Part 1: Having Adequate Insurance Protects You As Well As Others

Nov 2023

House insurance form for homeowners and model of home.

Property Insurance for Homeowners and Tenants

October and November are the beginning of cooler weather for Western New York. Shorter days, falling leaves, rain, wind, sleet, and snow create an increased risk of potential damage to your premises as well as an increased risk of potential injury to visitors to your premises, perhaps due to poor lighting, slippery conditions, or other hazards.

With winter approaching, not only is now a good time to prepare your premises for winter but also to review your property insurance and make sure you have adequate coverage.

What’s covered under a homeowner/tenant policy?

Standard homeowner and tenant policies typically include property, liability, theft, and medical payments coverage.

Liability insurance covers bodily injury to others, including injuries caused by most pets; damage to property of others; and medical expenses for the injured person.

Unfortunately, liability insurance limits can be insufficient to compensate the injured person, leaving the homeowner/tenant unprotected as the homeowner/tenant is personally responsible for claims that cost more than their liability limits.

Thus, it is a good idea to consider increasing the liability limits and/or taking out an umbrella policy.

Homeowner/tenant policies in New York State also can cover perils such as:

  • bodily injury to others, including injuries caused by most pets
  • damage to the property of others
  • civil judgments
  • medical payments to others
  • personal property (at home)
  • personal property (away)
  • additional living expenses (if forced to live away from home temporarily)
  • falling objects
  • weight of ice, snow, and sleet
  • damage resulting from an accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire sprinkler system
  • freezing of plumbing systems
  • electrical damage to appliances
  • fire, lightning, and smoke damage
  • windstorm and hail
  • burglary and theft
  • explosion
  • glass breakage
  • vehicle or aircraft damage
  • riot and civil commotion
  • vandalism and malicious mischief
  • flood insurance is separate and can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Your insurance agent should be able to assist you with any coverage questions and/or to increase your liability limits.

Contact the Law Offices of James Morris

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a hazard or defect on premises, contact the Law Offices of James Morris today. We hold property owners responsible when they don’t keep their premises safe.

The information contained in this communication is provided for informational purposes only and should not be constituted as advice on any subject matter.

Stay Alert. Steps Pedestrians Can Take to Improve Safety

Jan 2023

Two pedestrians use a crosswalk.

A recent Buffalo News Article published on November 16, 2022, highlighted that Twice in 12 hours, Amherst pedestrians had been hit by vehicles. The separate events within a 12-hour span resulted in both pedestrians suffering head injuries that required medical treatment.

This is not a new issue in Amherst, New York. From 2010-2019, three pedestrians were killed after being struck before dawn along a one-mile stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard on the town line between Amherst and Tonawanda. Another six pedestrians were killed in a five-year span on a 2.4-mile stretch of the Boulevard from Ridge Lea Road north to East Robinson Road.

The Department of Transportation has made recommendations to minimize the risk for pedestrians in the area which included adding more visible crosswalks and lowering the speed limits in some areas.

It is important to be vigilant if you are a pedestrian. Unfortunately, not everyone is focusing behind the wheel these days. Make sure you keep these tips in mind if you are walking on or near the road:

  • If there is a sidewalk, be sure to use it. Do not walk on the side of the road if you can avoid it.
  • Obey traffic signals.
  • Only cross the road inside of a crosswalk to ensure your safety.
  • Look both ways before entering a crosswalk.
  • Make sure it is clear before you cross the road, even if the lights indicate you have the right of way.
  • Do not cross when your view is blocked. Move to a different location where your view is clear, and then cross safely.
  • Be on alert for vehicles that may be traveling from a different direction into your path.
  • Do not look at a cell phone or device, pay attention to the traffic around you.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing and carry a light at night.

Follow safe practices as a pedestrian or driver

Holiday Season Safety Tips

Dec 2022

Prep for installing Christmas lights by leaning a ladder against a house and setting out lights

When it comes to the holiday season, it involves gathering, traveling, decorating, baking, and so much more with the ones you love. It is most important to keep safety in mind so that you can continue your celebrations with those who mean the most to you.

Here are some tips to get you through the holiday festivities in a safe and fun way!


  • Leave yourself plenty of time to drive from one place to another while anticipating the holiday traffic.
  • Be mindful of the weather for the day and have a plan for the safest way to travel under wintry weather conditions.
  • Do not drink and drive. Instead, have a plan to get home if you’ll be consuming alcohol.


