The Law Office of Jordan DiPalma, PLLC
235 East Main Street
Palmyra, NY 14522
(585) 673-3053 www.jordandipalma.com
I am a fierce advocate. I am focused on details. I am committed to making tomorrow better than today. I care about your family and your needs. I listen to the whole story. I stand beside you. I am ready for the fight of your life. You never asked to be in this place. You followed the rules. You built a life for yourself and your family. You were once someone else. Your loved one had a whole life to live. Now it all seems dark. It is not about the money. It is about someone accepting responsibility for what has happened. It is about recognizing loss. It is about finding closure. It is about finding a way to move forward. I became an attorney because someone else’s negligence caused my family member injury. I became an attorney because that negligence changed our life together. It changed who I am. I became an attorney because I am a mother and see that our children need us to advocate for them when they cannot yet advocate for themselves. I am an attorney because only when you have walked in these shoes can you recognize why the case in front of you is not just any case. It is your life. I look forward to meeting you and discussing ways tomorrow can be better for you and your family. PRACTICE AREAS BIRTH INJURIES You envisioned the delivery of your baby to be one of your most beautiful memories. Unfortunately, it has become one of your most painful. Every year roughly 6 to 8 out of every 1,000 infants will suffer a significant birth injury. BRAIN INJURIES Infants suffer brain injuries during delivery when they are deprived of oxygen. This results in varying degrees of injury. Hypoxia, anoxia and perinatal asphyxia all describe varying levels of oxygen deprivation up to and including death. The term Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that describes the starvation the brain suffers when it is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period. Ischemia refers to the brain’s response of draining the blood from the brain when it lacks oxygen. Brain injuries can be permanent and are among the most debilitating injuries an individual can suffer. There are two main types of brain injuries. These are acquired brain injuries (ABI) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Acquired brain injuries can be caused by cerebral vascular accidents (strokes), as well as by hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain). Traumatic brain injuries are caused by traumas that can include blunt force trauma, shaking, or any action that causes the head and brain to move back and forth quickly. A deceleration injury like whiplash is one example. Concussions are the common example most people are familiar with. Acquired brain injuries most often result in litigation because a medical mistake led to a lack of oxygen to the brain or stroke and related complications. Failure to timely treat the signs and symptoms of a stroke can have profound effects. Lack of oxygenation due to failures to timely manage and monitor anesthesia care during surgery, or to properly correct lack of oxygen to an infant during delivery are also scenarios causing this type of injury. Lack of oxygenation resulting in stroke and complications can be irreversible. Effects can include weakness and physical losses and are often accompanied by cognitive changes and personality changes that leave the injured individual a shell of the person they once were. FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE CANCER Failure to diagnose cancer is one form of medical malpractice claim. Prior to January 2018, injured individuals were limited to New York’s general 2 ½ year statute of limitations measured from the date of accrual of a claim to commence a lawsuit for a medical provider’s failure to diagnose cancer. For example, accrual could have been measured from the date a medical provider should have ordered, read or interpreted the proper testing, made the proper referral, or diagnosed or rendered treatment. Unfortunately, many individuals and families didn’t learn of a cancer diagnosis until well outside of a 2 ½ year timeframe measured that way. Many claims were lost before anyone knew they existed. New York had been one of only a few states that did not have a “discovery” rule for these types of medical malpractice cases. Other states were recognizing that the clock should not start ticking on these types of cases until the plaintiff knew or should have known they had a cancer diagnosis. All of that changed on January 31, 2018 when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Lavern’s Law. Lavern’s Law now recognizes a discovery rule for failure to diagnose cancer cases. The New York State medical malpractice statute of limitations for these cases now begins when the individual knew or should have known of the cancer diagnosis. This new provision took effect for claims accruing on or after January 31, 2018. It also saved certain claims whose statute of limitations expired within 9 months before Lavern’s Law being signed into law, but only through July 31, 2018. FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT Claims being brought against the United States government