Rear-End Collision Injuries

When a car is struck from behind by another vehicle, this is referred to as a “rear-end collision.” It often occurs at places such as intersections where one car comes to a stop or slows down to stop and the driver of the vehicle behind it is not paying attention or is going too fast to properly slow down. As a result, impact occurs. Rear-end collisions are incredibly common and can run a wide range of severity depending on factors such as speed. Unfortunately, vehicle occupants can sustain serious injuries even in what may seem to be a minor “fender bender.” Let’s take a look at some of the injuries that are commonly sustained in rear-end collisions.

Rear-End Collision Injuries 

Injuries to the cervical and lumbar spine are incredibly common in rear-end collisions. This, of course, refers to the neck and the back areas of the spinal column. The force of impact can lead to soft tissue injuries and put particular pressure on the vertebral discs. The discs act as cushions between the vertebrae so that the bones of the spine do not rub together, which can cause extremely painful friction as the bones rub together without the padding of the disc. In particular, herniated discs can arise as a result of the force of impact from a rear-end collision. Not only can this be incredibly painful, but the injury victim may also have numbness and weakness as a result. In severe cases, damage to the cervical or lumbar spine may result in paralysis.

One of the most common soft-tissue injuries that result from a rear-end collision is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are forced forward suddenly and then snap back, like a whip. Whiplash can be painful and lead to extreme soreness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back areas. A person suffering from whiplash may also experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in these areas. Dizziness and headaches are also common side effects of whiplash. 

As the force of impact from a rear-end collision can send a person’s head jolting forward, facial injuries are also common in these types of crashes. Vehicle occupants may sustain facial bruising or lacerations from their heads impacting with the steering column, dashboard, or other vehicle surfaces. In even more serious cases, vehicle occupants may be at risk of sustaining traumatic brain injuries. When the head is jolted forward, the inertia can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull causing damage to it. Traumatic brain injuries can have devastating impacts on a person and require immediate medical attention. The symptoms of the injury may not fully present themselves right away, but immediate medical care and evaluation can help properly address it.

Bone fractures are another common rear-end collision injury. While seat belts save lives, the restriction of the seat belt upon impact can lead to rib fractures. Airbag deployment can also lead to fractures. Additionally, fractures and soft tissue injuries can be sustained in the hands, wrists, and arms as a person braces for impact.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision caused by someone else’s negligent driving, you have the legal right to pursue compensation against them for the harm you have suffered. The team at CDH Law is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

Be Cautious of These Summer Driving Hazards

Are you excited for the summer season? School is out. The temperatures are heating up. The memory of winter freezes is but a distant memory. It is no wonder why summer brings people out on the road. Everyone is gearing up for family road trips, backyard barbecues, and catching up with family and friends near and far. Before you hit the open road this summer, be mindful of the unique driving hazards that can come with this time of year. Proceed with caution and stay safe out there!

Be Cautious of These Summer Driving Hazards

The hallmarks of summer weather also compose some of the season’s primary driving hazards. Warmer temperatures, for instance, mean an increased risk for tire blowouts and overheated engines. The hotter weather causes the air in tires to expand which, in turn, means a risk for tire blowouts. To help avoid this, frequently check your tire pressure, and always carry a spare tire in your car. Avoid potholes and replace tires that have excessive wear. To help prevent your engine from overheating, which can lead to a breakdown or even cause a fire, check your engine coolant level as well as the condition of your hoses and belts. Should your engine begin overheating, pull over right away and call for assistance. Before restarting your car, wait for the engine to completely cool off, which takes about 30 minutes.

Warmer weather isn’t the only thing the summer season brings. It also brings rainy days and flooding. The rain can present hazards to drivers on a number of levels. First, the rain can impair visibility conditions. Second, rain creates slick roads that can lead to loss of traction, vehicle control, and ability to break in a timely manner. Additionally, many drivers get skittish in inclement weather like rain and this can lead to erratic and nervous driving behavior. While it is often best to avoid driving in inclement weather, sometimes it cannot be avoided. If you are on the road in summer rains, give more room between yourself and other vehicles and reduce your speed.

