I Got Hurt at Work – Now What?

As is true with many things in life, most of us don’t think about how we would cope with the frequently nerve-wracking scenario of suffering an injury at the workplace until it actually happens to us.  Below are some helpful pointers to know in advance that will help steer you in the right direction if you ever find yourself in this unenviable and difficult position.

  • Immediately notify your supervisor or direct report of the work incident
  • Request to complete a written Incident Report documenting all the fundamental details of the incident while it is fresh in your memory
  • Request immediate medical attention if you suffered a physical injury from the incident
  • If you require and ultimately receive medical attention, make sure to get a work status note from the medical provider to give to your employer so that they are aware of what – if any – work restrictions you may have following your work incident
  • Remember that you have the right to choose your own treating physician should you need continued medical care

– Alexander J. Sarris

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

A New Legal Advocate Emerges In The Local Community

The law firm of Dzialo, Pickett & Allen, P.C. is pleased to announce the addition of Attorney Alexander J. Sarris as the newest member of its prestigious legal team dedicated to assisting the local community.  Attorney Sarris is joining Dzialo, Pickett & Allen as a Principal and has more than a decade of court experience specializing in workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.

Attorney Sarris graduated from Lafayette College with a major in Government and Law and was honored as the recipient of the Eugene P. Chase Prize for Best Written Legal Analysis in Constitutional Law.  He later graduated from Quinnipiac University School of Law with dual JD/MBA degrees and was the Executive Board Vice President of the Moot Court Honor Society and a member of the Mock Trial Honor Society as well, receiving awards as the Best Oral Advocate and for the Best Closing Argument, respectively.  Quinnipiac recognized the efforts of Attorney Sarris and awarded him with the distinctions of Excellence in Oral Advocacy and Dedicated Service to the Law School prior to his graduation.

Since he began practicing law in 2010, Attorney Sarris continues to work tirelessly to uphold his reputation as a well-prepared and skilled advocate for his clients and as such earned the  respect of his peers and judges alike.  He is excited and enthusiastic about continuing to make a difference in the lives of injured individuals and workers and looks forward to the opportunity to provide you with his legal assistance should the need arise.

For a consultation, please call 860-316-2741.

Sarris-A

Motor Vehicle Claims: What to Expect from the Insurance Carrier

For the uninitiated, dealing with an automobile accident claim can be a daunting process.  In Connecticut, since all drivers must be insured, it is the insurance companies who are holding the purse strings.  Insurance companies are not in the habit of giving up their money despite advertising claims of being “in good hands” or being there, “like a good neighbor.”  To get what you are properly entitled to, you will likely need to enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer to protect your health care information, analyze liability, and fight for a fair settlement.

Even if the insurance company of an “at-fault” party (its insured) pays your property damage claim to have your car repaired, or replaced, that does not mean the same company will acknowledge the negligence of its insured in settling your personal injury claim.  This is often the biggest surprise to clients who assume, that if they are injured, they can submit their medical bills or proof of lost wages to the company, and that company will pay those bills on a timely basis.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that easily, and may only happen years later, long after they are paid by you, or in the worst of cases, after the bills go into collection.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision, please call Dzialo, Pickett & Allen, P.C., for a free consultation, to better understand your rights and obligations.

– AnnMarie Cienava Rocco

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Civil Remedies Available to Elderly Victims of Abuse or Exploitation

According to the Administration of Aging (AOA), hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans are abused, exploited or neglected each year.  Unfortunately, sometimes that abuse is at the hands of a trusted caregiver and/or family member, and often individuals may not know where to turn.

In Connecticut, in addition to protective services or criminal investigation, the law provides for possible private remedies against the offender including;

  1. Prohibition from contact or use of assets/property;
  2. Compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc., and even
  3. Costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

“Abuse” includes, but is not limited to, willful infliction of either physical pain or mental anguish, or deprivation of services. “Exploitation” refers to actions that take advantage of an elderly person for monetary, personal or other benefit, gain or profit.

The action may be brought by the elderly person, or their guardian or conservator, or a person or organization acting on behalf of the consenting victim.

Our firm can help by evaluating such claims and making sure your loved ones receive all fair and just compensation for the pain and damages caused by such offenders.

