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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

19
May 2021
By:

Two people riding a motorcycle on a rural road

Peak riding season has arrived in Buffalo and Upstate New York, and with that will come an increase in the number of motorcyclists we see on our roads and highways.

As traffic throughout the U.S. starts to return to pre-pandemic levels, drivers are being reminded that we all need to watch out for and share the road with bikers.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and as we make our way into the summer, here’s what you can do to avoid causing a motorcycle accident.

Fatal motorcycle accidents in New York State went up in 2020

According to a recent report by WGRZ-TV, fatal motorcycle accidents in New York State increased by over 30% in 2020 when compared to 2019. In 2019, there were 132 fatal motorcycle crashes that resulted in 133 deaths. For 2020, there were 172 fatal motorcycle wrecks that caused 179 deaths, even though there weren’t nearly as many motorists out on the road due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

“Despite fewer vehicles on the road last year, we saw a startling increase in deadly motorcycle crashes, and every life lost was someone’s loved one,” said Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Everyone sharing the road whether in a car or on a motorcycle has a responsibility to help stop these tragedies. As the weather warms up and we continue making progress battling COVID-19, there will be more traffic and more riders, so stay alert, avoid distractions, and never, ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Earlier this month, a motorcyclist was hit by a car on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Buffalo and thrown into the oncoming lane of traffic before he was hit by a GMC truck. WKBW Buffalo reports bystanders used a jack to free the victim, who was transported to Erie County Medical Center.

Police are still investigating the cause of the collision, but tragic crashes like this are becoming more and more common in the Buffalo area and serve as an important reminder that motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable drivers on the road.

Safety tips for drivers

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and AAA are working together to raise awareness and promote safe driving practices since the primary cause of most motorcycle accidents is negligence — by other drivers.

To avoid causing a motorcycle crash, other motorists should:

  • Slow down — Speeders won’t be able to react or stop quickly enough to avoid a collision with a motorcycle rider.
  • Keep a safe distance — It’s common for bikers to downshift or roll off the throttle to slow down, meaning the motorcycle’s brake lights won’t be triggered and there will be no visual warning that the rider is reducing their speed. Experts say to keep a following distance of about 3 to 4 seconds when driving behind a motorcycle.
  • Stay focused — Since motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, it’s easy for other motorists to not notice riders until it’s too late. Add in the distraction of a cellphone, food, drink, GPS, or a chatty passenger, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind focused on the road ahead.
  • Use your turn signals — Turn signals are a form of communication to other drivers, including motorcyclists, that let them know where you’re going and what you’re intentions are. Always use your signals for a minimum distance of 100 feet when you’re going to make a turn or change lanes so other drivers can act accordingly.
  • Check your blind spots — Whenever you’re going to change lanes you should watch out for motorcycle riders in your blinds spots, which on most passenger vehicles are located around the doors and roof pillars. Use your signals, check your mirrors, and look out for motorcyclists, who may also blend in with other vehicles, bushes, fences, and bridges. Try to remember that it’s also hard to gauge how fast a motorcycle is going, which means you need to be extra cautious when waiting to make a turn. In fact, the most dangerous scenario for motorcycle riders occurs when other motorists fail to grant bikers the right of way, which is common when other vehicles are making a left turn at an intersection.

As for riders, the best motorcycle safety tips include wearing a helmet (it’s also the law in New York), wearing appropriate gear, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, being mindful of road conditions and hazardous weather, riding sober, and performing regular maintenance on your bike to keep it in good working condition (e.g., check the tire pressure, tighten loose bolts, replace damaged parts, etc.).

After a crash, you deserve justice

No matter how careful you are when riding your motorcycle, all it takes is one moment of negligence by another driver to cause an accident that leaves you severely injured — or worse.

If you were injured or a close family member died in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you have recourse under New York law to pursue appropriate compensation for your damages.

The problem is other drivers and their insurance providers often have a bias toward motorcyclists and view them as reckless thrill-seekers who, when injured in an accident, must have deserved it because they were being careless. As such, it’s a widespread practice for insurance adjusters to downplay, dispute, delay, and flat-out deny injury claims brought forth by motorcycle riders.

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we know the games insurance companies play and we don’t put up with them. Founding attorney James Morris has been doing this for a long time (over 30 years) and knows how to fight for the compensation his clients deserve.

Find out how a highly skilled motorcycle accident lawyer in Buffalo, NY can help you. Contact us right now to set up a free case consultation.

New York Aggressive Driving Leads to Road Rage, Personal Injuries

16
May 2017
By:

Buffalo car accident attorney

New York state is known for having some of the most aggressive drivers in the country. Triggered by a bad morning, a personality quirk, or frustration with other drivers, the screaming, shouting and gesturing you often see on the road became known by a simple descriptor: “road rage”. And it kills. One study by the Affinion Group found that New Yorkers’ behavior was especially prone to agitation on the road and they were likely to provoke or intimidate other drivers through impulsive, often irrational behavior.

More recently, the gun violence focused non-profit news organization The Trace, reported that cases of road rage involving a firearm more than doubled from 247 in 2014 to 620 in 2016. In the three-year period examined, there were at least 1,320 road rage incidents involving guns, resulting in 355 injuries and more than 135 killed.

