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.

Watch Your Step When You Catch Them All

26
Jul 2016
By:

Playing The Pokemon Go with blur backgroundIn the few weeks since its release, Pokémon Go has quickly become an international sensation. Created by Niantic Inc., this new app combines virtual reality with actual reality and gives fans the chance to experience the joy of being a Pokémon Trainer. The game is encouraging exercise, bringing likeminded players together, and helping to increase small business revenue across the US. Yet, Pokémon Go could have dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.

Despite warnings from Nintendo, some people continue to play the game while driving, focusing on their phone screens instead of on the road. As with any other forms of distracted driving, repeatedly looking away from the road in front of you greatly increases your chances of a car accident. And that’s exactly what happened in Auburn, New York. A 28 year-old man was playing Pokémon Go while driving and crashed his car into a tree. Though the car was severely damaged, the driver is expected to make a full recovery.

It’s not only distracted driving that is causing Pokémon Go-related accidents. There have also been reports of pedestrians walking into traffic, robbers specifically targeting distracted players and, in one report, two players crossed into a fenced-off area and walked off the edge of a cliff. Miraculously, none of these people were fatally injured, yet all of these instances could have been avoided entirely had these players focused more on their surroundings and less on their phones. Just as it is the responsibility for motorists everywhere to pay attention to the road, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when walking along busy roads or highways.

Safety Tips for Playing Pokémon Go

  • Do not play Pokémon GO while driving. Every year, thousands of car crash fatalities happen as a result of distracted driving. Looking down at your phone, even for a few seconds, could cause an accident. Keep your phone off and your eyes on the road.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you’re playing at night. Pay attention to where you are walking and the people who are around you.
  • Bring a friend. Not only is catching Pokémon with your friends a fun experience, there is always safety in numbers.
  • Watch for signs as well as Pokémon. If you trespass onto private property or ignore construction signs that might be outside of buildings or other dangerous areas in an attempt to catch Pokémon, you may end up putting yourself in danger and could end up breaking the law. Remember, any Pokémon that appears in a restricted area will reappear in another, safer location at another time. Stay safe. Pikachu can wait.

Summer is the Season for Motorcycle Accidents

Recently, a 40-year-old Buffalo man died in a motorcycle accident when his motorcycle was involved in a crash with another vehicle. Buffalo News reports the accident happened at Fillmore Avenue and East Delavan and occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. Police were investigating the cause of the collision and asked witnesses to call with information.  The Buffalo News also reported police were asking for information on another unrelated motorcycle accident which had occurred in the North Tonawanda area.

Unfortunately, as warmer weather arrives in the Buffalo area, more reports of motorcycle crashes are likely to hit the papers. This is because warm summer weather brings more people out on motorcycle-accident-300x200motorcycles to ride for pleasure or to ride to commute. Drivers, who may not be as used to seeing motorcycles on the road after a cold and snowy winter, now need to make sure they are taking extra precautions to avoid hitting and injuring or killing a motorcycle rider.

Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents During the Summer Months

A rise in motorcycle accidents does not have to be inevitable just because there are more motorcyclists on the road. Drivers and motorcycle riders can all do their part to exercise caution and try to prevent collisions.  To reduce the chances of a motorcycle accident happening as temperatures rise:

  • Drivers and motorcycle riders should stay sober: Drunk driving is a contributing factor to many motorcycle accidents. Don’t drink and drive or drive after using drugs.
  • Drivers should leave plenty of space around motorcycle riders. Drivers need to leave a gap between their car and the motorcycle so they can stop in time if the motorcyclist does something unexpected. Motorcycle riders are more vulnerable to changes in road surface and more at risk due to debris in roadways than people in cars, and drivers need to be aware motorcyclists may need to react to a road problem.
  • Drivers should follow the rules for yielding the right-of-way to motorcycle riders. Many drivers don’t successfully judge how fast motorcycles are going and thus they end up cutting off motorcyclists or striking them. Drivers should make sure to yield the right-of-way and not try to enter an intersection when it is a motorcycle rider’s turn.
  • Drivers should look twice before they turn or before they change lanes. It can be harder to see a motorcycle, which is much smaller than a passenger car. Don’t just rely on mirrors to make sure the lane is clear- actually take a look before you change lanes and accidentally hit a motorcycle rider.

