Winter Accident Hazards

Snow and ice are a part of winter life in New York. Winter weather means slippery roads, sidewalks, stairs, as well as fender benders on the highway and in parking lots, which can sometimes cause serious injuries.

 

Snow and Ice on Roadways

 

Visitors coming to New York to enjoy winter sports or spend time in the city may not be accustomed to driving on ice and snow. These inexperienced drivers cause accidents by following too closely to other cars, driving too fast for the current road conditions, and/or not having proper snow tires or other equipment on vehicles. Winter road accidents are not limited to tourists, of course. Even the most experienced driver can miscalculate the time needed to stop on a snowy or icy road.

 

Although some accidents cannot be avoided, all drivers are expected to adjust to weather and road conditions, and to exercise proper precautions to avoid accidents when conditions are bad. Under the New York No Fault law, minor injuries are covered by your insurance company. For more serious injuries, a claim may be made against the responsible driver’s liability insurance policy.

 

Dangerous Conditions on Private and Commercial Property

 

  • Parking Lots: Parking lot owners have a duty to keep the lot in a safe condition. This includes repairing potholes and uneven pavement. In the winter, this duty also includes clearing snow and ice within a reasonable time.

 

  • Public Sidewalks: Property owners are generally not responsible for clearing public sidewalks outside their properties. However, if a sidewalk is used exclusively by the owner’s customers and guests, the owner may be liable for injuries is he knew about a hazardous condition, took no action to correct it, and continued to allow their guests to use the sidewalk.

 

  • Walkways and entrances: Ice and snow on walkways and steps can be dangerous, especially at night. Injuries from ice or snow falling from roofs and awnings can also lead to injuries. Property owners owe their guests a duty to clear these hazards when possible and/or warn customers and guests.
  • Inadequate Lighting: Parking lots and walkways should always be lighted, especially when there is a possibility of snow, ice, or other hazards.

 

In order to make a claim against a property owner for injuries sustained by ice or snow, the injured person must prove that the property owner knew of or should have known about the hazardous condition, had an opportunity to correct or mitigate the hazard, and failed to take action to protect his customers and guests.

 

New York Injury Lawyers

 

The temporary nature of the conditions leading to a winter accident can make a personal injury case more challenging. It is important to take photos at the scene of the accident and identify any possible witnesses. Seek medical attention right away. Talking to a personal injury lawyer right away will maximize your chances of recovery. The lawyers at O’Brien & Ford are available at your convenience for a free consultation. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our visit our website to learn more about us.

New Year’s Eve Traffic Safety Tips in the Buffalo Area

The holiday season will soon be upon us, and New Yorkers, like the rest of their fellow Americans, will be gratefully celebrating the end of 2020. For many of us, ringing in the new year will involve traveling.

Nationwide, January 1 is the fifth most dangerous day for drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not surprisingly, most traffic accidents on January 1 occur early in the morning when partiers are heading home after a night of celebrating. The combination of a large number of drivers on the road and the likelihood that at least some of them will have been drinking can lead to disaster.

While the NHTSA ranks New York an impressive 50th place for impaired driving deaths nationwide, the Department of Transportation reports that 218 people died in traffic accidents in New York City alone in 2019. If you are traveling to a private or public event for a New Year celebration, some advance preparation and a few safety tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Just Say No

If you are driving, the most important safety tip anyone will give you is to avoid drinking. Impaired driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents in general, and even a slight impairment is dangerous when combined with heavy traffic, late hours, and fatigue. Drivers whose BAC is below the legal limit may still experience delayed reaction times or loss of focus, which can make it more difficult to avoid accidents.

 

Assign a designated driver, use public transportation, or use a ride share service. Never get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking. Call a friend, take a cab, or stay where you are until you can find a safe way home. Drunk drivers often escape injury themselves while passengers are seriously injured or killed.

 

Pedestrian Safety

When walking to a train or subway station, or walking home, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, especially on New Year’s Eve. Avoid using your cell phone or headphones, so you can keep your attention to both other pedestrians and drivers. Stay on the sidewalk, and look for signs of impaired driving: weaving, sudden stops and starts, random changes in speed, and other erratic behavior. Wear light-colored clothing and/or carry a flashlight. Remember that alcohol can impair one’s judgment and make it more difficult to perceive a dangerous situation, so avoid walking alone if you have been drinking.

 

Responsible Hosting

Hosts that over-serve their guests may, in some circumstances, be legally responsible for injuries caused when those guests drive while intoxicated. Never allow an underaged person to drink at an event you are hosting. Be aware of your guests’ behavior, and avoid serving alcohol to anyone who appears impaired. Do what you can to discourage them from driving home. Provide overnight accommodations, have phone numbers for taxi and ride share services handy, or even arrange your own transportation. Party hosts may also consider cutting off alcohol service and switching to coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages as the party nears its end.

 

New York Accident Attorneys

We wish our clients a safe and happy holiday, but if you or a loved one is injured in an accident, call an accident attorney at O’Brien & Ford for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are available around the clock at 716-907-7777. You can also reach us here.

