Recently in Motor Vehicle Accidents Category

November 10, 2014

How The Massive Airbag Recall Affects Central New Yorkers

airbag.jpgIf you haven't heard about the massive airbag recall, you probably don't need to worry about it because you are living under a rock. As long as you stay down there, and don't jump into a car, you're fine.

But for the rest of our readers, we've got some news you can use: You may want to switch out your airbags for new ones. The airbags may have the dangerous shrapnel-shooting parts from Japanese manufacturerTakata.

By the way, recent evidence shows that Takata "saw and hid risk in airbags in 2004". Sound familiar? (hint: think tobacco).

If you own one of the vehicles with defective airbags, and bought it in a "high-humidity state", you should have gotten a recall notice by mail. Humidity can cause the air bag propellant to burn too fast and cause the shrapnel-shooting effect.

If you bought your car in Central New York, you probably won't be getting a recall notice. Not a lot of humidity around here. But what if you are going to be visiting Florida or another high humidity State? What if you are going there for the winter? You might want consider getting your airbags replaced. (Or getting a new car!).

If you are unfortunate enough to get injured by a shrapnel-shooting airbag, call us.

The recall covers the following makes and models:

Acura: 2002-2003 CL and TL; 2003-2006 MDX; 2005 RL

BMW: 2000-2005 3-series sedan and wagon; 2000-2006 3-series coupe and convertible; 2001-2006 M3 coupe and convertible

Chrysler (including Dodge): 2005-2008 Chrysler 300; 2007-2008 Aspen

Dodge/Ram (including Chrysler): 2003-2008 Dodge Ram 1500; 2005-2008 Ram 2500, Dakota, and Durango; 2006-2008 Ram 3500 and 4500; 2008 Ram 5500

Ford: 2004 Ranger; 2005-2006 GT; 2005-2007 Mustang

Honda (including Acura): 2001-2007 Accord; 2001-2005 Civic; 2002-2006 CR-V; 2002-2004 Odyssey; 2003-2011 Element; 2003-2007 Pilot; 2006 Ridgeline

Infiniti: 2001-2004 Infiniti I30/I35; 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4; 2003-2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Lexus: 2002-2005 SC430

Mazda: 2003-2007 Mazda 6; 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed 6; 2004-2008 Mazda RX-8; 2004-2005 MPV; 2004 B-series

Mitsubishi: 2004-2005 Lancer; 2006-2007 Raider

Nissan (including Infiniti): 2001-2003 Maxima; 2001-2004 Pathfinder; 2002-2004 Nissan Sentra

Pontiac: 2003-2005 Vibe

Saab: 2005 9-2X

Subaru: 2003-2005 Baja, Legacy, Outback; 2004-2005 Impreza, Impreza WRX, Impreza WRX STI

Toyota: 2002-2005 Toyota Corolla and Sequoia; 2003-2005 Matrix, Tundra

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

September 28, 2014

A Future Free of Car Accidents? CNY Car Accident Lawyer's Prediction.

scared driver.jpgI sometimes tell people that safe driving would drive me out of business. As a New York car accident lawyer, someone's negligent driving puts bread on my table. Now isn't that just sick?

Sure it is, which is why I am perfectly prepared to move into another line of work should motor vehicle accidents ever become a thing of the past. I'm tired of seeing good people get crushed and mangled, or worse, in avoidable accidents. I am tired of seeing my clients pay the price of someone else's negligence.

And, believe it or not, car accidents most likely WILL become a thing of the past someday soon. By the end of the decade, the typical American vehicle will be navigating as part of a network, constantly sharing information as it travels via transmitters. Your car will have a brain, and one that doesn't get distracted like human brains. Your car's brain will monitor your blind spots and warn you when you start to veer out of your lane. Sophisticated sensors, lasers and cameras will scan the road like electronic eyes.

But the wireless technology will go even further, allowing your car not only to "talk" to other cars (The car in front of you will shoot a message, "brake lights on", to your car) but to communicate with the road itself, and with traffic lights. See that curve up ahead? It will send a signal to your car, "hey, I'm here". See that traffic light ahead? It will beam a message to your car, as you approach, "stop, red light".