Summer also means an increased number of bicyclists, motorcycles, and pedestrians. All of which lack the basic structure and protection afforded by vehicles and all of which can be difficult to see and get lost in blind spots. If you are a driver, always double-check your blind spots. Give motorcycles a safe distance on the road. Be patient and vigilant. You could just save a life by doing so.

Teen drivers are another summer driving hazard. After all, school is out. These inexperienced drivers have the combined freedom of summer and being able to drive and they are likely to be taking advantage of it at every opportunity. This is where defensive driving becomes particularly important. While you may not be able to make teen drivers drive safer, you can be a defensive driver and try to anticipate any unsafe moves other drivers may make. Give plenty of distance, avoid aggressive maneuvers, and be mindful of the speed limit.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Stay safe out there on the road this summer. If you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else’s unsafe driving, the team at CDH Law is here to help you. Contact us today.

Take These Steps to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident

Nobody wants to have to deal with an insurance company. This may be truer than ever after you have been in a car accident. The logistics and red tape abound. The hurdles you have to jump to get access to the benefits you need can be stressful and frustrating. Taking things one step at a time, however, can help make things a bit more manageable. It all starts with filing a claim.

Take These Steps to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident

After an accident, there are two types of insurance claims that you may be able to file. There is a first-party insurance claim that you file with your own insurance company. Then, there is a third-party insurance claim that you file with the insurance carrier for another person involved in the accident, such as the at-fault driver who caused the accident.

To file a claim, you will notify the insurance company of the accident and submit the police report as soon as it is available. Doing so sooner rather than later is usually best practice. This is especially true considering there is likely to be a provision in your own insurance policy requiring you to notify your insurance company of an accident within a certain amount of time. Failure to file a claim in a timely manner can also jeopardize your ability to collect on the claim.

Upon being notified of the accident, an investigation of your claim will be launched by the insurance company. They will try to gather as much information about the accident as possible. This can include getting statements from witnesses as well as getting a statement from you. Regardless of whether a request for a statement comes from your insurance company or that of another person’s insurance company, proceed with caution. You may be contractually obligated to provide a statement to your own insurance company, but that is not true in relation to someone else’s insurance provider. Insurance companies are businesses, after all, and they are out to protect their bottom line. They will look for any weakness in your statement and any possible loopholes to try and get out of paying on your claim. Keep all answers to their questions concise and to the point. Do not speculate and, if it is someone else’s insurance company, consider not giving a statement at all.

Based on the investigation, your claim may be denied. Alternatively, the value of your claim may be calculated and a settlement amount proposed. You may accept or reject this settlement offer. There is likely an appeals process outlined in your policy. If you are unable to reach an agreeable settlement, you may have to file suit.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Don’t go up against the insurance companies on your own. The tenacious team at CDH Law is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

What Do I Do If the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement?

After your insurance company or an insurance company for another party involved in an accident is notified of said accident, the phone calls are likely to begin. Insurance companies begin contacting claimants and potential claimants right away. They are on a mission to gather as much information about the accident and resulting injuries as possible. Be warned, however, that their motivations are far from altruistic. Insurance companies will begin immediately exploring any potential way to get out of paying on a claim totally or at least in part. One of the ways they try to gather information to support a loophole is through requesting and conducting a recorded statement. If you are asked by an insurance company to give a recorded statement, proceed with caution.

What Do I Do If the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement?

After a crash, it is not uncommon for your insurance carrier and the insurance carrier for the at-fault party to request a recorded statement with you. The best course of action when you receive such a request is likely to be ignore it or outright deny it. The insurance carrier for the at-fault party will often request recorded statements from everyone involved in the accident, injury victims included. As previously stated, the main motivation of this insurance carrier is often, if not always, to use recorded statements as a means of finding some way to get out of paying on accident claims. They will even look for ways to blame you, the accident victim.