By following these tips and otherwise exercising caution and following traffic safety rules, hopefully drivers can help to prevent motorcycle accidents which would otherwise be likely to occur as the weather gets warmer and more motorcycle riders take to the roads.

Research Shows Medical Errors Are Third-Leading Cause of Death

Analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins doctors finds over 250,000 deaths yearly

According to a new study, medical errors are behind only cancer and heart disease as a cause of death in the United States.

This new report, conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers and published in The BMJ, showed that medical errors in hospitals, doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities are much more common than previously believed. Medical errors claim over 250,000 lives annually, more than respiratory disease, accidents and stroke.

Researchers Martin Makary and Michael Daniel stated that their goal was to shed more light on a problem that historically has been overlooked despite putting thousands of lives at risk. Makary said in an interview that his investigation of medical errors included everything from poor judgment by individual doctors to more systemic problems, such as miscommunications when patients go from one department to another or one facility to another.

Their analysis was a comprehensive review of four large studies, including one by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and one by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Reporting standards do not document preventable deaths, researchers say

According to the study results, medical errors should rank third on the annual ranking of causes of death published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), behind only heart disease and cancer.

However, medical errors are currently not included in the CDC figures because of the way the CDC instructs physicians to fill out death certificates. Under current standards, the cause of death is recorded as the underlying medical issue that led the patient to seek treatment, not the medical error.

For instance, if a doctor fails to diagnose a patient at risk for a stroke and the patient subsequently suffers a stroke and dies, the cause of death is recorded as stroke, not medical error. Likewise, if a patient dies on the operating table while undergoing surgery for a respiratory illness, the cause of death is listed as respiratory disease – even though a surgeon’s error directly caused the death.

The findings of the Johns Hopkins study could have major implications, both for the healthcare system in general and for families who have lost loved ones due to medical errors. While it has long been known that medical errors can put patients at risk, this new information shows just how prevalent they are – and how difficult it can be to prove that a medical professional’s mistake caused the death.

That’s why it’s so important for friends and relatives of a patient who has died due to medical error to seek qualified legal representation as soon as possible. A caring, compassionate and experienced attorney who knows how to ask the right questions can build a strong case to bring justice after such a loss. If you’ve lost a loved one to a medical error, contact the Law Offices of James Morris.

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Buffalo Collision Involving Two Teens Reveals Risks of Teen Drivers

19
Apr 2016
By:

In the state of New York, countless teen drivers are involved in fatal car collisions each year.  Even a single death is devastating, but unfortunately teenagers face the most substantial risk of any demographic group of being killed in a car crash. Teens are especially at risk of getting hurt or killed in a wreck if they have any passengers in the car at the time when a young person is driving.

Buffalo Collision Shows Risk For Teen Drivers & Passengers

This past winter, one of many collisions involving teen drivers occurred when an 18-year-old driver became involved in a crash with a snow plow. Buffalo News reports the 18-year-old’s vehicle moved across the center turn lane and crossed over into the eastbound lane where it struck one of three plows which were on the road at the time.  A passenger in the car, who was 16, sustained injuries including cuts and a fractured vertebrae. Both the driver and passenger who were injured were taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.

The teen was issued two tickets in this case, with the first citation indicating he had moved from a lane unsafely and with the additional citation indicating he had failed to keep right. The reasons for the accident are still under investigation.

The fact the teen had a passenger in the car with him was a contributing risk factor to a crash occurring.  A recent study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety clearly demonstrates dangers associated with young people having passengers in the car as they drive.

Having even one other passenger nearly doubles motor vehicle collision risk among teen drivers. The crash risk per mile doubles as soon as there are two passengers, and quadruples in situations where at least three additional passengers aged 21 or under are in the car with the teenaged driver as he is operating a vehicle.

CBS News, reporting on another recent study, revealed having passengers in the car was very risky for young people because these passengers could be more of a distraction than cell phone use, than eating, or then reaching for items inside of the vehicle.

Graduated licensing laws in New York recognize the dangers of having multiple passengers and impose a restriction on teens who have not yet become eligible for their full license available at age 18 (or aged 17 if the teen took driver’s education).  Teens without their full license are allowed to have only one passenger under the age of 21 in the car with them at a time.

Graduated licensing laws limiting passengers can reduce dangers of crashes, but since NY law still allows one passenger, teens who drive around with at least one friend will continue to face a higher chance of a fatal crash.

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