Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

Rising Injury Rates Due to Baby Products Endanger Babies in Buffalo, NY

21
Apr 2017
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There are many products parents purchase for their babies to try to keep them safe. From high chairs to baby carriers to car seats, it seems there is an endless amount of baby gear designed to protect a baby during any type of activity.

Dangerous baby products attorney BuffaloSometimes the very same products designed to help keep infants safe end up causing them harm. There has been a rising number of injuries in recent years caused by problems with various types of baby products. Parents need to be aware of the substantial risk that a child could be hurt or even killed if using any of these items.

Parents should shop carefully for baby gear to try to ensure they find the safest possible products. If something goes wrong and a baby is harmed, parents must understand their options. If the injury was caused by a problem with a defective product, the manufacturer — and anyone else in the chain of distribution — could potentially be held accountable for harm, in some cases regardless of whether the maker of the baby gear was negligent.

Understanding the Rising Risk of Injuries Due to Problems with Baby Products 

Scientific American recently revealed some troubling statistics about baby products. According to the information presented:

  • A child under the age of 3 has an accident once every eight minutes in the U.S. because of baby products.
  • More than 66,000 annual injuries occur to children under age three because of a problem with a baby product.
  • Concussions and head injuries are a leading reason for emergency room visits because of problems with baby gear.
  • Almost 1.4 million injuries related to baby gear occurred during 1991 to 2011. There was a surge in the number of injuries during the last four years of the study, with the number of injuries going up by 24 percent.
  • In the study’s early years, there was a decline in injuries likely attributed to increased awareness of the dangers of baby walkers.
  • Baby carriers accounted for approximately 20 percent of injuries and were the product accounting for the most injuries. Infant carrier injuries can occur when parents don’t properly use carrier straps or when a carrier is put up on a counter or up on a table instead of being put on the floor as recommended.
  • Mattresses, cribs, and bedding were the category of products responsible for causing the second highest number of injuries. Around 19 percent of injuries happened because of a child’s bedding or crib. Drop side cribs were a leading cause of injury until they were banned in 2011.
  • Strollers were involved in 17 percent of injuries. Strollers had problems including toppling and babies not being properly secured by buckles or straps. Wide wheel bases tend to be safer, but parents must ensure wheel locks are used when necessary.
  • Exercisers, jumpers, and walkers accounted for 16 percent of accidents.

While sometime the injuries were the fault of improper use, in other circumstances the products themselves were to blame. It should be noted that even improper use of a product will not necessarily bar an opportunity for compensation if plaintiffs can show the product was being used in a manner that was foreseeable. This is a legal doctrine known as “foreseeable misuse.” This theory protects consumers who misuse a product in a way a manufacturer either should have or did anticipate. Parents need to determine if a product defect caused harm and should take appropriate legal action if that is the case.

Recent Dog Attack Prompts Discussion About Animal Control, Owner Responsibility

6
Feb 2017
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A 6-year-old boy was killed and another was seriously injured in a dog attack while walking to school last month in Atlanta, prompting discussions nationwide about animal control laws and the responsibility of dog owners.

According to The Washington Post, a five-year old girl was seriously injured and required multiple surgeries, while a six-year-old boy was killed by the dogs, who had escaped from their fenced yard. Neighbors reported that the dogs had a history of roaming the neighborhood, but did not report a history of violence.Dog Bites

In response to this attack, officials in Atlanta and Fulton County recently began discussing their animal laws and the future of an animal control arrangement between the county and its cities which expires this year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

This is not a new conversation. The state of Georgia itself had considered legislation that would prevent local governments from banning specific dog breeds in 2015, but ultimately decided to leave that power in local hands. Nationwide, officials have had similar discussions involving dog attacks and legislation aimed at preventing such incidents.

Dog Bite Law in New York

Dog bites are a serious concern across the nation. An estimated 1,000 people each day require emergency medical treatment due to a dog attack, according to statistics compiled by DogsBite.org between 1982 and 2014.

In New York, the victim must prove a prior vicious propensity for violence on the part of the dog. This means the dog was violent in the past and the owner was aware of this tendency. However, proving that a dog has a history of violence can be difficult. Often, there are few witnesses who saw a dog’s prior vicious behavior. And if someone did see something, many don’t want to get involved in such legal disputes.

As a result, the investigation process often takes more time and injury victims have to wait longer to receive the compensation they rightfully deserve. That’s primarily because negligence is not accepted in New York as a grounds for medical compensation after a dog bite.

