LocationsTroy, Latham & Saratoga OfficesLocations

Troy
(Main Office and Mailing Address)

Call(518) 274-5820

View MapThe Jones Building
28 Second Street
Troy, NY

Latham

Call(518) 783-3843

View MapLatham Office
7 Airport Park Boulevard
Latham, NY

Saratoga

Call(518) 584-8886

View MapThe West Building
511 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY

Blog

Deadline to Challenge the Assessment On Your Property is Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The deadline to challenge the assessment on your property is Tuesday, May 22, 2018.  In order to preserve your rights to reduce you real property taxes, you must file a grievance with the local Assessor or that municipality’s Board of Assessment Review on or before that date.  The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP have worked on assessments for many years and will be able to help you in your pursuit of real property tax relief.

Contact David R. Murphy at (518) 213-0117, [email protected], or Patrick L. Seely, Jr. at (518) 213-0118, [email protected], to discuss your assessment.

Failure to Diagnose Cancer and the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Albany, New York: What are My Options?

doctor talking to male patient

There are many ways to accidentally harm someone. Most of us would have more sympathy for a doctor who negligently fails to diagnose cancer than for a motorist who negligently runs a red light and causes an accident. From a legal point of view, however, both of these parties are equally responsible for the harm they caused, and both are liable to pay full compensation.

Not all adverse medical outcomes amount to medical malpractice, of course. New York guards against the possibility of meritless lawsuits by requiring your attorney to file a Certificate of Merit to maintain the lawsuit. This means that your attorney must consult with a licensed physician and decide that a “reasonable basis” exists for the lawsuit.

Common Reasons for Failure to Diagnose

“Failure to diagnose” cancer refers to two distinct scenarios:

  • The doctor made no diagnosis of your condition whatsoever
  • The doctor diagnosed your condition as something other than cancer.

Either way, the doctor failed to diagnose your cancer. Since at least one expert has concluded that medical diagnoses are wrong about 15 to 20 percent of the time, your chances of falling victim to a negligent failure to diagnose cancer are far from remote. Following are some of the most common reasons why health care providers fail to diagnose cancer:

  • Failure to take an adequate medical history of you and your family;
  • Failure to order appropriate diagnostic tests;
  • Misinterpretation of test results;
  • Failure to communicate (failure to transfer test results to the appropriate person, for example)

The Differential Diagnosis List

When a doctor examines your condition, he will create a “differential diagnosis list” in which he lists possible conditions that could be responsible for your symptoms, in descending order of their likelihood. For example:

  1. Diverticulitis
  2. Crohn’s disease
  3. Colon cancer

The doctor will then attempt to rule out various possible conditions using means such as biopsies, etc. Malpractice may occur, for example, if your actual condition is not on the differential diagnosis list at all, or if it was on the list but the doctor failed to take steps rule out your actual condition. The ultimate standard is what a “reasonably prudent doctor” would have done under the same circumstances.

What is a “Reasonably Prudent” Doctor?

The “reasonably prudent doctor” is a fictional character. The reasonably prudent doctor is not the best doctor, and he is not even the average doctor (otherwise about half of all doctors would commit malpractice on a daily basis). Instead, the “reasonably prudent doctor” is a doctor who meets the minimum standard necessary to avoid committing malpractice.

This standard, although “minimum”, is a high standard. By a process of elimination, there has to be a “worst doctor” out there somewhere — it is a mathematical inevitability, Nevertheless, even the worst doctor should still be competent enough to inspire confidence. Whether a “reasonably prudent doctor” would have diagnosed your cancer is typically determined by expert testimony.

Proving Your Case in Court (or at the Settlement Table)

Although most personal injury claims are resolved at the settlement table rather than in court, a particularly high percentage of medical malpractice claims end up in court, because health care providers fight hard to protect their reputations. This reality means that even if you end up winning a settlement, you may still have to collect enough evidence to prove your claim in court.

The four elements that you must prove to win a medical malpractice claim are:

  1. Duty. You must prove that a doctor/patient relationship existed. This is normally easy to prove.
  2. Breach. Expert testimony must establish the standard of care (the “reasonably prudent doctor” standard), and you must prove that the doctor failed to meet this standard.
  3. Causation: You must prove that the doctor’s failure to diagnose your cancer caused you actual harm.
  4. Damages: You must prove exactly how much harm you suffered, including both economic and non-economic losses (pain and suffering, for example).

