If another person’s wrongful action causes you harm, you deserve justice and compensation.
The reckless behavior and neglect of others can cost you and your family more than you are capable of bearing. Medical bills, long recoveries, lost wages in addition to pain and suffering can affect you for the rest of your life.
In many cases, a personal injury may be minor, leaving you with a few bumps and bruises. In some cases, these personal injuries can be quite serious and life-altering. They may impact your emotional and physical well-being, along with the lives of your loved ones.
When you have suffered a personal injury at the hands of someone else, you need the help that only experienced legal representation can give you. You need legal advice so that you can understand your options, someone who can help you avoid making mistakes that will make you ineligible for compensation, and who can represent you in court.
Let our team of accident lawyers help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Start with a confidential consultation that’s completely free to you. We’ll answer the questions you have about your personal injury case and the possibilities that exist for compensation.
Below, you can learn more about this area of law. While the following information does not constitute legal advice (every injury is different, and every case depends on many factors), it may guide you to know what questions to ask your New York City personal injury lawyers.
Table of Contents
- Personal Injury Law – What Is It?
- The Basics of Personal Injury Law
- Common Types of Personal Injury Accidents
- Common Types of Injuries Resulting From a Personal Injury Accident
- Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney On Your Side
- Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury Cases
- Schedule a Personal Injury Consultation
Personal Injury Law- What Is It?
Personal injury law refers to the provisions in the law that allow individuals who have been injured in an accident to file lawsuits to claim compensation for the harm they’ve experienced because of the actions of others.
In general, the purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to help injury victims recover financially following an injury where another party was responsible.
While these lawsuits target specific damages, such as the debts incurred by medical bills, they may also include damages that can’t be easily calculated, such as pain and suffering, or emotional distress.
The Basics of Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law in the state of New York covers a wide variety of situations and injuries. The outcome of any personal injury case may depend on the type of harm done and the causes behind it. In the sections below, you’ll learn some details about the types of acts that can lead to personal injury lawsuits.
Personal injury rules typically apply to the following cases:
- Intentional acts
- Defective products
Intentional acts occur when a defendant purposely causes harm to another person, whether that harm is physical or psychological. The cases that involve these claims are known as “Intentional torts”.
Examples of intentional acts that may end in personal injuries
- Assault and battery
- False imprisonment
- Elder abuse
- Domestic violence
Many of these acts are crimes. The local prosecutor may choose to file criminal charges independently of your personal injury claim.
While the criminal charges won’t play a direct role in your case, a conviction could be used as evidence of your claims. However, remember that a successful conviction doesn’t mean your personal injury case will succeed, just as a dismissal doesn’t mean that your case will fail.
Accidents typically result when a defendant acts in a negligent manner, and their carelessness causes harm to another individual. These types of cases are referred to as “Negligence-based torts.”
There are considered to be two different levels of negligence. Ordinary negligence or just “negligence” is used to refer to common failures to take reasonable precautions against harm to others.
The next level is “gross negligence.” This term is used to refer to accidents that were caused due to an unusually high level of indifference or disregard. This type of negligence isn’t intentional, but it applies in cases where the person who caused the injury should have understood the likelihood that they would injure someone.
Examples of accidental acts that may end in personal injuries
- Running a stop sign
- Speeding in areas with significant traffic
- Failure to provide care for disabled patients
- Failure to consult patient allergies before administering care
- Failure to notify visitors/customers of risks such as slippery floors
- Failure to repair structural defects that lead to a collapse
If you were injured by an act of gross negligence, your case may involve a higher level of damages or additional punitive damages.
Defective products are products that are likely to cause injury because they are unreasonably dangerous or don’t operate as intended.
Consumers are considered to have the right to expect that the products they buy will be safe for the intended use and the procedures described in the owner’s manual. Manufacturers have a duty to design and manufacture products that are safe for use.
A victim who is injured by one of these defective products (for example consumer goods, vehicle parts, medical devices, or pharmaceuticals) can make a claim for compensation against the manufacturer.
Examples of defects that can lead to a lawsuit
- Defective designs that make products dangerous
- Missing safeguards
- Hidden defects
- Inadequate instructions or safety warnings
- Defective processes that lead to poisoning
- Toxic or carcinogenic chemicals
Defective products typically injure many people before they are removed from shelves. These types of lawsuits have the potential to become class-action lawsuits if enough people who have experienced the same harm form into a class of claimants.
Libel, slander, and defamation are considered to be causes of action for personal injury lawsuits if they result in harm to someone’s reputation. Defamation lawsuits typically apply when:
- A statement is made
- The statement is published
- You were injured by the statement
- The statement was false (true statements cannot be defamatory)
- The statement wasn’t privileged information (private conversations between patients and doctors or as part of an attorney-client relationship aren’t defamatory)
Defamation-based personal injury lawsuits may be able to recover several types of damages. The final award in these cases may include:
- Actual damages: Monetary damages that cover lost wages for any positions or lost profits from a business due to the false claim.