Based on deadly dog attacks like the one last month, New York officials should consider revising the state’s dog bite laws, just like officials in Fulton County and Georgia. Dog owners should be liable for damages caused by their animals without requiring victims to prove that a dog has a history of violence. Investigating a dog’s previous behavior often takes a tremendous amount of time and money.

If the attack in the Atlanta area happened in New York, it’s likely that the victims’ family might not be able to obtain financial compensation since neighbors in the Atlanta suburb where the deadly attack happened last month said that the dogs were not violent in the past.

Dog Safety

New York officials need to consider changing the state’s laws to protect people from violent dogs. Specifically, New York lawmakers should consider:

  • Changing the requirement that dog bite victims must prove that a dog had a history of violence before the attack occurred. Dog owners should not have to gather such evidence. If a dog viciously attacked someone, that should be more than enough proof that a dog is violent and the dog owner should be held legally responsible for such an attack.
  • Banning certain dog breeds. Certain communities nationwide have chosen to take this approach in an effort to reduce the number of violent dog attacks. Breed-specific legislation often targets pit bulls, Rottweiler’s, Dobermans and other specific breeds.
  • Limiting the number of dogs people can own. Some counties nationwide restrict the number of dogs people can own based on how the property is zoned. Officials in California, Illinois, North Carolina and Oregon have such laws in certain counties, according to news reports.
  • Making dog obedience classes mandatory for all dog owners. New York State previously considered adopting such legislation in 2011 requiring mandatory dog obedience training. It’s important that dogs know their limits and understand certain commands and respond on cue from their owners.

In the meantime, dog owners and neighbors should consider taking the following steps to keep everyone safe and prevent dog attacks from happening:

Dog owners

  • Make sure dogs securely contained on properties. Larger dogs require sturdier fencing. And if dog owners fail to properly contain their dogs, they should be held legally responsible for any attacks caused by their dogs.
  • Use a sturdy leash when walking dog in neighborhood. If a dog becomes aggressive or violent, dog owners should be able to pull the dog back and prevent the dog from harming a person or another dog.

Neighbors

  • Do not provoke dogs. Even if an animal seems friendly and happy at a given moment, dogs should not be teased or harassed. Children should be taught how to safely interact with dogs. If a dog is loose, give it space and contact the dog’s owner, local animal control, or local police so the dog may be safely collected and taken home or to a safe location.
  • Make note of any violent habits or tendencies in dogs. If you see a neighbor’s dog behaving in an aggressive or violent manner, write down the exact time and date you observed such behavior. You may even want to consider reporting such threatening or dangerous behavior to police. If an attack happens under current New York law, this information will be vital in getting justice for the victims or their families in a timely manner. If the danger is great enough, making the owner and/or law enforcement aware of it may even help prevent an attack from happening.

Understanding what to do after a dog attack can be confusing. That’s why it’s important to contact a New York attorney familiar with the state’s laws and handling such complex cases. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog in New York, contact the Law Offices of James Morris to learn more about your rights and all the legal options available to you.

Watch Your Step When You Catch Them All

26
Jul 2016
By:

Playing The Pokemon Go with blur backgroundIn the few weeks since its release, Pokémon Go has quickly become an international sensation. Created by Niantic Inc., this new app combines virtual reality with actual reality and gives fans the chance to experience the joy of being a Pokémon Trainer. The game is encouraging exercise, bringing likeminded players together, and helping to increase small business revenue across the US. Yet, Pokémon Go could have dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.

Despite warnings from Nintendo, some people continue to play the game while driving, focusing on their phone screens instead of on the road. As with any other forms of distracted driving, repeatedly looking away from the road in front of you greatly increases your chances of a car accident. And that’s exactly what happened in Auburn, New York. A 28 year-old man was playing Pokémon Go while driving and crashed his car into a tree. Though the car was severely damaged, the driver is expected to make a full recovery.

It’s not only distracted driving that is causing Pokémon Go-related accidents. There have also been reports of pedestrians walking into traffic, robbers specifically targeting distracted players and, in one report, two players crossed into a fenced-off area and walked off the edge of a cliff. Miraculously, none of these people were fatally injured, yet all of these instances could have been avoided entirely had these players focused more on their surroundings and less on their phones. Just as it is the responsibility for motorists everywhere to pay attention to the road, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when walking along busy roads or highways.

Safety Tips for Playing Pokémon Go

  • Do not play Pokémon GO while driving. Every year, thousands of car crash fatalities happen as a result of distracted driving. Looking down at your phone, even for a few seconds, could cause an accident. Keep your phone off and your eyes on the road.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you’re playing at night. Pay attention to where you are walking and the people who are around you.
  • Bring a friend. Not only is catching Pokémon with your friends a fun experience, there is always safety in numbers.
  • Watch for signs as well as Pokémon. If you trespass onto private property or ignore construction signs that might be outside of buildings or other dangerous areas in an attempt to catch Pokémon, you may end up putting yourself in danger and could end up breaking the law. Remember, any Pokémon that appears in a restricted area will reappear in another, safer location at another time. Stay safe. Pikachu can wait.