have a separate set of timing and procedural requirements. Where a plaintiff believes they have a claim against the United States government, a plaintiff must complete a SF-95 form and serve it on the proper branch of the United States government within 2 years of the incident, or other pertinent facts forming the basis of the claim. An injured individual must also allow the government branch up to 6 months to review and adjust the claim before filing a lawsuit in federal court. All too often the very people that protected our freedoms are the ones taken for granted. All too often, health care is insufficient to meet the needs of our veterans. Potential medical malpractice claims against the various Veterans’ Association health clinics and centers require that these additional requirements be met within shorter time-periods than the typical malpractice case. Julie has experience reviewing these types of claims, as well as completing the necessary claim form, gathering and providing the required supporting documentation, valuating the cases to request appropriate monetary relief to compensate the injured, negotiating resolutions and filing and litigating the claims when settlements are not offered. If you are a veteran in need of assistance with your medical and/or psychological claims, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. Thank you for your service. Now, let Julie’s experience serve you. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Medical malpractice cases are complex and take an emotional toll on a family to prosecute. That's why you need someone with extensive experience in evaluating and resolving medical malpractice cases to review your records, identify and work with top medical experts in the field and who possesses the experience to know when you should move forward with a lawsuit and when a bad outcome does not result in a viable case. THE PROVIDER'S STANDARD OF CARE Medical providers must meet the standard of care recognized in their particular area of practice for assessing, diagnosing and treating the condition you present with. The standard of care required may be different based on any number of factors. It can be determined by information gleaned from the medical history, observations of signs and symptoms during physical examination, an individual's reaction to treatment and any other number of factors. Where a medical provider makes a choice between one or more acceptable alternatives for assessment, diagnosis and treatment and makes the wrong choice, this is not considered malpractice in New York. In that case, the provider exercised his or her judgment. Errors in judgment are not considered to be malpractice. The error must be demonstrable based on the medical records, testimony and documentation of treatment. MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS You were obeying the rules of the road. You were driving carefully. You were watching out for others. Your life has changed because a negligent driver didn't do the same for you. You were just involved in an accident. What do you do now? Get the medical attention you need Get a copy of the accident exchange information form Report the claim to your auto carrier Complete a No-Fault Claim Form within 30 days of your accident If you can, get photographs of your vehicle If you can, get photographs of the accident scene If you can, get the names of any witnesses to your accident Tell medical providers you were involved in a car accident. Give them your auto claim number for billing. Follow-up with your physicians as directed and follow their orders Report all of your injuries and symptoms to your providers MUNICIPAL LIABILITY There is a separate set of timing and procedural requirements when an individual needs to bring a lawsuit against an entity, place or vehicle owned and operated by a municipality. These entities include villages, towns, cities, counties, school districts, public authorities or other state and locally owned businesses. In New York, plaintiffs generally have 3 years to bring a lawsuit to recover for injuries caused by another’s mistake. However, where a municipality or public authority or the state are involved, the time-tables are much shorter and additional requirements must be met. If these things do not happen then the claims can be lost forever. Claims against municipal entities first require service of a Notice of Claim or a Notice of Intention to file a claim (claims against the State of New York) within 90 days of the accident. Then, a plaintiff must wait at least 30 days for the municipality or the state to have an opportunity to adjust the claim. This condition must be met to preserve a plaintiff’s right to bring a lawsuit. Then, if the claim is not adjusted and paid, the plaintiff must file their lawsuit within 1 year and 90 days of the accident (villages, school districts, towns and some public authorities) or within 2 years where the plaintiff is suing the State of New York. There are several issues that must be investigated before Notices of Claim or Notices of Intention are served. Determining correct ownership and operation of the place or vehicle involved in an accident is critical and must be done quickly. Similarly, where an accident