Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

What does “personal injury” mean?

Personal injury refers to any type of accident resulting in bodily harm or death.

What kinds of personal injury cases are there?

There are a wide array of personal injury cases and a New York accident lawyer from our firm can help you litigate any of them. “Personal injury” includes all of the following and many more:

What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is a method of payment for your attorney. When you hire a New York injury attorney on a contingency fee, you pay a percentage of your total compensation to your lawyer. If you do not win your case, you do not pay.

Do I have a case?

Because individual cases can vary greatly, it would be impossible for us to evaluate your case without speaking to you first. If you have any questions regarding a potential case, please contact our offices and speak with a New York injury lawyer in our employ.

Can I handle a case between my insurance company and myself without a lawyer?

Technically, yes. However, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney to represent your interests. The insurance company will try to pay out the smallest possible settlement to protect their bottom line. We work for you. The insurance company works for themselves.

Why should I go to go to trial rather than settling the case?

At Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald, P.C., we prepare every case to go to trial to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation possible. Some law firms will urge you to take the first settlement offered so they can collect their payment and move on to their next case. At our firm, we take our time with every client to help him or her get every bit of compensation due for their injury.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is a law limiting the amount of time a person has to bring a case to trial. These limits vary based on the type of case, so please speak with your New York accident attorney to find out if any deadlines may affect your case.

How long do these types of cases last?

The length of the process varies greatly, but the average case lasts around two years.

How does a jury decide a personal injury case?

A jury will consider if a person was significantly injured due to a negligent action of someone else. They will also need to decide if the other person was liable for the accident and if so, whether or not that injury warrants a financial award. For example, if you slipped and fell and sued the restaurant owner, the jury will evaluate if the owner had a responsibility to you –he should, since you are a guest at his restaurant. Then the jury will evaluate if his negligence caused your injury –if the owner knew about a major crack in the floor and failed to fix it, he would be negligent. And lastly, the jury will consider if your injuries merit a monetary award –if you suffered a spinal injury and had to deal with years of physical therapy, it most certainly would. In this example, you would most likely win the case.

What is recklessness?

A person acts reckless when they ignore the potential consequences to their actions. For example, drunk drivers are reckless because they know the dangers caused by intoxicated driving, but choose to do so anyway.

What is negligence?

When someone is being careless, they are negligent. If someone was injured as a result of carelessness, they may be liable for their injuries. Generally, a court will evaluate negligence by comparing the defendant’s behavior to an average person in a similar circumstance. If an average person would exercise far more care than the defendant did, then the defendant will be deemed negligent.

What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a comparison of the relative faults of both parties in a lawsuit. For example, if you crossed the street on a red light and were hit by a vehicle running the red light, the court will evaluate how responsible each of you were for causing the accident. If your award would have been $100,000, but you were 30% at fault, your award will be reduced to $70,000.

What does “assumption of the risk” mean?

If you knew the action you were taking was dangerous and chose to do it anyway, you cannot sue the other party if you were hurt. For example, if you broke your arm while skating at a skateboarding park, you generally cannot sue the park. On the other hand, if the park management knew there was a dangerous crack in one of their ramps and failed to fix it or warn customers about it, they may be liable for any injuries caused by the defect.

What is strict liability?

Strict liability is what makes someone liable for injuries even when they have not been out rightly negligent. For example, a person with an aggressive guard dog may be held strictly liable if the dog escaped and bit someone, even if the owner made every effort to contain the dog. The reasoning behind this is that the person involved knew the risk posed a serious threat to the community, yet they chose to do it anyway.

What is premise liability?

Premise liability refers to the legal responsibility of a property owner to keep their property safe. These laws apply to homeowners and business owners alike and include things like cleaning slippery spills, maintaining sidewalks and trimming trees. Generally these cases require proof that the owner knew about the dangerous condition and failed to correct it.

What is product liability?

A manufacturer is expected to release only safe, non-defective products to the marketplace. In product liability cases, a standard of strict liability is placed on the manufacturers, so there is no need to prove they were negligent. All you need to prove is that the product was defective or dangerous and that it caused injury. For example, if an airbag.