Safe in Traffic
The children of Sheldon Flanzig rep injured cyclists
Published in 2022 New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine
By Jim Walsh on September 27, 2022
Growing up as the children of prominent personal injury lawyer Sheldon Flanzig, Dan and Cathy Flanzig heard plenty of stories about people and their problems—and the attorneys and laws that helped them.
“Our dinner conversation every night was about his cases,” Dan remembers. “He was very dedicated to his job. He was at his office at six o’clock in the morning and came home at seven o’clock at night. He managed seven attorneys and hundreds of files by himself. Pretty impressive. I’m not capable of working at that level, and he didn’t have a computer.”
The firm opened its doors on lower Broadway in Manhattan in 1956. Flanzig and Flanzig now has offices in Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island.
“We were pretty fortunate that we were taught how to practice law the right way,” says Cathy. “My father was a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to make sure everything was done correctly. He was very focused on his clients and making sure his clients were taken care of.”
The Flanzig siblings carry on that legacy of caring for clients who have been seriously injured or had loved ones killed in car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accidents. The latter has become their niche.
“We represent a lot of very severely injured clients,” says Cathy. “One day they’re the head of a household and making $200,000 a year and then then the next day they’re hit by a car and in a hospital bed for four weeks and really don’t have a place to turn. When somebody’s injured, they’re entitled to lost wages and medical benefits, and regulations have to be followed in order to get that compensation. With bicycle crashes, it’s twofold: getting the medical reimbursement paid, along with the lost wages, and a personal injury case for the pain and suffering that go hand in hand.”
“I bond with my clients in a way that a lot of other lawyers don’t,” says Dan, a triathlete. “I can talk with my clients: ‘Oh, you did that race? I did that race. Were you riding this weekend? What bike clubs do you belong to?’ The bike world is pretty small, so I don’t know a lot of other [firms] where the lawyers really can confer with their client in the same way. I have a kind of built-in empathy for the lifestyle and any injuries that come along, because I appreciate when they’re really injured.”
In crowded New York boroughs where bikes fight cars for the road, the bicycling life can be treacherous.
“In cities like Manhattan and Brooklyn, the most common injury that we see usually are [car] door-ers,” says Dan. “And then when you leave the city and go to the suburbs, it is turning vehicles. What I believe is that people don’t [correctly] judge the speed of a bicyclist. They think they can make that left turn or right turn in front of them, thinking they have plenty of space. But that cyclist is traveling at 20 miles an hour.”
New York law is pretty specific on door-ing: “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic …” Dan can recite it almost verbatim.
“With those particular cases,” he says, “we have a really, really good track record of getting summary judgment, meaning finding that the person who opens that car door is 100 percent responsible before we even get to trial.”
Both Flanzigs say that bringing injured bicyclists some peace of mind has been extremely gratifying, and the firm extends that work by advocating for bicyclists’ rights.
“I have two young children, seven and nine, who are avid cyclists,” says Dan. “They participate with me in my advocacy work. Tomorrow we’re going to Brooklyn to hand out bike lights for Bike-to-Work Day. They’re teaching their friends how to be safe in traffic, which is really what we’re trying to do every day.”
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