Protecting Buffalo School Children from Brain Injuries & Other Sporting Injuries

22
Sep 2014
By:

Playing sports has many health benefits for kids, as youth who participate in athletics learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle and may have a higher self esteem. Kids who participate in sports can also learn important skills like how to lose graciously and how to be a good team player. Unfortunately, despite the myriad benefits associated with participation in school sports, there are also very serious health risks that can occur.

A personal injury lawyer knows that most parents are especially concerned about the risks of head injury that football can cause. However, football is not the only potentially dangerous sport. As WCYB reports, other high risk sports include basketball, cheerleading and soccer.

Head injuries are also not the only risk that kids face when they play sports. It is important for parents, student athletes and school athletic departments to understand the dangers associated with athletic participation. Schools are in the best position to keep student athletes safe in most cases, and schools can be held accountable if kids sustain injuries as a result of negligence or safety lapses.

Preventing Injuries from School Sports

Action News 19 has a list of some key safety tips as kids start back to school and begin participating in sporting events again. For example, to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Kids who will be participating in a team sport should start an exercise program around four to six weeks before the sports season actually begins.
  • Kids should be slowly acclimatized to practicing or playing outdoors. The acclimatization process should occur over the first 10 days to two weeks of practice as they amount of time the kids spend outside is slowly increased.
  • Kids should be given plenty of opportunity to take rest breaks and should consume plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to allow time for a break every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Kids need to have protective gear whenever they practice or play. Schools need to make sure that the protective gear is in good condition, appropriate for the particular sport and fitted properly to the child athlete.

Following these safety tips can help prevent many injuries that could occur, but kids always remain at risk of head injuries in any contact sport or sport where they could be hit in the head with a ball. Parents and athletic departments need to know the signs of concussion, such as dizziness, sensitivity to light and disorientation. A prompt medical evaluation should take place if there is a concussion suspected and the child should not continue to play sports until cleared by a medical professional.

Unfortunately, once a child has a concussion, the damage cannot be undone. A child is at risk of long-term complications including depression, an increased chance of suicide, and an increased chance of developing dementia. The effects of head injuries are cumulative so the more head injuries a child suffers, the greater the likelihood of long-term complications.

Contact a Buffalo, NY accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044 or visit http://www.jamesmorrislaw.com.  Attorney advertising.

Progress Being Made in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

20
Aug 2013
By:

Our Buffalo injury lawyers know that a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can endure. Unfortunately, as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports, around 200,000 people in the United States are currently living with spinal cord injuries, most of which were caused by accidents. In fact, around 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries happen as a result of car accidents and another 22 percent occur in falls.

While a spinal cord injury has life-changing consequences, Health Central indicates that some progress is being made in assisting victims suffering from permanent spinal damage. While the progress is slow, every step taken toward finding new treatment and solutions is a positive step for those throughout the United States who are coping with paralysis due to spinal cord damage.

Spinal Cord Damage Is Permanent, But Progress is Being Made on Treatments

When you sever your spinal cord or do damage to your spinal cord, there is no cure for the spinal cord injury you sustain. You may experience varying degrees of lost functionality and lost feeling depending upon where along the spine the injury occurred and depending upon whether the injury was a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) or a partial injury.

Because of the serious impairments that a spinal cord injury can cause, the CDC estimates that the average annual medical cost associated with SCI is between $15,000 and $30,000. The estimated lifetime cost is between $500,000 and $3 million, depending on the extent of the injury.

These costs are astronomical, and of course the costs go beyond the financial, since those who suffer a spinal cord injury will experience a significant decline in quality of life. A spinal cord injury victim may be unable to care for himself at all and may need ongoing and sometimes round-the-clock medical help.

Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur to very young people, and impact the rest of their lives. As the CDC reports, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of spinal cord injuries happen to people between the ages of 15 and 35. These young victims have decades of living with a spinal cord injury causing impairment.

Health Central, however, suggests that progress is being made and that there may be reason for spinal cord injury victims to hope for a cure in their lifetime. According to Health Central, a team of scientists from the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve Medical School have successfully restored bladder function to rats who had sustained severe injuries to the spinal cord.

