Sonsire Helps Create New Statewide Legal Course For Lawyers After Being Named Dean Of Trial Lawyers’ Group

Christina Sonsire of Ziff Law Firm

Christina Sonsire, a medical malpractice lawyer and partner with the Ziff Law Firm, has helped prepare a new course on diversity and inclusion for the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, which she will begin teaching in March.

The Academy provides member lawyers across the state with Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes for professional development.

portal_logo3In 2017, Christina was named just the sixth dean in the Academy’s history and was asked to participate in the preparation of the new CLE course for its members.

The new course is “Breaking Down Bias: Identifying and Eliminating Inequality In The Legal Profession.” A member of the Academy since 2008, Christina was inducted as a dean in May 2017 in New York City.

“The Academy was created to give upstate lawyers a bigger voice in New York’s legal community, and it is the premier legal association in the state,” she said. “There are other trial lawyer associations in New York state, but they tend to be focused more on downstate. The Academy has done a great job of connecting upstate and downstate lawyers so we can learn from each other, and make sure the issues specific to upstate residents are heard.”

Christina has made an impact on the Academy from the time she joined a decade ago, said Michelle Stern, executive director of the Academy.

Michelle Stern.

Michelle Stern.

“She has given numerous statewide lectures on a variety of topics, and has been a great asset on a select Academy committee that interviews nominees to New York’s Court of Appeals and offers feedback to Governor Cuomo,” Michelle said. “Having Christina serve as a CLE dean is a great way to allow her to take on an even bigger role within our organization, something that benefits all New York attorneys.”

The new two-hour course will discuss the impact of explicit and implicit bias inside and outside the courtroom. The course is part of a new category of CLE classes in 2018 for attorneys in New York State: Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias, which was established by the New York State Unified Court System, which administers the courses. The other categories are Ethics and Professionalism, Skills, Law Practice Management, and Areas of Professional Practice.

Attorneys in New York State are required by the New York State Bar Association to attend 24 credit hours of CLE classes over the course of every two years. New York State lawyers admitted to the bar for two or more years will have to earn at least one Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias credit every two years, starting July 1. The new course provides two credits.

Members of the Academy don’t have to pay any additional charges for CLE courses, which are offered by the Academy across the state at different times and locations. The closest course locations for Southern Tier lawyers are Rochester and Syracuse.

“The new CLE requirement is a great thing, but it came as a bit of a surprise,” Christina said. “At the Academy, we are trying to develop good programs right away to be sure New York lawyers are able to both obtain the requisite credits, and also learn something new in an interesting way.”

Christina will teach the new course with Syracuse University Law Professor Peter Blanck and Dr. Ynesse Abdul-Malak, a sociologist and post-doctoral fellow at Syracuse University, starting on March 27 in Buffalo and Rochester. They will also teach the course on March 28 in Albany and Syracuse, April 4 in New York City, and April 5 in Long Island.

Prior to the classes, lawyers are receiving surveys from the presenters, asking them about the implicit biases in their law practices, Christina said. The responses will be discussed during the two-hour classes.

“The surveys will help lawyers think deeply about these issues before coming to the program,” she said. “Professor Blank and Dr. Abdul-Malak are at the top of their fields, and anyone who attends will have a great opportunity to learn about matters that shape the rule of law in ways we often fail to consider.”

Christina will also teach another statewide course in 2018, but the specific topic has not been announced yet. In the past, Christina has taught other CLE classes on topics such as depositions, punitive damages, direct examinations, and a course specific to birth injury as a result of medical malpractice.

Christina is also a member of the Academy’s judicial selection committee, which interviews and recommends nominees for vacant state Court of Appeals openings. The Court of Appeals is the state’s highest court. The committee has made several recommendations in recent years because of retiring judges.

Being a member of the Academy has greatly expanded the network of lawyers that Christina knows, and meeting with attorneys from across the state while preparing for and teaching classes has made her a more resourceful lawyer, she said.

