Safe Cycling Tips for Summer 2021

27
Jul 2021
By:

traffic accident between a car and a bicycle with helmet in road

If you’re hitting the road on your bike, be prepared

It’s peak cycling season in western New York, and while hitting the road on a bike is a great way to enjoy our beautiful weather, it’s also potentially dangerous if motorists don’t share the road. Cyclists need to know the law, know their rights, and know how to protect themselves. Here’s what you need to know about safe cycling in New York.

Cyclists have every right to use most roads

In New York, bicycles are allowed on most roads, though they are not allowed on highways, interstates, and similar unless specifically permitted by signage. Cyclists are required to use the bicycle lane if one is available, or ride as far to the right as possible if there is no bicycle lane. It’s legal to ride two abreast if there is no other traffic on the road. Cyclists are also allowed to “take the lane” and ride to the center to avoid being passed on the left if the lane is very narrow (10 feet or less).

As a cyclist, you are required to ride with rather than against traffic (except for one-lane roads), follow traffic lights and signs, and signal before turning. Bicycles are allowed to use the same turn lanes as motorists, including using the entire left turn lane when making a left turn.

New York law doesn’t prohibit biking on the sidewalk, but many cities have passed local laws addressing this. In Buffalo, children under age 14 are allowed to bike on the sidewalk, but cyclists 14 and up are not.

Make sure you’re prepared to ride safely

When you’re on a bike, sharing the road with cars, you are vulnerable to injury, so it’s important to protect yourself. Wear a helmet – in New York, only children under 14 are required to wear helmets, but it’s a good idea for everyone – as well as bright or reflective clothing to maintain visibility. Tuck in your clothes, tie your shoelaces, and carry items in a backpack or strapped to the rear of the bike to make sure nothing gets caught in your bike’s moving components. Keep both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.

That said, there is only so much any cyclist can do while sharing the road with much larger and more dangerous vehicles. Motorists have a legal obligation to drive with caution around bicycles, including leaving at least three feet of room when passing on the left, yielding the right of way at intersections, and paying close attention at all times. It’s also illegal to block a bicycle lane, to open a car door into traffic without first checking for bicycles, or to leave the door open for any longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Injured cyclists have legal rights

Ultimately, while cyclists certainly should do what they can to protect themselves, motorists need to share the road — and they need to be held accountable when they fail to do so. If you are hit by a car as a cyclist, you can always file a “no-fault” claim with the insurance policy for the vehicle that hit you. If your injuries are serious, then you can file a third-party claim or a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Under New York law, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injury-related expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs.

The key is to act quickly. Evidence can disappear fast in a bicycle accident case, and important legal deadlines can limit your ability to recover. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident in Buffalo or anywhere in western New York, the Law Offices of James Morris would be honored to listen to your story and explain your legal options in a free consultation.

Keeping Kids Safe in Buffalo This Summer

30
Jun 2021
By:

father and two children jumping into pool

Tips to keep your family safe

Summer is here, and with the COVID-19 pandemic in full retreat, families throughout Western New York are eager to make up for lost time. This is undoubtedly good news, but it also comes with all the usual risks of hot weather, outdoor activities, and potential accidents that can cause injuries to children. Keep these tips in mind to make sure your family’s summer is safe and memorable.

Supervision is critical

Kids should never be in the water, whether a pool or natural body of water, without adult supervision. Whether or not there is a lifeguard on duty, parents and guardians need to take responsibility for supervising the kids. If multiple adults are present with a group of children, one responsible (and sober) adult needs to be designated as the point person to watch the kids. Too many accidents happen when several adults all assumed that someone else was supervising play.

The same principle applies to other outdoor activities, such as playing on playgrounds. Accidents can happen quickly, and the watchful eyes of a responsible adult are important to keep kids from getting seriously hurt. Make sure kids only play on age- and size-appropriate equipment, and especially in the afternoon, touch metal surfaces first to make sure they aren’t too hot.

Stay safe in the heat and the sun

Know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat cramps, and be prepared to take immediate action if a child seems to be showing warning signs of heatstroke. Kids are more vulnerable to dehydration than adults, so they need to stay hydrated on hot days. Wear light, weather-appropriate clothing to avoid getting too hot. Never leave a child unattended in a car — at any time of year, really, but especially in the summer when the greenhouse effect can cause temperatures to rise quickly.

