Central New York Injury Lawyer Blog

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.
I have recently blogged about New York drone personal injuries and about getting drone insurance.  Today I have an important reminder for all new blog owners (specifically to those of you who have received one for Christmas) that you need to REGISTER the drone before you fly it outdoors.

Specifically, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on December 14, 2015 that small unmanned aircraft (UAS), otherwise known as drones, weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, must be registered. Even a child flying a drone in the backyard has to register!  The three-year registration is only $5 registration, but the FAA is waiving the fee from December 21, 2015 to January 20, 2106 for new drone owners. You will also be required to have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating your drone.

If the owner of the drone is less than 13 years of age, then a person 13 or older is required to register the drone.

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.
Just the other day I blogged about a soon expected explosion in drone injury lawsuits. To summarize, this December, those drones look lovely all wrapped up under the Christmas tree, but soon they will take to our skies.  And fall from those skies.  Fall on things.  And on people.

If sales projections are accurate, tens of thousands of novice recipients of these gifts will try their hands at the controls of these small, unmanned aerial vehicles with spinning and unguarded rotors.

And guess what: Some folks are going to get injured!

As we approach the end of the year, it is time for the Michaels & Smolak personal injury law firm of Central New York to give out its “Worst Personal Injury Lawyer Advertisement of the Year Award”. This year we have a hands down winner. No need to even talk about a runner up. Not even close. Hold your applause until after you view the winning ad by “The Texas Law Hawk”:

Need I say more?

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.

Flying copter with their gear on the background of a beautiful sunset.
Drones! They’re everywhere! Officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV’s, they come in all sizes and at all prices. Some are as small as a flying insect. Others are full-sized airplanes on bombing missions. They’re used in agriculture, construction, photography, engineering, real estate and many other industries, but now, most recently, they are used just for fun. Among other recreational uses, they’re the new “selfie stick” – fly it over and away from your guests and snap a picture of the whole crew!

700,000 drones have been sold this year in the USA. Every year the number of drones sold quadruples! It is predicted that 400,000 more will be sold this holiday season. You can get one on Amazon for just $50 – with a camera. They’re the hot-selling Christmas gift this year.

They might also be the most dangerous Christmas gifts we have yet seen. Yes, this Christmas we are way past the days of shooting your eye out with a Red Ryder BB gun. We’ve come from “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings” to “every time a drone passes you might get dinged”. Example: Recently a New York restaurant launched “mistletoe drone” that flew from table to table to coax patrons into kissing on camera. It was a lot of fun and romance until the mobile mistletoe plummeted like a reindeer dropping and mauled a patron’s nose with its unguarded rotor. (I suppose she could have played the part of Rudolph after that).

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.

A real MRI/ MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiogram) of the brain vasculature (arteries) in monochrome

A real MRI/ MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiogram) of the brain vasculature (arteries) in monochrome

As anyone who has been following health news in the last few years knows, medical malpractice is rampant. But what fewer people know – except perhaps those of us who sue doctors for a living – is that medical malpractice cover-ups are also rampant.

Here’s a recent example of a med mal cover-up that made headline news. (But note there is no way of knowing how many med mal cover-ups go on since many of the cover-ups surely succeed).

money doctorDear client: You have been ripped off. No, not by me, silly! By your doctor, by the hospital, by your physical therapist, and by anyone else who has treated you for your injuries. Let me explain.

Your medical providers have been charging me 75 cents a page for your medical records. This money initially comes out of my pocket, but eventually comes out of yours because I charge it as an expense on your case.  The charge reduces your “net” settlement or recovery.

Seventy-five cents a page may not sound like a lot.  But it’s a nickle-and-dime ripoff that can add up to a lot of money if we are ordering hundreds or even thousands of pages of medical records.

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.”

2010-thumb-250x171New York personal injury lawyers like me get this question all the time. The answer is complex, but explaining complex things to judges, juries and clients, is what we do for a living. We are essentially in the “communication” business. So here goes:

  1. Most often it is not a good idea to settle your claim until you are done treating or at least until your doctor can render an opinion on what – if any – permanent injuries you have. This often takes a year or longer. Insurance adjusters won’t give you anything for “permanent” injuries until your medical records make it clear that they are permanent. This can usually happen only a year or longer after your injury, or even longer if the injuries are very serious.
  2. If the insurance adjuster is disputing “liability”, that is, he or she says  the defendant was not at fault, or that the accident was partially your fault, the case may take longer. We may need to sue.  Only by suing can we take depositions.  Once we nail down the defendant’s and witnesses’ sworn testimony at deposition, we can show the insurance adjuster the accident was all defendant’s fault.  If there is still a dispute about liability after depositions, we may have to go to trial to prove we are right. This judicial process takes months or even years!