We will help you get your life back on track

Our Experienced Niagara Falls Personal Injury Lawyers will help you get fair compensation for your injuries

We will help you get your life back on track

Our Experienced Niagara Falls Personal Injury Lawyers will help you get fair compensation for your injuries

We will help you get your life back on track

Our Experienced Niagara Falls Personal Injury Lawyers will help you get fair compensation for your injuries

Life is way too short to be stuck waiting on insurance companies to pay you fairly

The way insurance companies delay paying claims is terrible.  Don’t waste another day. You were meant for more.

We don’t just care about personal injury law. We care about you.

Don’t you hate having to wait for your insurance settlement?

It can be terrible when the insurance company constantly make low ball offers. It doesn’t have to be that way. We know how to fix this problem. We have helped hundreds of people. We want to help you.

1.

Schedule an appointment

2.

We take care of everything

1.

Enjoy the rest of your life

Great service… called with updates as soon as they knew something different. After the case was closed they still stayed in touch asking how I felt. Thank you so much for your great work and taking all the stress off of me with doctors and work and everything involved.

Sophia M.

I was referred by a friend to Rick Nicotra following a mother vehicle accident. He really took care in handling my case. He answered all my questions in a timely manner. I highly recommend Rick for personal injury.

Nicole M.

He was a great Lawyer. He helped me every step of the way, answered all my questions, NEVER made me feel stupid or less than. And got me more than I expected! It was all a great experience, except for the reason I had to hire. But he is the man for the job!

Angela V.

Bob Maranto and his staff have gone above and beyond my best expectations.It did not take long for me to realize I picked the best attorney for my needs.The dedication I received from Mr. Maranto and his staff was second to none.

Greg D.

Great service… called with updates as soon as they knew something different. After the case was closed they still stayed in touch asking how I felt. Thank you so much for your great work and taking all the stress off of me with doctors and work and everything involved.

Sophia M.

I was referred by a friend to Rick Nicotra following a mother vehicle accident. He really took care in handling my case. He answered all my questions in a timely manner. I highly recommend Rick for personal injury.

Nicole M.

He was a great Lawyer. He helped me every step of the way, answered all my questions, NEVER made me feel stupid or less than. And got me more than I expected! It was all a great experience, except for the reason I had to hire. But he is the man for the job!

Angela V.

Bob Maranto and his staff have gone above and beyond my best expectations.It did not take long for me to realize I picked the best attorney for my needs.The dedication I received from Mr. Maranto and his staff was second to none.

Greg D.

Great service… called with updates as soon as they knew something different. After the case was closed they still stayed in touch asking how I felt. Thank you so much for your great work and taking all the stress off of me with doctors and work and everything involved.

Sophia M.

I was referred by a friend to Rick Nicotra following a mother vehicle accident. He really took care in handling my case. He answered all my questions in a timely manner. I highly recommend Rick for personal injury.

Nicole M.

He was a great Lawyer. He helped me every step of the way, answered all my questions, NEVER made me feel stupid or less than. And got me more than I expected! It was all a great experience, except for the reason I had to hire. But he is the man for the job!

Angela V.

Bob Maranto and his staff have gone above and beyond my best expectations.It did not take long for me to realize I picked the best attorney for my needs.The dedication I received from Mr. Maranto and his staff was second to none.

Greg D.

Personal Injury Attorneys Niagara Falls, NY

Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra, PLLC

Our Niagara Falls Personal Injury Lawyers are focused exclusively on the representation of persons injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, construction accidents, nursing home injuries, boat accidents, and Social Security Disability Appeals. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, contact our dedicated Niagara Falls Personal Injury Lawyers at (716) 501-5003 for a free confidential consultation.

Contact Us:

711 Pine Avenue
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
Phone: (716) 501-5003

Personal Injury Attorneys Niagara Falls, NY

Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NYAccidents happen and sometimes we’re able to brush off and walk away unscathed. Other times, we are left seriously injured and facing a mounting pile of medical bills. In these instances, we worry about our health, our financial security, and our ability to provide for our family. It is not uncommon for these worries to be overwhelming. We can support you through this difficult journey and help you get the compensation you are entitled to.

We cover personal injury cases including:

If you are looking for dependable Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, please call our office today to get a free consultation with one of our highly experienced attorneys. We are going to dedicate our resources, time, and energy protecting your rights and fighting for your justice.

What You Need to Know

In most New York personal injury cases, there is what is known as a statute of limitations. These are time limits that guide you through when you need to have your claim settled or you bring your case. For cases such as car accidents, slip and falls on private properties, dog bites, etc. you will have three years. If it is a medical malpractice case, slip and fall on municipality property, or the government caused your accident such as a pothole causing your bike accident, the time limits gets shorter. Medical malpractice requires a two year and six month deadline, and some government injuries require a notice within 90 days. That is something you need to discuss with an attorney right away to make sure you don’t miss the deadline. If you miss it, your case is thrown out by the liable party’s insurance company. Additionally, you should not wait until the deadline to get this case to an attorney. They might not be able to help you if you make it to them a week before the statute of limitations runs out. It takes time for us to do our job and prepare your case. Make sure you call our office as soon as possible so you don’t risk losing your compensation. This is not the time to procrastinate.

Compensation is important. You were hurt due to negligent behavior and you deserve to claim your damages. In New York, you lucky get to benefit from No Fault insurance. That is money to pay for your lost wages, medical bills, and expenses. In cases where your No Fault insurance doesn’t cover the extent of your injuries, you can pursue more from the negligent party’s insurance company. We will ensure that we are taking all possible avenues to get you the compensation that you deserve. You should not have to worry about how you and your family are going to make ends meet because you’ve been bed-ridden and used up your sick days. We do not tolerate the insurance companies dodging you or bullying you out of getting compensation. We fight for your rights.