  • If you are decking out your home in the finest Christmas lights or placing candles all around the home, be sure to do so safely.
  • If you’ll be on a ladder, make sure you’re using it properly as marked, and have another person standing at the bottom securing the ladder to avoid any falls.
  • If you will fill your home with candles for décor, please be mindful about the placement of candles, and be sure to always extinguish the flame if you are no longer going to be in the same room as the lit flame.
  • Be careful with any tools you may use to hang.
  • Don’t get crafty finding things to stand on while trying to hang the high ornaments, lights, or décor. Just use a secure ladder!


  • Always be mindful of children while in the kitchen.
  • Do not leave food cooking unattended.
  • Know the difference between different types of fires and how to extinguish the fires.
  • Use pot holders to remove items from the oven to avoid burns.

Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy your Holiday season!

Happy Holidays from James Morris Law!

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Nov 2022

Turkey, potatoes, and all the fixings for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends gather together to celebrate and reflect on all things they are thankful for, and maybe watch a football game or two!

Plans usually vary from visiting together on far-away trips or traveling to a close friend or family’s home by car to celebrate the day. There will be an increased number of vehicles on the road. It is important that you practice safety while traveling to where you’ll be spending the day.

This time of year in Western New York, it can be rather tricky to navigate the roads. It is important to have a plan for the day to ensure safety getting to and from the gathering place. Some tips for having a great Thanksgiving are:

  • Remember to pull the turkey out of the freezer and allow it enough time to thaw!
  • If you’re traveling to someone else’s home, be sure to plan when you’ll be leaving ahead of time to avoid the very likely traffic delays.
  • If Western New York is showing its wintry side, dress warm and leave yourself plenty of time to take it slow on the roads during your travels.
  • Be careful if you’re playing a game of football with friends or family, protect your head, and try to leave the tricks like hurdling people to Josh Allen.
  • If you will be consuming alcohol during the festivities, be sure to have a ride home. Do not drink and drive.

If you are hosting the holiday and your loved ones, be sure to keep the tips from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) in mind:

Top 10 Thanksgiving Day Safety Tips

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay at home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer, or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks, or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Thanksgiving is the time to look back and reflect on your life with your people and all the things that you are thankful for. Make a plan ahead of time to make it as safe as possible.

Happy Thanksgiving from James Morris Law!

Tips for Staying Safe This Halloween

Oct 2022

Halloween Pumpkins on the side of the road.

Boo!!! Halloween is coming up fast, and children in the Western New York area are eager to go trick or treating! As an adult, it is your responsibility to keep your children safe as they roam the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, children are 4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal pedestrian accident on Halloween than on any other night. Follow these safety tips to enjoy the spooky holiday with no unexpected consequences.

  1. Travel in a group. Sticking with a group is safer, as well as more fun!
  2. Be visible. Bring glowsticks and flashlights, or use reflective tape so passing drivers can see you.
  3. Make sure your child’s costume is safe. Your child’s costume should be easy to move and breathe in. Don’t let any mask obstruct your child’s vision. Avoid props unless they are rubber or plastic.
  4. Inspect the treats your child receives. Make sure candy has not been tampered with, and your child isn’t allergic to anything in their candy bag.
  5. Follow road guidelines. Look both ways when crossing the street and obey traffic signals.
  6. Visit houses with lights on. People who are not home or don’t want visitors will probably turn their lights off. Best to stay clear of these houses!

Halloween is a fun time for kids to dress in whatever spooky or silly costume they want to! So be sure to grab the last-minute finishing touches for their costumes and be ready to go on October 31!

Stay safe this Halloween

Happy Halloween from James Morris Law!

Staying Safe on the Playground

Jul 2022

Broken swing dangling from one chain in a playground.

School is out, and kids of all ages are ready to enjoy their summer vacation! As the days get warmer, more and more kids will be begging their parents, babysitters, and legal guardians to take them to the local playground.

Unfortunately, over 200,000 children receive emergency medical treatment for various playground injuries every year.

While the playground is a bastion of fun and a door to a child’s imagination, there are still rules to be followed for their own safety. Here are a few tips to ensure your next trip to the playground is stress free.

