How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take? Answers from a NY & PA Car Accident Lawyer

Don't let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Immediately seek medical assistance and consult an attorney after a car accident.

Jessica Whitton, a freelance writer and paralegal, has written a good summary of the major steps in a personal injury lawsuit.

Before I summarize what she wrote, I want to point out one important factor:

Time is of the essence in IMMEDIATELY consulting a lawyer. There are many insurance companies who are training their employees to immediately contact an injured person with hopes that the can get that injured person to sign off on their claims before that person has a chance to learn the true severity of their injuries or the full extent of their possible claims.

Many times, these claims adjusters will mislead the vulnerable injured person, and accordingly, it is critically important that an injured person hire a lawyer to protect their interests.

Please remember the time for bringing a negligence claim in New York state is three years and two years in Pennsylvania.

Here is Jessica’s step-by-step approach to understanding the typical steps in a personal-injury lawsuit:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Immediately. Go to your doctor or closest hospital and get checked out. Immediately. As Jessica points out, it will give you an edge if your insurance company tries to prove that there was no injury and an immediate hospital visit shows the jury you were hurt.
  • Talk To A Lawyer: Call or email me if you have an accident, 24 hours a day, seven days a week: (607) 733-8866 or [email protected].  If I am not immediately available, I will get back to you ASAP.
  • Commencement Of Investigations: Starts immediately after your lawyer agrees to accept your case. Make sure to provide all pertinent information and be honest about the accident and your medical condition to avoid surprises in the courtroom.
  • Attorney Files An Insurance Claim: Jessica correctly writes that most personal injury cases get settled out of court but to be safe and well-prepared, at ZiffLaw we assume every case will go to trial. We have learned that if you are ready to go to trial, you have substantial leverage to achieve the best results for our clients.  In car accident cases, we submit a comprehensive settlement package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company detailing important information about your claim:  your injuries, lost wages, medical treatment, and any permanent limitations.
  • Attorney Files A Lawsuit: If the insurance company does not settle your claim out of court, your attorney may see no other option than to file a lawsuit.
  • Discovery: The plaintiff and defendant investigate one another using the documents and evidence submitted.
  • Mediation: Following the completion of discovery and before trial, the parties may agree to mediate the case with a trained mediator who attempts to broker a mutually acceptable settlement.
  • Trial: All parties are present as the jury hears the evidence in the case. Most car crash trials are relatively short– 3-4 days– but some more complex cases can take weeks or even months.

At ZiffLaw, we do everything in our power to keep our cases moving as quickly as possible.  With that said, we will not rush any case as we know achieving maximum recovery for our clients often requires us to do things the hard way, not the easy and fast way.  We truly believe our willingness to go the extra mile distinguishes us from other lawyers who are willing to accept an easy and fast settlement rather than do the hard work necessary to get the very best result.

Thanks for reading! Leave me a message below if you have any questions.

Jim

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James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?

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The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Sonsire Becomes Lifetime Member Of Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Christina Sonsire of Ziff Law FirmAttorney Christina Sonsire of the Ziff Law Firm has been certified as a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

MMDAF_144_white gifChristina was first accepted as a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2013.

Membership in the forums is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members, according to the forums.

“Judges and lawyers from other parts of New York state often assume big results only happen in big cities,” said Christina, a partner in Ziff Law and a medical malpractice lawyer for eight years. “It is reassuring to know we are able to help our clients receive every penny of compensation they deserve, regardless of where the case is located.”

Christina is only the third attorney in the Twin Tiers ever to be named a Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, joining me — Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed — as part of the exclusive group.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

I am proud that Christina has been accepted into this forum. The fact that two lawyers from our firm have earned the right to be called Multi-Million Dollar Advocates speaks volumes about our firm and the services we are able to provide to our clients. Our goal is to continue the Ziff Law legacy of achieving big-city results for the people we proudly represent.

Membership in the forums recognizes excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange.

Members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of $2 million or more.

To learn more about the forums, go to www.milliondollaradvocates.com.

Thanks for reading and congratulations Christina!

