Older Cars Four Times More Deadly Than Newer Models, Study Says

23
Jun 2017
By:

Buying your teen an older car? A new study may give you reason to reassess.

Researchers in Australia looked at how older-model cars (those made before 2000) stand up to the newer ones. Of course it stands to reason that even all else identical, any newer car would be safer than an older one with more miles an wear. But beyond that, newer models come with the benefit of years of engineering technology advancement and increased safety features like forward collision warning and rearview cameras.

But even beyond that, researchers say, there is structural integrity. In a test between a 1998 Toyota Corolla and its 2015 counterpart, the results weren’t even close. The ANCAP showed how the older vehicle was quickly reduced to a crumpled heap, the front wheel smashed inside the front cabin, the door frame collapsed and the roof buckled. Meanwhile, the front cabin of the newer vehicle was largely intact. The door could still be opened.

While the newer model occupant would likely have survived unscathed, the driver of the older car would have either died or suffered severe traumatic injuries to the brain, chest and legs. It should be noted the older vehicle didn’t have airbags (which were mandated standard in the U.S. by that time, but not in Australia or New Zealand), though researchers concluded in this particular case, that wouldn’t have made a huge difference.

By today’s standards, that older model car – just 17 years older than the newer one –  would receive a zero-star safety rating, with the 2015 model would get 5 out of 5 stars.

Older Cars Overrepresented in Fatal Crashes

The data underscores what we already know about fatal car accidents in Buffalo and elsewhere: The older the car, the more likely it is to be involved in a fatal crash. This is especially concerning when we consider that older cars are more likely to be driven by two of the most vulnerable motorists: Teenagers and elderly drivers.

Research published in a 2014 issue of the journal Injury Prevention revealed more than half of teens killed in crashes between 2008 and 2012 were in vehicles that were 11 years or older. Eighty-two percent of those who died were in vehicles that were at least 6-years-old.

The Australian researchers found that while older cars represented roughly 20 percent of cars on the road, they account for 33 percent of fatal crashes. In comparison, newer model cars account for 31 percent of cars on the road, yet are involved in 13 percent of fatal crashes.

Recovering Damages

Because older cars are more likely to be involved in crashes that are fatal or life-threatening, it’s imperative that drivers keep them well-maintained and properly insured. Although maintenance isn’t likely to improve the structural integrity of your older car, it can likely help to make sure your risk isn’t higher. Consider too that if some improper vehicle maintenance plays a role in the crash, you could be deemed liable, or at least comparatively negligent. (In New York, N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1411 holds that comparative negligence won’t bar recovery for damages, but it can proportionately diminish the amount to which you are entitled).

You may also want to consider higher-than-average UM/ UIM (uninsured/ underinsured) motorist coverage. Such coverage isn’t required under New York law, but especially for drivers of older cars, it’s recommended.

If you or your teen driver suffer injury Buffalo car accident, our injury lawyers will work to help you identify every viable avenue for compensation.

New York Aggressive Driving Leads to Road Rage, Personal Injuries

16
May 2017
By:

Photo of driver honking in traffic

New York state is known for having some of the most aggressive drivers in the country. Triggered by a bad morning, a personality quirk, or frustration with other drivers, the screaming, shouting and gesturing you often see on the road became known by a simple descriptor: “road rage”. And it kills. One study by the Affinion Group found that New Yorkers’ behavior was especially prone to agitation on the road and they were likely to provoke or intimidate other drivers through impulsive, often irrational behavior.

More recently, the gun violence focused non-profit news organization The Trace, reported that cases of road rage involving a firearm more than doubled from 247 in 2014 to 620 in 2016. In the three-year period examined, there were at least 1,320 road rage incidents involving guns, resulting in 355 injuries and more than 135 killed.

Aggressive driving is deadly in and of itself. When it escalates and turns into hostility with a target, the stakes on a drivers’ life are even higher. From an injury law standpoint, road rage can be more complicated than aggressive driving because most auto insurance companies won’t cover damages for injuries that are inflicted intentionally.

Specifically, the Insurance Information Institute cites that road rage incidents are often listed as an exemption in many auto insurance policies because it’s not considered a true “accident.” For this reason, as well as your own personal protection, it’s best to drive defensively, especially if you notice any signs of potential aggressive driving from surrounding drivers, such as:

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Running stop signs/ lights
  • Racing another driver
  • Lane blocking
  • Illegal passing
  • Excessive speeding or erratic changing of speeds

Extreme acts of aggression between drivers are considered “road rage” and are a major cause of (often fatal) accidents.

