Liability for Dog Bite Injuries in New York

It seems that every neighborhood has one: The dog that barks and growls at everyone who passes by; the yard that you cross the street to avoid, in case the dog is out; the neighborhood pet that you warn your children to steer clear of. If that pet does bite or attack someone, can the owner be held responsible? New York law allows injured persons to sue a pet owner under certain circumstances.

Strict Liability

When a dog has previously been declared “dangerous,” the owner is automatically responsible for any medical or veterinary expenses if the pet attacks and injures a person or another pet. The injury may come from a bite but may also occur if the dog knocks someone down or if a person is injured while running away from the dog. The dog may not be considered dangerous if it was provoked or injured a person or animal while protecting the life or property of its owner.

Animal control regulations vary by locality. In some counties, certain breeds of dog are banned. In others, some breeds are automatically considered “dangerous” for purposes of strict liability, even without any previous history of aggressive behavior. On the other hand, in some counties, a dog must have injured or killed a person or domestic animal and/or have been reported to exhibit aggressive behavior.

The strict liability statute covers medical and veterinary expenses only. In order to recover for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages, the injured person must sue the dog owner.

Negligence

Unlike most personal injury actions, proof of negligence is not required in order to recover damages from the owner of a dog that bites or injures a person. The injured person must prove that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous or had vicious propensities. This can be established by proving that the dog had previously attacked a person or domestic animal, causing death or serious injury, or that the dog was known to exhibit violent behavior such as growling, snapping, and baring its teeth. Previous vicious behavior cannot be established if the dog was being threatened, harassed, attacked, or was protecting a person or property.

Insurance

Many homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damages caused by pets. Some may not cover certain breeds, such as pit bulls or rottweilers, however.

New York Dog Bite Attorneys

If you or a family member has been bitten or injured by a dog, call The Law Firm of O’Brien and Ford at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation. You may also visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/.

 

Fall Safe Driving Tips

Summer is officially over, kids are back in school, and pumpkin spice is turning up everywhere. Each season brings its own driving hazards, and Fall is no exception. Read on for some safe driving tips to help keep you and your family safe this season.

Back to School Safety

 Now that school is back in session, drivers should be on the lookout for school buses in neighborhoods and on city streets. Remember to always stop for a school bus when its flashing lights are on and/or when the “STOP” sign is deployed. New York Law requires all traffic to stop, even on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Drivers should also be aware that school buses may be carrying children after school, in the evenings, and on weekends, to sports events and other extracurricular activities. School bus laws apply at all times, not just during regular school hours.

Drivers should also be aware that newly licensed teenagers may be driving to and from school. New drivers tend to be nervous and often overreact to perceived hazards. When driving through neighborhoods or near high schools, be aware that some inexperienced drivers may be on the roads, and exercise caution.

 

Halloween Safety

 Halloween has become extended from one night, to a whole season of parties, haunted houses, and other activities.  As in any situation where alcohol is being served, partygoers who do not have a designated driver in their group should take advantage of ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft. A DUI conviction will be enormously expensive, and in many cases, may cost an unlucky person their job.

On Halloween itself, drivers should be extra cautious, especially in residential neighborhoods where children are likely to be trick-or-treating. Be aware that children may be wearing costumes that restrict their vision, hearing, and/or movement. There are circumstances in which obeying the posted speed limit does not satisfy a driver’s duty of care – Halloween may be one of those circumstances. During trick-or-treat hours, it may be necessary to travel well below the posted speed limit.

Even after trick-or-treating hours, extra caution is important on Halloween. Drivers should be aware of the possible presence of pranksters who may throw things at cars, run into streets, or attempt to “scare” passers-by.

 

Time Changes

 Fall also means fewer daylight hours, especially when Daylight Savings Time ends. Drivers who have problems driving at night and inexperienced drivers should be aware of this and adjust their travel times accordingly.

 

New York Auto Accident Attorneys

 The attorneys and staff at O’Brien and Ford wish your family a safe and happy back-to-school and Halloween season. If you do find yourself in an accident, as a driver, pedestrian, or passenger, call us at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation with an auto accident expert. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/ for more information.

 

Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents

In any accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is far more likely to be injured than the driver or passengers in the vehicle. As a driver, knowing that you struck and injured a pedestrian can be devastating, even if the accident was not your fault. As a pedestrian, one lapse in concentration could lead to significant or permanent injury. Both drivers and pedestrians can reduce the chance of accidents by following some safety tips.

