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FAQS

General

Yes, you can afford our legal services regardless of your financial circumstances. Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. is paid on a contingency basis, meaning you do not pay us any legal fees until we recover money for you. Our firm also typically advances the costs of investigating, prosecuting and maintaining your claim and/or lawsuit. Our fees are based upon a percentage of your award or settlement, which is established by the New York State Appellate Division. In the event we do not recover, you owe us no legal fees nor reimbursement of disbursements. You owe no money whatsoever if you so choose.

Most personal injury claims have a three-year statute of limitations, meaning you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident or you waive your right to recover any money for the many losses you have suffered. However, some claims must be brought sooner, including within 2 ½ years for a medical malpractice claim and two years for a wrongful death claim. The time to file a claim for No Fault benefits is only 30 days from date of accident or the insurance company may not have to pay one cent for your medical bills or lost earnings.

In addition, the time to file a notice of claim against New York City is only 90 days. As you can see, we recommend seeking legal counsel immediately or as soon as possible. Delays can lead to lost evidence and unreliable witness testimony that could weaken or destroy your case. Call us even if you think you have already missed the deadline because certain circumstances, such as being a minor at the time of the accident, can affect when the statute of limitations starts to run. . Don’t Delay. Call now so you don’t lose your rights to hold the wrongdoer(s) responsible and collect the money and benefits you are entitled to.

Your first consultation is free, so there is no risk in letting our attorneys assess the value of your claim. If we believe you have a good case, we will tell you and immediately accept your case for investigation. We devote the time and money necessary to fully investigate the facts and analyze your legal options. We then offer our candid assessment, advise you on how to proceed and how we can best help you make a difficult situation easier.

We understand that mounting medical bills and lost wages resulting from an injury can create financial hardship. We invest the attention and resources necessary to resolve your claim as quickly as possible and for the maximum amount of money. Our experience, skill, expertise, concern, compassion, dedication and determination have allowed us to expeditiously resolve personal injury and wrongful death claims.

In fact, we were able to resolve an inter-sectional auto accident case for the full policy limits from beginning to end in just 6 weeks with our client receiving his check in hand; we believe it is a record! The Judges, Clerks, Defense Counsel and Insurance Companies know that when our case is called for trial, we answer READY. We will keep you apprised of the progress of your case and act decisively to keep your case moving forward.

We pursue resolution of your case through settlement negotiations, mediation or arbitration if in your best interest to do so. However, the insurance companies and opposing counsel know we are experienced courtroom litigators and are prepared to take your case to trial. We calculate the cost and time of going to trial to determine whether the settlement amount exceeds the potential award and recommend the best course of action in your case.

At the appropriate time, we perform a risk analysis to determine if our client has more to gain by accepting the insurance company’s offer of settlement than to lose if they proceed to trial.

Any lawyer who gives an opinion as to the specific value of the case without the benefits of fully and completely investigating and reviewing every item of liability, as well as damages, is either inexperienced, incompetent, or inept. Each and every case is different, and a competent, experienced lawyer will spend the time, money, and resources to conduct a thorough investigation. The lawyer will obtain and review every single document, record, and report; retain appropriate experts; and review the applicable law prior to rendering an opinion to the value of the case. To do otherwise is a disservice to you, the client.

After careful consideration and evaluation of your case, an experienced lawyer should be able to give you a range of what your case is worth based upon the specific facts of your case, the applicable law, and previous cases he or she has handled with similar liability and damages.

The amount of money you may ultimately collect, whether by settlement or verdict, will vary depending upon many factors.

These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Liability and Damages, which include how the accident occurred, your available proof, photographs, video, witness statements, experts’ opinions on liability, and experts’ opinions on damages, such as accident reconstruction, biomechanics, doctors, economists, life care planners, and/or vocational rehabilitation experts.
  • The nature and extent of your injuries, resultant disability, and other damages sustained, such as past and future medical expenses, which may include hospital, rehab, physical therapy, medical devices, household services, lost wages, loss of pension, loss of annuity, and loss of Social Security benefits.
  • The state and county where the action is pending, as well as the judge assigned, are significant factors regarding the value of your claim.
  • Lastly, regardless of how seriously injured you are and how substantial the damages suffered, the ultimate amount of money you may receive will be limited to the amount of available insurance coverage, state and county where the action is pending, as well as numerous other factors. The reputation your attorney has with the defense lawyers and insurance companies makes a huge difference in the amount of money you may ultimately receive whether by settlement or verdict.