Make sure you’re applying sunscreen of at least SPF 30, and remember to reapply every 3 hours or immediately after swimming or playing in water. Waterproof sunscreen protects skin while in the water, but not after you dry off.

Be safe around fireworks

With the Fourth of July coming up, remember that children should never touch or light fireworks. Thousands of children under 15 go to emergency rooms every year with fireworks-related injuries.

In New York, the only legal fireworks are sparkling devices — a broad category that includes devices that burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough to cause devastating burns. If your celebrations involve sparklers, make sure a responsible adult reads the instructions and handles the devices appropriately.

We are honored to stand up for children injured by negligence

Most parents do everything they can to keep their children safe, but there is always a risk that a child can be harmed by a negligent driver, property owner, or another party. When that happens, the injured child and their family have recourse under New York law. That’s why it’s critical that you talk through your legal rights and options with an experienced personal injury lawyer. If your child has been hurt, contact the Law Offices of James E. Morris today for a free, confidential consultation.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

19
May 2021
By:

Two people riding a motorcycle on a rural road

Peak riding season has arrived in Buffalo and Upstate New York, and with that will come an increase in the number of motorcyclists we see on our roads and highways.

As traffic throughout the U.S. starts to return to pre-pandemic levels, drivers are being reminded that we all need to watch out for and share the road with bikers.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and as we make our way into the summer, here’s what you can do to avoid causing a motorcycle accident.

Fatal motorcycle accidents in New York State went up in 2020

According to a recent report by WGRZ-TV, fatal motorcycle accidents in New York State increased by over 30% in 2020 when compared to 2019. In 2019, there were 132 fatal motorcycle crashes that resulted in 133 deaths. For 2020, there were 172 fatal motorcycle wrecks that caused 179 deaths, even though there weren’t nearly as many motorists out on the road due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

“Despite fewer vehicles on the road last year, we saw a startling increase in deadly motorcycle crashes, and every life lost was someone’s loved one,” said Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Everyone sharing the road whether in a car or on a motorcycle has a responsibility to help stop these tragedies. As the weather warms up and we continue making progress battling COVID-19, there will be more traffic and more riders, so stay alert, avoid distractions, and never, ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Earlier this month, a motorcyclist was hit by a car on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Buffalo and thrown into the oncoming lane of traffic before he was hit by a GMC truck. WKBW Buffalo reports bystanders used a jack to free the victim, who was transported to Erie County Medical Center.

Police are still investigating the cause of the collision, but tragic crashes like this are becoming more and more common in the Buffalo area and serve as an important reminder that motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable drivers on the road.

Safety tips for drivers

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and AAA are working together to raise awareness and promote safe driving practices since the primary cause of most motorcycle accidents is negligence — by other drivers.

To avoid causing a motorcycle crash, other motorists should:

  • Slow down — Speeders won’t be able to react or stop quickly enough to avoid a collision with a motorcycle rider.
  • Keep a safe distance — It’s common for bikers to downshift or roll off the throttle to slow down, meaning the motorcycle’s brake lights won’t be triggered and there will be no visual warning that the rider is reducing their speed. Experts say to keep a following distance of about 3 to 4 seconds when driving behind a motorcycle.
  • Stay focused — Since motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, it’s easy for other motorists to not notice riders until it’s too late. Add in the distraction of a cellphone, food, drink, GPS, or a chatty passenger, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind focused on the road ahead.
  • Use your turn signals — Turn signals are a form of communication to other drivers, including motorcyclists, that let them know where you’re going and what you’re intentions are. Always use your signals for a minimum distance of 100 feet when you’re going to make a turn or change lanes so other drivers can act accordingly.
  • Check your blind spots — Whenever you’re going to change lanes you should watch out for motorcycle riders in your blinds spots, which on most passenger vehicles are located around the doors and roof pillars. Use your signals, check your mirrors, and look out for motorcyclists, who may also blend in with other vehicles, bushes, fences, and bridges. Try to remember that it’s also hard to gauge how fast a motorcycle is going, which means you need to be extra cautious when waiting to make a turn. In fact, the most dangerous scenario for motorcycle riders occurs when other motorists fail to grant bikers the right of way, which is common when other vehicles are making a left turn at an intersection.

