An $87 million verdict was one of the largest verdicts in New York State’s history. That is what Steven Hess accomplished, when this top trial lawyer won $87 million in the Bronx County Supreme Court for a laborer who was left paralyzed as a result of a work accident. “We worked tirelessly to win compensation for our client for the pain that he suffered as a result of his construction accident,” said Steven Hess, one of the founders of Hess & Leibowitz “My partners and I have spent over 30 years of our lives fighting tooth and nail for victims of construction accidents, often winning and collecting substantial money damages for construction workers and construction site visitors who have suffered serious injury or death due to work site accidents.”
This award was obtained in Queens county for a construction worker struck by an automobile.
Miguel Ortiz, a 45-year-old husband and father of two, had worked for the New York City sanitation department for many years. He knew his people and his trucks inside and out. One day, standing with his partner and his supervisor behind a double-parked sanitation truck on McGraw Avenue in the Bronx, Miguel heard the sound of air releasing. Moments later he saw the truck start to roll away. Surprised and scared for the welfare of the people on the street, Miguel sprinted to the front of the truck and attempted to get into the cab to stop the runaway truck. But as fate would have it, Miguel slipped and became caught between the truck and a parked car, severely injuring his hip.
Eventually, Miguel’s partner stopped the truck with the foot brake.
This was not the first time that this particular truck had rolled on its own even after the parking brake was engaged. Twice after complaints were made about this problem, the truck was taken for service and supposedly fixed.
But something went terribly wrong and Miguel, in his attempt to protect the truck and the public, was left with a permanent injury and significant pain for the rest of his life.
Miguel spent months in the hospital as a result of multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. And if that was not difficult enough, he was going to have to wear a brace for the rest of his life and get a total hip replacement in five to 10 years, and again in 25 years, according to his doctors.One day in the hospital, an attorney friend recommended that Miguel speak to Steven Hess about his accident. The attorney friend, who knew of Mr. Hess’s reputation and success in recovering money to help injured clients, said they might be able to help Miguel.
Miguel’s friend turned out to be right. Steven Hess, fought hard for Miguel, winning nearly $5.4 million for his client.
Steven Hess, after countless meetings with Miguel by his hospital bedside and many hours spent working on his case, laid out a convincing and bullet-proof case against New York City and the insufficient maintenance and repair of this sanitation truck. “The accident was not Miguel’s fault, yet he was left to suffer for it for the rest of his life,” said Steven Hess.
“As Miguel wanted to help those around him, Steven Hess wanted to help Miguel.”
Segundo Orellana was a hard working 40-year-old man, a respected employee of a waste management company in Queens, NY. He reported to work every day at 3:30 AM, opened the concrete building with the key entrusted to him by his boss and would regularly turn on the light switch. He would then separate the different types of garbage that was transported to the building by another company that picked up the garbage from commercial businesses. On one fateful and tragic day, Mr. Orellana did what he always did, but unknown to him, there was a cloud of flammable gas in the building because 500 aerosol cans had been picked up and crushed in the rear of one of the garbage trucks. The cans were squashed and punctured and when the load was placed in the building the gasses were released. When Mr. Orellana turned the light switch on that day, static electricity caused a spark that ignited the gasses and a fire and explosion occurred, knocking the concrete building down and more significantly, burning more than 75% of Mr. Orellana’s body, limbs, and face.
Alan B. Leibowitz was successful in recovering from (1) the commercial business that wrongfully placed the hazardous materials (the aerosol cans) into the garbage dumpsters, (2) the garbage company that picked up the cans and placed them in the building even though the workers heard the hissing of gasses escaping and had seen some loose cans at the commercial business, and (3) the manufacturer and distributor of the cans for failing to place adequate warnings on the cans and the boxes in which they were transported regarding the dangerous nature of the cans. This was a product liability theory.
While Mr. Orellana suffered greatly, at least he recovered a monetary award which provided for his future health care and financial security for himself and his family.
With the advent of bike lanes and bikes for rent on corners throughout the city, bicycle safety and accidents remain a prime concern. The personal safety of bicyclists is at stake when motorists don’t yield and pay attention to new road patterns and signs that have been modified to enable bicyclists safe passage throughout the city. To complicate the situation further, rent-a-bikes may be used by those who are not readily familiar with the traffic patterns and who are unfamiliar with the dangers of sharing the streets with trucks, buses, and cars. Also, bicyclists must remember that they have an obligation to follow the same rules of the road as automobiles. The attorneys at Hess and Leibowitz have represented numerous cyclists who have been injured on the streets of New York and New Jersey.
Insurance brokers often do not properly inform their clientele about a very important and rather inexpensive form of insurance which can easily and effectively protect you when you are in an automobile accident with another vehicle which has either minimums of low amounts of liability insurance. For these instances you can actually purchase your own insurance which will pay you for your own injuries.
Perhaps using an example can help to explain this situation. If you’re driving your car and you have underinsurance coverage limits of $250,000 and have an accident with a car that has $25,000 of liability insurance then your own policy is available to pay the difference in the amount of your underinsurance coverage and the other vehicle’s liability coverage – in this case, $225,000.
Please don’t think that this is uncommon. The number of cars with the minimum coverage of $25,000 or only $50,000 represents about one half of the cars on the roadways.
Protect yourself. Ask your broker for increased underinsurance coverage limits.
Usually when we’re at home in our apartments we feel rather safe, whether it’s while we are watching TV, eating at the kitchen table, or sleeping. However, it’s commonplace, unfortunately, for fires to occur, whether because of a faulty extension cord, match or cigarette falling onto the bedspread, a defective stove, or excessive lint in the clothes dryer. It is critical that safety devices are properly working and appropriately situated. Smoke detectors must be adjacent to the bedrooms and kitchen. Windows leading to fire escapes can never be blocked by locked scissor gates; and there must be 2 separate locations to exit the apartment. Of course, the batteries in the smoke detectors should be changed regularly and it’s easy to remember to do this two times each year when we change our clocks: “Spring forward, Fall back and change the batteries.”
Safety at home can be accomplished if we’re thoughtful.
This award was obtained for a construction worker who fell from a six foot high Baker’s scaffold after admitting that he had 2-4 alcoholic beverages at lunch that day.