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

 


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]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


PA Traffic Deaths Down In 2013, But Could Be Much Better, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

1599R-19050Great news for Pennsylvania drivers — traffic deaths on roads in the Keystone State were at an all-time low in 2013, state officials have reported here and here.

Motorists could achieve another all-time low in 2014, too, if everyone could take their responsibility to drive safely more seriously. The major causes of the fatalities are largely within our control and preventable – seat belt use, speeding, DUI, distracted driving and single vehicle crashes – often from falling asleep or inattentiveness.

Don’t drive if you haven’t had enough sleep, if you’ve been drinking alcohol, or you can’t put your phone down long enough to drive safely to your destination.

The total of 1,208 fatalities in 2013 was down from 1,310 the previous year and was the lowest number since traffic records began being logged in 1928.

By the numbers:

Deaths were down:

  • Among those not wearing seat belts (425, down from 503 the previous year).
  • Speeding accidents (193, down from 262).
  • Single-vehicle crashes (566, down from 648).
  • DUI-related fatalities dropped to 342, down 35 from the prior year and the lowest total since 1977, when the state started keeping records of drunken-driving deaths.

More fatalities were linked to:

  • Distracted driving (64, up from 57).
  • Head-on collisions or sideswipes (178, up from 148).
  • Drivers 75 years old and older (142, up from 126).

Don’t relax and think Pennsylvania roads are safer. Accident records go up and down year to year. Just do your part to make the roads safer. Be alert, be sober and be vigilant. Watch for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and any other danger in the road, such as potholes.

Never let your guard down when you are driving.

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]

 


NY Accident Attorney Discusses Ideas to Prevent Accidents among Elderly Drivers

NBC Nightly News recently featured a story highlighting accident rates among elderly drivers.

It is something with which so many of us can identify: the independence that comes with driving a car. It is this feeling of freedom, however, that can often be the cause of safety concerns among elderly drivers.

NBC Nightly News broadcast a report last week entitled, “Too Old to Drive?” The segment featured some alarming statistics: according to the most recent studies, 600 drivers over age 65 are involved in an accident every day in the United States. Nine of those drivers die.

In a world in which drivers aged 65 and older are one and a half times more likely to get into an accident than middle-aged drivers, it is time to acknowledge the gravity of these facts and work to take action to prevent accidents. Americans aged 65 and over are the fastest growing age group in the country. By 2030, these citizens are expected to be 25% of the driving population. In his or her own small way, each person can work to ensure that this 25% is responsible and safe.

It is important to acknowledge that I want to avoid blanket statements; not all elderly drivers are inherently unsafe. It can be challenging, however, to gauge when and if the time comes to surrender the keys to a car— and the freedom and confidence that comes with it.

It is important to take precautions: if you have a loved one whose driving concerns you, ride along with them. Look for a slow reaction time, the driver getting lost, or trouble merging.  This can help you to engage in an honest, open discussion.

Another great way to better ensure safety is stricter state restrictions in regard to elderly drivers. 33 states, including Pennsylvania, have enacted tougher driving requirements for elderly drivers. By giving a basic driving test or having people answer simple health questions, an objective, official opinion can be brought into a family’s discussion about safe driving. This is a great step to avoid accidents, and I hope that New York follows Pennsylvania’s example.

The topic of when to take the keys away is incredibly difficult. It involves so many emotions and a sense of pride and independence. I can certainly empathize with this, but I hope that the above statistics are a wake-up call and a reminder of what is truly at stake when a driver of any age gets behind a wheel. Discussing driving with an elderly loved one may be hard now, but I sincerely believe that it can save lives.

Thanks, Christina

_________________________________
Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
[email protected]
Office: 607.733.8866
Toll-Free: 800.ZIFFLAW (943.3529)
Web:zifflaw.com
Blog: NYInjuryLawBlog.com


Maps Of Road Fatalities A Reminder Of Toll Of Distracted Driving, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Check out where fatal accidents have occurred in your community in recent years.

A United Kingdom transportation company has created a website that allows anyone to track road fatalities in the United States by location, including in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers.

You can find the exact scene of an accident that led to a death between 2001 and 2009. I drilled down to the local fatalities in Elmira, Horseheads, and Corning and learned that I handled a large number of the wrongful death cases displayed on the local map.

I have worked on many cases in the last 26 years, and each of the little dots is a reminder of what I know to be devastated family and friends. … The 14-year-old cyclist mowed down by a hit-and-run driver, the elderly pedestrian hit by a driver who admitted she was busy adjusting her radio and on and on ….

