Compensation for Uber or Lyft Accidents

Uber car ride

One of the most profound changes to the American economy in the twenty-first century is the evolution of the gig economy. More and more workers are leaving traditional jobs and working for themselves, a trend that will probably increase even more in the wake of COVID-19. One of the largest sectors in the new economy is ridesharing, where independent drivers using their own vehicles are supplementing and even replacing traditional taxicabs.  Ridesharing is a convenient and affordable way to travel, especially in areas which have unreliable taxi service.

However, what happens in the event of an accident involving a rideshare vehicle? Unlike taxis, rideshare vehicles are not owned by the companies, such as Uber and Lyft, that provide the service. Each driver is an independent contractor. Both most prominent rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, are very careful to characterize their drivers as independent contractors, to avoid potential liability for the drivers’ actions.

Driver Liability

Since Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles, their automobile insurance policies should cover any accidents that they cause while carrying passengers. The rideshare companies, in fact, require their drivers to carry insurance and some insurers require a separate insurance policy for drivers who use their vehicles professionally. In any case, if an uber or Lyft driver is responsible for an accident, he or she is responsible for that accident just as if it had happened while using the vehicle for personal errands.

Legislation has recently been introduced in California that would change the relationship between Uber and Lyft and their drivers, making it more of an employer/employee relationship. If this legislation passes, that could mean increased liability for the companies in case of an accident. Both companies have threatened to cease operations in California if the legislation goes into effect.

If an accident is caused by the driver of another vehicle, of course, the driver of that vehicle is responsible for any damages, regardless of whether the injured person was a passenger in a rideshare vehicle.

Rideshare Company Liability

Even though their drivers are considered independent contractors, both Uber and Lyft carry insurance to cover accidents when the driver’s insurance is insufficient. Injured persons may be able to make a claim against that insurance if the driver’s insurer refuses to pay for some reason.

 

Injured persons have also made successful claims against rideshare companies when their own negligence contributes to the injury. Some examples include:

  • Failing to conduct proper background checks on drivers
  • Hiring drivers with a history of criminal behavior, or with bad driving records
  • Failing to ensure that drivers’ vehicles have passed required safety inspections
  • Ignoring customer complaints about drivers

 

If an injured person can prove that the rideshare company knew or should have known that a driver had a criminal history, for example, the company may be found responsible for criminal actions of the driver, such as assaults on passengers and theft of passengers’ belongings.

 

New York Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. At O’Brien & Ford, we dedicate ourselves to helping injured people, and we will discover all possible sources of liability, to make sure you are able to get the compensation you need. Call us at 716-907-7777, or visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/. We offer in-person and virtual appointments, and follow social distancing and all COVID precautions.

Receiving Compensation for RV Accidents and Injuries

Every year, millions of families travel to vacation destinations in recreational vehicles, both owned and rented. While this is generally a safe and comfortable means of travel, RVs come with their own unique risks, sometimes leading to accidents and injuries.

Common Causes of RV Accidents

Inexperienced drivers: For most new owners, their RV is much larger than the car they are used to driving. Even for motor homes that are 45 feet long and up, no special training or licensing is required for operation, so the person behind the wheel may not be used to the increased braking required for a large vehicle or the difficulty in maneuvering in traffic. Visibility may also be limited, especially if a car is being towed behind the RV. RV renters may have even less experience.

Other motorists: As with large trucks, other drivers may not be aware of a large vehicle’s blind spots, reduced maneuverability, or increased braking time. Oftentimes, other drivers follow too closely, change lanes quickly in front of an RV, or follow beside the RV in areas not visible in that vehicle’s mirrors. All of these behaviors can lead to accidents.

Mechanical Failure: RVs are subject to the same mechanical failures as other vehicles. This includes brake, tire, and other potential mechanical failures.

Other causes: Improper loading or overloading can cause RVs to be unstable and can cause tire failure. Propane tanks, if not properly maintained and secured, can cause serious injuries.

Take the Proper Precautions

New owners and renters should always take plenty of time to familiarize themselves with their vehicle before taking it on the road. Ideally, a new owner or renter should drive the vehicle in a safe area for several hours to learn its balance, turning radius, stopping distance, and the locations of controls, such as lights, turn signals, and mirror adjustments.

Plan your route before you get on the road, to avoid distractions.

Check the interior of the RV to make sure all items are safely stowed away. Check propane tanks to make sure they are properly secured and turned off while traveling.

New York RV Accident Attorneys

If you are injured in an RV accident as a passenger, pedestrian, or driver of the vehicle involved in a crash with an RV, talk to an experienced RV accident attorney. The attorneys at O’Brien and Ford focus their attention on representing accident victims. You can arrange a free consultation by calling us at 716-907-7777. Learn more about our firm and our practice here.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

Tips for Driving Safely with Children

Safety should always be first priority when operating an automobile and is even more critical when you are carrying your most precious cargo – your children. Following these safety tips can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to both your children and yourself.

