Central New York Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

medinaI love traveling to far flung places, and when I do I like to penetrate deep into the places’ streets and culture. Speaking several languages (English, Spanish and French) helps me delve into the culture and mindset.  But there are some things I never really “get” when I am abroad.

Take my recent trip to Morocco.  Lovely country. Stunning landscape.  Beautiful labyrinthine old walled cities (“Medinas”), home to mile after mile of colorful scent-laden souks and open market stands displaying gorgeous hand-crafted silverware, carpets, foods, spices, exotic dresses, handmade crafts, and zillions of other cool stuff. Gorgeous!

But as a humble Central New York injury lawyer, there was something more compelling that drew my attention — indeed my extreme caution:  Motorcycles.  They drove through the narrow crowded streets brushing by people and stalls as if they were slalom ski gates.  I was afraid that if my wife or I took just one small step left or right while admiring the goods in the stalls, a motorcycle from behind would bowl us down.  And, according to my Marrakesh taxi driver, that’s not an infrequent occurrence.  Marrakesh’s Medina produces on average 10 motorcycle-on-pedestrian collisions a day!

Just look at this youtube video and see what I am talking about:

Here’s what puzzles me:  Why do they put up with that dangerous situation?  Why don’t they outlaw motorcycles in the Medina? The topography is flat so bikes work just about as well, with far less risk.
My guess is they don’t have a vigorous tort law system like we do over here.  No insurance required for the motorcycles.  No personal injury verdicts to dissuade would-be motorcyclists. It’s pure legal bedlam.
So, Morocco, you’re a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live — or die — there.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

carcrash-thumb-300x199I have blogged about the new driver-less automated cars before, and how they will dramatically reduce car crashes and fatalities. This future is not far off. The first true self-driving vehicles are expected before the end of the decade. A fleet surpassing 50% of all vehicles on the road could be here within 20 years.

We will be much better off with them for sure! But what I never really considered – until I read a recent article – was the profound effect driver-less cars will have on our economy. That’s what I’ll consider in this blog post.

To recap about driver-less cars, human driven cars will soon be going the way of the horse and buggy. An automated self-driving fleet of vehicles will almost certainly replace the current human-driven one within the next 25 years. The new fleet will have many advantages over the present one, but one of the most notable is that they will hardly ever crash. A study by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) predicts that a self-driving fleet could eliminate 93 percent of crashes attributed to human error. This means, among other things, that we will be able to drink ourselves senseless without worrying about criminal penalties of “driving” drunk.

This crash-less, driver-less new world will have a more profound effect on our economy than almost anything since the personal computer. Many industries that are now dependent on car crashes will either disappear or be decimated. Car insurance? You probably won’t need it, or if you do, it will be very cheap because insurers will not have to worry about crashes. Emergency rooms and trauma treatment facilities will also slim down. Auto sales will plummet because we will not likely “own” our cars. Instead, apps on our smart phone will allow us to flag a nearby self-driving vehicle to our home which will, with the click of a few buttons, deliver us to our destination. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says that if truly functional autonomous car are built, he’ll buy every one of them. This of course would benefit Uber but not the Uber drivers or the taxi industry.  The cost of transportation will be a fraction of the cost of what it is now.

Other sectors of the economy that will “suffer” from self-driving cars are:  Driving industries (truck drivers, taxis, etc.), car rentals, body shops, towing services, traffic enforcement, lawyers, emergency services of all kinds, court employees.

Because fewer cars will be needed, we will also likely see a decline in other industry sectors such as steel, aluminum, precious metals, oil. The federal, state and municipal bureaucracies that exist to serve the automobile would also likely get smaller.

And central New York car accident lawyers like me will all but disappear.  That’s OK with me – I can transition to other lines of law easily.  I’ll just take a “crash” course in business law!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Car Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

 

1-315-253-3293

truckJust read a New York Times op-ed piece titled “Trucks Are Killing Us”. As Syracuse NY trucking accident lawyers, we already knew that. And we also knew that truck-accident fatalities are increasing at the same time as car fatalities are decreasing. That’s because trucks are getting bigger and heavier, and their drivers are not getting any better. And that puts all of us who are on the road in danger.

We’re on the road – so to speak – to a major national trucking accident crisis. And what is congress doing about it? Making matters worse! Here are some of the things Congress has done according to the article:

  •  trimmed back well-considered safety improvements ordered by federal regulators, including, for example, a rule that allowed truck drivers to work only 70 hours a week (the new rule allows for 82 hours);
  • eliminated the two-day required rest for truck drivers each week;
  • discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from investing in wireless technology that would allow closer monitoring of drivers and their vehicle;
  • signaled its willingness to allow longer and heavier trucks despite widespread public opposition;
  • signaled it wants to lower the minimum age for drivers of large trucks that are allowed to travel from state to state to 18, from 21.

Why is Congress doing all this? The answer is $.  That’s right, moola.  To be more specific, trucking industry lobbying money.

