Saratoga Springs is wonderful place to live and to visit in upstate New York. The City, home to some 30,000 full time residents, is known as the "Summer Place to Be." With the Historic Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, thriving downtown with shops, restaurants, etc., and proximity to the beauties of the Adirondacks, it's easy to see why.
Unfortunately, residents and visitors to Saratoga Springs are not immune from accidents and severe injuries. While some are truly unavoidable, others are very much avoidable, and would not have occurred but for the negligence of another person. The most common forms of accidents in Saratoga Springs are car, truck or motorcycle accidents and accidents on the property of others.
Types of Saratoga Springs Auto Accidents
Auto accidents can happen anywhere, and Saratoga Springs is no different. The most common of these are car accidents, which may be caused by distracted driving, impaired driving or basic negligence (the failure to act with reasonable care).
Any of these accidents causes frustration to the party who has been hurt, because for the most part, they are preventable. Distracted driving accidents can be avoided by ignoring the phone; impaired accidents by not drinking and driving; other accidents by paying attention.
These accidents are also not limited to cars. In fact, distracted driving and failure to pay attention can cause accidents involving trucks, motorcycles, large motor carriers and even off road vehicles such as ATV's and snowmobiles. In each of these situations, to determine whether a party is at fault, and whether the injured person may be able to recover, a few things must be considered.
1) Duty: did the person who caused the accident owe a legal duty to the injured party. If they were operating the vehicle on a public roadway, chances are that they did, as generally speaking operators of vehicles owe a duty to others with whom they may reasonably foresee coming into contact with.
2) Breach of duty: did the individual who caused the accident fail to act reasonably toward the person who was injured? If so they may have breached their duty to the injured person. For example, if John is driving he owes a duty to Jane, who is also driving in the other lane oncoming. If John is sending a text message, swerves, and hits Jane's car, John has breached his duty to Jane.
3) Causation: Did John's actions, in swerving and striking Jane's car, cause her actual injuries (whether economic or physical)? If Jane did not suffer any economic or physical/emotional injury from the actions of John, it is unlikely that she will be able to recover.
4) Damages: Along the same lines, Jane will have to prove that John's actions caused her specific, provable damages. If, for example, Jane had a pre-existing physical injury that was not involved in the accident, she would not likely be able to recover for that particular injury (she could recovery for injuries associated with the accident , or any prior injuries that were exacerbated by this accident).
If Jane is able to prove each of these elements, she will be entitled to recover against John for injuries that she sustained in the Saratoga Springs accident.
Does this have to be proven in court?
No, Jane would not, necessarily, have to prove each of these elements in court in order to recover for her injuries. In fact, often John's insurance company would negotiate to try and resolve the case before trial. What Jane (or her attorney) does need to do, however, is to have sufficient evidence to be able to prove each of these elements, in order to make clear to the insurance company or attorney for John that if the case did go to trial, she would be able to prove each element, and thereby win damages from a jury.
Injuries common to Saratoga Springs Auto Accidents
Injuries from auto accidents can come in all shapes and sizes, from bumps and bruises, to debilitating injuries including death. An injured party in New York cannot recovery damages beyond No-Fault benefits, unless that party has suffered a "serious injury" as that term has been defined. This makes it critical to speak with a lawyer if you've been hurt in an accident. An insurance company may suggest to you, or lead you to believe, that you have not suffered a "serious injury", and that therefore your claim is not significant, however we have seen numerous examples of injuries that did not initially look "serious" turn into life altering situations.
Some common injuries include broken arms and legs, severe neck, shoulder and back problems, and traumatic brain injuries. In the worst cases an operator or passenger in a vehicle is killed.
We appreciate that these situations can be life-changing, and families can quickly become overwhelmed, confused, or simply emotionally unable to deal with the legal side of things. We understand that, and are well equipped to step in and deal with these issues in a way that protects the rights of the family.
Saratoga Springs injuries on property
Another common cause of injuries in Saratoga Springs are accidents on property owned by another person or entity. This is known as premises liability.
For example, if John is walking down the street, past Jane's house, and a window box falls and hits him on the head, Jane may be responsible. If, for example, Jane knew that the box was hanging by a thread, but ignored it for weeks, she would have breached her duty to John to keep him safe from danger when walking by her home.
Another common example are winter accidents, such as slip and falls in the snow or ice. Property owners have an obligation to keep their sidewalks and walkways clean, and the failure to do so can result in liability if someone is hurt. In situations involving snow and ice, property owners generally have a reasonable period of time following an accident to clear the area (often up to several hours after a "winter event"), however if they fail to do so, and someone is injured, they may be responsible.
Comparative fault in property injury cases
New York allows judges and juries to "offset" damages in an amount equal to the percentage of fault attributable to the injured party. So, for example, let's say John was visiting Jane's house on North Broadway in Saratoga Springs. It had snowed two days earlier, Jane had not cleared the sidewalk, and John falls down and breaks his arm. If John could or should have been more careful, a Judge or Jury could reduce any damages that John would be entitled to by a percentage attributable to his own conduct, say 20%. In that case, if John received an award of $100,000 for his injuries, it would be reduced by 20% and he would receive $80,000.
Cases in Saratoga Springs
Legal actions in Saratoga Springs involving accidents are generally brought or filed in the Saratoga County Supreme Court, located the Village of Ballston Spa. Saratoga Springs also has a City Court, however that court is not typically responsible for hearing cases involving auto accidents or other injuries.
If you have been hurt in Saratoga Springs, and have questions about your options, give us a call today. We live and work here, and we are happy to help.