Construction Accidents

New York State law prohibits employees from suing their employers for injuries sustained in a construction accident. However, there are a few exceptions. When a construction accident is the fault of an employer, an injured worker is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. If someone other than the employer is also at fault for your injuries, such as the owner of the property, the landlord, the managing agent, the superintendent, the general contractor, the subcontractor, or anyone else other than your employer, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit to recover additional money. In addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits, you can receive money for your pain and suffering and economic loss, your lost wages, your loss of pension or annuity, your loss of vacation funds, your loss of Social Security income, and your loss of household help.

Most workplace injuries on construction sites are caused by factors other than those caused/created by the employer. Often, the action is the fault of the owner of the property, the landlord, the managing agent, the superintendent, the general contractor, or the subcontractor. These accidents usually occur due to the fault of a third party, not the employer. We can file a lawsuit against those parties to collect money that cannot be recovered under Workers’ Compensation. Those additional funds can include money for your pain and suffering and economic losses, including your lost wages, your loss of annuity, loss of pension, your loss of vacation funds, your loss of Social Security income, loss of health insurance, your loss of household help, and other damages.

Construction accidents can be caused by numerous factors including:

  • Falls from any height
  • Falls from roofs
  • Falls from ladders
  • Falls from scaffolds
  • Falling debris
  • Falling objects
  • Trips and/or slips and falls
  • Failure to provide safety equipment
  • Scaffolding accidents
  • Crane and hoist accidents
  • Collisions with equipment
  • Lift equipment failure
  • Trench collapse
  • Explosions
  • Electrical accidents

Depending upon the nature of your accident third parties at fault for a construction accident may include:

  • Property owners
  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Landlords and managing agents
  • Building superintendents
  • Equipment manufacturers

The benefit to a third-party lawsuit is that an injured construction worker can collect money for damages that you would never be entitled to collect through Workers’ Compensation including compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering (both past and future)
  • Lost wages not covered by workers’ compensation
  • Loss of annuity
  • Loss of pension
  • Loss of Social Security income
  • Loss of vacation funds
  • Medical expenses not covered by workers’ compensation or denied by workers’ compensation
  • Loss of consortium — spousal or parent-child relationships that have been negatively impacted by the injury
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of household help

Medical Malpractice

Birth Injuries

The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion. Nothing can cast a pall on the occasion more than finding out that your child has been harmed during the delivery. If your child has suffered a birth injury, you deserve to understand what caused your baby’s medical condition. If the injury stems from medical malpractice, the doctor, hospital, and staff must be held accountable.

Brain injuries are among the most common types of birth injury, often caused when medical providers fail to properly assess conditions prior to or during labor. There are three broad categories of preventable birth injuries to the brain:

  • 1. Oxygen deprivation
  • 2. Trauma
  • 3. Reduced glucose

These types of injuries can be caused by:

  • Failure to perform a timely cesarean section
  • Improper use of Pitocin
  • Inappropriate use of forceps and/or vacuum extractors
  • Failure to timely correct low glucose levels
  • Applying excessive lateral traction to the baby’s head
Surgical Errors

Surgical errors can cause permanent injury or death in patients. Some of the most common surgical errors and complications include:

  • Operating on the wrong area of the body
  • Performing the wrong surgery
  • Performing surgery on the wrong patient
  • Post-operative infections
  • Leaving items in the patient during surgery (sponges, clamps, etc.)
  • Causing damage that was not explained to the patient as part of the pre-surgical briefing
Diagnostic Mistakes

Failing to diagnose medical issues such as cancer, stroke, and heart attacks can have dire consequences that affect not only the victim, but also family, friends, and co-workers.

Medication Errors

Medication errors can occur when a physician prescribes:

  • The wrong medication for the issue
  • A medication the patient is allergic to
  • A medication that is contra-indicated for the patient-type

Medication errors can also fall on pharmacists who distribute the wrong medication, even if the right medication was prescribed.

Medical malpractice requires special scientific and/or medical knowledge and skill that the ordinary layman does not possess. In contrast, ordinary negligence can be assessed by a judge or jury members’ everyday experiences. For this reason, expert medical witnesses are required to prove a medical malpractice claim. The medical malpractice attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. have a network of experienced and knowledgeable medical experts to help prove your claim.