“It’s been a great 10 years of learning from many other lawyers with more experience,” she said. “I am glad I have taken the opportunity to learn from my upstate and downstate colleagues and build some great connections that have benefited my practice and the Ziff Law Firm.”

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Buckle Up! Cuomo Wisely Proposes Seat Belts For All Passengers In NY

car-seats4

Everyone should buckle up.  Even back-seat passengers!

That’s what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed in his 2018-19 state budget plan. He wants everyone riding in a vehicle in NY to wear seat belts, and I applaud his proposal because I have seen what can happen when a back-seat passenger isn’t safely restrained by a seat belt.

A few years ago, I handled the very tragic case of a 15-year old-girl who was riding as an unbelted back-seat passenger when she was killed in an accident.

Compounding the tragedy is the fact that I am certain that she would have survived had she been wearing a seat belt.

185213258-cropped_400wMy advice to everyone: If you are riding in ANY vehicle (car, boat, plane, ATV) in ANY seat (front, rear, middle) where there is a seat belt available, USE IT! Most fatalities are caused by an unrestrained person either violently impacting with the interior of the vehicle or being thrown from the vehicle and crushed.

The state currently only requires the drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts, and anyone under 16 years old is also required to buckle up.

CuomoThe budget also proposed outlawing hands-free phone use by junior permit and junior license holders and requiring children younger than 8 years old to be properly secured in necessary car seats when riding in a school car or van.

We were the first state, in 1985, to make seat belt use mandatory for drivers and front-seat passengers. The state says about 21 percent of highway deaths in New York State happen to people who were not wearing their seat belts, and not wearing a seat belt was found to be a greater factor in vehicle-accident deaths than alcohol or excessive speed, according to the state.

Under current law, drivers in NY can be ticketed and fined $50 for not wearing their seat belts and fined $100 if someone younger than 16 is not buckled in safely.

But this issue isn’t about fines or tickets. This is about keeping everyone safe in your vehicle, not just people in the front seat and children in the back.

Soon, everyone will have to wear seat belts when they are in a moving vehicle. Get a jump on the law and make sure everyone in any vehicle you are in is wearing their seat belts.

They save lives. It’s that simple.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


NY Lawmakers Steer Motorists To Better Insurance Protection, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

car-insurance

Most New York State motorists will now be better protected by their car insurance policies — and they didn’t even have to call their agents, thanks to the lobbying efforts of lawyers across the state, who finally persuaded Albany that it needed to reform the way insurance companies operate in the state. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association was among the leaders fighting for motorists.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Driver and Family Protection Act on Dec. 18, which improves Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage for all motorists. The Senate and Assembly bills are here: S5644B and A8519A.

State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in June to send the legislation to Cuomo’s desk. The Senate voted 62-1 and the Assembly 104-6.

This is why it is important to anyone who travels in a vehicle, not just drivers: the new law helps to protect New Yorkers who are involved in car accidents with drivers who are uninsured or underinsured.

Under the old law, an insured had to specifically request that their SUM policy limits be increased to match their liability limits.

Under the new law, an insured’s policy will automatically match the liability and SUM limits unless the insured specifically waives the increased SUM coverage by signing an opt-out form. (Why would anyone sign the form?)

I have always said SUM coverage is very important because it protects the insured and their family in the event they are involved in a crash with an uninsured/underinsured vehicle.

The automatically matching limits are great news for auto insurance consumers because the SUM coverage is the most critical component of your car insurance policy.

Here’s why: If you have an accident caused by another driver who has no or inadequate insurance, you could end up paying for your own recovery, and your medical bills could be staggering.

If you’re like most drivers, you accept the minimum levels of coverage to keep your costs down. But those low levels can get you in trouble if you have an accident, regardless of whether it was your fault.

Here’s an example: I once met with a local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only the legal state minimum of $25,000 in SUM coverage to protect himself and his family in that very same accident.

