Types of Personal Injury Cases

A personal injury lawsuit allows an injured person (the Plaintiff) to receive monetary compensation when another party (the Defendant) is found to have caused the injury by their actions or lack thereof. The laws surrounding personal injury can be difficult to navigate, however, particularly if you are seriously injured and dealing with pain, stress, and medical bills.

To clear up any confusion you may have, we'll provide an overview of some of the personal injury case types that we see most often here at Block O'Toole & Murphy.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Personal injury lawsuits resulting from a motor vehicle collision are fairly common. The injuries that result from a car crash, for example, can be debilitating, leading to expensive medical bills and possibly keeping the injured person out of work. Traffic accidents can be particularly damaging for pedestrians and cyclists, who often get the worst of a collision.

Any New Yorker who is in a traffic accident, however, should be aware of the no-fault insurance system the state uses to guarantee a certain amount of financial compensation for the parties injured in a motor vehicle accident . In New York, each party involved in the accident has up to $50,000 available to cover their medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault for causing the accident. No-fault insurance is separate from the standard liability insurance coverage the state requires.

No-fault insurance can be supplemented by a number of other options which are also paid out regardless of who is at fault. The first is known as Additional Personal Injury Protection, or APIP. APIP allows for motorists to increase their no-fault personal injury protection coverage in increments of $50,000.

APIP is particularly useful for increasing reimbursement for lost wages in the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident. Standard no-fault insurance will cover 80% of lost wages, but only up to $2,000. If you make more than that per month, APIP is one option to increase the amount of protected wages in the event you are injured in an accident that somebody else caused.

Another level of no-fault insurance available is known as OBEL, or optional basic economic loss. OBEL provides another $25,000 which can be used to cover additional expenses at the insured's discretion. Choosing to add either APIP or OBEL to one's motor vehicle insurance plan will increase premiums accordingly.

In some cases, accidents are caused by vehicles which do not have the required amount of liability insurance. Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM) is available for motorists who are injured in an accident with somebody who is not properly insured. The limits for UM or UIM insurance are the same as those for liability insurance: $25,000 per person for bodily injury up to $50,000; $50,000 per person for death up to $100,000; and $10,00 per accident for property damage.

Depending on your insurance coverage and the extent of your injuries, available insurance may not cover all of your financial needs. To recover substantial compensation following a car, truck, bus, motorcycle or some other kind of motor vehicle accident, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary.

Premises Liability Cases

Whether at a grocery store, school, park, mall or hospital, property owners have an obligation to provide a reasonably safe environment for someone who is legally on their property. When a hazardous condition on a piece of property causes somebody to be injured, the question becomes whether or not the property owner was negligent in allowing that condition to come about. Generally speaking, negligence occurs in one of three ways:

  • The property owner actually created the defect that caused the injury
  • The property owner knew about the defect but did not act reasonably fast to correct it
  • The property owner should have known about the defect if they had been more responsible in caring for their property, also referred to as having "constructive notice" of the problem

The most common form of premises liability lawsuit is a slip and fall accident. Studies show that slip and falls account for more than a million visits to the emergency room each year, and they can be especially debilitating for senior citizens. Failing to salt a parking lot, driveway or sidewalk in icy or snowy conditions is one common cause of slip and fall accidents, although a certain amount of time needs to elapse between the precipitation and the accident to meet the standard of negligence.

Premises liability lawsuits can be complicated because the owner of the property is not always going to be present at the accident site, complicating the issue of if and when they became aware of a property defect. In a recent $1,500,000 slip and fall case that Block O'Toole & Murphy settled, a woman was walking her child to day care on a route she had taken many times before. It had recently snowed, however, and though the sidewalk had been shoveled there was still some ice and dirty snow on it.

Our client slipped and fell backwards, striking her head on the icy sidewalk. Our lawyers looked at the weather records, which revealed that the last snowfall had occurred 39 hours earlier. Regardless of whether the property owner had seen the icy sidewalk for himself, 39 hours was determined to be a reasonable length of time in which to put salt down, and the case settled for 7 figures.

The question of how foreseeable a hazard was or should have been is critical in any personal injury lawsuit, and even more so in a premises liability lawsuit.

Construction Accidents

New York City is in the middle of an unprecedented construction boom, which means more jobs for New York construction workers. Unfortunately, construction work can be dangerous, especially at sites run by bad actor construction companies who do not take workplace safety seriously.

Block O'Toole & Murphy has won nearly 100 results exceeding $1,000,000 for construction accidents. Following a construction accident that leaves somebody seriously injured, the first and most important question to ask will be who was responsible for causing that injury. A worker injured in a scaffold fall might decide to file a lawsuit against a scaffold manufacturer for improper assembly.

Meanwhile, the manufacturer may say that the scaffolding was built correctly and that the worker acted improperly, or was the 'sole proximate cause' of the accident, which is a common defense used in this type of situation. Further complicating the question of liability is the fact that an injured worker cannot directly sue their employer. Rather, personal injury lawsuits can only be filed against third parties, such as contractors, manufacturers, or subcontractors.

Liability aside, the most common causes of construction accidents, known as the Fatal Four, are well-known to us: falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between. Falling accidents on construction sites are far and away the most common cause of serious injury or even death for construction workers. Falling object accidents are also common given the heights and number of tools and building materials involved, and on occasion these can cause passersby as well as workers to be injured.

Luckily, New York does have certain labor laws which protect the rights of construction workers in the event of an injury. The three primary laws that play into construction accident lawsuits are New York Labor Laws 200, 240 and 241, which very broadly legislate the need for safe working conditions for construction workers involved in a variety of different tasks.

By far the most important law in defense of injured construction workers is Labor Law 240, more popularly known as the Scaffold Law. To simplify, the Scaffold Law mandates that workers must be protected from gravity-related hazards. While this can be something as straightforward as a falling hammer dropped from a roof, what exactly constitutes a "gravity-related hazard" is often a point of contention in construction accident lawsuits.

It generally has been held that a worker is not responsible for a gravity-related hazard which caused them to be injured, as long as that worker did not explicitly ignore on-site safety devices intended to protect against that hazard. However, the broad scope of the Scaffold Law has left it open to vigorous debate and interpretation, and only an experienced attorney will be able to say if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Block O'Toole & Murphy Partners have published in the New York Law Journal on the complexities of the Scaffold Law, and regularly deal with various labor laws in their many ongoing construction accident cases.

A Good Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions

There are many scenarios which can lead to a personal injury lawsuit, but as we have seen, the questions surrounding these types of suits can be complex and difficult to navigate. That is why if you have been injured and are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, you shouldn't hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can talk you through your rights and the compensation you may be eligible to receive.

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy are well-versed in all types of personal injury lawsuits, evidenced by the fact that the firm won the largest number of results exceeding $1,000,000 in all of New York every year since 2012. If you are considering filing a lawsuit but aren't sure if you qualify, simply call 212-736-5300 to receive a free, no-obligation case review from one of our attorneys. We are proud to serve all of New York and New Jersey.