Jim

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James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Ziff Law Collecting Winter Clothing For Twin Tiers Families

Help us fill our Mitten Trees with winter clothing now through Dec. 5.

Help us fill our Mitten Trees with winter clothing now through Dec. 5.

The Ziff Law Firm is collecting new winter clothing for Twin Tiers families as part of its Mitten Tree holiday program.

The law firm is asking local residents to buy and donate new hats, mittens and scarves for all ages. The items can be left under two Christmas trees in the law firm’s lobby at 303 William St. weekdays during business hours.

All items that are collected will be donated to the Samaritan Center, at Mount Zoar and South Main streets in Elmira, for the holiday season.

All those who donate will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two $50 prepaid credit cards.

“The Ziff Law Firm likes to help Twin Tiers families every holiday season, and we are told there is always a critical need for hats, scarves and gloves for all ages,” said Annette Viselli Thorne, a paralegal in the law firm and the event’s organizer.

The drive continues through Dec. 5, when the two winners will be drawn and announced, and the items will be donated.

Thanks for reading and helping your neighbors!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Upstate NY Law Firm Selected Among Best Law Firms In U.S. For Sixth Straight Year

Ziff Law attorneys, from left, Mike Brown, Christina Sonsire, Jim Reed, and Adam Gee.

Ziff Law attorneys, from left, Mike Brown, Christina Sonsire, Managing Partner Jim Reed, and Adam Gee.

For the sixth year in a row, the Ziff Law Firm is the only law firm in the Elmira, Corning, and Ithaca area named to a nationally recognized directory of top personal injury law firms in the United States.

Ziff Law was named a National Best Law Firm for 2017 in the practice area of Personal Injury Law for Plaintiffs by U.S. News – Best Lawyers.

I am so proud of the team we have assembled and the incredible results we have achieved. We have always believed that working hard and caring deeply about our clients would create good results, and it is so gratifying to see that we were correct. Winning this award once was great. Winning it six years in a row is amazing, and we could not be any happier.

Law firms were evaluated using client and peer reviews, and additional information provided by the firms, according to U.S. News – Best Lawyers, which ranked more than 10,000 law firms in more than 100 practice areas.

The rankings were announced this month by U.S. News & World Report, the parent company of U.S. News, and Best Lawyers, a national directory of top-rated attorneys that included Reed in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

To learn more about the Best Law Firms rankings, go to bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

NY Injury Lawyer Wins $550,000 Jury Verdict For Elmira Woman Injured In Rochester Hospital Fall

Highland Hospital in Rochester.

Highland Hospital in Rochester.

A six-person Chemung County court jury awarded an 83-year-old Elmira woman $550,000 Friday afternoon as a result of a 2013 fall at Highland Hospital in Rochester. Christina Sonsire of the Ziff Law Firm represented the woman in the one-week trial.

Christina Sonsire.

Christina Sonsire.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated for less than 20 minutes before returning with the verdict in response to a personal injury lawsuit filed in Chemung County’s State Supreme Court in Elmira.

Judge Judith O’Shea presided over the trial and attorney James Wolford of the Wolford Law Firm in Rochester represented Highland Hospital and its corporate owners, Strong Health MCO, LLC, and Strong Partners Health System Inc.

“The jury’s award sends a huge message to Highland Hospital and other regional medical providers that if they are going to encourage people to come for treatment, they need to take basic steps to make sure their facilities are safe,” Christina said. “My client will have to live with chronic limitations from a shoulder injury for the rest of her life, something that greatly interferes with her ability to care for her daughter with disabilities.”

The Elmira woman fell shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2013, while helping her daughter get into a wheelchair in a parking garage near the hospital’s emergency entrance.

“Highland Hospital allowed cement parking stops to be placed inside a pedestrian walkway that bordered the handicapped parking stalls. The parking stops were the same color as the parking garage floor, and lighting in the area was grossly inadequate. My client – who was told to report to Highland Hospital in the early morning for her cancer surgery – was walking near her car when she tripped,” Christina said.

