Connecticut Train Crash Highlights Rail Dangers, But Also Improvements in Rail Safety
Back in the 1980's there was a radio commercial encouraging people to "take the train to the plane." If you think about it even a little bit, the tune will come to you. New York City is well known for its subway trains and trains leading to other parts of the country. The Metro-North Railroad line runs between New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. This rail line transports around 30,000 people every day. While trains are relatively safe, derailments and collisions are possible and happen from time to time.
On May 17, 2013, two passenger trains collided on the Metro-North line near Fairfield, Connecticut. The eastbound train jumped the track and collided with a westbound train on an adjacent track. More than 70 people were injured and rushed to area hospitals. The two trains were transporting about 700 passengers between them. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) has investigators on site to try to determine the cause of the derailment and collision. As the investigation has progressed, train cars have been removed from the site. But Metro-North has informed commuters that about 2,000 feet of track and overhead wires will need to be replaced prior to the line reopening.
The cars involved in the collision were heavily damaged. Doors were ripped off some cars and deep gashes were easily seen where cars sideswiped each other. But none of the cars flipped over during the collision. News outlets have noted that the cars involved in this collision are newer cars installed in 2011 that were built to new code standards. The rail company is reviewing not just the damage to the cars, but also how the new safety features helped lessen the number of total injuries.
NTSB investigators are examining the tracks across the accident scene and found a section of track fractured at a rail joint. The NTSB does not know whether this fracture was the cause of the accident or resulted from the accident. Considering that the track had been repaired over the previous month, the NTSB will be examining the stretch of track closely.
While this train collision happened in Connecticut, it is still important for us New Yorkers to be vigilant considering all of the trains that service our large metro area. Unlike the January ferry crash where there had been a recent previous accident and there were questions about the captain following proper procedures, the last major accident on the Metro-North line occurred in 1988. But there are questions about the physical track the eastbound train was traveling on. As we stated with the ferry accident, trains are "common carriers" and must take greater care when transporting passengers.
If you have been injured while riding the subway or other trains in New York, contact our personal injury attorney about your rights and your options.
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Connecticut Train Crash Highlights Rail Dangers, But Also Improvements in Rail Safety
Cars are the most convenient mode of transportation across the United States. Accidents happen everyday, however, figuring out how to deal with the consequences can be difficult and time consuming. When car accident occur, not only do you have to figure out your injuries, but also those of anyone else who was involved in the accident. Figuring out who is at fault may not be an easy question to answer in the beginning, but that is only the beginning. Even when one party admits to being at fault, compensation for the other person's injuries may not be easily received.
Take for example the case of Soriano v. Martin. Jesus Soriano (Soriano) was a driving instructor and he got into an accident with William Martin (Martin) while Soriano was working. In the first case, Martin admitted it was his fault and Soriano testified at trial that he did not receive any compensation from any source, including workers' compensation, for his lost earnings. The jury awarded twenty thousand in damages for pain and suffering and a separate five thousand for lost wages Soriano incur while unable to work due to injuries suffered from the car accident.
The issue in the second case is whether the jury award of five thousand dollars for lost wages is valid. Under New York Insurance law, there is a No Fault Law which denies recovery for basic economic injuries under fifty thousand dollars from defendants. When you have an accident under a no-fault system, your insurer automatically pays for your damages, regardless of fault. In exchange for this guaranteed payment, you must give up some of your rights to sue the other driver involved in the accident. Basic economic injuries includes medical bills and lost wages due to the accident. The purpose of this law is to protect the defendants. In No Fault states, like New York, the first fifty thousand in economic injuries is covered by the insurance companies.
This case is slightly tricky because Soriano was injured while at work. If the injury had not occurred on the job, his sole avenue for recovering for his lost earnings would have been through no-fault and he would not have been able to recover five thousand dollars in a tort action against Williams. The court found that the fact that plaintiff's injury occurred on the job, thereby making him eligible for workers' compensation benefits, does not take him outside the No-Fault Law and entitle him to recover for basic economic loss in this action. To hold otherwise would allow plaintiff a benefit not contemplated by the statutory scheme.