As for riders, the best motorcycle safety tips include wearing a helmet (it’s also the law in New York), wearing appropriate gear, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, being mindful of road conditions and hazardous weather, riding sober, and performing regular maintenance on your bike to keep it in good working condition (e.g., check the tire pressure, tighten loose bolts, replace damaged parts, etc.).

After a crash, you deserve justice

No matter how careful you are when riding your motorcycle, all it takes is one moment of negligence by another driver to cause an accident that leaves you severely injured — or worse.

If you were injured or a close family member died in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you have recourse under New York law to pursue appropriate compensation for your damages.

The problem is other drivers and their insurance providers often have a bias toward motorcyclists and view them as reckless thrill-seekers who, when injured in an accident, must have deserved it because they were being careless. As such, it’s a widespread practice for insurance adjusters to downplay, dispute, delay, and flat-out deny injury claims brought forth by motorcycle riders.

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we know the games insurance companies play and we don’t put up with them. Founding attorney James Morris has been doing this for a long time (over 30 years) and knows how to fight for the compensation his clients deserve.

Find out how a highly skilled motorcycle accident lawyer in Buffalo, NY can help you. Contact us right now to set up a free case consultation.

Going down the wrong path with wrong-way crashes

29
Apr 2021
By:

Wrong way sign on highway ramp

Even if you’re responsible and practice safe driving habits, all it takes is one negligent driver to cause a car accident that changes your life forever.

While every crash has the potential to cause severe, life-threatening injuries, head-on collisions are easily the most deadly because of the force that’s released when two vehicles going in the opposite direction collide, resulting in a devastating impact that is considerably more destructive than what victims usually experience in other types of motor vehicle accidents.

Common causes of head-on collisions include lane departures by motorists who are texting while driving, speeding, asleep at the wheel, or driving distracted — but wrong-way drivers, that is, those who drive the wrong way down a divided highway or ramp —  are actually the most at risk of causing a deadly head-on crash.

Unfortunately, these types of crashes are on an upward trajectory.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were about 500 deaths per year from the period of 2015-2018 due to wrong-way crashes on divided highways, an increase of about 34% when compared to the average number of annual fatalities caused by wrong-way drivers from the period of 2010-2014.

Experts agree that older drivers have a better chance of becoming wrong-way drivers, but those who pose the biggest risk are drunk drivers.

“Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions. And unfortunately, as the data shows, fatalities from these crashes are on the rise.” —  Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 

Drunk driving the biggest factor

A staggering 60% of wrong-way crashes involved a drunk driver, which is why AAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are increasing awareness and calling for countermeasures to help address the problem.

“Alcohol impairment is, by far, the single most significant factor in the majority of wrong-way driving crashes, which unfortunately has not changed since the NTSB issued its Wrong-Way Driving special investigation report in 2012,” said Dr. Rob Molloy, NTSB Director of the Office of Highway Safety. “The important work done by AAA shows that we need to redouble our efforts to address this safety hazard.”

To keep impaired drivers off our roads, the NTSB suggests:

  • Highly visible enforcement operations.
  • DUI checkpoints.
  • Promoting the installation of alcohol ignition interlock devices, a tool intended to prevent a vehicle from starting unless the driver provides a breath sample that results in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below a pre-set limit.

Crash data also reveals that drivers older than 70 have greater odds of being a wrong-way driver when compared to their younger counterparts. Analysts say certain steps can be taken to address the issue, such as driver refresher courses, installing more visible signs and signals, infrastructure improvements, and legislation to help identify drivers who may be at risk physically or cognitively.

Make your case count. Contact us today.

If you were injured or a loved one died in an upstate New York crash caused by a wrong-way driver, you owe it to yourself to set up a free legal review of your case.

A knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorney can help you get the medical care and treatment you need, investigate your claim, find evidence to build your case, represent you in settlement negotiations, and file a lawsuit on your behalf if the insurance company won’t offer you a fair financial settlement.

Attorney James Morris is a highly skilled personal injury lawyer in Buffalo who has been practicing law for more than 30 years and has won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for his clients. Attorney Morris isn’t afraid to take on complex cases and fight hard for victims struggling to recover from injuries. Over the years, he has built relationships with accident scene investigators, reconstruction experts, medical professionals, and others who can provide the expert testimony you need to win your claim.