Wrongful Death Claims

Compared to other forms of medical malpractice, failure to diagnose cancer is particularly likely to result in the death of the patient. When this happens, the patient’s claim does not die with him — it is simply transformed into a wrongful death claim.

The personal representative of the deceased victim’s probate estate is the party who files a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is usually named in the victim’s will and is typically a close relative (often the victim’s spouse). If the victim left no will (a child, for example), a probate court will appoint the personal representative, and it will usually appoint a close relative.

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations sets the deadline by which you must file a medical malpractice claim. If you miss it your claim will die, even at the settlement table. The New York medical malpractice statute of limitations was modified by “Lavern’s law” when it applies to failure to diagnose cancer. It is rather complex, and you should consult with a lawyer to determine the exact date:

  • You generally have two and a half years from either (i) the date that you discovered or should have discovered the malpractice or (ii) the last day of continuous treatment, whichever is later, to file the lawsuit.
  • In no case will you be able to file a lawsuit any later than seven years after the malpractice actually occurred
  • Special rules apply to claims that arose before the law was passed (January 31, 2018)

Contact Us Today

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has been around for more than a hundred years and has been named a first-tier Albany law firm by U.S. News every year since 2011.

We serve clients from all over Albany including Downtown Albany, Arbor Hill, Pine Hills and elsewhere. We also serve clients in the Capital Region, upstate New York and beyond.

If you suspect that you are a victim of a negligent failure to diagnose, contact us today to schedule a free case consultation, where we can answer your questions and discuss your options.

Uber/Lyft Accidents

Uber/LyftCompanies like Uber and Lyft are part of the new wave of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) that may soon completely marginalize the traditional taxi industry. Although the ridesharing industry has significantly lowered the cost of intra-city travel for people without access to their own vehicle, it has introduced new complications as well.

TNC drivers are not as well-trained as their taxi driver counterparts, and accidents are not terribly uncommon. When this happens, the legal situation can become complex very quickly,  because they potentially involve three different insurance policies – the driver’s commercial insurance (through Uber or Lyft), the driver’s personal insurance and the other driver’s personal insurance.

What to Do After a Ridesharing Accident

The steps to take after a ridesharing accident are more or less the same as the steps you should take after any accident that might generate a personal injury claim, including:

  • Seek medical treatment ASAP. Part of the reason for this is to generate evidence for your claim.
  • Contact the police and make sure they fill out a police report. This is likely to happen without your initiative under most circumstances.
  • Collect driver’s license, phone number, and insurance information from all drivers involved in the accident
  • Obtain names and phone numbers of any witnesses
  • Photograph the scene of the accident with your cell phone
  • Contact a competent personal injury attorney
  • Do not speak to any insurance adjusters – refer them to your attorney instead.

If you were seriously injured, you will of course have to skip or delay some of these steps.

Client Testimonial

“You and your staff are tops in our book. We sincerely appreciate everything you have done, and keeping us so informed with evening and weekend calls. You are so excellent at your profession and it was clearly demonstrated in what you did for us. You thoroughly enjoy your job!”

– C. & J. Gottbehut

Kinds of Personal Injury Claims We Typically Handle

Below is a list of some of the types of traffic accident cases we handle:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I claim against my own no-fault insurance policy if the app was on and I had no assignment?

Probably not, because most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for commercial activities. As long as you were driving with the app on, your activity would be considered “commercial.” Check your policy language to confirm its coverage.

What does Uber insurance cover?

Uber insurance covers:

On assignment:

  • $1.25 million in personal liability per accident
  • $1.25 million in underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) up to $50,000 for each occupant, regardless of fault

App on, no assignments:

  • $75,000 per injury/$150,000 per accident/$25,000 property damage
  • $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident uninsured motorist insurance
  • PIP protection up to $50,000

What does Lyft insurance cover?

Lyft insurance covers the following:

On assignment:

  • $1 million in liability per accident
  • $1 million in underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage

App on, no assignments:

  • $50,000 per person, $100,00 per accident, $25,000 property damage

Are there any gaps in insurance coverage?