Case-Ruining Errors to Avoid

There are two things that could really make it hard for us to protect you, and these are mistakes you can easily avoid. The first one has to do with the insurance companies. As mentioned, they are going to try to dodge and bully you. They have tactics to incriminate you. They will call you, you can bet on that, and ask you to answer questions. You should absolutely not give them any answers. Those are going to be loaded questions that will make you seem like the guilty party. If they talk to you without a lawyer present, you run the risk of ruining your case. You don’t want to get pinned for this accident. If you do, you can either lose the case, or lose out on rightful compensation.

In New York, if you are found at fault for the accident, your award gets reduced. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but you were found to be 30% at fault, your award is reduced to $70,000. We do not want that, and we know you don’t either. When the insurance company calls looking for a statement, tell them that you are going to be acquiring legal representation and won’t answer questions without your attorney present. It will save you so much heartache.

The only way we can determine how much your compensation will be is by what your injuries are, how bad they are, and how long they will affect you. The biggest mistakes a client can make is not seeing a medical professional. We want you to get better. That’s the top priority. Your health should be the first reason why you seek medical attention. Second, if you do not seek medical attention, you run the risk of getting your case thrown out. If you cannot prove that there are injuries, the insurance company may not even consider giving you compensation. Seeing the doctor or going to the ER will be a way to record your injuries, and start getting treatment for them. We can better understand how much your case is worth once we understand your medical needs. Do not worry about the cost, as we will be able to seek compensation for all accident-related injury treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions | Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY

What Should I Avoid After An Accident?

When people are involved in an accident, they should avoid doing certain things. First of all, we recommend that you not give any statement or talk to the insurance companies because they ask a certain series of questions in a specific way that may not be in your best interest. In fact, some insurance companies will come to your door with a checkbook and offer you a check for $500 or $1,000 if you’ll sign a piece of paper releasing all of your claims. Unfortunately, many clients don’t know what’s happening in that situation because everything is coming at them so quickly.

Obviously, our recommendation is that you first contact Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY who focuses in that area. You should avoid trying to handle things yourself because, when you come to our firm, there’s no cost for anything we do to help you unless we’re successful in obtaining pain and suffering compensation – essentially money – for what you’re going through, and that happens only at the end of your treatment, at the end of your case. There’s no downside or cost to having somebody like us help you from the get-go, and that help will prevent whatever mistakes you might make on your own.

How much does it cost to hire Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY?

Because personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, which means that they’re paid out of the proceeds awarded at the conclusion of successful cases, there should be no fee to hire a personal injury lawyer. There are, however, disbursements, which costs incurred by the Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY in the prosecution of a case, and some Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY ask a client for a sum of money up front to cover those disbursements. They then pay expenses from that amount. In my current practice of well over 20 years, with partners who have practiced even longer, we have never engaged in that process. Rather, we pay for all disbursements up front, and you pay us only if we’re successful.

How do I select the best Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY for my case?

When people are selecting Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY to help them with an injury case, there are certain things that you should do. During the attorney-client interview you focus on the client interview. You should really focus on the attorney interview.

When somebody brings you stack of papers to sign, before you sign them you should ask them questions. Asking you questions is easy, where was the accident, what hurt you, what you would have done about it, where do you work? Anybody can do that but if you look them back in the eye and say, ‘When was the last time you picked a jury? What was your last verdict? What was your biggest verdict?’

Let’s talk about your results for people who have been in my situation. Before you hire Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, before you sign a retainer, before you do anything the attorney-client interview should be an interview of that attorney.

Do I need a minimum amount of medical bills to file a claim?

The answer really is no. It goes more to the quality, not the quantity of those bills. Oftentimes because of the cost of medical services, the insurance adjusters can get some idea of the extent of your treatment and injuries based upon the amount of the bills. For example, some physical therapy visits can be $50, but an MRI is $850. An adjuster will look at the total spent sometimes on your medical billing to determine if the treatment was extensive. There is no amount that is a minimum that you must get to prove your claim.

What are the steps to file a lawsuit?

In order to file a lawsuit in New York State, certain things must be done before you can file that paperwork with the county clerk’s office. For example, you might be required to file what’s called a Notice of Claim with a local municipality within 90 days of the accident. If you don’t do that, you may lose your right to file a lawsuit later. The statute of limitations on these cases can vary greatly, and there’s a one-year statute of limitations that affects filing claims against certain entities. On the other hand, a three-year statute of limitations applies in most cases, when you’re alleging negligence against another person.

The key to success is to make sure you preserve your right to file that lawsuit by filing the appropriate documents before the deadline. We can certainly help you with that, and we will gladly talk with you about what you need to do to ensure timely filing of all your paperwork. If we have to do an early deposition – and sometimes a municipality will require that – we’ll do that with you, making sure to keep everything in line so that you can file your lawsuit if the insurance company – or the municipality – doesn’t settle your case within the time frame set forth by the statute of limitations.

What are the steps in a personal injury claim?

Every personal injury case has certain unique elements, so I don’t know that there is one single answer to that question except to say that, if an injury case comes into our firm, and we don’t know the nature and extent of the injuries, we will carefully monitor the client’s progress to determine the extent, nature, and cause of their pain. In other words, a person may have had an X-Ray, but not an MRI and, while we know they’re having pain, we’re not exactly sure of the source of that pain. Then, once we make a clear determination, it becomes incumbent on us to evaluate the different paths available to us and make a decision that best serves the client.

We may pursue a non-litigated path, meaning that we will engage in conversations with insurance companies in an attempt to come to a reasonable settlement. In many cases, however, we can’t do that, and those cases will be put into suit in order to maximize the amount we are able to get for our clients. Those cases become litigated matters and we go through the litigation process which includes depositions, court appearances, et cetera.

I am glad to say that we are able to settle most of our cases before trial. Some are settled well before trial, and some before we even have to put the case into litigation. The outcome of each case depends on a number of factors, including the nature and extent of the injuries, the available coverage, and the extent of liability. We work with you to make the best possible decision. As our client, you’re a very important part of this puzzle and have a very real voice in the decision about the paths we follow.

