According to the Washington Post, the Amtrak train that crashed on Tuesday was going double the speed limit when it derailed. The train reportedly sped up right before the crash, going from 76 mph to more than 100 mph in under a minute before derailing. The speed limit of that area, was reportedly 50 mph, as it preceded a sharp turn on the tracks. The increase in speed raises questions of negligence that could have far-reaching legal ramifications.

The crash of Amtrak Train 188 on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of at least 8 people and numerous other injuries to passengers. Due to the fact that the train was travelling nearly double the speed limit, there is reason to believe that Amtrak acted negligently in some capacity. As a result, it’s safe to say that many of the passengers on the train will bring lawsuits against Amtrak. Loved ones of the eight passengers who were fatally injured may have grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against Amtrak and any other negligent parties involved in the crash. With a wrongful death claim, they may be able to recover compensation for any economic or non-economic damages they may have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Additionally, passengers who suffered injuries on the train may be able to file general personal injury lawsuits for any economic damages they suffered—such as medical bills or lost wages—from the crash.

Proving negligence means showing that Amtrak breached a duty of care to their customers. As can be seen by the diagram below, Train 188 far exceeded the “safe” speed in the area, which in and of itself could constitute negligence. Additionally, to have a claim, an injured individual must show that the other party or entity’s negligence was directly responsible for their injuries. As a result, if a court was to find that the train’s exceeding of the speed limit was directly responsible for the crash, Amtrak would likely be liable for any economic damages caused to the injured passengers and the families of the decease passengers.

If you or someone you love has been in a train accident or similar accident using public transportation, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. For a free consultation to help determine your legal options, give us a call at 212-406-1700 or contact us online.

Diagram of the Amtrak Train 188 Crash

Speed Diagram of the Amtrak Crash

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A condition known as sprue-like enteropathy has been linked to use of the hypertension medication Benicar. Sprue-like enteropathy is a disease often characterized by celiac-like symptoms which have been known to damage the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. The symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy are wide-ranging, from chronic diarrhea to kidney damage to villous atrophy; the erosion of the small intestine. In many instances, sprue-like enteropathy is initially diagnosed as Celiac disease. Following a study by Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic, a link was drawn between sprue-like enteropathy and the use of the drug Benicar. Dr. Murray’s findings led to the FDA updating Benicar’s label and opened the door for lawsuits from patients who suffered from sprue-like enteropathy and other ailments while on Benicar.

Prior to Dr. Murray’s study, many of the patients who suffered from sprue-like enteropathy had initially been diagnosed with Celiac disease. Unlike individuals who actually suffer from Celiac disease, these patients did not show improvement from typical treatments, such as a gluten-free diet. In most cases, the misdiagnosis of Celiac disease occurred because these patients had not had a blood test performed to determine whether they had Celiac disease. A blood test would have been able to show that the patients did not have a measurable amount of tissue transglutaminase in their blood, proving that they likely did not have Celiac disease.

Dr. Murray’s study found a likely link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy. Dr. Murray chose 22 patients who had discontinued Benicar for his study. All of the study participants showed a significant improvement of symptoms following their discontinuation of Benicar. Following the publishing of Dr. Murray’s findings in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the FDA issued their label update for Benicar; warning of harmful side effects such as sprue-like enteropathy and other gastrointestinal ailments. The findings of Dr. Murray’s study combined with the updated FDA label may provide patients who suffered from sprue-like enteropathy while on Benicar the opportunity to recoup compensation for any damages incurred.

Despite the ongoing Benicar litigation, it’s important that patients understand that not everyone who took Benicar and suffered from gastrointestinal side effects are eligible for a claim. In most cases, to be eligible for compensation, the patient must have suffered from sprue-like enteropathy before the label update in July of 2013. Additionally, patients must have been taking the drug for at least four to six months before suffering from symptoms.

Have you or someone you loved suffered from sprue-like enteropathy or another gastrointestinal illness while taking Benicar? If so, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against Daiichi Sankyo for any damages you may have suffered. For a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options, call 212-406-1700 or contact us online.

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According to Syracuse.com, two women who lived close to the East Village blast site are filing lawsuits for suffering injuries and “severe” emotional trauma resulting from the explosion.  The suit is being filed against ConEd, 121 Second Avenue landlord Maria Hrynenko, a contractor named Dilber Kukic, and Hyenol Kim, the owner of Sushi Park.

