We represent persons injured, and families of persons killed by accidents and the negligence of others, including motor vehicle drivers, building owners, doctors, hospitals, municipalities, owners of vicious animals, and landlords. The partners at Bornstein Oppenheimer, PLLC are William Bornstein and Houston Oppenheimer.
We understand the emotional and financial burdens that a personal injury can place upon and injured person and his or her family. The most important thing you must consider after an accident is protecting your health. While you are concentrating on getting better as quickly as possible, we are dedicated to protecting your legal rights. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your injury and your concerns.
If you have a significant injury and if you intend to make a claim for that injury, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you collect and preserve the evidence to be presented to the insurance company in order to obtain the best result, by settlement or trial. It is essential that you obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses to the accident.
The damages that you may recover include losses for past and future medical expenses, past and future salary and lost earnings, and past and future pain and suffering. You can recover even if you are partially at fault, although the amount you recover will be reduced to the extent that the accident was your fault.
We are committed to vigorously pursuing the rights of our clients. If you are looking for a law firm that you can trust to put your interests first, look to us.
What to Do in an Auto Accident
You're driving along when suddenly a car hits you. It's hard to think clearly at this time, but the information that you obtain right after an auto accident - and what you say - can have a big impact on your recovery.
Here are some steps to take if you are in a car accident. They will reduce the hassles and help make sure you get the maximum recovery that you are entitled to receive.
- Call 911 to get help for anyone badly hurt.
- Write down the name, address, phone and driver's license numbers, and insurance company of the other driver and the other car's owner (if the other driver does not own the car).
- Write down the other car's make, year and license number.
- Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses (including passengers in both cars).
- Make a diagram of the accident. Show the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If possible, measure skid marks, and show them on the diagram. Be sure your diagram includes stop signs, traffic signals and cross walks.
- Make notes on weather and road conditions, and where and when the accident happened.
- Do not take any blame for the accident. Things you say can be used against you later. Also, even if you think you caused the accident, witnesses may have seen something proving the other driver was more at fault.
- Do not discuss the accident with the other driver.
If a dispute arises regarding the accident, or if you have questions about making a claim for your injuries or property damage, call your attorney. Procedures for obtaining compensation can be complex. It's best to call as soon after the accident as possible, as the time right after the accident can be vital to your claim.
After An Accident: Do You Have a Case?
If you've been in a car, slip and fall or other accident and want to make a claim, probably the first question you will have is "Do I have a good case?" There are several factors to consider when answering this question. They include:
- Is the other person at fault? If the accident was caused by someone's negligent or intentional act, you can make a claim. But don't give up making a claim just because you were partly at fault for the accident. In most states, accident victims can recover money even if they were partly to blame for an accident.
- How badly were you hurt? To get money for your accident, you must have "damage." This can include many things, like money you lost from missing work, medical bills, and your pain and suffering.
Even if right after the accident you did not feel badly hurt or think you did not suffer "damage," you still may have a good case. That's because some injuries take time to develop. Since all your injuries may not be known for a long time, consult a lawyer after your accident, even if your injuries seem small. Your lawyer will protect your rights if they get worse.
- Can you collect? Even if the other person is at fault and you did suffer damage, your victory has value only if you are paid. So before you make a claim, be sure the other party has money, property or insurance so you will be able to collect if you win.
But remember there can be many sources for recovering your damages. So don't give up a claim just because the person who caused the accident cannot pay. There may be other parties responsible for paying, like the person's employer. Also, your own insurance may pay.
- Are you within the time limit to make a claim? Laws set deadlines to make claims. If you wait too long and the deadline passes, your case will be dismissed, no matter how strong it is.
If you are in an accident, consult your lawyer to find out if you have a good case. Many accident victims mistakenly think their case is weak when it really is strong. Getting legal help promptly after the accident will help make sure that if you do have a good case, you receive the maximum recovery for your injuries.
Your Rights In An Accident
Accidents are part of life. Try as we do to avoid them, they happen anyway. If you get in an accident, you have many rights. Whether it's an auto collision, slip and fall or other accident, it is important to know them.
After an accident, getting first aid for whoever is hurt is always a priority. After making sure injured people are cared for, here are rights accident victims should know:
- Right to fair compensation. Accident victims have the right to fair compensation. This usually means an amount of money to return you as close as possible to your position before the accident. Thus, you can recover for various things, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Of course, just being in an accident does not automatically mean you are entitled to receive money. The other side must pay you only if they are at fault. However, in most states, accident victims can recover money even if they are partly at fault for an accident.
- Right to talk to your lawyer before answering questions. In a car accident you may need to give your name, address, license and insurance information. But you don't have to say anything about the accident itself. Usually the less said at the scene, the better. It is hard to be composed, and things you say could hurt you later. Don't discuss the accident until consulting your lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you how to deal with the other side and with insurance adjusters.
- Right to ask witnesses for information. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. You may need them to tell what they saw or heard. If a witness won't cooperate later, your lawyer knows the court's procedures to require them to tell what they know about the incident.