Car Seats and Seatbelts. The most important thing you can do to protect your children is to make sure that they are properly secured. Drivers in New York are required to secure their children in age-appropriate car seats, and your insurance company may also require proper car seats as a condition of coverage. A good car seat, placed in the correct position, is the best way to protect a young child in an accident. Even a minor collision can cause serious injuries to a child who has not been properly restrained. Never drive anywhere, even short distances, without placing your child in a car set, and pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to position the seat for maximum safety.

Children who are old enough to travel without a car seat should still ride in the backseat until they are at least twelve years old or until they are the size and weight of an average twelve-year-old. Front seat airbags can save the life of an adult driver, but the force of an airbag’s deployment can injure a child.

In addition to making sure that your children wear seatbelts at all times, you should also make sure that you and all adult passengers are also safely belted before the car is put in gear. Not only will seatbelts help protect the car’s occupants in case of an accident, but you will instill in your children a good habit that may someday save their lives.

Avoid Distractions. According to the CDC, nine people are killed in the United States every day due to distracted driving. Studies have also shown that adults are more likely to be distracted when they have children in the car. You can help avoid some distractions by giving your children a quiet activity to do while in the car, such as a game or video with headphones, book, or toy to play with. If your child needs something like a tissue, or if he or she drops an object, do not try to retrieve the object while you are driving. Taking your attention off the road even for a short time is dangerous. Stop the car if you need to attend to your child.

Secure Objects. Children riding in the back seat can be injured by unsecured objects in the event of an accident or a sudden stop. Place heavy items in the trunk or use a cargo net or other device to help keep your groceries from becoming dangerous projectiles.

Never Leave Children Alone. Young children should not be left in a vehicle alone, even for a short period of time. In addition to the obvious danger of overheating, other risks include strangers entering the car, children accidentally putting the car in gear, and children getting stuck under the seats.

If you or your child are injured in an automobile accident, call an auto accident expert at O’Brien & Ford right away. Our attorneys are always available for a free consultation by calling 716-907-7777, or you may visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

 

COVID 19 – A License to Speed?

One positive side effect of the COVID 19 lockdown is that fewer cars are on the roads, leading to fewer accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, some drivers have decided to take advantage of the newly emptied roadways as an opportunity to ignore safety regulations, such as speed limits. Travelers all over the country have reported more instances of reckless driving by drivers who seem to believe that they have been given a license to speed. Some localities have recognized the problem and are displaying signs warning drivers that less traffic does not turn every roadway into a raceway. Unfortunately, these warnings are often ignored. It is easy to become complacent when the roads are almost empty. You may feel that it is safe to drive a little faster, check your email, send texts, or engage in other risky behaviors that you would not consider trying in heavier traffic.

Empty roads do not, of course, mean that traffic laws have been suspended. If you are speeding, the lack of traffic will make you easier to spot by traffic enforcement officers and easier to track by radar. Even if you escape detection, high speed driving and distracted driving are still dangerous. Although your chances of hitting another vehicle may be reduced, the chance of serious injuries increases in a high-speed crash. High-speed driving also increases the risk of a single vehicle accident. You will have less time to react to debris in the road, for example. If you have to swerve or brake suddenly you are more likely to lose control of your vehicle if you are exceeding the posted speed limit.

As stay-at-home restrictions begin to ease and people get back into their normal routines, it is possible that a few drivers may keep some of the bad driving habits that they acquired during the lockdown. Avoid the temptation to speed and look out for others who believe an open road is an invitation to reckless behavior.

If you are unfortunate enough to encounter one of these drivers, the attorneys at O’Brien & Ford are here for you. You can call us any time, day or night, at 716-907-7777, and arrange a no-obligation, no-cost consultation. For more information about our firm and our staff, please visit our website here: http://obrienandford.com/.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

COVID-19: Decline in Car Accidents; Increase in Car Problems?

As we deal with COVID-19, we have been staying home to stop the spread and abiding by our states’ regulations. Something that most people may have overlooked or not even considered is the fact that vehicles need to be run from time to time, otherwise risking long-term problems. Although there are inevitably fewer car accidents on the road, there has been an increase in car issues because of the lack of driving.

How to Prevent & Deal with Common Car Problems

  • Dead Battery: If you don’t run your car and simply let it sit out for too long, your battery can drain, die, and possibly even be permanently damaged. To avoid this issue, keep running your car every so often to keep it charged and going.

  • Sun Damage: Interior damage caused by the sun can be prevented if you park your vehicle inside an indoor garage or covered shelter. If you don’t have access to one, you can use a sun shield that will cover the front exposure of your vehicle. You can purchase these affordably

  • Brakes: Brakes can stick and stop working when your car sits idle. Making sure that you move your car around and use your brakes will get your brakes working and prevent them from freezing up.