Lucie Bauermeister, 23, and Anna Ramotowska, 26, allege in their suit that the blast which occurred next door to their apartment—129 Second Avenue—caused them significant injuries, as well as serious emotional and psychological harm; both women have stated that they will seek counseling to get over the experience.  Despite the pair’s injury claim, it appears that any injuries suffered were minor. Ramotowska claimed she suffered “Like five or six scratches…it’s nothing deep.” Despite the lack of serious injury, their attorney, Robert Vilensky, claims that their lawsuit is valid as they’ll fear experiencing a similar event the rest of their lives. Several media outlets have claimed Bauermeister and Ramotowska are seeking upwards of $40 million in their suit.

It should be noted, that despite the claim from some media outlets that the roommates are seeking $40 million, this is not technically true. Compensation in a lawsuit isn’t determined based on what the victim(s) asks for. The amount of monetary damages is typically determined by either a jury at trial or in a settlement between the plaintiff and defendant. Additionally, compensation is usually calculated by the jury based on the combined economic value of the victim’s injury and emotional trauma. In a lawsuit, such as the one filed by Bauermeister and Ramotowska, where the victims suffered no major injury or personal loss, it is unlikely that any verdict or settlement would return anywhere near the $40 million figure that has been put out there by the media. In fact, if the case were to settle or reach a verdict, it’s unlikely that the compensation would even reach six figures.

Due to the complexities of personal injury law, it’s understandable how many would confuse how compensation and lawsuits in general work. Injuries and emotional trauma do not, in and of themselves, guarantee a victim compensation. In order to have a valid case, victims must first be able to show that one party’s negligence directly caused their injury or emotional trauma. After establishing negligence, compensation is then determined by calculating the economic value of the victim’s injury and emotional trauma.

If you have suffered an injury in an accident and think you may be eligible to file a lawsuit, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to help determine your legal options. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our attorneys have been practicing personal injury law for over 50 years. We have handled all types of cases and are happy to evaluate your claim free of charge.

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How a Lawsuit Proceeds

by on March 13, 2015

Contrary to what some believe, a personal injury lawsuit is a long and complex process. A case isn’t as simple as an injured individual filing a lawsuit against someone they believe caused their injury and getting money back. In this post, we’ll endeavor to explain the lawsuit process from start to finish.

Following an injury, to begin a case, a Summons & Complaint must be filed in court and served upon the defendant (the party being sued). Due to the fact that the Summons & Complaint must list the basic facts of the case, this process may take several months. The next phase of a lawsuit is preparing a Bill of Particulars. A Bill of Particulars describes the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, how the defendant may have acted negligently, and an itemization of the plaintiff’s damages.

After the Bill of Particulars is served to all of the defense counsel, our attorneys will schedule a deposition for our clients. A deposition is an out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is converted to writing so that it may be used in court at a later point. A deposition will typically take place in an attorney’s office; although they can occasionally be held at the courthouse. During the deposition, a court reporter will be assigned to write down all of the questions posed and their corresponding answers. Clients need not be nervous heading into a deposition as our attorneys will prepare them in advance for the type of questions they will face from the defense counsel.

Once the defense counsel has finished deposing our client, we begin our depositions. After our injury attorneys depose every defendant, the case will be put on the trial calendar. Depending upon the status of the court docket, the case may be on the Trial Ready Calendar for a year or more. When all of the other cases on the calendar in front of ours have been called, our case will be called to trial.

While most cases settle, our attorneys prepare every case as though it were going to actually go to trial. Usually settlements do not occur until the jury selection process. In the event, however, that a settlement does not occur, our attorneys meticulously prepare to pursue maximum compensation for our clients at trial.

In addition to the depositions and other preparations we do with our clients, our attorneys spend the majority of the time before the case is called preparing for trial. There is a tremendous amount of work and preparation that our attorneys put into each case. Throughout the time leading up to trial, our attorneys are meeting with experts, preparing exhibits, attending various court conferences, undertaking pertinent medical research in malpractice issues, and preparing for direct and cross examinations at trial. As a result, our attorneys are always prepared to battle on our clients’ behalf come trial.

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Early last month, an MTA bus struck and seriously injured a 15-year-old girl. Following the accident, the bus driver, Francisco de Jesus, was charged with a criminal misdemeanor. The NYPD were able to file charges in conjunction with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic law that was passed last summer. The MTA is outraged that de Jesus has been criminally charged believe that due to the sheer volume of buses in New York City, it’s impossible for their drivers to have entirely spotless records.