Scientists were able to restore bladder function using a new technique to regenerate nerve cells across the site of injury.  When a spinal cord injury happens, the nerve cells in the brainstorm become disconnected from the nerve cells located in the spinal cord, preventing the transmission of messages. The body forms scar tissue at the site of the injury, preventing nerve function from being restored. Scientists, however, were able to take healthy nerves from other parts of the body, graft the healthy nerves to the damaged areas, and add chemicals that disrupted scar formation and promoted cell growth.

Successful re-growth of brain stem cells occurred at the injury site, allowing the rats to regain control of their bladder function. This is the first time ever that an animal has been able to urinate normally after a spinal cord injury.

Hopefully, this new development means that progress is being made and the thousands who suffer spinal cord injuries in car accidents or slip and falls may be able to find treatment in the future to restore functionality lost due to the accident.

If you’ve been injured in Buffalo or the surrounding area, contact the Law Offices of James Morris today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044.

Motorcycle Accidents

There is a significantly increased risk of injury or death from driving a motorcycle compared to driving an automobile. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that 80% of reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. For the sake of comparison, that figure for automobiles is 20%. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that motorcycle fatalities have increased 55% since 2000. Statistically, young riders appear to be at the highest risk of fatality in motorcycle accidents, with the highest risk level amongst 20-29 year olds.

Also alarming is that, according to the NHTSA, “statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads.” This is a significant safety concern.

There are safety measures riders can take to protects themselves, some of which are similar to the tips we provided for safe bicycling. Most important is that riders use a safe and properly fitted helmet, as required by New York law. The CDC indicates the use of a helmet decreases the chances of fatality in a motorcycle crash by 37%, and decreases the risk of head injury by 69%, which is significant. Additionally, riders should wear bright clothing to make them highly visible, and protective clothing, like a leather jacket, may also be beneficial.

If you’ve been hurt, please give us a call to talk to our knowledgeable, experienced attorneys.  At James Morris Law we always fight to achieve the best results for our clients.

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How to Work Effectively With Your Lawyer

It is important to work effectively with your lawyer so you can have a satisfying working relationship with one another. This is an excellent article about the subject, which we wanted to both share and elaborate upon.

It is a good idea to bring a copy of your own insurance documents (declaration page), when you first meet with your attorney. Your attorney’s office can also obtain this information if necessary, but as the article above mentions, the client can sometimes access this information quicker.

You should also bring with you other information your attorney may need to begin working on your file. For instance, for a personal injury matter, this may include the names and contact information for all your treating physicians, or copies of police accident reports. There are often key deadlines early on in a potential lawsuit, so the more information your attorney has on hand from the outset of your case, the better.

Keep all documentation, including letters and bills from doctors and insurance companies. Discuss with your attorney early on what types of documents they may want you to forward to their office, and be sure to do so in a timely fashion. This will help to ensure the attorney will always have up to date information in your file when they need it. Sometimes it is as simple as mailing (or e-mailing) it to the office when you receive it, or leaving it with the assistant or paralegal in charge of your file.

Keep a list of questions you would like to discuss with your attorney, as well as notes about what happened since the last time you spoke, which will help you make the most of your next appointment.

For a personal injury or medical malpractice case, it can be useful to keep a calendar documenting symptoms and keeping track of all your medical appointments.

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Road Safety – Bicycles

Each summer we can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. Unfortunately, there have been many tragic accidents in Buffalo and Rochester involving bicyclists and motor vehicles this summer. These types of accidents are likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities. Please use caution in sharing the road with bicyclists to help prevent a fun day from turning tragic.
Some bicycle safety tips to remember:

  • Always wear a properly fitted helmet with the straps fastened.
  • Wear bright clothing and reflectors so that you’re highly visible to drivers, even during the day. You can buy reflectors, headlights, and taillights to place on your bicycle for nighttime rides.
  • Remember that on a bike you have the same rights and responsibilities as your fellow motorists, including obeying traffic signs and signals.
  • Ride with traffic. This is not only the law, it’s for your own safety. Motorists will not expect you to be riding against traffic, and statistics show this increases the risk of an accident substantially.
  • Do not wear anything that could become caught in your bicycle chain, like straps or loose clothing.
  • Signal your turns so motorists are aware of your intentions.
  • Remain alert as you ride. Watch for motorists who may turn or pull out in front of you, and watch for open car doors. Do not pass cars on the right.
  • Do not ride on the sidewalk. It is especially dangerous to re-enter road traffic from the sidewalk as you will be virtually unseen by motorists.
  • Make sure your bicycle fits you properly and is in good repair.

Motorists, please be aware you share the road with bicyclists and so you are also responsible for their safety. Use caution when driving. Be sure to check carefully for bicyclists before opening your doors, making turns, or merging into a bicycle lane.

