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Personal Injury FAQs

Personal Injury FAQs

What is a personal injury claim?+
A personal injury claim seeks compensation for injuries caused by another’s negligence. These injuries can arise out of just about any kind of situation that causes an injury. An injury might be the result of a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, work or construction site accident, defective or dangerous products, dangerous property conditions or dog bite. Perhaps you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective drug, medical device or because of negligent care and treatment by a doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or hospital. A claim could arise out of negligent care at a nursing home that results in injury, suffering or even death.
Does Lacy Katzen LLP charge a fee for an initial consultation?+
No. Lacy Katzen LLP’s litigation attorneys offer free consultations.
What is a contingency fee?+
Personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis. This means that the attorney receiving a fee is “contingent” upon you getting a recovery in the case. In other words, the attorney only gets paid if you win or settle your case. If you are successful in your claim, the attorney will be paid a percentage of what you recover. This type of fee arrangement eliminates the risk to the client that they will have a large legal bill to pay if they do not recover on the case. Clients who have sustained an injury have already suffered a loss. They may have unpaid medical bills or be out of work due to their injuries. Most would not be able to bring a claim if they had to pay an attorney by the hour. This type of fee arrangement enables all injured people, regardless of their financial means, to be represented by highly skilled attorneys.
Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer?+
You should hire a personal injury attorney so as to best protect your rights and to put yourself in the best possible position to receive compensation for your claim. Perhaps you think that you should negotiate directly with the insurance company. The insurance adjuster for the person who caused your injury may try to convince you that you should not hire an attorney. But should you really take advice from the insurance company that represents the other side?

Before you even consider attempting to handle your own claim, there are some things you should know. First, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows when to resolve your claim. If you settle your claim too early, you may be barred from receiving compensation for new injuries that arise after the case is settled.

Second, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate any offer that you might receive so that you know whether you are getting fair compensation for your injuries. The insurance company is a business. It maximizes its profits by paying as little as possible on every claim.

Third, anything you say can be used against you should your case proceed to trial. Insurance adjusters or private investigators may be sent to take a written or recorded statement. You will be asked to provide authorizations so that the insurance company can obtain information about you. It may ask for information to which it is not entitled. The insurance company might lead you to believe that it will settle your claim if you provide all of this information. After you have provided the information, the insurance company may tell you that it does not wish to make you an offer of settlement or may make an unreasonably low offer. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process and ensure your claim is resolved fairly.

Fourth, preparation often needs to be done to put your case in a position to receive a reasonable settlement offer. The attorney may need to gather physical evidence, witness statements and even expert reports to put your case in the best position to settle. When you are not represented by an attorney, you do not have the leverage that a lawsuit will be the response to an unreasonable settlement offer. Insurance companies keep records about attorneys. They know which attorneys are serious about pursuing their claims and which attorneys settle almost all their claims. Any settlement offer that you receive may very well reflect your lawyer’s experience and reputation. You have no experience or reputation with the insurance company.