Should I take the first settlement offer?

My answer to that question invariably is absolutely not. In order to maximize recovery, the first thing I tell my clients is that we have to have patience; patience on behalf of the lawyer and patience on behalf of the client. We only get one shot at this and if we’re jumping at an opportunity to settle the case early on because we’re interested in a timing requirement as opposed to maximizing the recovery then the individual will end up walking away with less than they deserve.

In order to win – and when I say when I mean providing my client with a number that is either at or above where we believe the case is worth – it’s necessary for us to take those initial offers, counter those offers with a demand that is significant enough that it offers us the ability to bring that insurance company to a number that is appropriate for the case. It’s only after those negotiations – sometimes intense negotiations – that we’re able to get to a number that is proper for the injuries sustained in that case.

Another Attorney Dropped My Case, Can You Help Me?

There are a number of reasons why law firms may drop clients. Quite often, the law firm may drop a case when the case becomes difficult and requires a tremendous amount of work. I can assure you that we do not drop cases because of reasons like these. We carefully examine the cases that come into our firm to determine whether the previous attorney had a legitimate reason to drop the case. Sometimes we review cases that merely do not have negligent components or in which our potential clients’ injuries are not sufficient. In those cases, we would agree with the attorney who dropped the case. In my experience, however, there are a multitude of law firms that will drop cases because the cases become difficult, and not for any legitimate reason.

When a case is put into litigation, attorneys must work hard to get money on those cases, especially when an insurance company denies the fact that it wants to pay on those cases. In those cases, we will look at the medical records and see if we can, based on our knowledge of the medicals, argue that the person’s injuries fall within the category of serious injury, as defined by our statutes. Another law firm’s choice to drop a case does not mean that the case is worthwhile; rather, it sometimes shows that the case required more work than the other law firm was willing to put into it.

How long do I have to file my injury claim?

New York State governs the length of time allowed to file personal injury lawsuits through its Statute of Limitation Laws. Depending on the type of case, the time allowed for filing can extend out for three years or more – or be as short as one year. I would suggest that you contact Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY as soon as possible, no matter what type of case you have or what your injury may be. Sometimes, particularly if yours is a case against a municipality, the need to file certain documents within a 90-day time frame is even more important than the statute of limitations. If you’ve been injured, the best possible advice is to immediately contact us. We can advise you about anything that needs to be done, and ensure its timely completion.

Can I recover for emotional damages?

In any personal injury case, a plaint is entitled to recover for all injuries that they sustained as a result of the accident. Included in those injuries are emotional injuries. Emotional injuries can come about in a number of ways. Initially we look to see if there has been any treatment for emotional injuries by an MSW, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. However, even in the absence of that type of treatment, there is a component part of damages called loss of enjoyment of life. A loss of enjoyment of life includes the emotional part of an injury that comes about from an inability to be able to do things that you otherwise used to do before the accident happened.

What are the roles of expert witnesses?

Sometimes clients ask about the roles of an expert witness in their case. What do they cost? Where are they from? Will they have one in their file? Every case is different. For example, an economist is helpful if you have a large lost wage or lost benefit component. An orthopedic surgeon as an expert witness would be important if you had a surgery or an orthopedic injury.

For people that were working at the time of the accident and are rendered disabled, an expert in vocational rehabilitation expert or a life care planner are often important to prove what your abilities or inabilities to return to work are, and also, what your life care expenses might be going forward, regarding medications, future therapies, treatments, x-rays every year, things like that.

How long will my case last?

Every single case has a life of its own. Some clients are injured and have a great recovery and within three, four, five, or six months they can say they are back to pre-accident status. Then we can work on getting them a resolution or result for their pain and suffering. Other people are less fortunate. Others have had more serious injuries that require many surgeries and recoveries and then also how well they do from a surgery and a recovery comes into play. Sometimes additional procedures or treatment is required to correct anything that goes wrong during that recovery process. There are cases that take years and years to complete, but those cases typically have other factors to them where the unfortunate victim had to undergo significant treatment, surgeries, and recovery because of that.

Contact Our Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY

If you are looking for experienced legal representation, please call our Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY today. We are dedicated, full-time Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY. Please call our Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY at Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra today for a free consultation to get the legal representation that you deserve.

Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel

 

Car Accident Attorneys Niagara Falls, NY

Being involved in an auto accident can be terribly frightening. You may have sustained physical injuries as well as damage to your vehicle. Dealing with the fallout of an accident can be stressful and you may be worried about how this is going to affect your life financially.

There are many negative things that can come out of being involved in an accident that can affect your daily life. Whether your car has been damaged, you need medical treatment, or you are unable to work and are losing substantial money, these all affect your ability to care for yourself and your family. By hiring an experienced Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, not only will you receive superior legal guidance and avoid costly mistakes, you will be to minimize the negative effects of this terrible experience.

What Are the First Things I Should Do If I Get in An Auto Accident?

If you ever find yourself in an auto accident, there are certain things that you must do. The first thing is to stay calm, assess the situation, make sure that neither you nor anybody else near a vehicle requires immediate medical attention. Once you have done this, assess your position in the roadway. Is your vehicle in a safe area, or is traffic speeding past you on both sides? If it is possible, take photos with your smartphone or camera of the site of the accident. If it is safe to do so, you should look to maneuver your vehicle into a safe location until the police arrive. If your car is still drivable, it is your responsibility to get yourself and your passengers to a safe location.

Once you are safe, you should call the police and request a police report. Whenever there is damage more than $1,000 to any vehicle, or whenever anyone is injured to any extent, a report should be completed. While you are waiting for the police, you should take out any insurance and registration information, and you should retrieve information from all the other drivers who were involved in the accident. Witnesses’ accounts are also crucial to collect, and if a passerby stops and asks if you are all right, ask the person if he or she saw the accident. Many times, witnesses will gladly provide their names and phone numbers, giving their permission to be called in the future if their input is needed.

