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It is an inevitable meeting. When walking down the road, or while driving down the freeway, you will invariably come upon this sight. They are everywhere; those macho looking lawyers that stare down at you from huge posters and billboards and promise to win your case for you and bring home every single penny that was ever owed to you. With arms folded across their puffed-up chests, and an air of menace around them they tell you that they are 'serious' lawyers who only take on 'serious' cases and are 'serious' about winning. Well, which lawyers isn't? every lawyer worth his salt wants to win the case for his client because not only does a win bump up the lawyer's reputation, it also ensures that the client can pay the lawyer his fees. So, when you need a good personal injury lawyer to fight your 'serious' personal injury case, how do you choose between all the mean-looking lawyers out there?

Finding the right legal help The first thing you need to see is how good the lawyer is. Does he have a solid reputation and is someone trustworthy recommending him to you? You also need to see if the law firm is teaching you something valuable about your own problem. Anyone can make a TV or radio ad and proclaim how serious they are about winning cases for their clients. But the law doesn't work that way. There are legal rules and procedures you need to know about before you can even file a case. And only the best lawyers will ever be honest about the chances your case has of standing up in court against an expert defense. The best lawyers will also provide you with free literature and videos that can help you understand the nuances of the law so that you can understand better the course your trial is taking and why your lawyer has to make certain decisions during the course of the trial.

Understanding the law A marvelous lawyer would always try his or her best to explain the legal process before his customers come knocking at his door. A personal injury case depends almost entirely on proving the defense's negligence and showing that the negligent action was the cause, or one of the causes, for the injuries you have suffered. This is known as causation. Also, it is important to understand that even if you think you are owed a certain amount of money as compensation for your losses, the final sum given to you will be decided by the jury. You may be swayed by emotions, but the jury only looks at hard facts and makes its decision. A fantastic lawyer will tell you all of this and much more, before you even step through his door. Why? Because this is the kind of information that will help you choose a lawyer that fits your requirements and you need this knowledge before you decide to run around town looking for the best attorney. Not after.

Integrity speaks volumes So, do not get taken in by the clichéd adverts that promise you an easy win. Go with a lawyer who tells you the truth without sugar coating. He may not appear seriously menacing, but if he's not afraid to be honest then he can't be too bad either!

CPLR §3101(a) requires, in pertinent part, “full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action.” With regard to medical treatment received by a plaintiff in a lawsuit, this has been interpreted to mean that the injured plaintiff waives the physician-patient privilege with respect to his relevant prior medical history concerning those physical conditions which he affirmatively places in controversy. See Koump v. Smith, 25 NY2d 287, 303 NYS2d 858, 250 NE2d 857 (1969).
However, a party does not waive the physician-patient privilege with respect to unrelated illnesses or injuries. In Romance v. Zavala, 98 AD3d 726, 950 NYS2d 390 (2nd Dept. 2012), the court stated that, the defendants were not entitled to any authorizations for the release of the injured plaintiff’s medical records requested in their notice to produce, which sought disclosure of medical records pertaining to illnesses and injuries unrelated to the subject accident. The court continued, while the principle of “full disclosure” does not give a party the right to uncontrolled and unfettered disclosure.

About Alcohol and Mental Health Records

Similarly, an injured plaintiff’s alcohol and mental health records may be protected. If there is no claim regarding mental and psychological injuries, Mental Health Law 33.12 offers protections from disclosure, and even a claim for “loss of enjoyment of life,” relating solely to claimed physical injuries, does not warrant disclosure of substance abuse and mental health treatment information, without a showing of potential relevance. In other words, a defendant must show that the interests of justice significantly outweigh the plaintiff’s right to confidentiality by expert or other evidence establishing a particularized need for inquiry into matters not directly at issue in this action. See Alford v. City of New York, 2014 WL 1356674 (1 Dept. 2014).

About “Loss of Enjoyment of Life”

Finally, there is a split between the First and Second Appellate Divisions about claims for “loss of enjoyment of life” that may be claimed in a Bill of Particulars. While the First Appellate Department will generally limit disclosure to those conditions affirmatively placed in controversy, the Second Appellate Department is much more liberal in its disclosure policies and will allow the defense to review records showing the nature and severity of the plaintiff’s prior medical conditions which may have an impact upon the amount of damages, if any, recoverable for a claim of loss of enjoyment of life. See Montalto v. Heckler, 113 AD3d 741, 978 NYS.2d 891 (2nd Dept. 2014)

Contact our New York City Personal Injury Law Firm

The New York City personal injury law firm of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff has been representing injury victims for more than three decades. Our attorneys have a strong familiarity with the laws pertinent to personal injury cases in New York City and the surrounding areas. For more information about how these laws apply to your case, schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling (800) 660-2264.

NEW YORK CITY LAW OFFICE

122 E. 42nd Street Suite 3800
New York, NY 10168

Tel: (800) 660-2264

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QUEENS LAW OFFICE

8900 Sutphin Blvd Suite 501
Queens, NY 11435

Tel: (718) 399-3100

*By Appointment Only

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BRONX LAW OFFICE

220-226 E 161st Street
The Bronx, NY 10451

Tel: (212) 344-1000

*By Appointment Only

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