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

 


Go Car-Less For Two Weeks During 2016 Car-Free Challenge

chemung4

Can you make it most or all of two weeks without driving your car and find alternate ways to get to work, shop and live the rest of your life?

If you are up for the challenge in Chemung, Steuben, Tompkins and Schuyler counties, join the 2016 Car-Free Challenge from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5 and learn about some of the other ways to get around besides as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Check out carpooling resources and mass transit options at the website.

chemung-how-it-works-01To participate, click here and find the link to your Twin Tiers county. You will be asked to register, and to be eligible for drawings, you will need to log at least one car-free effort every day in the two-week period.

Every time during the two weeks that you ride a bike, walk, ride a bus or carpool instead of driving alone, log an entry on the website. To be eligible for a grand prize drawing, you must have at least three days of car-free efforts in the two weeks.

Keep track of your car-free mileage so organizers know how many miles were saved by all participants!

Check out 511NY Southern Tier Rideshare, a free resource to help you find carpool partners who live or work in Steuben and Chemung counties.  When you sign up for ride-matching, you’ll join other riders and drivers in a database. You will save money and be eligible to enter a raffle to win a $25 grocery store gift card when you register for carpooling.

The announcement of the grand prize winner will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 11 at the meeting of the Chemung County Coordinated Transportation Committee at the Corning Community College campus in Elmira at 318 Madison Ave.

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

Ziff Law Lawyers Fighting In Albany For NY Families

 

tort reform art

Christina Sonsire and Adam Gee of the Ziff Law Firm recently went to Albany to fight for grieving families in New York State – like Craig and Melissa Storms, who lost their 2-year-old son in a hospital emergency room.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

Christina and Adam lobbied with other members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association in the New York State Legislature to fight for reforming New York’s 153-year-old wrongful death law, something the lawyers at Ziff Law have been doing for nearly a decade.

“We have been to Albany numerous times to fight for justice for those who lose a loved one due to negligence. It’s one battle we will never stop waging until the laws in New York finally improve,” Christina said.

Under the present wrongful death statute in New York, the assessment of damages is based almost exclusively on expected future income, something that is very biased toward the state’s highest-earning residents. Worse, New York is one of only seven states that do not compensate family members for their grief and sorrow.

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” Christina said. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

Having to tell a family that we cannot take a case because their loved one’s life is worthless in the eyes of New York State law is a very difficult thing to do, Adam said. “Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York.”

The tragic case of 2-year-old Zachary Storms highlights the discriminatory nature of New York’s wrongful death law.

Zachary’s story is heartbreaking.

Craig and Melissa Storms rushed their child to a hospital emergency room because they feared he may have ingested some red and blue dye from a child’s chemistry set.

They did all the right things. They consulted with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which recommended, to be safe, that they take the child to a local hospital for precautionary treatment.

Things turned nightmarish quickly.

The Poison Control Centers urged “observe-only” to the hospital, but instead, the doctor forced young Zachary to drink an activated charcoal solution. He vomited and refused to drink more and the hospital put a gastrointestinal tube down his throat and poured so much liquid that it filled his throat, stomach, and lungs, killing him almost instantly.

“He was running around the emergency room, playing. Then he was dead,” said Melissa Storms.

“This is about justice and holding the people who caused his death accountable,” said Craig Storms.

However, New York’s wrongful death law only values financial loss, not human loss. A toddler, Zachary clearly was not earning any income, and his young age made it too speculative to project what he would make in the future. Therefore, under New York’s current wrongful death law, Zachary’s life was worthless.

When Congress established the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it circumvented the law so surviving victims and victims’ families could be properly compensated. “Congress understood New York’s law is antiquated, and doing something like denying compensation to the parents whose children died that day was just wrong,” said Christina.

It’s time for New York State to do the same and take a giant step toward civil justice reform.

The lawyers at the Ziff Law Firm will not stop fighting for families until New York State changes this law.

Contact your local state representative and tell them about Zachary and why it’s important to modernize the state’s wrongful death law.

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

 


Doctors Struggle To Curb Patients Who Pose Serious Danger To Other Drivers On The Road, Says NY and PA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

539w

Doctors face a daunting challenge when they are treating a patient who is impaired or has a disability that makes that patient an unsafe driver.

the-information-age-has-enabled-doctors-to-view-patient-data-on-laptops-_1508_608708_0_14091474_500Many doctors will want to get the patients’ keys away from them quickly and without incident, but they have to take great care not to breach that patient’s confidentiality.

Doctors shouldn’t notify the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles without talking with the patient, and with the patient’s permission, notify their family and the DMV, unless the patient has already done so.

Those are some of the key conclusions discussed in a story in the Spring 2016 Dateline newsletter published by the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co.

According to Donnaline Richmond, counsel to the company, doctors need to document every step they take to protect themselves and their employer.