Find out what the Law Offices of James Morris can do for you.

Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation.

Fatal accidents due to distracted driving on the rise

24
Mar 2021
By:

Driving while using a cellphone and drinking iced coffee

Among the most avoidable fatal motor vehicle accidents in the world are those caused by distracted drivers.

So, it’s tragic that this type of death is on the rise.

Distracted driving is when a person operating a motor vehicle attempts to multitask by doing something such as texting, eating, shaving, or applying makeup to the already focus-intense act of driving.

Distracted driving is a choice. The death and damage caused by distracted driving can be easily avoided by any motorist who refuses to take his or her attention off the road.

Yet in 2019, more than 3,100 people died in preventable, distracted driving car accidents. This is a 10% spike over how many people died due to distracted drivers the prior year, according to new research by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

Data on how many people have suffered whiplash, nerve damage, head injuries, broken bones, and internal bruising from these types of crashes is not as available.

NY Distracted Driving Law

Meanwhile, states across the country have been drafting and passing anti-distracted-driving laws mostly within the last five years. The first state to ban texting while driving was Washington. They did it in 2007.

In New York, the state has banned the use of handheld devices like cellphones, smartphones, unmounted GPS devices, and tablet computers, among other equipment. The state also has a separate ban on texting while driving. New York passed its first anti-distracted driving law in 2011. Violating the law results in a fine from $50-$450 depending on circumstances.

The federally funded GHSA study, “Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications,” found that the laws really can prevent many fatal crashes, but only if they are rigorously supported. Researchers found that states with strong anti-distracted driving laws, backed by enforcement and public education, had the least distracted driving accidents.

Bullied By Insurance Companies

While the law seeks to stop distracted driving accidents, it doesn’t do much to help the victims and their families of such avoidable harm and damage.

Insurance companies have been granted the primary responsibility of compensating accident victims and their families – and they are incentivized to pay victims as little as possible. They do this by making lowball settlement offers, delaying payments, questioning the extent of injuries and damages, blaming the victim, and outright denying a claim. An insurance company may attempt to pull one of these tactics on you, even if it’s your insurance provider.

What a Good Lawyer Can Do For You

A typical distracted driver will take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to check a text, the GHSA report noted. If a person checks a text while going 55 mph on the highway, they will have traveled the length of an entire football field in that time. A crash caused by a distracted driver can happen anywhere at any time to anyone, regardless of driving skill.

An experienced lawyer knows how to collect the proof you need to support your claim. An attorney can track down eyewitnesses, bring in experts who can read clues at the scene like skid marks (an absence of which likely means the driver didn’t brake before the accident), and gain access to information like the at-fault driver’s cellphone records.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, the key to recovering fair and full compensation for your damages is having a good lawyer on your side. Any settlement or court verdict needs to compensate you for past, current, and future medical expenses resulting from the accident, as well as lost wages, lost earning potential, lost quality of life, and any other accident-related expenses.

The Law Offices of James Morris has been helping clients in western New York and the Buffalo region following motor vehicle crashes and other types of accidents for years. Attorney James E. Morris has been selected by Super Lawyers in the personal injury field every year since 2009 as one of New York State’s best lawyers. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The arguments insurance companies make – and how we can fight back for you

20
Jan 2021
By:

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you’re looking at dealing with at least one insurance company, and perhaps several more. You need to be aware of the arguments they’ll use to try to limit the amount they have to pay.

Remember, the insurance company’s goal is to protect its bottom line

Some of the arguments an insurance adjuster may make won’t even sound like arguments. They’ll ask you seemingly innocuous questions or ask you to give them a recorded statement. They’ll say they’re on your side. The truth is that the insurance company’s financial incentive is to pay you as little as possible (or nothing at all), and that means you constantly have to be on the alert.

“They weren’t going very fast, right?”

This is common in rear-end collisions and other crashes that happen at low speed. The insurance company’s goal here is to downplay the severity of the collision and thus the extent of your injuries. This is often a prelude to arguing that you’re faking or exaggerating your injuries, or that your injuries were not actually sustained in the crash.