involves a sidewalk, street or other hazard, many village and town codes require prior written notice of a defect before anyone else can bring a lawsuit. If you have been injured and you think a municipal entity may be a potential defendant, you need to contact an attorney immediately. Julie has extensive experience handling claims against municipal entities, including claims involving premises liability, medical malpractice and motor vehicle accidents. NURSING HOME NEGLECT & ABUSE You can remember every time your loved one held your hand through a difficult time. You can remember the moments when your loved one showed great strength and resilience. You can remember the moment you had to decide that it was time to find a nursing home. Few decisions are more difficult. You did everything you could to research the facilities. You took great pains to pick a facility that looked safe, that smelled better than the others, that seemed to have friendly staff. You wanted your loved one to be safe. You wanted them to preserve their dignity. You wanted them to be cared for the way they always cared for you. We live in an area with some of the most expensive facilities in New York State. The majority of nursing homes in New York State are privately owned. As a result, the desire to make sure profits are outpacing expenses drives care decisions, staffing decisions and facility upkeep decisions and the day-to-day operations on all levels. No matter how often you and your family are at the nursing home, you cannot watch over every staff member and make sure all of your loved one's care needs are met. Unfortunately, most times there are not enough hands-on- deck to care for all of the residents in the nursing home. Staff turns over repeatedly. Too many residents have high levels of needs. Supervisors aren't ensuring that treatments and medications are being administered correctly. Your loved one's care plan is not met. It only takes one mistake to shatter your fragile loved one's quality of life for the rest of their life. It only takes one mistake to take a life. NURSING HOME DUTIES In New York State, we have a Nursing Home Resident's Statement of Rights. All residents have these rights. Nursing homes are required to make proper and timely assessments of your loved one's condition. Nursing homes are required to create and implement a Care Plan that addresses all of your loved one's care and emotional and social needs. Nursing homes are required to make sure that the Care Plan is updated when your loved one's condition changes. YOUR NURSING HOME'S TRACK RECORD Did you know you can access the profile of your nursing home? You can find out how many beds the facility has, any violations of New York State Public Health law identified at the facility and find ownership information. The profiles can be found here. Nursing homes in New York must undergo an annual inspection by the New York State Department of Health. The inspection results in a report detailing any deficiencies found. When deficiencies are identified, the nursing home must submit a plan of correction to the Department of Health for approval. The nursing home will then be re-inspected to make sure that the plan of correction is being implemented and deficiencies are corrected. The annual reports for your nursing home are available for your review along with the nursing home profile. ADVOCATING FOR YOUR LOVED ONE You have the right as your loved one's health care proxy, power of attorney or guardian to request a meeting with the nursing home to address any concerns you have. You can bring an advocate with you to these meetings. You can request reasonable and necessary changes to your loved one's care plan. HOLDING THE NURSING HOMES ACCOUNTABLE You can hold the nursing home accountable for a nursing home resident's injuries or death in more than one way. The path you choose will largely be driven by your goals as a family. No family comes in and indicates that they are pursuing a nursing home claim for the money. Families explain they want to provide for their loved one in better ways and that they don't want another family to suffer. The New York State Department of Health has a Nursing Home Complaint hotline. You can report concerns about nursing home care directly to the Department of Health. This will not result in any monetary compensation for your loved one, or their Estate, but it will result in an investigation of the facility's delivery of care. A report detailing the findings will be issued. Where there are violations, a plan of correction will be required. The New York State Public Health Law provides a resident or the Estate of a resident with the right to bring a private lawsuit against a nursing home for compensation for the resident's injuries or death. The statute also allows for recovery of attorneys' fees incurred in prosecuting the case. The statute also provides for the assessment of punitive damages meant to punish the nursing home for egregious failures to care for a resident. If your loved one has been injured or died as the result of poor nursing home care, you need answers and accountability. Let's determine the best path forward. Please call with any of the following concerns with nursing home care. Falls with