Law Offices of William Cafaro

Law Offices of William Cafaro

Law office of Bonnie Lawston

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Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

Law office of Bonnie Lawston

Law Offices of William Cafaro

Do I Have to Pay My Rent During the Coronavirus Crisis?

I Heard That Tenants Might Not Have to Pay Rent During the Coronavirus shutdown. Is this True?

Do I Have to Pay My Rent During the Coronavirus Crisis?Yes – Under a proposed1 New York State Law, all residential tenants who qualify will have their rent payments suspended for the 90 days following the effective date of the new law. That means that you do not have to pay your rent if you qualify. While this is not passed into law yet [see footnote below], it probably will be by April 1, so if you qualify – HOLD OFF ON PAYING YOUR APRIL RENT!

I Rent an Apartment or Part of a House Where I Live. How Do I Qualify for This?

If you have lost income as a result of Stay in Place order, you qualify. This is meant to include everyone who has been laid off or has had their hours cut because of the Coronavirus restrictions, which has happened to millions of people. Landlords will depend on people not knowing this, and many will deny that it’s true, but if you qualify, you can “Just Say No to the landlord” just like Nancy Reagan used to say to drugs.

How Much Income Do I Have to Lose to Qualify for This?

The law, as currently proposed, includes anyone who has suffered any loss of income. Although no one knows how this will shake out yet, almost any loss of income will probably be presumed to be from the Coronavirus restrictions unless proven otherwise.

If My Rent is Forgiven, Will I Have to Pay it After the Coronavirus Pandemic is Over?

No. You will never have to pay it, you cannot be evicted for not paying it, you will not have to pay any late fees or other fess connected with it, and if your lease expires during this period, the landlord has to give you a new lease at the same rent.

Will My Landlord Get Stuck for This?

Your landlord will not have to pay the mortgage on whatever part of the property cannot collect rent due to this law. There is formula in the law to figure out how much of a break the landlord will get.

[1] The bill (A10224A/S8125) has already passed the Assembly and Senate, and the Governor is expected to sign it into law right away. Be aware that the bill might be subject to changes before it is passed.

Frequently Asked Questions about the New York Workers’ Compensation Coverage—Was My Injury Work-Related?

Author: Pyrros  & Serres LLP

Attorney-Michael-Pyrros, Workers Compensation AttorneysUnder the New York workers’ compensation laws, there are two requirements to recover workers’ compensation benefits—you must prove that you were injured and that the injury was work-related (sustained while you were in the course of your employment). Here are some of the questions we are frequently asked about pertaining to whether an accident was work-related.

Q: Can I recover workers’ compensation benefits if I was injured while on a break at work?   

A: Under state and federal labor laws, you are entitled to periodic breaks, including meal breaks, based on the number of hours you work. As a general rule, if you are on a meal break or regularly scheduled break, and you remain on company property (in the cafeteria, break room or other location), you will still be eligible for workers’ compensation for any injuries suffered. However, if you leave company premises to go on a meal break, you won’t be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered on the break, unless you went at the request of your employer or were on a work-related errand.

Q: Does the injury have to occur on company premises?

A: Not necessarily. If your employer requires that you travel for work, whether it’s part of your daily regimen or you are attending a conference, workshop or meeting, you can recover workers’ compensation benefits, provided you weren’t involved in a personal endeavor at the time of the injury. As a general rule, there’s no coverage for injuries sustained on your commute to or from work, unless you deviated from your normal route to perform a work-related task.

Q: What if I am hurt at the company golf outing?

A: As a general rule, if you are injured at any type of company-sponsored event, whether it’s a business meeting, a team-building exercise, or pure entertainment, you have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for your losses. There are exceptions, though. For example, if you engage in horseplay or consume too much alcohol, you may not be covered. However, if the company provided or encouraged the use of alcohol, there may still be liability.

Q: Can I recover workers’ compensation if I was partially responsible for my injuries?

A: That depends. The workers’ compensation laws are based on the legal concept of “no fault,” meaning that there’s no requirement to show that your employer was negligent in order to recover benefits. Because of that principle, it rarely matters whether you were careless—you will still be entitled to benefits. However, if your actions were in clear violation of company policies, or if it can be shown that your injuries were intentionally self-inflicted, your claim may be denied.