It’s very unsettling and sad.

But it’s important that everyone take a look at the map of their community. Notice where people died when you look at the map of Chemung County — Lower Maple Avenue in Elmira, County Route 64 in Big Flats, Interstate 86 and the Miracle Mile (Corning Road) in Horseheads. Look at the grouping of fatalities, on I-86, Route 352 and Route 64. Those are high-traffic areas where everyone should be their most vigilant. Those should be no-distraction zones, and that means turning the radio or CD down, too!

Some of the fatalities were pedestrians, some were drivers or their passengers, and some were on motorcycles or bikes. Yes, it’s important to know where the most dangerous spots are in Watkins Glen and Southport and Pine City, then south to Towanda, Sayre and Athens, Wellsboro and Mansfield.

But there is a larger lesson here.

The maps serve as a stark reminder to all of us to SLOW DOWN and PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD. Shut off the cell phone. Cut down the chatter. Be vigilant. Live in the present.

Respect the lives of others, and be mindful of the dangers around you. Distracted driving kills. Next time you’re on the road, think of the people lost in accidents on that map.

Please have a safe and joyous holiday season free of heartbreaking accidents.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mail to: [email protected]
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com


Easy Way To Save 10% On Your Car Insurance, Says NY Accident Attorney

An online driving course in New York State offers motorists many benefits.

Online driving courses make sense for all motorists. Successfully completing a course (on your schedule) in New York State will lower your insurance premiums a minimum of 10 percent for three years, may reduce four points on your license (if you have violations) and will refresh your skills.

Like most people, I took the online course to lower my insurance premiums, but I found the course very informative and educational.

Insurance.com says that if you’re between 16 and 25, you can save about 15 percent each year on your auto insurance for taking a defensive driving class, and those over the age of 55 can get a discount of 5 percent.

According to the blog Lifehacker, online courses are about $35, depending on the type of class you have to take, and they usually take four to eight hours. They often give you several weeks to finish the course. Each time you sign in, you’re returned to where you last worked.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles has a great website about its Point & Insurance Reduction Program. Please check it out.

Also check out the state’s list of approved courses.

Drivers in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers can save some money – and make our roads safer for everyone – by taking an online course. It’s that easy. Save money and save lives. That’s a great combination!

Have you taken an online driving course? What tips do you have for my readers? Did you find the course challenging? Please share your thoughts with your neighbors!

Thanks for reading.

Jim
__________________________________________

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


NY Lawyer Asks “Really?” As NY Drops Eye Test for Licensed Drivers

The New York DMV has dropped the eye test requirement for drivers, raising concerns about elderly drivers.

This cannot be a good idea … NY is dropping the eye test for drivers. At a time when I am seeing many more cases involving elderly drivers – drivers in their 70s and 80s – involved in bad car crashes, does NY really think it’s a good idea to eliminate an eye test that might be the most effective tool for identifying when an elderly person might need to stop driving?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly have nothing against elderly drivers and I think a person should be permitted to drive so long as they are mentally and physically capable of doing so. But I do worry that eliminating this test will have the effect of failing to catch those drivers whose failing eyesight is causing them to be a deadly danger to others.

I understand the test was eliminated to encourage more people to be able to renew their licenses online, and I am all in favor of the cost-savings and convenience of online licensing. But I wonder if it might have been a better compromise to eliminate the eye test for drivers under a certain age – say 65 – but keep the eye test requirement for drivers over that age. Just an idea ….

Click here for the WETM-TV report.

Here is the story from The Associated Press:

Albany, N.Y. (AP) – New York is dropping its requirement for vision tests to make it easier for drivers to renew licenses online or by mail.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala said in a statement that the change is one of several stemming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for streamlining by state agencies.

Another change is a new Internet application, “MyDMV,” which allows customers to set up personal online accounts to do business with DMV.

Starting Sept. 28, drivers will “self-certify” that they meet the vision requirement when they renew. New licenses and commercial licenses will still require eye tests at a DMV office or by a doctor.

Fiala said vision testing wasn’t required in New York from 1993-2000, and six other states don’t require eye tests for renewals.

And reaction from across the state shows many people agree with me!

 

Residents of Elmira, Corning and Twin Tiers, let your state lawmakers know what you think about this today!

Thanks for reading.

Jim
__________________________________________

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