The trucking industry, through its chief trade group, the American Trucking Associations, insists that safety-rules are costly and will destroy profits, raise rates for shippers and, ultimately, consumers. That’s not totally false – safety does cost something, and the cost has to be passed on to all of us somewhat. But by the same logic we should abandon seat belts and airbags in our cars (and by the way, trucks have no airbags and that’s because the trucking industry has lobbied against having to provide them!). Eliminating seat belts and airbags in our cars would bring down the cost of the car. Why is “safety first” the rule of the road for cars but not for trucks?

Again, it’s all about money.  Trucking industry money.  It’s a huge business.  Almost everything in your home got to your neck of the woods by means of a tractor trailer.  Meanwhile the death toll in truck-involved crashes rose 17 percent over the last 5 years while car crash fatalities have gone down 3%. Cars are getting safer while trucks are getting more dangerous.

I guess I can’t complain.  More truck-related accidents means more business for me.  But jeez, there has to be a better way to make a buck . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

 

 

 

dogI have a love/hate relationship with dogs. I love my dog, but I hate dogs who chase me on my bike or who snarl at me on my runs. When I go bike riding out on the country roads near Geneva, NY where I live, I even carry a small pepper spray canister to defend myself from man’s best friend.

Yes, I protect myself from “unleashed” dogs.  But unfortunately, New York State negligence law does not.  Believe me.  As a NY personal injury lawyer who handles dog bite / attack cases, I know first hand!

The problem in New York – unlike in other states – is that to hold a dog owner liable for injuries, you need to show the owner knew or should have known the dog had “vicious propensities”. If you do, the owner is “strictly” liable to you for your injuries.  That’s all well and good where a dog with a history of biting or attacking bites you, but not much else.

For example, consider this situation: A nice, friendly dog, who has never bitten anyone, is negligently released by its owner onto a busy roadway and darts out into traffic or into a bicyclist, causing an accident. Shouldn’t the injured victim be able to sue the dog owner for his negligence?

Almost two years ago I blogged about a case called Doerr v. Goldsmith where a New York Appellate Court (the First Department) was confronted with those same facts. The five judges voted 3-to-2 that, even when a dog doesn’t have a “vicious” bone in his body, negligently releasing a dog near traffic can be grounds for liability.  I loved that ruling!  That’s why I blogged about it.

But that lovely case has now been undone. Just the other day, the Court of Appeals – the highest Court in New York State – reversed the Appellate Court’s ruling, holding that dog owners cannot be liable for negligently handling or releasing their dogs into traffic. To sue the dog owner, you must show the dog had vicious propensities the owner knew or should have known about, and that this viciousness caused your injuries.  Period!

This is a big disappointment for bicyclists, motorcyclists and even regular motorists. And the rule makes no sense, especially in light of a recent case from the same court (Court of Appeals), Hastings v. Sauve, which held that an owner of a cow – or other farm animal — can be liable for negligently allowing the cow to roam onto a road and cause an accident. Obviously, the cow is not vicious, but still the owner can be held liable. So why not the same rule for dogs? Why can’t a dog owner be held liable for allowing its dog – even a friendly non-vicious one — to run loose and cause a car or bike accident?

The rule just seems so unfair in so many ways. For example, if two people are playing “catch” with a ball near a busy street, and the ball strikes a cyclist, causing him to fall, the players can be held liable for negligence. But if those same players send their dog running across the street, and the dog causes an accident, they can’t be held liable. Does that make sense?  Of course not.

Our Court of Appeals usually gets it right, but this time they certainly did not.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

pedestriancrossingI was glad to read in the news today that the condition of a 15-year-old girl who was struck on Monday by one car and then run over by another, in Auburn, New York, has improved. The girl’s condition has been upgraded from “life-threatening” to “fair” at Upstate University Hospital, according to police.

It doesn’t surprise me that this accident happened on Grant Ave, one of the busiest — and most accident prone – roads in all of Cayuga County. We have represented many car accident victims who were hit on that busy arterial.  The posted speed limit is rarely obeyed there — motorists are in a hurry, rushing between Auburn and Syracuse and all the places in between.

The girl was trying to cross Grant Ave in a rain storm shortly after 9 p.m., near the Metro Mattress store. She was apparently trying to reach the MacDonald’s on the other side of Grant Ave. A driver trying to make a left turn from Grant onto McIntosh Drive struck her. Then, to make matters much worse, a second car ran over her as she lay in the road.

Let’s pray for a complete and speedy recovery.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com                   I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

michaels-smolak.com
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

 

1-315-253-3293

 

courtroom-thumb-300x199I read recently about the case of a man charged with attempting to murder his mom by ramming her with his SUV as she sat in her living room. He ran it right through the wall. Why? Apparently he had a financial dispute with her. In my humble opinion, that’s a pretty lame excuse for murdering your mother. And geez, the weapon he chose was pretty bizarre, too.

The guy obviously has a screw loose, or more likely a brain full of loose screws.

The mother, of Mamakating, in Sullivan County, NY, ended up in the hospital with severe injuries. The son/driver, of Bloomingburg, NY, was charged with several crimes, including second-degree attempted murder. (Shouldn’t there be a separate and more severe charge for attempted mom murder?)

Horrible story. But it brings up an interesting issue: Will the SUV’s auto insurance cover mom’s injuries? After all, auto insurance covers auto accidents, right? And this was one hell of an “accident”, right?