It is common for the individual who caused the accident to adjust their story after the fact, after speaking to insurance companies, after consulting Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, or (in the case of younger drivers) after speaking with his or her parents. Before any external input can affect the situation, you should gather information to protect yourself.

We recommend that anyone involved in an accident should record everything that the driver behind the accident happens to say. This driver may admit fault or apologize then later deny having said anything of the sort. If the driver apologizes while other people are around, accounts from these witnesses are also helpful. Whenever a driver causes an accident and then makes comments against their interest, this action constitutes party admission.

The other issue that you should address when you make your emergency call is whether anyone involved in the accident requires medical attention. Response by the police is important, but you must also summon emergency medical personnel. The insurance for the vehicle in which you were traveling will cover any medical treatment that you receive, including a ride in an ambulance and a visit to an ER. If you are injured, there is no need to worry that a hospital will levy a hefty bill against you; accidents such as this are all covered by no-fault insurance.

While you are safely waiting on the roadside, your responsibility is to take photographs of any skid marks that you find, the locations of the vehicles, and the extent of the damage to both vehicles. If the vehicles are still drivable and neither one is towed away or impounded, there is a real risk that you will never see the other driver’s car or truck again. You should take pictures while you are at the scene of the accident as you wait for the police to arrive.

After the police have completed their report of the accident, (once the report is approved following one to two days of processing time) you should ask for a copy of the report. If you find any errors in the report, you must bring them to the attention of the officers who arrived at the scene of the accident. To corroborate your claims, you must then provide the officers with contact information for witnesses. The presence and contributions of objective third parties can make all the difference in the world.

Local insurance companies are familiar with Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra PLLC’s team of Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, and they know all too well that we are willing to take all our cases to a jury trial. Unlike other Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, we will not accept a quick settlement simply so that we can move on to the next case. We will fight for every ounce of compensation that our clients deserve.

Car Accident Injury Mistakes

Some of the most common mistakes that we see with people who are in auto accidents take place shortly after the accident. Sometimes your insurance company, or even the other insurance company, will call to get your statement. We tell our clients not to give any statements without the attorney present (either in the room or on a conference call) when an insurance company calls them. These companies will try to ask questions that are not helpful to the case and are sometimes misleading. In these instances, if they trick you into saying something, we are stuck with that recorded statement because the client gave it freely.

Other things that some people forget to do is take photos of the accident scene itself. We had one client come in with photos of the cars as they sat after the impact. That alone was critical to proving to the other driver’s insurance company that the story their insured was giving them was completely false.  It allowed us to show that their insured was at fault and they needed to pay our property damage as well as (eventually) the pain and suffering bodily injury recovery.

Does it Matter When I Receive Medical Care for an Auto Accident?

If you are injured in a car accident and you don’t receive immediate care, that does not prevent you from making a claim for injury if you are hurt in a car crash.

A lot of people think they are going to be okay after an accident. The person might feel sore that night or in morning, but they wait for it to go away as if it were muscle pain from working out at the gym. The pain experienced after a car accident is much different because it’s brought on by a traumatic event.  Most people will wait a day or even a week until they realize it’s more serious than they thought. If you are experiencing pain following an auto accident, it is suggested that you do not wait for that pain to go away and seek medical attention to rule out serious injury.

What Doctor Should I See After a Car Accident?

Usually in cases involving bone or joint injuries, certain orthopedic doctors will focus either on the spine, upper extremities, or lower extremities. Orthopedics is a highly focused and specialized area; these doctors dedicate their entire career and life to one area of the body.

When you come to us, we will ask you about what areas are injured, and what is bothering you. Then, we advise you on what type of specialist might be best for your injuries. Specialty offices may require a backup referral from your primary care doctor.

How Can a Chiropractor Help Me After an Auto Accident?

Chiropractors can be very important with the healing of spinal injuries. Chiropractors are involved in the manipulation of the spine to remove subluxations which occur when there’s trauma to the body.

In a subluxation, spinal bones lose their normal position and motion. Because of an accident or fall, they often pop out of place.  When the vertebrae pop out of place it can cause localized pain and it can also cause peripheral types of pain or symptoms.  Your body knows it’s been injured, and it’ll start to tighten up the muscles. You may start having difficulty turning your head, flexing, and extending. Once that happens, the chiropractors need to go in to straighten that out. This removes the pressure off the exiting nerve routes off the spine and aligns everything into place.

What are No-Fault Benefits?

In New York State, everybody who is injured in a car accident is entitled to no-fault benefits. The innocent victim as well as the person who caused the accident. They all get the same initial bundle of benefits through no-fault including medical benefits, wages, mileage reimbursement, etc. People are only entitled to anything beyond that if they qualify as being seriously injured or have a threshold injury in New York State. There are certain, very specific, categories that you must fit into as defined by law. You and your Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY are the best ones to go over what categories you might qualify for after the records are in and the injuries have been determined.

The Steps in a No-Fault Claim

The most important thing to do, as soon as you’re involved in an auto accident, is file a no-fault application. It must be received by the insurance company, in writing, within 30 days from the date of the accident or they will not pay your medical bills or lost wages if you were working at the time. They will also refuse to pay for mileage which you’re entitled to for the first year after the accident, as well as prescriptions and many other benefits. It’s really a shame when people come to us 35 or 40 days after their accident and tell us they haven’t filed their application. At that point, it’s really an uphill battle to get those benefits reinstated through the insurance company. That application is a number one priority. As soon as we meet somebody, we say, “We’ve got to get this application in right away, verify that it was received, and get everything else set up.”

Then, we immediately try to locate the ambulance that took you to the hospital. They need to know the claim information because you probably didn’t have it in the ambulance. If they don’t bill it to the insurance carrier in time and get paid, they will look to you for payment. It’s the same with the hospital. You don’t want them to bill your private insurance, Medicaid, or anything else. You want the bill submitted to your no-fault claim.

