Personal Injury Lawyers Protecting Your Rights
A personal injury lawsuit can generally be filed by an injured person who was harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence. If you were injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, it is a good idea to discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney. Filing a lawsuit, especially for a personal injury claim, can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, almost impossible to do without professional legal help.
This page provides an in-depth overview of personal injury topics, including the kinds of cases our firm handles, damages you may be able to obtain compensation for, things to consider when filing a personal injury lawsuit, and New York laws related to personal injury cases. However, it is important to note that every case is different, and you will need to speak to an attorney to truly understand what your case is worth.
The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have dedicated their practice to personal injury law. For over 40 years, they have been helping personal injury victims get back on their feet by recovering the compensation they deserve, including record-breaking $110 million and $32 million verdicts. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE consultation with an expert attorney today.
A Proven Record of Achieving Results for Injury Victims
Our attorneys have over 40 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured clients, and have obtained over $1 billion in results. Our lawyers are not interested in quick settlements unless it benefits the client, and will negotiate as long as it takes to ensure our clients get the full amount of compensation they deserve. Many of our lawyers have prior experience as prosecutors, meaning they are always ready for trial if a case should come to it. Our track record, which includes multiple record-breaking results such as a $110,174,972 verdict, a $32,756,156 verdict, and a $22,500,000 settlement, demonstrates our commitment to excellence in the courtroom.
Types of personal injury cases that we handle include, but are not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bike accidents
- Elevator accidents
- Wrongful death cases
- Premises liability cases
- Product liability/defective product cases
- Medical malpractice
In order to provide the best possible service to our clients, our lawyers are continuously learning and staying up to date on developments in New York law, especially those that pertain to personal injury. They have authored articles on topics like the Scaffold Law, and many of our lawyers teach Continuing Legal Education classes on personal injury topics to other lawyers in the New York area and beyond. Our lawyers are well-respected in the legal community and have been recognized by prominent legal organizations for years, including Best Law Firms, Best Lawyers®, and Super Lawyers.
If you are considering retaining a lawyer for your personal injury case, you may be wondering how you can afford such legal help. At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that, unless we win your case, you don’t owe us anything. And, when we do settle your case, your legal fees come out of your total settlement amount. This means you never pay anything out of pocket.
At Block O’Toole & Murphy, clients come first. Not only do we limit the number of cases we take on so that we can provide individualized attention to each case, but our clients often say once their cases have resolved that they feel as if they were treated like family. We stay in touch with many past clients long after their cases have settled. Our philosophy is not to rest until justice is done for our clients, and they have received the maximum amount of compensation they are legally entitled to.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New York
As mentioned above, filing a personal injury lawsuit without a lawyer can be an overwhelming process, especially in the aftermath of a serious injury. If you are thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider the below to ensure you have the smoothest process possible.
Determine if your case qualifies as personal injury.
The first step in filing a personal injury claim is determining whether or not your accident would qualify as one. The key difference between an accident and an accident that qualifies as personal injury is whether negligence was involved. According to the New York City Bar, there are three questions you should ask to determine whether or not your accident would qualify as a personal injury case:
- Did the person or party who caused my injury have a duty to ensure I did not get injured? Civilians have a legal responsibility to provide a “duty of care” towards others. This means they should act in a way that takes others into consideration and take reasonable steps not to cause harm. For example, all drivers have a duty of care towards other motorists and pedestrians while driving. They are expected to obey all traffic laws and drive with a reasonable regard for others’ safety.
- Did the person or party who caused my injury breach the duty of care? Since we are all expected to act with a reasonable regard for others’ wellbeing, there can be consequences if someone does not do so. For example, if a motorist is distracted by his cell phone and runs a red light, striking a pedestrian who was crossing the street, the driver has breached his duty of care.
- Is there a link between my injuries and the person or party who breached their duty of care? Even if it has been established that you were injured and someone else who was involved breached their duty of care, you must be able to show that the offending person’s negligence directly caused your injury. This is also known as “proximate cause.” Keeping with the example above, there is a direct link, or proximate cause, between the distracted driver’s actions and the pedestrian’s injuries, since the driver ran a red light and struck the pedestrian.
If you can answer “yes” to these three questions, it is likely that you could make a valid personal injury claim. In order to prove that the other party is liable, you will need to show that they acted negligently, and that their negligent actions directly caused your injury or illness.
Understand there is a time limit.
If you believe you have a personal injury case, you should be aware that you only have a certain amount of time to make your claim before the courts will no longer accept it as valid. This is called the statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years from the date of injury. However, there are some exceptions; for example, wrongful death cases (which qualify as a kind of personal injury case) have a statute of limitations of only two years, and municipal cases have a time limit of just 90 days. Because of these time limits, you should not wait to contact an attorney if you believe you have a case.