For Drivers:

New York Law requires all vehicles to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Although pedestrians are required to observe traffic signals when crossing a street, they may not do so. Extra caution should be taken whenever approaching a crosswalk, even when no pedestrian is immediately visible.

Vehicles on both sides of any road, even a divided highway, must stop when a school bus has its flashing lights on and STOP sign deployed. Even after the bus turns its lights off and begins moving, drivers should be aware that children may be darting out into the road. Whenever a school bus is nearby, assume that children may make unexpected and sudden movements.

Drivers should also be aware of the presence of children and animals in residential neighborhoods. The 25-mph speed limit may even be too fast in some circumstances, especially when parked cars line both sides of the street in icy or wet weather and after school buses have dropped off children.

For Pedestrians:

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in designated crosswalks but are required to observe traffic signals. If there is a “walk” sign, wait until it is lit to cross. If there is no “walk” signal, wait until there is ample time for you to cross the road before proceeding.

Do not assume that traffic will stop for you, even in a crosswalk. Always be on the lookout for vehicles.

Do not use your phone for texting or web browsing while walking.

Even if you have the right-of-way, do not cross in front of oncoming traffic. Drivers may be distracted and not see you; it is more important to be safe than to be right.

What to Do After an Accident

For drivers:

If you strike a pedestrian, DO NOT leave the scene, even if the person appears uninjured. If the person leaves the scene, try to get their name and contact information before they leave. Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses if the person leaves the scene.

For Pedestrians:

If you are struck by a vehicle, even if you believe you are not injured, get the contact information of the driver.

If the driver leaves the scene, get the car’s license number if possible. If not, note as many details about the vehicle as you can.

Get checked out by a doctor, even if you do not immediately feel hurt. Some injuries do not show symptoms right away.

For everyone:

Whenever you are involved in an accident, the accidents experts at O’Brien and Ford are available 24/7. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/ for more information.

 

School Bus Safety

Labor Day is just around the corner, so students are going back to school. That means more school buses on the roads, children walking to and from school, and teenagers driving to school. During this time, drivers should be extra cautious and on the lookout for children entering and exiting school buses as well as inexperienced teen drivers.

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, most injuries and deaths involving school buses occur not from collisions, but rather when children are crossing the street to get on a bus or while exiting a bus. All drivers should be aware of state laws pertaining to school buses, including:

When to stop for a school bus: Flashing yellow lights warn drivers when the bus is preparing to stop. Once stopped, flashing red lights and signs on the left side of the bus will alert drivers to stop. Even if there is no sign, drivers are required to stop whenever a school bus is displaying flashing red lights.  Drivers may not pass the bus until the flashing lights are turned off or if the driver of the bus or a traffic officer indicates that it is safe to proceed.

Who must stop: New York State law requires drivers on both sides of the street to stop for a school bus. This law applies to all streets and roadways, even divided highways.

What is considered a school bus: Most school buses are painted bright yellow and are clearly marked with the words, “School Bus.” However, the law applies to any vehicle that is being used as a school bus, even if it is not painted yellow, including vans, city buses, and church buses, if “school bus” is clearly printed and visible.

Even after being given permission to proceed, drivers should exercise great care when passing a school bus. Although the bus driver is required to wait until all children have crossed the street before allowing traffic to proceed, children can be unpredictable. A child may have forgotten something on the bus and walk or run back across the street to retrieve it. He may run back over to talk to a friend. He could bend down to tie his shoe, causing him to not pay attention to his surroundings.

Although collisions with school buses are not common, they can occur when other drivers are not observant. School bus drivers, for example, are required to stop at railroad crossings, even if the life gate is up and the warning lights are not flashing. School buses, like other large vehicles, require more braking time, especially on wet or icy roads.

Finally, drivers should be mindful of the posted speed limits in school zones and in residential neighborhoods, especially during the hours when children are leaving for or returning from school.

Call a New York Accident Attorney

If your child is injured while riding a school bus or when entering or exiting a school bus, the attorneys at O’Brien and Ford can help. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/, or call 716-907-7777 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Accident Claim?

car crash hit and runIf you are injured in an accident, whether at work, on the highway, in a public place, or even on private property, it can sometimes be easy to determine your damages. If you broke your leg, suffered a concussion, or sustained cuts and/or bruises, for example, it is easy to evaluate the medical expenses, time lost from work, and the pain you experienced during your recovery. Not all victims, however, are in perfect health before an accident. You might still be recovering from a previous accident or injury. You might have a chronic condition that causes intermittent or constant pain. You may even have a condition that makes you more susceptible to certain injuries.

