How Many Fatal Crashes Have Been Caused By Drivers Using Cellphones?

How Many Fatal Crashes Have Been Caused By Drivers Using Cellphones?

Even just five years ago, if you wanted a chauffeured ride in NYC, you were limited to the options of calling your local car service or standing outside and waiting for an empty, on-duty cab to drive by (which, unless, you were in prime areas of Manhattan, meant you could be waiting a long time). Now, ridesharing app services like Uber and Lyft have changed everything, bringing down prices for rides and extending car service all across the city. But, unlike taxi and livery services which tend to employ long-term drivers, these ridesharing apps employ “independent contractors” who may never have driven professionally before or even had face-to-face interaction with any types of supervisors or managers at Uber or Lyft. This calls into question the safety of the drivers working for these ridesharing apps, both with regard to their skills as drivers and their potentially criminal intentions, all leading to the question of whether it is safe to ride in an Uber or Lyft car alone.

The 2015 Lexus GS350 was driven by an unidentified 24-year old at the time it collided into the 12-year old at the intersection of Dahill and Cortelyou at 7 AM on a September Wednesday morning. Police arrived at the scene and appeared to conclude that the collision was an accident and did not issue a summons.

Distracted Driving Now Nearly Tied for Leading Cause of Accidents

The National Safety Council (NSC) collects data related to traffic accident throughout the United States, and, in recent years, distracted driving has continuously risen as a leading cause of accidents. The NSC’s 2016 study on safety on the road found that the three leading cause of accidents were:

  • Alcohol/Impaired Driving (30.6%)
  • Speeding (30%)
  • Distracted Driving (26%)

In 2015, over 38,000 people died on U.S. roadways in accidents. The above statistic thus indicates that just over a quarter of those fatalities – or just under 10,000 deaths – involved distracted driving. To put that in perspective, that is over twice as many U.S. soldiers who died in the Iraq War which lasted for over eight years, and the deaths from distracted driving occur each and every year. And, perhaps worst of all, there is never a good reason to sacrifice road safety in favor of your cellphone or some other device, and so these deaths are unnecessary and preventable.

What to Do If You’ve Been in an Accident Involving Distracted Driving

As drivers, each and every one of us can pledge to avoid distracted driving, but unfortunately we cannot prevent what other drivers might do. If you are in a car accident, it may or may not be clear to you that the driver causing the accident was engaged in distracted driving when the accident occurred. That’s why it’s important to contact the police as soon as an accident occurs to have a full report written up, and to also begin working with an experienced auto accident attorney. By contacting a personal injury / wrongful death attorney as soon as possible, your attorney can begin investigating the facts of the accident (including the presence of distracted driving) and work towards a full recovery for all of your injuries through a settlement or verdict at trial.

With extensive experience in handling automobile personal injury cases, the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel will fight to get you the maximum recovery for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, call now for a free consultation.

Legal Help For Those Injured in Taxi or Uber/Lyft Accidents

Whether you’ve been injured in a taxi accident or an Uber or Lyft accident, or a loved one has died in such an accident, help is available for your personal injury or wrongful death claim. With extensive experience in handling automobile personal injury cases, the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel will fight to get you the maximum recovery for your losses. Call now for 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 to Do After You Have Been Hit By a Car Share

What to Do After You Have Been Hit By a Car Share

Getting hit by a car is sadly not that uncommon of an experience in New York City, especially at densely populated intersections throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs. With taxis, trucks, and cars (including Uber, Lyft, and livery cars) sharing the roads with dense masses of pedestrians and bicyclists, collisions are bound to happen. In the unfortunate situation you are hit by a car or other vehicle, here is a quick rundown of what to do after you have been hit by a car:

Secure Medical Attention

This should go without saying, but if you’ve been hit by a car you may be at risk of serious injury even if you feel like you are able to function properly. You may be suffering internal bleeding, a concussion, or some other serious injury. By calling 911 or your emergency health provider, you can speak with an operator who can assess whether you are safe to transport yourself to a medical facility or require an ambulance.

A police officer should come to the scene of the accident to assess the situation, gather information you, the driver, and other witnesses might have, and file a report. Having such a report can be valuable for your own insurance needs and for collecting compensation from the driver and/or his or her insurer. A police officer can also assess whether the driver was intoxicated or otherwise acted illegally.

