New Safety Technologies Can Prevent Thousands of Truck Accidents Every Year

18
Nov 2017
By:

For years, truck accidents have been a significant public safety hazard on American roadways. Drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians are all at risk when encountering large trucks.

Due to the size and weight of large trucks, the damage and injuries caused by an accident can be devastating. But new and improved safety technologies may offer important opportunities to substantially reduce the number of truck accidents in New York state.

Life-Saving Safety Technology

As safety technologies are developed, improved, and made prevalent in new vehicles, research has focused on how effective these new systems are at preventing accidents and injuries. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted an investigation into four such technologies.

Researchers concluded that onboard video based safety monitoring could prevent up to 63,300 crashes per year. All other systems investigated were also found to prevent accidents and save lives. They include: lane departure warning systems, automatic emergency braking, and air disc brakes.

Electronic Logs to be Required on Trucks

Another potentially monumental change involves holding truck drivers and carriers accountable for honest reporting of hours. This ultimately drops the risk of fatigued trucking accidents. For years, commercial truck drivers have been required to keep travel logs of the time and distance they drive each shift. However, hard copies of these pen-and-paper logs are not always accurate. The system relied on honest self-reporting from truck drivers. Because truck drivers are often paid by the mile – not the hour – truck drivers had a financial incentive to push the federal limits for daily driving, and squeeze in as many miles as possible.

Now, federal law will require that commercial trucks be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs), to relay tamper-proof data directly from the vehicle. This will allow federal inspectors to ensure that drivers and companies are complying with federal laws – restricting the number of hours a trucker can drive within a 24 hour period.

Trucks.com reports that all commercial trucks must be equipped with ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Electronic logging devices do not change the number of hours a truck driver can drive in a single day. Rather, they provide a more accurate reporting system, to ensure that drivers are complying with the law. Commercial truck drivers are currently limited to eleven hours per day. ELDs link to a truck’s engine to monitor its run time, and send alerts when it exceeds the federal limit.

There are many ways in which truck drivers and transportation companies can reduce the risk of accidents. Failure to do so may constitute negligence, which creates a legal obligation to compensate truck accident victims for financial losses. Contact an experienced Buffalo truck accident attorney as soon as possible after any type of injury. Truck accident victims have the legal right to be compensated for their injuries and financial losses.

Speeding as a Major Factor in Buffalo Accidents

30
Oct 2017
By:

Speeding is a Major Factor in Buffalo Auto Accident Fatalities

With so much media attention on drunk driving, it can be easy to forget that one of the greatest dangers faced on the roads is simple speeding.

Speeding increases the force generated by a collision, which in turn increases the severity of injuries sustained, and also increases the likelihood that those injuries will be fatal. The World Health Organization reports that an injury victim is twenty times more likely to die in an impact at 80 kilometers per hour (49 mph) than impact at 30 kilometers per hour (19 mph).

After any auto accident, an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney will help injury victims identify all contributing factors and all parties responsible for causing their injuries, to secure the fair legal compensation to which they are entitled. At The Law Offices of James Morris, we work tirelessly to ensure each victim gets the maximum compensation that they deserve.

Speeding Fatalities Are on the Rise

After the economic crash of 2008, fewer vehicles were on the road, and traffic fatalities experienced a corresponding drop. The Washington Post reports that United State traffic fatalities hit an all-time low in 2011. Unfortunately, traffic fatalities have been steadily climbing ever since. Now, in 2017, more than eighteen thousand people died on the road between January 1 and June 31. Another 2.1 million people were seriously injured in car accidents during that same time. Despite some improvements in safety, hundreds of injury victims die on the roads of America every day. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, speeding accidents caused more than one hundred thousand deaths in the United States between 2005 and 2014.

Speeding and speeding-related accidents are more likely to occur in areas which do not use photo enforcement programs. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a longitudinal review of studies which measured the efficacy of automated enforcement technology programs. Of twenty-eight studies reviewed, every single one reported a lower number of crashes after implementation of a speed enforcement technology program. Bloomberg reports that such technologies are widely acknowledged to be an effective deterrent to speeding, but that they are currently only used in fourteen states and the District of Columbia. Their efficiency has caused the National Transportation Safety Board to recommend that states remove laws which prohibit the use of such technologies.

What You Can Do to Avoid Speeding-Related Accidents

The reason photo enforcement technologies are so effective is that they hold drivers accountable for their driving behaviors with definitive, visual proof of their actions. Until an individual driver accepts personal responsibility for safe driving habits, no amount of enforcement will reduce speeding accidents.

