Welcome to the New York Injury Law show, Episode 4. The purpose of this show is to provide you with information about injury cases in the state of New York, answer some common questions and hopefully guide you to make the right decisions thru difficult times and during difficult and often complicated process.
Today we're going to talk about a case example and one of the things that people ask us when they come to us, which is “What is this process look like?” Or, phrased differently, “How do I go from dealing with an injury to getting through all the way to the end of the process?”
So, today we'll use an example of a municipal police officer who was injured in the line of duty. Who was going about his business and was injured in a car accident caused by another driver when his car was t-boned during the course of his duty.
Because he was injured in the line of duty, this officer received benefits under the worker's compensation system. Unfortunately, however, those benefits were not enough to make him whole. They did not cover or compensate him for the pain and suffering that he dealt with, or the multiple surgeries that he was forced to undergo.
So in this case the police officer had a separate worker's compensation claim, and came to our office looking for help with a separate claim against the driver who hit his car. Initially w e went about doing an investigation, which included collecting all of the relevant police records, as well asaccident investigation, photographs and obtaining his medical records.
We had early discussions with the insurance company for the other driver. In this case, however, they were being difficult, and did not make him a reasonable offer to settle the case prior to filing suit. So at that point we had two options: our client could either accept the offer that was made at that time, which was less than what we believed was the real value of his pain and suffering, or we could move forward into litigation by filing a lawsuit. Ultimately, after consulting with the client, we filed a complaint and commenced a lawsuit seeking damages related to his accident against the other driver.
The real party - the insurance company
Now, when we say the other driver, the reality is the other driver was represented by an insurance company. That insurance company hired a lawyer for the other driver and we went thru the steps of the litigation process, which included taking a deposition of our client as well as a deposition of the other individual.
At the deposition of our client the other attorney asked questions about the accident, the nature of the injuries, the severity and long term implications of the injuries, and anything else that would help the other attorney evaluate the potential case. And when we say "evaluate", we mean they look at the case to see how significantly the plaintiff is injured, as well as to make an assessment of how the plaintiff presents as a witness. This is important, because if the case ever goes to trial, one of the most important things is how the plaintiff will present or what impression they will make to a jury.
In this case, because we prepared, our client was polished, professional and made a very good impression at the deposition.
After the deposition, the defense conducted what is known as an “independent" medical examination of the plaintiff, our client. We use the term "independent" in quotes, because we actually don't believe that it is independent. It is a physical examination performed by a physician hired by the defense, in order to confirm how significantly the plaintiff is injured. In this case the examination confirmed everything that we were alleging.
We next scheduled the trial. As the case was coming up for trial, the judge - as often happens - scheduled a settlement conference. Finally, after several hours of negotiation, we were able to get the case settled for significantly more than was initially offered to the client prior to the suit.
This is, of course, not always the case. Occasionally an insurance company will dig in and will never offer a penny more than they offer before the suit. In this case we felt that our client was not being made a full and reasonable offer, so we litigated the case and ultimately got our client what we felt he ultimately deserved.
This is just one example of how this process plays out. There are many, many other examples of how the injury case proceeds in New York. We have significant experience with these situations, so if you have questions, please complete the contact form on this page to reach out to us today.