Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

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 auto accident attorneyAuthorities 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 attorney

Buffalo 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:

Back 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. back to school safety

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

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

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

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

Car Accident Fatality Rates on the Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.