Go ahead, future. Blast this Central New York car accident lawyer's business to smithereens. No, don't worry about ME. In a few years I hope to have no car accidents to blog about. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of other types of injury cases out there . . . .

Check out this video for a peek into the future:


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

August 24, 2014

Why Cars Are Killing More Pedestrians (Syracuse NY Injury Lawyer Explains)

crosswalk.jpgI came upon some surprising statistics recently: Just as motor vehicle travel is getting safer (for those inside the vehicles), walking is getting more dangerous because motor vehicles are striking and killing more and more pedestrians.

Just look at the statistics: 22 percent fewer traffic fatalities from 2003 to 2012, while pedestrian fatalities have been climbing steadily since 2010. In 2012 alone, the pedestrian fatalities were up 6 percent from the year before. A motor vehicle kills a pedestrian every two hours and injures one every seven minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration ("NHTSA"). Fourteen percent of all road fatalities are pedestrians. There are 4,000 to 5,000 pedestrian fatalities per year in the U.S.

Why are pedestrian fatalities up while motor vehicle fatalities are down? No clear answer out there. But I have a theory (are you listening NHTSA?)

In a word (actually two): smart phones. Drivers are using them, and so are pedestrians. More and more pedestrians are "texting while walking" or listening to music with earphones, and are thus unable to hear or see oncoming dangers. Meanwhile, more and more drivers are texting or dialing while driving.

What do you get when a texting driver turns in a busy intersection and meets a texting or dialing pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk? Bang!

Moral of story: Don't text or phone and drive. If you are a pedestrian, don't cross a road while texting or talking on the phone. Also, take those ear buds out before you cross.

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
Syracuse NY Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

May 28, 2014

Canandaigua Youth Pledge Not To Text-And-Drive

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.

Central NY Auto Accident Lawyer Explains How To End The Texting-While-Driving Crisis In New York

New York Ratchets Up Penalty For Texting While Driving

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
Finger Lakes Car Accident Injury Lawyer
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

April 14, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles --- Negligent In Being Asleep At The Wheel: Central NY Injury Lawyer Explains.

chicago.jpgstaten.jpgThumbnail image for truck.jpgair.jpg
The 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.

The captain of the 2009 Air France plane that crashed into the sea killing 228 people on board had just one hour's sleep before setting off.

The driver of a tractor trailer that crashed into a Kansas Turnpike toll plaza on March 29 of this year appeared to be asleep in photos taken just before the crash.

Yes, sleep can be deadly, on the road, in the air, on the sea --- and in court, too. In New York, evidence that the driver fell asleep at the wheel creates what we lawyers call a "rebuttable presumption" of negligence. That means that once you show in court that the driver fell asleep, you have made out a "prima facie" case, which means you have proved your case subject to the driver getting a chance to explain why it wasn't his fault he fell asleep. (As the old Saturday Night Live skit put it, the driver has "got some splaining to do").

How does the asleep-at-the-wheel driver show that it was "not his fault" that he fell asleep? Assuming he or she can stay awake long enough to explain, his or her testimony will be subject to brutal cross-examination. People just don't suddenly fall asleep. Before sleep sets in, there's a warning sign --- called "sleepiness" or "drowsiness" --- which almost always comes on before actual sleep. Anyone who testifies that he just "suddenly" fell asleep, without warning, is likely lying, and a jury is likely to disbelieve that testimony. The negligence of the asleep-at-the-wheel driver or pilot or captain resides in his decision to keep driving after his body warned him it wanted to sleep. He should have pulled over and rested, or had his co-pilot take over, or called his boss to tell him he was in trouble.

Now the jury will have to tell him he's in trouble.

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

March 28, 2014

How to Win a Motorcycle Case in New York

motocycle.jpgCheck out the latest installment of my New York personal injury informational vidoes: How to win a Motorcycle Case in New York.

Tell me what you think by emailing me at the address below.

P.S. No rotten tomatoes!

