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What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog in New York

angry barking dogFew things are more confusing and frightening than being bitten by a dog. Man’s best friend has turned on you, and now you need to know what to do about it! If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog in New York, here’s what you need to do.

Identify the Owner

The first thing you should do after being bitten by a dog is find out who that dog belongs to. Get the owner’s name and address, if you can. This will allow you to sue for damages should you require medical treatment, and can even help your healthcare provider determine what treatments you’ll need, such as rabies vaccinations, for example.

The owner will need to present proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies, or, alternatively, will need to monitor the dog at home for a period of 10 days for signs of rabies. If the dog is a stray, it will be euthanized and tested for rabies.

Seek Medical Attention

You will need to seek medical attention for your injuries right away. While there have been no dogs with rabies in New York City since 1954, it’s best to begin receiving vaccinations for this possibly fatal disease as soon as possible, if necessary.

Report the Dog Bite

Although you might be hesitant about reporting the bite, it’s in your best interest to do so. All animal bites in New York City must be reported. City officials will follow up with the owner of the dog, and the person who was bitten, to make sure that the animal presents no additional threat.

Document Everything

Even if you haven’t yet decided whether you want to sue the dog owner, you should document everything to do with your dog bite injuries, including medical treatments, time lost from work, damage to personal property, and therapy for psychological and emotional distress.

It is also best to photograph your injuries, and any damage to clothing or personal property. Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses to your dog attack.

Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney Today

The statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit in New York is three years from the date of the incident. A dog bite lawyer can tell you whether you have a case, and to what compensation you may be entitled. And, although it might be might be difficult to make sure you’ve followed all these steps after a dog bite, you might still be entitled to compensation.

If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog in New York, whether it was your neighbor’s dog or a stranger’s in the park, it’s best to consult experienced dog bite attorneys to help you and your family get justice. The attorneys of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm can help. To request a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call us at (518) 274-5820 fill out our online contact form.

7 Key Defenses for Sexual Harassment Cases

sexual harassment

Dedicated New York Lawyers for Defense of Sexual Harassment

Employers have a duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment. When sexual harassment does occur, however, the employer can be vulnerable to significant financial liability, or even criminal charges.

Sexual Harassment Defense in Troy

The courts do allow employers to defend against employee allegations of sexual harassment. Individuals accused of criminal sexual misconduct can also use many of the same defenses. Here are some of the most common defenses for civil and criminal sexual harassment cases.

1) The Sexual Harassment Didn’t Happen

Perhaps the most obvious argument that can be made in defense of sexual harassment claims is that the harassment didn’t happen. The truth of the plaintiff’s claims can be challenged in court, and the court will want proof that the conduct in question is indeed actionable. Isolated incidents or teasing events are most likely not actionable. Courts may also permit testimony as to whether the plaintiff’s behavior has changed in a manner consistent with someone who has suffered from sexual harassment.

In a criminal sexual assault or harassment case, the defendant may argue that he or she was in a different place at the time the alleged crime occurred by providing the court with an alibi. Such an alibi must be supported with credible evidence. A defendant could also argue that he or she was misidentified by the plaintiff. DNA evidence is often used to establish whether or not a defendant was present at the scene of a crime.

2) The Conduct Was Welcomed

One defense available to defendants in sexual harassment cases is to claim that the sexual conduct in question was welcomed by the plaintiff. No matter how offensive the conduct was, the employer cannot be held responsible if it can be proven that the employee consented to or welcomed the conduct. The Supreme Court held, in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, that a plaintiff must demonstrate the following in order to successfully establish claims of a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment:

  • That he or she was subjected to unwelcome advances
  • That the unwelcome advances were sexual in nature
  • That they represented a condition of employment
  • That the conduct could be attributed to the employer

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines unwelcome conduct as conduct that “the employee did not solicit or incite” and that “the employee regarded as undesirable or offensive.” The court may consider whether the plaintiff participated in the conduct, whether he or she complained to his or her supervisors, and whether a reasonable period of time elapsed between the conduct and the employee’s complaints.

In criminal cases, consent can be an effective defense against allegations. In such a defense, the defendant might admit to the conduct in question, but argue that the behavior was consensual. Whether civil or criminal, sexual assault or harassment cannot be committed when the victim consents. This defense can be very effective if the defendant can prove consent.

3) The Conduct Was Not Sexual in Nature

A plaintiff alleging sexual harassment must prove that the conduct in question was sexual in nature or based on sex. Generally, the “but for” rule is used to determine sexual harassment. The plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she would not have suffered sexual harassment but for having been a representative of the defendant’s preferred gender. Courts have traditionally considered that sexual harassment allegations are inherently gender based.