Having an experienced can save you time and money. In Soliano's case, he should be able to to get his economic injuries covered, however, it will take him at least a month to get it sorted out with his insurance company. While it is better than not being covered, he could have been paid much sooner. An experienced accident attorney can help you figure out your options and being your best case forward. If you have been injured in an accident, please contact one of our experienced attorneys.
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Are you Injured Enough?
Are School Buses At Serious Risk for Traffic Accidents?
Cars have become a necessary part of the lives of many people. Public transportation is limited or even nonexistent in many parts of the country. Even if public transportation is an option the schedule may not work for your needs or the amount of time to get to your final destination may be unreasonable for you. Therefore cars are popular even in cities like Washing DC, Boston and New York even though they are known for their public transportation systems. But with the increase of the use of cars, comes the increase of accidents. When accidents occur, getting compensated by whoever is at fault can be difficult.
Take for example, the New York case of Womack v. Wilhelm. Sharon Womack ("Womack) and Benjamin Wilhelm ("Wilhelm") got into an accident, in which Womack sustained injuries. She believes she should be compensated for those injuries. The main issue in the case is whether Womack suffered a "serious injury". Under New York laws, it is not enough to have been injured in an accident; there must be a significant injury as opposed to a mild or slight injury in order to receive damages. Under Insurance Law, part of proving that you have a significant injury is showing that you, the injured person, were prevented from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute your usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident.
In this case, because Wilhelm was trying to end the case early, without going to trial, it was his responsibility to show that Womack was not seriously injured and was not prevented from doing her daily activities. In this case, Wilhelm used Womack's own doctor reports to prove his side of the case. In accident cases where your injuries are a factor of the case, the plaintiff is required to both seek her own medical attention as well as allow any defendants to have their own, or court chosen, physician review her and/or the other doctors' notes. In this instance, Womack went to the emergency room within a week after the accident and later followed up with her own doctor. Wilhelm had Joseph Elfenbein ("Elfenbein"), an orthopedic surgeon review Womack's medical records and perform an independent medical examination of her for the case. Elfenbein found that while Womack was injured, there was nothing in her previous doctors' files or his own check up of her, which gave him reason to believe that there was significant damage.
When given the chance to defend her version of events, Womack was unable to give sufficient evidence. Her medical reports showed that she was injured but not the degree of injury. Because this case required Womack to have a significantly limiting injury to go forward, the lack evidence specifically stating the severity of her injury meant that the court had to assume it was not severe. Womack also testified that her injuries limited her daily activities for a couple of months, but did not claim that she was actually unable to perform her work duties at any point in time.
Bringing a strong case to court requires a lot of information. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help. Someone who knows the specific facts you need to prove can help you ask the right questions and get the evidence you need. If you have been injured, you should contact an experienced attorney today.
Although we don't like to think about it, school bus accidents may be more common than one might imagine. According to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, over 22 million children ride school buses every day in America, and a surprising number of transportation accidents occur. Just last month, a school bus crashed into a Subaru in Bushwick, according to a report from CBS New York. It left 14 people injured, including 11 children. This story has been a hot topic in New York news because the school bus driver involved in the accident was actually part of a non-union company brought in to run the buses while the union drivers were on strike.
The Recent Crash in Bushwick
In the accident that resulted in the hospitalization of 11 schoolchildren, critics argued that the use of non-union drivers led to the crash. The Local 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union shop steward gave a statement for a press release and argued, "Union drivers are safe. Non-union drivers are not safe."
The crash occurred on the same day that mayor Bloomberg "opened up bids to pick up the most competitive bus companies." The drivers had planned to strike until Bloomberg and New York City agreed to include a security clause in their contracts--the drivers wanted assurance that job security provisions would be part of any competitive bidding process, but "the city insisted that any such move would be illegal."
The strike ended soon after, but no school bus safety issues came to light, and according to a New York Times article, the striking workers' efforts "bore no immediate fruit."
How Frequent are School Bus Accidents?
The crash in Bushwick is just one example of accidents involving school buses in our region. A similar crash made news last September when a school bus collided with two motor vehicles on Staten Island, causing at least four persons to be seriously injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that these accidents may occur more frequently than we know.