- Assumed damages: An amount estimated by the court to cover harm to reputation
- Punitive damages: An amount that is assigned to punish the defendant if they were found to be acting out of malice or engaging in deliberate fraud.
Common Types of Personal Injury Accidents
Even though personal injury is a broad field of law that includes many unique injuries, there are certain personal injury cases that are relatively common, including:
- Automobile accidents
- Product liability accidents
- Medical malpractice accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Wrongful death accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Public transportation accidents
When an individual (including motorists, pedestrians, or passengers) is injured in a car accident, they can seek compensation for their injuries and financial losses.
These cases are relatively common because of the frequency of motor vehicle accidents and the serious injuries that may result when someone is involved in one. It’s not unusual for a car accident to involve brain and spine injuries, amputation, or even paralysis, which can lead to lifelong complications.
Product Liability Accidents
When a person is injured because of defective products or improper warnings, they can seek compensation for their injuries.
These harmful products can include everything from dangerous drugs, consumer products, defective car parts, medical devices, chemicals, and toxic materials. Those that can be held accountable for these defective products include:
- Governmental entities
- Individuals who sold, designed or marketed the dangerous products
Medical Malpractice Accidents
Medical malpractice cases deal with injuries that result from a doctor’s inappropriate treatment or a doctor’s negligence.
Typically, in order to have a medical malpractice case, you would need to show that the doctor has broken a rule or taken inappropriate, incorrect, or negligent actions when treating a patient. Medical malpractice cases often involve:
- Surgical errors
- Medication mistakes
- Improper treatments
- Birth injuries,
- Pharmacy errors
- Failure to diagnose cancer or other serious health conditions
Medical malpractice claims can be challenging to pursue. Large healthcare organizations and their insurance providers will retain legal teams, and you may be pressured to sign statements surrendering your right to sue after the injury. You should speak to a personal injury lawyer before signing anything.
Premises Liability Accidents
When an accident is caused by a defective or dangerous condition on another person’s land, this is referred to as premises liability. These accidents can occur on commercial properties, including
- Grocery stores
Commercial property owners are not the only ones who have a duty towards the safety of others in their homes. Private homeowners can be the targets of lawsuits if they endanger their guests with reckless conditions.
In general, the dangerous conditions that often rise to a “premises liability” claim include slipping and falling, falling down a set of stairs because of faulty handrails, or unmanaged ice and snow conditions.
Wrongful Death Accidents
Wrongful death cases involve an individual’s death because of another party’s negligent actions. As a result of these actions, the family members of the deceased can pursue compensation for their losses.
Wrongful deaths may occur in any of the situations that are covered in this section. Auto accidents, defective products, and medical malpractice, for example, can easily lead to the death of a loved one in addition to severe injuries.
If an individual is killed or injured while working for their employer, they usually cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit against their company. This is because most employees need to file a claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act, which requires employers to provide their injured employees certain types of benefits.
However, depending on the circumstances, a third-party personal injury claim may be filed. That is why it is best to discuss the situation with an experienced New York City personal injury attorney to determine what legal actions you can pursue.
These accidents occur when an individual sustains injuries or damages due to endeavors to improve, build, repair, demolish, clean, or construct.
Usually, employees cannot sue their employer for on-the-job injuries. Workers’ Compensation often covers workers in construction accident cases, but that may not cover all of the bills and lost income that results from these injuries. If a third party was involved, a case is more feasible.
One of the following parties may be found liable for a construction site accident:
- Property owner
- Construction worker
- Construction company
- Machine manufacturer
- Contractor or subcontractor
- City or government agency
Pedestrian accidents are any accident that involves someone on foot being injured by another force, such as an accident involving a car or bicycle and a pedestrian.
Vehicle operators have an established duty to watch out for pedestrians and to observe warnings that pedestrians may be sharing the road (for example, at crosswalks). These accidents frequently involve catastrophic injuries to pedestrians involved.
Bicycle accidents can occur due to the numerous risks and hazards that cyclists face on the roads of New York City. Vehicles and unsafe conditions may injure cyclists due to poor maintenance, or pedestrians who are trafficking in areas reserved for bikers, forcing cyclists to make dangerous decisions to avoid injuring others.
Cyclists have little protection from either drivers or obstacles on the road. The injuries that result can easily be life-threatening or even fatal.