Coverage loopholes in Uber, Lyft, and most personal insurance policies include the following:

  • Damage to a ridesharing driver’s car due to an accident that occurred while his app was on with no current assignments (depending on circumstances, the other driver’s insurance might cover these damages)
  • Personal injury to a ridesharing driver without an assignment, if the accident was the ridesharing driver’s fault

Can I still file a claim if the accident was partly my fault?

Yes, as long as the accident was not completely your fault. Under New York’s “pure comparative fault” system, you are entitled to some damages (discounted by your degree of fault) even if you were mostly at fault. Keep in mind that the other driver can also sue you as well, and you might end up with a net loss.

I suspect that my driver was intoxicated. Can I add punitive damages to my claim?

Although it is possible to receive punitive damages under New York law in certain circumstances, insurance companies are not obligated to pay these damages. Consequently, you might not be able to collect punitive damages unless the driver can pay them out of his own pocket. Since ridesharing jobs are relatively low-paid, it is unlikely that an Uber or Lyft driver could afford to pay punitive damages out of their own pocket.

What are pain and suffering damages?

Pain and suffering damage compensate you for the physical suffering that you experienced as a result of your personal injury. Unlike punitive damages, these types of damages are commonly awarded, and in some cases they might far exceed the amount of medical expense reimbursement.

Who files the claim if the accident victim dies from his injuries?

In this case, a wrongful death claim is appropriate. It must be filed by the personal representative of the victim’s probate estate – the person named in the victim’s last will and testament or appointed by the probate court. The personal representative must distribute these damages appropriately after they are awarded.

Our Reputation

  1. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has been showered with awards since shortly after its founding. Some of the more prominent honors bestowed upon our firm and its members include:
  • Ranked among “Best Law Firm” in Albany by U.S. News
  • “AV Preeminent” ratings from the industry standard Martindale Hubbell legal directory
  • Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum for personal injury lawyers, representing fewer that one percent of all U.S. lawyers
  • 10.0 rating by the AVVO legal rating service

Turn Time into Your Friend Instead of Your Enemy

The reality of personal injury law is that a personal injury claim is usually at its strongest shortly after it arises. It’s not only the statute of limitations deadline that matters – witness memories, for example, are freshest soon after the event. It is in your interest to secure expert legal representation as soon as possible after your accident.

If you suffered an injury in a ridesharing accident in the state of New York, and if you suspect that someone other than yourself may be responsible for the accident, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation.

As a Cancer Patient, What Does Lavern’s Law Do for You?

Lavern’s Law Lawyers Serving Cancer Patients in New York State

gavel and stethescopeHave you been diagnosed with a form of cancer?  Is it possible that you were previously misdiagnosed about your cancerous condition?  If the answer is yes, our law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is prepared to assist you, diligently seeking to fight to preserve your rights and to receive the justice that you rightly deserve.

What is the So-called Lavern’s Law?

After the passage in the Assembly and the New York State Senate, the Governor of the State of New York signed into law what’s known as the “Lavern’s Law.”  Essentially, what this new law does is extend the time period for late cancer diagnosis victims to bring a legal action.  In effect, it is a “discovery” rule.

Who is Lavern?

The new “Lavern’s Law” was named after a Bronx resident, one Lavern Wilkinson who happened to pass away in 2013, at the young age of 41.  Wilkerson passed away due to what was believed to be a treatable form of lung cancer.  It was reported in the New York Times that, in 2010, doctors did not catch a curious, two centimeter mass upon her right lung.  (The New York Times wrote many editorials advocating for the passage of new legislation.)  

She returned to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn in 2012, due to her experiencing a chronic cough.  The hospital performed an X-ray, and what resulted was frightening.  The X-ray revealed that cancer had now spread throughout her entire body.  When Wilkerson learned of the cancer, and the doctor’s initial error, it was too late to take legal action, because by then the statute of limitation period had run its full course.  
       

What Was the Law before the Lavern’s Law Was Enacted?

Prior to the adoption of the Lavern’s Law, when a doctor missed a diagnosis of cancer, there would be just 2 ½ years to bring a legal action against the doctor for medical malpractice.  Even though 2 ½ years seems like a long period, in actuality it is not.

It happens where a patient doesn’t discover that the doctor missed the cancer diagnosis until months later, or even years later.  Generally, cancer is a slow growing disease.  A misdiagnosis means that the disease will continue to grow without the patient being aware of it.  Sadly, a misdiagnosis can lead to the patient’s death.

