Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Drowsy driving car accidents more likely to spike after daylight saving time

Oct 2019

Buffalo car accident attorneyDrowsy driving doesn’t always involve falling asleep at the wheel. It is a form of driver impairment just like drunk driving. The difference is that drunk driving is illegal, but unless a drowsy driver causes a crash, police can’t just take a driver off the road for simply appearing tired. In addition, drowsy driving is very difficult to track and often leaves behind no physical evidence after a crash.

As more people juggle tight schedules and get less than the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours per night), drowsy driving has become a growing problem in Buffalo and across the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in about 91,000 crashes each year — resulting in nearly 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries. In 2014, New York State saw a total of 4,520 drowsy driver crashes, with 25 fatalities and 2,175 injuries.

Drowsy driving warning signs

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are several warning signs that indicate when a drowsy driver should get off the road. These include:

  • Poor focus
  • Frequent blinking
  • Trouble keeping eyes open
  • Wandering thoughts and daydreaming
  • Poor memory of last few miles driven
  • Frequent yawning and rubbing eyes
  • Difficulty keeping head up
  • Drifting out of a lane or tailgating
  • Restlessness and irritability

Drivers who begin to notice these symptoms should pull over somewhere safe, turn off their car and take a short nap. Other ways to mitigate drowsy driving include:

  • Consuming caffeine
  • Opening a car window
  • Getting out and walking around
  • Have a passenger who is able to drive take the wheel

How daylight saving time may contribute to drowsy driving car accidents

Daylight saving time is just around the corner. On Sunday, November 3, Buffalo-area residents will “gain” an hour of sleep, but it could take up to a week to adjust. That one hour affects our circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock that programs when we sleep and when we’re active.

A University of Washington Medicine video explains the effects of daylight savings and how it can lead to drowsiness. Turning back the clock is similar to experiencing jet lag, which happens when someone travels across different time zones. In order to minimize the impact of daylight saving time, the video suggests going to bed an hour earlier.

In addition to the time change, it will get darker earlier after daylight saving time. The reduced daylight can also impact our circadian rhythm by releasing the sleep hormone melatonin. That means, in the days following daylight saving time, crashes will likely increase.

That’s why if you were hurt in a crash, or lost a loved one, it’s important that you take legal action as soon as possible. An experienced Buffalo car accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris advocates for injured motorists who were involved in drowsy driving crashes. Our legal team knows how to uncover the evidence need to help you build a solid claim and get results.

To find out how we can help you, contact us online today.

The best ideas for back-to-school safety

Sep 2019

Buffalo car accident attorneyThe 2019/2020 school year has just begun in the greater Buffalo area. That means more kids will be walking, riding bicycles, and being dropped off at school. In addition, buses will be making frequent stops during the morning and afternoon hours.

For kids returning to school, the greatest danger isn’t on the bus, however. It is when children approach, enter, or depart buses and school zones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

From 2008-2017, there were 264 reported child fatalities that occurred in school transportation-related crashes. Approximately 203 of the children who died in crashes were pedestrians, bicyclists, or passengers in cars.

Back-to-School Safety Tips for Drivers

It may be tempting to become impatient when approaching the lengthy traffic lines in school zones. It is important, however, for drivers to understand that the actions they take when in a rush may put children in danger of being hit by a car. In order to avoid this, the NHTSA suggests allowing more commuting time and being prepared to stop for school buses and children crossing the street.

Teen drivers traveling to school are encouraged to buckle up and ensure all vehicle passengers are also wearing seatbelts. Risky driving maneuvers, speeding, and distraction should be avoided at all costs.

What parents and students can do

Parents should always be conscious and engaged in their children’s safety before sending them off or driving them to school. Children should be at the bus stop five minutes before the bus arrival. The NHTSA also suggests that parents and children practice the SAFE procedure, which involves these four steps:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Always wait until the bus stops completely and the driver tells you to board before getting on.
  • Face forward when seated on the bus.
  • Exit the bus after it has come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing the street.

For walkers, a parent or guardian should always accompany kids under 10. If available, sidewalks should be used. Otherwise, the edge of the street facing traffic should be used by walkers. If they are accessible, walkers should also use crosswalks and look left and right before they cross the road.

Bicyclists are urged to wear helmets, ride with traffic moving in the same direction, and follow all traffic signals and signs. Always use bicycle lanes if they are accessible and remain alert at all times.

If the actions of a negligent driver resulted in you or a loved one being injured, a car accident attorney can fight for justice on your behalf. The Law Offices of James Morris proudly represents injured motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers throughout greater Buffalo. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Best Ideas to Prevent Electronic Scooter Accidents

Aug 2019

Buffalo car accident attorneyElectric scooters may soon become a convenient mode of transportation in Buffalo, according to The Buffalo News. The New York State Assembly and Senate are in the process of considering this year’s budget, including adding potential provisions that would modernize state transportation. One provision would allow cities throughout New York State to implement their own rules regarding electric scooters.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who advocates for electric scooters, sees this as a way to alleviate the state’s transportation challenges. Electric scooters would allow commuters to get from point A to point B without following public transportation schedules or paying for parking. In addition, they would take more cars off the road — potentially eliminating traffic congestion in the cities.

