 years ago

We have something similar here to what you described in the UK, but it's very rarely used. Defendants can make motions for costs and/or sanctions based on "frivilous" lawsuits. However, this is rarely, if ever, granted. The lawsuit would have to be so blatantly frivilous which is usually not the case when dealing with what many believe are "frivilous" cases. While many people may not agree with someone's reason for suing, and may believe their case is "frivilous", that does not in and of itself make a case frivilous. If there is any legitimate basis for the lawsuit, then a defendant will not be granted costs and sanctions. There is a current system in place that does work for cases that have no legitimate basis. Many medical facilities have been shut down and their owner prosecuted for "treating" these plaintiffs and billing insurance companies. They, along with plaintiffs who fake accidents, can be brought up on charges of insurance fruad. If it is proven that people are intentionally faking accident to make up bogus claims, I have no problem with harsh punishments for these people. They actually make my job harder trying to prove my cases are legitimate because of the negative publicity these people give lawsuits.

Thanks for answering my previous question about courtroom efficiency. As a follow-up, are judges subject to any kind of "quotas" for their number of completed cases? In every jury duty situation I've found myself in, the only thing I could think of was, "If I moved this slowly at any job I've ever had, I would've been fired immediately."

Asked by Arghhhhh almost 10 years ago

No problem. Yes, Judges are subject to quotas. However, the more important question is, do the judges care? Some do and some don't. The ones that do try very hard to settle cases prior to trial. This way they move the case and they can get a new trial. The more they move, the better it looks for them if they want to get ahead (become an appellate court judge, etc). However, all too often, judges simply don't care. They're content with what they do, and if they're not looking to get ahead, there's no incentive for them to work hard. But there are some who do want bigger and better things, and when you get assigned to those judges, you definitely feel fortunate.

What % of personal injury cases do you think could have been avoided if the person making the claim had "had their sh*t together?" For example, I suspect that a huge % of cases are 400-lb people who slip and fall at the grocery store and get $10-20K out of it.... but someone who HASN'T been eating 7 Big Macs for breakfast for the last several years wouldn't have fallen in the first place. It just seems like suing grocery stores, doctors, etc is a way to make a living for a certain segment of the population, b/c big companies would rather have their insurance pay a little bit than go to court. Asked differently: How often do you see "repeat suers" and what % of the overall number of cases are they?

Asked by skeptical almost 10 years ago

I wouldn't say that a "huge percentage of cases" are overweight people who are "repeat suers", but unfortunately they do exist. And the reason I say unfortunatley is because everyone hears about these types of cases, or the McDonalds "hot coffee" cases, but don't hear about the legitamate claims because those don't sell newspapers. And these "frivilous" cases make it much more difficult to bring legitimate claims because the public has such a distorted view of all lawsuits and bunches the frivilous ones together with the legitimate ones. I would strongly urge anyone who is reading this to watch the HBO documentary "Hot Coffee". It definitley gives a different persective of lawsuits and hopefully will change your view and others about legitimate claims. But to answer your question, I do not believe that a large percentage of cases are repeat suers. It is well under 50%, probably closer to 20%. I feel that it probably just seems higher because those are the cases that are talked about most often and making the headlines.

I've been through jury duty several times, and one thing I cannot understand is why the judges don't seem to be the least bit concerned with efficiency -- they move as slow as molasses. Why is this the case? Typical government worker b.s.?

Asked by Arghhhhh almost 10 years ago

Unfortunately, jury duty is just the beginning. If you were ever actually selected for jury duty, you would see that it's so much worse while the trial is ongoing. Days that are supposed to start at 10am sometimes don't start until 11. Judges can end days at 3 even though they are supposed to work until 4:30. Don't get me wrong, most judges are busy people, but at the same time, there are judges who aren't exactly efficient with the time that they have. I've been on trial before that should have taken 2-3 days, but because of scheduling and lack of time efficiency, it's taken a week and a half. Some of it isn't the judges though. The state just passed new laws with respect to hours that are worked and now all judges are mandated to stop at 12:30 - 2 for lunch, and have to be done at 4:30. The court officers aren't allowed to work overtime and judges are not allowed to work without court officers in their courtroom. It has really slowed things down, because there were some judges that would work though lunch and even until after 5, but they are no longer allowed to.

