Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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A large explosion occurred early today in Salem, New York, a small town located approximately 50 miles north of Albany. According to witnesses, a two story house was destroyed. Debris from the blast, including cinderblocks, was found more than 50 yards away. Neighbors reported hearing the blast for miles. The explosion caused the death of 5 people, and injured 6 others.

“We have been retained throughout the State of New York to investigate explosions like this one, and to determine the cause of other catastrophic events such as a building or bridge collapse,” said Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, of Bottar Law, PLLC. “Typically, we try to get to the scene as soon as possible so that we can take pictures and have one or more experts we work with conduct an investigation. Often, our own investigation runs parallel to fire or police department investigations. Sometimes, our experts uncover evidence missed by the authorities.”

According to, area police suspect that a propane leak may have caused the explosion. Propane is a three-carbon alkane, usually a gas, that is heavier than air. The “weight” of propane causes it to sink into low-lying enclosed spaces. This creates the potential for an explosion. If propane caused the Salem explosion, there are a number of entitles that could be liable for the injury and wrongful death of nearly a dozen New Yorkers, e.g., the manufacturer of the propane tank, the company that installed propane tank and/or the company that fills the propane tank. In addition, if the people involved were renting the house, the owner of the home could be liable for damages. In certain circumstances, town and county municipalities may also be liable for an explosion, or structural failure, if one or both improperly issued a building permit or certificate of occupancy. “It’s too early to tell,” Bottar added.

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The latest in a string of New York boating accidents occurred yesterday on New York’s Hudson River, near Tivoli when, at around 6:30 a.m., a nineteen foot Chris Craft boat collided with a concrete structure near the eastern shore of the river. According to reports, Joseph Vehnick called 911 after reaching shore. Jessica Hotailing also survived. John Uvino, Robert Macarthur, Deena Cordero and Jay Bins were killed in the crash.

According to Syracuse boat accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, “nationally, more than 600 people die every year in boating accidents, including on New York’s waterways.” Bottar added, “while most people are injured when two boats collide, the number three cause of death and injury is collision with a fixed object.” Recent United States Coast Guard boating accident statistics can be found here.

Liability for a death or injury that occurs as a result of a boating accident can fall on a number of parties, including the boat’s owner, the boat’s operator, a bar or restaurant (if alcohol was involved) and a town, county or the state if, for example, a waterway is improperly marked. Examples of improper markings include the failure to identify a known hazard with a buoy, the absence of channel markings, and blown buoy or channel lighting.

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On June 29, 2011, Syracuse personal injury lawyer Anthony S. Bottar filed a New York wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the wife and son of Robert B. Burkard, a 47 year old man who was killed when his car was struck on June 28, 2009 by a vehicle operated by Leo A. Coleman. Burkard’s widow and son also sustained serious injuries in the collision, which occurred at the intersection of County Routes 54 and 125. The named defendants are several Sackets Harbor establishments, including the Boathouse, Sackets Harbor Brew Pub and Good Fellos.

As reported in the Watertown Daily Times article titled “DWI Victim’s Widow Sues 3 Restaurants,” Coleman admitted that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident and now is serving time in state prison.

Under New York State Dram Shop laws, all businesses that serve alcohol to customers have a duty to ensure that they do not provide alcoholic beverages to customers that are visibly intoxicated. A restaurant or bar that serves alcohol to a patron that is visibly drunk (or who may be drunk given the number of alcoholic beverages consumed over a given time period) may be liable for damages caused by the intoxicated customer, including personal injuries that arise out of a car accident that occurs after the customer leaves the bar.

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Syracuse jobsite accidents causing workplace injuries are common. According to the Department of Labor, countless workplace injuries occur every year, leading to tens of thousands of injured workers. Those most likely to suffer a workplace injury include construction workers, those working around machinery, and those involved in manufacturing and transportation.

According to a new study by the United States Government Accountability Office, many company doctors under pressure from employers are concealing workplace injuries. In extreme cases, company doctors are providing inadequate medical care to injured workers. According to a GAO survery:

* 1/3 of company doctors interviewed reported being directed by employers to provide inadequate care to injured employees to improve the appearance of company injury report logs;

* 1/2 of company doctors interviewed reported receiving pressure from company officials to minimize worker illnesses and laborer injuries; and

* 2/3 of company doctors interviewed reported knowing about employees who did not report workplace injuries because they feared company discipline.

One example of collusion between company officials and company doctors to better company safety records is the treatment of cuts. Workplace lacerations that are closed with stitches must be reported to OSHA. However, cuts that are closed with a bandage are not reported. Another example is the certification of a workplace injury, even a very serious injury, as one that requires only “first aid.” Injuries treated by “first aid” need not be reported.

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, commented on the GAO’s findings. He stated that they were “dramatic,” adding: “If healthcare professionals are being asked to not record injuries properly, then we have a pretty broken system.”
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The laundry room of Faxton St.-Luke’s Hospital, based in Utica, caught fire on Saturday. According to firefighters, the smoldering fire was caused by laundry lint and pipe insulation that had been ignited by sparks created by welding underway to repair a washing machine. The worker was not injured on the job and, fortunately, the fire was extinguished before any hospital patients were injured due to smoke inhalation or burned by flames.

Generally, hospital fires occur in the kitchen and other cooking areas — as many as 1,600 each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, as many as 52% of hospital blazes arise out of cooking-related activities. Often, this is because there is a heat source, fuel source, and poor supervision.

Very few hospital fires cause fatalities. On average, only one death per year. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control reports that as many an 99,000 people die each year from infections acquired during a hospital admission.
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Nearly ten years ago, a run man was struck by a freight train and lost his right arm and both of his legs. Recently, the young man, who once thought he would die from his injuries but now runs triathlons, returned To Lourdes Hospital as an inspirational speaker.
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