We can set up the claim for your lost wages through your employer. If you’re working at the time, you can usually get 80% of your gross wages, up to a maximum of $2,000 a month, and more if you have additional coverage. It may take time to set that up because you must get a document from your employer to verify the amount and send that document to the insurance company. You will also file a New York State Disability Application with your employer which will also pay some of your wages. All of that takes time, and we set it up as soon as possible.

You also want your mileage reimbursement to get going right away. No-fault will often pay your mileage for the first year after the accident.  This amount could be up to a limit of $25 a day.  If you have more coverage, it could be higher and can really help keep you afloat while you’re visiting your doctors and recuperating from the accident.

The most significant expense is usually the medical bills the insurance company will pay. You certainly don’t want to be obligated to pay those, because they can be very substantial. Insurance companies are not looking to do you any favors, so if you submit your application late without an extremely good reason, they will probably deny your claim.

What Is SUM Coverage?

In every automobile insurance policy in New York State, an insurance company must offer what is called SUM coverage, which is an acronym for Supplementary Uninsured Motorists protection. In most cases, it is what we call unified endorsement and covers people who are uninsured or under-insured.  Meaning, if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident and the vehicle that is at fault does not have insurance, you’re able to go to your own insurance company to pay the benefits.  They essentially step into the shoes of the other insurance company to cover your injuries.

Insurance Policy Limits You Should Understand

There are limits to insurance that cover the person who caused the injury or accident. When you’re in a car accident, you have insurance limits that you carry under your own policy to protect you in case that person is either under-insured or uninsured. Just focusing on that one, small issue, we can talk about the importance of keeping adequate coverage on your own policy to cover your family in the time of need.

A lot of insurance agents will explain this to their clients, but many won’t. In the days of buying insurance online and getting the cheapest quote, what you don’t understand is that there are provisions to the policy. You could pick to choose whether you want rental coverage, how big your deductible is, how much you carry in no-fault limits, and what your uninsured or under-insured limits are to protect yourself.

That’s critically important because if you’re struck by somebody who leaves the scene, or by someone who has no insurance, or someone who has minimal insurance limits, you can still get a very important and significant recovery if you protect yourself through the purchase of supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits. People who price these limits out are often surprised at how cheap they are in comparison to any of the other coverages they’ve already purchased.

How Do You Determine Who Was at Fault During a Car Accident?

Determination really happens in a couple of distinct stages. Insurance companies attribute and determine the level of fault between themselves. If they can’t agree, they go through an intercompany arbitration process to determine what portion of each element of the case they will take – such as property damage that occurred at an intersection when two people claim they had the red light, or the green light, or a stop sign. That’s one step.

We’re not bound by their determination because they don’t usually go to the lengths we do when investigating. We take photos, interview witnesses, inspect the points of impact on the vehicles, and review the photos and the repair estimates for each vehicle. When an insurance company does that, it is really a cursory review; a determination made without, what we would consider, a full investigation. Many factors must be taken into consideration when apportioning fault.

The insurance companies do that from their perspective, but we, as your Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY, attempt to do that for you. We look to the other driver and any others involved in an incident to determine what they should have done. For example, even if no vehicle and traffic law was violated, did they violate a known safety rule? Did they fail to look both ways before pulling out of a parking lot? No vehicle and traffic law says that specifically, but drivers are not allowed to merge into traffic or cross over lanes without first making sure of clear access. To determine whether it’s clear, one must look both ways.

We evaluate situations and actions when the insurance company doesn’t go much deeper than checking events against traditional vehicle and traffic laws. Many factors can contribute to a determination of who was at fault and if the fault is shared, how much is attributable to each party.

What Can be Claimed in an Auto Accident?

There are several different parts that go into most cases for injury components. The most common is the pain and suffering component. There are also things that come into play that are non-pain and suffering. Those include economic losses, lost wages, co-pays, unpaid medical bills, loss of benefits from work, or loss of retirement accumulation if you’re out of work for a while. When we look at the damages portion or the losses involved in a car accident, we try and claim everything that we can to make our claim whole in the end, whether it be economic or non-economic losses.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence looks at the percent of fault that is shared, both by the person that was injured and by the person who did the harm.  This could be 1%, or 5%, or 10%, or even more depending on the facts of the accident. Comparative fault, as a principle, is trying to weigh the percent of fault among all the parties who are involved.

Should I Take the First Settlement Offer?

My answer to you would be absolutely not. To maximize recovery, we must have patience; patience on behalf of the lawyer and patience on behalf of the client. We only get one shot at this. If we’re jumping at an opportunity to settle the case early on because of a timing requirement as opposed to maximizing the recovery, then the individual will end up walking away with less than they deserve.

To win, it’s necessary for us to take those initial offers, counter those offers with a demand that is significant enough and offers the ability to bring that insurance company to a number that is appropriate for the case. It’s only after those negotiations (sometimes intense negotiations) that we’re able to get to a number that is proper for the injuries sustained in that case.

How Do We Prevent Low-Ball Settlements?

Insurance companies are in the business to make money for their shareholders. I can tell you based on a lot of experience in these types of cases, they aren’t rushing to offer a case’s worth. I believe that the way to make sure an insurance company doesn’t lowball a case is by letting them know through your conduct and through other cases that you won’t settle a case just to get it settled. They must know that the attorney has the desire to go to trial on cases.

If they think that your attorney doesn’t have the fortitude to go to trial, they’ll take advantage of that. I’ve seen that with many other attorneys who simply want to settle cases.  When they do this, those attorneys can’t get the optimal amount of settlement in the case, because the insurance companies are aware that they will not take it to the level that they need to raise that number up.  I’d say the number one thing for an insurance company to know about your attorney is that they are willing to go through a trial, and have a jury bring a verdict.

Should We Take My Case to Trial?