“As a result, my client suffered a severe fracture of her left shoulder, leaving her with a significant loss of range of motion. These limitations make it very challenging for her to care for her daughter in the manner she did before the fall.”

The trial was about much more than the placement of parking stops, Christina said.

“When my client first learned she had cancer, her Elmira-area doctor told her she needed to seek treatment in a bigger city. She decided to go to Rochester, just like many people from our area choose to do,” Christina said. “This case showed Highland Hospital and other regional providers who invite people to travel for their medical services need to do much more to make sure their patients are safe.

“The managers of Highland’s maintenance and security departments were unable to provide any inspection or maintenance records for the area where she fell, they offered inconsistent testimony regarding very basic safety measures in the parking garage, and they even tried to shift the blame to my elderly client by claiming she should have used a flashlight when she got out of her car. Taken together, Highland Hospital gave the impression in the trial that my client’s well-being was not important to them – and the jury took notice.

Twin Tiers residents can be confident that Ziff Law lawyers are capable of achieving big-city results,” Christina said. “We are not afraid to stand up to big corporations that cause people in our community to suffer injustices. It’s not always easy to do, but the alternative – allowing things like this to happen without doing what we can to bring them to light – would be the greatest injustice of all.”

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Go Car-Less For Two Weeks During 2016 Car-Free Challenge

chemung4

Can you make it most or all of two weeks without driving your car and find alternate ways to get to work, shop and live the rest of your life?

If you are up for the challenge in Chemung, Steuben, Tompkins and Schuyler counties, join the 2016 Car-Free Challenge from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5 and learn about some of the other ways to get around besides as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Check out carpooling resources and mass transit options at the website.

chemung-how-it-works-01To participate, click here and find the link to your Twin Tiers county. You will be asked to register, and to be eligible for drawings, you will need to log at least one car-free effort every day in the two-week period.

Every time during the two weeks that you ride a bike, walk, ride a bus or carpool instead of driving alone, log an entry on the website. To be eligible for a grand prize drawing, you must have at least three days of car-free efforts in the two weeks.

Keep track of your car-free mileage so organizers know how many miles were saved by all participants!

Check out 511NY Southern Tier Rideshare, a free resource to help you find carpool partners who live or work in Steuben and Chemung counties.  When you sign up for ride-matching, you’ll join other riders and drivers in a database. You will save money and be eligible to enter a raffle to win a $25 grocery store gift card when you register for carpooling.

The announcement of the grand prize winner will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 11 at the meeting of the Chemung County Coordinated Transportation Committee at the Corning Community College campus in Elmira at 318 Madison Ave.

Thanks for reading.

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Ziff Law Lawyers Fighting In Albany For NY Families

 

tort reform art

Christina Sonsire and Adam Gee of the Ziff Law Firm recently went to Albany to fight for grieving families in New York State – like Craig and Melissa Storms, who lost their 2-year-old son in a hospital emergency room.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

Christina and Adam lobbied with other members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association in the New York State Legislature to fight for reforming New York’s 153-year-old wrongful death law, something the lawyers at Ziff Law have been doing for nearly a decade.

“We have been to Albany numerous times to fight for justice for those who lose a loved one due to negligence. It’s one battle we will never stop waging until the laws in New York finally improve,” Christina said.

Under the present wrongful death statute in New York, the assessment of damages is based almost exclusively on expected future income, something that is very biased toward the state’s highest-earning residents. Worse, New York is one of only seven states that do not compensate family members for their grief and sorrow.

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” Christina said. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

Having to tell a family that we cannot take a case because their loved one’s life is worthless in the eyes of New York State law is a very difficult thing to do, Adam said. “Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York.”

The tragic case of 2-year-old Zachary Storms highlights the discriminatory nature of New York’s wrongful death law.

Zachary’s story is heartbreaking.

Craig and Melissa Storms rushed their child to a hospital emergency room because they feared he may have ingested some red and blue dye from a child’s chemistry set.

They did all the right things. They consulted with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which recommended, to be safe, that they take the child to a local hospital for precautionary treatment.