– Sylvia Rutkowska, Esq.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

What Connecticut’s New Trust Code Means To You

Connecticut trust law has been overhauled by the adoption of its new Uniform Trust Code effective January 1, 2020. Part I of this two-part Article will highlight important changes for those who have created existing and as yet revocable trusts, and those serving as trustees.

Additionally, broad trustee powers in the Act will be automatically applicable to revocable trusts created prior to and after the Act’s effective date, unless the trust creator clearly states an intent to prohibit any powers not referenced in the trust document. It will be important for the person who created the trust to review these new powers for consistency.

There are mandatory notice rules that will apply to the trustees of all trusts except those that were irrevocable (cannot be changed) prior to 1/1/2020, for certain beneficiaries of a trust, unless the trust document provides for a “designated representative” to receive the notices on the beneficiary’s behalf.

Examples of the information that must be disclosed and when the beneficiary notice requirements apply include:

  1.   The existence of the trust and a copy of the relevant portions of the trust
  2.   Identity of the trustee and contact information
  3.   A successor trustee’s acceptance of the trustee post
  4.   A trust becomes irrevocable (example, when the creator of the trust dies)
  5.   A trustee’s resignation
  6.   The trustee must notify the beneficiary of the right to request an annual report
  7.   The trust situs (state of administration) changes

Certain of the notice rules may be waived in the trust document. If you have a revocable trust or if you may in the future be serving as a trustee of a trust, you may wish to review the Connecticut Trust Code’s impact on your documents or trustee duties.

We stand ready to assist you with your trust and estate planning needs!

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

How do Higher Education Costs for Children Factor into Divorce or Custody Cases in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, a family court judge can enter an order of educational support requiring a parent or guardian to provide support for a child to attend an institution of higher education, including college and vocational school. The educational support order can be for up to a total of four full academic years so a child can obtain an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and/or vocational training. The order is also for a child who has not yet turned 23 years old. The order would also end when the child turns 23 years old.

The order of educational support can occur when a custody or divorce judgment is entered, or before a judgment is finalized in family court. If a divorce or custody case has gone to judgment, a court will not enter an educational support order for a child retroactively. It is important to have the court enter an order of educational support before or during a judgment, so that if and when your child wants to attend college or vocational school in the future, the court can determine college or vocational costs at that later date.

The court can enter an order for the necessary education expenses of the child, including tuition, room, board, books, medical insurance, fees, and dues. The expenses cannot surpass the amount Connecticut State Schools charge full-time and in-state students at the time the child enrolls in school, unless the parents or guardians agree to pay more than that amount. This is also known as the UConn cap.

Certain factors that the court will consider to determine who pays what for your child’s education are:

  1.  Any information about the school the child would attend, including proof of acceptance or enrollment,
  2.  The parents or guardians’ income, assets, and other obligations,
  3.  The availability of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and loans for the  child,
  4.  The child’s need for support to attend school, including the child’s assets and  earning capacity, and
  5.  The child’s academic record, preparation, and commitment to higher education.

Make sure you are fully aware of your options for your children’s higher education costs during a divorce or custody case.

– Makana A. Ellis

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Why All Connecticut Drivers Need Underinsured Motorist Coverage

As we previously covered in another blog post, many Connecticut residents looking to save money on car insurance unfortunately often skimp on “uninsured motorist coverage,” an absolutely vital insurance policy provision designed to protect drivers from reckless drivers with no auto insurance. Just as important as that coverage, however, is “underinsured motorist coverage.”

Under Connecticut state law, all drivers must carry minimum automobile insurance limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Liability insurance generally covers the accident victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

At first, the state minimum policy might sound like a lot of money. Considering that an emergency room bill alone in a serious car wreck could easily exceed five figures, however, it is clear that this amount of coverage is inadequate in serious car accidents. It is therefore vital that all Connecticut drivers protect themselves from being limited to the minimum insurance limits in the event of an auto accident caused by a driver with the state minimum insurance coverage.