Vision Zero was a somewhat controversial law passed last summer that allows the NYPD to criminally charge bus drivers who either kill or severely injure pedestrians. So far the law has come under fire from the MTA Union who feel that it unnecessarily puts their drivers at risk. “We support all the efforts and goals of Vision Zero but we would prefer our bus operators not be arrested,” said Darryl Irick, the vice president of MTA buses, to the Daily News. Irick also pointed out that the MTA’s drivers go through extensive training and the MTA also does their own investigations of all accidents involving their vehicles. According to Transport Workers Union Local 100, MTA operators drove 152 million combined miles last year. As a result, the union believes it is unfair for the city government to act as if drivers should be perfect; especially since they believe many drivers are being treated as criminals for accidents where they did not commit any offense such as speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or texting while driving.

Whether Vision Zero is a just law poses some interesting questions regarding liability in bus accident cases. While it’s a good thing that the City of New York is concerned with holding bus drivers responsible for accidents, it may not be right to hold them to a higher standard of care than other drivers. This is especially true considering the threat of lawsuits should be enough to hold drivers and the MTA responsible for their actions. In New York passengers and drivers of other vehicles may have grounds to file a lawsuit if they suffered any injuries in a bus accident that caused them economic damage or property damage to their vehicles. As a result, the MTA is, to some extent already being held responsible for their actions.

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We see and hear a lot of things about lawsuits and trials every day as we watch movies and television. While these stories are often dramatic, they may not be providing you with the correct picture of how your litigation process will actually work. A trial following a serious injury is complex and requires your lawyer to prove that the party that caused your injury acted negligently. As such, you may see that your expert witnesses and lawyer are using visual aids to explain to the jury different aspects of your accident and how you were injured.

These visual aids are called demonstrative evidence, and they can be a huge factor in your personal injury case. Demonstrative evidence is pretty much anything used to prove negligence that isn’t spoken testimony. Demonstrative evidence can be either illustrative or physical:

Illustrative evidence: This type of evidence can include photographs of your accident scene or graphs showing the intersection where you were hit, even which way the cars were heading. If you’re involved in a medical malpractice case, this evidence can include charts of your health progress, blown up pictures of injuries and specially designed illustrations showing how your surgeries were performed. These pictures basically tell your story to the jury. We want them to know what happened to you and how it affected your life. This will also allow them to understand what an expert witness is talking about when they discuss either medical or other types of information. Being able to visually see your story is a strong motivator in getting the jury to know you and understand your struggles.

Physical evidence: This type of evidence is anything a lawyer can pick up and show to the jury. Physical evidence can include a weapon used in a criminal trial or a broken stair that caused you to fall and injure yourself. At an accident scene, physical evidence can be a bumper that was torn off or even bloodied clothing. Damage to your car can be physical evidence as well. In such instances before you get it repaired, it is a good idea to get the vehicle completely evaluated and evidence preserved for future use. In the event of an accident or injury where you are unable to pick up actual physical evidence, it’s always a great idea to take photographs of everything.

When making your decision on which attorney to hire to represent you in your injury claim, it is important to obtain the skills of an individual who understands the importance of demonstrative evidence and how to utilize it. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our attorneys have decades of combined experience utilizing demonstrative evidence at trial to help our clients obtain the verdict they deserve. At trial, our firm relies on cutting edge technology and expert witnesses at the forefront of their fields to show both physical and illustrative evidence to the jury in order to prove that our clients were injured due to another party’s negligence. As a result, our attorneys have acquired more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.

For more information, visit our educational website at http://www.quellerfisher.com. If you have legal questions, we want you to call us at (212) 406-1700. We welcome your call.

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An MTA bus was in a major accident around 3:55 PM on Wednesday, leaving 23 injured. According to the Daily News, the bus crash was part of a three car pileup that took place on Utica Ave and Clarendon Road in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. While charges have yet to be filed, police are still investigating the causes of the accident.

According to police, the crash occurred when a BMW heading south on Utica Avenue struck a Nissan Altima exiting a parking lot. After striking the Altima, the BMW careened into the path of an oncoming B46 bus. The two crashes left the front end of the BMW a crumpled wreck. The accident caused injuries to 23 individuals, 16 of which were treated at the scene of the accident, and three—all passengers in the BMW—are reportedly “clinging to life” in critical condition. While charges have yet to be filed by police, numerous legal actions could quickly follow from the injured individuals.