The NHTSA categorizes these accidents as "school transportation-related crashes," and it defines them as crashes that "involve, either directly or indirectly, a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities." In short, the definition includes any school bus that transports children to and from school, or school-related activities.
Between 1998 and 2008, the NHTSA identified more than 414,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents, and approximately 1,400 of these involved school buses. In fact, these statistics showed that an average of 19 schoolchildren die each year in a school transportation-related accident, and nearly half of these kids are between the ages of 5 and 7.
The NHTSA updated this study in 2010 and found slightly improved results: approximately 34 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are school transportation-related crashes, and an average of 18 schoolchildren were killed in these accidents between 2001 and 2010.
While the number of school bus crashes is much lower than the national average for motor vehicle accidents, it's still upsetting to read news about these incidents. And who is at fault? Often, the weather can lead to poor visibility and other harmful road conditions. But more often, it seems, a driver's negligence leads to the accident. Recent reports across the country cite school bus drivers running red lights, failing to signal, and speeding just before an accident occurs.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a school transportation-related accident, you may have a claim. Contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your case.
According to a recent article in Business 2 Community, a person in this country is killed in a car accident every twelve minutes. In 2011, 32,000 people died on our roads. The social and economic costs (including medical, lost wages and earnings, property damage, and pain and suffering) can total as much as $300 billion per year. Two recent horrific incidents, one in New York City, remind us of the dangers of vehicles and the toll car accidents can take on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
In the early morning hours of March 3, 2013, Raizy and Nathan Glauber of Brooklyn were tragically killed when a vehicle broadsided the hired car in which they were traveling. At the time of the accident, Mrs. Gauber was 24 weeks pregnant. Doctors delivered her baby boy alive, but he died several hours later. According to The New York Times, it is not clear which driver was at fault, as authorities are still investigating. The newspaper also reported that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission had not yet approved for use, the car carrying the Glaubers.
In another recent, and similarly tragic car accident, a taxi cab passenger and her driver were killed when the driver of a second vehicle, an aspiring music artist, who had been shot by the driver of a third vehicle, lost control of his car, triggering a fiery crash.
These two incidents are particularly horrific and will most certainly lead to criminal charges. They also highlight the dangers of motor vehicles and the need for safer driving laws. According to the previously mentioned article in Business 2 Community, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of fatal car accidents. Texting while driving, which increases your chance of being involved in an accident by a whopping 2300%, is today one of the most common distractions. So what are states doing about distracted drivers? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting while driving is banned in thirty-nine (39) states, including New York, and talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in ten (10) states, including New York. While these laws represent positive change in the effort to decrease fatal and non-fatal car accidents, tragic events will unfortunately still strike. When they occur, they can result in severe personal injuries, including traumatic brain injury and other life-altering injuries, and oftentimes death.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, or if a loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Leav & Steinberg to see how we can help. You or a loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, permanent disability, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death. Let us evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that at least 100,000 crashes might be related to "drowsy driving" or fatigue annually. These are shocking numbers that indicate just has serious the problem has become. Of that 100,000 total about 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries result. In dollar terms, this is about $12.5 billion in monetary losses each and every years. In other words, it is critical that all of us take this seriously.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control--in their "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" -- nearly 4.2 percent of drivers admitted having fallen asleep while behind the wheel in the last month alone.
It should go without saying that driving when not fully alert is incredibly harmful and should always be avoided--the risks are far too high to do otherwise. You can envision virtually any scenario where fatigue may cause trouble. From drifting across a lane and failing to slow in a timely manner to failing to identify road debris quickly, countless errors an be exacerbated by drowsiness. In many ways fatigue is similar to intoxication--reaction time is slowed on overall driving ability is greatly deteriorated. According to the CDC report, which analyzed driver data from police reports, a staggering nine in ten officers report pulling over a driver under suspicion of drunk driving only to find that the driver was drowsy.