Fortunately, Connecticut ordinarily requires that drivers carry “underinsured motorist coverage” (also referred to as “UIM”). As opposed to the liability coverage explained above, which serves to protect others on the roadway from your negligence, this type of coverage protects the policyholder from the negligence of other drivers who do not have enough insurance to pay personal injury claims caused by their negligent driving.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) protects policyholders in the event that the at-fault driver does carry insurance, but the policy limits are inadequate to cover all injury-related losses. Although most Connecticut drivers are insured, those who opt to only carry the minimum amount required by law are undersinsured for serious accidents. Therefore, accident victims who suffer serious personal injuries will often have to rely on this coverage. UIM coverage is also frequently triggered when a number of victims are injured in the same accident. In such a scenario, the minimal $40,000 total occurrence limit has to be split among a number of seriously injured passengers.

In the event that the negligent party’s insurance coverage is inadequate, the UIM coverage will then cover the policyholder (as well as other passengers and some family members) for losses above and beyond those covered by the at-fault party. Therefore, your personal injury attorney would not be limited to the minimal coverage when negotiating a settlement in mediation, and the full damages could be pursued during a trial in front of a jury. Depending on the particular policy, the policy limit for UIM coverage might be reduced for benefits paid by liability insurance.

To make sure that you and your family have adequate insurance, review your policy limits with a car accident attorney to determine what type of coverage you would have in the event of a motor vehicle accident. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury attorney to determine what options for compensation you have based upon your UIM coverage.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Texting While Driving: Can “Remote Texters” Be Held Liable for Auto Accidents?

By now, almost everyone is aware that it is a bad idea to “text” or otherwise access the mobile web while driving because of the obvious safety concerns- this form of distracted driving leads to many serious car accidents in Connecticut. Fewer people, however, are aware of the magnitude of this growing specific problem and the number of serious car wrecks caused by these careless drivers.

Considering the variety of ways that texting distracts drivers, it is not surprising that using a smart phone while driving has become a leading concern for motorists. Texting while driving potentially distracts drivers in three ways: shifting the driver’s visual focus to a phone screen, taking the driver’s hands off of the steering wheel, and diverting mental focus from safe driving to the content of the text message. Recent studies reveal alarming statistics about this trend:

  • According to a study performed by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, more than 3,000 teenagers die annually due to texting while driving.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2010 alone, 416,100 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving, and that nearly one in five crashes that year involved distracted driving.
  • One driver participating in a Car and Driver experiment, traveling at 70 m.p.h., needed an extra 36 feet to stop while reading a text message and 70 feet to stop while writing a text message. The same driver was then tested while legally intoxicated- and only needed an extra four feet to stop.

But what about the person potentially distracting the driver by sending text messages? Most of the time, people sending text messages do not know what the recipient is doing at the time the message is sent. If the person writing the text messages knows that the recipient of the message is driving a car and might look at the messages while driving, however, the sender is recklessly subjecting Connecticut drivers to danger of experiencing a car wreck.

Although this theory has yet to be decided in Connecticut, a New Jersey appellate court decided that, depending on the circumstances, a remote texter can be held liable to accident victims if the text message recipient causes a motor vehicle accident.

In Kubert v. Best, two motorcyclists seriously injured in a car accident sued a person who had sent the driver a text message shortly before the accident. The appellate court decided that “a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.” Despite that general proposition, however, the court concluded that the “remote texter” in that case was not liable because there was not sufficient evidence that she knew, or should have known, that the recipient was driving when she sent the text message.

Although the New Jersey case is not directly binding on Connecticut courts, and potentially subject to further litigation in New Jersey, it does create persuasive authority that “remote texters” can theoretically be held liable for auto accidents in Connecticut courts.

If you are the victim of a distracted driver due to texting while driving, it is important to speak with a motor vehicle accident attorney immediately because as any fines assessed in criminal court will not cover your medical bills, time lost from work, or personal injuries suffered. Please contact us to schedule a meeting in either our Middletown or Old Saybrook offices. An experienced attorney can communicate with the insurance company, file a claim, investigate the circumstances of the car collision, and help ensure that your legal and financial interests are protected.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

What To Do If You Are Involved in an Automobile Accident

All drivers are responsible for knowing what to do if involved in an accident, and following some basic steps could help protect your legal and financial interests regardless of who is at fault in the collision.

