General Liability Defense
Since the firm’s founding, Hurwitz Fine P.C. has handled a wide variety of general liability defense matters for businesses, individuals and insurance clients, including personal injury, wrongful death, toxic torts, commercial products, civil rights, lead paint poisoning, construction, negligent supervision, property damage, negligent security and landlord-tenant claims. We also handle a significant number of general liability cases for self-insured clients, including companies engaged in manufacturing, construction, retailing, and trucking. Hurwitz Fine attorneys take a proactive, aggressive approach to the defense of general liability lawsuits. We carefully assess each suit and conduct a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding the alleged loss or injury. The firm has also successfully handled many of these cases on appeal.
Our extensive experience in medical malpractice defense and full time on-staff nurse paralegal provide invaluable insight into the evaluation and minimization of potential damages awards to plaintiffs. Similarly, our active insurance practice enables us to handle any coverage issues that might arise in the defense of general liability claims including the direct defense of insurance companies in coverage disputes, declaratory judgment actions and bad faith suits. The firm works closely with not only its clients but their insurers in achieving a satisfying and successful resolution to these types of cases to achieve well-considered and cost-effective outcomes.
The firm also has a 24-Hour Emergency Response Team which has developed a protocol for handling emergency situations, including trucking and transportation accidents; catastrophic events in the workplace and on construction sites, such as equipment failure, explosion or fire, and has 24-hour contact information for a carefully selected and vetted panel of experts to respond in serious accidents to preserve evidence, contain damages and help mount the best possible defense.
Contact our 24 Hour Emergency Response Team:
- Via our 24-Hour Line at 716-849-8948
- E-mail us at [email protected]
Our Appellate Practice attorneys practice before the New York State Appellate Divisions, New York Court of Appeals and the Second Circuit on a frequent basis. This practice involves motion practice, perfection of appeals and requests for emergency relief. The firm has consistently succeeded in preserving lower court decisions in favor of our clients, as well as reversing less favorable decisions.
Since its founding, our firm has represented several major automobile liability insurers and the people and businesses that they insure throughout New York State. We have defended claims, including property damage and personal injury, for personal lines, commercial, and self-insureds, involving automobiles, motorcycles and commercial vehicles, including buses, livery and ridesharing. We are committed to providing an efficient and effective defense of automotive liability claims, relying on our decades of experience in handling and defending these cases throughout New York State. Our 24-Hour Emergency Response Team and extensive network of experts on accident reconstruction and medical causation puts us on the front line in defending these claims. We are always trial ready but mindful of the need for efficient resolution of these claims and frequently take part in alternative means of dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. Our attorneys are frequent lecturers and authors on automotive topics, notably New York State’s “No-Fault” Insurance Law § 5102(d) and the “serious injury threshold.” We further are well-versed in handling claims involving uninsured (UM), underinsured (UIM), and supplementary uninsured motorist (SUM) coverage.
Hurwitz Fine regularly counsels clients on this evolving area of litigation as businesses seek to manage risk regarding data breaches in which personal information such as credit card or Social Security numbers are exposed or stolen. We also advise clients on the nuances of coverage of cyber liability matters.
Hurwitz Fine’s High Exposure/Catastrophic Injury and Loss (CAT) Team has the trial experience, depth, and skill to handle high exposure claims. These cases often involve traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, severe burns, loss of limb, death and destruction of property and require a carefully coordinated approach to properly defend the claim. In partnership with you, we prepare every case as if it will go to trial, but stay focused on opportunities for alternative disposition when appropriate.
Upon assignment, our team conducts an overall case assessment with recommendations for initial or additional investigation and as appropriate, the retention of qualified experts, and interfacing with the public or media as needed. We undertake a comprehensive risk assessment as to both liability and damages in developing a strategy aimed at defending our clients in high stakes and often high visibility cases. We are uniquely positioned to provide representation at any stage, in all types of catastrophic personal injury and property loss claims. We have attorneys across New York State—from Buffalo to Long Island—and have close relationships with experts in the fields of emergency medicine, accident reconstruction, biomechanics, product safety, and origin and cause with many years of hands-on experience available for immediate and focused engagement. Identifying valuable evidence and retaining the right professionals is not only necessary to formulate a defense plan, but is critical in achieving the best possible outcome for our clients.
