Personal Injury – An Overview

Our lawyers have helped victims who have been injured in by work-related knee injuries, traumatic brain injuries and other accidents throughout New York. We are dedicated to helping each client recover maximum compensation for their injuries.

Personal injury lawsuits are filed by people (or their representatives) injured due to the negligence of someone else. The injury may be either physical or emotional, and it can arise from a variety of sources or types of conduct. Some of the most common types of personal injuries that give rise to legal liability on the part of the wrongdoer include slip and fall, automobile accidents, assaults and battery, medical malpractice, and defective product injuries. The general goal of personal injury actions is to determine who was responsible and to compel them to compensate the injured person for the losses sustained. If you or someone you know has been injured by the careless actions of another, contact a personal injury attorney at The Orlow Firm in Flushing, New York, at once to find out how we can help you preserve your rights.

Personal injury damages

Personal injury lawyers can help ensure that their clients receive the damages to which they are entitled by law. Some of the items for which injured parties are legally entitled to compensation include lost wages, past and future medical expenses, damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, and damages for disfigurement. Sometimes, a close family member of the injured person, such as his or her spouse, may also be entitled to damages. This award is often referred to as loss of consortium damages, which is intended to compensate the loved one for the loss of the injured or deceased person’s services and companionship.

Other kinds of damages that may be awarded, depending on the laws of the state where the lawsuit is brought and the facts of the particular case, include hedonic damages, which are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of enjoyment of activities that he or she once valued but can no longer participate in as a result of the injuries suffered. In addition, punitive damages may be awarded when the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious and the court or jury determines that the defendant should be punished by paying an amount above and beyond the plaintiff’s actual damages. Punitive damage awards may also serve to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.

“Legal causation” of personal injuries

Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she sustains. Besides the injury, the plaintiff must also establish, through credible and relevant evidence, that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her injuries. The plaintiff must present proof of causation both in terms of actual causation and proximate (legal) causation. Actual causation is determined by literal cause and effect. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question.

In some personal injury actions, legal causation may be established if the plaintiff can show that the defendant engaged in intentional conduct. This means that the wrongdoer intentionally or purposefully harmed the plaintiff or knew that the conduct in which he or she engaged gave rise to a substantial likelihood that harm would result.

Negligence and strict liability

Other personal injury actions are based on a looser concept of fault called negligence. Under the negligence theory, a defendant is held liable for the results of action, or inaction, when an ordinary person in the same position should have foreseen that the conduct would create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Still other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, which is a no-fault system under which liability may be established regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the injured party. Strict liability may be applied in products liability cases, such as when a manufacturer or seller of a defective product puts that product into the hands of consumers and users of the product are injured.

The defendant can be held liable for actions taken or for actions not taken. A driver who fails to stop at a red light and hits another vehicle and injures the other driver or passengers is liable based on her negligent acts. A property owner who fails to clear the ice and snow from the front steps of a business open to the public may be liable for his inaction if a patron falls and breaks her leg when attempting to enter the premises.

Defenses to liability in personal injury vases

In some situations, the defendant’s conduct, while questionable, may not give rise to damages. If, for instance, a plaintiff knowingly and willfully chooses to encounter a known hazard, then the law provides that he or she has assumed the risk of injury and therefore the defendant should not be liable. The assumption of the risk theory may apply also in a case in which the plaintiff engaged in a friendly game of tackle football and another player broke his arm; in such a case, the plaintiff may be unable to recover for his injuries because he knew of the risks inherent in the game and willingly chose to encounter them.

The following are possible defenses to personal injury claims.

  • Statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are laws setting forth the period within which the lawsuit must be initiated.
  • Sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity provides that certain government officials are immune from civil liability for their official conduct.
  • Intentional misuse. Injuries caused by a plaintiff’s intentional misuse of a product may be a defense to liability in a products liability case.
  • Contributory or comparative negligence. Contributory or comparative negligence exists where the plaintiff’s own conduct caused or contributed to his or her injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can explain these and other defenses and determine whether they apply to a particular case.

Contact a personal injury lawyer

Personal injury actions often require a lawyer’s careful examination of the surrounding facts and circumstances to determine whether the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. A personal injury attorney at The Orlow Firm in Flushing, New York, can look at the facts of your case and determine whether you have a legally valid claim, how soon you must act to preserve your rights, the damages to which you may be entitled and whether you may be entitled to some type of financial benefits before your lawsuit is even resolved. Additionally, in many personal injury cases, you owe no legal fees unless and until the defendant pays the damage award.

