Practice Areas

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor 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. We also handle 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.

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. We 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.

Premises Liability

The 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.

Wrongful Death

Sometimes a defendant’s negligence injuries. Other times it kills. When it kills, the lawsuit that would have been a mere “personal injury” case because instead a “wrongful death” case. In New York the family of a wrongful death victim can sue for essentially two things:

  1. (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. (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.

Construction Accidents

In 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.

Medical Malpractice

Anybody 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, we will sue the doctor, hospital, and others responsible for the mistake in order to get full compensation for our client.

Legal Malpractice

Legal 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.

Product Liability

Whether 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”.

Wrongful Convictions

New 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.

Catastrophic Injuries

We handle all types of injuries, small and big. Because of our reputation as top trial lawyers, many large injury cases are referred to us. 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.

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!
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