High Exposure/Catastrophic cases come in a variety of types: construction site accidents; product liability; toxic and environmental exposures; trucking, automobile and motorcycle accidents; medical malpractice; pharmaceutical and medical device litigation; heavy equipment accidents; premises; structure failure; fire loss; and others. All require a carefully planned liability defense, understanding complex risk transfer and insurance coverage analysis, and comprehensive handling of damage containment. Our approach is multidisciplinary and consists of skilled trial attorneys who have the necessary experience in coordinating and directing a diverse team of experts on both the liability and damages components of the case to properly prepare for trial. The Hurwitz Fine CAT Team is led by senior trial attorney David Adams and also includes experienced insurance coverage attorneys to navigate risk-transfer and coverage issues, in-house registered nurses, and experienced paralegals.
We are available to discuss your needs, 24/7.
Medical Device & Drug Product Liability
The firm has defended various manufacturers of ethical drugs and medical devices including Ciba-Geigy (contact lens cases for Cibavision); Synthes USA (orthopedic plates, screws, etc.); Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon (sutures); Clinipad (surgical prep kits); Baxter Healthcare, Corp. (TISSEEL); Warner Lambert (DPT vaccine); Zimmer (formerly Centerpulse, pedicle screw lawsuit); Upjohn (Provera, Depo-Provera); and American Home Products and Wyeth-Ayerst (Penicillin G, Premarin). We have also been involved in latex glove litigation. Representation has been direct as well as through their insurance carriers.
The firm represents numerous physicians and other health care providers such as nurses, nursing homes, infant homes, MRI facilities, Physical Therapy facilities, etc. and is regularly retained for medical malpractice defense matters. In our corporate department we have close to 30 years of extensive experience representing the medical community in our Health Law practice. A thorough knowledge of the responsibilities, governance, and licensing requirements of medical personnel and a clear understanding of the terminology associated with these professions is key. The firm’s experience in insurance defense, and the representation of professional medical corporations in its business and corporate practice ensures a successful representation of these matters.
Medical Malpractice & Nursing Home Liability
Hurwitz Fine has a long history of successfully defending claims against health care professionals, hospitals and practice groups, rehabilitation centers, and long and short-term care facilities. Our attorneys are well known in Western New York for their superior abilities in professional malpractice defense and health care law. We vigorously protect and defend physicians, clinicians, dentists, nurses, facilities, and all forms of health care providers in the full range of matters. We have the unique insight of decades of experience in all types of medical professional matters ranging from licensing and disciplinary matters, to business formation, to credentialing and compliance. Our longstanding history representing the medical community affords us a truly unique perspective. We have on-staff nurse consultant expertise to conduct medical record review and analysis, as well as a multitude of carefully vetted and developed medical experts to help mount the best possible defense. Our attorneys have the experience needed to successfully navigate any complex medical case.
Our attorneys routinely appear in front of various arbitrators in the American Arbitration system on No-Fault and SUM matters. We review arbitration demands that clients receive and prepare the client’s evidence submission and position statement for the arbitration. This can entail obtaining statements and affidavits from individuals as well as drafting legal memoranda. We argue the client’s position at the arbitration by pointing out pertinent information in the documents submitted, pointing out flaws in the applicant’s evidence, vigorously cross-examining the applicant, subpoenaing witnesses to provide testimony, and subpoenaing the requisite documents for the arbitration to support the client’s position. We handle arbitrations across the state for clients via live appearance, telephone, or video teleconference.
We also have a reputation in the community where we can contact an applicant’s counsel to have a frank discussion with them on their arbitration demand. We discuss with them fatal flaws in their arbitration demand to the extent that the applicant has withdrawn either with prejudice or without prejudice pending providing additional information to the client the arbitration demand.
We also represent clients in arbitrations with Arbitration Forums, Inc. For many self insurers or insurers, particularly in the trucking industry, we have provided sound advice on how to proceed with mandatory loss transfer arbitrations in this forum. We have also represented many insurers in special arbitrations in Arbitration Forums regarding complex insurance coverage issues. We have also represented insurers on substantial property damage arbitrations in this forum.
