Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Happy Senior Man Driving his car
One of the most difficult conversations to have is with a parent, grandparent or elderly spouse who has – through aging or age-related losses – become a danger to others on the road is the “give-up-the-car-keys” conversation. In the U.S.A., we have a deep emotional attachment to driving.  Driving equals freedom. When the elderly consider this loss of independence, particularly in rural and sub-urban areas where good public transportation is lacking, they will resist giving up the keys even when they recognize their own physical or mental barriers to safe driving (which they often don’t). When this happens, what is a son/daughter/spouse to do?

First, let’s be clear on the legal duty.  The family member of an elderly person who may be unfit to drive has no legal duty – or even the right — to take the keys away (unless they have legal guardianship of the elderly person).  But family members have the right – but not the duty — to report the elderly family member’s suspected inability to safely drive to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). From there, DMV will take over.

But should you snitch on grandma?

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I have blogged about texting while driving so many times I have lost track.  (Though I never blog while driving.  Just thought I’d mention that!)

This is not just another nag-post about the dangers of texting while driving (though it is that, too). It’s about a new proposed law and a new technology that may allow the police to “catch” driving texters and prosecute them in the same way they do drunk drivers now.

As you know, most states have banned texting (or even holding a device with one hand) while driving.  Some States have spent loads of money on  public service campaigns aimed at getting drivers to refrain from texting behind the wheel.   If you are in New York, you have probably seen the “it can wait” ads, as well as the new signs on the Thruway announcing “text stops” (formerly “rest stops”).  See photo above left.

NYCMGEICOPROGRESSIVEAs a New York car accident lawyer, I have been on the other side of car insurance adjusters for decades now.  So I know the score.  I know our respective jobs.  They are supposed to try to pay a little as possible to save their employer money.  I am supposed to get as much for my injured client as possible.  I get that.

But what I don’t get is why a few of the auto insurance carriers — not all — seem to believe that offering my client an unreasonably small amount of money to settle actually saves their employer money.  Most of them understand that, if they offer me something on the short side of reasonable, but still within the range of reasonable, my client will probably take it to avoid having to go through protracted litigation and a stressful trial.  This saves the insurance carrier money because they don’t have to pay a lawyer to defend a lawsuit and because they don’t have to risk a big verdict at trial.

But a few “bad” car insurance companies don’t get that. Instead, they feel that unless they make my client settle for  1/2 or even 1/3 the value of the case, they have not done their job.  That just makes me sue them, and then they have to pay their lawyer to defend the case, and on top of that they have to pay my client the reasonable verdict the jury will likely give my client and which they should have offered me to begin with!  So they end up making their employer pay more, not less.

White Semi-Truck parked in forbidden spot.
underride crash
In the last few decades, the way we build cars has drastically reduced deaths and serious injuries.  As Central New York car and truck accident lawyers, we know.  Our car crash case volume has gone down, and the injuries are often less severe.

Some of the greatest safety improvements are at the front of the car, which is now designed to absorb a great deal of crash impact — accordion like.  This, accompanied with airbag deployment and seat belts, saves hundreds of lives per year.

But all these safety features are of no avail if the car you are riding in slides under the back of a tractor trailer or truck.  The occupants’ heads get crushed  against the back of the trailer (see second photo above).  The structures designed to absorb the energy of a crash are bypassed, as they slide underneath. The airbags and safety belts can’t do their jobs at all. It is literally a “head-on” collision.  That’s your head, not the car’s.

0cd70268171212b504a54dd2083c6b04Drowsy driving kills thousands of people in the United States each year. We’ve all been there:  You are driving down a boring interstate highway at night.  You start to nod off and, just when you about to enter la la land, you “snap out of it” and clutch the wheel, your heart racing.  Scary, huh? And you were one of the lucky ones.  Other drivers, succumbing to the sirens of sleep, crash and burn.

But a new device being developed may keep drivers like you awake and save your life. Here’s how it works:

A Bluetooth headset fits on one ear and points an infrared sensor toward the eye to detect blinking. (See photo). The driver’s blinking frequency indicates drowsiness. The data is transmitted by Bluetooth to a smartphone. If the sensor detects drowsiness, the headset vibrates, flashes and beeps to alert — and awaken — the sleepy driver.

I sometimes wax nostalgic about the “good old days” when my boys were toddlers: The petting zoos, the living-room wrestling matches, the cute things they would say. But one thing I definitely do NOT miss is struggling with car seats. What a pain! And I was never sure I had them in right.

Well, I was right to be unsure. Results from recent child car seat inspections throughout New York State revealed that out of 931 random car seats inspected only 112 seats were installed correctly. That’s only 12%!  Nevertheless, most parents — 96% to be exact — BELIEVED they had their kids correctly installed in the car seat.

What was wrong with the car seat installation? In some cases, the seats didn’t fit the child, in others they weren’t fitted in tight enough, in still others they were installed or positioned incorrectly.

insurance policy A New York resident is on vacation and has stopped into a rental car agency.  Let’s listen in:

Customer“Hello, I came to pick up my rental car.  I was told it was $30 per day”.

Salesman “Sure, but you should really get the “rental insurance” on it for an extra $10.  Otherwise, you may be responsible for any damage to the car or injuries to others.”

donald trumpIn the TV smash hit “The Apprentice”, Donald Trump famously trumpets the words “you’re fired” when dismissing a contestant for failing to live up to his high job performance expectations.

Well, Trump isn’t the only one. Honda yesterday uttered those same words to Takata, the Japanese maker of the infamous defective shrapnel-shooting airbags.

Maybe it was “you’re fired” or maybe “Sayonara”.  But by any measure, Takata had a bad day yesterday. Longtime customer Honda dumped the company right after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) slapped Takata with a $70 million penalty for failing to promptly disclose the dangerous defects in its airbags.

insurance policyWe made this offer in our latest Newsletter and had a solid response from our readers. So we are now offering it to our blog readers as well:

We are offering all our NY State readers a free auto insurance review.  Why? We see it time and time again. A client comes to us with severe personal injuries suffered in a car accident. The at-fault driver has only minimal car insurance, not enough to cover all the lost income or medical expenses. Our client’s hard-earned finances are wiped out. Sometimes they need to go on welfare. You can’t get water from a rock. So if the guy who hits you does not have enough insurance, and he has no real assets to go after, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. UNLESS you have had the foresight to buy the right kind of insurance yourself. And buying it is not expensive. It’s just a matter of knowing what to buy. You just need a little advice on how to structure your insurance policy.

Time out. Here’s a quick quiz: Do you know what SUM (Supplemental Underinsured Motorist) coverage is? What about “spousal coverage”? How about “APIP” (additional personal injury protection) If you don’t, you need to talk to us. In our experience, many insurance agents do a very poor job of educating their clients about choices in insurance policies. They often want to take your money without doing the work it takes to get you the right protection.

20130402_151224Duck_tour_londonThe photo on left is of my then 16 year-old son and me a few years ago as we were about to board the Duck Boat for a tour of Boston and its harbor. The “Duck Boat” – for those that don’t know — is a six-wheeled amphibious vehicle originally used as U.S. military landing craft during World War II, but later adapted for tourists in cities with a harbor, river or lake such as Boston, London, Philadelphia and Washington.

It was a cool ride!  We drove around B-Town, then drove right into the Harbor and kept going.  The tour guide — Duck Dude —  joked all the way through the tour while sharing useful and sometimes not-so-useful but sure-as-hell entertaining information.

But there is sad news this week for Duck Boat lovers. A Seattle Duck Boat crashed into a charter bus full of college kids. Terrible accident sending 50 people to the hospital.