Medical Malpractice Resources & Information

Federal Resources:

Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this organization is the lead federal agency dedicated to “advancing excellence in healthcare.” Find information on this site pertaining to research on healthcare quality, patient safety, clinical information, data, and surveys.

The CDC website provides information designed to protect patients and healthcare workers, and to promote safety and quality in support of infection control in healthcare settings.

The FDA website contains information about drug approvals, warnings, and recalls, along with information on medical devices and additional pharmaceutical-related regulatory information.

This site serves as the FDA gateway for finding clinically-important safety information and reporting serious problems with medical products.

The cause of the infection will come under scrutiny when determining whether a hospital is liable for an HAI. If the patient developed an infection after discharge due to improper care of their surgical wounds, the hospital may not be considered liable. If, however, the patient develops an HAI from iatrogenic, organizational, or patient risks, the hospital or clinic where they contracted the infection could be liable for the patient’s additional treatment, pain and suffering, financial losses, or wrongful death (if death occurs).

Personal Injuries

If you have suffered an injury caused by the fault, carelessness, or negligence of another person or party, you may have a personal injury claim.

If you are hurt at work you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In New York, you cannot sue your employer or co-employee. However, if your injury was caused by a party other than your employer or a co-worker, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them. Often, in most construction accidents, the injured worker can file a workers’ compensation claim and sue the third party as well. Responsible parties for your injuries may include:

  • Property owners
  • The owner of the building or structure
  • The general or prime contractor
  • The project or construction manager
  • Other contractors and subcontractors
  • Equipment manufacturers

The benefit to a third-party lawsuit is that an injured construction worker can recover additional money beyond the limited amounts available under the workers’ compensation system. Those additional money damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost income
  • Loss of annuity
  • Loss of pension
  • Loss of Social Security income
  • Loss of health care benefits
  • Loss in the value of household services
  • Medical benefits

The statute of limitations, or the time limit for filing a claim or lawsuit, varies. For example, in New York State generally, you have only 30 days to file an application for no-fault benefits, but there are different time limits to file claims against towns, counties, municipalities, and the state. It is best to immediately contact an experienced attorney before the statute of limitations expires — and before you are barred from ever bringing any claim or lawsuit. Act now before it’s too late.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. is paid on a contingency basis when handling a personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death claim. This means that you do not pay any legal fees unless we recover money for you. Our fees are based upon a percentage of your award or settlement. We typically advance any costs or expenses associated with investigating and prosecuting the claim or lawsuit. Only if we are successful and recover money will we be reimbursed for these costs. In other words, if we are not successful in recovering money, you owe nothing. So if you have a personal injury claim, you can afford our services.

In New York State, the law regulates and limits attorneys’ fees to one-third of the net recovery — and even less if it is a medical malpractice action. It is important that you hire the most qualified, experienced, and credentialed attorney. The client will be charged the same percentage whether they hire a new attorney, a general practitioner, or one of NY’s top premier personal injury attorneys. Beware of attorneys who offer to reduce, discount, or cut their fee. The best attorneys — those that are most qualified, experienced, and credentialed — are in demand and do not do cut their fees. Be careful of an attorney who is willing to charge less. They may not have the financial resources, the time, or the money to prosecute your case. Instead, they may settle it for far less than you should get.

We evaluate each case individually and determine the best strategy to secure money for our clients. In some cases, we can obtain money through an out-of-court settlement, while in others it may be beneficial to proceed to verdict. We base our strategy upon your best interests. Generally, insurance companies knows which law firms have the experience, expertise, financial resources, proven track record, and willingness to proceed to verdict if necessary, rather than settle a case for less than its true value.

Slip & Fall

New York personal injury law provides for specific types of damages for slip, trip, and fall accidents. These damages can include compensation for:

  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost income
  • Loss of annuity
  • Loss of pension
  • Loss of Social Security income
  • Loss of healthcare benefits
  • Loss in the value of household services
  • Loss of consortium – such as spousal relationships that have been negatively impacted by the injury

Because New York is a pure comparative negligence state, if you did something that contributed to your injury, it is possible that any compensation you get may be reduced based on the part you played in the injury.

The sooner you talk to an experienced New York slip, trip, and fall personal injury attorney, the better. It increases the chances of obtaining statements from the responsible parties before they speak with their insurance company or their lawyer. A quick response will ensure that the accident can be thoroughly investigated, witnesses can be located, and photographs can be taken. Often, those at fault try to quickly fix the problem after you have been injured and before a photo was taken. Protect yourself and call now.

