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Legal Representation

The attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan provide effective, aggressive representation to individuals injured in the New York area. Our priority is to maximize the recovery of our clients injured due to the neglect of others.

Falls are becoming a more common cause of injuries in the construction industry. Between 2011 and 2015, the annual number of falls has increased by 36 percent – an increase from 781 falls in 2011 to 985 falls in 2015. According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, the rise in construction accidents is likely attributable to a rise in construction from an improving economy. From a demographic standpoint, these injuries are most common in Hispanic workers, foreign-born workers, workers over the age of 55, and roofers. Geographically, these injuries from falls are specifically concentrated in urban areas – such as Los Angeles and New York.

Hispanic workers are much more likely to die from construction-related accidents than non-Hispanic workers. In a survey by The Center for Construction and Research and Training, Hispanic construction workers have a fatality rate of 4.9 per 100,000 workers, while white non-Hispanic workers have a fatality rate of 3.0 per 100,000 workers. Foreign-born and older workers also have an elevated risk of dying on a construction site – at 3.7 deaths and per 100,000 workers. Workers over the age of 55 are the group most susceptible to falls – accounting for 31 percent of falls, at a rate of 8.1 per 100,000 workers.

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The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that the number of traffic deaths has increased by 6 percent in the last five years. Even more alarmingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 25 percent over the same period of time. Pedestrian fatalities now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities – up from 11 percent in 2011. The State of New York currently ranks 25th in pedestrian fatalities. New York City, as the largest city in the country and most pedestrian-friendly, unsurprisingly has the most pedestrian fatalities. New York City had 131 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, the second-highest city for pedestrian fatalities was Los Angeles which had only 85 in the same year.

The GHSA Report states that the increase in pedestrian fatalities is most likely due to more people choosing to walk or bike. Spurred by the health, environmental and economic benefits – walking and biking have become more popular in recent years. According to the Government Accountability Office, almost one million more people are choosing to walk or bike to work compared to 2005.

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On December 9, 2008, Paul Lindebaum went to his primary care physician care physician complaining of stomach pains. The physician, Dr. Richard Federbush, recommended that Lindebaum go to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center for testing. Lindebaum complied with his doctor’s orders and the next morning faxed over the test results to Federbush. After looking over the test results, Federbush diagnosed Lindebaum with colitis and recommended he take the antibiotics he had been prescribed at the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Unfortunately, Federbush had misdiagnosed Lindebaum and his condition was more serious than colitis – Lindebaum had an abscess, which subsequently infected his brain, causing permanent brain damage. Lindebaum’s wife was granted power of attorney and sued the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Federbush.

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On January 30, 2007, Eddie Goodwin was on the fourth day of working to install wood paneling and molding at the Dix Hills Jewish Center in Dix Hills, New York when he was injured after falling from an unstable ladder. In preparing to lay the paneling, Goodwin had removed several fixtures from the walls – including two audio speakers. As the job was nearing its completion on the fourth day, a Rabbi employed by the temple asked Goodwin to re-install the speakers. Because rehanging the speakers would involve drilling holes and installing brackets, Goodwin used a ladder that was at the temple. After successfully installing the first speaker, Goodwin was in the process of installing the second speaker when the ladder “started swinging” and he subsequently fell from the ladder’s fourth rung and sustained injuries.

Goodwin sued the temple under New York Labor Law § 240 (1) which would hold the temple responsible for Goodwin’s injuries if Goodwin were damaged while “altering the building at the time of his accident.” The temple argued that because he was merely installing speakers, and therefore was not “altering” the building. On the other hand, Goodwin pointed to evidence of drilling holes and installing brackets as evidence that the speaker installation should be construed as an “alteration” of the building.

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On August 3, 2009, Narie Balkaran drowned at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island after being caught in a rip tide that pulled him into the ocean. Because Jones Beach State Park is a public park, Balkaran’s family sued the State of New York – stating that the State of New York should be held responsible for the death of Balkaran for two reasons – first, because it failed to warn the beachgoers of the rip tide and alternatively, because it failed to close down the beach during the rip tide. The Court dismissed these arguments, stating that the State of New York only had a duty to beachgoers of “general supervision” and that the State was not responsible for warning swimmers of threats “arising from the existence of natural, transitory conditions of the ocean floor” when the lifeguards did not actually know of the rip tide existence at the time of Balkaran’s death.

The Court agreed with Balkaran’s family that State of New York has some responsibility for beachgoers on a public beach. The Court said that the State must act “as a reasonable person” in maintaining its property and keeping it safe for the public. According to the Court, this includes both general maintenance of public beach and general supervision of the beach. The Court then found that the State of New York satisfied this obligation by having a sufficient number of lifeguards (who were both “experienced and competent”), and that the lifeguards reacted to the situation by following proper procedures.