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 Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

January 28, 2014

Can Uber (The Mobile Phone Driver-Rider Connection Service) Be Held Liable For a New York Car Crash?

index.jpgMove over taxi services. You're sooo "old school"! I mean, come on, making us stand on a corner and hale you down? Geez.

Uber is the new black. Just download the Uber app on your smart phone and it will "connect you with a driver at the tap of a button", according to the Uber webpage. An Uber driver will appear out of nowhere, having almost instantly obtained your location from his or her Uber drivers' app. No cash exchanges hands -- the rider's "fare" is paid automatically through his Uber online account.

Uber essentially connects freelance, self-employed drivers with anyone needing a ride in major cities, including New York City. It now operates in 26 countries and 50 cities. But at least here in the U.S. sticky questions are coming up about Uber's liability for crashes its drivers might cause.

For example, just recently in San Francisco an Uber driver hit a 6-year-old in a cross-walk, killing her. The victim's family has just filed a wrongful death suit against not only the driver, but Uber as well.

The legal problem with this in New York, and elsewhere, is that normally there are only three proper targets for a lawsuit where negligent driving is to blame: The negligent driver, the owner of the vehicle he was driving, and, if the driver was employed and on-the-job at the time of the crash, the employer.

But there's the rub. Uber claims it is not an "employer" of the Uber driver, but rather that the drivers are independent contractors who, owning and caring for their own vehicles, choose to participate in Uber's driver-rider matching service. Uber compares itself to the auction site eBay, connecting a buyer and seller (driver and rider) and not liable for what happens between them. It thus washes its proverbial hands of liability for any accidents.

There's a problem with this logic, though. Uber may be the next Ebay, but Ebay doesn't have the same capacity to kill and maim its users. Uber does because it could screen drivers based on their driving records. Also, what happens when an accident is caused by an Uber driver looking down at his Uber app to confirm where and when to pick up a rider? Or what if the driver runs someone over while pushing a button on the Uber app to confirm an assignment? In such cases, shouldn't Uber be held liable for distracting the driver?

The issue is coming to a fore because the company is becoming wildly popular in big cities all over the world.

Here's the rule I would espouse: Uber should be held liable for failing to screen for safe drivers and for any accidents caused by its drivers' use of its Uber app. Uber is in the best position both to screen its drivers and to enforce safe uses of its app. Such a rule will make Uber drivers safer and protect all of us. Beyond that, Uber should not be held liable for mere Uber driver error. It should, however, require its drivers to have the same amount of commercial liability insurance as cab drivers in the cities where they operate.

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 New York Auto Accident Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

January 10, 2014

Self-Driven Car Manufacturers Should Get No Free-Pass Around Tort Law

car sale lot.jpgCNBC reports that those sci-fi-like, self-driven cars ("SDC's"), also called "automated cars", will account for half of all vehicles on the road by the year 2035, with the first ones hitting the market by 2020. (You can see one operated here). The first generation of these vehicles will require someone in the driver's seat just in case the technology develops a problem--much like an aircraft autopilot. Truly independent SDCs requiring no human involvement will begin to be offered by 2030. (I blogged about these new cars here).

But CNBC also reports that Nissan Motor, one of the leaders of the new technology, cautioned that "because of the litigious nature of the American market, manufacturers might have to steer clear of the U.S. unless legislators take steps to protect the industry from a flood of frivolous lawsuits".

Forgive my skepticism, Nissan, but that is pure baloney. First, why would you fear "frivolous" lawsuits? If the lawsuits are frivolous, you will beat them and they will cost you almost nothing. What you are really afraid of are meritorious lawsuits, ones that will hold you accountable for the death and destruction your negligent design may cause.

Your request for a free pass around tort law is not new. It's the same damn argument car manufacturers have always made when they want to put a new product on the market: "Lawsuits will prevent progress". But all of history proves the contrary; vigorous tort law does not inhibit progress, but ensures progress in safety. The seatbelt, the air bag, crash resistance, anti-lock brakes - all of these were catapulted into existence by lawsuits.