Know the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.
Workers’ compensation programs and personal injury lawsuits both allow those who have been injured to obtain compensation for their damages. However, there are a few key differences:
- Workers’ compensation only applies to workers who have suffered injuries or illnesses as a result of performing their job duties. Personal injury cases apply to a broader range of accident victims, such as car accidents, premises liability, product liability, and medical malpractice.
- Negligence does not play a role in workers’ compensation cases. As long as the worker can prove they were injured in the course of their job duties, they are eligible for compensation. On the other hand, personal injury cases are only valid if negligence has caused someone’s injury.
- As a worker, it is possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits and file a third-party personal injury claim if you believe negligence played a role in causing your injuries. If you are filing a personal injury case for an accident that does not relate to your employment, you are likely not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits as well.
If you were injured on the job, it is important to know that you have options for receiving compensation, depending on the details of your case.
Filing a claim against a government or municipality.
If you were injured because of the government’s negligence, (for example, slipping and falling because of unattended black ice on government property or were struck by a government-owned vehicle), the process of filing a personal injury claim is a bit different than if you were filing against a private citizen or entity. If you intend to bring a personal injury claim against New York City or New York State, you must file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of your accident informing the government that you will be filing a lawsuit against them. If you do not file this notice, it is very possible you will lose your right to file a lawsuit. 90 days is quite a short time, especially since in the weeks immediately following your accident you will likely be tending to your injuries and figuring out your employment situation. That is why it is in your best interest to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can post-accident.
Retain a personal injury lawyer.
Once you have determined that you have a case, it is in your best interest to speak to a personal injury attorney who can help you officially file a lawsuit. It is very difficult to successfully handle a personal injury case yourself; they can take years to resolve, and to do so, you will have to deal with insurance adjusters who likely do not actually care about your injuries, and only want to ensure the insurance company pays as little as possible. If you hire an attorney, they will deal with the insurance companies for you and be by your side for the lawsuit process, from filing to settlement.
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Once you have retained a personal injury lawyer, they will thoroughly examine the details of your case and help you determine what damages you can make a claim for. Damages are the ways that you have been harmed as a result of your injuries, that you can obtain monetary compensation for. Common personal injury damages include:
- Medical bills and expenses, for both past and future treatment
- Funeral and/or burial expenses, if death resulted from the accident
- Loss of income if the injury keeps the victim from returning to work
- Loss of quality of life
- The victim’s pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma the victim experiences, such as PTSD or depression
Not all plaintiffs will be able to make a claim for all damages; the amount of compensation a plaintiff can expect to obtain varies based on each case and the extent that each victim was affected by their accident. Although it is often more complex than this, the end goal of a personal injury case is to return the victim as closely as possible to the state they were in before the accident. This goal is achieved through the monetary compensation awarded to the victim. For example, if a construction worker suffered spinal injuries because he fell off a ladder that was unsecured, he will need medical treatment, will likely not be able to go back to work right away (or possibly ever), and, due to physical limitations, may not be able to participate in the same activities he used to enjoy, like spending time with family or exercising. He could make a claim to obtain compensation for his medical bills, loss of income, and loss of quality of life, based on those damages.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is one of the damages in a personal injury case that can be difficult to quantify. Pain and suffering is a category that covers both the physical and mental injuries of the victim. It encompasses pain in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and any suffering that lasts into the future. For example, say a driver was rear-ended in a car accident and suffered herniated discs that required spinal surgery. Although he is able to heal to a certain extent, he is unable to return to his job and no longer has the physical capacity to play with his young children or move around without the help of a cane. This man’s pain and suffering damages would likely include the pain he felt in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and the continued pain he feels daily from the severity of his injuries (his physical pain and suffering). In addition, his mental pain and suffering damages would likely include his depression and anger at the fact that he can no longer do the activities that brought him joy before the accident, as well as PTSD whenever he rides in a car.
It can be difficult to assign a dollar amount to a person’s pain and suffering, as it is somewhat of an abstract concept. Common methods for calculating pain and suffering damages include the “multiplier method” and the “per diem method.” The multiplier method involves multiplying the victim’s quantifiable damages (like medical bills) by a number ranging from 1-5 (depending on the severity of their injuries) to get the amount they are owed for pain and suffering. The per diem method involves assigning a dollar amount for every day that the plaintiff experienced pain and suffering, until they are considered to be fully recovered. These methods are certainly not foolproof; the only way to determine how much you may be owed for pain and suffering is to consult a personal injury lawyer.
Punitive damages are a rare category of damages that only apply when the negligent party is considered to have behaved in an intentionally reckless or extremely careless way. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to the typical compensatory damages a plaintiff has already received, and are meant to punish the defendant for extremely careless or intentionally malicious behavior and deter that kind of behavior in the future. These kinds of damages are only awarded in civil cases; they are meant to function as jail time would in a criminal case. An example of a case that might warrant punitive damages is a driver who knowingly got behind the wheel after drinking, drove recklessly, and caused an accident. Punitive damages are legal in New York, but are extremely rare.
