Be Sure Your Sidewalk Is Safely Clear Of Ice And Snow This Winter, Says NY and PA Injury Lawyer

edmonton-slippery-sidewalks

It’s January in the Twin Tiers, and even though we have not seen a lot of snow yet this winter, we have seen plenty of ice on sidewalks and roadways.

icy signIt will be treacherous walking until we get our January thaw.

So if you slip and fall and are injured on someone else’s sidewalk, who is responsible?

Generally, it’s the property owners’ responsibility to make sure their sidewalk is clear of snow, ice and any other hazards.

In the City of Elmira, for example, homeowners are required by both city and state codes to clear their sidewalks.

Section 302.3 of the Property Maintenance Code of the State of NY requires a homeowner to do the following: All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions.

In the City of Elmira, homeowners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their property. If you fail to clear the sidewalk within 12 hours after it starts snowing, you can be fined $100 by Code Enforcement. It is also the homeowner’s responsibility to shovel out fire hydrants on or near their property. If a fire were to break out, the Elmira Fire Department would lose valuable time attempting to locate and dig out a buried fire hydrant.

The Elmira Department of Public Works clears the sidewalk from all city-owned properties and parks with tractors.

Aside from legal obligations, keeping your property safe is the right thing to do for your neighbors! Nobody wants to have a person fall on their property because they did not bother to shovel or salt icy spots.

The bottom line is if you fail to clean your walk and someone falls on your property, you are more than likely to face some sort of legal ramifications.

I talk to people all the time who fall on snow and ice and the first thing we investigate is whether that property owner properly cleared their sidewalk of snow and ice. If you didn’t, you could face civil liability and the insurance company handling your homeowners’ insurance will have to deal with it.

Lately, I have noticed many business owners don’t clear the snow and ice from their property. That is inexcusable. You are inviting people to come to your business and at a minimum you should make it safe so people can get there without hurting themselves.

It’s winter and it’s New York State. It’s simple. Do the right thing. Make plans to keep your property safe, because if you don’t and someone is injured or killed on your property, you could face some major legal troubles.

This blog post was adapted from a “Law Talk” segment with me during the WETM News at Noon on Jan. 14, 2015. Ziff Law Firm lawyers discuss legal issues in the news at 12:20 p.m. every Wednesday on Law Talk. Set your DVR to catch the five-minute segments each week!

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

 


Do Your Homework BEFORE Hiring A Contractor This Summer

Contractor-and-Homeowner-Talking-460x300It’s summer in the Twin Tiers, and that means it’s time for some outdoor fun on our beautiful lakes or in our pools. It’s also the season of thunderstorms, road construction and contractors signs dotting the lawns seemingly on every block.

ToolsEveryone I know has at least one good and one bad contractor story. Usually a good story involves a contractor recommended by a friend or neighbor, and a bad story involves someone hired quickly or without a recommendation.

In a recent Law Talk on WETM-TV News at Noon (every Wednesday at 12:20 p.m.), I provided some advice to those hiring a contractor to work around their home this summer and fall.

Here is the latest installment of our Q & A series, focusing on legal information that can be helpful to residents of the Twin Tiers and beyond.

QUESTION: What are the most important points to remember when people search for a contractor for a home improvement project?

ANSWER: The best advice is do your homework and be very careful about the contractors you hire. If you don’t know the contractor coming to your door or soliciting your business, check them out. Family and friends are always good sources for referrals. Look for contractors with a local connection who have been around for a while. But if it is just someone who pulls up in front of the house with out-of-state plates, then be very careful and be sure you don’t hire the wrong people.

Q&A 1If you are going to hire a contractor, one of the things that is really important is document everything. Keep good records of what they say they will do, when they worked, how much money you have provided them and so on. If they say they are doing a certain scope of work, get it in writing. Be very detailed about what you expect. If it is a roof job, does it include the gutters and hauling away the old roofing material? Make sure you have as much as you can in writing.

Make sure the price is listed, and this is the most important advice I give to everyone: do NOT give the contractor all the money up front! You have to hold back some money. Some companies will require 25 percent or 50 percent up front, but under no circumstances would I hire a contractor who insists that I need more than 50 percent up front.

And do NOT make the final payment until the work is fully completed to your satisfaction. Your money is your leverage against the contractor and that leverage is more important than any legal claim or lawsuit you might have.

Finally, if you have a problem, you can consider taking the contractor to small claims court or to a higher court, if the amount in controversy is more.

The best advice is be very careful BEFORE entering into a relationship with a contractor. Hire people with a good reputation and who have worked in your area or have local connections. Make sure everything is documented. Take photos and videos before, as they make progress and of the finished work.

  • Read more tips about hiring a contractor here and here and here and here and here.
  • Remember to watch Law Talk every Wednesday at 12:20 p.m. on WETM-TV News at Noon.
  • To submit a legal question for a future Q & A blog post, send your question to [email protected]

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

 


Be Prepared In Case Natural Disaster Strikes Your Home, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

GODERICH STORM DAMAGE

Ziff Law Managing Partner Jim Reed talked about how homeowners can be better prepared to deal with a disaster on a recent segment of Law Talk on a recent WETM-TV News at Noon.

Question: We have had many storms this summer, including some tornadoes, and lots of property damage in our communities in the region. What do you do right away if your home is damaged in a storm?

Jim Reed.