The benefits of proceeding to trial can be innumerable. If an insurance company has undervalued your case, taking the case to trial would be one positive approach to getting the money you deserve. One negative factor to consider in going to trial is that certain costs are associated with that approach.

We will have to prove the extent of your physical injuries through the testimony of medical doctors. Certain trials permit the injured party to submit records. Ultimately, based on our recommendations, you will decide whether a trial is appropriate and whether the risk vs. reward is worthwhile.

I Was Injured in an Accident and Don’t Know Who Caused It

When you’re involved in a hit and run, somebody either takes off or gives you false information and then immediately disappears.   You have built-in protection under your own insurance coverage. You would look to your own insurance and get benefits through the supplemental uninsured motorist coverage required by New York State.

Hopefully, the car that hit you was insured. If so, you don’t necessarily need the driver, although it is certainly helpful if we can track them down. If insurance covered the car, we can file a claim against the owner’s insurance and look to the owner’s policy. We would conduct a search and have an insurance check done. This will find out whether there was coverage and with what company. We can then pursue the same type of claim, even if the driver takes off afterwards.

The Other Driver’s Insurance Doesn’t Cover Losses

In New York state right now, the minimum insurance required for a private operator is $25,000 per person, per accident. That becomes woefully inadequate if there are any injuries, especially if they’re serious injuries.

We can negotiate the pain and suffering bodily injury case with your own insurance company under the impression that the injuries were serious enough; if adequate insurance is purchased.  That’s why we always recommend taking a look at your insurance policy. Look at the endorsements, not only for the bodily injury coverage and your collision coverage, but also the SUM coverage.

Also, when you look at that insurance policy, you want to make sure that you have adequate coverages for your no-fault coverage. You must be adequately compensated through your own carrier to get anything out of an accident where the other driver has minimal or no coverage.

Passenger in a Multiple Car Accident

If you are a passenger and are involved in an automobile accident, there are generally even more options than if you were a driver. Of course, if you’re a passenger and it’s a multi-car accident, it brings into question whether multiple insurance companies or defendants would be responsible for your injuries. It’s very important in New York state to kind of ferret out those issues, in NY there’s an exception to our rules in auto accidents. Even if a driver is 1% at fault for an accident, they become 100% responsible for the claim.

In a case where someone was not at fault or even partially at fault, we would put their insurance carrier on notice of the claim and pursue all cars involved in the accident. If you are a passenger and involved in an insurance claim, you can also look to see if you’re able to make a supplementary uninsured motorist claim if your policy is in excess of the policies of the at-fault vehicles.

Someone Else Crashed My Car; Am I at Fault?

In New York state, if someone else is driving your car and is involved in a car accident that is their fault, you can be held at fault. Particularly in New York state, we have a statute that is Vehicle and Traffic Law 388, Subsection 1, which says that if you provide your keys or permission to someone to use your vehicle and they’re involved in an accident, you are responsible. The key issue in those cases is whether the individual has been given permission. If someone takes your car without permission – it doesn’t just necessarily mean that someone stole the vehicle, it means that permission was not granted – then, you may not be held responsible. There are many legal issues that come into play in those types of cases. However, the general rule is that someone driving your vehicle, who is involved in an accident is at fault, and you become vicariously liable for their actions.

What Happens if An Out-of-State Driver Without Insurance Hits Me?

Being injured by an out-of-state driver in a car accident might seem difficult. The good news is that, once they cross into New York State, the insurance department considers certain minimum benefits to be applicable, which means that at least New York State’s minimums will be there to protect you. Sometimes, that can be an advantage because other jurisdictions, like Canada for example, have much higher minimum limits. When drivers come into New York State and cause harm, you still have a claim based in New York State. Jurisdiction typically remains in the county where you reside, or where the accident occurred, not in Canada, but you get the benefit of the insurance coverage and policies they carried from home.

With other states, that comparison is easy. If it’s a Canadian policy, however, the exchange rate comes into play because they purchased their policy with Canadian dollars and they were insured in that currency. That can affect the outcome in certain cases, but the good news is that you’re still protected by New York State’s law regarding the minimums required for insurance carriers. We will also look to your own carrier to provide basic no-fault benefits to keep your nose above water and help you survive while you’re receiving treatment and getting better.

Can I File a Claim if I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt?
If you were involved in a car accident that was another driver’s fault, but you weren’t wearing a seat belt, you can still receive compensation for injuries sustained in that car accident if the seat belt would not have prevented them. For example, if you’re struck from the side and you break your arm against the door, you have a valid claim for that injury. However, if by wearing a seat belt you would not have struck your head on the steering wheel, for example, then you are not protected. It’s called the “seat belt defense”. Although we would claim all the injuries that were caused by the accident, the defendants can assert as a defense that because you weren’t wearing a seat belt, those injuries should be either precluded or diminished because of your failure to wear that device.

What Happens if I’m Involved in a Car Accident While at Work?
In New York State, we have what we call worker’s compensation statute. Workers’ compensation is primary to no-fault. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident while working, worker’s compensation is required to step into the shoes of the no-fault carrier. However, worker’s compensation does not pay the exact same benefits as no-fault, so worker’s compensation will pay 2/3 of your lost wages up to a statutory amount. No-fault benefits provide for 80% of lost wages.

Essentially, if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident while you’re working, we will go to the worker’s compensation carrier and get the benefits that are appropriate. We also look for the no-fault carrier to provide the additional benefits needed to raise you up to the 80% of lost wages which is the statutory maximum allowed under the law.

Recoverable Damages After Being Hit by a Truck
The damages that you can collect from a truck accident are similar to a private vehicle that struck you. However, there are a couple factors that are special to those kinds of accidents.
First, the insurance coverages available are traditionally much more significant because their vehicle is being driven either for a corporation, or for an ongoing business. These trucks are required to carry certain records and log books to confirm both the weight during operation, safety inspections, and state log books regarding how long they’ve been behind the wheel. Those are all areas that we look to in discovery phase of the case to try and see whether that truck violated a rule.That’s important because the braking system on these vehicles are designed to be able to stop certain weights at certain speeds. If they are overweight or overladen, that could drastically affect the stopping distance, and can also affect that driver’s negligence in the accident.