Effective Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Queens, New York

At Pyrros & Serres, we bring more than 50 years of combined workers’ compensation experience to clients throughout Queens and across the greater New York City area. We place a premium on personal service and attention, taking the time to learn the specific details of your case, so that we can tailor our efforts to get the outcome you seek. Because of our longstanding record of hard work and success, we receive many of our new cases as referrals from doctors, lawyers and satisfied clients.

We take all types of work-related injury claims, including cases involving:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) | Fractures | Burns | Paralysis | Spinal Cord Injury | Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement | Amputation or Loss of Limb | Hip, Leg, Foot and Toe Injury | Hearing or Vision Loss | Back and Neck Injury | Shoulder, Arm, Hand and Finger Injury | Accidental or Wrongful Death | Occupational Disease or Illness

For more information about the services we provide, see our practice area overview page.

Pyrros & Serres LLP

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys—Queens, New York

Previously published 2018

New York Attorney Handling Estate Probate & Administration

I Need to Settle an Estate in New York. Now what?

Author: Law Offices of Bonnie Lawston

Probate Administration If you are named executor or administrator of an estate in New York, where you live does not matter. All you need to do is hire an experienced attorney who is licensed to practice in New York to help you settle the estate.

The many channels of communication available today allow your attorney not only to send documents via regular mail, but also to expedite paperwork through faxing, scanning and emailing estate documents. You will find that carrying out your fiduciary responsibilities may be easier than you imagined, whether you are in another state or in another country.

Attorneys who handle wills, trusts and estate administration have a reliable network of contacts, from appraisers, auctioneers and house cleaners to contractors and real estate agents, who can assist in preparing real property and other assets for sale. Once the sale of estate property is finalized, your attorney will settle debts and arrange distribution to beneficiaries.

For many people, acting as an executor of an estate is often a new experience. A common question is, “Will I have out of pocket expenses to settle an estate?” Most law firms that handle probate, estate and trust administration offer a variety of retainer options for legal services. In addition to an hourly rate retainer arrangement, if you and the estate meet certain criteria, your attorney may agree to payment for legal services upon the sale of the home, the collection of assets or closure of the estate, prior to distribution of the inheritance.

If a loved one passed away in New York State or had assets in New York, call the Long Island Law Offices of Bonnie Lawston  (631) 425-7299. Visit our website


Repost: Original post April 2011

Astoria, Queens, New York Workers Compensation Attorneys

Pyrros & Serres, LLP Workers Comp, Social Security, Personal Injury Lawyers

Author: Pyrros & Serres LLP

Astoria, New York Workers Compensation Attorneys

Job-Related Injury | Occupational Illness or Disease | Repetitive Stress or Motion Injuries | Temporary or Permanent Disability | Partial or Total Disability | Workplace Trauma

If you’ve been hurt on the job in New York, you have a right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to cover lost wages and medical expenses. Don’t expect your employer to make it easy for you, though. The company has a vested interest in minimizing or avoiding payment workers’ compensation benefits and their workers’ compensation insurance providers will often engage in tactics to delay, deny or minimize your claim. The attorneys at Pyrros & Serres LLP can help. Read More

Proven Long Island City/Astoria Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Workers comp claims

At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we take an individualized approach to every case. We take the time to learn exactly what happened in your case, and what you need to move forward. We’ll gather all relevant medical evidence and obtain evidence from all witnesses. Read More

We provide comprehensive counsel to people who have suffered any type of injury at work, including:

Back and Neck Injury | Shoulder, Arm, Hand and Finger Injury | Hip, Leg, Foot and Toe Injury| Burns | Fractures | Paralysis | Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) | Spinal Cord Injury | Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement | Amputation or Loss of Limb | Hearing or Vision Loss | Accidental Death |Occupational Illness

Read More

Pyrros & Serres LLP

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Astoria

COVID 19 Response Employment Impacts for New York Workers and Businesses

COVID-19 Response: Employment Impacts for New York Workers and Businesses  Read more: Queens Ledger - COVID 19 Response Employment Impacts for New York Workers and BusinessesAs we all know, there is only one issue in the news right now: the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), its varied impacts upon global societies, and the increasingly extraordinary measures being taken by nations, states and local governments to minimize the adverse health consequences to vulnerable populations.

If you are a New Yorker reading this article, you are no doubt seriously worried about the possibility of contracting the virus. Even for the relatively young and healthy among us, the fear of community spread to family and friends who may be elderly or immunocompromised is very real, as they are at heightened risk of serious health complications.