Needless to say, he was shocked to learn that his insurance coverage was so deficient but happy to learn that he could add additional SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.

I have met too many people who don’t learn about the need for sufficient SUM coverage until it is too late. Don’t be one of those families.

Insurance companies like to keep their customers in the dark. They do a terrible job of educating consumers and are far more interested in profits than helping their customers.

Make reviewing your car insurance policy one of your resolutions in the new year. Do it now, in fact. Make sure your insurance company follows the new law and sets your liability and SUM limits at the same amount.

If you have a question about your car insurance policy, email me at [email protected].

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 


Before Your Holiday Road Trip, Review The Most Common Causes Of Car Accidents — And Be Prepared For A Safe Trip!

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Patrick Allan recently wrote a timely story for LifeHacker about vehicle accidents – and what to look out for this holiday season (and any other time) – as you race about to your next distracted destination.

To get there safely, take a deep breath when you hop in the car and remember what Patrick wrote in “The Most Common Cause of Car Crashes.” Yes, his story is a reminder for drivers 365 days a year.

He suggests some basic safety procedures in addition to getting some sleep before driving – wear your seat belt, don’t drive while intoxicated, and avoid using your phone while driving. All good advice we should already be listening to every day.

Patrick also cites Steve Casner, a safety expert and author of “Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds,” who used data collected for the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey for the U.S. Department of Transportation, to come up with  a post for Slate on the types of accidents that happen the most:

  • Falling asleep at the wheel: About 7 percent of all accidents and 21 percent of fatal crashes. Check out Patrick’s previous blog post about drowsy drivers for more information about just how dangerous it is, and how much sleep is ideal. (Hint: it’s NOT five hours a night.)
  • Loss of vehicle control: Accounts for 11 percent of all crashes. Always keep other driving variables in mind. Consider the weather, your vehicle’s maintenance, and other drivers.
  • Blind left turns: Accounts for 12 percent of all crashes. If you can’t see around that bus, don’t risk driving out into the intersection. Always stop and wait until you know the coast is clear.
  • Rear-enders: Accounts for 23 percent to 30 percent of all crashes. Pay attention to the car in front of you, watch for those brake lights, and always give yourself plenty of space to stop if you need to.
  • Not staying in your lane: Accounts for roughly 30 percent of all crashes. It doesn’t take much for a driver to drift out of their lane and cause a serious accident.

The rest of the causes involve things like rolling right on red lights, which Casner says accounts for 6 percent of all pedestrian fatalities – but 21 percent of those fatalities are children.

The survey also says about 36 percent of all “pre-crash events” occurred while drivers were turning or crossing at intersections. That’s why it’s critical that you always come to a complete stop, and then check carefully for pedestrians and vehicles, before turning or driving through.

Bottom line: Keep your eyes open after a good night’s sleep. Keep your eyes on the road, not your phone or satellite radio or anything else. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, children, anything or anyone who is moving around you.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Guthrie Support Group Helps Families Struggling With Long-Term Impact Of Concussions

Steve Hicks, left, coordinator of the Twin Tiers Sports Post-Concussion Support Group, celebrates the fifth anniversary of the group in November 2015 with Dr. Donald Phykitt of Guthrie Sports Medicine.

Steve Hicks, left, coordinator of the Twin Tiers Sports Post-Concussion Support Group, celebrates the fifth anniversary of the group in November 2015 with Dr. Donald Phykitt of Guthrie Sports Medicine.

 

If you or someone you know in the Twin Tiers has had a concussion, there’s a terrific monthly support group that you should join based at Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa.

The Twin Tiers Sports Post-Concussion Support Group was founded and is run by Steven Hicks, a licensed/certified athletic trainer with Guthrie who is contracted out full-time to Athens Area High School, with outreach to Tioga Central High School in New York State.

Steven started the group in November 2010 for high school athletes, their families and friends, but has since opened the group to everyone recovering from post-concussion syndrome.