Do lawyers find the term "ambulance chaser" offensive?

Asked by JudgeJewdy almost 10 years ago

I think it really depends on the person. I, for example, do not take offense. I take it with a grain of salt and just laugh at it. However, there are attorneys out there who are highly offended by it. The main reason is that “ambulance chasing” really isn’t as prevalent as it once was. Back in the 70's and 80's, there were a lot of “runners” employed by firms who had hook-ups at hospitals and police stations that would alert them to potential cases (this is where the term came from). This is highly unethical and illegal. Now, however, it’s more about the advertising, which is completely ethical and legal. So some attorneys do get offended since that’s really not the way the business is run anymore.

What made you decide to pursue personal injury litigation as your specialty?

Asked by JesseNJlaw almost 10 years ago

I was sitting through another boring business class in college when our business law professor assigned the class to read "A Civil Action." It's a book based on a true story about cancer clusters in Massachusetts caused by contaminated drinking water (similar to "Erin Brokovich"). After reading the book cover-to-cover quicker than I had any other book, I knew what I wanted to do professionally with the rest of my life.

Do you encourage clients to play up their injuries in the courtroom? Like with pity-inducing medical equipment (e.g. crutches, braces, wheelchairs)?

Asked by Steiny almost 10 years ago

No, we do not do that. It's not worth the risk (insurance fraud, destroying credibility of your client, etc). Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for everybody. I once heard a story about a plaintiff who was using a cane at his deposition. The defense attorney asked him about it and he said that it was given to him at the hospital and that because of his injuries, he's had to use it everyday since the accident (at the time of the deposition, it had been about 2-3 years since the accident). The defense attorney then asked him if he ever had to get a new cane and the plaintiff responded no, that he had been using the same cane everyday for 2-3 years. The defense attorney then asked to see the cane and he noticed that the bottom of the cane was brand new, without any wear and tear, scratches or any other kind of indication that the cane had ever been used prior. That plaintiff's case was immediately destroyed. As far as i'm concerned there's just no reason to work up injuries. The injuries are what they are and you have to work with what you have and simply try to maximize the value of your client's injury instead of trying to make the injury worse.

What's the most frivolous case you’ve handled?

Asked by GoWapnerGo almost 10 years ago

I don't know if this would fall under the category of frivolous since the woman had a legitimate claim, but it's definitely the case that made me feel the most uneasy about what I do. A woman was at a church watching a Christmas pageant when she was struck in the head by a mentally handicapped person sitting behind her. We sued the church for failing to provided adequate security for the guests at the play. Every time I was in court on the case, I felt extremely self-conscious about my peers hearing the details of the case.

How do you feel about the current state of medical malpractice?

Asked by staroflife almost 10 years ago

I can only answer this question for New York. Every state has their own laws, and in some states, where there is tort reform, my answer would be completely different. However, in New York, I am content with the current state of medical malpractice. What some people don't realize when they hear about multi-million dollar med mal verdicts is that alot of that money is going to future medical care and not in fact going into the pocket of the injured. These verdicts simply account for the amount of money that will be necessary to care for the injured party for the rest of their life. Obviously, the more seriously injured they are, the more care they will need, the higher the verdict will be. To limit the amount of recovery to the injured party is simply a travesty of justice. In my prior post I mentioned the HBO documentary "Hot Coffee". I am mentioning it again here because one of the stories they talked about was tort reform in Nebraska. A jury found that as a result of a doctor error, and brain damaged baby would need a bare minimum of $5.65 million simply for living expenses and to care for the child for the rest of his life. However, due to the tort reform mandated caps on damages in Nebraska, the family could only collect $1.25 million. This means that through no fault of their own, this family will no longer be able to care for their own child because they won't afford to pay for it. The family was forced to go onto medicaid to cover his health care, which means now the tax payers of Nebraska, instead of the insurance company for the doctor who was at fault, are now paying for the child's care. So yes, I am very happy with the current state of medical malpractice in the state of New York where there are no mandated caps on damages. For a brief synopsis of "Hot Coffee", go to this link: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/hot-coffee/synopsis.html

If I lose my case, but evidence surfaces afterward that would prove my innocence, can the case be reopened?