Obtain the Relevant Information from the Driver

If the driver has not left the scene, ask to see the driver’s telephone number, address, insurance information, license, license plate, and registration. Copy relevant information down if possible or, better yet, take a picture with your phone. If the other driver has fled the scene, attempt to recall as much information about the car and write it down as soon as possible: make, model, color, distinctive marking, and license plate number or partial number.

Do Not Accept a Settlement or Sign a Waiver

Some drivers may attempt to pay you cash on the spot, write you a check, or promise to pay you money at a later time. They may do this in an attempt to give you far less than you might get in court, to avoid effects to their insurance rates, or even to avoid being arrested for drunk driving or where they are engaged in a compromising position such as being with a prostitute or having contraband in the car. If you accept cash or other payment, you may well be giving up your right to collect greater damages later on and get full compensation for your injuries. Likewise, do not sign a waiver if presented with one.

Collect Info From Any Witnesses

If there are any witnesses to the accident, collect their telephone numbers and addresses so that they can be contacted to give their account of the accident at a later time if necessary.

Work with an Attorney Who Can Represent Your Interests

In most cases, a pedestrian hit by a car is entitled to compensation for medical bills and other damages related to their injuries. Collecting that compensation can be a confusing process of dealing with insurers and lawyers, so do not hesitate to work with a car accident attorney who solely represents your interests and will work to get you the maximum amount of compensation available. Attorney Justin Brandel represents victims of car 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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What Percent of Motorcycle Accidents Results in Injury or Death?

What Percent of Motorcycle Accidents Results in Injury or Death?

The call of the open road is undeniable. America’s passion for motorcycles is on the rise – more than 500,000 motorcycles were sold last year in the U.S. alone, bringing the number of bikes on the road to approximately 8.4 million. As thrilling as it may be, biking can also be a risky proposition. No matter how safe or experienced you are as a rider, you can’t control the conditions or other drivers you encounter on the road.

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 will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.

Death and Injury Rates for Motorcyclists are High

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), thousands of riders lose their lives in motorcycle crashes every year. For every mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 26 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupant of a passenger car, and five times as likely to sustain injury. A staggering 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death; the same is true for only 20% of car crashes.

Data published by the Insurance Information Institute shows that 4,586 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2014, while 92,000 were injured.

These alarming numbers highlight the need for motorcycle safety. Wearing a helmet is just one way to reduce your chance for injury. Head trauma is the leading cause of serious injury or death in motorcycle accidents. NHTSA research shows that helmets cause a 29% reduction in fatalities and a 67% reduction in serious brain injuries.

Other factors play a huge role in motorcycle injury and fatality rates, including:

  • Speeding – NHTSA statistics for 2013 show that 34% of motorcycle riders in fatal crashes were driving above the speed limit.
  • Alcohol – According to the NHTSA, in 2014, 29% of bikers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration at or above of 0.08, the legal threshold for drunk driving in the U.S.
  • No valid license – In 2013, 25% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes lacked a valid license.
  • Bike type – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that riders of “super sports” motorcycles, which are light-weight bikes built for racing, were four times more likely to die in fatal crashes than riders of other bikes.

All that said, in many accidents, it is the other driver who is at fault for causing the accident by failing to notice the motorcyclist and/or give them proper space on the road to maneuver safely. Even if the motorcyclist was partially at fault in causing the accident, he or she may be able to recover against a driver who was also at fault in causing the accident.

How an Experienced Motorcycle Attorney Can Help

Victims of motorcycle accidents have options. Negotiating with insurance companies and collecting for your injuries can be complicated. Enlisting the help of an experienced attorney will remove the stress and confusion from the process and ensure that you get the best possible recovery available.

The main goal of insurance companies is to convince you to settle fast for the least money possible. In many cases, a quick settlement is not in your best interest, and a personal injury lawsuit is the only way to protect your rights. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will aggressively seek the maximum recovery for you and help you determine the best course of action in your particular situation.

Collecting fair compensation for your injuries after a motorcycle accident can be a challenge, and you shouldn’t attempt to go it alone. At the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel, we’re dedicated to protecting your interests every step of the way. Call today for a consultation.