Who It Affects
No one is immune from drowsy driving. However the CDC report offers some suggestions about who may be more likely to drive while not fully alert. Most notably, those who stay up late, minimize sleep, and drive at night are particularly prone. Younger drivers fit that bill more than others. It should therefore not be surprising that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that young drivers are more than four times as likely to fall victim to a drowsy driving accident. Other in unique work patterns may also be at risk. If your shift forces you to stay up late and drive at night, then the potential is higher. Similarly, if combine that will too little sleep or use of medications or alcohol, the potential damage is even higher.
What can be done to protect yourself? The CDC report authors write: ""Drivers should ensure that they get enough sleep (7-9 hours), seek treatment for sleep disorders, and refrain from alcohol use before driving."
Never forget: driving while drowsy and causing an accident is an example of negligence and may result in legal accountability. If you are harmed by another and suspect issue like fatigue may have played a role, please get in touch with our NYC injury attorneys to see how we can help.
Few personal injuries are as far reaching as those affecting the brain. Because it acts as the nerve center of virtually all human functioning, there are essentially an unlimited numbers of consequences when one suffers a brain injury. One of the more complex aspects of the harm is that because serious damage may result without obvious outward physical harm, many victims never know the true extent of the damage. On a statewide and national scale, that also means that total brain injury statistics might not be all that reliable.
For example, one study released late last year found that reported brain injuries may be as much as six times lower than the actual number. Unlike previous efforts, this examination attempt to include more "mild" causes of traumatic brain injury. "Mild," of course, is a relative term, as any damage the one's brain is a serious matter requiring medical attention.
To reach the result, the academics analyzed a range of records, from autopsy reports and medical records to MRI reports. All told they determined that the published rate of TBIs are likely far too low, particularly when mild TBIs (like concussions) are included. Concussions often do not result in a trip to the hospital, and so they were under-included in previous efforts. Concussions are often brushed off as getting "knocked up" or having one's "clock rung." In many sporting events, for example, they are ignored. But the truth is that these injuries can have many more far-reaching effects than once suspected.
The particular study referred here was reported in the international medical journal known as "The Lancet." Broken down by type of injury, the study found that the vast majority of TBIs were "mild," accounting for nearly 1,400 examples in the study.
The actual most common single cause of TBIs, per the study, are falls. They accounted for about 38% of the injuries documented in the study. However, the prevalence of falls was not even throughout the population. As might be expected, older individuals, including senior citizens, were more likely to have a fall-related TBI. The younger subjects were more likely to develop the injury in sports or other forms of play.
When it comes to more serious forms of TBI, automobile accidents are the single biggest cause, accounting for about 40% of all injuries. The force that is often felt by those caught in a car accident are far stronger than those felt in a fall or other household accident. As a result, the ultimate harm may be very great.
Somewhat disturbingly, only about 64% of the brain injuries were actually detected in hospitals. This suggests that many who suffer these harms are not getting the help they need in a timely fashion. That problem is likely influenced by the fact that many do not take bumps and knocks on the head as serious as they should. But the problem runs deeper than that because even in moderate and severe TBI cases, nearly two out of ten were not identified by the hospital. This is somewhat head-scratching, as it is hard to image medical professionals not identifying or treating these more severe injuries which likely had outwardly obvious physical manifestations.
Sometimes Legal Rights Are Violated
Not all TBIs are caused by the misconduct of another. However, in far too many cases, particularly when serious brain injuries develop, negligence is a root cause. This is most obvious in automobile accidents. In most cases, a car accident is caused by some form of driver error which usually leads to legal liability. If you or someone you know is in this situation, please get in touch with our office to see if our NYC accident lawyers can help.
In many situations, if you have been injured due to a company's employee, that employee may not be the only one liable for your injuries. Under New York law, an employer is many times liable for their employee's actions and any injuries that result from those actions, even when the employer had no direct role in any injury sustained or even any intention to cause you injury. The law holds employers responsible, because not only does an employer direct the behavior of its employees but an employer is also better suited to be able to compensate you for any injuries you sustain.
If an employee, in the course of his or her employment, causes you an injury through negligent actions or even a failure to act, then the employer may be held responsible. Generally, an act is considered in the course of employment if the employer has authorized the employee to act or the act is closely related to an act authorized by the employer. On the other hand, the employer will typically not be responsible for an employee's actions in the event that the employee is going to buy groceries or doing some other personal business on company time.
