atv.jpgAt Michaels & Smolak, we’ve seen a lot of bad ATV accidents in Central New York. From our perspective as New York ATV accident lawyers, the best cases are those in which the accident was not the injured guy’s (our client’s) fault. But unfortunately, many times severely injured victims of ATV crashes are themselves to blame.

The Good news about ATV accidents is that there are fewer of them than before. ATV Deaths and accidents have been going down steadily year after year since 2006. That’s because ATV’s are built safer, in part because of lawsuits brought by lawyers like me forcing manufacturers to make them safer. (Remember the old three-wheelers, and the tip-over accidents that plagued them? Personal injury lawyers sued them into oblivion!)

But there are still too many ATV accidents. This blog post is aimed at helping ATV users, and their parents, avoid accidents (and tickets!).

tractor trailer.jpgI pulled some all-nighters in college. Who didn’t? But that was behind a desk. I have never tried one behind a wheel, nor do I intend to, thank you.

Not everyone can say that. A Walmart tractor trailer driver, Kevin Roper, might not be able to say it. Last Saturday, while driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, he rear-ended a van carrying, among others, the comedian Tracy Morgan (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock). The New Jersey police assure us (we don’t know how they know) that Roper had not slept in 24 hours. Federal law limits tractor trailer drivers to 14 hours shifts, with only 11 of those behind the wheel.

Roper’s sleep-deprived accident caused a pile up. Several were injured and one victim was killed. Morgan himself is in critical condition. There have been some reports he may lose a leg.

boxing lawyer.jpgMany moons ago, before we humans invented a civil justice system, we resolved our disputes by brute force. Might made right. In the words of Thomas Hobbes, life was “nasty, brutish and short.”

Then trials and courtrooms evolved. We put down our fists and swords and let judges and juries hear our stories and resolve our disputes.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

doctor bad.jpgSexting during surgery? Ya godda be kidding . . .!

I blogged a few weeks ago about doctors who got into trouble for texting or surfing the web while attending to patients, even during surgery. That was incredible enough, but now a Seattle surgeon has been caught, and suspended, for SEXTING during surgery. The anesthesiologist sent 64 sex-texts during seven surgeries, mostly C-sextions – oops, I meant “sections”.

You might ask yourself, so, what’s the difference between SEXTING and TEXTING? Isn’t the distraction the same? Well, no, in my humble opinion, it’s not. Sexting is even more distracting (not that I would know from personal experience of course) because it involves both brains (guys, you know what I mean). Sexual arousal simply has to count as an additional distraction, above and beyond the mere mental distraction of texting, at least in my book.

doctor bad.jpgEvery day I get calls and emails describing awful medical care, which conclude with “will you take my medical malpractice case”? And 90% of the time I politely say “no”. Why?

Justice may be blind, but it’s expensive. That’s particularly true in “med mal” cases. In some cases we have to spend six figures to get the case to a jury. That’s because we have to hire smart experts – doctors – to explain to the jury that the defendant-doctor screwed up, and to prove that the harm he or she caused are no trifling matter. Those smart experts are very expensive.

In many cases the injury is worth less in compensation than the expense of those experts, and the other expenses in the case. If we took on medical malpractice cases with only modest injuries, we would quickly drive our law firm into bankruptcy.

boating.jpgThis past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was a disappointment to many boaters in the Finger Lakes region. That’s because motor boats were banned on Keuka, Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes. And on Seneca Lake there was a 5 mile per hour speed limit. Tough to get very far at that pace!

Rain and flash floods, which raised water levels and unleashed lots of floating debris, made the lakes dangerous to navigate with motorboats. In addition, some docks were underwater and could have been invisible hazards.

The authorities expect all lakes to be open for boating this next weekend, but local boaters ought to check the web or make some calls to make sure.

texting and driving.jpegI was glad to read yesterday in the Finger Lakes Times that more than 600 Canandaigua Academy students who attended the Distractive Driving Fair there signed a pledge to never text and drive. As a New York car accident lawyer representing victims of text-and-drive accidents, I can tell you that nothing has increased my case load more than the recent “text-and-drive” habits of the young. And as the father of a 17-year old driver, nothing is more frightening to me than this trend. Any parent whose kid has a smart phone can tell you how damn addicting those things are. Kids want to be constantly connected to their buddies through those devices. BUT BEHIND THE WHEEL IS AN UNACCEPTABLE PLACE TO STAY CONNECTED. Thanks Canandaigua youth for pledging not to tread down that dangerous path . . .

Please read some of my other distracted driving blog posts linked here:

New York State Troopers’ New Anti-Texting-While-Driving Weapon.

doctor bad.jpgFor at least a decade, hospitals and doctors’ offices, hoping improve medical care, have been equipping their offices, operating rooms and staff with nifty computers, ipads, smartphones and other electronic devices. This is great for quickly digging up patient data and drug information. But it also has a dark side.

Doctors and nurses and technicians, just like the rest of us, can get addicted to the “fun” side of these new technologies – social media, texting, tweeting, etc. So addicted, in fact, that they text, tweet, talk and web-surf during important medical procedures.

Apparently, America’s gadget addiction has even penetrated the operating room. For example, more than half of technicians who monitor bypass machines admit they had texted during surgery. Other examples abound. A nurse in an Oregon hospital was caught checking airfares on a computer in the operating room.

chicago.jpgstaten.jpgThumbnail image for truck.jpgair.jpgThe Metro-North engineer who derailed his train last year, killing four passengers and injuring dozens more, was suffering from a sleep disorder. He slept through the accident.

The driver of the Chicago subway train that recently crashed at O’Hare International Airport told authorities she fell asleep before the train entered the station. Her train derailed and raced up an escalator, causing injury and death.

In the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash, it was determined that the pilot lost consciousness while at the ship’s controls. He had taken the painkillers tramadol and Tylenol PM, both of which can cause drowsiness as a side effect.

old and young lawyer.jpgAdvice to a young personal injury lawyer:

Hey there young fella. Look at me! Grey hair is creeping up the side of my scalp. I am within shouting distance of 60-years old. I am now a veteran New York personal injury litigator. My running stride is slower, and aches and pains sometimes plague me, but hey, I’m wiser, too. So listen up young whippersnapper! Here’s a few lessons I’ve learned about life in this high-stress, time-consuming job you’ve chosen.

(1) Keep learning. No matter how good you are, someone else is always better. So be humble. You need to keep learning this trade until the day you die. Never think you know too much.