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Taxis vs. Ubers: Which Cause More Fatal Accidents?

Taxis vs. Ubers: Which Cause More Fatal Accidents?

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted the “Vision Zero” bicycling safety initiative with the goal of reducing the number of cyclist deaths in NYC down to zero (hence the Vision Zero title), but by the end of August, the number of cyclist deaths for 2016 has already surpassed that of 2015, calling into question the efficacy of the program. When 78-year old cyclist Michael Schenkman died on August 24 in Queens after being struck by a 25-year old motorist on Schenkman’s regular morning ride, his death brought the total number of cyclist deaths for 2016 up to 16, surpassing 2015’s total of 15 cyclist deaths with still four months to go in the year.

The Vision Zero Initiative

Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative is one of the central programs of his administration in a city that is increasingly relying on bicycles to get around and had the stated goal of reducing traffic-related deaths in the city to zero by the year 2024. When Vision Zero was announced by the de Blasio administration in 2014, the number of traffic-related fatalities city-wide was 286, on par with the annual number of homicides. The Vision Zero initiative included the following actions:

  • Tougher penalties on motorists who do not honor the right-of-way
  • Speed limit reductions across the city
  • Criminal penalties for certain motorists who strike cyclists/pedestrians
  • Increased number of protected bike lanes
  • Repair of broken traffic signals

Schenkman’s Death Exposes Ongoing Problems with Bicycle Safety in NYC

Despite these stated priorities of making NYC a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists, the death of Schenkman shows just how far NYC has to go in actually making the vision a reality. Schenkman was an avid cyclist, and was very familiar with the roads and rules of the road, having previously worked as a driver’s education instructor in Queens and running his own Volvo repair shop. Schenkman regularly rode his bicycle for 20 miles a day around the Queens neighborhoods where he was struck and killed.

Schenkman’s accident occurred on Northern Blvd in Queens, an area that was included as one of the most dangerous intersections for bicycle traffic in the Vision Zero agenda. Schenkman was pedaling east when he was struck by a Chevy Impala. The exact circumstances of the accident have not been widely reported, but, as one observer told the New York Daily News, “Cars go really fast here…They don’t stop. You have to have your eyes open.” Schenkman’s son lamented the general cultural attitude towards bicyclist safety in the United States, saying, “ We have a dream of Vision Zero, but cyclists continue to die on the streets of New York City at an alarming rate…Bicycles and cars don’t seem to work here. Bicycles aren’t looked at as positively as they are in Europe or even Canada. That has to change.”


Contact a New York Bicycle Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you should contact a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to improve your chances of a full and timely recovery. At the Law Offices of Justin Brandel, we will aggressively pursue your claim and fight to get you the full compensation you deserve for all injuries sustained in your bicycle accident. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step in protecting your rights.

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Can I Recover Money if I was Injured on Public Transportation?

Can I Recover Money if I was Injured on Public Transportation?

If you live and/or work in New York City or the surrounding areas, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time on public transportation. Without the subways, buses, trains, and ferries that get us around the city, life would be much more difficult and the streets would be even more packed with cars. But with the aging infrastructure, crowded facilities, and natural dangers presented by the rails and buses, the city’s public transportation system is also the site of dozens of injuries and deaths each year. If you are one of the many people injured on public transportation in or around New York City, you may be be entitled to recover money, however, depending on the circumstances of the injury.

What Caused the Injury?

The first step is looking at what actually caused your injury. There can be a multitude of factors but usually there is one or two primary reasons for an accident. If the injury was caused by a defect with the vehicle or tracks itself, or by the actions of anyone working for the transportation agency (e.g. an operator, driver, dispatcher, maintenance person, etc.), then there is a high likelihood of recovery. For example, if your bus driver negligently drives the bus into an accident, causing your injury, then you will have a strong case for recovery against the transportation agency.

Even where the accident was not directly caused by the transportation agency, you may still have a valid claim. If there was a dangerous condition that caused your injury that the transportation agency should have remedied but did not – for example, if a rider dropped oil all over a platform, no one cleaned it up for hours, and you slipped on it – then you could have a valid claim. Even if someone commits a crime against you on public transportation, you may have a claim if the agency was negligent in maintaining security.

Did You Play a Role in Causing the Injury?

Oftentimes, the rider himself might be said to have played a role in causing the injury. For example, if you ran to catch the train and stumbled over equipment left on the platform, causing you to be injured, the court might find that both you and the agency were both negligent. In such cases, you as an injured plaintiff are not necessarily blocked from bringing a case. Instead the court will weigh your negligence with the negligence of the agency in determining an appropriate award.

