Category Archives: Hit-and-run accidents

NY Bike Accident Lawyer Jim Reed Elected President Of NY Bicycling Coalition

Jim Reed of the Ziff Law Firm

Attorney Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, was recently elected president of the board of the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC), a group that advocates for a safer New York state for bicyclists.

Jim is passionate about bicycling and will help NYBC grow and reach more riders across the state. He will be a game-changer for NYBC!

“The New York Bicycling Coalition is dedicated to making bicycling safer for all New Yorkers,” said Jim, who has handled hundreds of bicycle accident cases in his 27 years as a lawyer. “As a personal injury lawyer representing cyclists from all over the state, I know all too well the dangers faced by cyclists. It is my personal goal to see fewer fatalities and injuries, and I hope to achieve that goal while working hard on behalf of NYBC.”

Jim Reed use this photoJim, who has been on the NYBC board for four years, has been an avid cyclist since he was a teenager. He participates in all kind of cycling, including road racing, mountain biking, bike trips and recreational riding.

The New York Bicycling Coalition advocates in Albany and across the state for better transportation policies, more funding, and educating about bicycle safety, the benefits of riding, and treating riders with respect.

NYBC welcomes Reed’s energy and passion for safety.

“Jim is the right person to lead NYBC as we begin our second quarter-century as the only statewide organization working on the full spectrum of bike and pedestrian issues,” said NYBC Executive Director Paul Winkeller. “His successful work as a bike lawyer has encompassed advocacy, education and enforcement – all the elements that need to be aligned in order to ensure a safe and shared road and trail system serving every New Yorker.”

NYBC logo“Jim’s immense passion for cycling and his deep understanding of the transformative value of healthy transportation and recreation will serve NYBC well as we continue to grow our impact throughout the state,” said Justin Smith, NYBC communications director. “Jim’s proven leadership in his community and at his practice combined with his extensive legal experience representing people who bike, as well as his desire to enable everyone to pedal to better, fuller lives, will ensure that NYBC’s governance remains strong as we advance our efforts helping communities in New York state become safer and more enjoyable places to ride a bicycle.”

If you are interested in supporting the important mission of NYBC you can join here:  www.nybc.net/join.

Thanks for reading!

Attorney Adam Gee
[email protected]

 

 

 

Judge Was Right To Send Drunk Driver To Prison For Accident That Killed Steuben County Bicyclist, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

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A Wayland man is going to state prison for two to six years for striking and killing a bicyclist while he was driving drunk. I heartily applaud the prison sentence because it’s all too often that drivers who kill cyclists get off with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Of course even this sentence is insufficient to properly compensate this poor cyclist’s family for the pain they have suffered.

According to news reports here and here: Kyle A. O’Neal, 26, was sentenced Tuesday in Steuben County Court in Bath in the death of James Mitchell, 18, of Wayland, in May 2013.

Police said O’Neal was drunk when he struck Mitchell, who was riding his bicycle along County Route 36 in the Town of Cohocton.

The slain teen’s father, Joseph Mitchell, said it was important to think of his son as more than just a victim, according to The Leader newspaper in Corning.

“James was not just a kid on a bicycle,” he told the court. “He was my best friend and my youngest son.”

Joseph Mitchell made this remarkable statement about O’Neal: “Someday I’ll forgive him.”

Mitchell was less than a half-mile from home when he was killed around 8:30 p.m. on May 9, 2013, police said.

O’Neal, who police said left the scene, was arrested later that day.

He was initially charged with driving while intoxicated, then second-degree vehicular manslaughter.

In June, he entered a guilty plea on the vehicular manslaughter charge after an agreement with prosecutors.

Judge Marianne Furfure.

Judge Marianne Furfure.

Addressing Mitchell’s family, according to The Leader, O’Neal said: “I will never forgive myself for that night. I realize there is nothing I can do or say that will diminish the pain that I’ve caused.”

Judge Marianne Furfure wants O’Neal placed in the state’s shock incarceration program.

“Your decision to drink and to drive not only violated the law, but also caused the death of an innocent bicyclist,” Furfure told O’Neal in court.

I know some people are critical of Judge Furfure’s decision to recommend shock incarceration over traditional prison but I have appeared in front of Judge Furfure many times and I have always found her to be one of the most intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working judges I have ever met so I am confident that she has a sound well-reasoned basis for recommending shock incarceration.  Many people don’t realize that a judge, in determining an appropriate criminal sentence, has a great deal of information at their disposal in making the tough decision of exactly what sentence they should impose in a given case.  Therefore, for those of us who are not privy to all the information provided to the judge, it is difficult to know all the factors that made a judge choose one sentence over another.  With that in mind, I am sure Judge Furfure thought long and hard before recommending shock incarceration and I am sure she had many good reasons for doing so.

Our thoughts and prayers go to the family of this innocent cyclist James Mitchell.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

 

 

Hit-And-Run Driver Gets Outrageous Four-Month Jail Sentence, Says NY and PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer

A sentence handed down Thursday in a hit-and-run accident that killed a bicyclist is outrageous.

I was shocked and outraged this morning when I read in the newspaper that a Watkins Glen woman – who struck a bicyclist who later died of his injuries – was sentenced to just four months in jail.

Four months. In a fatal hit-and-run accident!

The Elmira Star-Gazette and The Leader in Corning reported that Melissa E. Smith, 37, was driving south on state Route 414 in the Town of Dix on Oct. 16, 2011, when she struck 35-year-old Michael Delzell of Beaver Dams, who was riding a bicycle north, according to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies said Smith got out of her car and saw Delzell’s condition but made no attempt to help him or notify authorities when she went to work at a nearby hospital, according to District Attorney Joseph Fazzary.

Later on Oct. 16, after lying to deputies, Smith admitted she struck Delzell, Fazzary said.

Delzell later died at a Rochester hospital.

Smith pleaded guilty on March 1 to Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury Accident Which Resulted In Death, a Class D Felony.

Fazzary recommended Smith be sentenced to one to three years in a state prison, but Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris on Thursday chose the lighter jail sentence and three years of conditional discharge!

The sentence in this case is absolutely obscene. It is unbelievable that this woman, someone who works at a hospital, could get out, NOT render any aid, and then go to work at a hospital without doing anything more to alert anyone to this injured cyclist, and THEN lie to the police

And now she gets a slap on the wrist. This is just shocking.

Unfortunately, shockingly light sentences like this can occur if substantial family/public pressure is not placed on the DA’s office and judge BEFORE a sentence is imposed.  While there are definitely limits to the sentences that can be imposed for certain offenses, generally there is a fairly wide range of discretion available to the judge.

Sadly, if a victim or their family does not forcefully and publicly advocate for a maximum sentence, you often see results like this.

I don’t know the family of this victim and I don’t know whether they lobbied for a maximum sentence, but given the fact that so little publicity was generated about this case while it was pending leads me to assume that there wasn’t much forceful advocacy on their behalf.

For that matter, I don’t know whether they have hired a lawyer to pursue a civil claim (I would hope so), but if I was handling this claim, I sure would have been raising hell before that sentencing.  Of course, as a civil lawyer, I don’t have any official role in the criminal proceedings but I know as a practical matter that there is MUCH that can be done to unofficially influence the process.

The bottom line is:  THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE.

And my corollary: AND THE SILENT WHEEL GETS THE SHAFT.

Please be safe out there!

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim.

_________________________________

James B. Reed

NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

Mailto: [email protected]

Office: (607)733-8866

Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)

Web: www.zifflaw.com