General Negligence

If you or a loved one is injured because of someone else's carelessness or negligence, you may have a claim for compensation to recover your financial losses and pain and suffering. There is an infinite variety of negligence cases. Generally, all that you need to prove is that the defendant had a legal duty to you or the public generally to use care to prevent such an injury from occurring, and that the defendant violated that duty by doing something that (s)he should not have done or by failing to do what (s)he should have done. The Syracuse injury lawyers of Michaels & Smolak has recovered millions of dollars to compensate victims of negligence for financial losses, pain and suffering and more. Please contact us to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you recover for your losses. Read more below.

General Negligence

What Do I Have to Prove to Win My Negligence Case?

To prove that the defendant (the person or entity sued) negligently caused your injury, you must generally show three things: (1) The defendant had a duty to you or the general public. For example, a car driver has a duty to stop at a stop sign. (2) The defendant breached that duty. For example, he did not stop at the stop sign. (3) The breach of duty (i.e., failing to stop at the stop sign) caused (in legaleze, was the "proxmate cause" of) your injury. For example, your head hit the steering wheel causing headaches and other problems.

What types of Negligence Cases does Michaels & Smolak Handle?

All kinds. Some common types of negligence cases we handle are described below:

Swimming, Drowning and Diving Accidents

The most common negligent causes of swimming or diving injuries include: failure to mark the deep end of a pool, failure to fence off water hazards, such as ponds with steep sides; failure to lock gates when a pool is unsupervised; failure to post warning signs; failure to supervise small children; failure to properly or adequately train life guards at camps, water parks, and pools. Diving accidents can lead to head, brain or spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Injuries from swimming and diving accidents are often catastrophic. The injured may require a lifetime of care and medical treatment. If you or your child has suffered a swimming or diving accident, it is important to contact a competent and experienced lawyer who can advise you about the best way claim compensation for these costs.

Sports and Gym Accidents

We all assume certain known risks when we work out at the gym, jog, or play sports. But sometimes, because of others' negligence, risks we don't assume cause us bodily harm. For example, you may be injured by defective gym equipment or because the facility failed to maintain the premises adequately. Children may also be injured at gym or playing sports at school. The school may have failed to properly supervise the children or to ensure that they understood the safe way of playing the sport. These types of claims must be carefully investigated by competent, experienced personal injury lawyers. Michaels & Smolak has ample experience with these types of cases, so contact us about your case.

Boating Accidents

Common boating accident include: water skiing accidents, boat propeller accidents, boats capsizing because of the excessive wake of another boat, boat crashes caused by operator error, and boat crashes caused by boating while intoxicated. Boaters are legally required to operate their watercrafts in a safe manner. If they fail to do so, and they cause injury to you or your loved ones, you may be entitled to sue for damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. If your loved one was killed in a boating accident, you may sue for wrongful death. Michaels & Smolak has ample experience with these types of cases, so contact usabout your case.

What should I do if I am involved in a boating accident?

In the state of New York, you must file a report if the boat crash involved injuries that needed more than first aid, or if there was damage to any property above a certain amount. You must also remain on the scene and report the accident in a timely manner. Failure to do so could constitute a crime. To protect your own interests, you should also report the accident as soon as possible to your own insurance company, including your homeowner's insurance carrier. A skilled boating accident lawyer can navigate the insurance and regulatory issues and guide you through the legal process of properly reporting the accident and seeking compensation for it.

Dog Bite Cases

Thousands of people, many of them children, are bitten by dogs every year. Most dog bites are to the face, and the puncture wounds and scars that remain can be disfiguring. Plastic surgery or other surgical repair may be required or recommended, but still might not completely heal the scarring. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for the pain, suffering and scarring, as well as for your medical expenses and lost wages. Michaels & Smolak has ample experience with these types of cases, so contact us about your case.

How do you prove a dog bite case?

In most cases, the law in New York requires that you prove the dog that attacked you had "vicious propensities" which the owner knew about or should have known about. Once you prove this, the law says that the owner of the dog is "strictly liable" for your injuries. This means you don't have to prove that the owner was "negligent"; all you have to prove is that he knew or should have known of the dog's vicious propensities and that the dog bit you. It is not strictly true that "every dog gets a first free bite", although some lawyers not fully versed in this area of the law may believe this to be fully accurate. This is an oversimplification of the rule in New York. Yes, if the dog that bit you had previously bitten someone else, your case is much stronger. This makes it easy to prove that the owner knew of the dog's "vicious propensities". But it is also possible to prove that the owner knew of the dog's vicious propensities by showing that the dog growled at, barked at, or chased down people on a regular basis, or that the owner kept the dog locked up, caged, leashed or tied up so that it would not do so.

ATV ACCIDENTS

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are four-wheeled (or, if a very old model, three-wheeled) motorized vehicles designed for off-road riding. ATV's are mostly used for recreation, and often used by young, inexperienced drivers, and therefore have a high accident rate. Some ATV accidents are caused by manufacturing or design defects in the ATV itself, or by a failure of the manufacturer or distributors of the ATV to properly warn or instruct the user of the proper way of using them. More often, though, the main culprit in ATV accidents is a negligent driver, or an owner who negligently entrusted the ATV to an inexperienced driver. Unfortunately, in contrast to other motor vehicles, the law in New York does not require the owner of an ATV to purchase liability insurance for the vehicle, and most auto insurance policies do not cover ATV accidents. But a good personal injury attorney knows where to look for insurance coverage for an ATV injury; it is usually in the owner's and/or driver's homeowner's insurance policy.