What Nissan really wants is a get-out-of-jail free card to negligently design and manufacture dangerous vehicles so it can stuff its pockets with fat profits at the expense of Americans' safety. Don't give it to them! Good old fashion American tort law is the best engine ever designed for holding greedy corporations, such as Nissan, to the task of building safety into their products.

Bottom line: The only thing standing between the American people and unsafe SDC's is tort law. So let's not let the automobile lobby get their way on this one!

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


December 12, 2013

This Holiday Season, Get A Designated Driver --- For The Morning After!

hangover.jpgIf you are like me, you might end up downing a few more drinks than usual during the Holiday Season, especially at the dreaded "office party"! And I am sure I don't have to tell you that it is illegal, dangerous, and plain wrong to drink and drive --- your judgment, coordination, and reflexes are all impaired.

But did you know it may not not be safe to drive the next day, either? According to two recent studies, being hungover, even with zero alcohol content in your blood, impairs your driving performance almost as much as being drunk.

Participants in the experiments went out drinking on the designated night (I am sure they found plenty of "volunteers" for this experiment), had about 10 drinks each (yowzer!), and the next morning took a 20-minute simulated drive through urban and rural settings.

The result? Excessive speed, slower reaction times, lapses in attention, and more driving errors generally. In fact, the hungover participants did just as badly as intoxicated drivers. Yet all the driving tests were performed after the participants' blood alcohol concentration had returned to zero!

Moral of the story? If you are going to drink a lot, get a designated driver --- for the next morning!

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


November 27, 2013

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

Blow a stop sign, speed, or turn without signaling, and a cop can see it, stop you, and ticket you. Even talking on a hand-held cell phone (illegal in New York) can be seen from outside your car. But texting-while-driving is different. How does a cop "catch" you doing it? Most texters keep their phone down on their lap or at least below the window line, so a cop traveling behind, or even beside the texter, is not going to see it happen.

Until now. New York has recently given State Troopers thirty-two tall, unmarked SUVs for the express purpose of peering down at drivers' hands and catching them "red-handed".

This reminds me of a funny scene from the 1960's Peter Sellers' film, "A Shot in the Dark", where Peter Sellers and a young lady end up having to escape naked in a small car. They are able to navigate the narrow streets of Paris without other motorists noticing they are naked, until a tall tourist bus pulls up next to them. Hilarious. See the scene here.

Anyway, this new "peering down at you" trick is part of Governor Cuomo's aggressive attack on texting-while-driving, which includes steeper penalties and establishing "Texting Zones" designed to encourage motorists to pull over for texting.

So over the Thanksgiving break -- and beyond -- keep your hands "above board". Don't text yourself into a ticket, or worse, into a graveyard.

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

November 14, 2013

A Yellow Dot Can Save Your Life

yellow-dot-web.jpgsheriff yellow dot window.pngAs New York car accident lawyers, we have represented many critically injured motor vehicle accident victims over the years. One thing we have learned is that first responders who arrive at the scene of a wreck aren't always able to take into account the victims' health history or medical conditions before rendering treatment. And that's too bad, because that knowledge can mean the difference between life and death.

For example, I am on a blood thinner (Xarelto) because if have developed some atrial fibrillation - a common and minor disorder of the heart. And I sure would want anyone performing emergency medical care on me to know about that. After all, I could bleed to death if they do surgery on me without knowing I am on blood thinners.

Now there is a potentially life-saving program from the New York State Sheriffs' Association that can help you, your family, and your friends alert first providers about their medical conditions and medications. It's called the "Yellow Dot Program" and it works like this:

Pick up the Yellow Dot kit at your local sheriff's office. Then place the "yellow dot" decal you find in the kit on the driver's side rear window of your vehicle (see photo). This alerts first responders that vital medical information is stored in your glove compartment. Then fill out and place in your glove compartment the "yellow dot card" which has your photo on it and contains all the important medical information that first providers need to know about you. You can complete one card for each person who regularly occupies the vehicle.