Wrong. It wasn’t an “accident”. It was an assault with a vehicle. Car insurance covers only “accidents”, not vehicular assault. If you deliberately cause an accident, that’s no accident, and you have no insurance.

So think twice before you try to run your mom over. You’ll go to jail, and you won’t have any insurance either.

Keep (mom) safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY and Syracuse Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

car accidentsWho says nothing in life is “free”? Here’s some free legal advice from your Central New York injury lawyer:

Do not — I repeat, do NOT – drop the F-bomb on a cop while he is arresting you for homicidal drunk driving after you have just killed a teenager.

That’s exactly what a Syracuse homicidal drunk driver did at Destiny USA. The crash happened at Hiawatha Boulevard and Solar Streets, at the entrance to Destiny USA. He had just gone through a red light and struck the side of a car carrying two teenagers. The teenage driver was killed and the passenger wounded. When the cops arrived on the scene, he explained the accident – in a drunken stupor – like this: “they pulled out in front of me, (f-bomb) them”. He also told the officer to “go (f-bomb) yourself” when asked to submit to a blood test for alcohol content. He is facing up to 25 years of prison if convicted, but I say they should tag on an extra ten for hubris. The guy has had three drunken driving charges in the past five years.

There was a hearing just the other day to see if the statements he made–including the F bombs — can be entered into evidence against him in his criminal trial. His lawyers argued that they should not because none of the officers read the defendant his rights before the sobriety test or in the ambulance. The judge decided the remarks can be used at trial. Can’t say I disagree with that ruling.

My heart goes out to the families of his many victims. As for the perpetrator? (F-bomb) him!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

lane splitting motorcycle.jpgIt’s motor cycle season again. While I don’t have the statistics for last year yet, I know that a total of 4,381 motorcyclists died in U.S. crashes in 2013. That’s about 30 times the number of people who died in car crashes, even though many more cars than bikes travel our roads.

Many of those deaths are not the bikers’ fault; four-wheel drivers just don’t see motorcycles. They then cut them off or come blasting out from stop signs into their right of way.

But of course many bikers cause their own death or serious injury, too. One way to do it is called “lane-splitting”. That’s where you ride through the space between cars in parallel traffic lanes. If a cop catches you, it’ll cost you 2-points on your license. If a car “catches” you, it could cost you your life.

The practice is outlawed for a reason. A motorist could change lanes into you, or open his door and hit you, or drift into you and strike you, all because your sudden presence between lanes is so unexpected. As you pass those slow or stopped vehicles, you will also pass thorough their blind spot, so when they want to change lanes, they may not see you.

Hey motorcyclist. Don’t lane-split. If you do, and you get clobbered, I’ll try to help you prove the automobile driver was at fault — at least partly. Yes, I’ll be your New York motorcycle accident lawyer. But it will be nearly impossible to get you a clean 100% victory in Court if you lane-split. Some of the fault will lie with you.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central and Syracuse NY Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

traffic ticket.jpgAs a recipient of more than a few speeding tickets within the last few decades, I took an interest in this NY Times article about a $58,000.00 speeding ticket in Finland.

The offender was clocked at 64 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone. Doing the math, that works out to $4,143.00 for every mile per hour above the limit.

Why so high? What determined the high price was not so much the offense as the offender. The speedster was a multimillionaire in one of the few countries in the world where fines for traffic infractions are calculated based in large part on your income. The mindset in this Scandinavian country is that the sting of the fine should be felt equally by rich and poor. The sting of a $100 fine is felt by the street sweeper but not by the banking tycoon. Thus, in Finland Fine-land the government calculates your fine based on half your daily net income multiplied by the number of days of income you should lose according to the gravity of the offense. This particular $58,000 ticket represented a half-a-day’s income of the wealthy offender.

I wonder how Fine-land would handle the fine for a U.S. visitor like me caught speeding on its roadways? Would they subpoena my US income tax returns in order to calculate the “sting effect” of the fine?

I’m not anxious to find out. I think my next Scandinavian vacation will be in neighboring Norway.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY auto accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

car upside down in river.jpgWarning: This is a sad story.

A man’s 16-year old daughter was killed when her car veered off a bridge, overturned, and flipped into a creek. After the accident, the authorities agreed to install a guardrail on the bridge to prevent similar tragedies.

Thirty days went by and still no guardrail. The grieving father – who could not stand the sight of the unprotected bridge – decided to take matters into his own hands. He began to build a temporary guardrail. As he was in the act of doing so, the authorities asked him to stop. He refused. He just could not stand to see another car go by unprotected.

He was arrested for “interfering with government property” and had to post $5,000 bail to stay out of jail. After posting bail, the father gave a brief interview to a TV camera. His statements are so poignant as bring tears to your eyes. He holds no grudge against the arresting officer: “The officer had to do his job, and as a father, I had to do mine”, the man said. “All I wanted to do was save lives. When you’re a grieving parent, when you’ve lost your child, you do what you’ve got to do.”

Who can blame him?

Hey you police officers, give the guy a break. Install that guardrail right away, give this grieving dad his bail money back, and drop all charges.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central & Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293