I also encourage avid bicyclists to check the SUM (Supplement Uninsured Motorist) coverage on their auto insurance policies. This insurance will cover you on your bicycle as well as in your car. SUM insurance is supremely important should you get into an accident with another driver who is under-insured (or not insured at all), and generally it is not very expensive. If you do not own a car and cannot obtain SUM coverage, some insurance companies are beginning to offer insurance policies specifically for bicycles.

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Valuing Your Case

As most clients will tell you, “It’s not about the money.”  A lawsuit helps people regain some sense of control at a time when they feel powerless.  An accident can destroy a person’s independence or livelihood.  So when our clients tell us that it’s not about the money, we understand what they mean.  But, ultimately, a positive result in a lawsuit does come down to a monetary value and having a ballpark figure about the value of your case can save you from making a costly mistake. Everyone knows about high profile verdicts like the one received by the woman in Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants who suffered third degree burns after spilling hot coffee on her lap. The jury awarded the plaintiff a judgment against McDonald’s for punitive damages in the amount of $2.7 million (the amount McDonalds made selling coffee in two days).  Verdicts like these tend to skew people’s expectations for settlements too high.  What people might not realize is that the judge reduced the award and McDonald’s appealed the decision.  The resulting settlement was less than $600,000.

A case’s worth is determined by several factors and I’d like to discuss them a bit here.  Please keep in mind that every case is different and that individual results will vary.

The most important determining factor in valuing a case is how much money is available either in the form of an insurance policy or a defendant’s assets.  Even if you receive a million dollar verdict at trial, if the defendant doesn’t have the money to pay you, you will not be getting a million dollars.

Another factor is the severity of your injuries and the amount of pain, suffering and expense they have caused you.  Are they permanent?  How long will you need to continue with treatment?  Generally speaking, breaking your toe is not worth as much as breaking your back.  If your injury will require future treatment, this added expense should be taken into account when discussing settlement.

A third thing to consider when valuing a case is how much income the plaintiff has lost or stands to lose.  If a highly trained neurosurgeon is left unable to return to her duties she will likely be losing more future salary than a truck driver.  This is not to say that a truck driver’s injuries are in any way less significant or disruptive than a neurosurgeon’s, it’s just something to keep in mind when you think of the value of your case.

Comparative negligence is also something to consider when valuing your case.  Did you contribute in any way to your injuries?  If a jury finds that you are 30% responsible for an accident, for instance by not looking before crossing a street, then any verdict received from them will be reduced by 30%.   A verdict of $100,000 would be reduced to $70,000. Going to trial is essentially a wild card.  A recent study of jury verdicts found the defense won 50 per cent of the time resulting in no recovery. Verdicts for the plaintiff in injury cases averaged under 30,000. This dispells the popular notion that juries commonly give million dollar verdicts. We live in a conservative area filled with working-class jurors.  They don’t hand out million dollar verdicts often.  This is a crucial fact to keep in mind when considering settlement offers.

If you’ve been hurt, please give us a call to talk to our knowledgeable, experienced attorneys.  At James Morris Law we always fight to achieve the best results for our clients.

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Cases Involving Medicare or Medicaid Are Complex

If you are on Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security Disability, it is vitally important that you inform your personal injury attorney of this fact. Unlike many other types of health insurance, these government funded plans are entitled to receive reimbursement for expenses they provided on your behalf. The process can be long and involved because it requires dealing with large bureaucracies, and it helps to get the ball rolling from day one.

Why do I have to pay?

A personal award is assumed to be compensating you for money that you have spent or will have to spend on your injuries. Theoretically, you are not supposed to be getting paid twice for the same injuries from the same accident. If Medicare has paid for your broken leg, and you then receive an award from someone’s homeowner’s insurance for those same leg injuries, you will need to reimburse Medicare for the cost of the treatment.

What if I just don’t mention that I have Medicare or Medicaid?

Medicare has started to get serious about enforcing these laws. As such, many defense attorneys will not settle without first ensuring that either there is no Medicare or Medicaid involved, or that they have been properly notified. Here is a helpful site outlining the process: MSPRC Site

Is there anything I can do?

Yes there is. By keeping your attorney informed you are allowing them to negotiate with Medicare for a lower repayment amount. Medicare often sends an initial bill that includes treatments and visits that are unrelated to the injuries in your case. Your attorney can challenge these charges. Additionally, Medicare is often willing to work with attorneys to reduce the fee by as much as a third. Don’t pay Medicare or Medicaid more than you have to. Call the Law Offices of James Morris to handle your case today.

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