For example, a number of different employers allow their employees to use a company vehicle, even when not on strict company business. If an employee takes the company car to a bar and gets into a car accident, the employer will generally not be liable because the employee was visiting the bar on his or her own personal time. On the other hand, if the employee takes a client to the bar with the employer's permission and gets into a car accident, the employer will be responsible, because they were acting with their employer's authorization. The issue is not always simple though with the issue becoming markedly more complex if the employee is intoxicated, because it is questionable whether or not the employer should have expected the employee to become intoxicated when taking a client to a bar.
If you are injured by an employee, the employer could also be held liable for negligent hiring or negligent retention. Negligent hiring or negligent retention actually involves employee actions that are performed outside the employee's scope of employment. In most cases with negligent hiring or negligent retention, the employer is held liable for the employee's criminal conduct. In short, the employer is held responsible for carelessly hiring or retaining a criminal for a job that the employer should have expected would expose others to harm.
For example, a nursing home would likely be held liable for hiring an employee who was previously convicted of fraud and identity theft, if the employee then steals the identity of patients. In this case, it would not be difficult to argue that the nursing home should have known that it was likely the employee would act in this way. Similarly, if the nursing home hires an employee who is charged with identity theft after being hired, the nursing home may be held liable for negligent retention if the employee steals patients' identities, because there was a significant likelihood that he would do so.
Hosting parties is very popular during the winter holiday season. Many people, however, do not need a holiday to get together and share a few drinks. When these social gatherings occur in a person's home, the host often provides both food and drinks. If you are hosting such a party, you may be wondering what your civil liability is for the actions of a drunk guest, whether it occurs during or after the party.
For example, imagine that you have a large party at your home . You invite a large number of people, including relatives, friends and neighbors, with almost everyone attending. It will not take very long for your home to be full of people who barely know each other. In these situations, it is not uncommon for alcohol to be consumed in greater quantities as a social lubricant. Luckily, you purchased enough alcohol for everyone to have a great time. Unfortunately, with the party being so large, you do not have enough time to spend with each of your guests. In fact, you are unable to check each guest's level of intoxication before they leave and, in some cases, you do not even realize some people left. Then after the party has ended and everyone has left, you receive a telephone call that one of your party guests was intoxicated and involved in a car accident on their way home.
In New York, a social host cannot be held liable if a party guest injures someone else or causes property damage. While you may not necessarily be liable in a civil suit, that does not mean that you can serve alcohol without consequence. In New York, you may still be liable in some cases if you knowingly served alcohol to a party guest that is already intoxicated. Similarly, you may face criminal charges for providing alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated or to a minor if the minor has a sufficient blood alcohol concentration. In fact, the minor does not even need to cause any damage or injure anyone for a social host to face criminal charges, because it is illegal in New York to provide alcohol to minors.
For example, several months ago two Long Island parents were arrested after they allowed teens to drink in their basement. A 16-year-old girl left the party on foot, clearly intoxicated and was struck by a car as she tried to cross a parkway. She was killed. Even though the homeowners did not provide the alcohol, they still face criminal charges for allowing the teens to drink in their home.
For those looking to host parties, but avoid any chance of being held liable, there are a few steps you can take:
• Never allow minors to be served alcohol
• Encourage guests to drink responsibly or use designated drivers
• Hire a professional bartender to serve drinks and refuse alcohol to those too intoxicated
• Provide transportation or lodging to guests that are unable to drive home
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 100,000 crashes reported to police are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. These crashes result in an estimated 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. While people may have different definitions of drowsy driving, most experts agree that drowsy driving is simply driving in a physical state in which the driver's alertness is appreciably lower than it would be if the driver were well rested and full awake.
