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After a jury awarded $12 million dollars to a 78-year-old woman whose right foot was left hanging by a flap of skin after a steam-pipe explosion in Midtown Manhattan, the Judge decreased the award by $8 million dollars after the woman asked for $7.5 million dollars more in damages for past pain and suffering.

On July 18, 2007, the plaintiff was standing on the corner of 40th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, waiting to cross the street when she was suddenly catapulted into the air by an underground explosion.Upon landing, bricks, stones and boiling water fell on her. Lying on the ground, covered by debris for 45 minutes, she was finally rescued by the New York City Fire Department. Flaps of skin kept her right foot from detaching from her leg.

The plaintiff was taken to a nearby hospital where she underwent multiple,excruciating surgeries to save her right foot. Skin and muscle were removed from plaintiff’s chest and stomach to reattach her ankle and foot and fill-in any gaps. The muscle was exposed in places because she did not have enough excess skin to cover it. Her right toe developed gangrene and was amputated. She suffered from constant diarrhea and infection.She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

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The circumstances of an accident that results in an injury are not always clear cut. When most people think of a personal injury suit, they imagine one injured party seeking compensation from one defendant--the negligent party-- who is completely at fault. However, what happens if the actions of multiple parties contributed to a dangerous accident?Or if the injured party had a hand in the circumstances that harmed them?

In these more complicated cases, New York's comparative fault law isused to properly assign fault to all involved parties. Under comparative fault, responsible parties who are contesting their role in an accident are assigned a percentage of fault decided by a jury. That percentage of fault is then subtracted from any awarded compensation.

To demonstrate how comparative fault works, the following hypothetical car accident case involved three injured drivers. A jury awarded each of the drivers $10,000 for their injuries and damages but also found that fault was shared between them.

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In the world of personal injury law, proving that another party was negligent is a critical component of nearly any claim. Although many people understand the dictionary definition of negligence, it can be far more complex a sa legal theory. In this blog, our New York personal injury attorneys discuss the elements of negligence as it applies to car accident cases.

How is Negligence Defined?

When another driver is negligent behind the wheel of a car, truck, or other vehicle, they have essentially acted in a way which is careless or reckless. Typically, this will include any action that should not have been taken, such as speeding excessively, as well as actions which were not taken but should have been, such as stopping at marked intersection. Drivers in New York have a responsibility to use reasonable care or caution while driving, and failure to act in this way can potentially be negligence.

How is Negligence Proven?

While negligence is a fairly easy concept to understand, proving that another driver acted negligently in court is an entirely different issue. There are four basic elements of proving a negligence claim:

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Kiersten Cerveny was a married dermatologist and mother of three children.On October 5th, she was found dead in Manhattan apartment building lobby. The apparent cause of death was an acute overdose of cocaine and alcohol intoxication.

After a late night of drinking and partying with friends on the Lower East Side, Cerveny arrived at an apartment in Chelsea. Along with two other men, one purported to be Cerveny’s boyfriend, she used cocaine while at the apartment. Shortly after, she became ill, and the two men tried to carry her out of the apartment and to a taxi. She collapsed, and when emergency medical services arrived, was found in the apartment lobby.

The investigation is still ongoing, but there are many elements of this situation that allude to an incident of wrongful death. According to police reports and witness statements, there seems to bean extended period of time in which the 9-1-1 could have been called,but was not. Had swift action been taken upon immediately recognizing something was wrong, things may have turned out differently for Cerveny.

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New York • Greenwich • New Canaan

A 21-year-old woman faces distracted driving charges after she allegedly struck another vehicle head-on while driving on the Easton Turnpike on June 18, 2012. While it is fortunate that the there were no fatalities resulting from the crash, the car accident illustrates the dangers of distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Accident

The driver accused of causing the accident was traveling northbound on Easton Turnpike in a Jeep on the afternoon of the accident. Authorities allege she was sending and receiving text messages, drifted out of her lane into oncoming traffic and struck a sedan head-on. The force of the impact knocked the sedan back 61 feet and the road was closed for an hourafter the accident while crews cleared the scene.

The 67-year-old driver of the sedan went to the hospital where medical personnel treated her for non-life-threatening injuries. Both cars sustained severe front-end damage as a result of the collision.