There are several triggers for road rage. More drivers are on the road, and congestion can lead to delays and mounting frustration with traffic, and other drivers. Rushing is another cause; drivers that believe in the need for speed in order to make up lost time can often become the accident that causes rubbernecking traffic. That’s why it’s so important for drivers to give themselves as much time as they can to get to their destination. It will lower stress levels and decrease the chances of unsafe and aggressive acts behind the wheel.

Distraction is another cause for aggressive driving. Those on their cell phones aren’t paying close attention to their surroundings or their own actions. While their actions may not be intentionally aggressive, it can come across that way and it may spur frustration and aggression in other drivers.

In many cases, these actions aren’t intentional, and are simply impulsive responses to frustrating situations not personally aimed at another driver. Even if they are, responding with more aggression only escalates the situation. By being polite and courteous (even when the other driver isn’t) we help protect ourselves and those around us.

New York state does not specifically have an aggressive driving statute. However, as our Buffalo car accident lawyers can explain, New York Reckless Driving (V.T.L. 1212) outlines the consequences for reckless driving, which can include a fine of up to $500, and possible jailtime.

From a personal injury standpoint, reckless driving resulting in injury is likely compensable.

New York follows a “no-fault” system of auto insurance coverage, meaning if you are injured, you will first file a claim for damages with your own insurer through your personal injury protection (PIP) plan. Persons who suffer serious personal injury may take action against other covered persons at-fault in the crash.

If you’ve been injured by a reckless driver, you need a ruthless attorney on your side. Representation is key when it comes to receiving proper and deserved compensation for your injuries. We aim to help restore your quality of life, and get you the justice you’re entitled to. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. No charge, no risk, no focus on anything else but your needs.

Rising Injury Rates Due to Baby Products Endanger Babies in Buffalo, NY

21
Apr 2017
By:

There are many products parents purchase for their babies to try to keep them safe. From high chairs to baby carriers to car seats, it seems there is an endless amount of baby gear designed to protect a baby during any type of activity.

Dangerous baby products attorney BuffaloSometimes the very same products designed to help keep infants safe end up causing them harm. There has been a rising number of injuries in recent years caused by problems with various types of baby products. Parents need to be aware of the substantial risk that a child could be hurt or even killed if using any of these items.

Parents should shop carefully for baby gear to try to ensure they find the safest possible products. If something goes wrong and a baby is harmed, parents must understand their options. If the injury was caused by a problem with a defective product, the manufacturer — and anyone else in the chain of distribution — could potentially be held accountable for harm, in some cases regardless of whether the maker of the baby gear was negligent.

Understanding the Rising Risk of Injuries Due to Problems with Baby Products 

Scientific American recently revealed some troubling statistics about baby products. According to the information presented:

  • A child under the age of 3 has an accident once every eight minutes in the U.S. because of baby products.
  • More than 66,000 annual injuries occur to children under age three because of a problem with a baby product.
  • Concussions and head injuries are a leading reason for emergency room visits because of problems with baby gear.
  • Almost 1.4 million injuries related to baby gear occurred during 1991 to 2011. There was a surge in the number of injuries during the last four years of the study, with the number of injuries going up by 24 percent.
  • In the study’s early years, there was a decline in injuries likely attributed to increased awareness of the dangers of baby walkers.
  • Baby carriers accounted for approximately 20 percent of injuries and were the product accounting for the most injuries. Infant carrier injuries can occur when parents don’t properly use carrier straps or when a carrier is put up on a counter or up on a table instead of being put on the floor as recommended.
  • Mattresses, cribs, and bedding were the category of products responsible for causing the second highest number of injuries. Around 19 percent of injuries happened because of a child’s bedding or crib. Drop side cribs were a leading cause of injury until they were banned in 2011.
  • Strollers were involved in 17 percent of injuries. Strollers had problems including toppling and babies not being properly secured by buckles or straps. Wide wheel bases tend to be safer, but parents must ensure wheel locks are used when necessary.
  • Exercisers, jumpers, and walkers accounted for 16 percent of accidents.

While sometime the injuries were the fault of improper use, in other circumstances the products themselves were to blame. It should be noted that even improper use of a product will not necessarily bar an opportunity for compensation if plaintiffs can show the product was being used in a manner that was foreseeable. This is a legal doctrine known as “foreseeable misuse.” This theory protects consumers who misuse a product in a way a manufacturer either should have or did anticipate. Parents need to determine if a product defect caused harm and should take appropriate legal action if that is the case.