As an injury attorney who has witnessed firsthand the devastation that head injuries can wreak on the lives of my clients, I have always wished that there was a local support group to help my clients and their families. Steven’s support group made that wish come true.

“Since concussions are not typically ‘visible’ injuries, and there is often a lack of knowledge on how to manage concussed patients, these athletes and their parents were left feeling alone and adrift, without resources,” Steven said. “I founded the support group after noting that many of these families seemed to be feeling what I called the ‘Deserted Island Effect,’ as if they were the only people to be dealing with such issues. The mission of the group is to help everyone get off their own deserted island.”

The group meets once a month during the school year, at 2 p.m. on one Sunday a month at Guthrie Clinic in Sayre. People can attend in person, or remote from anywhere in the world if they register to join the support group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/TwinTiersSportsPostConcsussionSupportGroup.

If you are not on Facebook, you can email Steven at [email protected]

Once you are an approved member of the group, you can watch the meetings on Facebook Live on the page, and people can also get a link to a GoToMeeting page.

The next meeting is on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. in the fourth floor 4 Blue Conference Room in the clinic in Sayre. The guest speaker is Cheyanne Northrup, a graduate of Athens Area High School. She was involved in cheerleading, track and field, and diving in school. She suffered a concussion while diving her junior year. During one dive, she didn’t land properly and hit the back of her directly on the water. Now she has memory problems and will talk about her struggles from post-concussion syndrome.

Other upcoming meetings:

Sunday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. in the 4 Blue Conference Room, Sayre Guthrie Clinic.

Guest speaker: Erin Stackhouse. A graduate of Athens Area High School, Erin sustained a concussion that changed her life while playing indoor soccer her senior year. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and is a mental health technician at the Commonwealth Health First Hospital and is a crisis clinician at Commonwealth Health Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m., 4 Blue Conference Room, Sayre Guthrie Clinic.

Guest speaker: Jenna Mosenson of concussionsmatter.org will talk about her life with concussions, her website, and her foundation.

Sunday, March 18, 2 p.m., 4 Blue Conference Room, Sayre Guthrie Clinic.

Guest speaker: Claire Lapat of Wynnewood, PA (near Philadelphia) is a senior at The Shipley School. She had the first of her more than 10 concussions in a gym class when she was 10 years old, and she continued to have more as she played soccer. She will talk about how her previous school didn’t support or help her with her concussion/brain injury, and how one of her coaches would have her team do three hours of heading practice and then would mock the girls if they were diagnosed with a concussion or talked about symptoms of concussions.

Sunday, April 22, 2 p.m., 4 Blue Conference Room, Sayre Guthrie Clinic.

Guest speaker: Rusty Wolf, who has had concussions from sports, domestic violence, farm work, violence at work, and a major motor-vehicle accident.

Sunday, May 20, 2 p.m., 4 Blue Conference Room, Sayre Guthrie Clinic.

Guest speaker: Fawn Weaver and her mother, Jeanette, first talked to the support group in May 2015 and Fawn wants to update the group. She graduated from high school and now attends college. She began suffering concussions in the eighth grade.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Veteran Of The Game Program Skates To New Home In Broome County

Army veteran Scott Swanson was among the more than 200 veterans honored at First Arena in Elmira during eight seasons of Elmira Jackals games.

Army veteran Scott Swanson was among the more than 200 veterans honored at First Arena in Elmira during eight seasons of Elmira Jackals games.

The Ziff Law Firm’s popular Veteran of the Game program has been promoted to the AHL’s Binghamton Devils after eight seasons with the ECHL.

The Elmira law firm saluted more than 200 veterans at First Arena in Elmira in the past eight seasons during Elmira Jackals ECHL games. The team was disbanded at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Binghamton-Devils-Logo“The Ziff Law Firm is thrilled that we are able to open the program to more veterans this season in the Broome County area, and we hope people in the Elmira-Corning area will continue to nominate veterans from our area to be honored at the Broome County Arena,” said Ziff Law Managing Partner Jim Reed. “We have not forgotten our roots in our hometown and we want to see our friends and neighbors at Devils games this season.”