A senate bill sponsor of Lavern’s Law was John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse).  DeFrancisco, who was also a long-time trial lawyer, had said that, with the vast majority of cases where a cancerous mass had been found but not disclosed, the statute of limitations had run out prior to the patient being able to bring a lawsuit.

Trial Lawyers Versus Hospitals

Throughout the political process, Lavern’s Law was strongly divided by two distinct sides.  The trial lawyers called the bill “fair play.”  The deep-pocketed medical establishment, such as the hospitals and medical societies, sought to block the measure at every step along the way.  The opposition was predicting that some doctors were likely to leave the state, and that insurance rates would skyrocket.  Further, the medical establishment averred that many of the states had similar laws in place as previously existed in New York, and these states also have placed caps on pain and suffering awards and limitations on the total damages that can be awarded.

According to the New York Daily News, certain groups went even further.  The New York Medical Society expressed that it was “extremely concerned about the ultimate impact to New Yorkers’ access to care” if the new bill was to be signed into law.  Additional hyperbole was cast.  The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York complained that “at the behest of the trial lawyers, lawmakers in Albany have laid the groundwork to turn New York’s medical care crises into a full-blown catastrophe.”

Concerning the legislation, the New York Times reported that “The bill guards the interests of patients who might otherwise be frozen out of seeking just compensation simply because they had no way of knowing that a grave diagnostic error had been made.”

According to the New York Law Journal, the president of the New York Trial Lawyers Association, stated the following concerning Lavern’s Law:  “Lavern’s Law is the result of an extremely committed coalition of advocates, courageous patients and their families and others who came together to address injustice.  We will continue to work across New York to make our state fairer, safer and more equitable for New Yorkers of all walks of life.”

A Change in the Law – Lavern’s Law

There was a dramatic change in the law, upon the adoption of Lavern’s Law.  As of today, the measurement of time is very different.  Now, it is 2 ½ years from the point in time that the patient discovers the missed diagnosis.  This is up to a maximum of 7 years from the date of the patient’s last treatment.  This change in the law makes a huge difference for patients and their families.  Now, otherwise barred claims can still be brought against the doctor who misdiagnosed the patient.

In accordance with the new law, if the misdiagnosis occurred during the period ten months prior to the enactment of the new law, then they have 6 months (after enactment) to bring a lawsuit.
 

Contact the Law Firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Concerning Lavern’s Law

Being informed that you have cancer can be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have.  As we are all aware, it is critical and extremely important to discover that you indeed have a cancerous disease as soon as possible.  You cannot receive the necessary medical treatment if you have not been properly diagnosed with the disease.  

Have you been possibly misdiagnosed about a cancerous disease?  If so, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy can assist you.  To discover the ways our law firm can assist you, contact us immediately through our contact form online, or by dialing 518-380-2597 today.

Capital District Trial Lawyers Association Names New Officers for 2018

The Capital District Trial Lawyers Association in Albany, New York, named its new officers for 2018.

The association elected Meghan Keenholts, Esq. as its president.  Mrs. Keenholts is a partner with E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, LLP a personal injury and criminal defense law firm with offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga and Latham.

Also elected were:  Laura Jordan, Esq., Powers & Santola, LLP, vice president; Kathleen Barclay, Esq., Maguire Cardona, PC, treasurer; and William Little, Esq., Teresi & Little, PLLC, secretary.

Each will serve a one-year term through 2018.

The Capital District Trial Lawyers Association has more than 500 attorney members.  The organization is an accredited provider of continuing legal education seminars and hosts an annual dinner to honor Capital District judges and trial attorneys who exemplify the standards of excellence demonstrated by the organization’s founding members. More information is available at www.cdtlany.com.

Who Is Liable for an Icy Parking Lot Slip and Fall?

New York State Slip and Fall Injury Attorneys

slip and fall in parking lotNew York winters can be especially long and brutal. If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall caused by icy, snowy conditions in a parking lot that hasn’t been properly maintained during winter weather, you need to know your rights.