Buffalo Drivers Face Higher Risk of Death While Driving

A record number of people in the U.S. are dying in car accidents and the problem is getting worse, according to recent analysis. NPR has reported on this phenomenon, reporting on the biggest two-year increase in car accident fatalities in more than 50 years. There was a 14 percent rise in car accident deaths during that time frame.

Buffalo Auto Accident LawyerThis is more than just a statistic. It means lives have been lost, families have been shattered, and communities have suffered.

Awareness of the rising accident death rates may compel drivers to use greater caution. Motorists must also know their rights in case they are hurt in a crash that is clearly the fault of another driver. In those cases, they may be entitled to compensation. Those who have lost a loved one in a collision may have grounds to assert a claim of wrongful death against any drivers, companies, or government agencies that may have been at fault.

Car Accident Fatality Rates on the Rise

In 2016, there were more car accidents than we’ve seen in any year since 2007. The number of fatalities had been declining before 2015, attributed largely to higher unemployment and a weak economy.

Since then, the economy has improved, but this good news is tempered by the fact that roads have gotten less safe. As gas prices have fallen, so too has unemployment. Meanwhile wages have gone up. All this means people are more likely to be out on the road. This has resulted in many more car accident deaths.

There were more than 40,000 people killed in auto accidents in 2016 alone. This was up six percent from the number of fatalities in 2015.

The increase in car accident fatalities cannot be attributed solely to the fact there are more people on the road, although that is a big mitigating factor. The issue is that not only that more people are out and about in their vehicles, but also that people continue to engage in unsafe behaviors. In some cases, they are engaging in even more unsafe behaviors than ever before.

Drugged driving deaths are on the rise, according to USA Today, with so many more people dying in drug-related car accidents that regulators are alarmed. Relaxing attitudes towards marijuana may be playing a role in rising fatalities, and the opioid crisis is likely contributing to this problem and may make drugged driving accident rates go up even further.

Motorists need to be aware that they are likely to encounter more crowded roads, and that the collision risk on those roads is rising. Drivers should be as careful as they can to try to avoid accidents. Those who have been injured in an accident should know their rights if another motorist has caused a crash that resulted in a personal injury. A qualified car accident attorney can help protect those rights.

Recent Dog Attack Prompts Discussion About Animal Control, Owner Responsibility

6
Feb 2017
By:

A 6-year-old boy was killed and another was seriously injured in a dog attack while walking to school last month in Atlanta, prompting discussions nationwide about animal control laws and the responsibility of dog owners.

According to The Washington Post, a five-year old girl was seriously injured and required multiple surgeries, while a six-year-old boy was killed by the dogs, who had escaped from their fenced yard. Neighbors reported that the dogs had a history of roaming the neighborhood, but did not report a history of violence.Dog Bites

In response to this attack, officials in Atlanta and Fulton County recently began discussing their animal laws and the future of an animal control arrangement between the county and its cities which expires this year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

This is not a new conversation. The state of Georgia itself had considered legislation that would prevent local governments from banning specific dog breeds in 2015, but ultimately decided to leave that power in local hands. Nationwide, officials have had similar discussions involving dog attacks and legislation aimed at preventing such incidents.

Dog Bite Law in New York

Dog bites are a serious concern across the nation. An estimated 1,000 people each day require emergency medical treatment due to a dog attack, according to statistics compiled by DogsBite.org between 1982 and 2014.

In New York, the victim must prove a prior vicious propensity for violence on the part of the dog. This means the dog was violent in the past and the owner was aware of this tendency. However, proving that a dog has a history of violence can be difficult. Often, there are few witnesses who saw a dog’s prior vicious behavior. And if someone did see something, many don’t want to get involved in such legal disputes.

As a result, the investigation process often takes more time and injury victims have to wait longer to receive the compensation they rightfully deserve. That’s primarily because negligence is not accepted in New York as a grounds for medical compensation after a dog bite.

Based on deadly dog attacks like the one last month, New York officials should consider revising the state’s dog bite laws, just like officials in Fulton County and Georgia. Dog owners should be liable for damages caused by their animals without requiring victims to prove that a dog has a history of violence. Investigating a dog’s previous behavior often takes a tremendous amount of time and money.

If the attack in the Atlanta area happened in New York, it’s likely that the victims’ family might not be able to obtain financial compensation since neighbors in the Atlanta suburb where the deadly attack happened last month said that the dogs were not violent in the past.

