Saturday, November 22, 2014

PERSONAL INJURY

The best personal injury attorneys can efficiently and effectively maximize the value of your case.  

On a technical level, the law in many types of personal injury cases is highly developed.  Although each person is unique, the mechanisms of injury in car accidents, slip and falls, and construction accidents are such that there is a body of precedent that has developed around common factual scenarios.  Similarly, the same types of injuries are seen repeatedly.  A good personal injury attorney has the accumen and familiarity with the medical issues involved to understand your injury, and comparisons to comparable cases are what give us a basis to value your claim.  

On a business level, the objective for a personal injury attorney is to obtain compensation for their clients. Most cases settle; some need to be tried; and it is the plaintiff's attorney who pushes the case forward.  

On a personal level, great personal injury attorneys have an enormous range of styles and personalities.  Some can be extremely charismatic, while others are more low-key but command a sense of credibility and trustworthiness.  You need someone you are comfortable with.  

I have been helping personal injury victims obtain compensation for their injuries for my entire legal career.  I clerked with personal injury firms during law school; won several awards for academic achievements in that area of law prior to being admitted to the bar; published multiple articles on construction accident and slip and fall litigation; have a litany of notable appellate decisions; tried numerous federal and state cases; and, most importantly, have helped clients obtain millions of dollars in compensation. 


A DIVORCE LAWYER YOU CAN TRUST

Matrimonial and family law matters are uniquely personal and important. You need an attorney you can trust.  I'm cannot claim to be the perfect lawyer for every client.  If you want an attorney who will only tell you what you want to hear, or who will aggressively spend your hard-earned money chasing windmills, I may not be the best attorney for you.

Your lawyer has the job of zealously advocating for you, while also exercising independent professional judgment to help you understand your rights (both best and worst case) so that you can make informed decisions. If you want a lawyer that will tell you the truth -- politely and kindly if it is not what you hope to hear, but the truth nonetheless -- and who is a skilled advocate that can effectively try your case to conclusion when a settlement is not the best option for you, then I am an attorney you should consider.   

If you are choosing a doctor, you don't want someone who automatically says everything is fine, and you don't want someone who automatically opts for the most invasive and destructive approach; you want a rational and reasonable person who is skilled at what they do and whose judgment you can rely on.  I am that type of lawyer.  


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Personal Injury - Construction Accidents

I have represented injured workers in a wide range of construction accident claims, including injuries related to scaffolding and ladder falls, severed fingers, hoist and crane accidents, falling objects, electric shock, and various other worksite injuries.  If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a construction accident, give me a call at 631-482-9700, or email me at Skreppein@QHMLaw.com to arrange a free consultation.

Friday, September 19, 2014

BUSINESS ATTORNEY - BAD FAITH BREACH OF CONTRACT

Generally, a contract spells out the rights and obligations of the parties, and the consequence of breach is liability for the foreseeable damage that directly flow from that breach.  There are no emotional distress damages, lost time is generally compensated for through statutory interest calculated as of the date of the breach, and the contract itself frequently defines the value of the loss.  

In addition to what is written (assuming you are dealing with a written agreement), every contract also contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wherein both parties are deemed to agree - even if not expressly in the contract - not to do anything which deprives the other party of the benefit of the agreement. 

The typical and most common example of bad faith (and the easiest to explain) is in the insurance context. One scenario, a litigant is exposed to damages beyond the policy limits (for example, a bad injury in a car accident that goes beyond the typical auto policy limits), but the insurer gambles with its client's money and refuses to settle within the limits, resulting in personal liability to the insured.  Another scenario is baseless denial of claim for business interruption coverage, where the nature of the insurance is to timely compensate for lost income needed to keep the business afloat.  

Under these scenarios, where there is bad faith, the damages party can reach beyond the contract and receive indemnification above the policy limit, or compensation for damage to their business beyond just the lost income during a period of interruption.

I have handled a number of these cases, including a recent jury trial involving a fight over funds held in escrow following a real estate transaction.  Contract disputes, and business litigation matters in general, from my perspective, tend to be intellectually stimulating.  Business litigation is already a large part of my practice, and I would like to see that portion of my practice grow in the future.  If you are looking for an attorney to represent you or your company in a business matter, it would be my pleasure to speak with you to see of I can be of assistance.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

HELP END ALZHEIMER'S

PLEASE DONATE TO ALZHEIMER"S RESEARCH - My grandmother passed away on 7/1/14 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. There should be a cure for this disease, and funding is needed for continued research.

I will be participating in the Bethpage Walk to aend Alzheimer's, one of many such walks and similar fund raisers across Long Island from the Alzheimer's Disease Resource Center.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Scott J. Kreppein, Attorney-at-Law

If you are interested in retaining my services, or are a colleague looking for local counsel or to refer a case, please call my office at 631-482-9700, or send me an email with a description of the legal matter you need my help with and how I can contact you.  My email address is Skreppein@QHMLaw.com.   