Here in New York City, as public schools and many businesses have been closed for the foreseeable future, people are wondering how this constantly evolving situation may impact their livelihoods, and are looking for ways to survive what may be a potentially long and painful period of economic pain.

This article will provide some helpful information for employees and employers looking for some relief in these difficult times.

Information for Affected NYC Employees

Many businesses in the service and hospitality sectors have already been ordered to close by city and state governments. Additionally, many other businesses have either been forced to shutter or have vastly reduced staffing levels due to serious decline in customers and revenues as most New Yorkers begin to shelter in place.

If you have been laid off or furloughed by your employer, you should immediately apply for unemployment insurance benefits, as New York has waived the normal seven-day waiting period before filing a claim.

This means that workers who lose their jobs or experience a reduction in their work hours can immediately receive partial income replacement. To file a claim, visit or call 888-209-8124 during regular business hours.

Due to a very high volume of claims being filed, the state Department of Labor has experienced some slowdown issues and website crashes in recent days due to an overloaded server, so you may have to try several different times before completing a successful application.

Remember, unemployment benefits currently last up to 26 weeks and for most workers only provide a partial income replacement, but they may be a crucial lifeline for those looking to meet basic needs during this pandemic.

If you are fortunate enough to still have a job at this time, please do your best to practice social distancing to the greatest extent practical during your commute and in the workplace, keeping at least six feet away from other people if at all possible. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face or physical contact with coworkers and customers.

Should you begin to feel symptoms of an illness, you should inform your employer immediately and cease working right away. Most New York City employees are guaranteed at least 40 hours per year of job-protected sick leave, which are also paid sick days for those working for employers with five or more employees. Workers should not hesitate to use such paid leave if needed, in order to protect their fellow New Yorkers from possible transmission.

If you are healthy, but are unable to work because you must provide care for a family member who is ill, you may be entitled to receive partial wage replacement for up to ten weeks through New York’s paid family leave program.

In order to qualify, the person requiring care would have to be certified by a health practitioner as having a “serious health condition.” For more information about filing a claim for paid family leave benefits, visit or call 844-337-6303 during regular business hours.

Information for Affected NYC Employers

If you are a business owner fortunate enough to still be operating at this precarious time, you are likely to face a number of very difficult choices as you try to stay afloat over the coming months.

In order to keep your employees healthy and working, your best bet is to regularly clean and disinfect all workplace surfaces, and to physically separate employees as much as possible to limit opportunities for disease transmission. While employers could require employees to wear personal protective equipment, such as respirator masks and disposable gloves in the workplace, these items are in extremely short supply and thus difficult to obtain, and their use by healthy individuals is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

In industries where it is feasible to do so, employers should strongly consider allowing employees to work from their homes. However, before doing so, employers should carefully review their policies and procedures for remote work to ensure that they are in full compliance with all employment laws and regulations, including having appropriate procedures in place to track the time worked by hourly, non-overtime-exempt employees.

Perhaps the most difficult decisions that employers may have to make will involve balancing the desire to financially assist struggling, furloughed employees with the need to ensure that a business remains viable through what many experts now expect to be a lengthy economic recession.

The federal government is currently working on coronavirus stimulus legislation, which hopefully will include assistance for businesses in the form of tax credits, filing extensions, and other economic relief.

In the meantime, small businesses that have seen a dramatic drop in revenues and which lack access to credit may be able to obtain low interest working capital loans of up to $2 million from the United States Small Business Administration. Visit or call 800-659-2955 for information on eligibility and to apply.

City businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25 percent or more will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit, while the smallest city businesses with fewer than five employees may be eligible for grants to cover 40 percent of payroll costs for two months. For more information and to apply, visit

It has been over 100 years since the last viral pandemic of this magnitude, the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. Because of this, there is no appropriate modern-day precedent for what we will face over the coming weeks and months.

It is vital that employers and employees throughout New York City all do their best to work with one another to ensure our common safety and survival. We will get through this crisis together, and there will be better days ahead.

Read more: Queens Ledger – COVID 19 Response Employment Impacts for New York Workers and Businesses

Law Offices of Bonnie Lawston, P.C., Video Conference Calls, Telephone Consultations

Social DIstance Bonnie LawstonAt the Law Offices of Bonnie Lawston, P.C., the health and safety of our staff, colleagues and clients is our top priority.

