What Exactly Does A Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?
By Gerry Oginski
He helps navigate the murky waters that can trap an unknowing victim into muck and mire.
When a person slips and falls, causing injury, your lawyer needs to find out why you slipped.
Was there a defect on the property that should have been corrected? Was it simply that you didn't see where you were walking? Was the staircase not up to code so as to make it dangerous? These are the questions your lawyer will need to examine.
Products causing injury
This is known as product liability. Let's say you opened a bottle of soda and the cap exploded off the bottle and into your eye causing permanent damage. Is the bottling company to blame? Possibly. How about a miter saw that is supposed to have a guard to protect your fingers as you slide the wood into the cutting blade? What about a car that permits you to move the gear into reverse without first putting your foot on the brake? (This is called a gear interlock to prevent kids from playing with the gear lever. It's happened where they slip the gears into reverse and the car starts to move causing injury).
Evaluation of a product that is commonly used or bought can be very technical. Many times we need to hire engineers to evaluate a product to see whether it was designed properly and was properly placed into the marketplace.
Malpractice is a departure from good and accepted medical care causing injury. As with anyone, doctors are held accountable for their actions, as we all are. In order to confirm evidence of wrongdoing we need to have medical experts review your records before being able to start a lawsuit for your injuries. Most cases that I see in my office do not meet the strict criteria for being able to start a case. Of those we accept, some will go to trial and others will be settled before trial.
Malpractice cases are one of the most hotly contested areas of law today. The defense attorneys we often encounter are extremely well educated and trained at defending these lawsuits.
We all know what terrible reputations lawyers get from all those tacky advertisements showing damaged cars and clients in wheelchairs holding up poster-sized checks with lots of zeros after some number.
But the fact is that there are accidents and very serious injuries that result from these horrible events. Lives are shattered from a moment of carelessness. Just look around at how many people still talk on their cell phone while driving even though it's against the law!
Most people aren't interested in these informative newsletters because luckily, a tragedy hasn't befallen them. That's ok. We hope that it never does. The purpose of this newsletter is to give my readers an understanding of what we as lawyers do, and how we can help if the need ever arises. You'll find that I like to inform my readers about their options before they ever need a lawyer, and before they ever step foot into a lawyer's office. How many other lawyers do you know who do that?
In an accident case, I look to see how the accident happened. Where were you driving? What were the road conditions? Was your car in good mechanical condition? Was someone speeding? Did someone turn where they shouldn't have been turning? Was horseplay involved? (Think back to when a turkey was thrown from a moving car causing terrible damage to the woman driving behind them).
While going about our daily lives we shouldn't have to worry ourselves about getting injured. Common sense should dictate what good conduct is and what is not. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who are simply careless about how they do their daily activities. Haven't we all seen people reading the newspaper while stuck in traffic- and they're driving! How about applying makeup on the way to work, and driving at the same time?
Imagine this scenario...
A woman is late for work.
She's in her car and traffic is crawling. She's putting on lipstick and looking in the rearview mirror to see if it's on correctly. At the same time her cell phone rings, and while answering it, she decides to light her cigarette. Unfortunately for her, the car lighter drops to her feet and now she's got her lipstick in one hand, the cell phone in the other, a cigarette dangling in her lips, and she's supposed to be paying attention to the road.
Can't you just hear the accident in your head, and visualize the crushing of metal, as her eyes are on the floor looking for the lighter? Believe me, there are plenty of cases like this one that have caused other people injury.
Imagine if people were never careless! There would be no accidents, no need for insurance, and there'd be no personal injury lawsuits. Unfortunately, we are not perfect and accidents do happen.
But how then do you determine whether the accident was something that couldn't be avoided or was the result of lack of attention? We must conduct a thorough and detailed investigation.
Remember, when an injured victim comes to us, they're telling us what happened to them from their point of view. We have to investigate and make sure that all other points of view (witnesses) can confirm what we've been told. When we do that, we build your case and can then support the facts that led to your injury.
Did you know that certain types of dogs are more prone to bite someone than others? Let's look at the pit bull for example. Just because a pit bull bites someone, as opposed to a tiny Chihuahua, does that mean the owner of the dog will be held responsible? The answer depends on many factors.
If the dog has never had any prior vicious tendencies and has never bitten anyone before, how then can his owner be responsible for this biting episode? One could argue that all pit bulls in general, are inherently violent. Not a bad argument to make, but not a totally accurate one either. What if you learned that before biting, the dog was tormented and teased repeatedly by a guest? Would that change things? Sure it would.
Injustice, humiliation and psychological injuries
We can all tell when an injustice happens-
Someone is pulled over because the color of his skin is different from those living in the neighborhood.
Someone is denied entry to a club because their religious beliefs are different than those who run the club.
Someone is denied service at a restaurant because of the way they dress or the accent of their voice. How about a woman who was denied a partnership because she was pregnant? What about the indignity of a high school football player who was sexually abused while away at football training camp with his high school team?
Despite all of our advances today, there is still bigotry, prejudice and hatred in this country. If you're a victim of injustice or humiliation what can you do about it? There are certain types of lawsuits that allow victims of injustice to seek justice. They're sometimes called discrimination lawsuits, or violation of civil rights lawsuits. The pain inflicted by injustice can be devastating and have long-term social and psychological effects.
Your lawyer will ask about your history, both medical and psychological. You will probably be asked to have specific psychological testing and counseling to confirm and identify some of the problems you are currently experiencing.
I know that some people believe that if an injury can't be seen that means it's less meaningful than a horrible disfiguring injury. That's not always true.
I'll bet there's something in everyone's childhood where they can remember a parent or an older child saying something bad about you. Looking back all those years, you still vividly remember the hurt you experienced that day. That's injustice. There's no 'physical' injury, but the emotional scar is ever-present.
So, "What does a lawyer do?"
A lawyer is someone to guide you; to help you through your trouble; to explain the law to you and how the law applies to your facts. A lawyer should be advising you of your legal options and what you can do to correct the injustices that have happened to you. That's what a good lawyer does.
Attorney Oginski has been in practice for 17 years as a trial lawyer practicing exclusively in the State of New York. Having his own law firm, he is able to provide the utmost in personalized, individualized attention to each and every client. In our office, a client is not a file number. Client's are always treated with the respect they deserve and expect from a professional. Mr. Oginski is always aware of every aspect of a client's case from start to finish.
Gerry represents injured people in injury cases and medical malpractice matters in Brooklyn, Queens, New York City, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can reach him at http://www.oginski-law.com, or 516-487-8207. All inquiries are free and totally confidential.