Friends and family members should speak up when a driver’s speed is not safe, especially when it becomes a habit. While this can be an uncomfortable discussion, it is one that can save lives. There are also immediate benefits to eliminating speeding in your personal driving behaviors. Section 1180 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits driving a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the current conditions and hazards.

Violation of this law can not only result in a traffic citation, but it can also make the driver legally responsible for causing any accident which occurs as a result. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, contact an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to be compensated for your injuries. Contact us today.

New York State Considers Measures to Curb Distracted Driving

27
Sep 2017
By:

Distracted driving has become an increasingly pervasive threat to public safety in recent years. Now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking measures to make it easier for law enforcement officers to cite drivers who have violated laws banning mobile device use while driving.

The hope is that this measure will drive down the number of distracted driving accidents in NewTextalyzers considered for New York State York. Given that distraction is cited as the primary reason for the uptick in traffic accidents nationally, addressing it is paramount.

Know also that following a distracted driving crash, those injured have legal rights which must be protected. At James Morris Law, we provide just that.

How to Test for Distracted Driving: the Textalyzer Test

Business Insider reports that Governor Cuomo’s order directs the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to examine a new device which allows officers to quickly check for recent mobile device use after an auto accident. This technology is known as the “textalyzer”, and in many ways, it is legally similar to the use of a breathalyzer to check for impairment after an auto accident. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has been tasked with reporting on the technology, civil liberties issues surrounding its use, and the privacy implications of such a device.

Mobile phone manufacturers are also attempting to address this problem by improving and enhancing “do not disturb” features on smartphones. As usual, Apple has been at the head of this trend. Business Insider reports that the iOS 11 operating system for iPhone – due for release in late 2017 – will include a comprehensive “do not disturb while driving” function. This function will automatically detect when a user is driving and engage itself. The user receives no notifications and cannot access the home screen until he or she stops driving. The user can override this setting by following a series of prompts. While this override feature is necessary in the event that a user is the passenger (not driver) of a vehicle, it leaves open the concerning possibility that users can override the feature and use a fully accessible smartphone while driving.

How Motorists Can Curb Distracted Driving

Do Not Disturb features raise a broader discussion into the issue of distracted driving. Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries every year. In fact, Apple’s move to introduce the comprehensive function for iOS 11 comes after it was sued for failing to include such features in earlier versions. According to the Guardian, Bethany and James Modisette sued Apple for the wrongful death of their five-year-old daughter, who was killed in a car accident by a driver using FaceTime while driving. The Modisettes alleged that Apple held patents on technology to lock out iPhone functions while driving, but had failed to implement them in their products, thus contributing to their daughter’s death.

While the improvement and expansion of Do Not Disturb features can certainly help target the problem, it falls to each individual driver to accept personal responsibility for implementing safe driving habits. No technology can completely eradicate the dangers of distracted driving. No Do Not Disturb feature can be forcefully implemented in every driving situation. Only a personal commitment to avoiding distractions can prevent a driver from becoming distracted. Passengers should speak up when they notice their driver is becoming distracted. Parents should implement and enforce specific guidelines for their teen drivers, whose inexperience makes distracted driving particularly dangerous for them.

 

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.

Riding Safe to Avoid New York Motorcycle Accidents

There’s nothing like a summer motorcycle ride in Upstate New York. With less traffic, a patchwork of historic villages, and scenic farmland, it’s an ideal landscape for a motorcycle tour. But with all its picturesque beauty, these roads can prove to be deadly places for many riders.motorcycle safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 154 people were killed in New York motorcycle accidents last month–an increase of 7 percent from just one year earlier. Every year, motorcycle fatalities in this state account for roughly 15 percent of the total, an outsized amount because motorcycles only comprise about 2 percent of the total number of registered vehicles. But as the NHTSA notes, you are 29 times more likely to die if you’re operating a motorcycle as opposed to a passenger car.

Buffalo motorcycle accident attorneys at The Law Offices of James Morris know that those on bikes are simply more vulnerable than other road users.

Motorcycles Not Covered Under New York No Fault Law

Although New York is one of 12 states to abide by a so-called No-Fault system of auto insurance, motorcyclists are not covered by the typical plan that most drivers would be. That means they are free to pursue bodily injury liability claims against at-fault drivers that might not otherwise pass the “serious injury” threshold required of other drivers under the no-fault system.