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Injured While Shopping: Retail-related Personal Injury Cases

You may think shopping is a relatively harmless activity, but thousands of people are injured each year in consumer-related pursuits. Shopping injuries may occur because a store owner has failed to keep the premises safe, or to warn of known dangers that may injure shoppers, workers and visitors.

Broadly speaking, the term, ‘shopping injury’ is used to describe personal injuries that occur while a person is visiting a retail establishment such as a store or shopping mall. Most shopping-related injuries are minor, but more severe cases might involve broken bones, sprains, head trauma, neck injury, spinal injury, and even death. During high-volume shopping periods such as Christmas season or Black Friday, retail-related injuries tend to increase at a greater rate.

Types of Shopping Accidents

Types of shopping accidents that commonly occur on a store-owner’s premises include:

  • Falls that result when a shopping cart tips over.
  • Slips and falls caused by poor lighting conditions, wet floors, torn or worn carpeting and malfunctioning escalators.
  • Injuries to head and body caused by falling objects and retail displays.
  • Trampling injuries caused by overcrowding hazards.
  • Parking lot injuries resulting from cracked surfaces, poor design, or slippery conditions caused by failure to remove accumulated ice and snow.

State negligence laws generally allow for the filing of claims by persons injured in commercial establishments such as stores or shopping malls. Under the theory of premises liability, store owners must take reasonable steps to keep store premises reasonably free of dangers or hazardous conditions that they have reason to believe may cause injury. Store owners are responsible, for example, for fixing worn or broken stairs and railings, for removing fallen objects and debris, for cleaning up spills and wet floor surfaces, for installing adequate lighting, and for providing customers with an adequate level of security.

To prove a store owner was liable for a shopping-related injury, the plaintiff must establish:

  • The store owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition existing on the property.
  • The store owner failed to properly maintain the premises, or neglected to regularly inspect the store for possible hazardous conditions.
  • The shopper would not have been injured but for the dangerous condition on the property.
  • The shopper’s injuries were caused by the dangerous condition.
  • The shopper is able to show actual damages as a result of the injury.

The store owner might argue that:

  • The premises were free of dangers.
  • He had no knowledge of a dangerous condition.
  • He took reasonable steps to repair the hazard.
  • The shopper should have noticed the condition and avoided it,
  • The condition did not cause the customer’s injuries,
  • The customer should not have been in that particular area of the store,
  • The shopper caused the injury by means of his or her own negligence.

As you can see, these cases involve complicated facts and a store owner’s liability might be difficult to prove. If you have suffered a shopping-related injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in these matters.

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Premises Liability: Can You Prove It?

If you are hurt by an accident on someone else’s property, can you hold the land owner legally and financially responsible for your injuries? The question concerns an area of law called premises liability . The answer depends on whether you can meet these requirements:

  • You were lawfully on the property.
  • Your accident was caused by an unsafe condition.
  • The land owner was negligent in that he knew or should have known of the unsafe condition but failed to correct it or warn of it.
  • The land owner’s negligence resulted in your injury.

The Land Owner’s Responsibility

Property owners owe a reasonable duty of care to those who are invited or otherwise allowed to be on the premises. A land owner must maintain the property to avoid the risk of injury to those who use it. If the owner is aware of a dangerous condition he must repair it or erect signs, guards or barriers to warn of it. The fact that an accident occurs does not, in and of itself, mean that the property owner is liable for negligence. You must be able to show that the land owner knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed.

There are two ways you can prove a land owner’s knowledge. Actual notice means that the land owner was told about the problem. Constructive notice means that the hazard was visible and apparent and existed long enough for the property owner to observe it and repair it. For example, if you hurt yourself by slipping and falling on a beer bottle in a stairwell, the land owner is not liable for your injury unless you can show that he knew that particular bottle was there. On the other hand, if the land owner knew that beer bottles tend to accumulate on the stairwell during weekends, he might be held liable for accidents and injuries that result.

Hazardous Conditions

Unsafe conditions on property occur in an endless variety of ways. The can injure repairmen as well as guests, tenants and shoppers at commercial establishments. A leaking ceiling may create slippery floor conditions and a risk of falling. A glass partition may be inadequately marked and dangerous to those who fail to see it while walking. Crumbling brick work and masonry on a building’s exterior may fall and injure workers and pedestrians below. Stairways can be especially risky due to

  • Broken or missing hand rails.
  • Steps that are too high or too steep.
  • Unevenness in step height or depth.
  • Worn or torn carpeting on stairs.
  • Slippery or icy conditions due to spills or weather.
  • Construction or maintenance defects that violate local building codes.

