$7,750,000 Car Crash
$5,200,000 Paraplegia
$3,800,000 Construction injury
$3,800,000 Burn injury
$2,542,376 Brain Surgery
$2,225,000 Slip & Fall
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New York Injury Attorneys

Understanding Your New York Personal Injury ClaimBookby Michaels & Smolak lawyerMike Bersani

If you have found this site, you are probably looking for a New York personal injury or malpractice lawyer. And if you are looking for a personal injury or malpractice attorney it's probably because you've been seriously hurt by the negligence of others.

To get fair compensation, you will likely have to battle a big insurance company or corporation. To make money, they will try to minimize your injuries or defeat your claim. That's why you need a Syracuse injury lawyer, because our job is to win your claim and get you full compensation for your injuries.

We are dedicated almost exclusively to personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice and legal malpractice cases in all of Upstate New York, with most of our cases being in Central New York, the Finger Lakes Region and Western New York. We also accept general civil litigation cases, and we do take some select cases from all areas of New York State.

You can see the results of some of our cases here.

Our firm is top rated. Read about our ratings here.

Our philosophy is simple but effective: Provide the very best and most compassionate legal representation to real people, one client at a time. Our Syracuse injury attorneys believe the best "lawyer advertising" is a satisfied client. More than half of our cases are referred by other lawyers in other firms. These lawyers know from their experience with us that we provide their clients with personal service and the most effective representation available anywhere.

Besides the high quality of our work, what sets us apart from other firms is our "team approach" to cases. The lawyers here meet regularly to discuss every new case as well as cases approaching settlement or trial. This "brain-storming" leads to creative and powerful case advancement.

We prepare each case as if we were going to try it, even though most cases do settle. Defense lawyers and insurance companies know we are prepared to try our cases, which makes them want to settle, and settle for more. Hard work, thorough preparation, fine-tuned trial skills, and years of experience combine to enable our team to provide the best representation possible for our clients.

Our Syracuse injury lawyers provide free consultations. If we accept your case, it will likely be on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we win or achieve a settlement for you. Call us to learn more.

But wait. Maybe you aren't ready to reach out to us yet. Maybe you want to gather information to help you decide whether to hire a lawyer, and if so, what lawyer to hire. We can help you there, too. Go to our frequently asked questions page to find the answer to most of your questions.

Want more free information? Sign up to have our free book, "Understanding your New York Personal Injury Claim" (authored by Michaels & Smolak attorney Mike Bersani). We'll ship it out to you today (except on weekends or holidays).

Below is a description of the main types of cases we handle:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motorcycle AccidentsMotor vehicle collisions with other vehicles, stationary objects such as trees, or with pedestrians, are almost always caused by driver error, which is by definition negligence. The driver may have violated a New York Vehicle & Traffic Law rule, or may have simply failed to pay attention or failed to see what was there to be seen. Whether the negligent driver was operating a car, motorcycle, truck, or recreational vehicles, the same rules of the road apply. In addition, commercial trucks must adhere to federal commercial transportation regulations. Our injury attorneys also guide Syracuse residents and other victims through cases involving bicycles, boats, buses, pedestrians, taxis, and trains. New York is a "no-fault" state, meaning that all vehicles must be insured to provide basic medical and lost income insurance to occupants of the vehicle, regardless of whose fault the accident was. In addition, New York's no-fault law generally requires that motor vehicle accident victims prove they have suffered a "serious injury" in order to bring a claim against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation. For more information click here.


General Negligence

General Negligence"Accidents" usually happen because someone was careless. Legally this "carelessness" is known as "negligence". Because people can be careless in countless ways and in countless arenas of activity, the types of negligence claims that can be brought have almost no bounds. The injury lawyers at our Syracuse firm represent injured victims in all types of negligence cases, including, for example, boating accidents, snowmobile collisions, dog bite injuries, school negligent supervision, hunting accidents and foster care negligence. For more information click here.


Premises Liability

Premises LiabilityThe underlying principle of premises liability cases is that whoever owns or controls a piece of property or building has duty to maintain the property in a reasonable safe condition. Thus, a landowner, or tenant in control of the property, can be sued for injuries caused by icy conditions, tripping hazards, building codes violations, unguarded swimming pools and improperly installed or maintained playground equipment to exist on the property. The possibilities are endless. Any unsafe condition that causes injury can be the basis of an injury lawsuit if the landlord knew about it, should have known about it, or created it. For more information click here.


Wrongful Death

Wrongful DeathSometimes a defendant's negligence only injures. Other times it kills. When it kills, the lawsuit that would have been a mere "personal injury" case becomes instead a "wrongful death" case. In New York the family of a wrongful death victim can sue for essentially two things:

  1. Economic loss to the surviving family members. This includes the loss of financial support the loved one was providing them as well as things like parental guidance. Funeral and medical costs can also be recovered.
  2. The conscious pain and suffering of the deceased victim. In other words, if the victim suffered from the injuries before he died, those are compensable just as if he had survived. In New York, unlike in other States, the family members cannot claim compensation for their "grief" or mental anguish caused by the loss. They can claim only the deceased pain and suffering that preceded death.

For more information click here.