I offer high quality legal services in civil litigation and transactional matters throughout Long Island and New York City.  My approach, in general, is to provide effective and informed representation, with goal-based insights and recommendations.  My clients know that they have someone on their side.  I zealously fight for my clients' rights and interests, while ensuring that they are well informed.  I settle cases, win trials, close deals, and always protect my client's interests.  

I hope to hear from you soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

HOW TO ARGUE AN APPEAL


Be cognizant of time limits. To be persuasive, you also need to be respectful of time limits.  Different courts have different policies.  In the First Department, time limits are relatively strictly adhered to, with colored lights signifying that you are running out of time.  In the Second Department, they are more prone to being flexible with time limits, but you need to get the hint when the judges are suggesting that you sit down.

Don't make unplanned concessions.  The judges ask the questions, and will occasionally, essentially, cross-examine one of the litigators with yes or no questions.  On a rare occasion, such a judge is trying to help you strengthen your argument, or is using you to mouth their own argument in your favor.  More often, the judge is trying to make you see the weaknesses of your case, or to concede something.  I try not to say never, but be extraordinarily careful of conceding any factual issue during your argument.

I watched an argument last week where one side responded to progressively stronger requests that she sit down with statements such as "one last thing," followed by another minute or two of talking.  Her adversary, on the other hand, agreed with nearly every yes or no question that was posed to him, even when the answers  didn't help his client and were not things he had to agree with.  The two were actually rather skillful and experienced advocates. One was from a District Attorney's office, the other from a legal aid organization.  They both likely knew that they were bending the "rules," but were engaged in passionate and sincere argument (which generally trumps any black-letter rules, so long as it is done respectfully).

Respectfully disagree with a hostile judge.  Dealing with a judge who clearly opposes your case is possibly the most difficult part of your job arguing an appeal.  Most often, unless there is also a judge who seems to be on your side and they just decided to play good cop/bad cop, this signals that at least that judge (if not the entire panel) will side against you.  If no-one else on the panel is bolstering your argument, and one or two judges attack it for the entire time, the panel is probably going to side against you.  At that stage, the priority becomes making sure the judges understand and respect your reasoning, and issues a decision that is not bad precedent.  Possibly, if your arguments are strong enough, you'll get a dissent.  There are judges -- albeit relatively rarely -- who are more timid, and won't speak up against a colleague during oral argument even if they agree with you. The merit of an appeal is often decided based on the briefs, before the parties ever have an opportunity for argument, but there is always a possibility that a strong argument will sway one or more judges in a different direction (or even slightly different direction, issuing an easily distinguishable decision).

"With all due respect," is a phrase that very strongly signals that you disagree with someone, and should be avoided.  I recently saw it used where a judge kept cutting the lawyer off without finishing his responses, and the judge quickly respond by saying that "the respect is implied."  It often does not help you persuade the judge you are speaking to, or any that agree with him or her, and it's only real purpose is to draw the attention of any other judges on the panel who may be leaning (or teetering) in your favor.  


Don't Make Jury Arguments; Unless, Of Course, It's A Jury Issue.  Generally, appeals involve questions of law, and the judges are already familiar with the record and the issues.  It is not a closing statement, and shouldn't be treated like one.  Be concise, straight-forward, and do not overtly appeal to sympathy or other emotive factors.  Obviously, this rule is very flexible, depending on what issues you are dealing with.  When the panel is reviewing a jury verdict, for example, your argument may sound similar to a dense, evidence-focused, closing statement.  

I watched a rather entertaining argument a couple months ago where a local Brooklyn business purchased an investment property at a foreclosure sale.  The property had been owned by a rich old woman, there had been some confusion with the water bill, and it eventually went up for sale.  The business was a good faith purchaser, and had no knowledge that the woman intended to pay the bill.  The old woman, however, wanted the building back because it had sentimental value and she wanted it to be part of a bequest in her will towards a complex for a medical school.  

The lower court had put a hold on the property until a hearing could be held, and the business appealed.  An overly-cocky lawyer represented the business, and started with a story about how he went to his son's class for career day and explained what lawyers do.  The story had some moral about telling the truth, and the argument was that the other lawyer (not the party) was lying.  Accusing the other side of lying really didn't seem to sit well with the court. The story was more of a jury oriented technique (which may or may not have worked better in a closing argument), and in an appellate context seemed to make the panel more sympathetic to the other side. In fact, since the issue below was whether the court below had the equitable discretion to set aside the foreclosure, focusing on credibility may have been very poor move.  Not helping the Old Lady's side, of course, was a lawyer's argument that he had filed and served documents (which neither the Court nor opposing counsel received), and his refusal to accept even the possibility that he didn't send them.  If someone else would have argued with or for him, they could have more comfortably said that even if the papers hadn't been served, it would have been excusable law office failure.  The attorney for the old lade didn't escape some harsh questioning, but it was unclear after the argument how the panel would rule.

Don't Attack Your Adversary, The Lower Court, Judges, Or Court Personnel.  Another lesson learned from the prior story is that Court's don't like when one lawyer attacks another.  If you think the other lawyer deserves to be chastised, let the court do it.