Finally, if you represent yourself, you may make a mistake. You may settle your claim too early, only to find out that you have additional injuries and may have significant additional medical costs which were not considered when you accepted your settlement. You may miss a filing deadline and be barred from bringing a claim at all. You may fail to identify all available insurance coverage. You may not realize that there are liens against your settlement. If you settle your claim without addressing these claims against your settlement, you may be liable for reimbursement, fines and penalties. Just as an experienced accountant may pay for himself by getting you a bigger refund on your tax return, an experienced personal injury lawyer is a valuable resource that is essential to the proper handling of your claim. At Lacy Katzen LLP, our personal injury lawyers have been helping injured people and their families for 70 years.
Will I have to go to court?+
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle without ever going to trial. Our careful selection of claims and our meticulous case preparation makes it more likely that your case will not go to trial. However, we are willing to try your case if necessary to obtain a fair result. Our willingness to try your case makes it more likely that you will receive a fair settlement offer.
My loved one has died. Do I have a claim?+
If your loved one has died as a result of someone’s negligence, there are two types of claims. A wrongful death claim is brought by the survivors of the deceased person to recover their economic losses. A survival claim is brought on behalf of the deceased person to recover any pain and suffering that occurred prior to death. These claims can arise from many situations such as car, truck and motorcycle accidents, medical negligence, nursing home negligence, work site injuries and defective products cases.
Who can bring a claim when someone has died?+
A person must be appointed by the court to pursue a wrongful death claim. Parents, spouses, children, other family members or legal dependents may be eligible to file a claim. Minors will need an adult guardian to bring a claim on their behalf. Often, more than one person is eligible to bring the claim. If family members disagree about who should pursue the claim, proceeding promptly may become important.
Does a filing deadline apply to a claim when someone has died?+
Yes. In fact, there are several different time limits that apply in any death claim. The rules in applying these time limits can be tricky and shorter than the time limits for other types of claims. It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to apply these time limits as soon as possible. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you should pursue a claim.
Can I be compensated for my emotional distress caused by the death of my loved one?+
Unfortunately, the law in New York does not permit recovery for emotional injury except in special circumstances where an immediate family member witnesses a serious injury or death. There can be recovery for pain and suffering your loved one endured before death, as well as damages for economic loss to his or her family or dependents. Economic losses include lost earnings and other services provided by your loved one that have an “economic value” such as yardwork, household chores and even parental guidance.
I slipped and fell. Do I have a claim?+
Property owners have an obligation to keep property reasonably safe and free from dangerous conditions. Dangerous conditions on property may result from the failure to comply with municipal building or fire codes, to provide adequate lighting, to provide safe railings, to clear ice and snow in a timely manner, to eliminate tripping hazards, to fill potholes, and to level uneven surfaces. If you fell due to the negligence of another, you may have a claim. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys can help you determine whether you have a claim by considering where you fell, when you fell, what caused your fall, and your injuries.You should contact an attorney promptly so that the condition of the scene can be properly documented.
I was injured at work. Do I have a personal injury claim?+
The general rule in New York is that workers injured at work are limited to compensation from their employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier even when an employee or co-worker is negligent. However, an injured worker can file a personal injury claim when the injury was caused by the negligence of a third party (someone other than the employer or co-worker). For example, an injury might be caused by the negligent design of a piece of equipment or machinery, or the negligence of someone employed by another company. It is important to determine if the person who caused your injury is really a “co-worker” as defined by law. The person may be an independent contractor or employed by someone else. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys can help determine if you have a personal injury claim arising from a workplace injury.
If I am injured, should I call a lawyer right away?+
Yes, if possible. There are time limitations that apply to bringing a claim, some as short as 90 days. There are also time limits to claims for insurance benefits, some as short as 30 days. Some reports may need to be filed in as little as 10 days. There may be information or evidence that needs to be preserved. We may want to photograph the scene of your injury before it changes. You may need to file a claim for insurance benefits.

Special time limits apply to claims brought on behalf of children, including those injured at birth. Because these time limits may not be as long as one might expect, it is important to act quickly. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you have time to file a personal injury claim.
I was bitten by a dog. What do I do?+
Report the incident to your local dog warden or police right away. They can help you gather information about the dog and determine if it has been vaccinated. Call an attorney as soon as possible. Dog bites need to be investigated quickly. There may be a vicious dog hearing if the owner was issued a ticket. The animal may be relocated or even euthanized, making it difficult to investigate its behavior.
Can I bring a claim for my dog bite injury?+
Under New York law, a dog owner will be held responsible for your damages if he or she was aware of the dog’s propensity for the bad behavior that caused your injury. In the case of a bite, we must demonstrate that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s tendencies towards this behavior. It used to be said that a dog got “one free bite” before its owner is on notice of a problem. This is not quite true. Other behavior can demonstrate vicious propensities under the law such as growling, baring of teeth, lunging and even a “Beware of Dog” sign. A dog owner can also be held responsible for injuries caused by other behaviors of which he was aware such as chasing and jumping.
What is a product liability claim?+
A manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, processor of materials, or maker of a component part that sells a product in a defective condition may be liable for injury that results from use of the product when the product is used for its intended or reasonably foreseeable purpose. A product may be defective as a result of a manufacturing flaw, a defective design or inadequate warnings or instructions. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim.
Can I bring a claim concerning defective drugs and medical devices?+
Product liability cases may involve dangerous and defective drugs, medications, and other medical or pharmaceutical devices. Pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers are required to adhere to industry standards and FDA regulations to ensure that their drugs are safe. They have an obligation to warn consumers of any potential adverse effects which could result from consuming the drug or medicine or using the device. Disclosure of initial negative effects is required so that a consumer can make an educated decision, weighing all of the pros and cons, before utilizing the product. Unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes fail to disclose all of the known dangerous side effects, or they fail to perform adequate testing before widespread use or distribution. Sadly, some companies have been known to put profits over people by failing to disclose known dangers. These companies should be held responsible for enjoying lucrative profits while putting the health and welfare of consumers at risk.

If you have been harmed or injured as a result of a defective drug or medical device, the attorneys at Lacy Katzen LLP may be able to help.
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