fractures Bed sores Improper medication administration Malnutrition or dehydration Choking Improper use of physical or medical restraints Untimely death of a loved one PREMISES LIABILITY In New York, owners have a duty to keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition. It should be free of dangers and hazards that can cause you injury. There is a duty to warn you of unsafe conditions. If a property owner is doing work at the location, there is a duty to conduct that work in a reasonably safe manner. NOTICE OF THE CONDITIONS OR CREATION OF A DANGEROUS CONDITION Unless the property owner created the dangerous condition, the owner must have some notice of the condition to be held accountable. Notice can come in the form of actual notice to the owner verbally or in writing. Notice can also be inferred because the condition existed for such a period of time that the owner had an opportunity to discover and correct it. A PROPERTY OWNER'S CARELESSNESS CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE Regardless of the nature of the condition that caused your injuries, we can discuss your options. If you have been injured as the result of any of the following, we can work to get you the compensation you deserve. Unsafe conditions Failure to warn of dangerous conditions Failure to inspect the property Failure to maintain the property Failure to repair the property Poor workmanship and defective construction Poor lighting Uneven surfaces Wet or icy conditions Poor indoor air quality and mold Exposure to hazardous substances STUDENT ADVOCACY You sent your child to school with the intention of providing them with the best education. You wanted them to have a positive experience. You expected them to be guided by and supervised by qualified adults in your absence. They went off to school full of hope and excitement.Then, something happened. School wasn't a positive experience. Your child's needs weren't met. Your child was hurt. Your child was afraid. Your child didn't have the supports they needed. Your child was still being bothered by the same student you reported before. The teacher wasn't there. The school didn't follow through. Whatever the reason for your child's struggles at school, there can be a better solution. INCIDENTS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS Students' injuries may be physical or emotional or both, depending on the circumstances of their experiences at school. Any number of factors can lead to injury. Regardless of how this happened, let's discuss a way forward. If your child has experienced any of the following, please call. Unsafe conditions in school or on school grounds Unsafe equipment Failure to supervise students Bullying Harassment Failure to follow Individualized Educational Programs or 504 Plans leading to injury ACCESS TO APPROPRIATE EDUCATION PLANNING & SUPPORT Every student is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment. Every student's learning and emotional needs are not the same. The same classrooms and teachers will not work. Whether you are at the beginning of discussions with the district or you feel that you are at the end of the line with negotiations, call and let's discuss a better path forward. Let Julie’s experience as a trial attorney and mother of a child needing school modifications be your asset. Please call to discuss any of the following circumstances: Special Education Policies and Procedures Individualized Educational Programs 504 Plans Reasonable Modifications Committee on Special Education Meetings Homeschooling Requests for Records Disciplinary Consequences and Manifestation Determinations Appropriate Educational Placements WOMEN & CHILDREN Health issues and medical malpractice claims relating to women’s and children’s health are of particular interest. The firm is woman owned and operated. Many women and children are more comfortable talking with another woman and mother. There is no easy way to discuss sensitive health information. Knowing you will have a focused and compassionate listener by your side can make the process more comfortable. Women’s health concerns are often brushed off and misinterpreted as related to stressors of a busy woman’s, wife’s and mother’s life. Medical providers often tell women to try to relax, offer anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications or suggest a vacation will make it all better. Perhaps it is just stress, hormones, lack of work-life balance, or any host of other explanations. Or maybe it isn’t. Women’s bodies respond to and recover differently after traumas and procedures. Women are often highly in tune with their own obviously different natural rhythms and responses. Every woman instinctually knows when something is wrong. When a medical provider doesn’t listen and it delays treatment or results in incorrect or ineffective treatment, the injuries are painful to endure and emotionally tolling. Children can have a difficult time identifying their real symptoms and the causes of their pain and suffering. Medical errors made when treating a child can have devastating life-long consequences. They can render tender years while a child forms her/his personality the hardest. Children need an advocate they feel they can talk