Things turned nightmarish quickly.

The Poison Control Centers urged “observe-only” to the hospital, but instead, the doctor forced young Zachary to drink an activated charcoal solution. He vomited and refused to drink more and the hospital put a gastrointestinal tube down his throat and poured so much liquid that it filled his throat, stomach, and lungs, killing him almost instantly.

“He was running around the emergency room, playing. Then he was dead,” said Melissa Storms.

“This is about justice and holding the people who caused his death accountable,” said Craig Storms.

However, New York’s wrongful death law only values financial loss, not human loss. A toddler, Zachary clearly was not earning any income, and his young age made it too speculative to project what he would make in the future. Therefore, under New York’s current wrongful death law, Zachary’s life was worthless.

When Congress established the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it circumvented the law so surviving victims and victims’ families could be properly compensated. “Congress understood New York’s law is antiquated, and doing something like denying compensation to the parents whose children died that day was just wrong,” said Christina.

It’s time for New York State to do the same and take a giant step toward civil justice reform.

The lawyers at the Ziff Law Firm will not stop fighting for families until New York State changes this law.

Contact your local state representative and tell them about Zachary and why it’s important to modernize the state’s wrongful death law.

Thanks for reading.

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Doctors Struggle To Curb Patients Who Pose Serious Danger To Other Drivers On The Road, Says NY and PA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Doctors face a daunting challenge when they are treating a patient who is impaired or has a disability that makes that patient an unsafe driver.

the-information-age-has-enabled-doctors-to-view-patient-data-on-laptops-_1508_608708_0_14091474_500Many doctors will want to get the patients’ keys away from them quickly and without incident, but they have to take great care not to breach that patient’s confidentiality.

Doctors shouldn’t notify the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles without talking with the patient, and with the patient’s permission, notify their family and the DMV, unless the patient has already done so.

Those are some of the key conclusions discussed in a story in the Spring 2016 Dateline newsletter published by the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co.

According to Donnaline Richmond, counsel to the company, doctors need to document every step they take to protect themselves and their employer.

Doctors know patients will rarely do what’s required and report a disabling condition to the DMV, Richmond said. So doctors need to inform and warn patients of the risk of their medical condition – and fully document those warnings.

According to Richmond, among the steps doctors should document:

  • How medication or a medical condition make it unsafe for the patient to drive.
  • All attempts to communicate doctors’ concerns to the patients and their families, and their attempts to gain consent from patients.
  • All DMV paperwork completed for the patient, once the doctor has the patient’s written authorization.
  • All phone records from calls to patients and their family members regarding the patients’ inability to drive.
  • Patients’ written authorization to release medical information.
  • Reports to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, if it applies.

Thanks for reading.

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Icy Roads Kill…..Especially When Large Trucks Fail to Slow Down for Conditions…..

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

There is a fundamental rule every new driver is taught:  You are REQUIRED to reduce speed when conditions require.

Unfortunately, many drivers violate this fundamental rule and often the consequences are deadly.

An Odessa man who was critically injured Tuesday morning when a UPS tandem tractor-trailer struck and rolled over on his vehicle on an icy Route 13 died early Wednesday, according to the New York State Police.

Troopers said Glenn Marsh, 58, of Odessa, was driving south on Route 13 at about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the truck, which was traveling down a hill, crossed the center line near the Chemung-Schuyler county line and struck Marsh’s sedan head-on and rolled over on it, according to news reports.

20863-2Marsh suffered massive injuries, troopers said, and had to be extricated from his crushed vehicle by emergency workers. He transported to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA.

New York State Police Sgt. Steve Neuberger told the news media it was the fault of the UPS truck driver: “The UPS driver lost control due to slick conditions. The truck went across the road and struck the car, and the car went under the trailer.”

Marsh died during the night, police said.

This is the latest tragic example of what happens when tandem tractor-trailers hit icy conditions, especially on hilly two-lane highways!

Thanks for reading,

Jim
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Jim Reed, N.Y. Truck Crash Lawyer
[email protected]