Eggshell Doctrine

It is well established in personal injury law that the prior condition cannot be used against an injured person, even if their condition makes them more susceptible to injury than the average person. For example, a person who has had prior back injuries, surgery, or other procedures may suffer aggravation from those injuries or sustain new injuries in a crash that may have caused little to no damage to someone who didn’t have a pre-existing condition.  Nevertheless, the person responsible for an accident is responsible for all injuries in such a situation.

 

Proving Damages

To make a successful claim for damages when an injured person has pre-existing conditions, it will be necessary to determine with as much accuracy as possible the person’s condition both before and after the new injury. This will involve obtaining detailed medical records, the person’s work history, and in many cases, testimony from the injured person, their family members or caretakers, and medical professionals.

 

Proving out of pocket expenses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, may be fairly straightforward. If the person was seeing his doctor, chiropractor, or receiving other medical treatment once a month prior to the new injury and then more often after the new injury, the amount of increased medical expenses can be calculated with accuracy. If he was back at work following a job injury but had to miss work following the new accident, lost wages are easy to determine. Determining damages for pain and suffering is more difficult when an injured person has a prior injury or a pre-existing condition. It will be necessary to determine what the person’s level of activity and level of pain was both before and after the new accident or injury.

 

New York Accident Attorneys

Insurance companies are in business to make money, and that means limiting the amounts they pay out in claims.  Insurance adjusters will try to use your pre-existing conditions against you. It is vital to call an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible so the evidence needed to establish the damages you incurred from the new accident or injury can be gathered and preserved. The accident experts at O’Brien and Ford are always available for free consultations. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com to learn more.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in New York

Minimum Insurance Requirements

Car Insurance MinimumsAll drivers and vehicle owners in New York are required to carry insurance. Failing to do so may result in fines and the suspension of one’s driver’s license. The minimum insurance required is:

  • Property damage: $10,000 per accident.
  • Bodily Injury: $25,000 for injury to one person; $50,000 for injury to two or more people
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 for injury to one person; $50,000 for injury to two or more people.
  • Death Benefits: $50,000 per person, or $100,000 per accident.

Under New York’s no-fault law, if you are involved in a minor accident, your insurance will cover your property damage and injuries up to the limits stated above. If you suffer serious or permanent injuries in an accident in which another driver was negligent, you may sue the other driver for your damages above the no-fault limits. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore the law and either let their insurance policies lapse or fail to carry insurance at all. Others carry only the minimum required coverage. What happens when the other driver has no insurance?

An Uninsured Accident Scenario

Suppose, for example, you are in an accident with a drunk driver and you suffer broken bones and other injuries. Broken bones are automatically considered serious injuries, which means the no-fault limits do not apply. You may sue a drunk driver for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, if the driver only carried the required minimum insurance or had no insurance at all, you only have two choices: try to obtain a judgment against the driver and collect directly from him/her or make a claim against your own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.

The likelihood of being able to collect damages from an uninsured driver is pretty small, so it is probable that you will have to make a claim under your uninsured motorist policy. In this scenario, it is easy to see how your damages can exceed the required minimum uninsured motorist amounts. The medical expenses alone from even one broken bone can exceed $25,000. If your entire family is injured, the $50,000 per accident minimum will be completely inadequate.

Protect Yourself

Don’t wait until an accident happens to find out if you are adequately covered. Make sure you have enough uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family in case you are in an accident with a driver who carries only the legal minimum coverage or no insurance at all. Talk to your insurance agent about your options. As soon as possible after an accident, talk to a New York accident attorney who can help determine all possible sources of payment. The experts at O’Brien and Ford will help you receive full compensation for your injuries, including your medical expenses and pain and suffering. Call us for a free consultation at (716) 907-7777

Moving Forward Following A Work-Related Injury

Personal Injury Text with StethoscopeWork-related injuries can commonly occur in dangerous occupations such as construction jobs. However, there are many ways an employee can also be injured in non-dangerous occupations. All employers are required to maintain their workplace up to safety standards set forth by their state guidelines and will be liable to you under certain circumstances when your injuries are a direct result of workplace negligence. 

When you are injured, not only will you feel physical and emotional pain, but it may also take a toll on you financially. Medical costs are oftentimes very expensive. Depending on your injury, you might not be able to go to work to pay for those hospital bills. Therefore, it is important that you receive accurate advice and guidance on how to pursue your workers’ compensation claim to make sure that you are able to recover financially for your injuries. 