While you are under no obligation to provide the at-fault carrier with a recorded statement, you may have a contractual obligation to comply with a recorded statement request from your own insurance carrier. In that case, you would have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. Refusing to comply with the request for a recorded statement, should it violate the terms of your contract with your insurance carrier, is likely to result in your carrier denying the payment of benefits.

During a recorded statement, a representative from the insurance carrier, likely to be an insurance adjuster, will call you and begin with questions relating to basic identifying information such as your name and birthdate as well as your address. The line of questioning is then likely to turn to details surrounding how the accident happened and any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. Be sure to only answer the question you were asked. Keep your answers as simple and direct as possible.

Saying as little as possible is usually best practice for recorded statements. Avoid speculating. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification instead of trying to guess what was meant by it. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply say that you do not know the answer.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

Interactions with insurance companies can be stressful. This can be especially true if your right to full and fair compensation for accident injuries is at stake. The team at CDH Law is not intimidated by insurance companies. We stand up to them to fight for our clients. Contact us today.

What are Compensatory Damages?

Being injured in an accident can take its toll physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Medical bills can reach staggering heights. You may be missing out on work due to your injuries and necessary recovery period. All of this can compound to spell significant stress for your finances. Through a personal injury claim, fortunately, you may be able to recover full and fair compensation for the financial toll, as well as other harm, sustained as a result of the accident caused by the negligence of someone else. The bulk of a personal injury award is, most times, compensatory damages. We’ll take a closer look at compensatory damages, what they are, and what they include here.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

For the losses sustained and the harm suffered in an accident, compensatory damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff. In fact, compensatory damages are often awarded in civil cases where the negligence or recklessness of someone else has resulted in another sustaining a loss. Compensatory damages will likely be awarded when the plaintiff, the injured party, can prove negligence on the part of the defendant. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that duty was breached, and the breach of that duty was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff sustaining damages.

The plaintiff must be able to quantify or put a number, on the amount of damages or loss sustained as a result of the defendant’s negligence. The appropriately named compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for that which was lost and suffered as a result of the accident. The bulk of a compensatory damage award is likely to include medical bills, among other costs incurred as a result of being injured in the accident. Things included in a compensatory damage award may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Increases in living expenses

Transportation to and from such things as doctors’ appointments are also compensable in a personal injury claim. Costs associated with home care for injury victims as well as modifying a home to meet the needs of a person physically disabled by their accident injuries are also compensable.

The above-mentioned damages are considered to be economic damages includable in a compensatory damages award. They are referred to as economic damages because they represent easily quantifiable economic losses sustained by the plaintiff. There are also non-economic compensatory damages available in most personal injury claims. Non-economic damages pose just as real an impact on the injury victim but can prove exceedingly difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of opportunity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

It is important to remember that compensatory damages will likely make up the bulk, if not all, of the available damages in a personal injury case. In some cases, punitive damages may be available, but this is pretty rare. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for harm suffered. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior that resulted in harm suffered by the plaintiff. Punitive damages are meant to deter such conduct from occurring again.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

The team at CDH Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve for harm suffered in an accident. Contact us today.

The Case of Anthony Broadwater’s Exoneration.

“Anthony Broadwater was exonerated in the 1981 rape of Ms. Sebold, now a best-selling author. When his lawyers saw the trial transcript, they could only wonder what took so long.”

Read more in The New York Times.

” “I kept fighting for the court to do the right thing,” Anthony Broadwater says, sitting in his lawyer’s office Wednesday, a box of tissues set before him. His life has been marked by prolonged stretches of misery. Broadwater spent more than 16 years in prison after being falsely convicted of author Alice Sebold’s rape, the subject of her memoir “Lucky.” After his release in 1999, the same year the book was published, Broadwater became a registered violent sex offender, a purgatory that diminished his income, movement and quality of life, but not his hope that he would be exonerated.”

Read more in The Washington Post.

Who Gets the Home in a New York Divorce

In a divorce, the home is usually one of the biggest, if not the biggest, assets involved. This will likely lead you to worry about who will get the home. Property division in a New York divorce is complicated and will involve a number of different considerations. Finding out more about how property is subject to division can help prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

Who Gets the Home in a New York Divorce?