  • Always keep an eye on your child.
  • Properly dress your child. Your child should wear athletic clothing. Tie their shoes tight. Avoid clothes that may get tangled with playground equipment (ex. necklaces, drawstrings, etc.)
  • Check playground equipment. Do not allow your child on equipment that is wet or extremely hot. Look for rust, protruding bolts, broken equipment and other sharp points or edges.
  • Instruct the child to use the equipment correctly. Your child should sit properly on swings, slides, and seesaws, as well as hold on tightly to prevent themselves from falling.
  • Survey the playground space. The ground surface surrounding the equipment should be covered with at least 12 inches of shock-absorbing material such as sand, wood chips, mulch or safety-tested rubber. Playground structures taller than 30 inches should be at least 9ft away from each other.

There are many hazards on playgrounds that can cause severe injuries to children. Sometimes, playground accidents happen due to the negligence of the owner or manager of the property, whether that’s a school, park, or individual property owner.

If your child was injured in a playground accident, it’s important to know your legal rights and options. At the Law Offices of James E. Morris, we can listen to what happened, answer your questions, and help you weigh your legal options. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced child injury lawyer.

7 Water Safety Tips You Should Know

Jul 2022

father and two children jumping into pool

The brutal winter is finally over, and people around the Western New York area are gearing up for long days by the local lake, pool, or pond!

Although we are all eager to enjoy this summer season, remember to practice your water safety.

In the US, there is an average of 10 fatal drownings per day, and drowning is the number one cause of injury-related deaths for children between the ages 1 and 5.

Water safety is essential to having a fun and relaxing summer with the people you love.

Here are a few tips to ensure your safety, whether you are boating on Lake Erie or hanging out by the pool:

  • Always keep an eye on children.
  • No diving in shallow water. (min. 8ft to dive)
  • Wear a life preserver while boating.
  • Swim with a partner.
  • Check the weather forecast before water activities.
  • When caught in a current, stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free. Do NOT try to fight the current!
  • Avoid alcohol while swimming, boating, and participating in water sports or activities.

Swimming, boating, and other recreational activities are a terrific way to enjoy summer days in Western New York, but it’s always necessary to take safety precautions.

However, if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to protect your rights and help make you whole again.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact the Law Offices of James E. Morris today for a free, confidential consultation.

Recovering From Facial Injuries After a Crash

Oct 2021

A man with a dreadful blotchy black and blue (and red) eye also has a large bandage covering several medical stitches in his temple after a car accident.

A Buffalo, NY car accident lawyer reveals what drivers need to know

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles travel the roads in Buffalo and throughout western New York every day. It only takes one negligent driver to cause a car accident that can leave people seriously hurt. Many victims of these crashes suffer painful and traumatic facial injuries that have a significant impact on their lives.

One study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found these types of injuries are very common. It reviewed the cases of 461 accident victims who had been admitted to a regional trauma center during a 15-month period. Just over half of them were found to have suffered facial trauma.

The impacts of facial trauma

There are many ways that facial injuries can happen during an auto accident. Broken glass and other debris can strike the face, resulting in serious cuts and lacerations or eye injuries. Impact with the steering wheel or another part of the car can lead to broken bones. If a fire breaks out during the crash, a person can suffer painful and devastating burns to the face.

These injuries can happen in seconds, but often have a lifelong impact on victims. They are affected physically and may require extensive medical treatment. This may include reconstructive surgery and/or skin grafts to repair scarring or other types of disfigurement.

Victims may also be affected emotionally. If their face is left disfigured, they may experience emotional difficulties and a loss of self-confidence.

There is also a financial impact. The cost of medical treatment can add up quickly and accident-related expenses can become overwhelming. This may include the cost of surgery, hospitalization, medication, and therapy.

If a negligent driver caused a crash that left a victim with a facial injury, the victim deserves financial compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. But the process of recovering compensation can get complicated quickly.

Experienced legal representation can make a difference

One obstacle is the negligent driver. That driver may have been speeding, driving recklessly, texting and driving, or driving drunk. But negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong and refuse to admit fault. If you were hurt in an accident, the other driver may claim that YOU were actually at fault.

Another obstacle is the insurance company. While processing your claim, insurance adjusters focus on their company’s bottom line. That’s why they will try to pay you as little money as possible. They’ll question the extent of your injuries or argue they were pre-existing. Or they’ll pressure you to just accept a lowball settlement offer, saying it’s the best that they can do.

That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side. You need a lawyer who knows the tactics that insurance companies use and how to build strong cases that they can’t ignore.

Attorney James Morris has been fighting for the injured for decades. He understands the impact that facial trauma and other types of injuries can have on crash victims. He knows how to handle insurance company attempts to limit your compensation, and he fights for every dollar you deserve.

