Author Archive

Best Ideas to Avoid Crashes with Motorcycles, Pedestrians, & Bikes

26
Jun 2019
By:

Buffalo car accident attorneyWe’ve been hearing about motorcycle crashes (some fatal) in Buffalo and the surrounding area recently. In June, a motorcyclist reportedly lost control of his bike and crashed near Genesee Street and Nevada Avenue. He was treated at a nearby hospital but later succumbed to his injuries. In the same month, another motorcyclist was critically injured in a crash in Niagara County.

We’ve heard about bicyclists and pedestrians being fatally struck. In one recent incident, a bicyclist was struck by an SUV in Kenmore and rushed to a nearby hospital. The bicyclist sustained injuries to the head, chest, and legs.

In May, a Tonawanda pedestrian was injured after being struck by a pickup truck making a turn, according to The Buffalo News.

Motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists – the most vulnerable road users

These are the most vulnerable road users in and around Buffalo. They don’t have the luxury of airbags, seatbelts, and a sturdy front end that can absorb the impact of a crash. You never see pedestrians walking around wearing protective gear.

At most, the helmets worn by bicyclists and motorcyclists may be effective at preventing severe head injuries, but both are still susceptible to broken bones, spinal injuries, lacerations, bruises, and abrasions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Approximately 783 bicyclists were killed in crashes in 2017
  • 5,977 pedestrians were killed in crashes
  • 5,172 motorcyclists were killed in crashes

We’re in the midst of summer – a time of year when the streets are heavily occupied and the roads are shared by many. That’s why it’s important for drivers to practice caution, stay alert, and avoid speeding or aggressive driving.

Crash prevention

According to the NHTSA, a great way to prevent collisions is by simply understanding that motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists have the same right to the roads as drivers.

In addition, drivers should be aware that others using the road are smaller and often less visible. In order to prevent a crash from occurring, drivers should:

  • Slow down and watch out for pedestrians in areas with heavy foot traffic.
  • Maintain three feet distance when passing bicyclists on the side of the road.
  • Keep a safe distance from motorcyclists and avoid driving too close behind.

If you’re a motorcyclists, pedestrian, or bicyclist who was injured in a crash due to a driver’s carelessness or reckless behavior, you should discuss your accident with an experienced Buffalo attorney as soon as possible.

Let the legal team at the Law Offices of James Morris fight to help maximize your compensation. Contact us today to learn more.

Highway deaths still a problem despite vehicle safety advances

15
May 2019
By:

Buffalo car accident attorneyCars are getting smarter each year. Many modern vehicles can warn drivers who are changing lanes that another vehicle is too close. Car makers are testing vehicles that can pilot themselves. Cars also have more features than ever to protect passengers, from airbags to adaptive cruise control and rear-view cameras.

Despite advances in technology, crashes continue to happen, and people continue to get seriously injured or killed in car accidents. In 2017, over 37,000 people died on roads and highways across the United States. A few years earlier, in 2011, about 32,000 people died. A recent Consumer Reports article raises the question: Why are there so many road deaths when cars are built to be safer than they’ve ever been?

Factors behind road fatalities

Some of the latest safety features include automatic emergency braking. Automakers are also beginning to install vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which allow cars to “talk” to each other.

While their cars may be equipped with safety features, many drivers continue to make careless and reckless decisions while behind the wheel. Some of the factors behind fatalities in New York and elsewhere include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Driving while drowsy

Consumer Reports notes that poorly designed roads also have an impact on safety. A slight curve in the road can be deadly, especially during icy or snowy conditions. Some cities are looking at ways to redesign roadways. For example, New York City has made improvements to Queens Boulevard, making the road more pedestrian and bike friendly. After the boulevard was redesigned, fatalities dropped significantly.

Speed has been cited as a cause of deadly car accidents. Many states have been increasing – or are considering increasing – their speed limits on highways. One recent study found that every 5-mph increase in the speed limit leads to an increase in the number of road fatalities.

What to do after a car accident

Unfortunately, despite technological advances, drivers will continue to make poor choices. They may be distracted by a smart phone or they’re operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they cause an accident, they must be held accountable.

Accident victims might think they can handle an insurance claim on their own, especially if the other driver was at fault. Insurance companies for at-fault drivers often will push back against claims, however. They may argue that the injuries you suffered were minor or they may even suggest you were somehow at fault.