Aggressive driving is deadly in and of itself. When it escalates and turns into hostility with a target, the stakes on a drivers’ life are even higher. From an injury law standpoint, road rage can be more complicated than aggressive driving because most auto insurance companies won’t cover damages for injuries that are inflicted intentionally.

Specifically, the Insurance Information Institute cites that road rage incidents are often listed as an exemption in many auto insurance policies because it’s not considered a true “accident.” For this reason, as well as your own personal protection, it’s best to drive defensively, especially if you notice any signs of potential aggressive driving from surrounding drivers, such as:

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Running stop signs/ lights
  • Racing another driver
  • Lane blocking
  • Illegal passing
  • Excessive speeding or erratic changing of speeds

Extreme acts of aggression between drivers are considered “road rage” and are a major cause of (often fatal) accidents.

There are several triggers for road rage. More drivers are on the road, and congestion can lead to delays and mounting frustration with traffic, and other drivers. Rushing is another cause; drivers that believe in the need for speed in order to make up lost time can often become the accident that causes rubbernecking traffic. That’s why it’s so important for drivers to give themselves as much time as they can to get to their destination. It will lower stress levels and decrease the chances of unsafe and aggressive acts behind the wheel.

Distraction is another cause for aggressive driving. Those on their cell phones aren’t paying close attention to their surroundings or their own actions. While their actions may not be intentionally aggressive, it can come across that way and it may spur frustration and aggression in other drivers.

In many cases, these actions aren’t intentional, and are simply impulsive responses to frustrating situations not personally aimed at another driver. Even if they are, responding with more aggression only escalates the situation. By being polite and courteous (even when the other driver isn’t) we help protect ourselves and those around us.

New York state does not specifically have an aggressive driving statute. However, as our Buffalo car accident lawyers can explain, New York Reckless Driving (V.T.L. 1212) outlines the consequences for reckless driving, which can include a fine of up to $500, and possible jailtime.

From a personal injury standpoint, reckless driving resulting in injury is likely compensable.

New York follows a “no-fault” system of auto insurance coverage, meaning if you are injured, you will first file a claim for damages with your own insurer through your personal injury protection (PIP) plan. Persons who suffer serious personal injury may take action against other covered persons at-fault in the crash.

If you’ve been injured by a reckless driver, you need a ruthless attorney on your side. Representation is key when it comes to receiving proper and deserved compensation for your injuries. We aim to help restore your quality of life, and get you the justice you’re entitled to. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. No charge, no risk, no focus on anything else but your needs.

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.

Distraction a Common Factor in Buffalo Collisions as New York Weighs Options

Buffalo auto accident attorneyStates including New York are considering regulation of a device called Google Glass, which looks like a pair of glasses and allows users to surf the Internet, take photographs, check-email and even watch videos – all with a blink.

The technology is pretty amazing – but perhaps not so much while driving. State lawmakers have requested direction from the department of motor vehicles on how a behind-the-wheel ban on the devices might be enforced.

Buffalo accident lawyers at The Law Offices of James Morris recognize that as it stands, distracted driving is a major factor in automobile collisions.

How many accidents are caused by distracted drivers?

The issue of driver distraction may be even more serious than previously anticipated. New research indicates that many crashes caused by distraction are instead categorized simply as “careless driving” in traffic citation records.

There may be some instances wherein drivers are cited for prohibited use of a handheld device (New York state bans texting and the use of all handheld cell phone devices while driving), more often than not, distraction can be difficult to prove.

For one thing, it’s not like drunk driving, where a test can determine whether drivers were negligent at the time of a crash. Phone records, witness statements and other evidence may be used to piece it together, but there is often no definitive determination.

Plus, there are more forms of distraction today than ever.

Let’s start with cell phones. In May of 2011, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone. By May 2013, 56 percent of people owned a smartphone.

Then there are devices like Google Glass. While it offers features like navigation, these elements have proven distracting to the person behind the wheel. But again, it can be tough to prove. A woman in California was pulled over and cited by a state trooper for “having a TV screen visible while driving.” Some 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws against it. However, the ticket was eventually tossed because there was a lack of evidence to prove the device had been enabled while she was driving.

Studies shed light on dangers of in-dash vehicle technology

More than ever, technological devices are coming standard-issue with the latest models of vehicles in the form of “infotainment” centers build right into the dash. Common features include GPS mapping technology, hands-free dialing and speech-to-text, Internet searches and even videos and games.

While car manufacturers have promised that these systems are safe and will actually help to reduce distractions, the research that is emerging suggests those assertions fall short of the truth.

For example, a recent AAA study indicates that speech-to-text phone or e-mail systems, the kind that are common in the latest infotainment offerings, are even more dangerous than listening to the radio or using a handheld cell phone.

Where companies are working on ways to integrate even more speech recognition software into vehicles, AAA warns that this will make the roads inherently more dangerous.

Anytime your hands are off the wheel or your eyes and attention are off the road, there is a danger. It need not be technologically-driven. Distraction comes in many different forms, be it your children in the back seat, the pets in your lap or the Google Glass on your head.