If you suffered a facial injury in a crash, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney.

Tips for Teen Drivers to Stay Safe in the Summer

Aug 2021

A young teen texting on his flip-phone as he drives down the road. Mirror shows that his eyes are on the phone, not on the road. Blurred motion out the windshied and speed on the speedometer show that he's really driving. Phone screen says "lol".

Our law firm explains what drivers in Buffalo and Western NY need to know

Public safety advocates refer to the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 deadliest days of summer,” according to Bankrate. That’s because teenagers are involved in more car accidents during the summer months than at any other time of year.

How risky is summer for teen drivers?

Approximately 30% of motor vehicle fatalities involving teen drivers happen during the summer months, according to AAA. Between 2010 and 2019, more than 7,000 people (roughly seven people per day) died in motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers nationwide during the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.”

But the rest of the year can be just as dangerous for teen drivers. Among teens ages 15 to 18, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And among all teenagers 13 to 19 years old, motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, more than 2,400 teenagers die in motor vehicle accidents nationwide.

The problem is just as bad in New York. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16 to 17, according to the New York Department of Health. And each day, approximately 10 people are killed or seriously injured in accidents caused by teen drivers in New York.

What are the most common causes of teen driver accidents?

Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, noted that “teens tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel” during the summer.

AAA and Bankrate cited several other reasons why there are so many accidents involving teenagers during the summer, including:

  • Immaturity and inability to assess risks on the road. Many teens are unaware of “the grave consequences of their actions,” according to Bankrate.
  • Speeding, which plays a role in approximately 30% of traffic fatalities involving teen drivers.
  • Drowsy driving along with inexperience. That’s because unlike more experienced drivers, teens may not realize when they’re too tired to safely operate a motor vehicle.
  • Distracted driving, which plays a role in more than 60% of accidents involving teen drivers. Using a cellphone or texting while driving is a common problem, but the biggest distraction for teenagers is other teenagers. By simply having another teen in the vehicle, the odds of a teen driver causing a crash double. If there are two or more teenager passengers, a teen driver is three times more likely to cause a crash, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute.
  • Inexperience driving at night. The fatal crash rate for drivers ages 16 to 19 is four times higher at night versus during the day. That rate is also nearly three times higher than the accident rate for drivers ages 30 to 59.
  • Drunk driving. Even though teenagers cannot legally drink, drivers ages 16 to 20 with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% to 0.079% are 12 times more likely to be killed in an accident than sober teen drivers. In addition, the CDC noted that 24% of teenagers who caused fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
  • Lack of seatbelt use. Approximately 60% of teen drivers killed in accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. And compared to other age groups, seatbelt use among teens is the lowest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What to do if you get hit by a teen driver

If you were in an accident caused by a teen driver (or any driver, for that matter), make sure you take certain steps to protect your well-being and your legal rights, such as:

  • Call 911 so the police can respond to your accident.
  • If you or anyone else is injured, ask for an ambulance.
  • While you’re waiting for police to arrive and if it’s safe to do so, take pictures and/or video of the crash scene (be sure to include all property damage, vehicle damage, tire marks, street signs, traffic signals, and any visible injuries).
  • If someone witnessed what happened, get their name and contact information. Eyewitness testimony can be a powerful piece of evidence when determining who or what caused an accident.
  • Get the other driver’s full name, address, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Do not discuss the crash with the other driver. Anything you say could later be used as evidence to deny your injury claim. Even something that may seem harmless like “I’m sorry” could be interpreted as an admission of fault.
  • Get checked out by a doctor. Even if you were evaluated at the crash scene by an EMT, you should still see a licensed medical professional within 24 hours of your crash. Some injuries aren’t immediately noticeable in the moments after a crash. Your adrenaline can mask pain, and inflammation may not set in until well after the collision. Failure to seek prompt medical attention after a car accident also opens the door for an insurance company to question the severity of your injuries and minimize your claim.
  • Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to learn your legal rights and options.

How a car accident lawyer can help you

We have experience countering the tricks insurance companies play. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success in Buffalo and throughout western New York. Our dedicated legal team has the tools and the resources to investigate your crash and build a strong case. We then present our case to the insurance company and aggressively advocate for the compensation you need and deserve. Learn more about how an experienced car accident lawyer can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation at our office in Buffalo today.

Safe Cycling Tips for Summer 2021

Jul 2021

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.