At Orin J. Cohen Law, I dedicate my entire practice to helping injury victims on Staten Island, in Brooklyn and across New York City obtain fair compensation for their injuries. I know how difficult it can be to get answers to your basic questions after a serious accident. The following is a brief list of the most common questions I receive from clients. If you have additional questions, I invite you to contact my office to discuss your case in more detail.
- Q: What Are “Damages” In A New York Personal Injury Case?
To sue for “damages” is to attempt to recover compensation for a loss and/or injury. The injury can take many different forms such as physical injuries that are immediately noticeable (scarring, broken bones), as well as those that cannot be immediately determined.
- Pain and suffering
- The inability to perform your usual work, social, and recreational activities
- Physical pain and anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Cost of medical care and loss of earnings
There is also a claim for “future” damages. If future expenses are foreseeable as a result of the incident, those “damages” can also be recovered. For example, if it has been reasonably stated by your medical doctor that further treatment will be needed in the future, or that due to your injury you will no longer be able to work, those expected expenses/losses would be included in the ‘damages’ in your case.
- Q: What Is The Process Of A Personal Injury Case?
The process is always the same no matter what type of case it is. Whether it is a medical malpractice case, civil rights case, car accident case, or fall down case, the legal process is the same. Once you provide me information about what happened to you and what your medical injuries are, and the treatment you are obtaining, I obtain all medical records and complete my investigation: for instance, in a car accident case I go to the scene, take photographs, speak to witnesses, and so on. Once the investigation stage is done, once I collect all the medical records, I send all the itemization to the opposing insurance company, and the settlement negotiations are started. If the parties cannot reach a settlement then I file suit. Once the lawsuit is filed, the court sets certain time tables. The court will tell me by what date I must complete my discovery — that is, depositions, interrogatories, and so on — and after that, the court will set the trial date. Before the trial date, the parties usually go through a pretrial settlement conference. You may or may not be involved in the pretrial settlement conference, but you will always be informed of what happens at the conference. If the parties cannot reach an agreement there, the trial date will be set and the parties will go to trial, at which point you will be fully engaged in the trial process.
- Q: If I Fall On Someone Else’s Property, Can I Sue?
Just because you fell on someone’s property and got hurt does not mean that you have a legal case and can sue. On the contrary, in order for me to prove that you have a case as a result of a fall, I have to prove: that the property owner knew of the dangerous condition, or reasonably should have known of the condition. That the property owner had sufficient time to repair the dangerous condition and didn’t do anything about it. That, as a result of the defect caused by the property owner, you, the accident victim, fell and got hurt. Call my office if you have any questions.
- Q: When Settlement Proceeds Come In, Who Is Reimbursed First?
The first entity that gets reimbursed is the entity that is owed a lien, that is, Medicare, the Department of Public Welfare, your health insurance, or workers’ compensation. Any of those entities may have a lien to your personal injury settlement, and those entities have to take a piece out of the person injury proceeds before anyone else gets reimbursed. This is a matter of New York law. Of course, your attorney’s fee gets paid as well as any expenses your attorney pays in order to prosecute the case: for instance, expenses to file suit, expenses to get deposition transcripts, and expenses to get medical records. All of this is itemized for the client and is taken out of the proceeds from the settlement or the jury verdict. Only after those items are paid does the client receive the proceeds of the personal injury settlement or jury verdict.
- Q: What Are My Responsibilities As A Client?
Your responsibilities as a client in a personal injury case are to give all of the information to your attorney about your injuries and about the accident, as well as to provide this information to your medical providers. To take care of yourself and seek medical care when needed. Also, not to participate with photos or activities on sites such as Facebook.
- Q: What Is The Holdup In Settling My Personal Injury Case?
There can be a variety of reasons for a holdup in settling your case. It could be that I am not getting the records or reports that I need from your doctor or doctors. I need those items in order to prove your injuries and in order to present your case properly to the opposing insurance company. In addition, the opposing insurance company may be delaying the settlement of your case. It may not be in their interest to resolve a case quickly. Those are just some of the reasons why there might be a slowdown in settling your personal injury case.
- Q: Who Decides If A Case Should Go To Trial Or Should Settle?
It is your lawyer’s job to advise you in the decision-making process of whether to settle or to go to trial. The risks of trial can outweigh the risks of settling your case. If you settle, you know the amount of money you are receiving as compensation for your injuries. Ultimately, the decision is yours.
- Q: What Is A Deposition?
A deposition is an opportunity for the defense attorney to interview and take testimony from you in my presence. At the deposition the defense attorney will ask you questions about how your accident occurred, what your injuries were, what treatment you received, etc. You must be prepared for your deposition. All the questions that you answer are fair game for discussion by the defense attorney, so as soon as you open the door for questions, the defense attorney can ask you more about your case, about how your accident occurred, about your treatment, and so on. That is why it is important that you prepare for your deposition, and under no circumstances should you be attending your deposition alone. At your deposition your attorney must attend with you.