Still, you always run the risk that the other driver may not have the minimum bodily injury liability coverage required by New York Law of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. In other cases, the at-fault driver may have coverage, but it isn’t enough to fully compensate the motorcyclist for his or her injuries. For this reason, it’s generally recommended that motorcyclists obtain larger uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Keeping Safe on a Motorcycle in New York

While a significant number of motorcycle accidents are caused by careless drivers of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, being so vulnerable, need to make sure they use extra caution and drive defensively.

That means following the laws (failure to do so can diminish the amount of damages you can recover), using reasonable care and common sense.

Some summer safe riding tips include:

  • Wear a helmet. This is a hotly-debated issue among motorcycle enthusiasts, but the fact is, motorcycle helmet use is required in New York for all riders.
  • Wear eye protection. This too is required for all riders.
  • Use a daytime headlight.
  • Use no mere than one earphone in helmet speakers.
  • Ride no more than two motorcycles side-by-side in a single lane.
  • Be alert. This includes not just avoiding driver fatigue, but also driver impairment. You must be completely sober in order to safely operate a vehicle. While this fact alone may not eliminate your odds of recovering damages, it could certainly limit it.
  • Watch for potholes, ruts and other irregular road conditions. This a concern that is far more outsized for motorcyclists than those operating passenger cars. A single pothole may be a minor annoyance to someone in a car, but it can be fatal to someone on a motorcycle.
  • Use extra caution in work zones.

If you have any questions about liability or how to pursue damages after a motorcycle accident in Buffalo.

Older Cars Four Times More Deadly Than Newer Models, Study Says

23
Jun 2017
By:

Buying your teen an older car? A new study may give you reason to reassess.

Researchers in Australia looked at how older-model cars (those made before 2000) stand up to the newer ones. Of course it stands to reason that even all else identical, any newer car would be safer than an older one with more miles an wear. But beyond that, newer models come with the benefit of years of engineering technology advancement and increased safety features like forward collision warning and rearview cameras.

But even beyond that, researchers say, there is structural integrity. In a test between a 1998 Toyota Corolla and its 2015 counterpart, the results weren’t even close. The ANCAP showed how the older vehicle was quickly reduced to a crumpled heap, the front wheel smashed inside the front cabin, the door frame collapsed and the roof buckled. Meanwhile, the front cabin of the newer vehicle was largely intact. The door could still be opened.

While the newer model occupant would likely have survived unscathed, the driver of the older car would have either died or suffered severe traumatic injuries to the brain, chest and legs. It should be noted the older vehicle didn’t have airbags (which were mandated standard in the U.S. by that time, but not in Australia or New Zealand), though researchers concluded in this particular case, that wouldn’t have made a huge difference.

By today’s standards, that older model car – just 17 years older than the newer one –  would receive a zero-star safety rating, with the 2015 model would get 5 out of 5 stars.

Older Cars Overrepresented in Fatal Crashes

The data underscores what we already know about fatal car accidents in Buffalo and elsewhere: The older the car, the more likely it is to be involved in a fatal crash. This is especially concerning when we consider that older cars are more likely to be driven by two of the most vulnerable motorists: Teenagers and elderly drivers.

Research published in a 2014 issue of the journal Injury Prevention revealed more than half of teens killed in crashes between 2008 and 2012 were in vehicles that were 11 years or older. Eighty-two percent of those who died were in vehicles that were at least 6-years-old.

The Australian researchers found that while older cars represented roughly 20 percent of cars on the road, they account for 33 percent of fatal crashes. In comparison, newer model cars account for 31 percent of cars on the road, yet are involved in 13 percent of fatal crashes.

Recovering Damages

Because older cars are more likely to be involved in crashes that are fatal or life-threatening, it’s imperative that drivers keep them well-maintained and properly insured. Although maintenance isn’t likely to improve the structural integrity of your older car, it can likely help to make sure your risk isn’t higher. Consider too that if some improper vehicle maintenance plays a role in the crash, you could be deemed liable, or at least comparatively negligent. (In New York, N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1411 holds that comparative negligence won’t bar recovery for damages, but it can proportionately diminish the amount to which you are entitled).

You may also want to consider higher-than-average UM/ UIM (uninsured/ underinsured) motorist coverage. Such coverage isn’t required under New York law, but especially for drivers of older cars, it’s recommended.

If you or your teen driver suffer injury Buffalo car accident, our injury lawyers will work to help you identify every viable avenue for compensation.

New York Aggressive Driving Leads to Road Rage, Personal Injuries

16
May 2017
By:

Photo of driver honking in traffic

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.

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

21
Apr 2017
By:

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.

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.

Recent Dog Attack Prompts Discussion About Animal Control, Owner Responsibility

6
Feb 2017
By:

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.