to, but also one they can sense has control. There are no shortage of ways women’s and children’s health concerns and medical malpractice claims overlap. Perhaps you have concerns about trying to get pregnant, complications during pregnancy, or the devastating loss of a fetus or newborn. Maybe you were able to successfully get pregnant only to have a frightening delivery and learn your infant will have permanent injuries. Regardless of the concern you may have, you can rest assured that you will be speaking with an attorney who has experience with the area of medicine. Let Julie’s experience handling these types of claims be your asset. Please request a consultation to discuss any of the following types of cases: Complications of In Vitro fertilization Brain injured infants Shoulder dystocia Complications due to failure to monitor fetal heart rate Complications due to failure to timely perform a cesarean section Complications of pre-term labor Pre-eclampsia Placental abruption Loss of a fetus Stillbirths Maternal death Obstetrical and gynecological complications Breast cancer Ovarian cancer WRONGFUL DEATH The death of a loved one far too early leaves a hole in your heart and in your family. While a lawsuit cannot ever completely right the wrong that has been done, the law provides measures of damages for these types of cases. Wrongful death cases exist where another’s negligence, whether that be due to medical malpractice, an auto accident, or another form of personal injury action, caused someone’s death. New York, unlike many other states, is a pecuniary loss state. New York law does not allow family members to recover for their emotional injuries suffered after the loss of a loved one. This means you must be able to prove actual pecuniary losses to recover damages for wrongful death. There are several ways damages can be established. Your loved one may have suffered a period of pain and suffering before they passed away. This is often the case with a protracted illness, hospitalization or other long-term condition. Conscious pain and suffering is just that. It is the pain and suffering your loved one endured before their death. The relative value of that suffering is often closely related to the time period over which your loved one suffered. Jury awards in cases of similar illnesses, conditions and injuries in the same area where your case may be tried can provide some guidance on this value. Any portion of a settlement award or jury verdict allocated to compensate for someone’s pain and suffering before their death becomes an asset of the deceased’s Estate and can be subject to the claims of creditors. The New York State Estates Powers and Trusts Law outlines the various forms of monetary losses that can be recovered for those surviving the decedent. These can include reductions in the value of the deceased’s estate due to his/her untimely death, funeral and burial expenses, or unpaid medical bills and liens. Loss of past and future income is also included. Compensation for these forms of damages are “wrongful death” damages and pass outside of the deceased’s estate. In other words, any portion of a settlement or verdict allocated to these categories would not be considered assets of an estate subject to creditors. A wrongful death lawsuit may not be brought until a person is appointed to represent the estate of the deceased. A Power of Attorney designation extinguishes with the death of the decedent. A Surrogate’s Court in New York State must appoint a representative for an estate and give that individual the power to bring a lawsuit. Sometimes this person is already determined by a Last Will and Testament and other times that named individual is no longer able or willing to serve or the deceased left no will. In those situations, remaining heirs can decide among themselves who may be the best representative of the estate and either agree to an individual to be appointed or appear for a hearing and allow the court to decide which heir is best suited to fill the role. Damages in a wrongful death action will either be allocated according to the Last Will and Testament of the deceased or based on the laws of intestacy in New York State where there is no available will. These laws specifically outline which heirs will take the proceeds of the lawsuit and how those proceeds will be divided among those heirs. The determination of whether it can be proven that another individual or medical provider’s mistake caused the death is based upon a complex set of factors. The coordination of appointing a representative for the estate and determining which measures of damages apply and how they will be distributed are additional hurdles. Finally, in many death cases, there are outstanding liens and rights of reimbursement for medical benefits paid on behalf of the decedent before their death. This may mean that Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans or county Medicaid programs may look to be paid back. All of these issues require the careful eye of an attorney familiar with handling these types of cases and balancing these different factors. If you believe your loved one’s death was the result of another’s mistake or malpractice, please reach out today for a consultation.