Insurance companies play this game all the time, which is why we strongly encourage you to see a doctor right away after a car accident, even if you think it was minor. Getting medical attention not only protects your health but also creates a record of your injuries in case the insurance company tries to dispute them later.

“Do you think you could’ve avoided it if you were paying closer attention?”

Whenever an insurance company has the opportunity to shift blame for your injuries onto you, they have a significant incentive to do so. New York uses the comparative negligence standard to determine damages (financial compensation) in personal injury claims. If you are found to be, say, 30 percent responsible for your injuries, your award will be reduced by 30 percent. Even if the insurance company can’t pin the entire accident on you, any percentage of fault reduces the amount they have to pay.

The insurance companies invest a lot of effort in determining fault in ways that benefit them, up to and including hiring their own experts to make the case that you were at fault for your injuries. It’s critical that you have your own advocate telling your side of the story and arguing for your interests.

“It’s a he-said-she-said, so there’s nothing we can do.”

On the surface, your accident may look like your word against the other driver’s. Again, the insurance company’s incentive is to use any uncertainty to their financial advantage. They may cast doubt on your ability to recover at all and perhaps offer a small settlement, saying it’s the best they can do. (More on that in a moment.)

The truth is that a full investigation, cross-referencing witness testimony, physical evidence, and other information we may be able to gather, can often establish fault for an accident much more definitively than seems possible at first. That’s why you need to retain an attorney as soon as possible to launch an investigation that protects your interests.

“Here, take this settlement.”

They may say it’s the best they can do, or they may not even say that much. The insurance company wants you to believe that you have to just take whatever they offer, which is usually a “lowball” number intended to protect their bottom line. In reality, any personal injury settlement is negotiable, and an attorney may be able to get you much more than the insurance company’s initial offer or even what they say is their “final” offer.

Remember, once you’ve accepted the insurance company’s money, that’s it; you can’t go back for more. The settlement you accept must cover the full, long-term cost of your injuries. The only way to be sure you’re getting full and fair compensation is to review the settlement offer with an experienced car accident attorney.

The key takeaway: don’t negotiate with an insurance company on your own

Insurance companies do this every day. Their adjusters and attorneys are experts at reducing or denying claims. If you try to negotiate with them on your own, you’re at a severe disadvantage. An experienced attorney can level the playing field and handle these questions on your behalf while you focus on getting better.

If you’ve been in a car accident, we’d be honored to discuss your legal rights in a free consultation. If you choose to retain us, we’ll deal with the insurance company on your behalf, countering their arguments and advocating for your interests. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Buffalo car accident attorney.

How much is my car accident case worth?

18
Dec 2020
By:

Buffalo car accident lawyer

We hear some variation on this question every day, and the short answer is “it depends.” Some car accidents are worth thousands of dollars, others are worth millions.

In essence, the more severe the effects of the accident on your life, the greater the value of the claim. Read on to see how we determine the value of a car accident case.

It all depends on the extent and effect of your injuries

When we assess the value of your case, we ask two main questions: how badly were you hurt, and how will your injuries affect your life? If your injuries required surgery or other significant medical procedures, the cost of that treatment should be included in the value of your claim. If you’re unable to work for a period of time, your car accident claim should include the wages you lost. Likewise, if you have to work reduced hours or take on a lighter duty role for less pay, the difference in earnings should be reflected in your claim.

These are examples of “economic damages;” that is, objectively verifiable losses that are tied to a specific dollar amount. We also pursue compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of quality of life. While those kinds of losses are more subjective in nature, they are no less real and no less important than economic losses. We have the experience to build the case for the full amount of damages you have sustained, both in negotiations and, if necessary, at trial.

In order to get full value for car accidents, we think long-term. Often, we retain experts to get a full assessment of the ways the accident will affect you for the rest of your life. For example, we may retain a medical expert to estimate the likelihood and cost of future surgery, or an economist to estimate the effects of the accident on your long-term earning potential. Remember, once you accept a settlement from an insurance company, that’s it; you can’t go back for more. We work hard to ensure that any settlement we negotiate for our clients covers the full, long-term cost of the accident.