For the most part, whatever it is can wait until the car is in park.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044.  Attorney advertising.

Bullying: Harsh Words, Harsher Realities

                Upon entering secondary education, every child fears the worst; getting picked on. Images of being chosen last for dodge ball or being stuffed in a locker used to correspond with the word “bully.” Today however, bullying leaves a much more lasting effect on teenagers, causing serious emotional and physical issues. Bullying destroys lives long after the bullying stops.

                The modern bully is a lion, pouncing on its prey at the mere scent of weakness and attacking any flaw of character or lifestyle. The trouble with this lion is that it hunted its way out from the confines of the classroom jungle and into the open world of the internet.  While we’re all familiar with the tragic tale of Jamey Rodemeyer—a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville who cut his life short in the bloom of his youth due to years of psychological abuse both in person and online throughout middle and high school—his story is one fish in a sea of recent teen suicides at the hands (and words) of bullies. Even more disturbing is the account of Ashley Billasano. Huffington Post reported last week that Ashley, a victim of molestation and forced prostitution by her own family, tweeted 144 cries for help before killing herself, receiving not a single response from any of her 500 Twitter followers. And if you think it can’t get much worse than that, Huffington reported just days ago that 10-year-old Ashlynn Connor hung herself with a scarf in her closet after being called a “slut” by her elementary school classmates. Amidst these tragedies however, peeks a ray of sunlight.

                Parents are beginning to turn to the justice system to combat this incessant wave of bullying.  After their son suffered a traumatic brain injury, the parents of David Osama Hadaad pressed charges against Lake Central School in Indiana for not intervening while David was brutally attacked in the hallway due to his Middle Eastern descent.  According to the Huffington article that ran last week, the family has accused the school of not only failing to intervene, but of violating David’s civil rights as well.  None of the attackers faced punishment and David was suspended 10 days for the single defensive punch he threw.

                Don’t let your children be victims any longer. It’s time to stand up against bullying. Call the Law Offices of James Morris now, 716-855-1118.

A Brief Introduction

31
Oct 2011
By:

Hello fellow bloggers. My name is Brett Perla and I am the newest weapon in the Law Offices of James Morris’ arsenal. I have been hired as a social media / marketing specialist and intend to post more frequently than before on this blog as well as on our different social media platforms. I will be back soon with more informative posts, but for now I just wanted to introduce myself. Please take a minute to “Like” the James Morris Law page on facebook if you haven’t done so already (http://on.fb.me/tcF32L) and follow us on twitter for frequent updates and daily tips @jamesmorrislaw (heres the link to our twitter page http://twitter.com/#!/jamesmorrislaw). Happy Halloween!

Deadly Motorcycle Accidents

13
Jun 2011
By:

The Buffalo News reports that there have been 10 motorcycle deaths in Western New York since April of this year. Alcohol and excess speed have been factors in some cases. The failure of other drivers to see the motorcyclist have caused other accidents. Please look for motorcycles and keep a safe distance. Motorcycle enthusiasts please enjoy the summer riding season without alcohol or excess speed.

Defective Tires

9
Jun 2011
By:

Summer is upon us. The higher temperatures can cause truck tires walls to schred or fly apart. The tire temperatures can reach 200 degrees at 70 mph. The torn apart tires are called “gators”. Accidents occur when drivers hit or swerve to avoid the “gators”, because they will bite you! Be aware of this risk when driving behind an 18 wheeler.

Buffalo slip and fall accidents a serious risk in seventh snowiest city

Buffalo, New York has long been famous for its harsh winters. Buffalo is the seventh snowiest city in America, receiving an average of 93 inches of snow per year. The snowiest major city (population over 50,000 people) in America is Syracuse, with 115 inches of snow on average each year.

This winter, Buffalo has already received more than 86 inches of snow. And while some cities throughout the Northeast have received most of their snow from three major blizzards, Buffalo’s snow has been produced by 51 different storms this winter, according to the National Weather Service.

All those storms mean lots of shoveling to keep Buffalo’s sidewalks clean. Buffalo takes a tough stance against property owners who fail to shovel their sidewalks. Buffalo’s snow removal law requires property owners to clear sidewalks of snow within 24 hours of the end of a storm. Property owners who fail to do so must reimburse the city for any shoveling work done by the city on public sidewalks.

Buffalo sidewalk accidents can easily happen on slippery, snow-covered walkways. Each year, slip and fall accidents cause more than one million injuries and kill more than 17,000 people nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Buffalo slip and fall accidents demand serious attention. Have you been injured on a dangerous sidewalk? Don’t be a victim. Fight back. Contact a law firm that works hard to get results. Contact the Law Offices of James Morris. When you choose James Morris, you get a Buffalo law firm that thoroughly understands New York’s complicated legal system. Our experienced attorneys know what it takes to win dangerous sidewalk cases throughout New York. We fight tirelessly to get our clients the justice they rightfully deserve.

Choose a law firm that get results. Contact James Morris. We mean business!

The information contained in this communication is provided for informational purposes only and should not be constituted as legal advice on any subject matter.