FAQ

How do I know if I have a case?

This must be determined on a case by case basis and involves detailed analysis.  It is important to contact us as soon as possible to determine what your rights are and how they apply to the facts of your case. In many cases, there is a limited amount of time within which you are able to file a claim and protect your rights, so contacting us quickly is very important.

What should I do if I think I have a case?

The first thing to always do is seek out medical treatment to quickly and accurately assess your injuries. This will give you the best chance for a quick and speedy recovery. In addition, it will allow you to assess the severity of your injuries. After consulting a physician you need to document the accident and should take all necessary pictures. If you are injured as the result of an accident you should file a police report with a precinct near you, and you should get the names of any witnesses to the accident. All of this information can be used as evidence for your case, and can help in properly documenting the extent of your injuries.

What should I NOT do if I think I have a case?

Most importantly,

  • Do not sign anything without having an attorney review it first.
  • Do not give out any statement of any kind without having an attorney present.
  • Do not put off seeking medical treatment.

Often when people are injured they put off treatment or fail to report an accident because they feel it isn’t necessary. Unfortunately, the severity of many injuries is not immediately clear, which is why it is important to get checked out as soon as possible. 

How long do I have to make a claim?

Different statutes of limitations apply to different cases. Generally in New York State you have 3 years to start a lawsuit based in negligence.  The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice or wrongful death case is shorter than for a case based in negligence.  There are exceptions to these rules but they should not be relied upon in making a determination as to when to contact legal counsel.  It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to determine how long you have to start a case.  If you fail to abide by the applicable statute of limitations, your case will forever be barred.

What services does Leav & Steinberg, LLP provide?

First and foremost, we will assess your situation quickly and honestly. We will handle all aspects of your case.  If there are aspects of your case that require specialization outside our area of expertise we will advise you of that.  We strongly believe that early investigation is the foundation for building a strong personal injury case.  Often the “trail gets cold” in these cases very quickly.  Therefore, we employ an investigator to aid in gathering vital information for your case. Your satisfaction is most important to us. Therefore, we do everything in our power to make what could potentially be a very stressful matter as painless as possible.  Our attorneys work with support staff of paralegals, secretaries, and other administrative support staff to ensure that your case gets the utmost attention.

What if I can't afford an attorney?

We recognize that the last thing you need after suffering an accident is to deal with the costs of an attorney. That is why our firm handles all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. We do not recover a fee unless we are successful in recovering money for you. You will not be billed for our services until the end of the case. At that time we will be paid a percentage of the amount of money we recover for you less expenses.

How much is my case worth?

The value of a case depends on a variety of factors and can change throughout the life of the case.  These factors include but are not limited to age (and life expectancy), medical history, type of injury, type of treatment(s) received,  prognosis, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability, witnesses, and existing verdicts.

How long will my case take?

The length of a case depends on a variety of factors and can change throughout the life of the case.  These factors include but are not limited to the caseload of the court and the status of medical treatment.  Some cases may be resolved within a matter of a few months while others could take several years.

WILL MY CASE GO TO TRIAL?

Most cases settle.  In fact, approximately 98% of them do.  However, we pride our firm on preparing each case as if it will go to trial in the event a settlement agreement cannot be reached.   Our detailed preparation entices settlement of even the most difficult of cases.  We have attorneys at the firm who are experienced at trying cases and ready to go that route when that is the right thing to do.

WHY IS MY CASE VALUE OR TIMELINE DIFFERENT THAN SOMEONE ELSE'S I KNOW?

Many things factor into the length and value of a case.  The most important factor is the injured person, or the plaintiff.  The plaintiff's injuries, job, education, age, life expectancy, certain preexisting health conditions, prior and subsequent injury status, and even demeanor can all largely determine the value of the case.  Other factors that weigh in to a case's progression include the particular court in which the case is situated, witnesses, progression of medical treatment, and insurance companies involved.  While some comparisons may be made, each case is unique.  Simply because one case moves quicker than another does not mean that it is better or worse in any way.  Simply because a recovery dollar value is higher on one case than another does not always mean that it is necessarily a better case.