  • Tires: To prevent having to replace your car tires, make sure you check on them from time to time. If you start seeing them deflate, have them aired up. This quick fix will save you the time and money of having to replace them altogether when they could have lasted longer.

  • Gas: Gas can go bad if it sits in a car for too long. To prevent this, make sure that you continue to refill your gas timely, even if you think you might not need to right away. This will help your car’s longevity and during this time, gas prices are lower, so you may also save money in the long run.

  • Critters: If you have already let your vehicle sit for too long, make sure to check for any critters and animals that may have made it their new home. Proper car maintenance is key to making sure your car will run for a long time.

Contact Us

O’Brien & Ford have continued to remain available to our clients for help in their personal injury case. We have made efforts to remain updated with the latest technology to ensure that our clients will receive the best representation possible, even during this time. Contact us today: 716-907-7777.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

Do You Need A Personal Injury Attorney?

Personal Injury Text with StethoscopeAfter an accident or injury, one of the first questions you may ask yourself is whether you need the services of a personal injury attorney. Perhaps you were in a car accident and the other driver was obviously at fault or admitted fault at the scene. Maybe you suffered a minor injury that did not require any treatment. Maybe you tripped and fell in a public place and blamed your own clumsiness. You may think it is unnecessary or overly expensive to seek advice from an attorney or believe that you have no recourse. However, read below to understand how a personal injury attorney may help, even when you don’t believe you need it.

Make Sure You Know All the Facts

When it comes to any accident, things are not always what they seem to be. You may believe you were being careless when you failed to see the other vehicle before a collision, but there may have been other factors that you don’t know about.

 

For example:

  • The other driver may have been speeding or under the influence of alcohol or other substances. There may even have been mechanical problems with your vehicle.
  • The driver who tearfully admitted running a red light at the scene may have an entirely different story later on.
  • You might have thought you were just clumsy when you fell in the grocery store, but you may not have seen the water or debris that made you fall.
  • Perhaps, you thought you startled the dog that bit you. When in fact, the dog may have bitten or injured others in the past.

One of the jobs of a personal injury attorney is to help determine exactly what caused an accident, and who was at fault.

 

A Fast Settlement May Not Be Best

When an insurance company acknowledges that their client was at fault for an accident, it is in their best interests to offer a quick cash settlement. This may not be best for you, however. If you accept a settlement and find out later that you have lingering or even permanent injuries, you are not entitled to additional compensation. You must be sure that the extent of any injuries is completely known before reaching any final settlement. Your attorney will be able to accurately determine the amount of compensation that you should receive, even if the insurance company offers much less. Your attorney will also be able to work with insurers to get payment for medical expenses and possibly lost wages while your case is still pending, so you are not forced to accept a quick, inadequate settlement.

 

Cost

You may be worried about how you will pay for an attorney or if attorney’s fees will reduce the amount of your settlement. Since personal injury attorneys do not get paid unless they win or settle your case, you do not have to worry about paying any fees.

 

If you do not win, you do not owe any attorney’s fees. Personal injury attorneys handle cases like yours every day and know how to negotiate for the maximum compensation. Their experience can mean more compensation for you, even after fees are subtracted.

 

Consultations are Free

Your first consultation with one of the personal injury attorneys at O’Brien & Ford is always free. We are available whenever you need us, at 716-907-7777, or you may visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Personal Injury Case?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has disrupted personal lives and businesses all over the world. People are continuing to go to work, study, and live their lives, however, which means that accidents will continue to happen, despite quarantines and travel restrictions. If you are involved in an accident or have a pending personal injury case, here is some information how the coronavirus may affect you.

 

If You Are in An Accident

Anyone who is involved in an accident and suspects that they may be injured should seek medical attention right away. Untreated injuries can become worse and symptoms do not always appear immediately. The stress of an accident can also mask or dull pain, leading you to believe that you are not seriously injured. Failure to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident or injury can hurt your chances of recovering for your damages in the future, as it may be difficult to prove that your injures were actually sustained in the accident, and not at a later time. Naturally, during this current situation, people may be reluctant to go to a hospital or doctor’s office. Your safety and that of your family is very important. Nevertheless, it is also important to receive the medical care you need while still keeping yourself safe.

 

If You Have A Pending Personal Injury Case

The coronavirus outbreak has caused most pending court cases to be postponed. If your case is postponed, it will be rescheduled at a later date. If there is a possibility that witnesses may not be available for a later court date, arrangements can be made to take depositions from those witnesses. Let your attorney know right away if you believe a delay in your case may cause a witness to become unavailable.