What Are Your Injuries?

It may go without saying, but, in order to recover on a negligence claim for injuries sustained on public transportation, you will need to prove the full extent of your injuries and their costs either during settlement negotiations or leading to trial. If you have suffered injuries, you can recover for the cost of your medical bills, including rehabilitation and physical therapy, as well as time that you missed from work, damage to your career, and pain and suffering. Proving the full extent of these injuries can be difficult, and defendants will push back hard on your claims, so it is important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the injury occurs to begin the process of bringing your claim.

Get Assistance with Your Public Transportation Injury Claim

If you have been injured on public transportation, do not hesitate to work with a personal injury attorney who solely represents your interests and will work to get you the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Attorney Justin Brandel represents victims of public transportation injuries across New York City, and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call his office today to set up a free consultation.

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Self-Driving Car Accidents – Who is Liable?

Self-Driving Car Accidents – Who is Liable?

After decades of futurist speculation, the era of self-driving cars entering the mainstream appears to be finally upon us. Self-driving cars – also referred to as autonomous cars or robotic cars – have been developed by several large companies, including Tesla and Google, over recent years, and regulators and legislators are considering the implications of what they will mean for highway safety and liability.

In May 2016, the first known fatality involving a self-driving car occurred when a Tesla Model S electric car collided with an 18-wheel tractor-trailer in Florida while the Tesla was in Autopilot mode, causing the death of the Tesla’s driver when the Tesla failed to brake at an intersection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the incident. Incidents like these bring up the question of who is liable in accidents involving self-driving cars.

Legislation of Self-Driving Cars

For the most part, state and federal legislation has yet to catch up with the development of self-driving cars. In some ways, defining what exactly is and is not a self-driving car is not quite clear as automobile makers have incorporated self-driving elements such as cruise control and automatic brakes into cars for years.

There are not specific prohibitions against self-driving cars in most states (and those states do not address self-driving cars at all), meaning such cars are presumably legal, although several states have acted to introduce legislation to regulate self-driving cars. Nevada acted in 2011 to make it clear that self-driving cars are legal, and six other states including California and Florida have enacted legislation to create rules for autonomous driving.

To sum up, at this point self-driving cars appear to be legal across the country, although regulations limiting their use may be coming.

Determining Liability in a Self-Driving Car Accident

Which brings us back to our initial question: if self-driving cars are legal, then who is liable when an accident occurs? The state and federal courts have not weighed in on these issues yet, and by all measures self-driving cars do seem to be safer than regular cars, with only a handful of documented cases where a self-driving car has caused the accident, so it may take some time for the courts to build up a history of jurisprudence regarding self-driving cars.

Thus, at this point, it would seem that the courts will likely apply the same type of legal principles in determining liability in self-driving car accident cases as they do in other cases. Namely, this means applying state negligence, no-fault insurance, and product liability laws to determine whether a defendant is liable.

In New York, an injured party would look to insurance for the first $50,000 of economic damages, but can sue the other party if he or she suffered a serious injury and/or the damages were over $50,000. To recover, the injured party must show that the defendant driver acted negligently. A showing of negligence could be made in a self-driving car accident if it was unreasonable for the driver to operate the self-driving car under the circumstances.

Finally, the makers of the self-driving car could be liable to all injured parties if the injuries were caused by a manufacturing or design defect in the car itself.

Recovery is Available For Those Injured in Auto Accidents

If you have been involved in an automobile accident in New York, automobile accident attorney Justin Brandel can help you obtain the recovery you deserve under New York law. Contact The Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel to set up a free consultation.

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What are the Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrian Accidents in New York

What are the Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrian Accidents in New York

There are few experiences like being a pedestrian in New York City — people walk quickly to catch trains and buses and get to work on time; the sheer amount of people can fill the sidewalk and pour out onto the street, and as a pedestrian you are practically rubbing elbows with taxis, buses, cars, livery cabs, uber/lyft cars, and even pedicabs and horse carriages. While learning to get around the city quickly and efficiently is one of the survival mechanisms people pick up in living in the city, all too often an accident between a pedestrian and a vehicle can result in serious injury to the pedestrian, and even death. In fact, pedestrians involved in collisions with vehicles in New York City are ten times more likely to be injured than an occupant of the vehicle. You probably hear about random pedestrian accidents around the city from newspapers and the evening news, but, putting all the data together, there are some intersections that have historically been more dangerous than others for pedestrian accidents in New York.