CAN I HAVE A CASE FOR A NECK INJURY IF I INJURED MY NECK IN THE PAST?  OR, CAN I HAVE A CASE FOR A NECK INJURY IF I HAD NECK PAIN IN THE PAST?  

Generally speaking, yes.  The most important thing is to be forthright with your attorneys about any and all past medical treatments and injuries that are related to the body parts claimed to be injured in the accident you are suing about now.  Your attorneys will compare and contrast the injuries you sustained before to the injuries sustained in the incident and determine whether you suffered a new injury and/or an aggravation of a preexisting condition, both of which may be compensable. 

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is a method of trying to settle a case.  The attorneys appear before an individual who was selected by the attendees to hear the basic facts of the case out of court, in at an office building.  The mediator is usually a retired judge or an attorney.  The mediator's job is to fairly assess the case and act as a liaison between the individuals who are paying and receiving the money to get them to reach a settlement agreement.  Mediation is usually non-binding, which means if no settlement agreement is reached, there is no final decision from the session and the case will proceed toward trial, arbitration, or settlement by other means.  Mediation may last one hour, several hours, and rarely, multiple days.  You may be asked to attend the mediation.

WHAT IS ARBITRATION?

Arbitration is a method of resolving a case before an individual who was selected by the attendees to hear the basic facts of the case out of court, in at an office building. The arbitrator is usually a retired judge or an attorney.  You will likely testify in front of the arbitrator.  Your attorneys will present other evidence to support your claim.  Defense attorneys have the opportunity to cross examine you and your witnesses and produce their own evidence and defenses.  The arbitrator's job is to do what a judge and jury would do for your case in court.  The arbitrator will determine credibility, assess legal arguments, and make a final, binding decision on the issues presented to him or her.  The arbitrator may be asked to decide who is at fault for an accident and the amount of compensation the plaintiff will receive for his or her injury.  Arbitration of a car accident or slip and fall case generally lasts one to two hours.

WILL I NEED TO TESTIFY?

Depending on the type of case and the stage of litigation it reaches, you may need to testify.  If your case is against a public authority or municipal entity like the MTA or City of New York, you will have to give testimony at a 50-h before the lawsuit is started.  The 50-h will usually be held at the office of the attorneys that represent the public authority or municipal corporation you are suing.  In most cases, you will have to testify at your examination before trial during the course of your lawsuit.  The examination before trial may be held in your attorneys' office, a courthouse, the office of a stenographer, or another location.  In some cases, you will have to testify in court before a judge and/or jury at trial.  Testimony generally ranges from one hour to several hours.

WHAT IS A MOTION?

A motion is a request made to the court, usually in writing, but sometimes orally.  Common types of motions are for summary judgment and to dismiss.  These types of motions mean someone in the lawsuit is asking the judge to decide before trial that one individual or entity in the lawsuit (a plaintiff/claimant or a defendant/opponent) is 100% correct on some point.  If a defendant moves to dismiss your case, that means an individual or entity you sued is asking the judge to find that there is insufficient proof of a legal case and/or there are no material issues of fact or credibility for a jury to decide.  Therefore, the defendant is asking to terminate your case before it gets to that stage.   Another common type of motion is for discovery and may be made when one individual or entity is seeking disclosure of some document, photograph, video, or other thing from an adversary.  There are many other types of motions that may be made, such as a request for an extension or adjournment.  The attorneys involved have the opportunity to submit evidence in the proper format and legal arguments to the court to consider along with rebuttal to opposing arguments.

WHAT IS AN APPEAL?

An appeal is when someone disagrees with a judge's decision and decides to take it up to the next highest court above that judge for a second look.  The next highest court will have a panel of judges review what was put into the record in the court below it to determine whether the initial decision should stand or be overturned.  The attorneys involved have the opportunity to submit their arguments and evidence in the proper format, rebuttal to the opposing arguments, and comment on the judge's decision in the lower court.

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