 

It is also important to make sure you obtain a note from your treating physician or therapist if you have to miss scheduled doctor or therapy appointments due the coronavirus outbreak. Failing to follow through with scheduled treatments without a valid reason could have a negative impact on your case. Let your attorney know if you have to miss any scheduled appointments.

 

Attorney Consultations

As always, the attorneys at O’Brien & Ford are available for you 24/7. If you have been in an accident, or have questions about your case, you can still call us at 716-907-7777. Our attorneys are available for phone and video consultations if necessary. You may also visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/ for more information.

Is It Safe To Use Hands-Free Devices While Driving?

By now, the dangers of cell phone use while driving are well known. Texting while driving is prohibited in 48 states, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and the District of Colombia. Moreover, 21 states prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving. These laws have led to the proliferation of devices to allow drivers to use voice control to operate their phones. Although hands-free devices are commonly thought to be safer than traditional cell phones while driving, is that really the case?

Surprisingly, several studies have shown that hands-free cell phone use is just as dangerous as traditional cell phone use while driving. Several states, recognizing this, have prohibited any cell phone use by new drivers. While it seems logical to assume that keeping both hands on the wheel would be safer, the problem with talking on the phone while driving has less to do with a driver’s hands and more to do with his brain.

The National Safety Council published a white paper on the subject of hands-free devises in 2012 and concluded that any cell phone use takes a driver’s attention away from his surroundings. Researchers studying human brain functions found that we do not actually “multi-task,” or perform multiple functions simultaneously.  Instead, the brain switches back and forth between tasks. While the switching back and forth is quick, our attention focuses on one thing and then the next, in rapid succession. While driving, even a small lapse in attention can be dangerous, especially at highway speeds.

In a 2015 episode of the popular television show, “Mythbusters,” the hosts found that, on a driving course and in a simulator, subjects had as many accidents while using hands-free devices as they did using hand-held devices.

While talking to passengers inside one’s vehicle can also be distracting, studies have found that cell phone conversations are more dangerous. One possible explanation for this could be that passengers can also watch the road, alerting drivers to unseen dangers.

It may be impossible to expect all drivers to give their phones up completely, but some safety practices can minimize accident risks. All new drivers should avoid any cell phone use, for example. Furthermore, all drivers should forego talking on the phone in heavy traffic, bad weather conditions, or on unfamiliar roads.

If you or a loved one is injured by a distracted driver, the law firm of O’Brien & Ford can help. Call us today at 716-907-7777 or visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/.

The Leading Causes of Vehicle Accidents

Over ten million automobile accidents happen in the United States every year, from small fender-benders to multiple vehicle accidents with serious of fatal injuries. Driver error, weather conditions, faulty equipment, and intentional actions can, alone or in combination, lead to an accident.

Distracted Driving
According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents in the United States, accounting for as much as eighty percent of all accidents. Distracted driving can take many forms, but one of the most common is texting or using a phone while driving. In the time it takes to send one text, a car traveling at highway speeds can travel the length of a football field. All states prohibit texting while driving, and many have prohibited the use of all hand-held mobile devices while driving.

Other driving distractions include eating, putting on makeup, and talking to passengers. Passengers in a vehicle are particularly distracting to new drivers, so some states limit the number of passengers that teenage drivers may carry.

Impaired Driving
After distracted driving, impaired driving is the most common cause of highway injuries and deaths. Driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and certain prescription medications is a recipe for disaster. This poses a great risk to the driver, his passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians.

Often overlooked or dismissed, fatigued driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of controlled substances. Commercial truck drivers are especially vulnerable to the temptation to drive for too many hours with too little sleep in order to meet deadlines.

Weather
Snow, ice, and rain can all be hazardous, especially for drivers who are unfamiliar with driving in those conditions. Even the most experienced drivers must be particularly cautious around snow and ice, but drivers who have never lived in regions where those conditions are much more likely to be involved in accidents. Whenever rain, snow, ice or fog are present, the posted speed limits may not be safe, braking times will be greater, and visibility can be reduced.

Driver Error
Even the best drivers make mistakes. A slight miscalculation could turn a near miss into a collision. Accidents happen when drivers fail to notice motorcycles and smaller vehicles or do not signal properly before turning or changing lanes. Accidents at intersections occur when drivers fail to observe stop signs or do not look in all directions before proceeding. Never assume that other drivers will signal properly, observe speed limits, or obey stop lights or signs.

Faulty Equipment
Examples of equipment failures that lead to accidents should also be taken into consideration:

• Non-functioning brake lights or turn signals
• Brake failure
• Tire blowouts
• Improperly calibrated speedometers
• Improperly secured cargo

Call and Accident Expert
If you are injured in an accident, the top-rated attorneys at The O’Brien & Ford Firm can help. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/, or call 716-907-7777 for a free consultation.

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 & Ford at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation. You may also visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/.