Dog Safety

New York officials need to consider changing the state’s laws to protect people from violent dogs. Specifically, New York lawmakers should consider:

  • Changing the requirement that dog bite victims must prove that a dog had a history of violence before the attack occurred. Dog owners should not have to gather such evidence. If a dog viciously attacked someone, that should be more than enough proof that a dog is violent and the dog owner should be held legally responsible for such an attack.
  • Banning certain dog breeds. Certain communities nationwide have chosen to take this approach in an effort to reduce the number of violent dog attacks. Breed-specific legislation often targets pit bulls, Rottweiler’s, Dobermans and other specific breeds.
  • Limiting the number of dogs people can own. Some counties nationwide restrict the number of dogs people can own based on how the property is zoned. Officials in California, Illinois, North Carolina and Oregon have such laws in certain counties, according to news reports.
  • Making dog obedience classes mandatory for all dog owners. New York State previously considered adopting such legislation in 2011 requiring mandatory dog obedience training. It’s important that dogs know their limits and understand certain commands and respond on cue from their owners.

In the meantime, dog owners and neighbors should consider taking the following steps to keep everyone safe and prevent dog attacks from happening:

Dog owners

  • Make sure dogs securely contained on properties. Larger dogs require sturdier fencing. And if dog owners fail to properly contain their dogs, they should be held legally responsible for any attacks caused by their dogs.
  • Use a sturdy leash when walking dog in neighborhood. If a dog becomes aggressive or violent, dog owners should be able to pull the dog back and prevent the dog from harming a person or another dog.

Neighbors

  • Do not provoke dogs. Even if an animal seems friendly and happy at a given moment, dogs should not be teased or harassed. Children should be taught how to safely interact with dogs. If a dog is loose, give it space and contact the dog’s owner, local animal control, or local police so the dog may be safely collected and taken home or to a safe location.
  • Make note of any violent habits or tendencies in dogs. If you see a neighbor’s dog behaving in an aggressive or violent manner, write down the exact time and date you observed such behavior. You may even want to consider reporting such threatening or dangerous behavior to police. If an attack happens under current New York law, this information will be vital in getting justice for the victims or their families in a timely manner. If the danger is great enough, making the owner and/or law enforcement aware of it may even help prevent an attack from happening.

Understanding what to do after a dog attack can be confusing. That’s why it’s important to contact a New York attorney familiar with the state’s laws and handling such complex cases. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog in New York, contact the Law Offices of James Morris to learn more about your rights and all the legal options available to you.

How to Stay Safe if Your Car Spins Out at an Icy Buffalo Intersection

19
Jan 2017
By:

Recently, major highways in Buffalo had to shut down as a result of a series of accidents during a winter storm. WIVB reported on the accidents and the resulting shutdowns of roadways. Icy intersection

In one incident, all lanes of I-190 Southbound were blocked as a result of a tractor trailer truck which jack-knifed. The incident happened between Exit 6 and Exit 7 and fortunately no one got hurt.  Shortly before 6:00 PM on the same day, the right lane of I-190 Southbound was closed at Exit 16 because of a different crash. Route 5 also closed for four miles; Route 219 beyond Mile Strip Road had a closed left lane because of a car accident; and the Skyway shut down completely due to bad weather.

The winters in Buffalo are bad, and a series of accidents like these typically happen during storms or when there is a lot of ice on the roads. While snow and ice are inevitable, however, there are things motorists can do to try to reduce the number of winter-weather accidents happening on Buffalo roads. In particular, drivers should know what to do if their cars start to spin out on an interstate or at an intersection.

Interstates and highways are common locations for winter weather accidents because of the close proximity of vehicles. Cars traveling close together are more likely to hit each other if weather  conditions are bad. Close proximity of vehicles also means if any car spins out, it’s probably going to cause a multi-vehicle accident that could even lead to a pileup.

Since there are dangers at intersections and interstates, drivers should be aware of the risk and try to stay safe.  One of the best ways to do that is to know how to react if your car starts to spin out and you feel yourself losing control.

If you find yourself in this situation, determine if it is your front or rear wheels skidding. If your rear wheels are skidding on ice, try to steer the car in the direction where you want the front wheels to turn.  For example, if you feel your rear-wheels begin to slide to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right to try to take the front wheels with it. You could potentially have to try to turn your wheel multiple times both left and right before you can regain control.

If your front wheels skid, you should try to shift the car to neutral right away. The skidding front wheels are going to slow the car down naturally which can make it easier for you to gain traction. Steer the car in the direction that you wish the vehicle to move. Once you have regained control, you can switch the car into drive and accelerate slowly to get back on your way.

