Gash & Associates, P.C.

Category: Personal Injury

Personal Injury

Driving safely in bright sunlight

Bright sunlight can cause a hazard for New York drivers when they are unable to see other vehicles and road signs. Drivers can take several steps to reduce the risk of being temporarily blinded by bright sunlight.

Drivers should always keep a pair of high-quality sunglasses in a vehicle for times when the sun obscures their vision. Using a car’s sun visors is another proven way to drive safely in bright sunlight. A car’s visors can be moved to block sunlight from the side windows as well as the windshield.

Window tinting can block a lot of the sun’s rays. Drivers who tint their windows should be aware of local regulations about window tinting. Windows may only be tinted to a certain level or the driver risks being pulled over by law enforcement and receiving a citation.

It is best to avoid driving when sunlight is directly obscuring vision or exit the road if it is posing a significant safety risk. Drivers who must drive in bright conditions should make sure that they keep as much distance as possible between their vehicle and the car in front of them.

Drivers who cause an accident because of conditions they cannot control may not be able to avoid liability for a car accident. An attorney with experience handling personal injury cases may be able to help those who have been injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence. Car accident victims may allege that a driver was negligent by continuing to drive in conditions where they were unable to see well enough to prevent an accident.

A person who is recovering from a car accident may face many expenses like medical bills, lost wages and rehabilitation costs. An attorney may be able to file a personal injury claim to help injured plaintiffs recover the cost of medical bills and other damages like pain and suffering.

Personal Injury

Tesla issues several safety claims on its Autopilot system

Many New York motorists are interested in autonomous driving technologies, especially for the safety boost that they could provide. When human error is taken out of the driving equation, car accidents could decline dramatically. So far, however, it’s not clear how well the existing semi-autonomous systems perform in improving roadway safety. In Tesla’s recently published voluntary report, the automaker claims that drivers who use its Autopilot system to automate some driving functions are less likely to be involved in a car accident.

In addition, the report claims that Tesla drivers using Autopilot are far less likely to be involved in an auto crash than the general population. Tesla notes that it registered one accident or related event for every 3.34 million miles driven by an Autopilot-using driver. On the other hand, Tesla drivers with the software turned off traveled 1.92 miles between similar incidents. The severity of the car accidents was not revealed. It was also not indicated whether the crashes involved injuries or who was at fault.

The Autopilot system includes several semi-autonomous technologies, including adaptive cruise control and steering assistance. This means that Autopilot is more useful — and more likely to be used — on large highways and freeways. Drivers are more likely to turn off the system on small roads or crowded city streets. Some analysts have criticized the technology for making drivers overly confident and therefore more likely to engage in other types of negligent behavior.

While autonomous technologies are being developed by many large manufacturers, negligent and dangerous driving still poses a major threat on the road. Someone who has been injured in a car accident due to negligent or dangerous driving can work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages.

Personal Injury

Car accidents increase along with legalized marijuana

New Yorkers have repeatedly shown widespread support for cannabis legalization. In fact, a working group has been formed to write a bill to make recreational marijuana legal in the state. Still, many drivers are concerned about the potential for roadway accidents caused by drivers under the influence. Some have urged for more research to determine safe and unsafe levels of cannabis exposure for drivers, much like the legal limits for blood-alcohol content that regulate drunk driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board warned in general about the danger of drivers impaired by drugs. In particular, the board cited one March 2017 case in which a Texas pickup truck driver ran into a church bus, killing 12 people. The driver was found to be under the influence of drugs, including sedatives and marijuana. Drugs more powerful than marijuana were also involved in the crash. However, the NTSB urged more research and law enforcement involvement in developing clear guidelines to hold impaired drivers accountable.

This report lined up with the conclusions made by a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study found that states that had legalized recreational cannabis also saw a rise in car crashes. Colorado, Washington and Oregon all saw a 6 percent elevation in auto accident rates, an increase not matched in neighboring states without legal cannabis. However, another study showed that no increase in fatalities was linked to legalization.

There are many dangers that people face on New York roadways every day. It’s not just drivers under the influence; distracted and drowsy drivers can cause serious car accidents. Someone who has been injured in a car crash due to negligent driving can work with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help the accident victim pursue compensation for their lost wages as well as current and future medical bills.

Personal Injury

Groups call for mandatory crash avoidance systems on large trucks

Some truckers in New York may have crash avoidance systems in their vehicles. However, safety advocates are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate crash avoidance technology on all heavy trucks. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended such a course of action on at least 10 occasions since the late 1990s.

Since the NHTSA has not proposed any regulations along these lines, the agency has been the subject of criticism. The NTSB, an independent board, cannot act on its proposal. Safety advocates who have brought this issue up have received attention from several congressional members. Some elected officials say that Congress should take action so that safety concerns are not left to market forces.