Public Transportation Accidents
Public transportation accidents typically involve accidents involving buses, trains, subways, taxis, and airplanes. Sadly, due to the number of people involved in these public transportation accidents, they can end up being quite devastating, often leading to significant injuries and multiple deaths.
Common Types of Injuries Resulting From a Personal Injury Accident
Depending on how the accident occurred or what happened, injuries resulting from this accident can range in type and severity. Yet, some of the most common types of personal injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries
- Internal bleeding
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The CDC defines traumatic brain injuries (TBI) as a disruption in the normal functions of the brain that are caused by a blow, jolt, or bump to the head, or a penetrating injury. However, this technical definition does not capture the misery that is experienced by those who suffer from these injuries.
Even mild cases of TBI may cause the following symptoms:
- Problems with coordination
- Mood swings, including violent outbursts
- Difficulty formulating thoughts or sentences
- Memory loss
- Sensory issues
TBIs can be particularly dangerous, since the full extent of your injuries may not be apparent until months after the accident. You may come to a settlement that doesn’t come close to compensating you for the medical costs and lost income that you’ll face over your lifetime. This is why it’s important to work with a personal injury law firm who understands the long-term possibilities of TBIs.
Head injuries involve any injury to the skull, scalp, or brain, and may affect any of the vital systems in the head, including the brain, spine, and sensory organs. The effects can range from mild bruising to traumatic brain injuries and concussions. For the most serious of these injuries, the effects can be excruciating, debilitating, and lifelong.
Head injuries may result in short-term or permanent:
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
- Speech problems
- Personality changes
- Loss of motor skills
In the worst cases, the accident victim may never fully regain consciousness or regain the ability to move freely. They may require permanent medical assistance, prescriptions, or assistance.
Neck and Back Injuries
Those with a neck and back injury can have localized tenderness, stiffness, and pain. Often, muscles on either side of the spinal column can spasm immediately after the injury and up to 24 hours later. Whiplash is one of the most common conditions associated with neck and back injuries. This is an injury to the soft tissues that support the neck. It can lead to long-term symptoms that include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, upper back, and shoulder regions
- Burning pains in the shoulder and/or the neck
- Short-term memory loss
Neck and back injuries can easily develop into permanent pain conditions that can make working in your current profession difficult or impossible. You may even suffer from paralysis. These injuries can require tremendous costs to treat, even if they can’t be fully resolved. You may have to take prescriptions for the rest of your life and undergo years of physical therapy or surgery.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can often result from damage to the ligaments, discs, or vertebrae in the spinal cord or the spinal column. They can stem from a sudden and traumatic blow to the spine that often compresses, crushes, or fractures one of the vertebrae. These types of injuries may play a role in car accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, or work-related accidents. Even mild cases can require a long recovery period. In serious cases, spinal injuries can easily lead to paralysis or permanent pain disorders.
Burn injuries are some of the most painful injuries that people suffer. Serious burns may happen when cars catch fire after an accident. It may also happen when workplaces or property owners don’t take the right steps to prevent scalding materials from reaching nearby people.
- Friction burns are caused when a hard object scrapes against the skin. These burns are often part of motorcycle accidents when a biker slides on the road.
- Thermal burns occur when skin cells start dying after contact with a searing-hot object. These burns may occur because defective products don’t have the right safety features.
- Radiation burns occur when the skin comes into contact with any source of radiation. Improperly applied x-rays and radiation therapy may lead to these burns, so medical malpractice is a possible factor in these burns.
- Chemical burns occur in response to acids, solvents and detergents. These burns may be part of defective product lawsuits.
- Electrical burns occur when you come into contact with an electrical current.
Burn injuries range from mild to dangerously severe. In the most severe cases, the treatment may last for years, and require repeated skin grafts and surgeries in order to repair the damage. It’s not always possible for victims of burn accidents to make a full recovery.
Paralysis is often defined as the inability to move, control, or feel anything in part or most of the body following an illness or an injury. Paralysis can be a consequence of many different injuries that result from neglect. It may occur as part of a car accident, motorcycle accident, or fall that takes place on an unsafe property.
It may be a temporary condition, but can easily last for your entire life. Lifelong paralysis may burden you with massive costs, including assistance from home aids or residency in assisted living facilities. These costs can be enormous, especially if you are left unable to work as a result of your condition.
An amputation is the removal of a limb that cannot be saved because of trauma or medical illness. These emergency procedures may be necessary as a response to car or motorcycle accidents. Medical malpractice that involves mistakes around the spine or nerves may also require amputation.
The costs of an amputation can be severe. Specialist surgeries may be necessary to preserve what can be saved. You may be unable to continue in your profession and be compelled to take a position that pays much less.
A personal injury case can help you limit the impact of some of these injuries. However, you may never really recover the quality of life that you had before the amputation.