It’s not unusual for New York residents, tourists, and visitors to slip and fall on icy, snowy parking lots during the winter. If you slip and fall while walking to or from your car in a parking lot, or on a sidewalk at a shopping center or mall, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Reasonable Duty of Care and Liability in Latham

Property owners and property maintenance staff in New York have a reasonable duty of care to make sure that premises are safe, especially when those premises are open to the public. In the harsh New York winter, this means that property owners and maintenance staff have an obligation to keep parking lots and sidewalks clear of ice and snow so that members of the public can traverse them safely. If the property owner or maintenance staff fails to keep sidewalks and parking lots clear and safe, they can be considered negligent in their duty of care.

While property owners aren’t obligated to remove every trace of ice and snow, they are required to put in enough effort that reasonable care can be said to have been exercised. This means they’re required to keep their property clear of snow and ice to the extent that a reasonable person would feel that all efforts have been made to keep the property safe. Even if snow and ice have been removed or treated, the owner still has a responsibility to make sure that these efforts have resulted in safe conditions.

The bottom line is that liability can result if the property is in an unsafe condition, even if the owner has made efforts to clear snow and ice.

Liability When Duty of Care Is Neglected

If it snows and a property owner doesn’t clear away the snow and ice from his or her parking lot, he or she could be held liable for your injuries if you slip and fall in the unmaintained parking lot. But that’s not the only way that property owners can be negligent in fulfilling their duty of care.

Let’s say, for example, that snow on an awning melts in the sun and drips onto the parking lot or sidewalk below, where it freezes, the owner of the property could be found to be negligent if someone slips on that ice, falls, and sustains an injury. This is true even if the owner of that property has made previous efforts to clear snow and ice.

Under New York state laws, a property owner doesn’t necessarily need to have been made aware of a dangerous condition on the property in order to be held liable. In Figueroa v. Lazarus Burman Associates, the plaintiff sustained injuries due to a slip-and-fall in an icy parking lot, and the defendant was found to have made insufficient efforts to clear snow from the property in question. While the defendant had made some efforts to clear snow and ice, the court found that the lot was still negligently cleared, because the defendant allowed unsafe conditions to remain.

The court further ruled that it wasn’t necessary for the defendant to have received notice of the dangerous conditions beforehand in order to be held liable, since the defendant had contributed to the creation of those dangerous conditions when they failed to exercise their reasonable duty of care in clearing the lot.

However, in order for a property owner to be held liable for dangerous conditions in an icy, snowy parking lot, he must be able to reasonably foresee that the dangerous conditions represent a threat to the public. For example, if you were to enter an icy, snowy commercial parking lot very late at night or very early in the morning, outside of business hours, you may not be able to hold the property owners liable for a slip-and-fall injury. The court might find that those owners could not have reasonably foreseen your presence on the property at such a time, and therefore, they didn’t have a reasonable duty of care to create safe conditions on the property.

Another circumstance under which a property owner might not be held liable for slip-and-fall injuries in a parking lot or other property would be when the snow is actually still falling. New York property liability laws typically use the storm in progress doctrine, which holds that property owners are not liable for unsafe conditions that occur while a storm is still in progress. Any unsafe or slippery conditions that come about due to a storm in progress are not the property owner’s responsibility; she has a reasonable duty of care to restore the property to a safe condition within a reasonable amount of time after the storm has come to an end.

How long does the property owner have to clear the snow and ice away after the storm has ended? That’s usually up to a jury, although previous court decisions have found that property owners are not liable for injuries that occur on their properties during lulls in a storm, or within 45 minutes after the end of a storm.

Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorneys

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall in New York due to ice and snow in a parking lot, you may be entitled to damages. Our personal injury attorneys can tell you whether or not you have a case, and if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

To request a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm, call us at (518) 274-5820, or fill out our online contact form to get started.

What Is a Fiduciary Relationship in an Embezzlement Case?

gavel and money embezzlementIn order for embezzlement to happen, there has to be a financial relationship between the victim and the embezzler. This relationship is commonly known as a fiduciary relationship.

Understanding Fiduciary Relationships in Latham

When two parties are in a fiduciary relationship, it means that one of them has an obligation or duty to act for the benefit of the other, at least when acting or advising on matters that fall under the scope of the fiduciary relationship. As a result, one party has influence and a level of superiority over the other, and there is a certain level of trust that is shared between them. One party trusts another to handle property, money, or other valuable assets in a reliable way.