In a written statement, the NHTSA claims to have wrapped up research on early automatic emergency braking systems. Its current research on next-generation versions of the technology is expected to be complete in 18 to 24 months. After this, the organization may decide on a future course of action.

Lobbying associations for the trucking industry oppose the idea of mandating crash avoidance tech. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has stated that many smaller trucking companies will be unable to pay for the additions, and others remain skeptical of the effectiveness of the technology.

With or without crash avoidance systems, truckers are still liable to become negligent behind the wheel like anyone else. If negligence is behind an accident, a victim may be able to file a personal injury claim and be compensated for their medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, lost wages and other losses. A lawyer can help them file before the statute of limitations runs out.

Personal Injury

New technology may help prevent slip-and-fall accidents

Falls in New York are a major cause of serious injuries every year. If a person slips and falls in a public place, business owners may be held liable if the fall was caused by unsafe conditions. Grocery store owners are taking new measures using technology in an effort to reduce the rate of slip-and-fall incidents.

Traditional methods of trying to prevent slip-and-falls include regularly checking floors, using slip-resistant mats and placing signs in areas that have been recently mopped. A new technology called Argo Risk Track uses sensors to track data on a large scale, such as how often employees walk around the store and check for hazards.

Tracking trends using the data collected can help reduce the risk of slip-and-fall accidents. Specific instructions can be given to store employees to correct problems in high-risk areas. The technology can be used for rapid reporting of any incidents to reduce the risk of another incident happening because of the same dangerous condition.

The technology is also being developed to prevent food-related illnesses by using temperature sensors and other measures to detect how food is being served. Expiration dates can also be tracked. Developers believe that this can go a long way to keep food safe and protect business owners as well.

A person who has been injured as a result of a slip-and-fall accident in a public place may benefit from consulting a personal injury attorney. A personal injury claim involves filing a lawsuit against any parties responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries.

In a typical slip-and-fall case, plaintiffs may be able to prove that a business owner was negligent by not taking steps to make an area open to the public safe for customers. For example, one common cause of slip-and-fall incidents is loose shelving that causes a customer to fall when they attempt to select an item. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help plaintiffs investigate their claims and receive fair compensation by examining camera footage, witness statements and other evidence from the time of the incident.

Personal Injury

Getting the facts about drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a major problem in New York, as elsewhere in the U.S., resulting in tens of thousands of crashes every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2013, for example, there were 72,000 drowsy driving crashes, and thousands of them produced at least one fatality.

In a survey of almost 150,000 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4 percent reported that they fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous month. Those who reported sleeping 6 or fewer hours were more likely to fall asleep while on the road. Others who are at a particularly high risk for drowsy driving are CMV drivers, such as truckers and bus drivers; those who work the night shift; those who untreated sleep disorders like sleep apnea; and those who take medications that make them drowsy.

Drivers should be familiar with the symptoms of drowsiness. They include a reduction in decision-making abilities, attention and reaction times. The signs of drowsiness include frequent yawning and blinking, difficulty remembering the last few exits and an inability to keep the vehicle within the lane or off the rumble strip. Sleep is the only preventative, and drivers should get at least 7 hours of it, creating a regular sleep schedule if necessary.

Driving drowsy is a negligent act, and those who cause an accident on account of it can be held liable for others’ injuries and vehicle damage. Victims can see a personal injury lawyer and have their case evaluated in order to see if the filing of a lawsuit would be an appropriate step.

Personal Injury

What data and tech companies do to fight distracted driving

In New York, distracted driving is affecting everyone from ordinary drivers to CDL-holding professionals. According to data analytics firm Zendrive, there are approximately 69 million drivers using their phones behind the wheel every day. Smartphone use contributes to 26 percent of all accidents. That’s not the only form of distraction, either; simply letting the mind wander can also constitute a distraction.

Distracted driving accidents are among the costliest. Drivers who aren’t paying attention to the road cannot mitigate the impact by slowing down or trying to avert the crash, thus causing severe damage to vehicles and injuries to passengers. Many truck fleets are using new technology, though, to combat the problem.

PeopleNet, Smartdrive and other companies have fleet management systems available that combine in-cab video monitoring with driver-coaching tools. Netradyne is the provider of a monitoring system that gives audible warnings and notifications when it senses that the driver is in a risky situation.

The fleet management systems company Omnitracs has been using data analytics since 2004 to detect adverse events with truckers, and in 2016, it added a module to its online tool that can help drivers detect signs of fatigue and inattention. Its accident severity model takes over 1,000 variables into account. Omnitracs personnel stress, however, that fleet owners must do their part in reducing stressors for their employees.