Hunting and Firearm Accidents

When someone gets shot while hunting, it almost always means that someone failed to follow hunting safety rules. For example, the at-fault hunter may have been running with a loaded firearm, or shot across a roadway, or aimed a loaded gun at a person, or fired the gun at what he mistakenly believed to be game but was a person because he failed to look carefully, or failed to check to see that he had a clear sight of the target and beyond before shooting, or he may have placed his firearm in an insecure resting place, or shot near a busy or occupied place or building, or failed to engage the firearm's "safety", or taken some kind of awkward action (such as climbing a fence or tree) with the gun loaded. While the at-fault shooter's homeowner's insurance often covers such injuries, you can expect a fight with the insurance company if the hunter's actions were so negligent as to rise to the level of a crime. In that case, the insurance company may "disclaim" coverage, since the insurance policy probably contains a "criminal acts exclusion". You will need a good personal injury attorney to fight for that insurance coverage for you so that you can force the insurance carrier to pay the full value of your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and other losses.

What should I do if I am involved in a Hunting Accident?

Hunting accidents are often investigated and reported not only by the local police, but also by the Department of Environmental Conservation. It is important for you or your lawyer to request and receive all investigative reports and witness statements from these agencies. If criminal proceedings were commenced against the at-fault hunter, you or your lawyer must be sure to obtain all public records of these proceedings. There could be important findings or admissions in them that will make your case for personal injuries easy to prove.

What types of Injuries does Michaels & Smolak Handle?

All kinds. Here are examples of types of injuries we have experience handling:

Burns and Explosions

Victims of burn injuries often experience unbearable pain and suffering. They must often endure skin grafts, multiple surgeries, and long hospital stays. They may be disfigured for life. They are often at risk of infections. Common causes of burn injuries are: household fires, leaking gas, malfunctioning hot water heaters, inadvertent mixtures of explosive chemicals, and gas tank misuse. Explosions often cause even more catastrophic injuries than fires. They can be caused by propane or natural gas leaks in your home or in other settings. The injuries are often not limited to burns; they include traumatic bone and "crush" injuries and traumatic brain injuries. At Michaels & Smolak we have successfully handled many explosion and burn cases. Contact us to discuss your case.

Brain Injuries

Brain injuries usually leave their victims changed forever. Head trauma of almost any severity can cause permanent damage, personality changes and disorders, and damage to speech and memory functions. At Michaels & Smolak we have successfully handled many brain injury cases. Contact us to discuss your case.

Paralysis
Quadriplegia - Paraplegia

Spinal cord injuries, serious ones at least, constitute the most heartbreaking destruction of human life. Depending on where on the spinal cord the injury occurred, and whether the cord was cut or crushed, the victim can face varying degrees of quadriplegia or paraplegia. The paralyzed victims often need a lifetime of care and treatment which they cannot pay for unless they prevail in their case against the at-fault parties. When representing such plaintiffs, our lawyers fight hard to secure past and future medical bills, the cost of care, the loss of income, and to compensate the horrendous pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. We work with the most highly qualified "life care" and other experts to calculate, and prove, the resources needed over a lifetime spent unable to walk, move, have sex, or take care of personal needs. Contact us to learn more.

Broken or Fractured Bones

Common causes of broken bones are falls from scaffolding, car crashes, and slip or trip-an- falls. Serious bone fractures often require multiple surgeries and significant time off work. Serious fractures often require more than one surgery to restore the bones. At Michaels & Smolak we have successfully handled hundreds of cases involving fractured bones. Contact us to discuss your case.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Negligence Claims in New York?

Generally, 3 years from the date of your injury. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the victim is a child under 18 years old, his or her statute of limitations does not even start to run until he or she is 18, so normally it would expire on his or her 21st birthday. Also, it depends on the defendant. If you sue the State of New York you must generally do so within 2 years, and if you sue a "municipality", a "public corporation", or ther government agency, your statutes of limitations could by 1 year and 90 days or even shorter, depending on type of government agency you are suing. Further, when suing government agencies, you often need to serve or file a "notice of claim" or "notice of intention of claim" within 90 days of the injury, and sometimes even shorter time limits apply. There are other statutes of limitations and exceptions that may apply to your case. Contact us to discuss your statutes of limitations.

What if I can't afford an attorney?

That's impossible. A reputable personal injury attorney will not charge you for an initial consultation. Michaels & Smolak will give you a free consultation. If we decide to represent you, we will charge you on a contingency fee basis, which is usually 1/3 of the net recovery we obtain for you, whether from a settlement or from a jury. Since the initial consultation is free, why wait? Contact us today for a free consultation.

The Syracuse injury lawyers of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for victims of negligence and for other injuries to cover their medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.