However, simply handling someone’s money isn’t enough to establish a fiduciary relationship between two parties. A grocery store cashier, for example, handles customers’ money all day, yet he or she does not have a fiduciary relationship with those customers.

A financial advisor who manages a client’s retirement or other savings may also be said to have a fiduciary relationship with those individuals, as might a corporate officer who makes business decisions on behalf of a company. This is why embezzlement cases typically require the services of white-collar criminal defense attorneys. Usually, these crimes involve white-collar criminals and large sums of money.

Fiduciary Duty

Legally speaking, a fiduciary duty has the highest standard of care. Someone who has a fiduciary duty is called a fiduciary, and the person or organization to which the duty is owed is called a principal or beneficiary. Fiduciary duties are meant to encourage specialization and to give people incentives for entering into fiduciary relationships.

By imposing a high standard of care, the law seeks to minimize the risk of abuse of beneficiaries or principals by their fiduciaries. When an individual violates or breaches their fiduciary duties, his or her beneficiaries are entitled to damages even if the breach of duty caused them no harm.

Fiduciary Duties and Corporations

The primary fiduciary duties of corporate officers and directors include duty of loyalty and duty of care. Duty of loyalty means that corporate directors and officers can’t use their position of fiduciary trust to further their own private interests or make money for themselves. They must instead protect the interests of the corporation, and refrain from doing anything that would harm the corporation’s interests.

Duty of care in the context of fiduciary duty means that corporate directors and officers have an obligation to avail themselves of all available knowledge before making a business decision that affects the interests of the corporation. He or she must protect the interests of the corporation and its stockholders by assessing this information critically.

Corporate directors and officers have further duties when acting on behalf of their corporations. These include:

  • Duty of good faith. They must act to advance the corporate interests, to obey the law, and to fulfill their duties.
  • Duty of prudence. This duty requires a trustee to act with a prudent degree of care, caution, and skill when administering a trust.
  • Duty of confidentiality. This requires corporate directors and officers to keep corporate information private and not disclose it for their own benefit.
  • Duty of disclosure. The duty of disclosure requires corporate officers and directors to disclose information to stockholders under certain circumstances.

Fiduciary Relationships and Embezzlement

In order for embezzlement to occur, a fiduciary relationship must exist between the parties involved. The perpetrator must actually acquire property illicitly as a result of this fiduciary relationship. He or she must then transfer its possession to him or herself or to the possession of a third party. It’s not sufficient for the perpetrator to have access to the property – he or she must actually have used that access to convert ownership of the property for his or her own personal benefit or the benefit of a third party.

If, for example, a financial advisor transfers a client’s retirement funds into his or her own name and uses them to buy a new boat, that’s an example of embezzlement as the financial advisor has taken advantage of his or her fiduciary relationship with the client to illegally access and then take ownership of the client’s assets. The level of trust inherent in a fiduciary relationship can allow an unscrupulous person to take advantage of that relationship for his or her own benefit.

In order for embezzlement to be said to have occurred, this transfer of assets from the beneficiary or principal to the fiduciary must be intentional. This requirement is necessary to show fraudulent intent. If the financial advisor were to transfer the client’s funds into his or her own name by mistake, or because he or she believed the client had authorized them to transfer funds – when in fact, no such authorization was given – this wouldn’t constitute a breach of fiduciary duty or embezzlement.

In fact, a common legal defense against embezzlement is to argue that the fiduciary reasonably believed that the allegedly stolen property had actually been given to him or her by the principal or beneficiary.

When a person takes advantage of a fiduciary relationship to commit embezzlement, the punishment can involve fines, jail time, and restitution. The breach of fiduciary duty means that the beneficiary is owed damages regardless of the level of harm he or she might have sustained.

Trust is an essential component of a fiduciary relationship. That’s why some jurisdictions apply aggravating factors to embezzlement charges that involve individuals who can be said to hold a position of public trust. This would include public servants or bank employees – or when the perpetrator has targeted vulnerable populations, like the elderly.

Experienced Attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Law

Embezzlement is a serious crime. To understand why, it’s important to know what fiduciary relationships are and why these relationships involve a high degree of trust. If you’ve been accused of breach of fiduciary duty, you need to contact our white collar criminal defense attorneys right away.

To request a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm, call us at (518) 274-5820, or fill out our online contact form to get started.