Featured image

Be sure to stop your car and remain at the accident scene. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-224, anyone knowingly involved in a motor vehicle accident on Connecticut roads must immediately stop, render any necessary assistance, and provide contact information to another party (such as the other driver or a police officer). Be wary of exiting your vehicle, however, in the event that a minor accident is only a pretext for luring you out of your vehicle.

Assess the accident scene to ensure safety, and move to another area if the conditions present additional safety concerns. Be aware of the traffic situation and other potential dangers, such as fire. Try to make the scene as safe as possible by activating hazard lights and using flares, if available.

After ensuring personal safety, call the authorities to report any injuries at the accident scene and request medical assistance. Even if there were no injuries in the accident, the police should be notified so that they may conduct an investigation.

Once help is on the way, document the scene and exchange information. Gathering key information will help in the event of a future claim, so try to obtain names, license plate numbers, contact information, and insurance policy information for all other drivers involved in the accident. Record contact information for all known witnesses to the accident before they leave the scene. Take photographs of the scene and vehicle damages.

Try to limit your interaction with the other driver to guard against possible “road rage.” Remain calm, even if the other driver does not. Do not admit fault for the accident because that is for the police to determine, and do not apologize for the accident because it might be used against you in future court proceedings.

Seek medical attention to make sure that you do not have serious injuries. It is a good idea to be checked out by emergency responders and hospital personnel because many accident victims do not notice injuries until hours (or even days) after the accident due to the initial shock of being involved in an accident. Be sure to follow up with your primary care doctor if recommended by hospital personnel.

Once time allows, consider notifying your own insurance company about the accident, but do not give a recorded statement until after you have an opportunity to consult with an attorney. Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Connecticut law provides that vehicle owners may choose where repairs are done.

Consider hiring an attorney if you suffer an injury in a car accident. An experienced attorney can communicate with the insurance company, file a claim, address many common problems, and help ensure that your legal and financial interests are protected.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Defective Premises Cases in Connecticut

Defective Premises cases involve a claimant who slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. Slip, trip and fall accidents can occur inside or outside of a building, and on residential, commercial or public spaces. Whether a claimant is entitled to compensation for injuries depends largely on the type of dangerous condition and whether an owner had knowledge of the condition. You may have a defective premises claim if you sustained an injury because of any of the following, as well as other circumstances:

  • Steps in poor repair
  • Potholes or uneven pavement in parking lots or sidewalks
  • Food or liquids on floors in retail or other business establishments
  • Dangerous objects in store aisles
  • Building Code violations (e.g. lack of handrails on stairs)
  • OSHA violations (e.g. failure to erect safety barriers at construction sites)
  • Ice and snow on driveways, parking lots and sidewalks

What to do if you are injured

Inspect the area where you slipped, tripped or fell to determine the defect, then photograph it with your cell phone or otherwise, immediately.   Remember, conditions can change quickly so if you are unable to photograph the condition which caused you to fall, contact a friend or relative and ask them to photograph it. Take several photographs of the specific defect (e.g. pothole, cracked pavement, ice), and the surrounding area.

Report the incident to a manager, property owner or other appropriate person, and get a copy of the incident report. If a commercial establishment, ask that an incident report be prepared, and that you be given a copy. If they claim that cannot give you a copy, ask to review it, and take a photograph with your cell phone.

If a manager, or employee comments that they knew of the dangerous condition or someone previously reported the problem, or someone else fell in the same location, ask for the name of the person making the comment, and write down what they said to the best of your recollection. Also write down anyone who was present.

If any emergency personnel come to the scene of the fall, report your injuries, and tell them how and why you fell so that they may accurately describe it in their report. If a paramedic, police officer or firefighter who responds to the scene, makes a comment about the defect (e.g. “It’s very slippery, get some salt”), recall the responder’s comment and write it down when you have the chance, after you leave the scene.

Seek medical attention immediately

Obtain the services of a medical professional and relay the cause of your injury. Follow the advice of your doctor.

Consult a legal professional

Defective premises cases are complicated, and your ability to bring a claim is limited. Make sure your rights are protected. As soon as you are able, contact a lawyer with knowledge and experience in defective premises cases.

-AnnMarie Cienava Rocco, Esq.

Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.