Safe Driving During Hunting Season

Fall in New York means cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and the anticipation of winter holidays. Outdoorsmen know that fall also brings hunting season – with bow hunting season beginning on October 1 and regular hunting season beginning on November 21, New York’s rural areas will be full of hunters and dogs looking to bring home some game. New Yorkers and visitors driving in rural areas should be aware of the season and take precautions before a drive in the country.

 

Hunting Regulations

 New York law prohibits firing a gun within 500 feet of a school, church, dwelling (unless the dwelling is owned by the hunter), occupied factory, or playground. A bow or crossbow may not be fired within 250 feet of the above locations. It is also illegal to fire a gun or arrow across a public highway. Despite these regulations, however, infractions may occur intentionally or accidentally by hunters. Drivers should exercise caution when driving during hunting season, and treat a rural road as they would a neighborhood with small children – always expecting the unexpected.

 

Shooting Accidents

 On rare occasions, a stray bullet or arrow may hit a vehicle, driver, or occupant. When driving in areas where hunting is allowed, or in any rural area during hunting season, motorists should listen for the sound of hunting dogs, gunfire, or hunters’ voices. If it appears that hunters are too close to the road, a warning blast of the horn can alert them to the presence of a vehicle. Hunters who disobey regulations regarding proximity to roadways, even accidentally, may be liable for injuries caused if an arrow or bullet strikes a vehicle or occupant and possibly causes a crash.

 

Animals in the Road

 During hunting season, deer and other animals may be found beside roads or crossing highways as they try to escape hunters. Generally, it would be difficult to hold a hunter responsible if you hit a deer, since it would be extremely difficult to prove that a particular hunter drove the animal into traffic. If you hit a deer or other wild animal, your only recourse for compensation would be your auto insurance. If you do not maintain collision coverage on your vehicle, you will be responsible for any repairs yourself. On the other hand, if a hunting dog causes an accident, it may be possible to sue the owner of the dog for any damages or injuries from the accident.

 

What to Do After a Hunting Accident

 If you are involved in an accident caused by a hunting dog or a hunter’s weapon, the first priority, of course, is to take care of anyone who is injured. If possible, try to locate the person whose animal or weapon caused the accident. Normally it is the hunters themselves, not the owner of the property on which the hunting takes place, that are responsible for any injuries. In the case of a hunt club, it is possible that the owner of the club could be found liable for injuries if they are found to be negligent.

Talk to a New York personal injury lawyer about your rights as soon as possible after an accident. The personal injury experts at O’Brien & Ford are available at your convenience for a free consultation. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our website for more information.

 

Multiple Vehicle Accidents: Who is Responsible?

It can be difficult to determine who is responsible for an accident even when only two vehicles are involved. In multiple vehicle accidents, things can be even more complicated.

Accidents at Stop Lights and Intersections

One of the most common situations of a multiple vehicle accident occurs when one driver stops suddenly at a stop light or stop sign and another driver hits the car from behind. This can lead to a chain reaction, which may involve three or more cars. A similar type of accident occurs when cars are stopped at a light and the first vehicle does not move immediately or moves too slowly through the intersection. A driver who is paying attention to the light, but not to the car in front of him, can end up running into the back of another car.

Although most people assume that a driver who hits another car from behind is at fault, this is not always the case. Malfunctioning brake lights, for example, may make it impossible for a driver to know when the vehicle in front of him is stopping.  A sudden and unwarranted stop may also make it possible for a driver who hits a car from behind to avoid responsibility.

Sometimes, the driver who caused the accident is not actually involved in the accident itself. If a driver runs a red light, other drivers may have to stop suddenly at a green light or after they have entered an intersection. This could cause drivers behind them to stop suddenly, leading to one or more rear-end collisions.

Accidents on Highways

Multiple vehicle accidents on highways often occur when roads are wet or slick and/or when visibility is limited. With highway speeds and limited visibility, drivers can come upon the scene of an accident with no time to stop or get out of the way. Pileups involving dozens of cars are possible, making it difficult to determine who is responsible.

Comparative Negligence

In New York, an injured person may still be able to recover damages for their injuries even when he is partially responsible for an accident. Under the comparative negligence rule, a driver who is less than 50% responsible for an accident can still recover damages, limited by the amount of his responsibility. For example, if a court finds a person 40% responsible for an accident, he can recover 60% of his damages. In multiple vehicle accidents, it is common for more than one person to bear responsibility, so the comparative negligence rule is particularly important.

What to Do After a Multiple Vehicle Accident

In multiple vehicle accidents, determining the cause and assigning responsibility for the accident can be complex and time-consuming. All the information may not be readily apparent to drivers, passengers, and witnesses, so it is important not to admit fault at the scene, or afterward. If possible, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. Furthermore, take note of the surroundings, including stop signs, traffic lights, or debris in the road.

New York Accident Attorney

Talk to a New York accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The attorneys at O’Brien & Ford are dedicated to helping injured persons get the compensation they need, and have decades of experience representing accident victims in New York.

Contact an experienced Buffalo, NY car accident lawyer from O’Brien & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers, you can call us at (716) 222-2222 for more information.

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 https://obrienfoldprd.wpenginepowered.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 & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers 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 https://obrienfoldprd.wpenginepowered.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: https://obrienfoldprd.wpenginepowered.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 https://obrienfoldprd.wpenginepowered.com/COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.