O'Connell & Riley

O'Connell & Riley

Dedicated Accident and Personal Injury Attorney,Dedicated Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney

Firm Overview

O'Connell & Riley was established in 1978 in Pearl River, New York in the lower Hudson Valley and in Montvale, New Jersey. We are proud of the tradition we have now established over many years of helping individuals with their legal needs and problems. Over the years we have worked diligently to help our clients who are victims of the negligence of the wrongful acts of others.

My law firm was established with my law partner, Thomas F. O'Connell, Esq., to help people and to serve the legal needs of individuals in the geographic areas of Pearl River, Rockland County, New York, in the lower Hudson Valley of New York and in the geographic area of Montvale, Bergen County, New Jersey. We work extensively to help clients in the legal fields of accident and personal injury law for individual victims who have been hurt by the negligent or wrongful acts of other individuals, governmental agencies, or private firms. We also work extensively to help clients in the legal fields of estate planning and elder law, including preparation of essential documents such as trust on their behalf and with Medicaid and business continuation planning. Our firm is committed to providing needed assistance on a personalized basis to our clients in each of these very important areas.

Example cases

Azoy v. Fowler, New York Appeals Court, 57 A.D. 2d 541 (Appellate Division, 2nd Dept.)

On this appeal, I won on my client's behalf and obtained the right to a full jury trial. The court ruled in this published decision that my client could sue the executor of her father's estate for fraud and wrongdoing. On the basis of my client's discovery, after many decades, that fraud and misappropriation of assets had allegedly been carried out and covered up. The court ruled that a person who is the subject of such wrongdoing has two years from date of discovery (not from date of occurrence) to bring such a suit. This is a leading case on this point of law.

Consolidated Rail Corporation v. Town of New Hyde Park, New York Federal Court of Appeals, 47 F.3d 473

On this appeal and in this matter, I was serving as co-lead defense counsel for all municipalities in the State of New York that had railroads owned by Conrail, CSX Railroad, or Norfolk Southern Railroad located within their boundaries. The railroads were seeking to reduce their real property by sing in the local governments in Federal Court in New York under Federal law. This complex matter continued for over eight years as a defendant class action, which is to some extent a very unique matter. All of the attorneys in this matter were highly capable and qualified; the lawyering was excellent.

The case involved such complicated factors as the status at the time of the United States economy, the financial condition of the railroad industry in general, the financial strength and viability of the individual freight railroad companies such as CSXs- which railroads are much stronger than one would first believe due to technological advances? I am proud to have been a leading part of this case as a defense attorney. The case involved hundreds of millions of tax dollars. We eventually settled the cases involved to the full satisfaction of our clients.

(Decisions available at scholar.Google.com)

Main Office
144 East Central Avenue
Pearl River  NY  10965
  • (845) 735-5050
  • (845) 620-0722


Free Initial Consultation?
There is no fee for any initial consultation in all accident and injury cases.

In estate planning matters, I recommend what work should be carried out and quote a fee in advance for that work at the initial free consultation.

In elder law matters, I charge for the initial consultation because legal advice is given at the very first consultation.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
Retainers and legal fees are always established by agreements with client.
Hourly Rates
$300, but matters are often taken on fixed or agreed fee basis.

Or percentage fees in contingency matters, such as accident and injury cases, whenever possible.

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Otherwise, by appointment as scheduling permits.
Office Manager
Chief Paralegal, Angela Vignola
Emergency After Hours
Languages Spoken
Spanish: other language translators are available on a scheduled basis.

Other Offices

New Jersey Office
210 Summit Avenue
Suite A11
Montvale,  NJ  07645

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

To help individuals in need, like victims of automobile accidents and to help individual establish and complete their estate planning and elder law strategies. Each of these areas of the law provides me with the opportunity to help people on a daily basis which has been extremely rewarding to me throughout my career.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

It is very important for clients to educate themselves on the legal matters in which they are involved. The better my clients understanding of the law is, the better I can serve them. On that point, I have read a good number of the books and programs on various areas of the law as published by Nolo and I have been very impressed with these books. They are very worthwhile for individual clients to educate themselves- including the Nolo books on personal injury matters, estate planning, elder law and the one on serving as the executor of a deceased person's estate. As the New York Times states, "in Nolo you can trust". As clothing retailer Sy Syms said, "an educated customer is my best customer". As I like to say, "an educated client is best able to benefit from the legal services I provide."

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

In the complex areas of law that I practice (personal injury, accident law, estate planning, administration and elder law) which are extremely technical and vary from state, I prefer to use my own documents as a foundation for my legal work. My documents are based upon my decades of work for clients.

For situations such as small claims matters not involving great amounts of monies or assets, the material which an individual can prepare on their own behalf, using an excellent resource such as Nolo, can be quite worthwhile. I am not needed by individuals in such matters.

Our firm devotes our resources to complex matters involving significant amounts of monies, assets or major injuries in which our clients are seeking significant money damages or transferring substantial assets from one generation to the next.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I sincerely believe that my individual skills and resources are best utilized in major and serious matters. Clients should be represented by an attorney in matters that are beyond the skill level of an individual who has not been trained in the law and does not have years of experience. Clients should not be representing themselves in the types of matters that my firm handles.

This does not mean that we do not help people who are unable to pay- we do a lot of our work on contingency retainers including accident and injury cases. If there is no dollar recovery to the client, there is no legal fee to the client. In addition, we do a considerable amount of pro bono publico work- for the public good- without compensation. We have been recognized and received awards for our efforts in this area.

James K. Riley

I have served as an Assistant District Attorney in the County of Rockland (1974-1976).

I have served as an Adjunct Professor, College and graduate school level, at both Pace University and Long Island University for the past two decades.

I have practiced law every day for more than three decades. I have worked with people and helped them with their legal needs and problems in the areas of personal injury law, estate and elder law and I have gained considerable skills, knowledge and experience as a result of my efforts. My "professional patterns" are very considerable (this term comes from "chess" and refers to the fact that a person has been in many situations before and acts on his knowledge base built up from his experience in those situations).

I have also taught for decades as an Adjunct Professor in various legal areas including estate planning, elders law, taxation, financial planning, municipal law, liability law, and business law at both the college level and the graduate school level at Pace University and Long Island University. I previously taught at Rockland Community College. I also regularly give presentations to various groups such as the Library Association of Rockland County in May 2011.

I have also regularly served on various professional boards and committees. Such as President of the Rockland County Bar Association and I'm also a member of the House of Delegates for the New York State Bar Association. All of these activities help to make me a better, more knowledgeable attorney.

I am dedicated to my clients. I pursue their matters with persistence and enthusiasm. I continue my efforts on behalf of my clients in matters in which I am engaged when many other lawyers might give up. I have a great appreciation for the practice of law and our system of courts and justice. Law is an exciting area and deserves enthusiasm and dedication.

Personal interests:

My family including my wife, Joan (we are happily married now 41 years), my three children, my three in-laws, nine grandchildren; my dogs, Cassie, a rescue Labrador, and Harry, a rescue Golden Retriever and my three-mile walks with them every day. The mountains, the ocean, nature, bird watching, photography, woodworking, technical items such as old machinery and cars, and I enjoy reading in all fields, especially history, law and biography.

  • Bar Number: 1495969
    New York , 1971
  • Rutgers University
    Juris Doctor , 1970
  • Fordham College
    Bachelor of Arts , 1967
    Economics and History
  • College for Financial Planning
    C.F.P. Designation , 1989

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