The role of comparative negligence

If you were injured in a car accident for which you were partially at fault, New York uses a pure comparative negligence standard to determine compensation. That means as long as you were less than 100 percent at fault, you can still recover compensation for whatever portion of the accident was the other driver’s fault. The comparative negligence standard reduces your recovery in proportion to your percentage of fault; for instance, if you are found 40 percent responsible for the accident, your recovery will be reduced by 40 percent.

Running into insurance policy limits

Under New York law, all drivers are required to carry at least 25/50/10 liability coverage: $25,000 for bodily injury or death to a single person, per accident; $50,000 for all bodily injuries caused in a single accident; and $10,000 for property damage, per accident. All motorists are required to carry $50,000 in no-fault insurance as well. However, the cost of a single accident can well exceed the state minimums, which is why we strongly recommend carrying a healthy amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM) to ensure that you’re protected even if the driver who hit you doesn’t have enough insurance.

Making sure you have this coverage is important because the amount of available insurance tends to be an effective cap on the value of your claim. While in theory, we can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s assets if their insurance doesn’t cover the full value of the injuries they caused, in practice, that’s a costly and time-consuming process at best, and often there just aren’t assets to take.

Cases where there isn’t enough available insurance are difficult for everyone involved, but we do our best to maximize the value of your claim. We have extensive experience coordinating coverage and negotiating with insurance companies and medical providers to help our clients make the most of a bad situation.

The only way to know what your case is worth is to talk to a lawyer

Don’t rely on the insurance company to assess the value of your claim. They have a financial incentive to pay you as little as possible, so you can be confident that whatever they offer you is at best a “low-ball” figure. You need your own advocate to fully investigate your accident and build a case for the full amount of compensation you need.

That’s why we offer a free consultation. When you meet with us, we’ll listen to your story, review the circumstances of your accident, and explain your legal options. There’s no obligation to hire us, just candid answers about your legal options. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with attorney James E. Morris.

What to do if you develop PTSD after being involved in a crash

27
Oct 2020
By:

PTSD

When we think about crash-related injuries, we often think about broken bones, head injuries, and spinal injuries. It’s also very common for people involved in serious crashes to develop a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition can be just as bad as a debilitating physical injury and last for several months or years.

PTSD is often associated with military veterans and police officers, but it can occur to anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.

Symptoms of PTSD

There are four categories of PTSD symptoms:

  1. Reliving a traumatic event — This includes having flashbacks, nightmares and repeated thoughts about a crash.
  2. Avoiding stimuli that invokes memories of an event — This includes having a difficult time talking about a crash, revisiting the scene of a crash, or driving.
  3. Stress and anxiety — This includes having panic attacks, always feeling on edge, sleep disturbances, and having negative thoughts.
  4. Physical symptoms — This includes headaches, rapid heart rate, migraines, nausea, muscle spasms, and body aches.

Risk factors

PTSD can happen to anyone under certain conditions. For example:

  • A person experiences dissociation after a crash. This is losing touch with sense of time, place, identity and reality.
  • There is lack of immediate support from medical and emergency personnel and lack of long-term support from friends and relatives.

Some people are more susceptible to it than others. These include people who:

  • Have a family history of mental health conditions or trauma
  • Have had prior trauma before the crash occurred

PTSD diagnosis and treatment

It can take several days and generally up to six months for PTSD symptoms to fully manifest. There is a burden of proof when it comes to getting diagnosed. For example, the following criteria must be proven:

  • You must have experienced, witnessed or had been exposed to the traumatic crash;
  • Experienced flashbacks, nightmares, recurring thoughts, emotional anguish or physical symptoms;
  • Avoided any kind of stimuli that reminded you of the traumatic crash.
  • Experienced negative thoughts and feelings that got worse over time.
  • PTSD symptoms got worse instead of better;
  • Symptoms lasted for more than a month;
  • Symptoms were not brought on by drugs, alcohol, prescription meds or other illnesses; and
  • Symptoms made it difficult to work or function in daily life.

Once you receive an official diagnosis, you may undergo treatment to help you recover from your crash-related PTSD. These treatments may include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy. A therapist evaluates your perception and coping mechanisms. You and your therapist identify “stuck points” that prevent recovery and work to overcome them.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy — Thoughts and feelings surrounding the traumatic crash are addressed through an individual or group therapy session.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — You may be prescribed any of the following medications: Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), or Fluoxetine (Prozac).
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Using side-to-side eye movements to help process traumatic memories, thoughts and emotions.