4) First Amendment Rights

Someone who has been accused of sexual harassment may use the defense that his or her allegedly harassing speech is protected by the First Amendment. First Amendment rights can come into play in a sexual harassment case where conduct is based on verbal expression. However, the First Amendment does not protect extortions or threats, so the courts will only recognize the First Amendment defense to the extent that the allegedly harassing verbal expression is protected speech.

5) The Employer Had Valid Business Reasons for Adverse Action

Even if sexual misconduct has occurred in the workplace, the courts have held that employers may successfully defend against allegations by showing that adverse actions taken against the harassed employee were taken for legitimate business reasons, and not for reasons related to the harassment. It is not the court’s responsibility to question a business’s valid decisions.

6) The Plaintiff Was Incapacitated

In criminal sexual assault cases, defendants may be able to claim that they were mentally incapacitated at the time of the offense and that they should not be held criminally liable for their actions. This is known in the popular parlance as the insanity defense. In many jurisdictions, the courts will treat an offender with more lenience if they can show that a mental defect or disorder prevented him or her from fully comprehending the nature of their actions. Generally, the defendant must prove that they had no understanding that unwanted sexual contact is against the law.

7) Affirmative Defense

Under Title VII, an employer can successfully defend against sexual harassment allegations using the affirmative defense. In order to do so, the employer must prove that 1) they took reasonable action to prevent and correct sexual harassment in the workplace, and 2) the plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of those corrective or preventative measures. This is often known as the “Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense after two U.S. Supreme Court decisions which established the defense in 1998.

According to a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Hardage v. CBS Broadcasting, an employer can use this affirmative defense even if, after the plaintiff’s request, they did not fully investigate the claims of sexual harassment or take any kind of corrective action on the plaintiff’s behalf.

Experienced Attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Law

If you’ve been accused of sexual harassment or criminal sexual misconduct, you need the help of a sexual harassment attorney to mount a successful defense. Successfully defending against sexual harassment and assault charges is possible.

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.

Determining Fault in Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycle Crashes

Trusted Motorcycle Crash Injury Lawyers Serving New York

Who pays the damages after a motorcycle crash? That depends on what state you’re in and whose fault it was. Some states like New York, are “no-fault,” meaning the law doesn’t make provisions for whose fault the accident was, while other states dictate that the person responsible for the accident should pay the damages.

In any event, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident in New York, you need a qualified motorcycle crash attorney on your side to help make sure you get compensated for your damages.

Recovering Damages in No-Fault States

New York is one of 12 states in the country that is considered a “no-fault” state. In a no-fault state, you’ll need to recover damages by filing an insurance claim with your provider. You may not be able to sue the other party, but you may be able to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, from your insurer with the help of an attorney.

In no-fault insurance states, your insurance company typically reimburses you for the damages, whether the other person was responsible for the accident or not. Some of the damages you can get reimbursed for include medical expenses, as well as other losses that you suffer as a result of the accident.

There are also no fault benefits that the insurance company usually pays, no matter who caused the accident. These benefits can vary and include payment of expenses like prescription drugs, lost wages, and transportation to providers, just as examples.

Determining Fault

States that are not no-fault, or considered at-fault, typically have one of three methods for determining fault:

  • Pure comparative fault, in which each driver is determined to be responsible to a certain extent based on their actions.
  • The 51 percent rule, in which a driver can only recover damages if they are less than 51 percent responsible.
  • The 50 percent rule, in which a driver can only recover damages if he is no more than 49 percent responsible.

Fault will be determined by analyzing each factor that contributed to the accident. These factors include negligence, weather conditions, road conditions, speed – and whether or not the drivers were under the influence, fatigued, or in some other way impaired.

If you were riding the motorcycle or you were in another vehicle that was hit by a motorcycle, you’ll likely need an experienced legal team to help you navigate the process. If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, talk to an attorney now about how you can recover damages to pay your medical expenses, make up for lost wages, and continue to care for your family.

Contact Experienced Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys Today

Although New York is considered a no-fault insurance state, it doesn’t mean you can rely on your insurance company to help you pay for your damages. If you or someone you love has been in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, the lawyers of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm can help. To request a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call us at (518) 274-5820 fill out our online contact form.

New Law Might Make It Easier to Clean Up Your Criminal Records

 

criminal record investigations

 

It’s especially common for people who have had criminal convictions, to do their time and move on with their lives to become productive citizens. This path, however, can be difficult with your criminal record following behind you at every turn.