Ziff Law Attorney Michael Brown, a Devils fan who lives in Vestal, is happy the program can continue at his home ice at the Broome County Arena.

Michael Brown.

Michael Brown.

“I am excited to get the opportunity to meet more veterans and their families from cross the Twin Tiers,” Michael said. “The program is a small token of our law firm’s appreciation for the many sacrifices they have made for their country.”

Male and female veterans and active-duty personnel who are home on leave can be nominated for the Veteran of the Game program by using one of the following:

Website: www.ZiffLaw.com/veterans
Email: [email protected]
Call: 1-800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Mail: Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., P.O. Box 1338
Elmira, NY 14902-1338

The program, in which Twin Tiers veterans are saluted during professional hockey games, will start its ninth season on Oct. 7 at the Devils’ season-opener at the Broome County Arena, also known as the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, in Binghamton. One veteran will be honored at each of the Devils’ 38 regular-season home games.

Veterans from the Elmira-Corning area to the Binghamton area, and the nearby Northern Tier counties, can be nominated for the honor.

For more information, contact program coordinator Annette Viselli Thorne, a paralegal with the Ziff Law Firm, at [email protected] or 607-733-8866.

Those veterans who are selected receive four free tickets to a game. During the game, the public-address announcer introduces the veteran and reads a short biography of their military service, and then Devils fans salute the veteran with a big cheer.

A representative from the Ziff Law Firm is scheduled to greet the veterans and their families when they arrive at Broome County Arena and assist them in any way possible.

“The veterans who are honored say it is a night they will remember forever, and we hope to create more great memories this season for Twin Tiers veterans and their families,” Annette said.

Opening night for the Devils is Oct. 7 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Broome County Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

Please nominate one or more of our great Twin Tiers veterans today!

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take? Answers from a NY & PA Car Accident Lawyer

Don't let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Immediately seek medical assistance and consult an attorney after a car accident.

Jessica Whitton, a freelance writer and paralegal, has written a good summary of the major steps in a personal injury lawsuit.

Before I summarize what she wrote, I want to point out one important factor:

Time is of the essence in IMMEDIATELY consulting a lawyer. There are many insurance companies who are training their employees to immediately contact an injured person with hopes that the can get that injured person to sign off on their claims before that person has a chance to learn the true severity of their injuries or the full extent of their possible claims.

Many times, these claims adjusters will mislead the vulnerable injured person, and accordingly, it is critically important that an injured person hire a lawyer to protect their interests.

Please remember the time for bringing a negligence claim in New York state is three years and two years in Pennsylvania.

Here is Jessica’s step-by-step approach to understanding the typical steps in a personal-injury lawsuit:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Immediately. Go to your doctor or closest hospital and get checked out. Immediately. As Jessica points out, it will give you an edge if your insurance company tries to prove that there was no injury and an immediate hospital visit shows the jury you were hurt.
  • Talk To A Lawyer: Call or email me if you have an accident, 24 hours a day, seven days a week: (607) 733-8866 or [email protected].  If I am not immediately available, I will get back to you ASAP.
  • Commencement Of Investigations: Starts immediately after your lawyer agrees to accept your case. Make sure to provide all pertinent information and be honest about the accident and your medical condition to avoid surprises in the courtroom.
  • Attorney Files An Insurance Claim: Jessica correctly writes that most personal injury cases get settled out of court but to be safe and well-prepared, at ZiffLaw we assume every case will go to trial. We have learned that if you are ready to go to trial, you have substantial leverage to achieve the best results for our clients.  In car accident cases, we submit a comprehensive settlement package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company detailing important information about your claim:  your injuries, lost wages, medical treatment, and any permanent limitations.
  • Attorney Files A Lawsuit: If the insurance company does not settle your claim out of court, your attorney may see no other option than to file a lawsuit.
  • Discovery: The plaintiff and defendant investigate one another using the documents and evidence submitted.
  • Mediation: Following the completion of discovery and before trial, the parties may agree to mediate the case with a trained mediator who attempts to broker a mutually acceptable settlement.
  • Trial: All parties are present as the jury hears the evidence in the case. Most car crash trials are relatively short– 3-4 days– but some more complex cases can take weeks or even months.