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we know all the arguments insurance companies make to keep their payments to a minimum or deny the claim. To get the justice you deserve, you need an experienced lawyer fighting for you. Contact us today to find out how we can make a meaningful difference.

A Buffalo Attorney Reveals Growing Drugged Driver Dangers

22
Apr 2019
By:

Buffalo car accident attorneyBuffalo drivers are not immune to the growing epidemic of prescription opioid abuse. When a person under the influence of an opiate gets behind the wheel, everyone on the road is put in greater danger.

According to the results of a public investigation posted on the JAMA network, the use of prescription opioids by drivers is increasingly implicated as a contributory cause in fatal motor vehicle crashes.

The article states that in this study of 3,642 drivers involved in 18,321 fatal 2-vehicle crashes, prescription opioid use as indicated by toxicological testing results was associated with a significantly increased risk of crash initiation, due in large part to failure to keep in proper lane.

In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of unintentional deaths. Drug overdose is the first.

Increase in drugged drivers

In the past two decades, prescription opioids have been detected in more than 7 percent of fatally injured drivers, up from just one percent prior to the onset of the epidemic in the mid-90s.

The study provides compelling evidence that driver use of prescription opioids may double the risk of fatal 2-vehicle crashes, independent of demographical characteristics, driving history, and alcohol use. This finding is generally consistent with previous studies. A recent meta-analysis found that prescription opioid use was associated with a 47 percent increased risk of crash initiation.

Stay in your lane

The study found drivers under the influence of prescription opioids often failed to stay in their proper lane. Failing to stay in their lane accounted for 54.7 percent of errors leading to 2-vehicle crashes by drivers that took prescription opioids, compared with 40.4 percent of errors by drivers not under the same influence.

Crossing the center lane was identified as being a particularly dangerous error.

Know the laws

Driving under the influence of drugs, such as opioids, is prohibited in every state. The study notes that currently, 16 states have zero-tolerance laws for all or select opioids, while Ohio and Nevada have per se laws that specify legal cutoff concentrations for some opioids. Variation in regulations across states is due in part to inadequate research and lack of consensus on prescription opioids and driving safety. To tackle the problem of driving under the influence of drugs, law enforcement personnel are increasingly using oral fluids for quick roadside tests to screen for marijuana, opioids, and other drugs.

If you are a New York driver who was injured in an accident and you suspect prescription opioids were a factor, one of the experienced Buffalo attorneys at the Law Offices of James Morris can help you navigate the laws and get the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today to learn more.

Buffalo attorney considers drugged driving laws in face of legalization of marijuana

18
Mar 2019
By:

Buffalo auto accident attorneyAs New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushes legislators to legalize marijuana, concerns are being raised about the issue of potential drugged driving.

Buffalo drivers need to know what drugged driving is, how driving high could affect them, and how the legalization of marijuana could potentially change the law. The answers to these questions are unclear as the debate over legalizing marijuana continues.

How marijuana use can affect drivers

The New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) states that Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most important psychoactive substance in cannabis, is often detected in blood from drivers suspected of drugged driving.

THC affects areas of the brain that control the following:

  • Movements
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Judgment
  • Sensation

The OASAS states that although these effects are known, most laws relating to impaired driving have dealt with alcohol.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drugged driving is more complicated than drunk driving for several reasons, including limited data and the lack of a single test to detect the hundreds of drugs that could influence a driver.

How is drugged driving tested and how can driving high affect you?

Officer Albert Wheech of the Rochester Police Department is one of the 15 to 20 Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs, in the county, according to a report by WHAM.

Wheech, who said he makes about 200 arrests a year for both DWI and DUI, told the ABC affiliate that all DREs go through extensive training to learn how to detect an impaired driver. He also said there is a marijuana pre-test similar to a breathalyzer; however, it is expensive.

Police departments throughout the state will need to consider how and when to invest in training and equipment of this kind. Driving high can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, creating the same risks for all vehicles on the road.

An increase in opioids

In Monroe County, alcohol or drugs played a role in 15 fatal crashes in 2017. It was the same number in 2016.

We should expect to see this number increasing. A study co-authored by Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, found that car crashes involving a driver under the influence of painkillers have tripled in the past 25 years.