- Right to get medical care from the doctor you want. Don't let the other side or an insurance company pressure you to see a doctor they select.
- Right to get property repaired. If you were in a car accident, you have the right to have your car fixed to its pre-accident condition. If the car is "totaled," you're entitled its pre-accident value.
Accidents happen, but you have many rights if you are in one. Knowing and exercising them will help you recover all you are entitled to receive after an accident.
The Value of Having a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you get in an accident and want to make a claim, one of the first things you have to decide is whether to use a lawyer or make a claim yourself.
For many reasons, if you are hurt in an accident, you should get a lawyer's help rather than try to do it yourself. Here are some of the main ones.
- You need someone on your side who is experienced in dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies have many people working for them. Often, they will try to avoid or delay paying valid claims, or offer unfairly low settlements. Accident victims need someone to assert their rights to get what they are legally entitled to receive. A personal injury lawyer, who knows how insurance companies work, is the best person to do this.
- You will likely receive more money. For most accident victims, this is the main reason to use a lawyer. Studies - even those by insurance companies - show that accident victims who use a lawyer receive more money than those who do not, even after deducting all costs.
- Your lawyer can help you on related matters. For example, your lawyer can recommend doctors and car repair facilities.
- You pay a fee only if you win. A key benefit of using a lawyer for injury claims is the contingency fee. A contingency fee is a fee that is paid only if you win. It is typically paid from the recovery. Contingency fees let any accident victim who has a good case get legal help, even if they don't have much money.
If you needed surgery, you would not operate on yourself. The same rule is true in law - if you are in an accident, you should get a professional's help. A lawyer makes recovering damages easier, you'll have a better chance of recovering money, and you'll likely get more money.
After an Accident: Important Do's and Dont's
If you get in an accident, the steps you take after it can be vital in determining your recovery. Taking the right steps will greatly increase your chances to get the best settlement. Here are some of the most important things to do - and not do - to help get the maximum recovery.
DO get information from witnesses at the accident scene, including their name, address and phone number. In a car accident, get the other driver's information and his or her insurance company name and policy number.
DO make notes of the accident while it's fresh in your mind. Write down the time, weather and what you saw, heard and felt.
DO take photos of the accident scene. Also take photos of your car (if it was a car accident) and your injuries.
DO keep a written record of how your injuries affect you, including changes to daily activities. Also keep a record of visits with health care providers and lost wages and other money losses caused by the accident.
DO consult a lawyer promptly. This helps make sure that evidence is gathered, witness statements obtained, your claim is filed on time, and your best case is presented.
DON'T admit fault for the accident, either at the scene or elsewhere. Statements you make in the heat of the moment may be wrong but can still be used against you later. Talk to your lawyer before taking any blame.
DON'T give a statement to an insurance company before consulting your lawyer. Insurance adjusters are trained to get damaging statements from accident victims, which they use to deny claims or reduce settlement offers.
DON'T ignore signs of pain, even small ones. See a doctor, as minor injuries can get much worse.
DON'T change medical treatment without your doctor's approval.
DON'T sign a release or any other document before consulting your lawyer. Once you agree to a settlement, you usually can't go back later and ask for more money.
These are just some of the things to do and not do after an accident. If you are in an accident, making even a small mistake can seriously affect your recovery. Avoid problems by taking the right steps and seeking legal help promptly.
Common Mistakes Accident Victims Make: How You Can Avoid Them
Many accident victims don't get all the compensation they are entitled to receive. This is often due to mistakes people make that hurt their case. Here are some common mistakes made by accident victims, and how you can avoid them.
Not getting a lawyer's help for serious injury claims.
After an accident, an insurance adjuster will likely urge you not to use a lawyer, saying a lawyer won't get you more money. But the adjuster's loyalty is to the insurance company, not you, and he or she is telling you this so the insurance company can pay you less money. Studies show accident victims receive more money when they have a lawyer's help. So don't make the mistake of believing an adjuster who says a lawyer won't help you.
Giving statements to insurance adjusters.
After an accident, an adjuster will likely try to get tape recorded statements from you. He or she will seem friendly and sympathetic. But remember the adjuster really wants you to make damaging statements so the insurance company can pay you less money. Don't make the mistake of giving a statement to an insurance adjuster without first consulting your lawyer.
Not getting information at the accident scene.
Getting the right information at the accident scene will help your lawyer prepare the best case.
Waiting too long to get medical care.
There are many reasons to see a doctor promptly. One is so problems won't get worse. Another is that a doctor's report provides a good written record of your injuries. A third reason is that many insurance companies (and juries) feel that if you did not see a doctor, your injuries were not serious.
Waiting too long to seek legal help.
If you wait too long to get legal help, it gets harder to find evidence and witnesses. You also risk losing your claim because the deadline for making claims has expired.
Settling too fast, before all your injuries are known.
Some injuries take time to develop. Don't make the mistake of settling your claim before knowing the full extent of your injuries
These are just some mistakes accident victims make that hurt their case. Getting legal assistance right after an accident can help you avoid these and other mistakes, and increase your chances of getting the best settlement.