Spinal Injuries in Auto Accidents in Buffalo

23
Nov 2016
By:

New York is a no fault auto insurance state, which means many accident victims get coverage from their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy after a car accident injury. However, if a crash victim experiences an injury considered to be serious, this can give the victim the right to pursue civil action against someone else who was at fault for causing the auto accident. There are lots of different kinds of injuries, but some of the most serious are those affecting the spinal cord. luxury-car-interior-1447962

Spinal cord injuries in auto accidents can be life changing and often result in ongoing medical expenses and an impaired ability to work, if the victim can work at all. It is imperative to understand what options you have available to you as a spinal cord injury victim for seeking compensation. Anyone who was responsible for your auto accident injuries, from a careless driver to a car manufacturer, could potentially be made to pay you damages. The money you receive can help you ensure you can afford to provide for yourself and your family and can make it possible for you to get the best medical care.

When most people think of a spinal cord injury, they think of an injury that causes complete paralysis. Many spinal cord injuries do in fact make it impossible to control affected parts of the body and can result in the victim becoming paralyzed. However, there are different kinds of spinal cord injuries and not all of those injuries will result in a person being left unable to walk or move.

Some of the different types of spinal injuries an auto accident victim could suffer include:

  • Anterior cord syndrome: ACS causes damage to the front of the spinal cord. The result is both sensory and motor pathways sustain damage. Movement will be difficult or impossible.  You may still have some lingering feeling in affected parts of the body.
  • Central cord syndrome: With this type of injury, the center of the spinal cord is damaged. Nerves are also damaged which carry signals from  your brain to your spinal cord.  You may experience paralysis of the arms and loss of fine motor skills. There may be some impairment in the legs, but the impairment in the legs is usually not as profound as it is in the arms or as it is with other types of spinal injuries. In some cases, bladder, bowel control, and sexual function is lost in patients suffering from central cord syndrome.
  • Brown-Sequard syndrome: This injury occurs when just one side of the spinal cord is damaged. You may experience profound effects on one side of the body, such as becoming unable to move your left side. The other side of your body may retain full movement.

If you suffer these types of spinal cord injury, or any type of spinal cord injury, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible following the auto accident in order to determine if anyone can be held accountable for losses.

Stay Sober to Avoid Halloween Pedestrian Accidents in Buffalo

24
Oct 2016
By:

In 2014, a three year old boy was out trick-or-treating with his family in upstate New York, as so many children do on Halloween night. Tragically, this little boy did not make it home at the end of the night because he was killed in a traffic accident. WHEC reports the motorist who struck the little boy said he did not see the child. The initial investigation did not identify signs of intoxication. beer-guy-2-1543615

Now, however, two years later the man who was driving on that fateful Halloween night is facing criminal charges and court papers claim he had both alcohol and diazepam in his system.  Prosecutors indicate they had to wait to press charges against the driver until a lengthy investigation could be completed and until toxicology reports from the collision scene came back. He faces the potential for jail time if convicted of the crimes.

This Halloween, similar tragedies are likely to happen — but they don’t have to! Drivers can take steps to help ensure that no kids die in pedestrian or traffic collisions. Preventing these types of Halloween accidents requires a simple commitment from motorists not to get behind the wheel when they are intoxicated.

It is always important to avoid intoxicated driving, but especially on Halloween night when young children will be out. Everyone can do their part to keep kids safe from drunk driving pedestrian accidents on Halloween:

  • If you are going to be drinking, have a ride planned before you start. A designated driver, a car sharing service, or a taxi should be lined up. You may even want a backup plan to make certain there is no question about getting in the car drunk.
  • If your kids are going to a party, talk with them. Teen drunk drivers are a problem on halloween as young people attend parties with their friends and then drive home intoxicated. Be sure you know where your teens are going to be for halloween night and confirm a parent will be supervising and no alcohol will be served. Remind your kids that they should never drive drunk or get into a car with anyone who is drunk under any circumstances.
  • If you are throwing a party, be sure your guests don’t create a risk. Consider not serving alcohol, or at least make sure you have other beverages available for designated drivers. Don’t let anyone leave and drive drunk either. Call them a cab, invite them to stay over, or drive them home yourself if you are sober, rather than taking the risk someone leaving your house could injure a child on halloween night.

Everyone working together can ensure a safer Halloween for our children and a happier start to the holiday season for us all.