Internal bleeding occurs when there is bleeding inside the body — usually in the belly cavity, chest cavity or muscles — because of some significant trauma. These injuries are unfortunately common in cases of serious car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or pedestrian collisions.
This type of injury is often a result of one of the following types of trauma:
- Blunt force trauma may occur when the body takes an impact that does not pierce the skin. This type of trauma can be possible even in car accidents that are otherwise considered light.
- Compression injuries are similar to blunt force trauma, occurring when an internal organ gets compressed between two surfaces coming from different directions. The blood vessels are prone to rupture when this occurs.
- Penetrating trauma occurs when a sharp foreign object enters the body (such as a knife or shrapnel from an industrial explosion). Entire blood vessels may be cut when this occurs.
- Deceleration is a type of internal trauma that occurs when the body is brought to a sudden stop. When the body stops, the organs and internal systems sometimes impact the skeletal structure with sudden force. You may experience these injuries in a car accident even if you don’t strike anything.
Internal bleeding can be misdiagnosed or not properly identified by a doctor. This can lead to wrongful deaths.
The descriptions above are only some examples of the injuries that you may experience because of the negligence or reckless behavior of another person. If you do not see your injury listed, it does not mean that you are ineligible to file a personal injury suit.
Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney On Your Side Following a Personal Injury Accident
Personal injury cases are not only extremely complicated, but they also require detailed evidence, solid arguments, and a good understanding of New York state laws.
For many, the process of bringing a personal injury claim can be tedious and daunting. However, when you retain a personal injury lawyer with years of experience, you do not have to go through this difficult process on your own. These attorneys can:
- Answer any concerns or questions you have while providing you with the legal options you can take
- Investigate the accident thoroughly, gathering critical evidence, and interviewing relevant witnesses that can help prove liability and fault.
- Handle negotiations with the insurance or the defense, ensuring your case is treated fairly
- If the insurance or the defense is unwilling to negotiate, take your case to trial and fight for maximum compensation
It is critical that you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. A statute of limitations applies to many areas of New York law, and you could lose your right to claim compensation if you don’t take action soon. It can be easy to lose track of these deadlines if you’re currently undergoing care for your injuries.
Mistakes to Avoid While Waiting for Your Consultation
If you want to have the best case of claiming compensation, it’s important that you keep some things in mind while you’re waiting for your scheduled consultation. In particular, there are some mistakes that you must avoid.
Mistake #1: Waiting too long to seek medical care
After any personal injury, you should schedule a full medical examination as soon as possible. Defendants in personal injury cases will often attempt to argue that there is no proof that the injuries occurred at the time of the accident. Dated medical records can help you prove that the injuries were present immediately after the accident.
Mistake #2: Failing to get contact information from witnesses
Your case may rely on witnesses who can speak to how you and the defendant acted before the accident that led up to your injury. You — or an uninjured friend — should seek to collect the contact information of as many witnesses at the scene as possible.
Mistake #3: Making public statements (even to family and friends)
You should not make any declarations about your injury in spaces where they can be read publicly, especially on social media.
Mistake #4: Signing statements that have not been reviewed
You may face pressure to sign statements and settlements from your insurance company, lawyers of the people who struck you, or other parties. Avoid signing any statements until they have been reviewed by your lawyer.
Our Case Results
You can trust our trial lawyers to handle your New York personal injury case with attention, skill, and compassion. We have already recovered more than $100 million for our clients. Below, you’ll find some examples of how our law firm has helped New Yorkers get the support they need over our years of fighting for them.
$46.1 Million – Car Accident
The 44-year-old plaintiff was rear-ended on the Long Island Expressway and experienced numbness in this hand caused by a herniated disk in his neck. His meniscus was also shredded in the collision, and the injuries have required multiple surgeries.
The jury award includes roughly $5 million for past damages, $36 million for future damages, and $5 million for future medical expenses.
$11 Million – Slip & Fall
A well-known cellist was awarded almost $11 million after a slip and fall in a gourmet food market that resulted in injuries that now hamper her ability to play an instrument.
$2 Million – Pedestrian Accident
The client, a young boy, was crossing the street near his home on Staten Island when he slipped on ice in the roadway and was hit by a car. While the car only had $25,000 in insurance, we were able to prove that the icy condition was the result of The City of New York failing to properly maintain its drainage system and failing to remove the ice. This resulted in a total settlement of $2 million following years of litigation and a jury trial.
Find more of our case results here.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, do not wait any longer than is necessary. Contact the law office of Chaikin LaPenna today for a free case evaluation, and let our team of personal injury attorneys fight for you and your rights.
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Please call us at (212) 977-2020 or fill out the form below to get started.