Getting compensation for crash-related PTSD

It’s critical that you see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis if you think you have developed symptoms for PTSD. This type of injury can be difficult to prove to the other driver’s insurance company. With documentation of your diagnosis and evidence that the driver who hit you acted negligently, an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney can help you build a strong legal claim.

The Law Offices of James Morris will investigate your crash, gather the facts, and fight to maximize your compensation. We serve clients in Buffalo and throughout western New York. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

How to Read and Understand a New York Accident Report

29
Sep 2020
By:

Buffalo car accident attorney

Attorney James Morris explains what you need to know

An accident report that’s generated by the police is often a powerful piece of evidence when pursuing an injury claim. Along with important details about your car accident, the report will include a determination by the investigating officer of who is at fault for the collision, which is something that can have a huge influence on your case.

Since the accident report can be used to impact the amount of financial compensation that you’re able to recover for your damages, it’s common for insurance companies and attorneys to dissect the report piece by piece and scrutinize every detail.

While getting a copy of the report is an important step to take in the aftermath of a crash, knowing how to read your accident report and understanding what the all codes, diagrams, and symbols on each page mean is just as critical.

When do you need to file an accident report in New York?

According to the New York State DMV, motorists must file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) within 10 days of any accident that results in more than $1,000 worth of property damage. Motorists are required to stop and exchange insurance, registration and driver’s license information with everyone involved in the crash. Drivers are also required to:

  • Locate the owner or contact police if a parked vehicle or other property is damaged.
  • Locate the owner or contact police if a domestic animal is injured.
  • Remain on scene and notify the police immediately if someone is injured or killed.

If you are involved in a car accident that results in injury or death, you and the police will both be required to file an accident report with the DMV. Once the law enforcement officer’s report has been processed by the DMV, you can order a copy online for a fee. You may also be able to obtain a copy of the report for a fee by contacting the local precinct or police agency where your accident took place.

Reading your accident report

Now that you’ve gotten a copy of the official police accident report, what does it all mean? While it may look confusing, much of what’s in the report is easy to digest once you understand what to look for. Your New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Police Accident Report breaks down as follows:

Page 1

The first page of the report will include basic information, such as your name, address, driver’s license number and the date/time of your car accident. It will also include information about the other drivers involved in your crash. Be sure to verify that all of your information is correct.

Vehicle Damage Codes

On this part of the report, you’ll notice which areas the investigating officer marked on the diagrams and what vehicle damage codes were used to describe the collision.

All Involved

Pay special attention to this part of the accident report, as this is the area where the investigating officer will have entered different codes to indicate the physical location of injuries (Row 14), the type of injuries (Row 15), and the severity of injuries (Row 16). Make sure this section is accurate. You can learn more about each code on Page 2 of the report.

Boxes 19-24

Located on the right side of Page 1, boxes 19-24 will list codes for any contributing factors to your accident. These codes represent the investigating officer’s assessment of what caused the crash. For example, 31 is the code for “texting” and 2 is the code for “alcohol involvement.” When reading this section, make sure it’s factual. This part of the accident report can be used to help prove negligence and determine who’s at fault for the crash. All of the codes for boxes 19-24 can be found on Page 2 of the accident report.

Page 3

Many of the codes that are used on Page 1 are listed on Page 3. This page is often the source of a lot of confusion due to all of the arrows and boxes, but if you look carefully you should be able to find the code you’re looking for.

Page 4

This part of the accident report contains codes for Columns 14, 15, and 16 on Page 1. Most of the page is dedicated to codes for various types of injuries marked in Column 15 in the “Types of Physical Complaint” section. The codes cover injuries that range from mild to severe. Again, it’s important to make sure the information you’re looking at is correct. If you were seriously injured and the officer listed your injury as minor, it could affect the amount of compensation you’re able to recover.

Pages 5 and 6

Both of these pages have 4-digit numeric codes for different hospitals located in the state, outside of New York City. Look over this information and be sure to verify that the code entered here is the same as the code that was entered in Boxes 17 and 18 on Page 1 of the report.

Page 7

Page 7 concerns accidents with buses and commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers and delivery trucks. In New York, different types of trucks have different codes. The codes can be found on this page and on Page 1 of your report in the box labeled “Vehicle Type.”