The Ten Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrian Accidents

The most recent data put together by the New York City Department of Transportation indicates that, with regard to pedestrian fatalities, the ten most dangerous intersections for pedestrian accidents in New York City are as follows:

  • W. 57th Street and Eighth Avenue (Manhattan)
  • Webster Avenue and East Gun Hill Road (Bronx)
  • Neptune Avenue and Ocean Parkway (Brooklyn)
  • Albany Crescent and Bailey Avenue (Bronx)
  • White Plains Road and Morris Park Avenue (Bronx)
  • Brighton Beach Avenue and Coney Island Avenue (Brooklyn)
  • Nostrand Avenue and Avenue Z (Brooklyn)
  • Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue (Brooklyn)
  • Third Avenue and E. 57th Street (Manhattan)
  • W. 57th Street and Sixth Avenue (Manhattan)

What’s notable is that, while we often hear about pedestrian accidents that occur in the more dense areas of Manhattan, pedestrian accidents happen all over the five boroughs and, for those involved, they can cause serious and long-lasting injuries requiring high medical bills, lost time at work, and months and years of pain and suffering.

What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident

Because pedestrian accidents often involve a devastating impact on the human body, it is critical to get immediate medical attention after any accident, even one that does not appear serious, as there can be internal issues that need attention. Furthermore, it will likely be necessary to document your injuries through a medical examination in order to claim compensation and/or damages from an insurer or through a pedestrian accident claim.

It is also important to contact the police to come and document the accident in order to present a strong evidentiary showing in a later claim, and to get contact information from eyewitnesses who may have seen and/or taken pictures of the accident. Finally, contacting a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident occurs can be a critical step to being able to obtain a speedy and comprehensive recovery for all of your injuries.

If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in New York City or the surrounding areas, contact The Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel to set up a free consultation regarding your claim.

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5 Tips for Safe Motorcycle Riding in New York City

5 Tips for Safe Motorcycle Riding in New York City

Motorcycle ridership is on the rise across the country, and New York City is no exception. While motorcycles can offer an unrivaled sense of freedom, they also pose some serious risks to riders. Every year, thousands of riders are injured or killed in motorcycle accidents, often through no fault of their own.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a shocking 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. The good news is, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of being injured in an accident while riding your motorcycle in New York City.

Safe Driving Tips for Motorcyclists

Too often, traffic accidents are out of your control as a driver. This is equally true for motorcycle riders. That said, there are measures you can take to try to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place, or to reduce your injury in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a crash.

Maintain Your Bike – Before you take your bike out on the road, it’s crucial to make sure that it’s in proper condition. Motorcycles should be checked regularly to make sure that they’re in good working order. This includes checking on the tires, brakes, lights, turn signals, and horn, among other things. If something seems wrong, don’t hesitate to visit a mechanic as soon as possible.

Practice Safe Driving Skills – Just like when you’re driving a car, obeying traffic rules is critical to safety when driving a motorcycle. Speeding is a major cause of motorcycle accidents. Defensive driving is also key; just because you’re driving safely doesn’t mean that everyone else on the road is. Be alert at all times, and don’t assume that other drivers can see you when you’re turning or changing lanes. You need to always be on the lookout for road hazards, and pay extra attention during bad weather.

Never Drive While Impaired or Distracted – According to the NHTSA, 29% of bikers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. You should never operate a motorcycle if you’ve consumed alcohol or any other substance that can impair your judgment. You should likewise avoid driving when you’re tired, fatigued, or for any reason unable to devote your full attention to the road.

Wear a Helmet – Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not only required under New York law, it’s also common sense. An alarming number of serious motorcycle accident injuries can be attributed to riders not wearing helmets, and head trauma is the number one cause of death or serious injury. According to the NHTSA, helmets reduce fatalities by 29% and serious brain injuries by 67%.

Invest in Good Gear – A helmet isn’t the only thing that can protect you from injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident. Protective gear and clothing, including leather jackets, full pants, gloves, and proper boots, can reduce injuries if you’re involved in a crash or a skid. Adding reflective tape or patches to your clothing will also make it easier for other drivers to see you on the road.

Consult an Experienced Motorcycle Attorney

Regardless of the preventative measures you take, you can’t always avoid accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel are here to get you the compensation you deserve.

Collecting from insurance companies after a motorcycle accident can be a challenge, and you shouldn’t attempt to handle it on your own. At the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel, we’re experienced at handling motorcycle accident cases and will fight to protect your interests every step of the way. Call today for a free consultation and take the first step toward getting the justice you deserve.

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