This accident presents a unique legal situation as injuries were sustained by individuals in each vehicle. Anyone injured in this accident may have grounds to file a lawsuit to recoup any monetary damages suffered in the accident.  In order to have grounds for a claim however, the injured individual must be able to prove that the driver(s) who caused the crash acted negligently and was directly responsible for their injury. Additionally, the injured party must also be able to prove that the accident was directly responsible for any economic or non-economic damages they may have suffered.  Due to the fact that the accident involved three cars, who each passenger may be able to recoup compensation from may depend on which vehicle they were driving in:

  • Bus Passengers: Passengers on the MTA Bus who suffered injuries in the accident may have grounds to file lawsuits against the driver of the bus, the bus company, and/or their insurance company. Additionally they may also have grounds to file suit against the drivers of either the Nissan or BMW and their insurance companies.
  • BMW Passengers: The passengers who suffered injuries in the BMW may have grounds to file suit against the driver of the BMW and their insurance company, the driver of the Nissan and their insurance company, or the bus driver and the MTA. Additionally The driver of the BMW may be have grounds to file suit against the driver of the Nissan and their insurance company and the driver of the bus and MTA.
  • Nissan Driver: The driver of the Nissan may have grounds to recoup compensation from the driver of the BMW for any economically damaging injuries or damage to their vehicle.

It should be noted that while all of the aforementioned scenarios are possible in theory, not all will be a reality. In order to have grounds for a claim the injured parties must be able to prove that one or more of the drivers acted negligently and that that negligence was directly responsible for the accident and subsequent injury. Due to the fact that three vehicles were involved in the accident, it is highly unlikely that all three drivers were negligent; limiting injured passengers’ potential legal options. For instance, if it’s determined that only the Nissan’s driver acted negligently, then the injured passengers in the bus and BMW will likely only be able to recoup compensation from the negligent driver and their insurance company. Additionally, as mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind that only individuals who suffered economic damage directly resulting from the accident may be eligible to recoup compensation for their injuries.

While negligence and economic loss are essential to having a valid auto accident lawsuit, any individual who has suffered an injury in such an accident—even a minor one—should immediately seek the counsel of an attorney with experience handling vehicle accident claims. Determining liability in these types of accidents is often a complex process. As a result, it is important that injured individuals retain an attorney who has experience dealing with the complexities of car and bus accident lawsuits. An experienced attorney will investigate all aspects of the accident, including reviewing the police reports, interviewing witnesses, and hiring investigators who are experienced in determining liability in these types of cases.

If you have been in a similar accident, give us a call at 212-406-1700 or contact us online; all consultations are free of charge. Our attorneys have decades of experience in these kinds of cases and have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients.

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According to Slate, the New York State Legislature may be on the verge of passing a bill that would provide physicians more legal cover in instances where they have acted negligently. Currently, a doctor is considered negligent if they act in a manner that “deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community.” Recently, a bill was unanimously passed by both houses of the New York State Legislature that prohibits the state’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct from investigating claims of medical misconduct where the negligence in question took place during the course of a treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical profession. The issue raised by Slate, is that few medical practices are “universally accepted” in medicine. Consequently, this bill would effectively be protecting doctors who practice non-universally accepted treatments from being disciplined. Slate’s Brian Palmer believes the bill is an attempt to promote acceptance of chronic Lyme disease.

“Chronic” Lyme disease is believed by many doctors to be a fictitious ailment. In the vast majority of cases where Lyme disease “persists” after treatment, there is no evidence that the sick patient was ever infected with Borrelia burdorferi; the Lyme disease-causing bacterium carried by some deer ticks. Doctors who believe in Chronic Lyme disease tend to prescribe long-term intravenous antibiotic therapy. This therapy has been known to cause serious side effects and can lead to the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistance bacteria.  The overwhelming majority of physicians disagree with intravenous antibiotic therapy as a path of treatment and have trouble believing that Chronic Lyme disease actually exists. Due to the fact that Chronic Lyme disease is not universally accepted—and thus subsequent treatments are not universally accepted–should this new bill become law, it would prevent New York’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct from investigating claims where a doctor’s negligence led to a patient’s injury. Essentially, the passage of this bill could result in doctors not being held legally accountable for their actions in many instances where they’re unnecessarily causing their patients physical harm.

Despite the bill being ethically questionable, it won’t have an impact on an injured patient’s ability to collect compensation for a doctor’s medical negligence. While the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct investigates and levels charges against doctors for egregious negligence or criminal behavior, they play no role in medical malpractice lawsuits. In order to have a valid lawsuit, an injured patient needs to show that their doctors acted negligently which subsequently led to their injury and monetary damages. Patients who have suffered an injury due to a doctor’s negligence, should ignore the new bill regarding deviation from the accepted standard of care and contact an attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases at their earliest convenience.