Construction Accidents

Construction AccidentsIn New York, construction accident lawsuits are different from other types of negligence cases. That's because our legislature has deemed construction sites to be very dangerous. In response, lawmakers have enacted special statutes and regulations to protect construction workers and enforce strict safety rules on construction sites. These laws are especially protective of workers who fall from scaffolds or ladders or any heights, or who are struck by falling objects. In such cases, the owner of the construction site and the general contractor are deemed "strictly liable", meaning that the worker does not even have to show that the owner or general contractor were "negligent", The owner and general contractor have an almost absolute duty to prevent these kinds of injuries from happening. An injury lawyer in the Syracuse area can help hold them accountable for safety lapses. For more information click here.


Medical Malpractice

Medical MalpracticeAnybody can cause injury to others through carelessness: electricians, plumbers, truck drivers, crane operators. Medical doctors are no exception. When they, or other medical professionals such as nurses, injury their patients through negligence, we call it "medical malpractice". In a medical malpractice case in New York, the plaintiff is required to prove that the doctor's care fell below the "standard of care" for a doctor in the community, and that the deviation from the standard of care caused harm to the patient. This almost always requires the testimony of a medical doctor, an "expert" hired by the plaintiff to prove his or her case. Since hiring a medical doctor to testify against a fellow doctor is very expensive, medical malpractice injuries have to be very damaging, and thus be "worth" a significant sum of money, to justify the cost. If the patient has suffered significant injuries, whether through prescription errors, surgical mistakes, birth errors, or misdiagnosis, the injury attorneys at our Syracuse firm will sue the doctor, hospital, and others responsible for the mistake in order to get full compensation for our client. For more information click here.


Legal Malpractice

Legal MalpracticeLegal malpractice cases are similar to medical and other professional malpractice cases in that the plaintiff must prove that the lawyer's representation of the client fell "below the standard of care" for lawyers in the community. Legal malpractice cases are often complex because they require the plaintiff to prove not just one case, but two. First, the plaintiff must prove his lawyer made a mistake. Second he has to prove that, but for the lawyer's mistake, he probably would have won the underlying case that the lawyer was handling. In other words, if the case the lawyer was handling for the plaintiff likely would have been lost anyway, then even if the lawyer fouled it up, there was no harm. No harm, no foul. Thus, when we represent a legal malpractice victim, we spend a lot of time proving not only that the defendant lawyer made a fatal mistake, but that the underlying case he was handling was a "winner" that was lost only because of that mistake. If plaintiff prevails, he recovers all the money he would have won in the underlying case, plus the fees he paid the malpracticing lawyer, plus interest running on all of this from the date of the malpractice. For more information click here.


Product Liability

Product LiabilityWhether it's a kitchen appliance, a ladder or tool, a motor vehicle, food, medical device, or any other product, the designer and distributor of the product has a duty to ensure that it is reasonably safe. This includes ensuring that warnings and instructions are adequate. In New York, the standard for product liability is generally "strict liability", not simple negligence. Thus a plaintiff need not show that the defendant corporation was "negligent". The focus is instead on the product itself; was it unreasonably dangerous. Some of the things a judge or jury will look at to determine whether the product was "unreasonably dangerous" are whether the utility of the product outweighed the danger, whether it could have been made safer without undermining the utility, and whether a safer design was feasible. Example: A knife is dangerous because it is sharp and can cut people, but it is impossible to design a knife that actually cuts, i.e., does its job, without it being sharp. Therefore, it is not "unreasonably" dangerous. With other products, however, the "danger" might be eliminated or minimized with almost no loss of the "utility" of the product. Those products would be "unreasonably dangerous," and our injury lawyers can help Syracuse consumers establish the liability of a manufacturer or other corporation. For more information click here.


Wrongful Convictions

Wrongful ConvictionsNew York has a powerful wrongful conviction statute that allows those who can prove their innocence, and who did not cause their own wrongful conviction, to recover compensation for the time they spend in prison. The plaintiff must first get the conviction vacated and the indictment dismissed. Then he can sue in New York's Court of Claims for wrongful conviction. The plaintiff must prove his innocence with "clear and convincing evidence". Plaintiff can recover for lost income and the pain and suffering caused by the humiliation, loss of freedom, loss of reputation, and other related losses. For more information click here.


Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic InjuriesWe handle all types of injuries, small and big. Because of our reputation as top trial lawyers, many large cases are referred to the injury attorneys at our Syracuse firm. These include major injuries to the spinal cord and brain, as well as losses of limbs and burn injuries cause by fires, chemicals and explosions. For more information click here.

Thanks for reading our homepage. If you want more information about our firm or about New York personal injury or malpractice claims, sign up to have our free book, "Understanding your New York Personal Injury Claim" (authored by Michaels & Smolak attorney Mike Bersani), mailed to you. If you want to speak to one of our Syracuse New York injury lawyers, CALL US.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
He is one of the top lawyers in central New York & has the accolades to show for this, but in my book he's the top lawyer in the country. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Bersani & to have had him on my team! Matthew
★★★★★
I admire the amount of background work he did which was instrumental in getting me a very good settlement. Also, having never been involved in a personal injury lawsuit, Michael was very patient explaining the legal issues. You're in good hands with Michael Bersani and the firm of Michaels & Smolak. Richard
★★★★★
Dave took over my wrongful death case after it was badly messed up by another lawyer. He was dogged in his pursuit of all the information needed to make a solid case, and he succeeded in bringing it to a very satisfactory settlement. He was honest and straightforward, kind and compassionate through meetings, depositions, court appearances. I highly recommend him. Christine
★★★★★
Dave has handled our legal matters for over 20 years. Always there when we needed him. We were so happy with his professionalism and results that we referred him to several friends. If we ever need this type of service again, Dave will be the first and only call we make. Jackie
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