Dr. Li confirms also that the “use of prescription opioids plays a significant role in the causation of fatal motor vehicle crashes.”

Injured in a drugged driving accident? Contact us!

As Buffalo and all of New York inches closer to legalizing marijuana, the Law Offices of James Morris continue to stay on top of potential changes in laws. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver under the influence, contact the Law Offices of James Morris for a free consultation.

A Buffalo Attorney Discusses Saint Patrick’s Day and Drunk Driving

4
Mar 2019
By:

Buffalo auto accident attorneyMany Buffalo residents and visitors are gearing up to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Last year, Buffalo ranked No. 4 among the top ten cities in the US celebrating this holiday. In fact, the 78th annual celebration parade in downtown Buffalo brought out an estimated 50,000 people.

Saint Patrick’s Day is commonly known as a drinking holiday, which comes with risks that revelers should be prepared for.

Be aware. Drunk drivers will be out this season.

According to WalletHub, about 60 percent of Americans planned to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in 2018. The rate at which drunk driving causes a fatality during the holiday is every 36 minutes. About 75 percent of fatal crashes involve drivers who have consumed twice the legal limit.

Additionally, Saint Patrick’s Day is the 4th most popular day to consume alcohol – just behind Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year’s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 60 people were killed in fatal crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period in 2016.

Despite the repeated slogan “don’t drink and drive,” it’s probable that many drivers will be under the influence of alcohol this Saint Patrick’s Day. Police will likely be out in full force looking to keep drunk drivers off the road, but unfortunately many of these drivers will go under the radar and it will be the responsible drivers who pay.

Identifying negligence in drunk driving accidents

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we have seen the devastation caused by drunk drivers. A single crash can change a victim’s life forever. Injuries can range from broken bones to permanent spinal cord injuries – leaving a victim with a heap of medical expenses, financial hardship, and loss of life enjoyment.

At worse, a drunk driving accident can result in someone’s death, causing emotional and psychological suffering to loved ones.

Determining negligence in a drunk driving case can often be simple. When police respond to a crash, they will most likely test the at-fault driver to determine his or her blood alcohol content.

In some cases, drunk driving accident cases can be more complex, if a bar or establishment can be held accountable for knowingly serving alcohol to an apparently intoxicated individual or minor under New York’s dram shop law (General Obligations, Section 11-101).

Should you or a loved one be injured in a car accident due to a drunk driver’s reckless behavior, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. It’s important that you contact our law firm to get started on your personal injury claim. We offer free case evaluations and operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we win.

A Buffalo Attorney Discusses Winter Driving Risks

Buffalo auto accident attorneyThe hazards of winter driving are obvious. In fact, 2019 already got off to a deadly start, as one person was killed in a devastating pileup that happened on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo. Lake effect snow was the environmental factor that lead to the crash.  

In Buffalo, and anywhere else that experiences brutal winters, crashes caused by inclement weather are common. Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, wintry conditions account for: 

  • 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes. 
  • Over 1,300 deaths and more than 116,800 injuries. 

Heavy snowfall isn’t the only culprit behind winter-related auto accidents. After a massive snowstorm, it’s common to experience blowing snow and whiteout conditions caused by strong winds. This can obstruct visibility and lead to a serious crash.  

Even when the roads aren’t covered in snow, fluctuating temperatures can result in black ice. This occurs when snow or ice melts after temperatures rise above freezing. When the temperatures drop at night, the roads may freeze in some spots – especially near overpasses.  

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself.

AAA offers some tips to lessen the risk of a winter crash: 

  • Never mix radial tires with other types of tires. 
  • Avoid using your parking brake. 
  • Do not use cruise control. 
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go. 
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. 
  • Increase following distance to 8-10 seconds. 
  • Don’t stop when going uphill. 

No matter how safely you drive, you cannot account for the actions of other motorists. If you’ve been the victim of a personal injury accident in the Buffalo area’s legendary winter conditions, you may feel helpless. You may be injured and unable to work or provide for your family as the bills pile up. An insurance company may be pressuring you into accepting an inadequate financial settlement because they know you are desperate. 

Protect your rights. Personal injury lawyer James E. Morris and his legal team have decades of experience representing people just like you throughout western New York. They know the hazards of winter driving and they know how to stand up to the insurance companies. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. You don’t pay a cent unless we win your case.