Driving while tired is very dangerous, because a driver who falls asleep may crash head-on into another vehicle, a tree, or a wall, at full driving speed, without making any attempt to avoid the crash by steering or braking. The inability of a sleeping driver to try to avoid crashing makes this type of crash especially severe. In fact, drowsy drivers sometimes drive so poorly that they might appear to be drunk. Some studies have found people's cognitive abilities to be as impaired after twenty-four hours without sleep as with a blood alcohol content of .10%, which is higher than the legal limit for driving while intoxicated conviction in all U.S. states. In a survey of police officers, nearly 90% of responding officers had at least once pulled over a driver who they expected to find intoxicated, but turned out to be sober but drowsy.
Some warning signs you may experience that signify drowsiness while driving include:
• The inability to recall the last few miles traveled
• Having disconnected or wandering thoughts
• Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
• Feeling as though your head is very heavy
• Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips
• Yawning repeatedly
• Accidentally tailgating other vehicles
• Missing traffic signs
Certain groups of people are more at risk for drowsy driving than others, simply due to their lifestyle.
• Young People: Sleep-related crashes are most common in young people, especially those who tend to stay up late, sleep too little and drive at night. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that young drivers are more than four times more likely to have sleep-related crashes than are drivers over age 30.
• Shift Workers and People with Long Hours: Shift workers and people who work long hours are at high risk of being involved in a sleep-related crash. The human body never fully adjusts to shift work, because the body's sleep and wake cycles are dictated by light and dark cycles.
• People with Sleep Disorders: Approximately 40 million people are believed to suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. Many sleep disorders cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which raises the risk of sleep-related crashes.
In order to avoid drowsy driving, drivers should get a good night's sleep, plan to take long trips with a companion, take regular breaks, avoid alcohol and medications and consult a physician if you frequently experience daytime sleepiness. By taking these steps, drivers can significantly reduce the chances of falling asleep at the wheel.
Sustaining an injury, whether it is a slip and fall or a car accident or something else entirely, can be a scary and confusing time. For many people, sustaining a serious injury is among the lowest points in their lives. It can be particularly confusing when someone else is at fault for your injury. While no one wants to think about bringing a lawsuit immediately after an injury occurs, it is in your best interest to prepare as though a lawsuit will occur.
First, you need to make sure that your medical needs are taken care of. It will not do you any good to start any of the other steps if you have not ensured that your medical needs are met. In fact, it may hurt your lawsuit if you neglect your medical needs, as the defendant could argue that your injuries were increased by a failure to seek immediate medical attention.
It is important to retain any physical evidence related to your injury. Preserving any physical evidence of the incident can help to prove your claim in court. You should, when possible, gather the evidence as soon as you can, because accident scenes can change or be altered. For example, make sure you keep any torn clothing, broken equipment and important documents, and try to keep them in the same condition.
Photographs of car accident scenes or the area where someone fell can provide a lot of information for your attorney. Taking photos is very easy, as well, because so many people have smartphones with cameras. You should generally try to take photos of the scene from multiple angles. Remember, it is better to have too many photos rather than wishing you had taken more.
A witness can be very helpful in proving your claims. Once an incident occurs, if you are not too injured, try to obtain the name and contact information for anyone that may have seen what happened. Remember that people may move, ignore phone calls or simply forget, so you should always try to find as many witnesses as possible to ensure that you have someone able to confirm your story.
If you are involved in a car accident, or any other incident where law enforcement was summoned, like an assault, then a police report will be created. You are entitled to receive a copy of the officer's police report. Generally, you just need to contact the police department to request your copy, although sometimes it may take a few days and you may be required to pay a small fee.
The police report can provide significant evidence to help bolster your case. For example, in a car accident, the report will often provide a description and diagram of the accident, along with the officer's conclusion regarding fault. Some police reports even contain the names of witnesses. In short, a police report provides information that is valuable throughout the case, from determining whether to sue to settlement negotiations to trial.
Finally, you should try to write down as much as you are able, particularly right after the incident. Be as descriptive as you can, and include what you noticed about the scene before the incident. Make sure that you take notes regarding exactly what happened, including both before and after the incident occurred. And don't forget to include your emotional state as well, as that can be important. Also, documenting your injuries, and especially any difficulties with everyday life can help to establish how your injuries have affected you.