Doctors know patients will rarely do what’s required and report a disabling condition to the DMV, Richmond said. So doctors need to inform and warn patients of the risk of their medical condition – and fully document those warnings.

According to Richmond, among the steps doctors should document:

  • How medication or a medical condition make it unsafe for the patient to drive.
  • All attempts to communicate doctors’ concerns to the patients and their families, and their attempts to gain consent from patients.
  • All DMV paperwork completed for the patient, once the doctor has the patient’s written authorization.
  • All phone records from calls to patients and their family members regarding the patients’ inability to drive.
  • Patients’ written authorization to release medical information.
  • Reports to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, if it applies.

Thanks for reading.

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Twin Tiers Drivers, Have You Heard Of The “Move Over” Law?

move-over-law

I recently received a message from a Twin Tiers resident after a friend of hers received a $300 ticket on a New York State highway for allegedly violating the state’s “Move Over” law.

The woman said her friend slowed down as she passed a police car, which was stopped with flashing lights. The officer was helping a motorist with a disabled vehicle.

Shortly after that, an officer pulled over her friend and informed her about the law and told her she always needs to slow down AND move to the passing lane. The woman who wrote the note to me said she had never heard of the law, and neither had any of her friends.

She suggested I warn our blog readers, and I thought that was a great idea!

I hope this story opens the eyes of many Twin Tiers drivers who were not aware of the law, and serves as a stark reminder to those who have heard of the law but did not know the specifics.

The Ambrose-Searles Move Over Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, is named in honor of New York State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose and Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Glenn Matthew Searles, who were killed by vehicles while helping motorists. The law is designed to protect law enforcement and emergency workers.

In 2012, the law was amended to include tow and service-vehicle operators.

When approaching these vehicles that are stopped, parked or standing on the shoulder, drivers are required to:

  • Reduce speed.

  • Move to an open lane (unless they cannot do so safely).

Read the full text of the law here.

The penalties are stiff:

It’s a moving violation and three points on your license. (It was two points in 2011, but increased to three points when the law was revised in 2012.)

The fine is $275 PLUS a state surcharge (tax).

If you have two violations of this law in an 18-month period, the state DMV slaps you with a Driver Assessment Fee, which STARTS at $300 and could go up from there.

So the next time you approach an emergency vehicle or service vehicles helping motorists, SLOW DOWN AND TRY TO GET OVER INTO THE NEXT LANE.

If it’s not possible to get over, give them as much room as you can and go slowly.

 

Thanks for reading, and take it slow out there!

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

 

 


Woman, Child In Stroller Struck By Truck In Corning Crosswalk, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

Police car image

A 29-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child she was pushing in a stroller were injured Thursday when they were struck by a pickup truck while crossing East Denison Parkway in Corning, police said.

The driver of the pickup truck told police he did not see the woman and the stroller with the child as he was turning left.

It is inexcusable that a driver could be so inattentive as to miss a woman walking a stroller through the crosswalk on Denison Parkway. I have personally handled almost the exact same case in the past with a pedestrian struck in the crosswalk at Cohocton Street crossing Denison. In my investigation, I determined that Denison is very well lit and even on a cloudy, overcast and rainy night, a pedestrian is visible from hundreds of yards away. The only way a driver could not see a pedestrian in the crosswalk is if they have their eyes off the road for many, many seconds or simply aren’t paying attention to what is going on around them. 

According to news reports here and here:

Brittany Neu was crossing East Denison Parkway at about 3 p.m. Thursday at the intersection with Cohocton Street, in front of Dunkin Donuts, while pushing a stroller with a 3-year-old when she was struck by the truck. The driver was was turning left from Cohocton Street onto East Denison Parkway.

crosswalk signNeu was thrown about 10 feet by the impact of the truck, police said.

City firefighters and a Rural/Metro Ambulance crew treated Neu and the child at the scene, then transported them to the Corning Fire Department. Neu was airlifted by a Guthrie helicopter to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. The child was also transported to Robert Packer.

Their injuries were not considered life-threatening, police said.

Witnesses said Neu was within the markings of the crosswalk when she was struck. The stroller was not struck but toppled over during the accident, police said.

The driver was cooperative and went to the police department for questioning, police said.

The intersection was closed for about an hour during the start of the investigation, which is continuing. No tickets have been issued yet, police said.

Thanks for reading,

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]


Careless Avoca School Bus Driver Drags Girl Almost A Half-Mile, Says NY and PA Injury Lawyer

 

Bus stop signA careless school bus driver dragged a Steuben County girl for almost a half-mile Tuesday, Fortunately, the little girl was not seriously injured.

According to local news reports here and here:

The girl’s book bag got hung up on the bus door as she was leaving the Avoca Central School bus at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on County Route 55 in the Town of Fremont, north of Hornellsville.

The girl, who was not identified by police, was dragged four-tenths of a mile before the driver noticed her!

