Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

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
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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.

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.  

Buffalo Car Accidents Distracted Driving Injury Risks

19
Jun 2018
By:

Buffalo personal injuryAuthorities and safety advocates are bracing for the summer travel season by cracking down on all manner of dangerous driving behavior, including drunk drivers, speeders, aggressive drivers and distracted drivers.

For teenagers, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day has the awful distinction of being the year’s 100 Deadliest Days. While year-end holidays get the headlines when it comes to road carnage, the trio of summer holidays continues to rank among the deadliest. In order to promote safer driving habits, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with a grant from New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, has defined distracted driving.

Distracted Driving in New York: Definition of Dangerous

New York law prohibits hand-held cellphone use while driving. The law includes talking on the phone, using text, web browsing or e-mail features, viewing or taking images or playing games. Fines range from $50 to $450, and up to 5 points on your driver’s license, which could result in suspension of driving privileges.

As state distracted driving laws go, New York’s is among the most stringent in the nation. However, the law still permits use of hands-free devices, which the National Safety Council and other safety advocates continue to identify as posing a serious safety threat because of the distraction inherent in having a phone conversation while operating a motor vehicle. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates drivers miss up to one-third of movement and half of what is occurring outside the windshield if they are engaged in a phone conversation – even with a hands-free device.

Other common causes of distraction include talking to passengers, dealing with children or pets, eating, drinking or grooming, and using GPS or other forms of onboard electronics or entertainment. Don’t forget external distractions as the summer road construction season begins. Construction zones are among the most dangerous areas on the road for motorists and workers alike.

Distracted Driving Liability in Buffalo

Whether a distracted driver is held responsible for damages resulting from an accident will have more to do with consulting an experienced Buffalo injury lawyer than it will with New York driving laws.

While a driver’s traffic infraction may go toward proving negligence under New York civil law, a criminal citation is not required. While not the same as carelessness, negligence under the law is failure to act as a reasonable person would to protect another from foreseeable risk of harm.

Proving negligence requires proving defendant owed a duty and breached standard of care, that breach resulted in injury, and that plaintiff incurred actual damages. Your personal injury lawyer will work to identify those responsible and their associated insurance coverage, while also working to identify the extent of your damages, which can include things like property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and cost of rehabilitation.

Tips to Keep Buffalo Drivers Safe

Buffalo auto accident attorneyBuffalo car accidents happen for many reasons. Distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and many other unsafe driving habits can increase the chances of causing a car accident. Buffalo’s infamous winter weather can linger well into April and also increase the likelihood of being injured in a car accident.

By understanding the common causes of auto accidents and addressing one’s own driving habits, vehicle operators can help keep the roads of Buffalo safe for everyone.

The Recommendations from the Experts

CTV News offers tips for safe driving. One driving instructor reminded drivers to go back to the basic skills that prepared them for their test. Use signals on every turn, make a full and complete stop at every stop sign, turn into the nearest lane of traffic, and follow other basic rules of the road. Many drivers have spent decades since their driving tests developing bad habits. Make an honest assessment of your driving skills and identify any areas which have become sloppy over years.

The driving instructor also discouraged drivers from practicing “target fixation” –  a visual technique in which the driver focuses solely on the road ahead. The safer practice is to scan all areas around your vehicle in order to ascertain traffic conditions on all sides. Perform regular checks of your vehicle’s rear-view and side mirrors. This is a technique borrowed from pilots, who must regularly inspect many different instruments. Monitor traffic and road hazards in the nearby roadway – even those which are not directly in your path of travel. This can help drivers plan an “exit route” in the event of a sudden obstruction in the roadway.

Many drivers do not leave adequate space between their vehicles and vehicles in front of them (an average of only .8 seconds). While two car lengths may be sufficient while driving in fair weather conditions, ice and snow can cause a vehicle to require a greater stopping distance. A safer rule to follow is four seconds of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This can be measured by allowing the vehicle ahead of yours to pass a fixed point (such as a building or sign), then timing how long it takes your vehicle to reach the same point. If the time was less than four seconds, slow down and create more space between your vehicle and those ahead of you. Buffalo’s cold climate often causes hazardous driving conditions (such as rain, hail, sleet, snow, and ice). Slow down and exercise particular caution in these circumstances.

Finally, drivers should be careful not to rely too heavily upon vehicle safety features, which can lull them into a false sense of security. Anti-lock brakes will not shorten the distance required for the vehicle to stop. Backup cameras cannot see all obstructions. Lane drift alerts may not be activated in time to avoid a collision. Drivers must not become so reliant on such features that they fail to exercise basic caution.

When drivers fail to act in a safe manner, innocent victims can be injured as a result. The legal advocacy a car accident attorney provides can help encourage Buffalo road users to become safer drivers. Filing personal injury claims with a negligent driver’s insurance company not only helps injury victims access the compensation to which the law entitles them, but also holds drivers accountable for dangerous behavior.

Back To School Safety Tips For Buffalo Students and Parents

29
Aug 2017
By:

Buffalo auto accident attorneyBack to school is an exciting time of year for Buffalo families. It’s also packed with potential hazards, as an influx of buses, heavy school zone traffic and high concentrations of inexperienced teen drivers significantly increase the risk of sustaining auto accident injuries. According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location.

Accidents Put New York Students in Danger

There are many dangers which New York students face in and around school zones. One young girl in Springville died after being pinned under a school bus. According to WKBW, the incident was noted as a “a tragic accident.” In another case, an 11-year-old Watertown boy was struck in a crosswalk near Case Middle School. The Watertown Daily Times reports that the 22-year-old driver of the Ford Escape which hit him said she simply did not see him. The boy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

In Bayside, New York, a woman from Queens was speeding through a school zone at thirty-five miles per hour- faster than the posted speed limit. The New York Daily News reports that she crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a car carrying a mother and her two daughters. All three were killed. The wrong-way driver was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.

How Buffalo Students, Parents, Teachers and School Staff Can Stay Safe

  • Familiarize yourself with drop off and pickup procedures at your child’s school before the school year starts. Heavy traffic and impulsive children can make it difficult to know where to go once school is in session.
  • Do not double park or otherwise block visibility. In crowded conditions, it is especially important that drivers be able to around other vehicles.
  • Teach your teen driver to be particularly cautious in and around their high school. High schools have high concentrations of young, inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers should be prepared to respond to erratic movements, pedestrians, heavy traffic, and other hazards they will face at their school.
  • Do not make impulsive or unexpected movements. In a crowded parking lot, other drivers will often have no space nor time to react to your movements. Signal movements well in advance, and execute movements slowly to ensure your path is, indeed, clear.
  • Be prepared to react to sudden movements from both other vehicles and children entering or exiting the school. Young children are especially impulsive, and do not always follow proper safety protocol near schools. Allow yourself enough time and space to react to any unexpected obstacles.

School zone safety is dependent upon everyone in the area. By staying alert, slowing down, and implementing safe driving habits on a consistent basis, the school zones of Buffalo can be made safe for everyone.

In September 2003, the Vehicle & Traffic Law was amended to alter the hours of operation as well as the maximum length of a New York school speed zone (0.25 miles), as well as regulations about speed limit posting in school zones. The minimum school speed limit is 15 mph.

After any accident, injury victims have the legal right to be compensated for their injuries. If you or your child has been injured in a school zone accident, contact a Buffalo car accident attorney as soon as possible. They have legal rights which must be protected.

Buffalo Drivers Face Higher Risk of Death While Driving

Buffalo auto accident attorneyA 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.

This 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.