For a long time, the New York Police Department has published crime statistics for the City of New York. The statistics were divided by type of crime, such as murder, rape, robbery, or burglary, and grouped into charts showing the frequency of crime within the entire City of New York, or within each borough or precinct. Information from past years, up to eighteen years ago, was also available for comparison. This information has been available for viewing online by the public anytime.
Now, due to a new city law, the NYPD must publish motor vehicle statistics in a similar manner. The information, although required to be submitted four months ago, was finally published on the website last Tuesday night here. There is an entry for each occasion the police responded to a motor vehicle accident. There is a collective citywide chart and there are separate charts categorizing the statistics by borough. The borough charts are further divided by precinct and then by intersection. There is a searchable map to ascertain which precinct you are inquiring about, but running a text search (control + F on a PC) may be a more efficient way of gathering information. Within the borough charts, each intersection's entry specifies the number of accidents, number of persons involved, number of accidents with injuries, type of vehicles involved, contributing factors, and whether those who were injured or killed were motorists, passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
Citywide, there were 16,784 motor vehicle accidents during the month of August, and 3,437 injuries or fatalities. Brooklyn was the borough with the most injury or fatality involved motor vehicle accidents in August, followed by Queens, then Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island. Brooklyn had a total of 1,569 injury or fatality involved motor vehicle accidents in August while Staten Island had only 278. Brooklyn and Queens were tied for the greatest number of fatalities (5), while Manhattan was in the middle (3), and Bronx and Staten Island were tied for the least number of fatalities (1). A number of intersections had more than 10 accidents in August. Here is the breakdown by borough:
- In Manhattan, there were 10 or more accidents at 7 intersections: Bowery and Canal Street (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), Canal Street and Lafayette Street (13 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), Delancey Street and Essex Street (13 accidents, 2 accidents with injuries), Delancey Street and Norfolk Street (10 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries), 3rd Avenue and East 37th Street (11 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), 3rd Avenue and East 57th Street (11 accidents, 2 accidents with injuries), Amsterdam Avenue and West 125th Street (13 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries).
- In Bronx, there were 10 or more accidents at 1 intersection: Bruckner Boulevard and East 138th Street (12 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries).
- In Brooklyn, there were 10 or more accidents at 2 intersections: Flatbush Avenue and Grand Army Plaza (14 accidents, 3 accidents with injuries), Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries).
- In Queens, there were 10 or more accidents at 2 intersections: College Point Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway (12 accidents, 0 accidents with injuries), 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries).
- In Staten Island, there were 10 or more accidents at 0 intersections.
Proponents of the publication of these statistics say it creates transparency which enables concerned citizens to make a case to the city for changes to a particular intersection. Previously, citizens were relegated to utilizing anecdotal evidence to make their case. But these data are not what the city relies upon to change its streets. It is the Department of Transportation's analysis of police reports, including the number of accidents and their severity, which historically contributed to change.
As discussed in the Wall Street Journal, "The first batch of data covers only August. And it doesn't include information about traffic volume, so it's impossible to know whether a high number of accidents in any one month or near any one corner is due to a poorly designed street or an uptick in the number of cars passing through". Another concern that comes to mind is that police do not always list injuries when there were injuries. Of course, these statistics do not account for the many accidents and injuries for which no one notifies the police.
Notably, the majority of motor vehicle accidents, in every borough of the city, was cited by the police to be caused by driver inattention/distraction. The next most frequently cited contributing factor was following too closely, then failure to yield right-of-way, backing unsafely, improper passing/lane usage, and unsafe lane change. The possible contributing factors in injury and fatal accidents, other than driver inattention/distraction, are as follows: aggressive driving/road rage, alcohol involvement, backing unsafely, cell phone (hand-held), cell phone (hands free), driver inexperience, drugs (illegal), err/confusn ped/bike/other ped, failure to keep right, failure to yield right-of-way, fatigued/drowsy, fell asleep, following too closely, illness, lost consciousness, other electronic device, other uninvolved vehicle, outside car distraction, passing or lane usage improper, physical disability, prescription medication, traffic control disregarded, turning improperly, unsafe lane changing, and unsafe speed.