At ZiffLaw, we do everything in our power to keep our cases moving as quickly as possible.  With that said, we will not rush any case as we know achieving maximum recovery for our clients often requires us to do things the hard way, not the easy and fast way.  We truly believe our willingness to go the extra mile distinguishes us from other lawyers who are willing to accept an easy and fast settlement rather than do the hard work necessary to get the very best result.

Thanks for reading! Leave me a message below if you have any questions.

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?

accident-frustration1

The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

___________________________________

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

 


New Drone Pilots Need To Follow Regulations, Be Safe, Says NY and PA Injury Lawyer

drones-faa-hobbyist-regulations_h

As winter turns to spring in the Twin Tiers and people of all ages get ready to fly the new drone they got for Christmas, I would encourage all new owners of all ages to do some homework, if they haven’t already, before taking to the air.

113154-fullDrones are not toys. If a child will be flying the drone, prepare the child. Drones in the wrong hands can damage property, injure and kill people on the ground, and endanger passing commercial aircraft. It’s a HUGE responsibility, and in careless or uneducated hands, drones can be a dangerous weapon that could lead to criminal charges and lawsuits for the operator and their family. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I know drones are going to be a big problem for those who don’t respect the power they possess in a drone.

I will say it again: It’s NOT a toy.

A few basics you need to know right now:

Go to the FAA website and look at the rules and regulations on drones. (Click on Part 107 for a summary of the rules and regulations.)

  • You need to register the drone – that is something a lot of people don’t know. The buyer should have been told that when they bought the drone but if not, Remember: Ignorance of the law is no defense.  You can register your drone here.  The good news?  It only costs $5.
  • You must have visual identification of your drone at all times. If you can’t see your drone, you are not operating it properly and you can be subject to penalties and fines.
  • You must not operate your drone over other people, under a covered structure or inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • Your drone can’t exceed 100 mph or weigh more than 55 lbs.

Most of the new Twin Tiers drone operators will be recreational users. You have to register your drone with the FAA but you don’t need any special license operate it, like commercial users do. A handy site for recreational users is here.

Here are the website’s safety guidelines for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS):

  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Do your homework, and be prepared before you take your first flight.

It’s a big responsibility. It’s not a toy.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

___________________________________

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

Sonsire Becomes Lifetime Member Of Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Christina Sonsire of Ziff Law FirmAttorney Christina Sonsire of the Ziff Law Firm has been certified as a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

MMDAF_144_white gifChristina was first accepted as a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2013.

Membership in the forums is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members, according to the forums.

“Judges and lawyers from other parts of New York state often assume big results only happen in big cities,” said Christina, a partner in Ziff Law and a medical malpractice lawyer for eight years. “It is reassuring to know we are able to help our clients receive every penny of compensation they deserve, regardless of where the case is located.”

Christina is only the third attorney in the Twin Tiers ever to be named a Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, joining me — Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed — as part of the exclusive group.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

I am proud that Christina has been accepted into this forum. The fact that two lawyers from our firm have earned the right to be called Multi-Million Dollar Advocates speaks volumes about our firm and the services we are able to provide to our clients. Our goal is to continue the Ziff Law legacy of achieving big-city results for the people we proudly represent.

Membership in the forums recognizes excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange.

Members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of $2 million or more.

To learn more about the forums, go to www.milliondollaradvocates.com.

Thanks for reading and congratulations Christina!

Jim

___________________________________

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