While residents of Buffalo may reap the benefits of electric scooters, they must also understand the associated crash risks.

Safety precautions Buffalo can learn from other cities

Electric scooters have become increasingly popular in cities across the United States and other parts of the world. With this growing popularity, many injuries have also been reported.

An article by Today points one incident in London involving a YouTube star, who did after her scooter collided with a truck.

In another incident, one person sustained a serious head injury in Austin, Texas while commuting to a Paul McCartney concert. There were reportedly no helmets on site and the scooter had a speed limit of 15 miles per hour. But the crash was caused by a defective brake.

The Today article also reports that injuries to the face and head tripled over the last decade. According to a study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University, there were approximately 2,325 incidents reported in 2008 involving electric scooter crashes. In 2018, that number was 6,957 incidents. In 66 percent of those incidents, riders weren’t wearing helmets.

Dr. Boris Paskhover, co-author of the study, explained what prompted him to conduct research on the dangers of electric scooters.

“Visit a city and you’ll see people whizzing by and none of them have protective headgear,” Paskhover said.

Regulation is key to safety

Since the rise of electric scooters, many states have begun establishing safety rules. For example, New Jersey now requires electric scooter riders under age 17 to wear helmets.

According to an article by EHS Today, helmets for electric scooters are free and available, but riders must request them through the app, pay shipping, and wait about a week for them to arrive.

Those who are using electric scooters on the fly or for the first time may not have the luxury of waiting for a helmet to arrive in the mail.

In order to remedy this problem, the EHS Today article suggests that companies establish central pickup and drop off locations, as opposed to allowing users to leave electric scooters anywhere on the street. In addition, scooters should be checked for defects by on-site employees and helmets and safety gear should be provided.

Until electric scooters become established in Buffalo, it’s important that residents and visitors consider the risks of using electric scooters and be prepared to ride safely. In the event of a crash, it’s important that you speak to an experienced attorney dedicated to holding negligent parties accountable.

To find out what your legal options are, contact the Law Offices of James Morris and set up a free case evaluation.

The Best Ideas to Avoid Distracted Driving Car Accidents

Jul 2019

The consequences of distracted driving are obvious – accidents resulting in injuries, property damage or even death. Yet, people continue their unsafe behaviors.

According to Psychology Today, distracted drivers:

  • Have reduced reaction times.
  • Are less aware of their surroundings, including traffic signs, other vehicles and pedestrians.

According to a 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted drivers cause:

  • 78 percent of all crashes
  • 65 percent of near-crashes

More recent studies show one out of every six fatal crashes – 3,116 in 2017 – are connected to distracted driving.

A major contributor to distracted driving (spoiler alert) is cell phones. In addition to talking on their phones, drivers use them for navigation and other things (especially texting among younger drivers).

Buffalo auto accident attorney

Why Can’t People Keep Their Minds and Eyes on the Road?

A study in Canadian Psychology examines some of the factors that lead drivers, especially younger motorists, to ignore the dangers of distracted driving:

  • Attitude toward phone use: Young motorists often believe maintaining a presence on social media is worth the risk of unsafe driving.
  • The illusion of control: Young drivers have unrealistic confidence in their ability to drive safely while engaging in distracting activities.
  • Age: Older drivers have the benefit of more driving experience and, generally speaking, engage in safer driving practices, perhaps because cell phones are a new technology to them.
  • Hands-free technology: Bluetooth, voice-recognition technology and other innovations give young drivers a false sense of security. The simple fact, supported by research, is that any distraction has a negative impact on safe driving.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident? Now is the Time to Speak to an Attorney.

A distracted driving accident changes your life for the worse in less time than it takes to place a call. You may be seriously injured, unable to work and provide for your family as growing medical bills threaten your way of life. The distracted driver who caused your accident is unlikely to accept responsibility and may even blame you. The legal system is a frustrating puzzle to the outsider. Then you have an insurance company trying to take advantage of your desperation by pressuring you into accepting a lowball financial settlement.

The Law Offices of James Morris can help you put your life back together. Serving Buffalo and western New York, their team has decades of experience handling cases just like yours. Personal injury lawyer James Morris and his staff will investigate your accident, handle all of the legalities and deal with insurance companies – taking them to court, if necessary, to win a financial settlement that covers all of your costs and brings you peace of mind.

Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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

Jun 2019

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

May 2019

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

Apr 2019

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

Dec 2018

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.