Drowsy Driving and Buffalo Car Accidents

23
Sep 2016
By:

Recently, a late-night motor vehicle accident occurred which left one driver dead and which left another person injured. WGRZ reported on the tragic accident, which happened on Fillmore Avenue and North Parade shortly before midnight. Police indicate the driver of the vehicle lost control of his car, which resulted in the driver sideswiping a light pole before his vehicle hit a tree. The driver was killed in the collision and pronounced dead at the crash scene, while the passenger in the vehicle was rushed to Erie Community Medical Center with serious injuries. driving-1434211

Police indicate the cause of the car accident is still under investigation. There are lots of reasons for single car and multi-vehicle accidents at night, including drunk driving.

Fatigued driving is also a big issue, and motorists need to be aware of the dangers of driving when tired. Fatigued driving is becoming an especially big focus among safety advocates as a new report has been released showing some of the significant dangers of drowsy driving.

A new report from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA) emphasized the risks of fatigued driving. According to the report, approximately 84 million motorists throughout the United States drive even though they are too tired to be safe. The toll of these drowsy drivers is substantial, as around 5,000 people lost their lives in 2015 in crashes resulting from drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is not a new problem. Each year, on average, 109,000 people get hurt and around 6,400 lose their lives in drowsy driving crashes. The annual cost of losses from drowsy driving is $109 billion, and a total of 328,000 drowsy driving crashes happen each year. Around seven percent of all crashes and close to 17 percent of all fatal crashes on the roads in the United States involve a driver who is drowsy.

Drivers can prevent this type of accident from happening by making sure to get enough sleep. They should also restrict the number of hours they drive before getting rest. A motorist who has been beyond the wheel for too long is impaired in similar ways to a motorist who is drunk. The motorist may experience delayed reaction time and impaired judgment. If he falls asleep, he can leave his lane and strike other vehicles or objects.

Drivers should also make it a point to stop if they find themselves getting tired behind the wheel or if they nod off as they drive. Coffee, cold temperatures like opening a window, and loud music are not going to be sufficient to keep a drowsy driver alert enough to be safe. Motorists need to make sure they make smart choices and get off the road before they hurt or kill themselves or other drivers. If someone is fatigued behind the wheel and causes a collision to happen, the drowsy driver can be held accountable for losses.

“Driving Selfies” Put New York Motorists At Risk

30
Aug 2016
By:

Driving a carIn the wake of warnings about texting while driving and playing games while driving, New York is now cautioning motorists against another type of distracted driving: taking “selfies” behind the wheel.

According to a new report published by the Auto Insurance Center, New York ranks eighth in the nation for #DrivingSelfies per 100,000 residents. That means thousands of drivers statewide are taking their eyes off the road to take pictures of themselves with their smartphones and upload them to social media.

New York has some of the nation’s toughest laws against cell phone use while driving. The state law prohibits drivers from holding portable electronic devices, viewing, taking or transmitting images and transmitting, sending or retrieving electronic data while driving, all of which are involved when taking “driving selfies.” Penalties include a $400 fine and five points on the offender’s license.

But according to the Auto Insurance Center’s report, state laws have done little to deter drivers from taking this risk on the road.

New York officials emphasized the need for drivers to think about the consequences of using their phones while driving, as WIVB 4 reports. Distracted drivers have a hard time staying in their own lanes, which means they could drift off the road and hit someone walking or jogging. They often cause rear-end accidents and even head-on collisions when they drift into the oncoming lane.

And because taking a picture takes the driver’s eyes off the road for at least two seconds, driving selfies can be even more dangerous than texting or talking on the phone while driving.

People injured by distracted drivers have legal rights – and an attorney can help

Because using handheld electronics while driving is illegal in New York, people who are injured by distracted drivers may think their insurance will cover them without issue. Unfortunately, the truth is often more complex. The distracted driver may deny wrongdoing, or the insurance company may try to claim that the injured person did something else to cause the accident.

Even if the distracted driver is cited for using a cell phone while driving, it’s important to remember that the police are there to deal with the offender, not to help the victim get compensation. And even if fault isn’t disputed, the insurance company may try to downplay the extent of your injuries or find other ways to reduce your claim as much as possible.

That’s why it’s critical to retain an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. If distracted driving was a factor, your attorney will consult cell phone records, social media and witness reports to prove that the driver who caused your injuries was negligent. As with any car accident case, we’ll also review medical records and other evidence to prove the full extent of your losses due to the crash, and we’ll negotiate directly with the insurance company to make sure you are fairly compensated.