You rely on us for your personal and professional needs, and we remain ready to help you in this difficult time as we face many challenges and uncertainties.
As such, we are taking a number of steps to minimize health risks during this health crises.

Our law firm will be adhering to the guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control and our local health officials, and we continue to monitor them for updates as they are released in real time. Accordingly, we have implemented a plan to protect the safety of our work environment while allowing us to continue to service all of our clients.

Our attorneys and staff are taking precautions with respect to non-essential meetings and face-to-face interactions. That includes telephone consultations and video conference calls whenever possible. When a face to face meeting is necessary, such as to execute a Will, a Trust, or even your Health Care Proxy, we will provide a clean and spacious environment to do so. With respect to our real estate practice, we will endeavor to utilize Powers of Attorney and even Escrow Closings in order to close title when the transaction permits us to do so.

Please, do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your current estate plan or if you want to get started right away. As always, our lawyers and staff are committed to handling our clients’ matters with the utmost care and respect, and we will remain vigilant as we strive to overcome these challenges. We are here for you and hope that you and your family remain safe and healthy.


Motorcycle Accidents: Why Wearing Helmets Are Important

If You Were Not Wearing a Helmet, Will It Affect Your Accident Case?

Wearing a helmet can help prevent a serious injury or even save a life in motorcycle accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that severe head injuries are common in fatal motorcycle accidents. Helmets prevent about 37 percent of motorcyclists from dying and about 67 percent from experiencing brain injuries.

These percentages are significant. In 2017, about 14 percent of all vehicle crash fatalities were motorcycle accident deaths, which was double the statistic in 1997.

In 2016, the number of motorcycle deaths was almost 28 times the number of car accident deaths.

New York Helmet Law

New York Helmet Law

The State of New York requires all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets. The helmet must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards.

How Does Wearing a Helmet Affect a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

In any New York vehicle accident, the court assigns a percentage of fault to the parties involved. Any violations of the law would indicate negligence on the part of the person in violation. The legal term for this method of assigning fault is contributory negligence.

For this reason, if you were in a motorcycle accident and not wearing a helmet, the court is likely to assign you a percentage of fault for the injury you experienced. Courts reduce the amount of compensation that you can recover based on your percentage of fault. If you were 30 percent at fault, and damages were $100,000,your recovery of damages would be reduced by 30 percent ($70,000).

Other New York Law that Affects Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are not considered vehicles under New York No-Fault insurance law. In addition, an injured motorcyclist does not have to meet the “serious injury” threshold to sue another party for damages. In addition to the fact that many motorcycle accident injuries are serious, this is important to know.

If you are involved in a serious motorcycle accident, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible so you understand your legal rights to recover compensation.


Take a breathe first.  After you have gathered your thoughts, make an appointment and consult with an Probate Estate Administration attorney. Many offer a free consultation and can provide valuable information. The steps that you take initially are very important and if given the proper guidance can save you time and money. Many of people I speak with make most of their mistakes with estate administration in the beginning and prior to seeing an estate probate attorney.  I always tell my clients, please call me, any time, if you are about to make a decision that affects the estate, your fiduciary responsibilities or even the estate assets.  I can provide you the right legal advice to avoid the common mistakes that can be costly before they happen and avoid same.

My legal practice focuses on probate, estate administration and trust administration. any of my clients reside outside of New York, in Florida, California and other parts of the country but are serving as a fiduciary or an heir to a New York Estate matter. If you are an executor, administrator or trustee for someone who died in another state but the decedent owned real property in New York, we can assist you with that ancillary proceeding. There is no need to be stressed out over the estate administration process. We provide the legal assistance that is needed at a low cost. If you have no money to retain an attorney, we offer many types of retainers where the legal fees are deferred.



If you believe your family member’s will is not being properly executed, a lawyer can review and advise you of your rights. Whether you live locally or out-of-state, a probate attorney can answer your questions. You can relax on your sofa or spend time with family, and we will take care legal matters, preparing documents for probate court and working to protect your interests.

Located on Long Island, The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston. PC has assisted countless clients from all over the country with the challenges of probate and estate administration with New York Estates. In cases where your loved one lived elsewhere but had real estate in New York, we can assist you with the administration of the New York assets.


