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 Importance of Having Car Insurance

Whether you commute for two hours to and from work each day or drive once a week or less, a good automobile insurance policy is one of the best investments you can make. Even if you are a careful driver who has never been in an accident, you cannot control the actions of the drivers around you, and you may find yourself in need of the protection that your insurance can offer.

Legal Requirements

If you own a vehicle in the State of New York, you are required by law to carry insurance. The New York No-Fault law mandates coverage so that in most small accident cases, each driver’s insurances will cover their damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. If you are uninsured, you will not be allowed to sue the other driver for a minor accident, even if the accident was completely the other person’s fault. If you do not have your own insurance, your repairs and medical expenses will be out of pocket.

 

Additional Liability

Although you are only required to carry the minimum amount of $50,000 in insurance, you should always opt for additional coverage. For any damages above the no-fault limit, an injured party may sue the person responsible for the accident, and you could be personally liable if the accident is determined to be your fault.

 

No matter how careful of a driver you are, you can still be prone to distractions, make an error, or experience a mechanical problem that may lead to a collision. Even if the mechanical problem was not your fault, the other driver can sue you if he is injured in an accident caused by your vehicle. If you do not carry insurance above the $50,000 limit, you could find yourself owing a significant amount of money, which could lead to liens on your property or garnishment of your wages.

 

Additional Benefits

Your auto insurance can also help if you are the victim of an accident that was not your fault. Uninsured motorist coverage will pay you if you are injured by an uninsured driver, or by a driver who carried only the minimum coverage. In addition, your insurance may include benefits for medical expenses and lost wages, which can reimburse you for those expenses while a claim is pending. These benefits can be crucial if you are unable to work and need help to pay your bills while you are waiting for a settlement.

 

Learn More About Your Benefits

Call the law firm of O’Brien & Ford at 716-907-7777 if you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, or visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/ for more information.

 

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.

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 & 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 & Ford can help. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/, or call 716-907-7777 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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.

Victim of a Hit and Run? Five Steps to Take…

car crash hit and runNo one leaves the house planning on getting in a car accident. Even dealing with a minor car accident with minimal damage requires time and effort.

A hit and run accident, where the driver of one car leaves the scene without stopping, can feel even more overwhelming.

Whether you are in a car, on a bicycle, or a pedestrian, here are five steps to take if you are the victim of a hit and run.

Assess Yourself and Others for Injuries

Being hit by a car or truck can be alarming. With the extra adrenaline in your system, you may not immediately feel pain. This is not necessarily a true indication of whether or not you have been injured. Take a few moments to check for bleeding, bones at odd angles, strained muscles, and the like. Once you have assessed your own self for injuries, check on those around you who may also have been affected.

If you or someone else has sustained injuries, seek medical help immediately. The rest of this checklist, while important, is not nearly as important as your own health and safety.

Clear the Roadway

Once assured you do not need immediate medical attention, clear the roadway if you are able to do so. Pull over to the side of the road. Retrieve your bicycle from the intersection. Gather your things. Clearing the roadway helps reduce the potential for subsequent accidents caused by unsuspecting motorists.

Call the Police

Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. If you are the victim of a hit and run, this should be reported to the police as soon as possible. Law enforcement will likely come to the scene to interview you and file a report. This may seem like a waste of time, particularly if you don’t think you sustained injuries. However, some injuries take longer than others to present themselves. Calling the police is an important step in documenting the accident took place.

Document the Scene

The police will likely document some of the accident scene, but this does not prevent you from taking a few pictures of your own. Consider taking both close ups and distance photos with your phone. Obviously, if there are any skid marks or other evidence of the crash, such as paint transferred to the guardrail, this should be documented. Photos documenting the intersection, the parked cars on the side of the street, and other information which informs a fact finder may prove helpful later on.

Contact an Attorney

At O’Brien & Ford, we offer free consultations in every case. You are never under any obligation. Whether or not you have a personal injury claim is based on a number of factors. There is no need to guess whether or not you may have a claim. Our attorneys are happy to speak with anyone after a hit and run accident about the facts of their case. Call us today at (716) 330-2901. We look forward to answering any questions you may have.

Common Mistakes People Make Following A Car Accident 

Accident of two cars on a highway

A car accident is clearly a very stressful situation for anyone to go through. You will have many questions and worries going through your mind.

Before acting (or not acting), you should keep in mind the consequences of everything and be proactive. Here are some of the mistakes that many people make following a car accident.

Legal Representation

After you are involved in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. Insurance companies will try to contact you and receive a personal statement from you. This could be detrimental to your case because you could inadvertently waive your compensation. An attorney will read and analyze anything that an insurance company sends you and translate what it means. Furthermore, an attorney will be able to fight for you and make sure that you receive the monetary compensation that you deserve. Additionally, an attorney will be able to guide you through this process.

Posting On Social Media

Social media can often be used against you. Photos and statements can always be misconstrued and weaken your claim. While you should take photos and write everything down that you remember from the accident, you should refrain from posting anything on social media. Such photos can ruin your chances of a successful claim. Additionally, your friends and family can repost your photos and updates which could also be used against you.

Not Calling Authorities Or Exchanging Information

The first thing you should do following a wreck is to call the police. They can delegate what you need to do and report what happened. Furthermore, no matter what the situation is, you need the information of the person that you were involved in a car accident with. You never know what can happen in the future or if they will use facts against you. Make sure you know who the person is and how to reach them.

Not Seeking Medical Health

Medical care can be crucial to your claim. Showing that you have suffered injuries will prove that you need compensation. Most importantly, following the shock and stress of your car accident, you may not even realize that something is wrong. A professional doctor will be able to look at you and determine if you have been injured. You may need much more health care than you initially realized, and some injuries can be permanent. Many people want to just go home, but the smartest thing to do is going to the hospital.

Waiting Too Long

Each state has a statute of limitations to file a car accident claim. After that certain statutory time lapses, you will no longer have a case. Therefore, it is imperative to file within the time allotted so that you can be remedied. Otherwise, the court will bar your claim without even hearing your case. An attorney can inform you on the statute of limitations of your state and whether you still have time to sue, but it is always prudent to file a claim as soon as possible.

Contact Us

Do not wait to contact our experienced team of attorneys to represent you. Our attorneys at O’Brien and Ford are ready and capable to take on your case and make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Please call us at (716) 330-2901 to receive a free consultation.