Asked by YourCousinVinny almost 10 years ago

It really depends on the type of case you're talking about and why the evidence wasn't uncovered initially. Most likely, no, you won't be able to re-open your case and you would be SOL. However, if you find out that the opposing side was intentionally withholding the information, you may be able to get a judge to re-open the case, but again, it depends on the type of case and in what manner the case resolved. If you lost the case, you can always appeal with the new information. In civil cases (personal injury lawsuits), there is actually a motion called a "motion to renew" which is brought when one side uncovers new information. But if you settled your case, it is more difficult to re-open the case.

Gloria Allred: tireless advocate of victims' rights, or shameless publicity hound?

Asked by Kyle almost 10 years ago

I think it's a little bit of both. She defnitely has a cause that she believes strongly in and loves fighting for. And she has had some high profile cases that made her well known and thus was sought out by television stations. But I also feel that any well known attorney has to be a little bit of a publicity hound. It's the old chicken and egg story. Did Gloria Allred become a publicity hound because she became well-known and was thus used by television stations or did she become well-known because she was a publicity hound? I definitely don't think she sought out to be a publicity hound, but her career path may have led her to that

How do you determine how much a client gets as a settlement? Is it based on other similar cases or is it determined on a case-by case basis?

Asked by Tiredteacher over 9 years ago

The answer to your question Tiredteacher is both. And ultimately, what determines how much a client settles his/her case for is what the client is wants to take. Most negotiations are based off of prior jury awards for similar type injuries. If you see my answer to the above question, then you know that sometimes, jury awards are just out of whack. So when negotiating, those out of whack awards are not taken into consideration. But there is definitely a range where most jury verdicts fall into for certain injuries, and it's that range where most negotiations take place. Then we take into account the different facts surrounding each particular case (i.e., how good of a recovery they had from their injury, how the accident happened, etc) and that helps us determine if we will be looking for the higher end of the range or the lower end. But again, it's up to the client. If the insurance company makes an offer in the range that we feel is reasonable, but the client doesn't want to take it, then we can't settle. Alternatively, if the insurance company offers what we feel is a low-ball offer, but the client wants it, then we have to take it.

When you're tasked with a case that you think is frivolous, can you refuse it? If not, how do you cope with representing this type of client? (Do you half-ass it?)

Asked by Craig almost 10 years ago

First and foremost, no, I would never half-ass it. Whether I agree with the lawsuit or not, the people who bring them were legitimately injured and deserve the best representation possible. As for picking and choosing my cases, no I can't. The senior partner assigns the cases to each attorney in the office. However, I am lucky to work at a firm that is reputable enough that we don't have to take each and every case that comes through the door. The partners screen every case before being retained, so while every case that we get may not be huge, they are also thankfully not frivolous.

Why do litigators have a say in jury selection? It seems odd that they can dismiss potential jurors simply because they feel it will decrease their chances of winning.

Asked by HannahBanana almost 10 years ago

The purpose of jury selection is to get 6 jurors (12 in criminal cases) that can be fair and impartial and not let their own life experiences, backgrounds, and prejudices affect their decision on the case. So, by law, there are two types of challenges a lawyer can use to dismiss a jury: challenges for cause and peremptory challenges. At jury selection, lawyers get an unlimited number of challenges for cause. This is basically when a juror can't be fair and impartial based on the facts of the case and the jurors own background/life experiences. Then, each lawyer also gets 3 peremptory challenges to use at their discretion to dismiss any juror for any reason (other than race, gender, religion, sexual preference, etc.). These challenges are used by attorneys usually for "gut feelings" that we have about one juror over another. So while it may seem that we are just dismissing jurors at random, we are actually limited to only 3 challenges. The rest of the jurors that are dismissed are because they can't be fair and impartial and won't be able to keep an open mind while they hear the facts of the case.