NYS Labor Law (Scaffold Law) & Construction Defect
Hurwitz Fine attorneys regularly handle the representation of defendants in bodily injury claims brought under New York Labor Law 200, 240 and 241 and handle the investigation and defense of construction site accidents and injury claims. Firm attorneys are active in the defense and prosecution of contractual and common law defense and indemnity rights. We regularly handle construction accident claims against owners of premises during original construction or renovation work, and claims alleging improper design, construction, or maintenance of plazas, buildings, parking lots, and apartments. We are also fully familiar with the processes necessary for investigation, initiation and prosecution of indemnity and third party actions.
Hurwitz Fine represents building owners, property owners, restaurants and retail establishments in actions alleging personal injuries due to defective and dangerous conditions located on the premises. The firm regularly defends clients in a wide variety of premises liability matters from slip and fall claims, both inside and outside establishments, to falling merchandise and product related injury claims. In this context, we also handle tenders of indemnification to the outside vendors, landlords or developers responsible for maintenance activities on the premises including interior issues such as cleaning services or repair work, to exterior issues such as snow removal and parking lot repairs.
The firm also handles claims against owners of premises involving allegations of improper design, construction or maintenance of buildings, stores, plazas, malls, parking lots and apartment complexes.
In addition to handling the defense of premises liability claims, the firm also partners with its clients to assist in identifying and implementing appropriate risk prevention and management protocols, such as formulation of periodic inspection and maintenance procedures, identification and implementation of appropriate and effective security systems and personnel, accident response and investigative protocols, document retention guidelines for such vital information as inspection and maintenance records, spill response records, security video retention, cataloging and storage issues involving preservation of evidence.
Hurwitz Fine has extensive experience representing distributors, retailers, and manufacturers of diverse products, ranging from intricate medical devices to complex industrial equipment, in the full range of product liability matters. Representative clients have included manufacturers of computer keyboards, motorcycles, tires, chemicals, fertilizers, kitchen equipment, cosmetics, industrial machinery, toxic substances, chemical containers, explosives, paints, clothing, escalators, elevators, alarm systems, fire-protection systems, electrical equipment, small appliances, abrasives, commercial batteries, industrial heating/air conditioning units, snowmobiles, and sporting goods. This array of products has provided a challenge and an education as well as lasting expertise.
Manufacturers of some of these products and services have included Bandit Industries, Inc., BMW North America, Inc., Carrier Corporation, Cybex, FMC Corp., Graphite Sales, Inc., Harley-Davidson, Hobart Manufacturing Company, Honda Inc., Ingersoll Rand, Inc., International Comfort Products, New Castle Battery, Otis Elevator Company, Park Corporation, Peerless Heater Company, Polaris Industries, Inc., Pratt & Whitney, Inc., United Technologies, Valco Cincinnati, Inc., White Consolidated Industries, Inc., and Yamaha Corp.
Our attorneys are fully familiar with the steps necessary for carriers, and their insureds, to prepare a proper investigation, assemble experts as necessary, assure containment, and to mount the best defense available.
Professional Errors & Omissions
Since its founding in 1977, Hurwitz Fine has successfully defended the full range of professional malpractice claims. In addition to defending errors and omissions matters, a significant portion of the firm’s practice involves the comprehensive representation of professionals in their business and transactional matters including physicians, corporate directors and officers, accountants, investment brokers, insurance agents and brokers, real estate brokers, dentists, architects and engineers, and the medical and dental schools at our local university. We also had the unique experience of creating a medical malpractice insurance carrier which included corporate structure, tax issues, regulatory approvals and negotiations with state authorities and agencies.
As Hurwitz Fine regularly advises professionals on risk management strategy, practice group formation, pension plan establishment, and the full gamut of issues that a professional practitioner would face, we bring a well-grounded knowledge of the responsibilities, governance, ethical standards, licensing requirements, and terminology associated with the professions which enhances our ability to defend claims of professional negligence and malfeasance.
We are fully experienced in defending Errors and Omissions claims in:
- Accounting Malpractice
- Architects & Engineers Errors & Omissions
- Director & Officers Errors & Omissions
- Employment Practices Liability
- Healthcare Liability
- Legal Malpractice
- Real Estate Agents & Brokers Errors & Omissions
- Insurance Agents & Brokers Errors & Omissions
- Investment/Financial Institution Agents & Brokers Errors & Omissions
Our firm enjoys a national reputation as a leader in the area of insurance coverage and extra contractual liability and professional liability insurance companies often come to us for coverage analysis and opinions in relation to professional liability claims. Hurwitz Fine has extensive experience representing these professionals in actions by private parties and governmental entities, including addressing allegations of violations of the Martin Act.
