The law firm of Christopher Modelewski, P.C. represents victims of automobile, construction and other accidents, professional malpractice, and other forms of negligence. We argue cases involving negligent highway design, and the careless supervision of children. We also help victims of intentional torts such as assault, defamation, and excessive force. We enforce the civil rights and liberties of our clients through vigorous prosecution of claims for damages. We have experience, both as plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel in wrongful death and other serious personal injury cases.

  • Automobile Accidents

The automobile accident case accounts for the single greatest number of civil lawsuits in most jurisdictions in the United States.  New York is no exception, with automobile negligence cases accounting for a majority of those matters awaiting trial.  Negligence has been defined as the absence of care under the circumstances or the failure to do what a reasonably prudent person would have done under the same circumstances.

The plaintiff, or injured party in a negligence lawsuit must show, to establish what is called a prima facie case, the existence of a duty on defendant’s part as to plaintiff; a breach of that duty and an injury to the plaintiff as a result of that breach.  Two crucial legal doctrines come into play in every negligence action: “forseeablility” and “proximate cause”.

Forseeablility is the risk of danger reasonably to be perceived in the conduct of ones affairs. Negligence requires both a foreseeable danger of injury to someone and conduct that is unreasonable in relation to the danger.  Generally, the law does not hold a person responsible for the consequences of his or her conduct unless the risk of the injury was reasonably foreseeable. The exact occurrence or precise injury need not have been foreseeable; but injury as a result of negligent conduct must have been not merely possible, but probable.

In order for a plaintiff to be successful in being awarded damages, the plaintiff must prove proximate cause or, that the injuries and damages sustained were directly caused by the defendant’s negligence.  The first question for proximate cause determinations is whether the negligence of the defendant did in fact cause the injury. The law will hold someone accountable for negligence only if that negligence was a direct or proximate cause (sometimes it is called “legal cause”) of the injury.  The inquiry continues as “intervening” or “superseding” causes may be found to prevent the attachment of liability for damages.

A word about automobile insurance: There are four basic parts to all automobile policies,  including; liability coverage for personal injury, liability coverage for property damage, personal injury protection coverage (also known as no-fault and/or PIP coverage) and  uninsured/underinsured coverage.  You should have your insurance policy with you when you call, or meet with an attorney about your matter if it involves automobile coverage. 

Claims against Municipalities

As you might suspect, the government gets a little extra protection as a defendant in a lawsuit.  The claim against a municipal corporation is generally governed by Section 50 of the General Municipal Law. There are two significant considerations in this type of action; prior notice rules, and notice of claim requirements.

The Notice of Claim is a legal document which must be served on the government prior to starting a lawsuit against the government.  The Notice of Claim requirement applies to all tort claims (torts can be intentional, as in an assault, or negligent as in an auto accident) against a public corporation or officer, appointee or employee thereof. It must be filed within ninety (90) days of the claim arising, except that in wrongful death actions, the ninety days runs from the appointment of a representative of the decedent’s estate.

There are other special rules that apply to tort lawsuits against municipal corporations, which a qualified attorney will be able to explain to you.

  • Construction Sites/Workplace Accidents

In 1885, the New York State Legislature enacted “An Act for the protection of life and limb” (which is often referred to as the “scaffolding law”) and is codified in Labor Law Sections 240 and 241.  The law provides protection primarily to construction workers, who, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, perform  some of the most dangerous jobs in our society.  At Christopher Modelewski, P.C., we have experience in both prosecuting and defending claims under the Labor Law.  Perhaps more importantly though, we have a unique understanding, through Mr. Modelewski’s prior experience as a union construction worker, of the dynamics of a construction accident, and the devastating effects it can have on the life of victims, and their families.

We have recovered substantial sums for our clients in Labor Law cases, and wish to put our experience to work for you.