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April 2015 Archives

School Bus Acident

We have a case where we represent a ten year old who was exiting his school bus and while crossing the street a car that was behind the bus, crossed the double yellow lines, drove around the bus, passed the blinking red lights, and collided with our client. Luckily, our client suffered severe but not life threatening injuries. He broke a bone in his foot when the wheels of the car ran over him. Every time I think of that case and that driver, who was subsequently arrested and is now serving jail time, it makes my blood boil. When you think of school buses, you think of cute little kids. How could one ever consider causing them harm? and then, yesterday, there was another school bus accident. And, this time, it was a school bus driver who was apparently at fault. The bus driver allegedly ran a stop sign! That's unbelievable! The Journal News reports As follows:
Three traffic violations were issued to a private school bus driver who allegedly ran a stop sign and crashed into an East Ramapo school district mini bus, police said Wednesday.The three elementary school children on the bus who attend New Square's Yeshiva Avir Yakov were not hurt in the crash, which occurred shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, when many public and private school buses are on the roads carrying students.The mini-bus driver, 68, suffered non-life threatening injuries to her upper body, police said. No students were on her bus.Lt. Charles Schnaars said officers issued Moishe Eisenbach, 39, of New Square, summonses for failure to stop for a stop sign, reckless driving, and speed not reasonable and prudent.Eisenbach remained at the scene after the crash and there was no evidence of impairment, police said. The village speed limit is 30 miles per hour.Eisenbach drove the large yellow bus east on Church Street through a stop sign at the intersection of West Street, police said.The bus crashed into the smaller East Ramapo bus, headed south on West Street, and pushed the vehicle 40 feet into a telephone pole and into the fence of St. John the Baptist Church.An Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. crew repaired the damaged pole. No one lost power, O&R spokesman Michael Donovan said.
Again, to me, that's so unfathomable. And each time I hear a story like that, it makes angry that we don't criminalize such actions. A traffic violation is not enough. It should be a misdemeanor. How is it ok to run a stop sign? Running a stop sign should equal spending a weekend in Jail!

Journal News Quotes Terrence Cortelli About Legal Issues in Home Renovations

"Watch your step when hiring contractors" -- that's the headline from today's front page of the Journal News. Check it out and notice my quote in the middle. 

Planning A Renovation? 4 Easy Steps You Must Take To Protect Yourself

As the weather gets nice, and Spring Fever takes hold, many homeowners turn their attention to fixing up their homes. Some folks focus on roofs, others focus on repainting their homes and yet others dream bigger - maybe a new bathroom, kitchen or a brand new extension.
Of course, with these big plans comes the stress of coming up with the money to pay for the work. On a related note, maybe not as stressful as the financial part, is the concern about lawsuits. What if a contractor at your home gets hurt? Will you get sued? Are there steps you can take to protect yourself?
As a personal injury, I am often asked this question. Friends, family members and clients always want to know whether they can be sued and relatedly what steps should they take to protect themselves. With regard to the first question, whether they can be sued, the answer is yes, but the real question one should be asking is whether the lawsuit will prevail. And, because anyone can sue, there should be certain steps one should take if a home renovation is in the future.
To protect against lawsuits, such as those brought by a worker injured at your home, you need a two-step strategy. First, you need to make sure you have insurance in place. Second, you need to make sure you hire a reputable contractor and that safety is the number one priority at your renovation project. Just follow the four steps below and you should do well.
Step 1 - The first step to take is to hire a reputable contractor. You want to hire a contractor that has been around for a while. Hopefully, you know somebody that has dealt with the contractor before. The contractor should be licensed with the local municipality. I also like to see that the contractor has a truck with a logo, a website and a home office with a secretary that answers the phone. To me, that is a sign of a thriving business, which is another sign that the contractor is reputable. Hiring a reputable contractor increases the likelihood that the contractor knows what he or she is doing and will make safety a major priority at your renovation project.
Step 2 - The contractor must be bonded and, for our purposes, insured. Bonded merely means that if you pay the contractor and, for whatever reason, the work is not finished, the bonding company will step in the shoes of the contractor and finish the work.
Insurance is more complicated. The contractor must be insured in case his work causes you or somebody else injury or if he damages your home or somebody else's property. You should ask the contractor for proof that he has insurance.
More importantly, you must ask the contractor to purchase insurance for you in case the contractor's work causes somebody else injury (property or personal). For example, if the contractor breaks a gas line and your house explodes and injures your neighbor's dog, your neighbor will sue you and the contractor. Maybe one of the contractor's employees falls over a hose on your driveway and sues you. If you are actually sued, the insurance that the contractor purchased for you will step in to protect you. Generally, to get this type of insurance, you need to ask your contractor to make you an "additional insured" under his liability policy. Before the work starts, ask for proof that you are named as "additional insured" under the policy. The proof should look like the insurance card you get from your car insurance policy. Save that information somewhere safe.
You may also check with your own home insurance provider. Call your broker, agent or whoever is your contact and ask whether you are covered if somebody is hurt during a home renovation. Don't be afraid to be pushy. Ask what the coverage amount is. Ask exactly what provision gives you the protection. If your policy excludes home renovation work, ask if the company will provide it for you. If not, consider switching companies to a carrier that will give you protection.
Step 3 -- Safety Plan. Before all large construction projects, the owners, contractors and safety consultants get together as a safety committee and plan out how the project is going to move forward and they try to anticipate any safety hazards that may occur. Once the safety hazards are identified, the committee comes up with ideas to plan for these hazards and to take steps to ameliorate them. For instance, if the plan is to build a 20-story building, the members of the safety committee will make plans to ensure that all workers have appropriate height related safety devices such as scaffolds, and harnesses. The committee will also ensure that all workers are trained on topics such as fall prevention before the work begins. That similar planning should be done at your home renovation project. You should ask the contractor about potential safety issues and ask how the contractor plans to address them.
Step 4 - Once the construction begins, the best practice would be to stay at the home and watch the construction unfold. Although most of us are not construction or safety experts, it is not difficult to spot bad safety practices. If workers are doing something dangerous, you probably will be able to tell. For instance, we have heard of contractors using buckets and swivel chairs as ladders. That never turns out well. We have heard of workers becoming intoxicated and falling off roofs. We have heard of workers not wearing hard hats or goggles. Such violations are easy for all to see. If you see workers doing dumb things, you need to say and do something about it.
At the end of the day, home renovations are totally stressful. It's depressing to spend so much money on your home, even though it makes your home so much nicer. It's also difficult to go without a kitchen, or bathroom, for days or weeks on end. But, perhaps the most stressful part is worrying about what happens if a contractor gets hurt. To alleviate some of that stress, follow the four steps outlined above and that should cover you from any lawsuits. Good luck and Happy Spring! 