It isn’t always a simple matter to just get a job, an education, or even find a place to live, with certain criminal convictions on your record. Many people wonder if it’s fair for a past criminal act to negatively affect a person for the rest of their lives – after they’ve paid the price for their crime.

Fortunately, a new law in New York, Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 could make it a little easier to get a fresh start. Before the new legislation, you could only seal your records in limited situations. Beginning in October 2017, you could have opportunities you didn’t have before, even with a criminal record behind you.

What Is Criminal Procedure Law 160.59?

This law is considered more forgiving than the previous laws for sealing records.  And while the new law doesn’t exactly make cleaning up your record a walk in the park, it does make it easier. Beginning in October, you will be able to seal up to two New York criminal convictions — only one of which can be a felony conviction.

Requirements for Sealing Criminal Records

There are a couple of caveats with the new law. For instance, you are only eligible to seal a conviction under the new law after 10 years of good behavior from the date you were convicted or released from custody, whichever is later.

However, there are parameters. If you have more than two criminal convictions, if you have serious felonies like murder, or if your felonies are considered violent or are sex offenses – you likely will not qualify. Other examples of felonies that might not be eligible:

  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual conduct against a child
  • Assault
  • Burglary or robbery

But even if you have one of these convictions, it might be worth looking into whether or not the new law can help get your records sealed. Several factors could be considered, including the seriousness of the crime and circumstances; so it doesn’t hurt to see if you are eligible.

How Sealing Your Records Could Help

Unfortunately, Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 isn’t going to erase your conviction completely. Law enforcement and certain regulatory government agencies will still be able to see your criminal records. However, it could make your charges invisible to many employers and other types of government agencies.

This means that you won’t have to divulge your criminal background to a prospective employer, which could also give you a better chance at employment. Other benefits to sealing your criminal record include applying for housing or student loans. If your records are sealed, you could be eligible for housing assistance and professional licenses, which can all lead to increased success in starting fresh and moving forward.

Further, one of the most significant benefits of sealing your criminal record is you won’t have to worry about the embarrassment that comes with failing a background check. With sealed records, you could have opportunities that weren’t available before.

Criminal Lawyers with Experience at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy

Do you have criminal convictions and want a clean slate? Even with the new law to seal records, you’ll need experienced criminal defense lawyers who are familiar not just with the law but also with the application, paperwork, and process required. You might not be sure if you qualify, but a chance at a clean record – especially when it comes to employment and other opportunities – is certainly worth looking into.

Contact the attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy to request a free and confidential consultation at (518) 274-5820 or fill out our online contact form today!

7 Most Common Medication Errors

medication error

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals make mistakes every day. Although we expect each to provide us with the medication we need to keep us healthy, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes medication errors happen that can change your life or even become fatal. Here are 7 of the most common medication errors.

Improper Dosing

In order for medication to work properly, it’s important that patients take the amounts they need according to what their bodies need. If you or given too much or not enough, you could end up sicker than you started. Improper dosing can happen when medicine is prescribed as well as when patients are hospitalized.

Prescription Errors

Mistakes with your prescription can happen if the doctor prescribes the wrong medicine or a medical professional administers a medicine without considering your allergies or interactions with other medications. Other errors include prescribing the wrong dose, quantity, or concentration as well.

Wrong Drug

Believe it or not, patients are often prescribed or given the wrong drug altogether. As you might guess, this can be a fatal mistake that happens across every person in the medical profession from doctors to pharmacists.

Incorrect Route of Administration

This error simply means the medication is taken in the wrong way. The route of administration is the path in which the drug is supposed to enter your body. Whether the medication must be inhaled or administered intravenously, it must be taken correctly or the results can lead to extreme illness or even death.

Wrong Dose Times

Another common mistake that is made with medication is taking it at the wrong time or too many times. This mistake can be one that is made by the doctor or pharmacist, but it can also be the patient’s fault. Taking medication at the wrong times is common with elderly people who often forget that they have taken their meds or forget to take them at all.

Not Following Directions or Wrong Directions

It is possible that medication can be prescribed with incorrect directions, but patients also fail to follow the directions as well. It’s important that medication is not only prescribed with the proper instructions, but that patients also follow the directions as they should.

Patient Mix Ups

Sometimes, errors involve giving patients someone else’s medicine or getting the patients confused. This means that people end up taking medication intended for someone else’s illness or injury, which can have dire consequences. Although medical professionals must have contact with many people every day, it’s important that each is treated as an individual without the risk of being prescribed someone else’s medicine.

Experienced Attorneys Can Help with Medication Errors

Because of human nature, medication errors can be made in a number of ways. However, many times they are completely preventable and occur because people aren’t paying attention or aren’t following proper procedures for prescribing medicine.