Beneficiaries receive what remains after the estate has been inventoried, creditors have been paid and tax returns have been filed with payment of applicable taxes. A lawyer reviews the estate legal documents, closing documents, bank records, demand and review a judicial accounting and other discover documents to ensure you receive your inheritance and that the executor provides a proper accounting and complies with the applicable laws as it relates to the administration of the Estate.

In instances where you do not receive the proper distribution, your attorney can fight for your inheritance and seek to hold the fiduciary of the estate accountable for his or her actions. In many instances, communication from a lawyer resolves the issue, and if not, taking legal action may be necessary to protect your interests.

Remember that the attorney for the estate’s representative does not represent you but represents the fiduciary of the Estate. Thus, if the fiduciary has done something improper or not done something, the estate’s attorney is not going to tell you.  You need your own attorney to protect your interests as opposed to the Estate.



Under New York law, whether your spouse included you in the will or not, you are entitled to either $50,000 plus one half of the value of the estate or $50,000 plus one third depending on whether you have children. The exception would be if you waived your rights in a prenuptial agreement or other document.

If your spouse eliminates you from the Will, you must file a claim within the statutory amount of time to preserve your rights.  Our probate and estate attorney can assist you with protecting your inheritance rights.


Delving into the law and understanding the statutes that apply to probate are daunting for most people. It takes years of study and experience to acquire the legal knowledge a lawyer has attained. Lawyers can help you take advantage of tax laws to maximize the inheritance. In addition, various retainers are available and some allow legal fee payment through the estate, rather than direct payment.

Many times, an estate has a lot of real property and very little cash, or the family can not access the cash making it difficult to retain an attorney. The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, PC understands this very well and will offer retainers that require no money up front for legal fees. Most clients qualify for this retainer. Free consultations are offered and can help evaluate your case immediately making for a quicker resolution saving you time and money.

Furthermore, when a loved one dies, loss, grief and other emotions often make dealing with legal matters difficult. It can be helpful to have guidance from an objective professional outside of the family.

Sexual Harassment by Customers—Employer Responsibility

Could You Be Liable If a Customer Harasses Your Employee?

Sexual Harassment by CustomersEmployers must address sexual harassment by customers in addition to harassment by other employers. Courts can hold employers accountable if they fail to take reasonable actions to prohibit a hostile work environment and protect an employee. While the “customer is always right” is a maxim that people in business try to follow, under these circumstances the customer is not right.

EEOC v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

A case in point is the EEOC v. Costco Wholesale Corp. case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviewed the case and in 2018 ruled in favor of the EEOC.

Case Details

A customer stalked a Costco employee for over a year. The employee reported the stalking to her managers. However, because the managers did not believe the harassment was severely sexual in nature, they did not take stronger actions quickly enough to prevent it. After some time, Costco did tell the customer to leave the employee alone. In fact, Costco eventually banned the customer from the store where the employee worked. However, these actions were taken after constant encounters that lasted over more than a year where the customer repeatedly stalked the employee. He constantly asked her personal questions, touched her on several occasions and then came in disguise to observe her and later on, even took a video of her.

After her third interaction with the customer, the employee filed a police report about the stalking. Subsequently, the police called the Assistant General Manager about the report, and as a result he yelled at the employee and told her to be nice to the customer. The police interviewed the customer but did not charge or arrest him. Even so, a report was filed about the customer’s stalking. More than a year later, after numerous encounters, the employee secured a Stalking No Contact Order against the customer that prohibited him from approaching her at her residence or place of employment for 21 days. When the order expired she renewed it, and the order was in effect for a year.

After more than a year of stalking, the employee went on medical leave, at which point the general manager investigated and sent the customer a notification that they were aware of the employee’s complaints. The general manager directed the customer to shop at a different Costco store, one that was equidistant from his home.

The Appellate Court’s Finding

Under the Illinois Stalking No Contact Order Act, the appellate court concluded that the customer had violated the act through his behavior and had caused “emotional distress” and “significant mental suffering, anxiety or alarm.” The customer had in fact also violated the no-contact order. (Keep in mind that New York also has a stalking law that prohibits stalking.)

Costco did not argue that it failed to take reasonable steps to bring the harassment to an end, and therefore, the court did not address it.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates have decades of experience representing employers in work-related issues.

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