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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.

In an analysis of Medicare billing records from 2,700 hospitals in 2013, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that emergency departments charged between 1.0 and 12.6 % higher prices compared to what Medicaid paid for the same treatments. The disparity between the fees paid by Medicare patients and other patients were especially high when performed by emergency medicine physicians (an average markup of 340 percent) compared to internal medicine physicians (an average of 110 percent markup). The higher markups for patients were more commonly seen in: (1) for-profit hospitals, (2) hospitals with a greater percentage of uninsured patients, and (3) location – with the Southeastern and Midwestern United States having the highest markups.

Unfortunately, these higher prices for the same services hit those with the least ability to pay – those that are uninsured or a member of a minority group. In short, insurance companies often “negotiate” the prices of hospital services. Therefore, when an insured person receives a procedure at a hospital – the insurance company will pay a lower pre-negotiated fee to the hospital, the insurer will then “kick in” their share of the payment, and the patient is left with a price that has been both negotiated lower and discounted by the insurance company’s payment. A person without insurance faces a different situation. First, they do not have an insurance company to negotiate lower prices for them. Instead, the hospital sets the rates (always higher than an insured person would pay). The hospital uses a complex algorithm with a goal of hitting certain profit targets, while also taking into account the expected collection rates of uninsured patients. This algorithm changes daily – therefore, an uninsured person is never exactly sure how much their procedure will cost.

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On May 31, five firefighters were injured after a home in White Plains, New York caught on fire. The two-story home, on Milford Drive, caught on fire at 3:47 A.M – the same time that their fire alarm system alerted emergency services. While the family fled the home safely, about 20 firefighters responded to the incident, which had started in the basement and spread to the first and second floor of the home by the time the firefighters had arrived. Unfortunately, one firefighter was inside of the building when the first floor (and consequently, the second floor) collapsed. The four firefighters that helped removed their immobilized co-firefighter were also injured in the fire. On whether anything suspicious could have caused the fire, Wilson Plains Fire Chief Richard Lyman said, “We don’t rule anything out” – adding that “[The house] is going to need quite a bit of renovation. It’s going to need quite a bit of work.”

Under New York Law, specifically General Municipal Law Sections 205-a, firefighters have some legal protection in the event that they may be injured while “on the job.” This is a rather distinct departure from traditional treatment of firefighters (and police officers, for that matter.) Formerly, firefighters were to have assumed the risks inherent in the performance of their duties – solely by choosing to take on that occupation. Therefore, under the old rules in New York – it would have been very difficult to petition the court for any compensation from damages suffered while in the performance of a firefighter’s duties.

Since 1996, however; the so-called “Firefighter’s Rule” has been somewhat weakened by the New York State Legislature. Now, a firefighter may sue private defendants, and private defendants only – meaning, basically, that a firefighter cannot sue his fire department (in a similar vein, a police officer cannot sue his police station.)

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Police Officer Jason Behar has the impressive distinction of issuing the most DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in the State of New York. The Port Chester Officer had issued 128 DUI arrests in the last year. Behar says that he is motivated to locate drunk or otherwise intoxicated drivers because of the “numerous accidents, some involving deaths.” The Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway said, “We’re really proud of him, it was a great individual effort.”

When describing how Behar locates so many drivers under the influence, he states there are several “tip-offs” – driving with no lights on, hugging the line, and swerving back and forth. To avoid a DUI, Behar suggests to basically just “Don’t do it.” Adding that taking a cab, an Uber, or not drinking above the legal limit. Behar also has advice for sober drivers – “…. pull over the side of the road and stay away from erratic drivers. There’s an element of danger just being around a drunk driver.”

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Dr. James Holsapple, a prominent neurosurgeon was illegally forced out of his previous job at a New York Hospital, according to a judge. Holsapple blew the whistle on the practice of “double-booking” surgeons – where a senior, more competent surgeon would essentially oversee two junior surgeons. These junior surgeons perform the “bulk” of the surgery, while the senior surgeon shuffles between operating rooms and oversees the operations.

In this instance, Dr. Ross Moquin, a specialist in complex spine surgery was hired in 2006. Dr. Moquin was given permission to “routinely oversee two simultaneous surgeries in adjoining rooms.” Holsapple “raised immediate concerns” because he believed that the assisting surgeons were insufficiently qualified and that if there were to be any complications in the surgery, Moquin may be delayed in the other operating room and unable to assist with the surgery.

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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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