When this happens, those medical professionals can be considered negligent and held accountable for their errors. If you or someone you love has experienced a medication error, contact the attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy. To request a free and confidential consultation call us at (518) 380-2597 or fill out our online contact form today.

Examining a Nursing Home’s Duty of Care to Residents

nursing home

It’s obvious that not every bump or bruise can be blamed on the nursing home or its faculty. If one of your family members or loved ones is in a nursing home, it’s important that you understand what the nursing home’s duty of care actually means.

What is Duty of Care?

For any business, its duty of care is simply an obligation by law to provide a standard of reasonable care while performing acts that could harm others. If there is a breach of the duty of care, the business can be sued for negligence. What this means is that nursing homes have a responsibility to care for its residents and ensure they are in safe environments. This includes making sure personnel are properly trained as well as ensuring that the resident is protected as much as possible from the possibility of injury or harm.

Nursing Home Responsibility to Residents

For elderly people, the duty of care includes maintaining rights of the person to things like self-determination, freedom of choice, freedom of confidentiality, and dignity. It isn’t solely about protecting residents of nursing homes against physical abuse. Examples where a breach of the duty of care can happen with residents of nursing homes include:

  • Care staff who do not respond to problems
  • Neglect of basic needs
  • Personal hygiene neglect

In many cases, the neglect or abuse isn’t visible. Taking advantage of an elderly person financially, for example, is also considered a form abuse. Because you might not see the injuries and harm that have happened, it can be difficult to detect. Abuse and neglect can go on for years before it is uncovered.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

Unfortunately, when neglect or abuse happens in a nursing home, our loved ones aren’t always able to let us know. They might be afraid of repercussions, or might not even be aware of issues. Signs you can look for include physical injuries, malnutrition, bed sores, and sudden weight loss. If you suspect any neglect or abuse, it’s important that you investigate and make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side.

Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

When it comes to examining a nursing home’s duty of care, it’s important to remember that each situation is different. Not only are the signs not always clear and difficult to detect, but uncovering and proving neglect or abuse can be complicated.

Don’t make the mistake of leaving your loved one in the care of someone who isn’t taking care of him or her as they should. Contact the attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy to request a free and confidential consultation at (518) 380-2597 or fill out our online contact form.

How to Prevent Swimming Pool Accidents this Summer

happy child in pool

Experienced Injury Attorneys Serving Victims of Swimming Pool Accidents in Albany, Troy, Sarasota and all of Upstate New York

Summer is a great time to take a dip in the pool, but it also means an increased risk of accidents. Unfortunately, swimming pool accidents not only end up being fatal sometimes, but even minor accidents can result in serious injuries. Any accident can end up costing you money, especially if it happens to someone visiting your home. Here are some ways you can protect yourself by preventing swimming pool accidents this summer.

Make Sure Children are Never Unattended

Even if the next door neighbor’s elementary school aged children are training to become Olympic swimmers, it’s important that you never allow swimming without an adult. Further, the adult that monitors the children should be a good swimmer. Whether it pertains to your children or someone else’s, it’s a good rule of thumb to require adult supervision at all times.

Double Check All Equipment

Before anyone swims, it’s a good idea to double check every piece of equipment to ensure that everything is working as it should. This includes not only the pool itself, but also ladders, slides, lights, filters, and any other pieces of equipment that could cause an accident.

Cover Pools When Not in Use

To make sure everyone is safe, even small children who might wander near the pool area, cover the pool when it isn’t being used. Safety pools are available that can keep children and animals from falling into the pool when no one else is around. You might also consider barriers and swimming pool fencing to keep children from entering the area when you aren’t around. Do not make the mistake of leaving your pool open for anyone to fall into.

Learn CPR

It’s a good idea to learn CPR in case you ever need to use it. Although no one wants to think they’d be in this situation, the truth is you never know when it might be up to you to save someone’s life. If you don’t already know CPR, it’s a good time to take a class and learn.

Have Safety Devices on Hand

Although you might think you won’t need life vests in your own pool, they could make a difference in saving someone’s life. Also, make sure you have real life vests on hand and not just floaty toys or devices designed for playing. You have a better chance of helping someone with a life vest than with a blow-up beach ball.

Jones Hacker Murphy New York Attorneys

The person the swimming pool belongs to is usually responsible for any injuries that happen. This means the property owner has a duty to do anything possible to decrease the chances of someone being hurt while on their property. If you or someone you love has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, the attorneys at Jones Hacker Murphy can help you get justice. To request a free and confidential consultation, call us at (518) 380-2597 or fill out our online contact form.