Why You Should Retain An Attorney 

In New York, you are not required to retain an attorney for a workers’ compensation claim, but it is well-advised to do so. Attorneys experienced in the field of workers’ compensation will be able to explain exactly what you need to do, as well as facilitate the process. Even if you’re not sure that you want to file suit, attorneys usually give free initial consultations without any obligations. They will also not charge you until you receive compensation. Therefore, you have nothing to lose for simply inquiring about a potential claim. 

While you are protected by New York’s workers’ rights, most lawsuits take a lot of time and it can be difficult to handle this process without the expertise of an attorney that has handled these cases before. In the past, people that are inexperienced or unfamiliar with the legal system that have tried to sue without legal representation have received less compensation than they could have received with a lawyer on their side. While it is ultimately your choice whether you want to retain an attorney, your chances of receiving full compensation without much hardship on your part will be increased when you hire an attorney. 

The Process 

In New York, the first thing you should do following an injury is to obtain medical care. As soon as you can afterward, you should notify your employer in writing, within 30 days of the accident or else you may lose your chance of recovering compensation. There will then be forms that will need to be filled out. A New York attorney will know exactly which forms you’ll need, where to send them to, and who to contact when you need personal injury compensation. 

After your claim is filed, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery, as well as possibly attend court hearings that you are required to go to. You will also need to go back to work once you are capable to mitigate future expenses. Lastly, you are also able to sue for workers’ compensation on behalf of a close family member if he or she is unable to do so. 

Contact Us 

At O’Brien and Ford, we have years of experience in the legal system and continue to stay updated on any New York law developments. We strive to help injured people receive compensation that they deserve while making the process as easy as possible for our clients. An injury can be tolling on your day-to-day life, but the lawsuit doesn’t have to be. Call us today: (716) 330-2901. 

What To Do Following The Wrongful Death Of A Loved Family Member 

Wrongful death form and stethoscope on a table.When a close family member passes away due to the fault of someone else, you may be able to earn monetary compensation for your costs and reliance on the decedent. Understandably, no amount of money will ever be able to make up for the loss of your loved one, but money can still help you along the way to your recovery. You may be faced with medical bills, funeral costs, and loss of income following such a death, but with the help of legal professionals, you’ll be able to get through this difficult time.

How You Can Sue and How Damages are Distributed

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit to be economically reimbursed for expenses following the death of a close family member. This type of lawsuit can arise following a death caused by medical malpractice, vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents on the premises of another, or any other reason a death was caused by another person. Even if the person that at-fault was criminally charged for his or her wrongdoing, you can still file this civil suit for your loss.

In New York, the personal representative of the decedent can file suit. Presuming a successful outcome, the personal representative will then be able to distribute the money earned through the claim to the people who have suffered a pecuniary loss by that death. People who receive this money are typically the children, spouse, and/or parents of the decedent.

If you have suffered a pecuniary loss due to the death of a close family member, you could recover financially for the reliance the decedent gave to you, the value of the support and services rendered, loss of nurture and guidance, pain and suffering, loss of inheritance, and potentially punitive damages under aggravating circumstances. Additionally, you may be able to receive medical, funeral, and burial expenses arising from the decedent’s death.

Statute Of Limitations

Statutes of limitations in each state determine how long you have to file suit. You will not be able to file suit once the statute of limitations has run on your claim, so it is vital for you to know how long you have and make sure you file within the time limit. In New York, you have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim. There are certainly exceptions, such as when there was also a criminal proceeding against the defendant or if a minor is involved, but nevertheless, you should always contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is timely filed.

Contacting An Attorney

When you’re not sure what to do, you should always contact an attorney to further advise you of the specific wrongful death statutes in your state and help guide you with what you should do. When you’re looking for a compassionate attorney that cares about the people they work with, you don’t need to look any further than the team of attorneys at O’Brien and Ford in New York. Contact us today so we can help you and your family receive fair compensation to get you back on your feet. Call us at: (716) 330-2901

Why Road Rage Can Lead To Car Accidents

Angry yelling out car windowIt’s easy to get frustrated when others drive too close to your car, cut you off, or don’t follow the rules of the roads. However, acting out on your emotions can lead to road rage that causes serious car accidents and violations with law enforcement.

People that drive aggressively are not only dangers to themselves but also others on the road and the repercussions can be severe.

What Is Road Rage?