A Buffalo Attorney Discusses the Importance of Police Reports After Auto Accidents

Buffalo auto accident attorneyYou were just involved in an auto accident in Buffalo. You followed all the standard accident procedures – exchanging insurance information and reporting the accident to the police. When it comes time to file your claim, one of the most important components you will need is a detailed police report. If you have any questions, an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney can help you navigate this complex process. 

What will police look for at the crash scene?

After any auto accident, calling the police is standard procedure. When an officer arrives, he or she will thoroughly examine the crash scene and note all details on a traffic accident report form. This includes: 

  • Reporting the number of parties involved. 
  • Reporting any medical attention needed. 
  • Noting the tire tracks in the road.  
  • Determining the direction traveled by each vehicle.  
  • Documenting road conditions, defects, and environmental factors.  
  • Determining if any parties were drunk or drug-impaired. 
  • Collect witness statements. 

The police may not always arrive at the crash scene. The accident may not have been serious enough, or there may have been another emergency nearby. When this happens, it’s crucial that you gather evidence from the crash scene.  

This can be done by taking pictures or videos of the crash scene and speaking to witnesses. You may then submit a crash report at the nearest police station. 

Purpose of a police report

Even if you feel ok after a crash, injury symptoms may not appear until days later. The cost of medical treatment and time spent away from work can be financially overwhelming. Without a police report, obtaining compensation from the other driver’s insurance company is far-fetched. Without any hard evidence proving who was at fault, the insurance company may deny your claim.  

However, with a detailed police report, your attorney can use the evidence to help you build a solid claim and ensure that your rights are upheld.  

Obtaining a copy of your Get Accident Report can take some time. If the report was filed electronically, then it may be available after 14 days. If a paper form was submitted, it may not be available for 30 days from the date of the accident.  

In the meantime, an experienced car accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris can help you get your claim started. Our legal team has decades of combined experience representing injured motorists in the greater Buffalo area. Contact us today to find out how we can help you. 

Head-On Collisions in Buffalo: An Attorney Discusses

12
Dec 2018
By:

Buffalo auto accident attorneyHead-on collisions in the greater Buffalo area rarely happen, but when they do, negligence is almost always a factor. Such crashes occur when another motorist crosses a center line or drives the wrong way.

That’s exactly what happened in October on Route 33 in Buffalo. Two people were hospitalized after one motorist, driving the wrong way, struck another motorist.

Head-on collisions are most likely to happen on rural roads with winding curves – much like the ones we have in Western New York. These accidents are commonly caused by:

  • Drivers distracted by handheld devices and built-in vehicle features
  • Drivers impaired by drugs, and/or alcohol
  • Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel
  • Passing other vehicles on single-lane roads
  • Turning left with no regard for oncoming vehicles
  • Slippery road conditions caused by snow and ice
  • Limited visibility caused by dense fog, heavy rain, or nighttime driving
  • Drivers who exceed the speed limit
  • Mechanical factors including brake failure, loose wheels, steering defects, or tire blowouts

Severity increases with speed

According to The Car Crash Detective, you are more likely to sustain serious, or life-threatening injuries in a head-on collision when driving faster than 43 mph.

Many of today’s vehicles can absorb the impact and save your life in a collision at 40 mph. However, your front-end frame, seatbelt, and airbag can only do so much at higher speeds.

When two vehicles collide at 40 mph each, the force of impact is comparable to hitting a parked car at 80 mph. Even if you reduce your speed to 30 mph, if the car that hits you is traveling at 50 mph, the impact will still be severe.

Motorists who have survived head-on collisions still often sustain serious injuries. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Broken bones
  • Head trauma
  • Facial injuries
  • Whiplash and other spine injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Lacerations
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis

Injured in a head-on collision? We can help!

A head-on collision can turn your life upside down in a split second. Your injuries may be severe enough to put you out of work for months and unable to engage in activities you enjoy. Even worse, the other driver’s insurance company may be reluctant to compensate your losses to the fullest extent.

That’s why you need an experienced Buffalo auto accident attorney in your corner. The legal team at the Law Offices of James Morris has decades of experience helping injured motorists maximize their compensation. To learn more, contact us today.