Bus drivers are required to watch the students to make sure they are clear of the bus before even shutting off the flashing lights, much less starting down the road. At this point, no one knows what this bus driver was doing but he or she certainly wasn’t paying any attention to the student  – which is the driver’s primary responsibility.

The girl was treated at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell for foot injuries and released.

Police are still investigating the incident.  Anyone with information concerning this incident is urged to call the local authorities.

Thanks for reading,

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]


For Twin Tiers Parents, Plenty To Be Scared Of On Halloween, Says NY and PA Injury Lawyer

halloween_safety

Children love Halloween. There are costumes, candy, parties, black cats, scary stories and more candy.

It’s often fun for parents, too, because some get to dress up and take their kids trick-or-treating, or stay home and hand out treats to the little monsters.

But there are plenty of safety concerns for parents, too.

01249606.interactive.aWill my children be safe crossing streets while gathering their treats?

Can they walk and climb stairs safely in their costumes?

Is the candy they are receiving safe?

But one question many parents never think to ask is: Are the people answering the next door sex offenders?

New York parents can check their Halloween route for sex offenders in homes here. In Pennsylvania, go here.

Informed parents make for safe children on Halloween.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great tips on its website, including these pointers about other dangers along the trick-or-treat trail:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters.
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • toddler-girls-minion-costumeRemember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

You can find more tips here:

Safekids.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Safety Council

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]


Our Guest Blogger Has A Great Reminder About Small Children And The Dangers Of Low-Speed Runover Accidents!

I recently received a terrific email from a blog reader in Australia who shares my concern for the safety of people around moving vehicles.

Luise Manning’s mission is to protect children from slow-speed runover accidents, and it is a GREAT CAUSE that gets overlooked in all the other accident news here and abroad.

Children are seriously injured or killed every day when a parent or other loved one accidentally strikes a child while backing out or pulling away. We have all read about these tragedies and our hearts ache for the child or children lost AND the driver!

holdmyhandLuise has written a book, “Hold My Hand,” that you can learn more about here and has been the subject of a news story because of her Car Angel campaign.

Be sure to watch the video above to see what her mission is all about. You won’t forget it once you watch it.

Here is the guest blog post from Luise Manning:

 

5 Steps To Safely Reduce The Risk Of Low-Speed
Vehicle Runovers In Driveways And Parked Cars

1. Supervision is No. 1. Adults are responsible for the safety of young children in and around traffic. It will take many years for young children to make safe decisions independently when there are cars about. Actively supervise children whenever vehicles are known to be moving by holding children’s hands or keeping them close to keep them safe. Sometimes they may not want to hold hands; they want to be independent but often they are not aware of dangerous situations.

2. Know where children are before you move the car! Children are run over by vehicles going forward as well as backing up. Be aware of blind zones – they can occur in front of and behind a vehicle.Get in the habit of walking around the car, checking for children before you get in the driver’s side door in driveways or where cars are parked.

Know where your child is. Don’t assume that they are with another person; check before you go to be sure the child is safe.

If you are alone and a car needs to be moved, protect them by placing them in the car seat prior to moving a vehicle.

When you’re out, be alert and keep a lookout for small children as they often do not respond to warning signals or reverse lights.

A reversing camera or sensor may help you avoid incidents, but young children move quickly and you may not have time to stop.

3. Secure doors and gates! Young children are growing and learning every day – one minute they can’t do something and the next they can! Consider installing self-closing gates, doors and childproof locks on doors to prevent children from opening and accessing areas such as the driveway or garage unnoticed.

4. Create safe places to play away from the garage and driveway. A driveway is actually a small road. Fence off access to driveways, and wherever possible, ensure young children play in an area separated from the driveway. Explain to children why footpaths, roads and driveways are not safe places to play. Talk with children about safe places to play. Always check that doors and gates are closed and can’t be opened by children.

The car is not a play area; keep the doors locked when the vehicle is not in use to prevent children from entering the car. Avoid leaving them to play alone, especially around areas near parked or moving cars.

5.  Educate – Don’t wait for school; make some cool rules. Early education is the key to minimize the risk of dangers. While we can teach children about road safety and being careful around cars, parents and other caregivers need to be cautious about expecting a child under 10 years old to be safe consistently. Children get distracted and forget to watch for moving vehicles.

Have some family rules about driveway safety – Wave goodbye from behind a door, not on the driveway. Never let children run ahead of you.

Use simple catchphrases to help establish routines and habits. For example, say: “Stand next to the car,” or “Stay where you are,” or “Hold tight, keep me in sight” to encourage children to practice safe behavior.

Everyone needs to be involved! Praise children when they follow instructions, but lead by example to create lifelong habits. Talk with other adults in your child’s life about your family rules to reduce the risk of injury or death from low-speed accidents.

My thanks to Luise for writing this for our readers all over the world!

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