 

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Last Tuesday, a Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown. The response to the decision has widely varied. Some Ferguson residents protested and rioted in the streets after the decision was announced. The St. Louis County Prosecutor, Robert McCulloch vigorously defended the outcome in his press conference, blaming the media for presenting misinformation to the public. In light of the decision, any hope Michael Brown’s family and Ferguson residents had of seeing criminal charges brought against Officer Darren Wilson has been extinguished at the state level. Despite the Grand Jury’s ruling, however, the Browns may still be able to take legal action in the form of a lawsuit.

Despite the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson, the family of Michael Brown may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson and the police department. The failure to criminally prosecute or convict a party doesn’t absolve them of civil liability. The OJ Simpson case is a prime example of a victim’s family receiving compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit despite the absolution of guilt in criminal court. Simpson was acquitted in the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman but there was a civil jury verdict over $30 million in damages to the Goldmans and Browns after being found liable for their deaths in a lawsuit. To be able to successfully obtain compensation for Michael Brown’s death, his family would have to prove that based on his actions, Officer Wilson was legally liable under standards of proof applicable to Missouri’s civil, not criminal, justice system.

While the laws in Missouri may differ, under New York and/or federal law, the Browns may be able to obtain monetary compensation if it could be proven Officer Wilson did any of the following:

  • While acting under color of state law, engaged in conduct that constituted a custom, usage, practice, procedure or rule of the respective municipality/authority, which is forbidden by the Constitution of the United States
  • Officer Wilson forewent customs, policies, usages, practices, procedures and rules of the municipality, which constituted deliberate indifference to the safety, well-being and constitutional rights of Michael Brown
  • Officer Wilson’s disregard for the customs, policies, usages, practices, procedures and rules of the municipality were the direct and proximate cause of Michael Brown’s death
  • Officer Wilson’s disregard for the customs, policies, usages, practices, procedures and rules of the municipality were the moving force that led to the death of Michael Brown

If a family in New York State, with circumstances similar to the Michael Brown case, were able to prove the aforementioned violations occurred, they would have a reasonable chance of recouping compensation for wrongful death. The amount of compensation to which a family would be entitled would depend on many factors, including but not limited to the degree of pain and suffering the decedent endured prior to his death and any economic loss caused by his death, such as lost income to the family. In addition, in the event of the wrongful death of an individual with children, economic loss can include the value of the loss of parental guidance that the children suffer as a result of the wrongful death of a parent.

In sum, in the instance of the death of a loved one, it is important to understand the distinction between one’s rights in a civil case, as opposed to the function of a state or federal government in the prosecution of a criminal matter.

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According to Reuters, New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, announced on October 31st that the city would pay $2.25 million to resolve a wrongful death claim brought against them by Alma Murdough regarding the death of her son. Murdough filed a wrongful death claim after her son Jerome, a Marine Corps veteran, was found dead in his jail cell on Rikers Island eight days after being initially arrested for criminal trespassing.

Alma Murdough filed her lawsuit after details began to emerge of her son’s death on February 15th. In the lawsuit, Ms. Murdough claimed that her son’s cell was 103 degrees Fahrenheit and that his body was also 103 degrees hours after being discovered. According to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner stated that Murdough’s death had been the result of “hypothermia due to environmental exposure of heat.” Following Murdough’s death, Stringer released a series of statements regarding the safety, or apparent lack thereof, of inmates at Rikers. Stringer claimed that the penitentiary was “broken” and in need of reform. Consequently, Murdough’s death appeared to be a glaring case of negligence by prison officials, leading to the multimillion dollar settlement.

While the death of Jerome Murdough was a fairly clear-cut case of negligence on the city’s behalf, most wrongful death cases aren’t nearly as obvious. Wrongful death cases can be extremely complex that require a number of factors to be true in order to have a claim. To have a valid wrongful death claim, the loved ones of the victim must be able to prove that the death occurred due to the negligence of another individual or entity. Additionally, they must be able to demonstrate that they suffered either significant financial or emotional suffering due to their loved one’s death. Examples of financial or emotional suffering could be the loss of an essential income, funeral costs, the cost of medical bills incurred prior to death, the economic loss that can be attributed to the loss of a parent, and pain and suffering before the victim’s death.

Considering the complexity of wrongful death cases, individuals who have lost a loved one due to unnatural causes should seek the counsel of an experienced attorney. An attorney will review all aspects of what lead to their loved one’s life including interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports, file the lawsuit, and when necessary representing victim’s families at trial.

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