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While distracted driving does not appear to have reached the same levels of concern for truckers as it has for regular motorists, it is still drawing attention from national agencies. Federal agencies have launched campaigns to encourage commercial truck drivers to lower the number of truck accidents occurring in Fairfield County and elsewhere.

In 2009, tractor trailers were involved in 2,466 accidents according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Out of these accidents,472 involved injuries and 13 were fatal. It is unknown how many of these accidents were caused by a truck driver who was distracted by something.

Are truck drivers becoming more distracted?

Recently, a truck driver caused a four-vehicle collision when he became distracted according to the CT Post. Thankfully, while the drivers of the other cars suffered injuries, they were not severe and no one was killed. It is unknown what caused the trucker's attention to be drawn away from the road.

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From a legal standpoint, the term personal injury can refer to a great many situations for Connecticut residents. Any injury sustained by a human being, especially that is caused by the actions or lack of actions of another party, can be classified as a personal injury. These situations can, at times, warrant legal action depending upon the circumstances.

Having a basic understand of the types of situations that may justify pursuit of compensation can be helpful in the event that you are involved in suc ha circumstance. Knowing your rights is the important first step to staying protected.

Understanding torts

A tort is essentially the legal term for a personal injury. One example of a tort could be a driver that falls asleep at the wheel and collides with another vehicle, causing injury to other parties. A grocery store with dropped ice on the floor that is not promptly cleaned up could beheld liable for a tort if a customer slipped and fell on the ice or pool of water. Injuries that lead to the loss of life can also be torts and may often referred to as wrongful death claims.

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The possibility of being injured or killed in a residential fire is a scary thought for anyone. Unfortunately, it's also a common risk: about13,000 people are hurt in home fires in the U.S. each year, according to MSN, and about 3,000 people are killed. Around 270 fires occur in apartments every day in the country.

Those most at risk of being injured or killed in a home fire are children and the elderly, since they have the least chance of being able to escape easily on their own. The Centers for Disease Control report that everyday in the U.S., more than 300 children are seen in emergency rooms for burns. Sadly, at least two children die from burn-related injuries every day.

The risk of apartment fires

Recently an explosion in a California apartment complex resulted in a father being hospitalized with severe burns, according to KGET. The fire department believes the explosion was accidental, but the fact remains that property owners have a responsibility to maintain standards of safety to protect residents.

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Winter activities, such as snow tubing, can be a lot of fun for children and adults alike, but they can also be extremely dangerous when safety precautions are not taken.

One particular accident in early 2013 that illustrates the dangers of snow tubing occurred when five people at a Connecticut ski resort were seriously injured in a tubing accident. The accident victims, ranging in age from19 to 35, were treated at two local hospitals for injuries to their necks,heads and backs.

Investigators say that the accident was the result of an inner tube getting detached from the cable that was carrying it up the hill. The inner tube and its six hapless riders slid backward down the hill and slammed intothe base of the lift.

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New York • Greenwich • New Canaan

An 81-year-old woman filed suit against Yale-New Haven Hospital after she fell off an operating table and suffered serious injuries following a surgery. The hospital issued a public statement claiming to have apologized to the patient, but the woman's attorneys state that they have tried to resolve the suit with the hospital to no avail. The woman is seeking recovery for her injuries, and the lawsuit demonstrates some of the damages available to personal injury plaintiffs in Connecticut.

Hospital Error

According to documents filed in the lawsuit, the plaintiff went into the hospital to have a pacemaker implanted in February 2010. The surgery was successful, but the suit alleges that the hospital staff failed to properly monitor and secure the woman after the operation concluded, and the woman fell off the operating table. The woman suffered fractures to her hip,collarbone and toe, as well as a traumatic brain injury causing bleeding under her skull. The suit argues that the hospital was negligent for failing to recognize that the patient had not recovered from the anesthesia and leaving her unattended after the surgery. In doing so, the suit alleges that the hospital staff put the patient at risk for falling.

The suit claims that the woman has undergone months of physical therapy and will be in pain for the rest of her life. She can no longer move freely and is dependent on others to aid her with daily tasks. She is seeking over $15,000 in damages.

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