Yellow Dot kits save lives and are available for free. Pick up a kit at any of the central New York deputy sheriff's offices listed below:

Cayuga County Sheriff's Office
7445 County House Road, Auburn, NY 13021
(315) 253-1222

Monroe County Sheriff's Office
130 South Plymouth Avenue Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 753-4178

Ontario County Sheriff's Office
74 Ontario Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424
(585) 394-4560

Seneca County Sheriff's Office
6150 State Route 96, Romulus, NY 14541
(315) 220-3200

Tompkins County Sheriff's Office
779 Warren Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 257-1345

Wayne County Sheriff's Office
7376 Route 31, Suite 1000 Lyons, NY 14489
(315) 946-9711

Your may also request a kit by going to www.nysheriffs.org/yellowdot.. Request kits for your friends and family too!

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 Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

September 24, 2013

Central NY Auto Accident Lawyer Explains How To End The Texting-While-Driving Crisis In New York

cuomo.jpgI recently blogged about Governor Cuomo's new beefed up penalty for texting while driving (from a 3-point violation to 5 points). But apparently the Gov ain't done tackling texting. His latest anti-texting initiative is to designate old rest stops along the Thruway and other major highways as "Texting Zones" (see photo).

Here's my take on the Gov's new laws: I know the Governor might be naïve to think that his "texting zones" are going to make a lot of texters pull over, just as I know that increased penalties are not likely to put a dent in the texting while driving problem. But I submit he's moving in the right direction.

The truth is that texting while driving is now so pervasive in New York, and probably everywhere else, too, that the Governor's anti-texting measures are the equivalent of sticking your finger in a dike that has already burst. Believe me, I know how ubiquitous the practice is, since I sue texting drivers for the broken lives their habit leaves behind.

The real solution may be a combination of several solutions: Combine stricter penalties, and stricter enforcement, with a mass publicity campaign that makes texting behind the wheel seem shameful in our collective consciousness. Yes, it can be done! How do I know? History is the best teacher.

I am old enough to remember when driving without a seat belt was cool, driving drunk was funny, and tossing litter out of your car window was acceptable. What turned the tide on all these practices were: (1) Stricter "buckle-up" laws and a ferocious buckle-up publicity campaign (remember the TV jingle, "buckle up for safety, buckle up"?), (2) stricter anti-littering fines and a ferocious anti-littering publicity campaign (remember, "don't be a litter bug"?), and (3) harsher drunk driving penalties with a ferocious publicity campaign (remember, "friends don't let friends drive drunk"?).

In all three examples (seat belts, littering and driving drunk) the one-two punch of more serious penalties combined with humongous ad campaigns turned the tide of pubic opinion. What before was cool or ok now became shameful. The ad campaigns were extremely successful in making it socially unacceptable to litter, drive drunk or drive unbuckled.

There may come a day when people are embarrassed or ashamed of being seen texting and driving, just like we eventually became ashamed to be caught driving drunk or littering. Passengers and nearby drivers will give them disdainful looks. That's what we need. A change of collective consciousness.

Yes, mass anti-texting campaigns will be expensive, but slowly, surely, they will change mindsets, and they will save lives. And in the long run, that will save money. Accidents are expensive for all of us . . ..

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 Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293


September 21, 2013

Yes, You Can Be Held Liable For A Car Crash Happening Right Now Thousands Of Miles Away -- Syracuse NY Car Accident Lawyer Explains

texting and driving.jpegTexters beware! You might be held liable for a distant car crash happening right now as you sit in the comfort of your living room texting a friend. To find out how this is possible, read on!

A New Jersey appellate court recently held that texting to a driver you know is reading your texts, or is likely to do so, while driving, can make you liable, along with the driver, for any resulting accidents (Kubert v. Best, 2013 WL 4512313, N.J. Super. App. Div. Aug. 27, 2013). This is the first case in the nation expanding tort liability for car accidents to remote texters. Until now, only the texting driver could be held liable for the accident he caused while texting, not the companion texting with him from some remote location.

The case was cleverly argued by plaintiffs' counsel. They pointed to case law that said a passenger in a motor vehicle has a duty "not to interfere with the driver's operations". For example, it has long been the rule that a passenger can be held liable, along with the driver, for showing him a road map to read while driving where the distraction causes an accident.