In the highly-populated and busy state of New York, it is common for the roads to have a lot of traffic. In fact, the Big Apple is well known for bumper-to-bumper traffic in its crowded cities.

This can easily cause aggravation when you’re trying to be on time to an appointment or simply want to arrive after a long day of work. Any driver is susceptible to road rage from minor to serious cases such as:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Honking
  • Flashing headlights
  • Yelling
  • Giving rude gestures to other drivers
  • Walking out of your car and to another driver’s car
  • Using weapons such as firearms or your own vehicle to injure another driver

Road Rage Consequences

Injuries, property damage, and death are not the only consequences of road rage. Aggressive driving is against the law and whenever you get behind the wheel, you’re expected to follow the law. Disregarding the law can bring about fines, imprisonment, tickets, loss or suspension of your license, and other court and attorney costs. No matter how much another driver angers you while driving, the consequences of reacting hostilely are never worth it.

New York officers are consistently on the lookout to pull over reckless drivers. To obtain a New York license, you even have to pass an examination that includes questions on road rage to prove you are aware of the dangers in addition to the legal and financial consequences that you can face if you fail to drive responsibly. Road rage awareness is a mandatory prerequisite in order to obtain a New York license as this ensures that drivers understand why road rage is never okay and what the ramifications can be.

How To Prevent Road Rage

It may be difficult to impossible to avoid road rage from other drivers around you. However, you can always control your own emotions and take the steps necessary to avoid unfortunate accidents caused by road rage. To reduce your chances of being in a car accident:

  • Always remain calm and reasonable
  • Respect others on the road and follow the law
  • Play soothing music or intriguing podcasts or audiobooks
  • Mouth you’re sorry and wave if you make a mistake
  • If you start feeling upset, take a deep breath to calm yourself down
  • If you’re too emotional, pull over to a safe location and wait until you calm down
  • Contact the police if you see another person driving aggressively
  • Expect and plan ahead for the possibility of traffic and reckless drivers

Contact Us

Please always remember to drive responsibly. If you are the victim of a car accident, you deserve to receive compensation and need a skilled attorney on your side. Our attorneys have years of experience and offer free initial consultations to review personal injury cases. Call us today: 716-330-2901.

Common Snow-Related Personal Injury Claims

Sledding in the snowWinter is many people’s favorite season: colder weather, the holidays, family visits, delicious meals. . . However, winter certainly has its downsides, especially for the northern states that have snowfall each year.

While snow can certainly be fun and beautiful to look at, there have been many personal injuries that could have been avoided completely if it weren’t for snow.

Car Accidents

Driving in the snow is much more difficult and dangerous than driving on a clear road. Snow and ice cause cars to slip and collide with each other. Pile-ups are more common over the winter more than other seasons because it is much harder to break in the snow. Snowfall can also often decrease visibility which is never a good thing while driving.

If you have to drive in the snow, make sure you have snow tires and that your car is well-maintained. Make sure you know the dangers, what to avoid, and exactly how to control your vehicle in the snow in case it slides.

Slip and Falls

Snow and ice are always very slippery. If you don’t have the right snowshoes, it is very likely that you can glide on the snow and then fall. Eventually, the snow will melt and form ice, then it can be covered again with more snow. You may think it is safe to walk on, but it is actually not. Business owners are required to maintain their premises and keep ice off their pathways. As people get older, a fall on gravel or the pavement can cause serious bone injuries.

Make sure you always have the proper snow footwear, walk slowly, and hold on to railings when they’re available to avoid accidents.

Winter Sports

Sports that require snow include sledding, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, etc. Although they are very fun, they can also be very dangerous and cause severe injuries. Before going out to partake in a winter sport, make sure you know what you’re doing. Avoiding obstacles such as trees or other people can be difficult due to a lack of experience.

Avoid injuries by wearing the safety gear required and having trained people around you that know what to do in case of an emergency.

Fireplace Fires

Wintertime is often the only time of the year that people use their fireplaces. Fires can be dangerous because they can quickly spread if you’re not careful. Not only can fires cause indoor home damage, but it can also injure people inside with burns and breathing issues.

To avoid injury, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and well-maintained. Also, make sure you keep your fire under control by keeping fires small and have a nonflammable guard panel around them. If you have young children, make sure you warn them of the dangers as well so that they do not play near it.

Contact Us

If you are involved in a snow-related accident, you might be able to be compensated when someone else was at fault. No matter the season, O’Brien and Ford will be available for advice, guidance, and to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at: (716) 330-2901.