Unfortunately, many companies encourage their drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations in order to meet deadlines. When the resulting fatigue leads drivers to crash, their employers may soon face personal injury claims. Victims, for their part, will want legal assistance because trucking companies have their own team of lawyers who will aggressively argue the case. An attorney can hire third parties to gather proof of negligence from the police report and the trucker’s electronic work log and proceed to negotiations on the victim’s behalf.

Personal Injury

CVSA to inspect CMV brakes during September

From September 16 to 22, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will have certified enforcement personnel standing by in New York and across the U.S. for its annual Brake Safety Week. These workers will stop large trucks and other commercial motor vehicles at random and inspect for both driver- and vehicle-related safety violations. The majority will be Level I inspections, the most comprehensive there are.

Mechanical fitness is a crucial part of the inspection. Inspectors will check rotors for defects, linings and pads for wear, air reservoirs for their integrity and air chamber sizes for a mismatch. They will make sure that drivers have the required brake-system warning device, that there are no loose or missing parts and that there are no air or hydraulic fluid leaks.

Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being put out of service. 14 percent of vehicles during the 2017 Brake Safety Day were put out of service, so the CVSA hopes the percentage will be lower this year. Law enforcement agencies will be educating drivers and fleet owners on the importance of functional brakes for the success of Brake Safety Week.

Unfortunately, brake-related violations were the most common violation during the CVSA’s International Roadcheck last year. Improperly maintained or installed brakes put other drivers at a higher risk for rear-end collisions because they increase stopping distance.

When accidents occur and the police report that bad brakes were involved, victims will want to get a copy of the police report and other evidence that can support their personal injury case. It can be hard to do so, however, without legal assistance. A lawyer is also good to have because he or she might be able to honestly assess the claim and factor in any comparative negligence. The lawyer may then negotiate on the victim’s behalf for a settlement.

Personal Injury

2016 saw 3 percent rise in large truck accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has gathered accurate data on the number of large truck accidents in 2016, recently publishing its findings in a data drill-down report. Drivers in New York who are wary around large trucks should know that the number of these accidents has increased.

There was a 3 percent increase in fatal large truck crashes from 2015 to 2016. At the same time, the truck involvement rate remained the same as 1.46 trucks were involved in an accident for every 100 million miles traveled. Non-fatal crashes went up even more dramatically, from 83,000 in 2015 to 104,000 in 2016.

Among fatal crashes, 61 percent occurred in rural areas and 27 percent on interstate highways. Fifteen percent combined both categories. The most dangerous time period for crashes was between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., likely because of poor visibility and heightened drowsiness. Most crashes took place on weekdays.

The top driver-related factors in these crashes were speeding and distracted or inattentive driving. DUI was more prominent among the drivers of passenger vehicles, 20 percent of whom were found with a BAC over .08 percent. This is compared to 2 percent of truck drivers. Thirteen percent of large truck occupants neglected their seat belt, and of those, 43 percent died.

Passenger vehicle occupants who survive a collision with a large truck may want to see a personal injury lawyer before the statute of limitations runs out on filing a claim against the trucking company. Their lawyer might hire third-party experts in the effort to prove that the other side was negligent. If victims contributed to the accident, their lawyer may factor this into the potential settlement before negotiate for it.

Personal Injury

New York drivers, please ‘Move Over’ for certain vehicles

Earlier this year, two New York State Police troopers and a tow truck driver were struck and injured by a suspected drunk driver who failed to “move over.” Since its inception in 2011, New York’s “Move Over” law – aimed at protecting law enforcement and emergency personnel stopped along roadways – has led to the issuing of more than 15,000 tickets annually.

The law requires that when motorists see lights – including flashing lights and flares – vests or reflectors while driving on roads and highways, they must slow down, drive carefully and safely move to the next lane. The law applies to an assortment of vehicles, and not just police vehicles.

Law applies to these vehicles, workers

The list of vehicles for which the “Move Over” law applies toward includes:

  • Law enforcement vehicles
  • Fire trucks
  • Ambulances
  • Construction and maintenance vehicles
  • Tow trucks

In 2016, New York law enforcement conducted a five-day campaign in which it gave special attention to the “Move Over” law. It marked the same year that the law was expanded to include volunteer firefighter and ambulance workers. During that span, the state issued 230 tickets for violating the law. If that violation rate remained consistent through the year, that would lead to nearly 16,800 tickets issued annually.

The accident that injured the two troopers and tow truck driver occurred on Interstate 90 near Albany during the early morning hours. The investigating troopers had closed the left lane of the three-lane highway, and had placed flares along the scene. The suspected drunk driver failed to move to the right lane and struck the highway patrol vehicle. The driver’s car continued, and struck both troopers and the tow truck driver who were standing at the scene.

Please stay alert and pay attention when driving near emergency scenes. React calmly to such situations, because when you do, you just may be saving people’s lives.