Property owners have a duty to ensure that their properties are free from dangerous conditions that might cause injury. Failure to fulfill this duty can lead to liability in personal injury cases. Depending on the circumstances leading up to your fall, you may be able to file a claim against the responsible party. If you fell on private property, such as a home or business establishment, the responsible party may include:

  • Landlord
  • Property owner
  • Insurance company
  • Business owner
  • Employer
  • General contractor

If you fell on government-owned property in the state of New York, you can pursue damage claims against the responsible municipal party, which may be a city, town, county, or even the state.

It’s important to note that if you are injured on government property or a municipality may otherwise be implicated, your case is governed by strict filing requirements that make suing a municipality more difficult than suing a private citizen, business, or corporation. The statute of limitations is usually shorter, and prior written notice of the specific condition is generally required.

Regardless of who you think may be responsible for your injuries, time is of critical importance. That is why it is imperative to speak with a reputable New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury. Any delay may reduce or eliminate any chance of recovery.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents can be caused by any number of factors, many of which are highly preventable. These can include:

  • Broken sidewalks
  • Snow or ice
  • Poor lighting
  • Cracked or damaged steps or potholes
  • Puddles of fluid on the ground
  • Loose mats or rugs

Essentially, any type of uneven or slippery walking surface can spell trouble for pedestrians, whether on the streets, at work, or in restaurants and retail establishments. These types of incidents are often the responsibility of the property owner or municipality that failed to fix the dangerous or defective condition.

Vehicle Accidents

Large commercial trucks are more difficult to maneuver because of their size and weight — even the most qualified driver cannot stop or turn a large truck as quickly as a smaller passenger car. This disadvantage, as well as the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers, make them inherently more dangerous than ordinary cars in a traffic accident.

While federal regulations do mandate how many hours a driver can operate a large truck without sleep, the reality is that many drivers face tight deadlines and unforeseen traffic delays that make it difficult to meet their delivery schedules. Trucking companies may pressure drivers to forgo necessary rest stops in order to deliver a load on time, despite laws to the contrary.

Many experts believe that truck driver fatigue causes more truck accidents than any other factor. Since tractor trailers are already more difficult to drive, an alert operator is absolutely necessary to avoid accident – and a driver who is sleepy on the road can be extremely dangerous.

Besides driver fatigue, other factors include brake problems, traffic congestion, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, cell phone use, tailgating, speeding, and unfamiliarity with local roads.

The truck industry is powerful, and large trucking companies maintain their own legal counsel and substantial insurance coverage to help protect their interests. Only an attorney experienced in truck accident claims and insurance coverage issues will understand the necessary regulations involved to properly represent your claim.

Workers Comp

Workers’ compensation laws ensure that employees who are injured in the course of their employment receive the medical care they require, the payment of medical expenses, and money to cover lost wages while they are out of work. The majority of New York employers are required to pay the cost of the workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, and employees are entitled to protection beginning their first day on the job. Additionally, injuries do not necessarily have to occur at the employer’s location for an employee to be protected by workers’ compensation laws; however the employee does need to be working on behalf of the employer when the injury occurs. Workers’ compensation laws are administered by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, which is responsible for processing injury claims, verifying claims are valid, conducting hearings, and issuing monetary awards.

If you’ve been injured on the job and are concerned about whether you need to hire a workers’ compensation attorney, this is a good place to start. Without knowing the particular facts of your case, it’s impossible to say for certain whether you need an attorney to help you with your claim. We can however, give you a general idea about the types of circumstances that may point to a decent do-it-yourself outcome. These circumstances would be:

  1. Your work-related injury is relatively minor.
  2. Your employer acknowledges that the injury occurred at work.
  3. You didn’t miss much work as a result of the injury.
  4. You don’t have a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by the new injury.

Essentially, if your work-related injury is relatively minor and you get back to work quickly without any permanent total or partial loss of use or disability, you probably do not need an attorney.

However, even if your circumstances seem relatively uncomplicated, the process can still be tricky. You may at least want to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation. The New York workers’ compensation attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. are able to walk you through the claims process, alert you to potential snags and give you an honest opinion as to whether or not you can handle the claim on your own.