Are personal injury lawyers compensated with salary only, or is some of the compensation contingent on damages awarded in their cases?

Asked by BillySTL almost 10 years ago

All personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee. The client does not have to pay us for our services unless we are successful for them. Most personal injury attorneys' fees are 33% plus our costs and disbursements that we pay up-front. Medical malpractice is a little different as they work on a sliding scale based on the amount of the settlement or verdict. One thing clients need to look out for are personal injury attorneys who take their 33% before being reimbursed for their costs and disbursements. Attorneys are supposed to be reimbursed for their fees and disbursements and then get their 33%. Depending on the amount of the disbursements on the case, that could turn out to be a significant amount of money.

Can you give an example of a time where your client was a heavy underdog but something clever on your part gave him or her the win?

Asked by legalbeagle almost 10 years ago

There are two that I can think of. The first was the first trial that I ever won. My client had a stop sign at an intersection and the Defendant had the right of way with no stop sign. After stopping at the stop sign and looking both ways, my client proceeded and was T-boned by the defendant. By showing the jury photographs of the damage to my client's vehicle as a result of the accident, I was able to successfully argue that the Defendant must have been speeding at the time to cause the type of damage that was done. The second was when my client hit an oil slick in the road way and lost control of his vehicle striking a double parked car. However, I was able to successfully argue that the sole cause of the accident was the double parked car. It is against the law to double park, thus, I was able to prove that since Defendant broke the law, he was completely at fault even though it was my client who lost control of his car. My argument was that despite my client losing control of his vehicle, the accident would not have happened if that double parked vehicle was not there.

What was your biggest "win", dollar-wise?

Asked by Sammy almost 10 years ago

My firm's biggest win was $8.5 million. That was about two years ago. I assisted one of the partners on a mediation that settled for $2.25 million dollars. As for me, my largest that I received alone was a $550,000 verdict I got at trial about two years ago. However, like I tell all my clients, you don't want an injury that's worth this kind of money. There's no amount of money that's worth the pain and suffering endured in these cases. For example, the $8.5 million case involved a nine-year-old boy whose leg was amputated below the knee after scaffolding fell on him.

What case was your most gratifying win?

Asked by SherryLee almost 10 years ago

My most gratifying win was a case I tried about a year ago in Brooklyn. My client was acting as a good Samaritan and was injured while helping a potential rape victim. He was driving his vehicle when he heard a group of teenagers crying for help. Apparently one of their friends, a 17-year-old girl, was accosted by a cab driver who then attempted to rape her in the back of his cab. After hearing the cries for help, my client then took off after the cab in his car and eventually caught up to the cab. He blocked him in and the cab driver continued to proceed and struck my client's car. My client still proceeded to chase after him and eventually the police apprehended the cab driver, who eventually pled guilty and was deported back to his country. In the accident, my client tore his rotator cuff and had to have surgery. The jury awarded him $300,000. I felt very satisfied knowing the money was going to such a good guy.

When the economy went south a few years back, did the number of personal injury lawsuits skyrocket?

Asked by Cee7 almost 9 years ago

They didn't necessarily skyrocket, but I do believe that the personal injury field is recession-proof.  There may have been a few more lawsuits a few years back, but whether the economy is in good shape or bad shape, a case still needs to be legitimate to bring a lawsuit.  There may have been more people calling lawyers to inquire about possible lawsuits because they needed money, but ultimately, if the case is a loser, we're not going to take it. 

Are there ever any jury awards so disproportionate to the claim that even you shake your head?