As an equitable division state, New York courts aim to divide marital property in a divorce in a manner that is fair, or “equitable.” Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. The court will attempt to divide the marital property that is fair in light of a number of factors. These factors can include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of each spouse
  • The health of each spouse
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The earning capacity of each party
  • The value of marital property
  • The value of separate property
  • Contributions of each spouse to the marriage (include homemaking)
  • Who will maintain custody of the children (who will be the primary caregiver)

Before these factors are even considered, however, the court will need to determine whether an asset, such as the home, is marital or separate property. Separate property is, generally speaking, property obtained prior to the marriage whereas marital property is generally property acquired during the marriage. It is important to note, however, that separate property can make the transition to marital property. For instance, if the home was purchased prior to marriage, but the other spouse moved into the home and made significant contributions to the home such as making mortgage payments and assisting with the upkeep of the home, the home may then be considered to have transitioned to a marital asset.

Separate assets are not subject to equitable division in a New York divorce. Instead, they remain under the ownership of the spouse that acquired them. Marital assets, on the other hand, will be subject to equitable division.

If your home is considered to be a marital asset and will, therefore, be subject to equitable division, the court has a number of options on how to address this. In some cases, the home may be sold. The proceeds of the sale would then be split between the spouses. Other times, one spouse may want to retain possession of the house and a buyout is arranged. The spouse who wishes to retain the home will buy out the ownership interests of the other spouse. Sometimes, when there are young children involved, the parents will not want to move the children from their home. This helps avoid the need for kids to have to move and maybe have to go to different schools, etc. In this case, one spouse will live in the home with a plan to sell the house further in the future.

Syracuse Divorce Attorneys

If you are getting divorced in New York, you likely have a lot of questions about what the process will hold for you, your property, and your family. The team at CDH Law has answers for you. Contact us today.

New York is a No-Fault State. What Does that Mean?

In order to get a license plate and the ability to legally drive their vehicle on public roads, New York car owners must register their vehicle with the state. During the registration process, the vehicle owner must provide proof of financial responsibility. Financial responsibility can be established with proof that the owner has enough out-of-pocket savings to cover injuries resulting from an accident, but, more commonly, it is established with proof of no-fault insurance in a minimum amount of $50,000 coverage per person. This is why New York is considered to be a no-fault insurance state, but what does no-fault really mean?

New York is a No-Fault State. What Does that Mean?

New York requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance cases, with limited exceptions. No-fault insurance coverage is also known as “personal injury protection” insurance, or “PIP.” PIP coverage pays out to the policyholder regardless of who is at fault for an accident resulting in injuries. There is no need to prove that anyone was negligent in causing the accident when trying to access PIP benefits. Regardless of who was at fault, the PIP policyholder will be entitled to certain benefits.

PIP benefits can cover certain losses resulting from an accident. These benefits may include coverage for things such as medical expenses and lost wages. PIP benefits can provide critical financial support after an accident. The fact that no-fault has to be proven to access these benefits means that they are usually available fairly fast. PIP benefits, however, may not be enough to cover all of your losses. In this case, you may also be able to file a claim against the person, or their insurance carrier, who caused the accident.

In order to file a PIP claim, you must provide your insurer with written notice within 30 days of the accident. The claim is filed with the insurance company providing coverage to the vehicle that was involved. Any passenger of the vehicle involved in the accident may file a claim against the PIP policy as can any member of the insured’s household if injured as a pedestrian. The claimant must be sure to comply with the 30-day time limit as this time frame is rarely extended. Sometimes, if the claimant can provide written proof of a reasonable justification for the delay, then there may be a time extension granted.