Do I Have a Claim If I Was Injured While Driving a Tractor Trailer?
In the circumstances of being injured as a driver of a tractor trailer, a couple of things come into play. If you are an employee of a business, then worker’s compensation covers you, and it will provide the traditional no-fault benefits.

An independent driver may not have trade worker’s compensation if the entity is a sole proprietorship because New York does not require them to. This person would look to the no-fault carrier for the vehicle in which they were injured to provide those benefits. Once the initial package of benefits is properly available to them, the case is dealt with much like any other. The only difference is the truck drivers are required to do certain additional things, such as: undergo periodic inspections, keep log books, and ensure that their load is properly secured.

We work to make sure our own client isn’t found to have been negligent regarding any of those issues. If our own client is the truck driver, we investigate certain special factors, and even if our client was negligent, the other driver involved in the accident may also be at fault.

Hit by a Car Walking Across the Street
Unfortunately, accidents in which pedestrians are struck are the ones that result in the most significant injuries. When someone is struck by a vehicle, it can result in horrific injuries. Those accidents oftentimes involve the most debilitating and long-lasting injuries that we see. The victim’s priority is to seek immediate medical treatment and then to file the no-fault application.

As the injured person, you would have essentially two claims. First, your claim for no-fault benefits covers your medical, wages, and other expenses for which the vehicle’s insurance would pay. Then you’d also have a claim for bodily injury against the owner of that vehicle, which would compensate you for personal injuries that could have resulted directly from the collision itself. It’s very important to submit that document immediately, especially if you’re dealing with a carrier who considers you an adversary right from the get-go. If you don’t get that document in within 30 days, they’re just not going to pay the bills.

Uber Insurance Issues
Uber as a company has gone beyond what most vehicle owners would do in a vehicle-for-hire situation. In New York state, the minimum allowances for having insurance are $25,000 per individual involved in an accident and $50,000 per accident in total. Most cab companies carry those minimum requirements. Similarly, even in commercial types of applications, the insurance contracts, and the amount that the insurance companies provide is low. What Uber has done is indicated that they’re going to provide a layer of insurance above and beyond the insurance of the vehicle. The indications are that every Uber vehicle is insured for $1.2 million, which is an incredible number beyond what a taxi cab would be insured at. Uber will ensure that everyone involved in the accident will be provided insurance coverage well beyond the limits required by New York State.

Winter Weather Car Accident Liability
During the winter months, car accidents often occur because the weather has played a factor in the accident. You may wonder what involvement the weather plays in a case, and how will it affect a potential claim that you may need to bring for personal injury and pain and suffering? Weather is a factor in many accidents, whether it be wet, slippery roadways, ice, snow, or if the visibility is decreased because of heavy fog.

What the law provides for those types of cases is an obligation for all drivers to act safely and drive appropriately in terms of the conditions that are in existence at that time. What that means is, you are deemed to be obligated to drive according to whatever is presented with the weather.

One of the things that the people are ticketed for in the winter is driving too fast for the conditions. Even though they may not have been speeding according to street signs, you shouldn’t go 45 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone if there’s extremely heavy snow.

Car Accident Due to Unsalted Roads
You may have been injured driving on unsalted roads where you lost control of your vehicle, spun out, struck a guard rail, and unfortunately sustained serious injuries. In this type of circumstance, after an investigation of the roadway, we would determine that that driver had been driving too fast for those conditions. We would probably be unable to bring a claim forward. However, you are still fully entitled to the no-fault benefits under the insurance law, which does provide the wage benefit, the medical to cover your medical bills, and mileage reimbursement for a period of time.

Car Accident During a Driving Ban
Inclement weather in the winter can give rise to certain driving bans in certain areas. Often, those bans have exceptions for emergency personnel or nurses trying to get to the hospital. If you were injured during a driving ban, the no-fault benefits are still in place. You still have the availability to get medical visits paid, mileage covered up to a year, and lost wages up to three years.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today!
The Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY at Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra, PLLC fight for the rights of persons who are injured or disabled. We approach each case on an individual basis and personally assist each client with their unique needs. We are involved in every step of the legal process, and ensure that each case receives the time and effort necessary for success.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Slip and Fall Attorneys Niagara Falls, NY

If you slip and fall, you may be feeling angry about the injury you have sustained. The anger may stem from the fact that this injury could have been avoidable. Many slip and fall cases happen because of someone else’s negligence of property.

These injuries can include falling on ice, worn down steps, faulty hand rails, etc. They can cause you worry about how you are going to manage things financially.  Each year, slip and fall incidents lead to approximately 300,000 disabling injuries and 17,000 accidental deaths. Many of those occur because of lack of care on the part of a property owner or manager. To be successful with an injury claim, your attorney must prove that an unsafe condition existed on the premises; that the owner or manager either created the condition or should have known that the condition existed; and that, even though there was enough time to act, no one posted proper warning signs or repaired the condition in time.

There are many causes of a slip and fall injury, such as ice or snow on sidewalks and entranceways, faulty railings, debris, or equipment left out on a construction site, unexpected changes in floor level, and poor lighting conditions.

Many issues require attention in slip and fall cases due to ice or snow. The most important factor is the climate conditions that were present at the time that the injured party slipped and fell. It is the responsibility of the attorney to determine whether these conditions were brief and temporary or if they lasted for a prolonged period. As in all liability cases, the property owner or individual responsible for the premises must be shown to have known about the dangerous conditions prior to the incident. Your attorney will hire experts to testify how long these hazardous conditions had been in place in order to prove the property owner’s inaction.