Plaintiffs' lawyers also pointed to case law that said someone who "aids and abets" a tortfeasor in committing a tort is equally liable for the tort. For example, if a friend is throwing stones from a bridge onto a highway below, and you encourage him to do it, even though you are not doing it yourself, you, along with your friend, can be held liable to those injured below.

Given this existing case law, it was not such a stretch for the Court to conclude that sending texts to a driver you know will read the text while driving constitutes "aiding and abetting" the driver in breaking the law.

I predict that eventually, when the right case comes along, New York courts will follow suit. The rule makes sense. New York already has a Statute (Motor Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1225-d) providing that "no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion". It is not such a stretch to hold a participant liable for exchanging texts with a driver, as long as the participant knew, or should have known, the driver was breaking the law by reading the texts or texting back while driving.

DISLAIMER: In the event that this blog post has just popped up on your smart phone while driving, please note that I have no knowledge you are reading it while driving!!

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 Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.

1-315-253-3293

September 17, 2013

Note From A Worried NY Car Accident Lawyer / Father.

worried man.jpgThis Central New York Personal Injury lawyer handles a fair amount of car accident cases. I see a lot of bloody and broken tragedy behind the wheel. Young inexperienced teenagers are the worst. How many kids have I seen wreck their lives, and those of others, in stupid car accidents? Every time one of those kids' parents walks in my door, I cringe - will that be my kid someday?

So letting my own 16-year old boy get a driver's license does not come easy. My parental paranoia increased ten-fold when one of my partner's 17-year old kid wrapped his car around a tree this year. He, lost consciousness for several hours, and ended up with a traumatic brain injury. Luckily he healed well after several months, but jeez, what a fright and worry for his poor parents.

But it's time to cut the umbilical cord. No more helicopter parenting for me. Today he takes his mandatory four-hour driving course, which then allows us to sign him up for his driver's test. He'll be showing off his driver's license by his 17th birthday (September 30).

I made him stick with the learner's permit until I was confident he was a "safe" driver. That means he had developed the habit of looking twice in each direction before proceeding into intersections. It means he got used to leaving a comfortable space between himself and the car in front of him. It means he looks all around him when he's driving in a parking lot. It means he does not let his phone distract him.

The last thing we had to work on was his led foot. I tried to get him to use the automatic pilot to control his speed, but sometimes he would forget and we would end up at ticket-zone speeds. ("Son, do as I say not as I do!"). I think we finally have that under control.

Insurance! Aarrgg! My new rate jumps up a thousand bucks a year. My insurer apparently shares my worries about seventeen-year old boys behind the steering wheel. Nice to have them in my corner, eh?! (Not!).

So friends, readers, wish us luck. If you were brought up Catholic like me, say a prayer to St. Christopher (patron saint of safe travels) for my son Sebastian. Also say one to St. Joseph, the patron saint of (worried) fathers!

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


June 2, 2013

New York Ratchets Up Penalty For Texting While Driving

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for texting and driving.jpegHey text-a-maniacs, you just got a raise! Starting yesterday, your habit will cost you five points on your license instead of three. Of course it could also cost you your life, and the lives of others.

To put this into perspective, texting while driving will now cost you as many points as driving past a stopped school bus or speeding 30 miles per hour more than the posted speed limit. It is now at the top echelon of driving offenses.

And for good reasons. Gov. Cuomo justified the new law (not that he needed to) by stating the obvious: Texting while driving is a growing problem, especially among young drivers.

How do we know? The number of texting-while-driving tickets issued has soared, from about 3,500 in 2011 to 30,000 in 2012. And those are just the ones who got caught! The average age of the drivers caught is only 26.

How else do we know? Just ask me. Among my New York personal injury case load, texting-while-driving cases are growing. Rear-enders are prominent. Most offenders are young. The texting offender never suspects the guy he is following is going to stop in the middle of the road to turn into a driveway.

Cuomo has also proposed a law suspending new drivers' licenses for 60 days if they are convicted only once of texting while driving.

We at Michaels & Smolak applaud governor Cuomo for ratcheting up the penalties for texting while driving. Texters -- kill your habit because your habit kills.

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