New York Personal Injury Laws
There are certain laws in New York that pertain specifically to personal injury cases.
First, it is important to know that New York is a comparative negligence state, which can sometimes affect the amount of compensation a plaintiff is able to obtain. Comparative negligence is a law that states both parties in a personal injury case can be found responsible for the accident (essentially, the law understands that an accident may not always be entirely one person’s fault). The amount of compensation the plaintiff receives can be reduced depending on the percentage they are found liable. For example, perhaps the defendant rolled through a stop sign while looking at his phone and T-boned the plaintiff’s car, which had also been proceeding through the intersection. In the case investigation, it is found that the plaintiff had been speeding while moving through the intersection. In this case, the defendant might be found 90% at fault, while the plaintiff could be found 10% liable. This would reduce the plaintiff’s compensation by 10%. Note that this law typically only makes an appearance if personal injury cases go to trial; this is less common in cases that settle pre-trial with insurance adjusters.
Car Accidents: No-Fault Insurance Law
If you were injured in a car accident and are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is necessary to know about New York’s no-fault law, which only applies to car accidents. Under the no-fault law, New York requires all motorists with a New York license to have no-fault insurance. If a New York driver were to get into a car accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was, they are required to turn to their insurance first to obtain compensation for medical bills and lost income. A driver that has been in an accident cannot file a personal injury claim unless his expenses exceed the no-fault limit (in New York, this is $50,000), or his injuries are considered “serious” under the law. In New York, a serious injury is defined as:
- Significant disfigurement
- Bone fractures
- Permanent or significant loss of use of a body function or system
To clarify: under New York’s no-fault laws, a New York driver who has been in an accident can only obtain compensation from his insurance, unless his medical bills and expenses exceed $50,000 OR he has a serious injury. If either of those exceptions apply, the driver can now file a personal injury case if he believes there was negligence involved in causing the accident.
No-fault insurance law can be confusing; what is defined as a serious injury is not always clear. If you have been in a car accident and think you may have a personal injury case but are worried about violating the no-fault law, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Getting You Results
The personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy understand the pain and confusion that accident victims and their loved ones feel in the aftermath of an accident. We have years of experience obtaining results that help our clients return to lives that are as close as possible to the ones they lived pre-accident. These results include but are not limited to:
- $110,174,972.38 record-breaking verdict for a cyclist in Brooklyn who was tragically paralyzed from the waist down after he was struck by an object dropped from a construction site above
- $32,756,156 record-breaking verdict for an army veteran who suffered massive brain damage and was permanently disabled when he was violently struck by a reckless driver
- $22,500,000 settlement for a husband and father who sustained severe injuries to his left arm after he was involved in a head-on collision
- $20,181,484 verdict for a man who lost function in his left arm after a collision caused by icy road conditions
- $15,000,000 wrongful death settlement in a Bronx case for the family of a worker who was tragically killed when he was crushed on the job by a falling commercial air chiller
- $14,000,000 verdict for a motorcyclist who suffered serious injuries, including a leg amputation, after being hit by a truck
- $13,500,000 record-breaking settlement for a 24-year-old pedestrian who was struck by a company-owned vehicle, resulting in a traumatic brain injury, among other serious injuries
- $12,000,000 settlement in a Brooklyn case for a 5-year-old child standing on the sidewalk who was struck by a vehicle that jumped up onto the sidewalk after it was involved in a collision with another vehicle
- $12,000,000 settlement for a union tunnel worker in Manhattan who fell 40 feet into a ventilation shaft while on the job, resulting in multiple fractures and internal injuries that required surgery
- $11,500,000 settlement in a Bronx case for a union construction worker who suffered a lacerated forearm tendon, with serious complications, after he was cut by a defective saw that did not have a safety guard
- $11,000,000 settlement for a masonry foreman in Brooklyn who fell through an unsecured temporary hole cover in the floor at his construction site, resulting in disabling injuries to his pelvis and spine
- $10,875,000 settlement for a union worker who was impaled on a Brooklyn construction site when he fell on uncapped steel rebar, resulting in significant internal injuries
- $10,500,000 wrongful death settlement for a union laborer in Staten Island who tragically died after he was injured by a defective saw on a construction site
- $9,950,000 settlement for a 28-year-old social worker who required an above-the-knee amputation of her left leg after she was struck by a van that drove recklessly into the parking lot she was in
- $9,792,412 verdict for a man who was injured during brain surgery
To see more verdicts and settlements, visit our Verdicts and Settlements page.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys today.
We serve all five boroughs of New York City, as well as all New York State.