Asked by jen over 9 years ago

Of course, all the time. Thankfully that's why we have Appellate Courts. It happens for both Plaintiffs and Defendants too. We're talking about a jury of 6 people, most of whom have never sat on a jury before. They're not experts and there's no magic number when it comes to awarding damages for injuries. A broken arm isn't worth "x" and a broken leg worth "y". The eventual amount awarded by the jury is completely subjective and therefore can be completely disproportionate to what is "the norm". But if that happens, either side can appeal and the Appellate Courts can alter the award. I know somebody who tried a case where a woman had to have a cervical fusion and discectomy (removed and disc from her spinal cord in her neck and replaced it with a metal cage, think Peyton Manning). Typically, the average jury award for a case like this depending on facts and circumstances is 250k up to over a million dollars. The jury only awarded 85k. So the plaintiff appealed and the Appellate Court bumped the award up to 350k. It works the other way too when juries give "runaway verdicts", Appellate Courts can reduce those jury awards as well.

When you're facing off against another lawyer, do ever feel like it gets personal between the two of you and you wind up genuinely disliking him/her?

Asked by object this about 9 years ago

More often than not, no.  Actually, it's quite the opposite.  Most of the time, lawyers actually get along and the arguing you see during a trial is just a part of the business.  There have been many times when my adversary and I have been going at it during trial, then we take lunch together and joke around with each other.  We all have a job to do and we know it, so we try not to let it get personal.  However, there are some attorneys who just don't get it and think that they have to genuinely be a dick to be good at their job.  When this happens, it can get very personal and you can truly wind up disliking that person.

Do you ever see or suspect that certain judges show favoritism along gender, race, age, etc?

Asked by Jamie Marz almost 9 years ago

Actually, I'm glad I can answer no to this question.  I really haven't noticed this before although I have seen favoritism from Judges before.  Usually though, that favoritisim is because a Judge may have a better relationship with one attorney over the other, or may dislike an attorney for the way he's behaved in his courtroom before.  I've also seen Judges show favoritism towards witnesses before, but I believe that was really just based on the witness either being really likeable or the witness lying through their teeth.  Thankfully, nothing to do with gender, race or age. 

How do lawyers pick jurors? What's the thought process?

Asked by Coma_toes almost 9 years ago

Picking a jury is by far the most politically incorrect process i've ever been apart of.  There are studies that show what kind of juror will be more favorable to a plaintiff or to a defendant.  Since, the thought process is to get people on your jury that will favor your side more than the other we use these studies as a benchmark for who we want on a jury.  Without getting too politically incorrect, i'll simply say this.  Juries in the Bronx give the highest verdicts of any county in America whereas juries in Manhattan, Westchester and Long Island tend to be alot more Defendant friendly and more conservative with their awards. 

I am currently involved in a personal injury case. Their side just submitted a doctor's report which contained untruths making it seem as though I was barely injured. Is this typical and how does the judge differentiate between what is truthful?

Asked by TiredTeacher almost 9 years ago

Unfortunately this is the norm in personal injury lawsuits.  The Defendant has the opportunity to send you to a doctor of their choosing to examine you and write a report to be used at trial.  These doctors are basically on the payroll of the insurance companies.  As long as they keep writing reports which state that the Plaintiff isn't injured, they will continue to use them.  These doctors, who rarely actually treat patients anymore as a part of their practice, make millions of dollars writing reports and testifying for insurance companies and defendants.  Ultimately, it's up to a jury to determine if they believe the treating doctors for the Plaintiff, or this doctor that was paid for by the insurance company.  It's a terrible system, but nothing can really be done about it.  It's up to your lawyer to make their doctor seem like a fraud to a jury.

Why are damage awards higher when the defendant is rich? I never understood that. If an NBA player assaults me, why can he face $ millions in damages, while a regular Joe faces much less? Isn't the crime the same?

Asked by defcon0 over 8 years ago

 

I was a passenger in my wife's car in a recent rollover accident and have a rib injury and bruised ankle. My wife was driving, the car was titled & registered in her name. Am I entitled to settlement? I live in New York State

Asked by Rick over 8 years ago

 

Would you say it is wise to pursue a JD, given that law schools are graduating more people than the market can absorb?

Asked by Steve over 8 years ago