The written statement that must be provided to the insurance company within 30 days of the accident must detail as much about the accident as possible. The time, date, and location of the accident should be provided as well as other circumstances surrounding the accident.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you been injured in an accident? Talk to the team at CDH Law about your options for accessing financial compensation for the losses you have sustained. Contact us today.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you have been injured, harmed, or suffered due to receiving negligent medical care, you may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim. You see, medical professionals, owe patients a duty of care commensurate with that expected of similarly situated medical professionals of the same field and of comparable geographical locations, among other relevant factors. Those doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who fail to uphold such a duty can cause serious and lifelong harm to patients who trusted them with their well-being. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, however, certain elements must be met with legally sound evidence.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice refers to a legal claim based on the action or omission of a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of practice that results in harm to a patient. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must be able to establish four elements:

  • Duty:  The medical professional, oftentimes a doctor, must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This is commonly established easily just by demonstrating that the doctor-patient relationship existed. When a medical professional is responsible for providing some type of evaluation, treatment, or care for a person, the duty element is usually established. The duty itself refers to a duty to act within an applicable standard of care which will be discussed in more detail in the next element.

 

  • Breach: The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the health care professional breached the relevant standard of care. In medical malpractice claims, the applicable standard of care is the level of care that a similarly situated medical professional would have provided under comparable circumstances. The standard of care takes into account things such as the specialized knowledge the doctor should have had, among other relevant factors. In medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is typically needed from other medical professionals in order to establish the standard of care that should have been exercised and to support a claim that the relevant standard was breached.

 

  • Causation: The breach of the duty of care owed by the health care professional to the patient must have been the direct cause or a contributing factor to some harm suffered by the patient. This may have been an exacerbation of a preexisting condition or the development of a new medical issue in the patient, among other things.

 

  • Damages: The plaintiff must also be able to prove that he or she suffered damages as a result of the health care professional’s breach of duty. In medical malpractice cases, compensable damages may include things like medical expenses, the cost of future medical care, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses sustained as a result of the medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice can take many forms including:

  • Surgical mistakes
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis
  • Birth errors
  • Prescription errors 

In any of these forms, the same four elements must be established.

Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you have been hurt due to negligent medical care, the dedicated team of medical malpractice attorneys at CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

The Difference Between a Living Trust and a Will

While you may have heard of both a will and a living trust, you may think of them separately and not subject to comparison. The truth is that both a will and a living trust can have an important place in an estate plan. In fact, both can act as a means of distributing a person’s assets upon their death. So, what are the difference between a living trust and a will? Why would you use one over the other in your estate plan? Let’s take a look at how these two estate planning tools differ to help answer these questions.

The Difference Between a Living Trust and a Will

A trust is an interesting and useful estate planning tool. There are a variety of trust types and each can serve a unique purpose. A living trust is created by a grantor during his or her lifetime. A trustee must be appointed to manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries according to the governing terms of the trust. Often with living trusts, the grantor acts as trustee for his or her lifetime and then a successor trustee takes over when the grantor dies. Once established, the trust immediately takes effect, but, in order to be effective, must be properly funded. To fund a trust, assets must be transferred into the trust. This means that ownership of these assets must be turned over to the trust. Upon the death of the grantor, the corpus of the trust will be managed and distributed by the trustee according to the trust terms. 

A will, on the other hand, is a legal document created by the testator during his or her lifetime that will not take effect until the testator dies. Each state has its own rules for how to create a valid trust and what formalities must be observed for a will to be properly executed. In a will, the testator can detail assets and state who is to receive said assets after the testator passes away.

One of the central differences between a will and a living trust, especially as it pertains to asset distribution upon a trustor or testator’s death is the fact that a will goes through probate and a living trust does not. The assets that are distributed via a will go through probate. Beneficiaries of a will have to wait for what can be a very lengthy court-supervised process to be completed before receiving an inheritance. Probate can also be quite costly with court costs and legal fees adding up along the way. Furthermore, probate proceedings become a matter of public records and, therefore, do not afford much privacy. For these reasons, people often seek to avoid the probate of their estate in whole or, at least, in part. Using a living trust is a good way to do so. Assets passed via a living trust avoid probate and distribution is overseen by the trustee.

Syracuse Estate Planning Attorneys

There are many estate planning tools and options of which many people are not aware. Talk to the knowledgeable estate planning team at CDH Law on how to create a comprehensive estate plan that takes your goals and best interests to heart. Contact us today.