Retail & Hospitality Liability
Hurwitz Fine has extensive experience aggressively defending national and regional retail and hospitality clients against all types of general liability claims, including premises liability, product liability, negligent construction and display, food contamination, liquor law liability, false arrest, negligent security claims and other tort actions, as well as handling employment matters. We have represented retailers (including shopping malls, department stores, chain stores, discount retailers, pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations), hotels, restaurants, restaurant suppliers, bars, health clubs and theme parks. We also provide risk mitigation counseling to these clients, helping to establish policies and procedures to assist in protecting the business in its operation while improving litigated outcomes.
School districts across New York State face a unique set of challenges. Having represented more than 60 school districts since 1977, Hurwitz Fine has a wide range of experience in counseling and litigating matters for school districts in federal and state court.
Hurwitz Fine regularly defends public school districts and private schools across New York State in claims involving:
- Child Victims Act and Sexual Misconduct Coverage and Defense – Defense of schools, teachers and administration in the full range of matters involving claims of inappropriate behavior. We regularly conduct investigations of allegations of misconduct. We have represented clients in highly sensitive claims of sexual abuse including claims of lack of supervision, negligence, civil rights violations, abuse/harassment, retaliation and discrimination. We are also experienced in developing policies and procedures which aid in prospective risk management endeavors and regularly assist clients in this area.
- Labor & Employment Law – Defense of claims in matters involving discrimination (race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age). We also assist our clients in the defense of various labor and employment matters including representing districts and school personnel before the New York State Division of Human Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and federal courts; before the New York State Unemployment Insurance Division and Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, Workers' Compensation Board, and representation at Public Employment Relations Board; before the New York State and Federal Department of Labor.
- Automobile Liability – Defense of claims arising from transportation accidents involving buses and other school-owned vehicles.
- Premises Liability – Defense of claims involving alleged negligent supervision, slip-and-falls, bullying/harassment, sport injuries and playground accidents.
Toxic Tort/Environmental Law
Hurwitz Fine has been active in the practice of environmental law dating back to the Love Canal litigation in 1979 in which we represented one of the prime defendants. The firm currently handles a wide range of environmental and toxic tort matters, including claims involving exposure to asbestos, lead, mold and silica.
Asbestos exposure continues to be a major source of litigation and we have successfully defended hundreds of asbestos exposure claims in upstate New York, up to and including trial and appeal. With the number of viable non-bankrupt defendants in asbestos litigation dwindling, plaintiffs’ firms are constantly seeking new avenues and novel theories to prosecute their claims. We represent defendants throughout the supply chain, including product manufacturers, suppliers, installers, end-users, and premises owners.
Our firm offers significant experience in defending lead paint poisoning claims across New York State. This unique complex litigation, with non-standard theories of liability, continues to be active, as plaintiffs claim permanent, irreversible brain damage, behavioral changes, and other neurological, and physiological injuries as a result of lead-poisoning. We defend property owners, landlords, property managers, and agents throughout the state, who are alleged to have provided deficient housing. We also have experience defending employers and contractors in suits arising out of occupational exposure to lead.
We also have significant experience in the defense of environmental remediation contractors, municipalities, and other entities in CERLA/Superfund or other mass tort matters in Federal Court. Our team frequently appears in each of New York’s Federal District Courts, as well as handling numerous arguments before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We have been engaged in multi-district litigation stemming from a variety of environmental disasters and consulted on international arbitrations involving PCBs, silica, dioxin, benzene, and many other toxins.
General Liability Defense Blog Updates
- 03/09/22: "Redefining ‘Family’: Emotional Damages and the Grieving Families Act"
- 02/25/22: Amended Version of the New York Comprehensive Insurance Act (CIDA) Signed into Law
- 01/25/22: Legislature’s Expansion of New York’s “Party Admission” Exception to the Rule Against Hearsay will have Adverse Consequences for Employers
- 01/13/22: Required Disclosures Under the New Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act
- 12/17/21: Clickbait: A Refresh on Social Media Discovery