Contact our law firm if you need help with your report

Once you’ve obtained and reviewed your accident report, you might find that the investigating police officer’s assessments aren’t an accurate representation of the facts. If that happens, an attorney can help you by presenting evidence that tells the true story of what really happened in your crash.

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we know exactly what to look for in your accident report and can build a strong legal case on your behalf that gets results. Attorney James Morris is a car accident lawyer in Buffalo who has won millions for injured clients in New York State, including $775,000 for a passenger who sustained neck injuries in a crash caused by a drunk driver. Legal Advertising – past results do not determine future outcomes

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Hit 30-Year High In 2019

31
Aug 2020
By:

Buffalo pedestrian accident attorney

Buffalo, NY pedestrian accident attorneys explain what you need to know

Pedestrian accident fatalities nationwide reached a 30-year high last year, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association. It wasn’t just 2019 that saw a sharp increase in the number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities. The number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by more than 60 percent since 2009.

Why are there so many more pedestrian fatalities? How many pedestrians were killed in accidents in 2019? What are common causes of pedestrian accidents? You can find the answers to these questions and more in this month’s blog, as well as tips to avoid a pedestrian accident and how much pedestrian accident claims may be worth.

How many pedestrian fatalities were there in 2019?

The Governors Highway Safety Administration recently released the estimated pedestrian fatality statistics for 2019. Last year, the GHSA estimates that 6,590 people died in pedestrian accidents. That figure represents a 4.8 percent increase or 307 more deaths compared to 2018, when there were 6,283 pedestrian fatalities.

These increases are small compared to what has happened in the past decade. Since 2009, pedestrian fatalities have increased by 60.3 percent or 2,481 fatalities since 2009, when there were just 4,109 pedestrian fatalities nationwide. In contrast, all other traffic fatalities have increased by only 2 percent nationwide during the same time period.

Which states have the most pedestrian fatalities?

As part of the GHSA study about pedestrian fatalities, the organization released a state-by-state comparison for pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. Based on those statistics, the 5 states with the most pedestrian fatalities were:

  • California – 519 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019, compared to 454 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018.
  • Florida – 368 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019, compared to 359 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018.
  • Texas – 313 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019, compared to 297 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018.
  • New York – 120 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019, compared to 112 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018.
  • Georgia – 116 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019, compared to 137 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2018.

What are common causes of pedestrian accidents?

The GHSA cites several reasons why pedestrian accidents continue to increase at an alarming rate. Part of it has to do with the increased sales of SUVs and other light trucks instead of passenger vehicles. These larger vehicles weigh more and often cause more serious injuries and fatalities. Warmer weather in 2018 and 2019 may have also been a factor. The GHSA also cited other reasons for the number of pedestrian accidents:

  • Distracted driving, especially due to cellphones
  • Texting while driving
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving

What are some safety tips to avoid a pedestrian accident?

If you are crossing the street or walking along a road, there are several things you can do to stay safe and hopefully avoid a pedestrian accident, including:

  • Try to walk in areas with sidewalks and good lighting.
  • Be alert at all times while walking along a road.
  • Avoid looking at a cellphone while walking.
  • Avoid walking after dark along a road, especially if it’s not well-lit.
  • Wear bright clothing so drivers can see you while walking along a road.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.

Even some of the safest pedestrians sometimes become victims of pedestrian accidents. When that happens, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, then talk to an experienced pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible.

How much is a pedestrian accident claim worth?

There’s no set dollar amount when it comes to pedestrian accident claims. Each case is different. Some are worth a few thousand dollars. Others are worth a few million. The bottom line is you or your family should be financially compensated for all your pedestrian accident-related expenses, now and in the future. These expenses may include:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Ambulance fees
  • Surgical procedures
  • Follow-up medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Replacement income if you cannot work during your recovery
  • Lost future income if you cannot return to work due to your pedestrian accident injury
  • Funeral expenses in cases of fatal pedestrian accidents
  • Pain and suffering in certain circumstances

To learn more about pedestrian accidents and how an attorney can help you, contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced New York pedestrian accident lawyer at the Law Offices of James Morris in Buffalo, New York. We have decades of experience handling complex cases.