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Auto Accidents in New York Leave Families Struggling

Auto Accidents in New York Leave Families Struggling

The New York Times reports that traffic deaths in the city are decreasing, but if you are one of the hundreds of families who has a loved one suffering serious or fatal injuries, the statistics are not reassuring. The numbers of people dying from injuries fell to 230 in 2015 — but that still means more than one person dies from an auto accident every other day. The New York State DMV reveals that in the most recently reported year there were 66,554 auto accidents in New York City, or about 182 each day. In these auto accidents, 45,315 people sustained injuries.

If you drive in New York City, the facts suggest that you are putting your life on the line. 25 percent of the auto accidents involved a distracted or inattentive driver, 14.4 involved a failure to yield right of way, and 15 percent involved following too closely. Of these tens of thousands of accidents, many led to innocent people suffering severe injuries or left with permanent damage. In that year, 2,576 people sustained serious injuries, 5,032 sustained moderate injuries, and 28,070 sustained minor injuries.

Families can be left struggling to pay bills, with a loved one hospitalized, in pain, with an uncertain outcome. The financial situation can become dire within a few months. Recovering compensation not only allows for justice to be served, it provides financial support to the injured, with damages paid for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Loss of income from work
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other damages, based on case.

If you were seriously injured in a New York auto accident, it is imperative that you take the right legal actions, and as early as possible after the accident occurred. It may be difficult to consider the financial consequences of the accident, particularly if you or your loved one is hospitalized and suffering. If another party was at fault, you have the right to pursue full compensation. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to be treated fairly by the insurance company. These companies operate for profit, and use various tactics to convince injured people to accept and sign off on lowball settlements. Don’t let this happen to you and your family.

Step One: Get the Right Attorney

Your first step, as soon as you are able, should be to get legal representation from a qualified and experienced auto accident lawyer. The difference in the amount you are paid in a settlement can be significant. Your lawyer will advocate for you and your interests, and understands how injury cases are valued, and will help you fight for a fair settlement.

New York auto accident lawyer Justin Brandel has made a name for himself through consistently achieving high value settlements for his clients. He is a powerful litigator and stands firm for his clients, demanding justice and full compensation. Call his firm today for more information and a free case evaluation.

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Filing an Injury Claim After Being Hit By a Taxi in New York

Filing an Injury Claim After Being Hit By a Taxi in New York

The sight of yellow taxi cabs part of the fabric of New York City. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, taxis are a big part of life in our city. Unfortunately, the high numbers of cabs make it far more likely that a pedestrian can be hit by a taxi. Accidents involving taxis often have very serious consequences. In the period between July 2014 and September 2015, 43 licensed taxi (or limousine) 43 licensed taxi (or limousine) drivers were involved in accidents that caused serious injury or death in New York City.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a taxi, you will need to speak with an experienced attorney. Once you file an injury claim, you may be able to receive compensation for costs associated with your injuries. The damages include the costs of treatment, lost wages, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on an individual basis. Our firm can help.

What to Do After Being Hit By a Taxi

After being hit by a taxi in New York, it’s important that you take the following key steps:

  • If you are able, note the name of the driver, and the taxi cab’s number. This information is displayed in the cab.
  • Call the police to the scene of the accident, even if it appears to be a minor injury. The police report can be a critical part of the evidence in an injury claim.
  • Get medical attention. The adrenaline produced by the body after an accident can mask serious injuries. Closed head injuries can be fatal if not treated at once.
  • If you can, get contact information from witnesses who observed the accident.
  • Continue to monitor your medical state. Injuries and symptoms of trauma can take several days to surface. Keep notes on your physical condition, and ensure that you inform your doctor that you were hit by a taxi while crossing the street so it is noted in your medical records.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to manage your claim or lawsuit to recover compensation.
  • Do not make a statement to an insurance company representative who contacts you without first speaking with your lawyer.

Help For Victims Hit By Taxi Drivers

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Too Many Injuries and Deaths to People Hit by a Car While Crossing the Street

Too Many Injuries and Deaths to People Hit by a Car While Crossing the Street

In many ways, New York City is fantastic for pedestrians. The city is easy to navigate, and moving through the city by foot can be a pleasant activity. Unfortunately, pedestrians are also very vulnerable in New York. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, pedestrians accounted for 52% of all fatal traffic accidents in the city between 2005 and 2009. More than a third of the time, when people were hit by a car while crossing the street, it was because a driver was inattentive or reckless in operating the vehicle. Sadly, pedestrians are ten times more likely to be killed than the driver in such a collision. If you were hit by a car while crossing the street, and the driver was at fault, you have a right to pursue compensation for damages.