The Firefighter’s Rule

At times, firefighters, police officers or other emergency services personnel are injured due to unsafe conditions on property. In the past, they were unable to seek damages for their injuries under ordinary negligence rules. This is because, under the so-called ‘firefighter’s defense’ these workers were held to be specially trained to confront risks and dangers on behalf of the public. In addition, they were provided with job benefits and compensation in the form of sick leave and line-of-duty injury status.

Since the late 1990s, however, the law has changed. Generally, there is no longer any firefighter’s defense in lawsuits against private property owners. The rule may still apply in actions against municipalities and their agencies.

Ask A Competent Attorney

Injuries due to unsafe, defective or poorly maintained property conditions are unfortunate daily occurrences. It is not always easy to prove that a land owner is negligent and therefore liable for an injury. The attorneys at the Orlow firm are experienced and knowledgeable in this area of the law. They offer free initial consultations and operate four offices across New York City for your convenience. They can go to you if you cannot come to them. To contact the Orlow firm, call (646) 647-3398.

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Dangerous Dogs: Does the Landlord Pay for Damages?

There are more than 1.5 million dogs in the city of New York. Many of them live in apartment buildings where, most likely, they will come into daily contact with other tenants. Dog bites happen rarely, but often enough that some landlords refuse to rent to dog-owner households. These landlords worry that they, as well as the dog’s owner, will be responsible for damages if the dog causes injury to another person in the building. Holding a property owner responsible for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog is a form of premises liability .

When Is the Landlord Liable?

Landlords may be held responsible for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog, but only under certain conditions. Merely leasing property to a tenant with a dog does not, in and of itself, expose the landlord to liability. For example, if the tenant’s dog appears friendly but ends up biting someone, the landlord is not responsible for the resulting injury. To succeed in a lawsuit against a landlord for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog you would have to show

  • That the landlord knew the dog was dangerous and was legally able to make the tenant get rid of the dog or move out; or
  • That the landlord “harbored” or “kept” the tenant’s dog by caring for it or by exercising some control over it.

A landlord who knows only that a tenant’s dog is kept tied up and barks at passersby does not necessarily know that the dog is dangerous and will not be held liable for injuries caused by the dog. To prove liability, you have to show that the landlord had actual knowledge that the dog was dangerous and that it had already threatened or injured someone.

In one case, a landlord was caring for the dogs of a prospective tenant when they threatened his own grandchild. In spite of this, the landlord rented to the tenants and the dogs severely injured another child. The court held that the landlord had created a clear risk of injury by renting to the tenants and was therefore liable for damages. In another case, a six year-old girl living in a trailer park was seriously mauled by her neighbor’s two dogs. The jury found that the owners of the mobile home park had shown a blatant disregard for the safety of their tenants and awarded punitive damages on top of compensatory damages for the child’s injuries.

Ask an Experienced Attorney

A landlord or property owner who ignores obvious signs that a tenant’s dog is dangerous does so at his own risk. If the dog hurts another tenant, the landlord or property owner should be held accountable for his failure to take action. If you or a loved one has been injured by a tenant’s dog, seek medical attention immediately and consult a knowledgeable attorney. The attorneys at the Orlow firm are highly experienced in personal injury law. They offer free initial consultations and operate four offices across New York City for your convenience. They can go to you if you cannot come to them. To contact the Orlow firm, call (646) 647-3398.

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Representing People Hurt in Accidents at NYC Airports

Flying is not usually a peaceful experience for people using LaGuardia Airport or JFK Airport here in New York City. Long lines at security, delayed flights and large crowds do not usually make for a relaxing time.

Additionally, you should not have to fear being hurt in an accident at the airport. When store owners at the airport, the airlines or the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey fail to maintain safe premises, you have the right to take action. At The Orlow Firm, our attorneys have helped the victims of negligent property owners in Brooklyn, Queens and New York City recover millions of dollars in compensation for their injuries.

Accidents Can Happen Anywhere. Even Airports.

You may not think about it while you are at the airport, but you can be hurt in accidents like:

  • Tripping or slipping while trying to get on or off an escalator or moving walkway
  • Slipping-and-falling in a poorly maintained bathroom
  • Being struck by a security guard or airline personnel driving a cart
  • Suffering an injury inside a gift shop or restaurant

When you are hurt at an airport, you need experienced attorneys on your side who can effectively evaluate your injuries and gather the evidence necessary to build a strong claim. At The Orlow Firm, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are working with lawyers who are experienced in nearly every type of premises liability accident.

Contact The Orlow Firm Today to Discuss Your Case

Like in other premises liability cases, acting quickly to obtain legal representation is essential. Our New York premises liability attorneys can get to work while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

To schedule a free consultation and put our experience to work for you, you can contact us online or call (646) 647-3398 today.

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