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Cassandra Blake sued the Wyoming County Animal Shelter where she was working as a volunteer dog walker, after a dog at the shelter bit her causing her to suffer personal injuries. The Court concluded that Wyoming Animal Shelter was not responsible for damages suffered as a result of the injury because the Animal Shelter had successfully proven that it did not have knowledge of the dog’s “vicious propensities.”

The Court stated that, in order for Blake to succeed on her claim against the Wyoming County Animal Shelter, it must be proven that (1) the dog had “vicious propensities”, and (2) that the Wyoming County Animal Shelter had knowledge of the dog’s “vicious propensities”prior to the biting incident.  The Court concluded that while the first element may have been proven, the Wyoming County Animal Shelter did not have knowledge of the dog’s “vicious propensities.” As evidence of “vicious propensities,” Blake offered evidence that shelter personnel had been informed at the time of the dog’s surrender that the dog had previously knocked over a child. While the Court noted a tendency to knock a person over may reflect, what it termed a “proclivity to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm” – knocking a person over is, by itself, insufficient to prove that the dog had “vicious propensities.” Regardless, the cause of Blake’s injuries was a dog bite, not being knocked over by the dog. Therefore, the fact that a dog once knocked over a child does not mean that the dog had “vicious propensities.”

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Christina Piemonte sued the two owners and operators of Holiday Farm to recover damages for injuries caused by a collision between her automobile and a horse that had escaped from their farm. Piemonte sought to recover damages caused by the horse under two legal theories. First, Piemonte said that Holiday Farm did not exercise an appropriate level of care when securing the horse and should therefore be held responsible for the damage to her automobile. Second, Piemonte said that the Holiday Farm should be “strictly liable” (a legal term that esssentially means a person is responsible for damages, even though they did not actually do anything wrong) because the law imposes this burden on owners of animals with a “vicious propensity.” The Court declined both of Piemonte’s arguments and refused to hold Holiday Farm responsible for the damage that the escaped horse caused to Piemonte’s vehicle.

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On November 16, 2013, a sanitation truck driver for the City of New York, Darrel Lindo, reached the intersection at 109th Avenue and 205th Street in Queens at the same time as another vehicle, driven by Hugo Fuertes. Lindo was driving on 109th Avenue – where traffic is controlled by a stop sign. Fuertes was driving was driving on 205th Street – where traffic was not controlled by a stop sign, or, for that matter, any other traffic control devices. The two drivers, Lindo and Fuertes, collided in the intersection. Subsequently, Fuertes, the driver without a stop sign, sued Lindo for the injuries he endured damages as a result of the collision.

The Court ruled in favor of Fuertes, saying that, because he did not have a stop sign requiring him to stop then Lindo was fully at-fault for the collision. Lindo argued that he should not be “fully liable” – or fully responsible – for the damages for two reasons. First, Lindo argued that he should not be fully liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries because he did, in fact, stop at the stop sign. The Court said that even if this were the case, Lindo is still responsible because he failed to yield to Fuertes who, without any stop sign, had the right-of-way. The Court essentially pointed out the obvious – that stopping at the stop sign is pointless if you then fail-to-yield – which is the whole point of putting the stop sign on that street.

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Two NYC construction workers were killed when a 6,500 pound steel beam came crashing down from the fourth floor or a building after a crane wire snapped. Department of Buildings Commissioner (DBC), Rick Chandler, believes the rigging rope failed which caused the beam to fall. The city will conduct an investigation to find out whether the wind was a factor in the accident; winds were gusting at almost 40 mph.

The equipment is owned by Cranes Express Inc. and was being used to build a residential building in Briarwood, Queens.  Last January, the company received a $3,500 fine from the federal Occupational Satefy and Health Administration for a “serious” violation at a construction site in Brooklyn. A source from DBC said the equipment passed inspection in June and an employee from the company did not have a comment or information at the time. Continue reading

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found voice activation technology in cars to be distracting and that it takes drivers 27 seconds to regain full alertness after making a command.  For example, a car going 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields before the driver’s brain fully refocuses on driving after use of this technology. One of the researchers compared the use of these systems to balancing a checkbook while driving, something no one would do. Researcher and professor at the University of Utah, David Strayer, stated once a person shifts their attention to interacting with the device they stop scanning the road and do not anticipate hazards or things in their way.

573 adult drivers were surveyed for the study in Washington, D.C. and concluded that hands-free driving distracts one-third of drivers even with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Seven out of 10 surveyors believed they were only distracted for 10 seconds after using an in-vehicle device to dial a phone number or change the radio station. Meanwhile, 88% said they believe other drivers are “very distracted or somewhat distracted” while using these devices. AAA spokesman, John B. Townsend stated that everyone believes they are the exception, exaggerating our ability to handle these technologies and loathing the thought of other people using it. Continue reading

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