How Pedestrian Accidents Are Caused

Most New York City intersections are well sign-posted, and it is clear when pedestrians have the right of way to cross a street. Nonetheless, even the most careful pedestrian who only crosses legally can be at risk of being hit by a car while crossing the street. Some common ways these accidents happen include:

  • Speeding: When drivers speed through busy intersections, they risk hitting pedestrians who have the right of way. A speeding driver is unable to stop the vehicle fast enough, and may not even check for oncoming cars or pedestrians.
  • Drivers failing to yield: It’s common to see cars and taxis alike edging into the crosswalk on a red light, quickly turning right or left, and failing to observe a pedestrian. Even at low speeds, drivers who fail to yield can cause serious injuries to those who are hit while legally crossing the street.
  • Driver errors while turning: Even when vehicles have the green light, drivers must check carefully to ensure that no pedestrians are crossing at the intersection.
  • Distracted driving: If a driver’s hands and eyes are on a cellphone, a conversation, or other distraction, rather than the road ahead, it becomes far more possible to miss the presence of a pedestrian, and cause a serious injury accident.

Hit By a Car While Crossing the Street? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

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I Was Hit By a Car While Crossing the Street - Can I Sue?

I Was Hit By a Car While Crossing the Street - Can I Sue?

If you have sustained an injury after being hit by a car while crossing the street in New York City, or any location in the state of New York, you may be wondering whether you have the right to sue the driver for damages. Injuries in a pedestrian accident can cause a person to suffer physical and emotional harm, lead to extensive medical treatment, or render them incapacitated and unable to work. The financial, physical and psychological impact can be significant.

Despite these facts, victims of auto accidents are not automatically eligible to file a lawsuit. While you will likely be able to seek damages from the driver’s insurance company under the state’s no-fault insurance law, your ability to sue is dependent upon whether you can prove driver negligence, and whether your injuries meet the state’s definition of “serious injury.”

Hiring a skilled New York auto accident attorney is crucial if you hope to recover the maximum in compensation after being hit by a car while crossing the street. Your attorney can help you with issues such as establishing fault and gathering evidence to prove that the driver acted in a negligent manner or showed a disregard for pedestrian safety at the time of the accident. Skilled counsel can also advise you whether damages exceed the no-fault benefits. If so, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

What No-Fault Benefits Am I Entitled to Recover?

The New York State Department of Financial Services gives pedestrians who were injured after being hit by a vehicle the right to file a claim for damages under the no-fault insurance laws.aut

If the injuries you sustained a are serious enough that the related medical costs, loss of income and other accident-related expenses exceed the maximum no-fault coverage, you may be able to seek additional benefits, or sue the at-fault driver for fair compensation.

Do My Injuries Meet the State’s Serious Injury Threshold?

According to Section 5102(d) of the New York Insurance Law, a negligent driver must have been responsible for causing a victim serious injury before the victim can file a lawsuit to seek damages above and beyond no-fault benefits. The serious injury threshold, as laid out by the New York State Bar Association, must involve one of the following personal injuries:

  • Fractures
  • Significant, temporary limitations in body functions or systems
  • Permanent, significant limitations in body functions or systems
  • Permanent loss of a limb, organ, body function or system
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Dismemberment
  • Death

The law also states that if a pedestrian is injured to such a level that it will prevent the individual from performing the majority of his or her daily routine, for between 90 and 180 days following the accident, those injuries will likely meet the serious injury threshold.

Legal Representation If You Have Been Hit By a Car While Crossing the Street

Being involved in a pedestrian or auto accident can leave a victim in physical pain, unable to work, and dealing with massive medical bills. If you have been hit by a car while crossing the street, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries and losses.

Call Brandel and schedule to meet with a New York accident attorney to discuss your case, learn about your rights, and get help to determine whether you have the right to sue the driver. We know state law, and we take our duty to our clients extremely seriously. We are here to help — Call us now.

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