People usually do not think about Workers’ Compensation benefits until they suffer a work-related injury. Essentially, Workers’ Compensation is a program that pays benefits to employees who have been injured on the job. Employees are entitled to receive benefits for medical expenses and lost income when they are unable to return to work. In exchange for this protection, employees agree not to sue their employers – though there are several exceptions to this rule. In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits two criteria must be met:

Your Injury Must be Work Related

If your injury or illness is work related, chances are that you are covered. If, for instance, you hurt your back lifting something at work this would be considered a work-related injury. Sometimes however, the relationship between your injury and your job may not be as clear-cut. Perhaps you were hurt on your way to work, at a company-sponsored picnic, or your injury developed over the course of time. In this situation the relationship is not as clear, although workers’ compensation benefits may still be available.

You Must be Classified as an Employee

In order to qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits, you must be an employee of the company. It is important to note that not all workers are considered employees. One example of this is with private contractors. It is important to note that it is not uncommon for employers to intentionally classify a worker as a private contractor, even when they are actually an employee. Under New York Workers’ Compensation law, even if you are paid with a 1099 tax form, or “off the books”, you may still be considered an employee.

When most people think of Workers’ Compensation, they think about on-the-job accidents. This might include slip and fall injuries, injuries related to equipment or machinery, or car accidents that occur while making a delivery for your employer. While these injuries are all covered by Workers’ Compensation, Workers’ Compensation law in New York also protects against occupational diseases and repetitive stress injuries. Occupational diseases like lung disease may occur after long-term exposure to dangerous substances like silica or asbestos; also, a loss of hearing from daily exposure to loud noises in your work environment may qualify as an occupational disease. Repetitive injuries can occur when workers perform the same task day in and day out; common repetitive stress injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as chronic back, shoulder, or knee problems that occur from many years of doing the same job. These chronic injuries can cause a lot of pain and prevent you from doing your job.

Do not Avoid Your Doctor’s Visit

Regardless of the type of injury you have suffered, you must see a doctor who is authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board to handle Workers’ Compensation cases. He or she will document how your case is work-related and take care of filing the appropriate medical paperwork. We cannot stress enough how important it is to be honest with your medical provider about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. If your doctor does not have the full picture, he or she cannot treat your injuries properly. In addition, your medical records will become evidence in your workers’ compensation case. If you fail to disclose symptoms and later tell the doctor that you are having new pain, the insurance company may assume the new symptoms were caused by an entirely different incident— and not the one that is work-related.

Most important, if you suffer from any of the injuries we discussed above – including occupational diseases, repetitive injuries, or chronic back, knee or shoulder pain – ask your doctor if these injuries could be or are work-related. If the answer is yes, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Employers in New York are required to post a notice with Workers’ Compensation information in a conspicuous place. This notice should include contact information for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and list the employee’s rights.

Your Well-Being Comes First

If you are injured on the job, you must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days, though we recommend you do so immediately so there is no question that your injuries are work-related. Even if you do not believe your injuries are serious, report the incident. We have seen many cases where the injuries turned out to be much more severe than originally thought. Your health comes first, so if the injury is serious, you should obtain medical help immediately and ask a co-worker, family member, or Union representative to notify your employer.

File Your Accident or Illness Report ASAP

You should also complete your employer’s written accident report as a followup to any verbal notification of your injury. Keep a copy for your records. Your employer is responsible for filing a Form C-2 with the Board; request a copy of this, too. If you belong to a Union, you should notify your Union representative immediately. In the event your claim is due to an occupational illness, notify your employer as soon as your doctor tells you your injury is likely work-related. In addition to notifying your employer, you must file a C-3 Employee’s Claim Form with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. By law, you have up to two years to file this form; however, we recommend you do so immediately to ensure your rights are protected. The form can be found online at www.wcb.ny.gov.

Gather Additional Evidence

Your injury may not appear to be severe, but it is always a good idea to collect evidence and document your injury. Many types of injuries, especially neck, back, shoulder, and knee injuries, can get progressively worse with time – not better. It is not uncommon for a person who mistakenly believes they suffered a minor injury to end up having to undergo surgery. In some cases, the injury ultimately results in the person being unable to return to work. Do not gamble with your family’s financial future. Protect yourself by filing that claim. You may wish to take photographs of the injury and the location where it occurred, write down anyone who was present and witnessed the accident (ask them for their contact information, as well), and if video is available, hold it as evidence. Write down everything you recall about the incident. You should also keep copies of all medical paperwork and related invoices showing expenses for things like prescription medications and medical equipment (crutches, wheelchair, etc.).

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