Medical Bills, Medical Liens and Subrogation Rights -- Sharing Your Personal Injury Settlement Proceeds with Your Health Insurance Provider

One of the biggest issues our clients have is dealing with medical liens and subrogation rights of private health insurance carriers. The concept is simple. If you have health insurance, and that insurance pays for medical expenses for injuries arising out of an accident, that health insurance provider is entitled to recover any costs it paid out from your personal injury lawsuit settlement. This is called a right of subrogation.

Judge Rules NYC Woman can Serve Husband With Divorce Papers VIA Divorce

In a very interesting case, a Manhatten Supreme Court judge has ruled that a woman seeking a divorce can serve her husband by way of his Facebook account. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper said that a nurse named Ellanora Baidoo can serve her husband with divorce papers through a Facebook message, according to the initial report by the New York Daily News.  

  • $2.05 Million Settlement Mother of Two Struck and Killed by Motorist

    StolzenbergCortelli LLP recently resolved a heart breaking wrongful death action. The mother of two was struck and killed, while she crossed a roadway.

  • $1.1 Million Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Trip Over Nail Case

    Terrence and Howard settled a trip and fall case for $1,100,000. In this case, our client (a resident of Brooklyn) was a cleaning lady who was hired to clean the newsroom of the Wall Street Journal.

  • $750,000 Verdict Jane and John Doe v. Defendant Driver

    The names are redacted for privacy reasons. In this automobile accident case, the female plaintiff was injured and suffered seriously debilitating injuries.

  • $525,000 Settlement Injured When the Trailer upon which He was Standing Collapsed

    Our client was a teamster, working at a concrete plant in Westchester, when he was seriously injured. At the time, he was standing on a trailer, which is colloquially known as a "low boy", when the wooden slats upon which he was standing, collapsed.

  • $457,500 Settlement Car Accident Victim With Pre-Existing Neck Injury

    Settled a client's case for $457,500. The client suffered a significant cervical spine injury requiring a fusion surgery.He was t-boned by a car exiting Purdy's farmer and the Fish in Somers, New York.

  • $450,000 Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Construction Accident Case

    Howard Stolzenberg settled a case for $450,000 where a construction worker was forced to use an exterior fire escape ladder to access the top of the building all while carrying a one gallon bucket of paint. The worker fell and fractured his ankle.

  • $100,000 Settlement Teenager Hit From Behind

    We just settled a case for a young girl who was injured when she was struck from behind while waiting at a red light at an intersection near the entrance to the Saw Mill in Yonkers. She had hip and shoulder surgery.

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