By Kathleen Beatty
Imagine this horrible scenario:
You are operating your own car in New York and are hit by a car that runs a red light or disregards a stop sign. You have severe permanent injuries including a fracture to your leg which requires surgical intervention. The car that hits you carries, the New York minimum, $25,000 in liability coverage. Your injuries are so severe that you miss work and will never be able to use your leg the same again. You look at your own auto policy and realize that you had been smart and purchased an insurance policy that would precisely fix this miscarriage of justice. You have paid your insurance company, GEICO, additional premium year after year in order to carry liability and Underinsurance Coverage of $100,000.00. You retain counsel who goes and fights for the tortfeasor's insurance to pay you. They do after protracted litigation. The next step, you assume, getting GEICO, the company you have paid premiums to for years for this added protection, will be resolved quickly and they will compensate you with a payment of the full $75,000.00. It would be $75,000.00 because, under the present law of New York you get to recover the difference between your Underinsurance coverage and the tortfeasor's liability policy hence $100,000- 25,000.00= $75,000.00.
Yet, GEICO, decides that even though they have no legal defense to your claim, and even though your injuries are both serious and permanent; that you don't deserve the additional $75,000.00. Why??? JUST BECAUSE WE, AT GEICO, LIKE TO COLLECT YOUR PREMIUM'S AND NOT PAY YOU EVEN THOUGH WE ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO DO SO.
Sadly, this happens every day for many people of New York. People who are driving around believing that they have purchased insurance, that when needed, will be there for them. Whether it's Allstate, State Farm, or other's; New York Law has no "bad faith" which would hold your own insurance companies liable for such terrible business practices.
They can simply refuse to pay, require you to file for arbitration or to litigate the matter taking years and just hope that the fact finder will determine you should get less. Even if the arbitrator/mediator determines you get more, you are still limited to the limits of your insurance with no penalty to the carrier that has collected and held your money and refused to compensate you for years and years.
At Leav & Steinberg, LLP, we have fought for our clients and have successfully arbitrated and litigated many cases against insurance companies in order to ensure that our clients' receive a full and complete recovery, even if it means fighting for every last dollar that they are legally entitled to.
Whether you typically abide by pedestrian signs or not, soon it may be harder to do so in all areas of New York City.
What do you do when the pedestrian light is green and red at the same time? At this point in time, NYC pedestrian signals are nearing the end of their expected seven-year lifespan and are giving mixed signals or no signal at an increasing rate. Replacing the approximate 100,000 signs in New York City that are anticipated to soon be defunct is an extensive, daunting, and expensive task for the city.
While the city is responsible for maintaining pedestrian lights and may be liable for injuries that occur due to malfunctioning lights that simultaneously tell a pedestrian to both "walk" and "don't walk", pedestrians are not completely off the hook from looking for dangers in an intersection. In fact, even when the light is functioning properly, a pedestrian could be found partially or wholly liable for personal injuries that occur when he or she is struck by a vehicle in the road. Regardless of the status of the light, pedestrians must look where they are going and avoid entering the road in front of a vehicle which is so close as to present a danger. Yet, drivers are bound to exercise due care to avoid striking pedestrians. Thus, who is at fault for an accident is heavily dependent on the facts of each case.
Children and the elderly are at an increased risk for confusion and personal injury as a result of the inability to rely on a proper, functioning, signal. Those who frequent the same intersections should keep in mind that a light could malfunction at any point in time, rendering a seemingly safe and familiar intersection suddenly much more dangerous to them. If you notice a malfunctioning light, contact the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) by telephoning 311 as soon as possible. Remember that the signal may not be repaired immediately, and be sure to maintain your guard every time you cross the street.
Leav & Steinberg, LLP recently represented a woman, age 45, who was crossing at an intersection in Manhattan when an off duty traffic cop turned left and struck her. She was treated for knee and shoulder injuries with arthroscopic surgeries and underwent treatment for a back injury that the defendant argued was not caused by the claimed accident. The defendant's doctor had stated that the Plaintiff made a full and complete recovery from her injuries and was not disabled. The Plaintiff had not returned to work and claimed that it was difficult for her to continue working and commuting. Before trial, she recovered a settlement of $1,225,000.