For instance, slip and fall injuries can occur when an individual tries to use a hand rail that is loose or defective and does not provide the necessary amount of stabilization. In these situations, it must be demonstrated that the property owner or manager knew about the defective condition. Interviewing prior renters of the property and hiring experts to show decay in the hand railings are two ways to assign culpability where it is due.

Tripping hazards such as cables, wires, poles, natural hazards, roots, and fallen tree branches can cause serious injuries. A tripping hazard entails any type of structure or item that is not in its normal location, whether the hazard is unusually elevated, seeping out of the ground, on a construction site, or even stacked in a private residence. Those who suffer injuries from tripping over one of these hazards can file claims to help pay for their injury-related medical bills.

Here at Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra PLLC, we take slip and fall cases seriously, and we represent many people injured because of others’ negligence. We strive to get fair monetary compensation for every client injured by these preventable incidents.

There are many causes of a slip and fall injury:

What You Should Know About Slip and Fall Cases:

The Three Biggest Slip and Fall Case Mistakes

One of the biggest case mistakes in slip and fall claims comes down to an injured person forgetting to take photos. When you’re injured, and you fall, you’re often embarrassed.

The biggest mistake they make is not documenting by way of photos that dangerous condition they fell upon. For example, if it was a large puddle of water, or if something was spilled, or if a carpet was overturned, getting that in a photograph to show why they fell is critically important to the case.

Another thing that they fail to do is to request a copy of the incident report or give a statement when they should have talked to their attorney first.

The third mistake with slip and fall cases comes down to not get names and phone numbers of people who may have seen them fall. Those witnesses can be critically important to winning any slip and fall case.

Tripping Hazards

Being confronted with a tripping hazard during dangerous conditions can cause very serious injuries. There can be things such as cables, wires, poles, natural hazards, roots, fallen tree branches, etc.  Tripping hazards are most often man-made, some are created, and some accrue overtime.

For example, water seepage over a sidewalk that lifts to a condition where it’s dangerous. You can have structures that have shifted because of freezing and thawing. A tripping hazard in general is any type of structure or item that is not where it’s supposed to be, either it’s elevated, seeping out of the ground, on a constructions site, or even at a home in the backyard.

What Should I Do if I Slip and Fall on a Residential or Business Property?

If you slip and fall on a commercial or residential property, their insurance allows you to be compensated for any injuries you might sustain. This is called a general proposition premise liability case. In a slip and fall case, your attorney must show that the person responsible for taking care of the property did not.

The first thing that needs to be show is that the individual knew there was a defective condition on the property and failed to fix it.

The other thing that can be shown is that they knew that there was a defect in the property, and the defect existed for a period.

Proving You Weren’t at Fault for a Slip and Fall Injury

It all comes down to the credibility of the person who’s making the claim, but also a combination of how the story fits in with what the physical structures look like that may have been a cause of that fall. Your attorney should look for any possible witnesses in the area, take photos of the area where it happened, and look for any video surveillance or safety cameras that are around. It’s common to have private homes to have their own security system.

Slip and Fall on Slush at an Store Entryway

There are cases and laws on point regarding the obligations of the premises owner, but also protections regarding what they are obligated to do. If there’s a storm in progress, depending on the severity of the snowfall and the duration of the storm, it can temporarily alleviate certain duties of a premises owner while that storm is in progress.

Slip and Fall on an Unshoveled Sidewalk

Most municipalities do not impose a duty upon the homeowners to clear snow. However, once a homeowner undertakes that task, and they begin to do the snow removal, they must do so in a non-negligent manner. They can’t just leave a sheet of ice after removing the snow because often the snow provides traction to people walking on it.

If a homeowner does shovel their sidewalk or doesn’t maintain it properly, and they create an icy condition based upon their actions, then you would certainly have a potential claim.

Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY | Icy Bus Stop Slip and Fall

There can be many different people or entities that may be involved or liable if there’s a dangerous condition that’s not maintained around a bus stops. The bus company has a responsibility to maintain those structures. Depending on where the incident may occur, the city or town may also have some responsibility if they may have cleared the ice or snow in a negligent manner.

Once somebody takes affirmative action to take steps towards remedying a situation like snow accumulation, they must do so in a non-negligent manner. If there’s an ice buildup there, either by way of poor drainage, improper drainage, or if there was improper snow removal that was done that caused a very icy, slick surface for an area where they know that customers or pedestrians are going to be waiting, then there’s potential liability there.

What Should I Know if I Fall and Get Injured Due to a Faulty Hand Rail?

Hand railings are put into place to provide stabilization for people who are using stairways.

When someone trips and uses a hand rail that is loose or defective, the hand rail will not provide stability and causes the person to fall. In those situations, your attorney needs to show that the owner of the premises or the person responsible for the premises should have known of the defective condition.

The other issue in respect to hand rails is when there is no hand rail there at all. Certain codes in states, towns, cities require that there’d be hand railings in certain situations.  If those hand railings are not put into place then its evidence of negligence on behalf of the owner of the premises.

Does a Warning Sign Prevent a Slip and Fall Claim?

Putting up a warning sign alone does not wipe out a landowner’s responsibility to be careful and to not be negligent to others that are either passing by or passing through.

If somebody enters a property and falls into a condition that is dangerous, because the sign was not visible, then that warning sign would have no bearing. Warning signs alone are one factor to consider to your case but are not determinative in and of themselves of negligence regarding the happening of a fall.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today with Our Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY!

If you have been seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra PLLC  for a free consultation. Our team of skilled attorneys will fight to get the compensation that you deserve.

The Personal injury attorneys in Niagara Falls, NY at Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra PLLC have achieved outstanding results in their representation of slip and fall victims. Our personal injury firm has the skills and experience to negotiate with insurance companies and challenge these companies’ attempts to downplay the extent of your injuries. We are trial-ready and prepared to aggressively pursue and achieve our clients’ ideal outcomes in the courtroom. We will assess the full extent of your damages and aggressively litigate when necessary to make sure that you and your family are fully compensated for your injuries.