The Risks Of Autumn Driving In Buffalo, New York

15
Nov 2018
By:

Buffalo auto accident attorneyThe clocks have turned back an hour, the foliage has come and gone, and November is in full swing. What does this mean for drivers in the Buffalo area? According to a 2016 report by Statista (the most recent report), 2,998 people lost their lives on US roadways during the month of November. And as drivers in Buffalo know very well, motor vehicle accidents often occur this time of year due to shorter days, longer nights and increasingly hazardous weather conditions. 

Shorter days, more hazardous driving conditions

After daylight savings time ends, motorists spend more time driving in the dark. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), this can create limitations in visibility: 

  • On average, drivers may only see up to 250 feet without high-beams 
  • Drivers who use high-beams may see up to 500 feet 
  • Drivers around 50 years old may require twice as much light as drivers around 30 years old.  

Daylight savings can also affect drivers’ circadian rhythm or internal clock. The prolonged nighttime hours can increase the release of a natural chemical called melatonin, which programs us to sleep. This can put drivers at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. In fact, according to the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, accidents caused by drowsy driving are most likely to happen during the first week of the time change. 

According to 2014 statistics by New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (the latest statistics), there were a total of 1,343 traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving statewide, which resulted in eight fatalities and 687 injuries. Another 5,198 accidents were caused by limited or obstructed visibility. This resulted in 20 fatalities and 2,231 injuries.  

What to watch out for this season

According to Esurance, the month of November often ushers in slippery road conditions that Buffalo drivers must adjust to. 

These include:  

  • Wet roads, fallen leaves: After the foliage comes to an end, leaves may cover the roadways. When combined with rain and dampness, fallen leaves can be just as slippery as ice. Additionally, they can cover traffic lines in the road, making it more difficult for drivers to navigate. 
  • Icy road conditions: As the temperature dips below freezing overnight, ice and frost can develop on the roadways. Drivers should especially be aware of icy road conditions when approaching bridges, underpasses, and other areas that may not receive a sufficient amount of sunlight.  
  • Occasional snow: While snow is more likely to happen during the winter months, it can happen in November, especially in the Buffalo area. Drivers unprepared for the first snowfall of the season in Buffalo (which usually occurs in late October) can be at risk of causing an accident.   

During the month of November, Buffalo drivers are urged to reduce their speed, maintain a safe following distance, avoid distracted driving, and stay sober. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by another driver, contact our law firm and find out how we can help you.  

How Camera Footage Can Protect Nursing Home Residents from Abuse

13
Sep 2018
By:

nursing home lawyerPutting your loved one in a nursing home can be a tough decision. Nursing homes in greater Buffalo are obliged to provide the best possible care to residents, but they do not always meet that obligation. The risk of nursing home abuse and neglect may leave you concerned about the level of care your loved one will receive.

A recent case of alleged sexual abuse involving a nursing home resident has prompted New York state officials to launch an investigation into a Buffalo nursing home. The perpetrator at the time of the incident was an assistant director of nursing, who has since resigned. Officials from the nursing home were unable to provide any information regarding the incident. The former assistant director of nursing claims that he was assaulted by the resident, while the resident claims to have been bitten by the former staff member.

Without any crucial evidence, both statements are hearsay. However, had camera equipment been installed at the time of the incident, the footage would have told the real story.

Back in February, camera footage was used to prosecute three nurses responsible for the death of an 89-year-old resident in Georgia. As the resident called out for help while suffering from respiratory distress, the three nurses were seen laughing and completely ignoring the man’s needs.

Elder abuse is far too widespread across the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that roughly one in every 10 elders older than 60 suffer abuse and neglect each year. Some types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial abuse

However, the above statistics may not represent the full number of residents who suffer abuse and neglect. Many of these incidents go under the radar because residents are afraid or unable to report them.

What you can do to protect your loved ones

When placed in the care of a nursing home, your loved one may be all but defenseless. That’s why it’s important to document incidents of abuse and neglect, especially if you suspect that something isn’t right. If your loved one is afraid to speak up, or if nursing home staff deny that any abuse or neglect has occurred, camera footage doesn’t lie.

Not only can video footage be used to prosecute responsible parties, but your attorney can also use it as evidence in a lawsuit against the nursing home. That’s why your first course of action should be to consult with an experienced Buffalo nursing home abuse attorney who will fight aggressively to help you and your family seek justice.

It’s important you act fast. The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse cases in New York State is three years. Don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of James Morris and find out how we can help you.