Jim Reed.

Jim Reed: The most important thing is document, document, document. It has become easier to document storm damage than it used to be. Document the damage by taking photos or videos; and copy invoices and receipts for items or services used.

The key thing after damages occur is to promptly walk around your home and write down, photograph and shoot video of the damage to your home and property. The more proof you have, the better.

You also need to report it to your insurance agent immediately. I always recommend to my clients that they get a local insurance agent instead of just buying your insurance over the internet. When you have a claim, your local insurance agent is your first line of defense assisting you with your claim.  The insurance agent, because of his or her business relationship with you, should help you in the process of filing the claim and doing what is necessary to help you get paid for your claim.  A good local agent who cares about you and your claim can be worth their weight in gold!

Q&A 1One of the things I have been asked about is, “What about this ‘act of God’ exclusion in my policy?” You need to read your policy, review it with your agent and you need to know, whether it’s wind or flood damage or anything else, are you covered? It’s critically important because different insurance companies and even different insurance policies within the same company can have different provisions on what is covered and what is not.

The most important thing to remember when you sit down with your agent is to be absolutely sure you know what is covered and what is not covered.  Ask questions like:  Is my boat covered if sitting on a trailer in my driveway?  Am I covered if the creek in my back yard overflows and floods my house?  Am I covered if lightning strikes my house and burns it down?  In other words, try to think of the real world problems that might damage your property and ask the agent whether you are covered or not. Don’t leave the agent’s office without all your answers.  And it never hurts to take notes of your conversation as to what is covered and what is not.

Thanks for reading. Now is the time to get your insurance policies out and do your homework!

Jim

See Law Talk segments at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesdays on WETM-TV News at Noon.

To submit a legal question for the Ziff Law lawyers to answer on one of their blogs, email the question to [email protected]

_________________________________

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

 

 


Allstate Exploits Superstorm Sandy Victims, Is Slow To Offer Fair Settlement

Sheila and Dominic Traina near their home that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy during the fall. (Photo by The Daily News.)

Sheila and Dominic Traina near their home that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy during the fall. (Photo by The Daily News.)

The self-proclaimed “Good Hands” people at Allstate have slapped Dominic and Sheila Traina of Staten Island while they’re down, according to news reports from New York City.

The Trainas, Allstate customers for 43 years, lost their home to Superstorm Sandy in October and are still waiting for a settlement check from Allstate, The Daily News is reporting.

The Trainas have lived in the home for more than four decades.

Of course, the Trainas’ nightmare did not stop Allstate from using images of their flattened one-and-a-half-story home in a television commercial touting how responsive the insurance giant has been in a disaster.

“The commercial said how caring their agents are,” Sheila said. “But they are not caring at all.”

The Trainas, though, have become the face of the disaster on Staten Island. Their home has been featured in several fundraisers and their two granddaughters asked a visiting President Obama for help.

In a handwritten note back to the girls, Obama wrote, “I’m going to help.”

The Trainas turned down a $10,000 payout from Allstate, calling it inadequate, according to The Daily News.

Allstate declined to discuss the specifics of a pending claim with the newspaper, of course!

The Trainas said they are considering hiring a lawyer to seek a more equitable settlement. They should do that today!

The couple say the house where they raised their four children was destroyed by the wind and not flooding from the storm surge, making them eligible for a higher settlement with their primary insurance carrier, according to the News.

The Trainas told the News they believe their home was crushed in part by falling trees and its wreckage pushed back from the street by sanitation trucks.

To read more about the Trainas’ plight, click here.

So much for the Good Hands people – too bad Allstate’s actions don’t live up to their advertising!

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]

 

 


With Rise In Accidents, NY Woodworking Lawyer Urges Table Saw Safety

Woodwworkers should look into investing in a table saw from SawStop.

As an avid woodworker (my wife says too avid!) and injury lawyer who has seen way too many people hurt in way too many ways, I am always concerned about woodworking safety.

I have an uncle who is a constant reminder of what can easily happen when working in the workshop. My uncle is a good, safe, competent woodworker who is missing a good portion of a finger because of a woodworking accident that happened literally in the blink of an eye. He wasn’t doing anything unsafe and was doing what he had done hundreds of times before, but nonetheless he lost a big chunk of a finger.

In my quest for greater safety, I recently purchased a new table saw featuring a finger-saving technology called SawStop.  Essentially, this is a saw that has an incredible technology built into it that causes the whirring saw blade to be stopped in milliseconds if there is any contact between the blade and skin.

Sure, the SawStop saw costs a little bit more than other comparable table saws, but when you consider the pain, disability and whopping medical bills that result from a table saw accident, that small additional expense is chump change.

I bought my SawStop from Brian Kita of Hermance Machine Co. in Williamsport, PA. Brian was awesome to deal with and he had this to say about the SawStop saw:

We handle a lot of manufacturer’s products here, and I have to tell you, this is the only product line we carry that makes such a difference in our customers’ lives. They sell through recessions and they sell when schools have no budget money. People have come to us straight from the emergency room with bloody bandages covering what’s left of their fingers to write me a check for a SawStop. I’ve taken calls from pros angry that they need a cartridge that seemingly blew for no reason, only to have them call back and excitedly tell me that as they wrote out the purchase order, they found a small smear of blood from where they contacted the blade but never even felt it. Yeah, SawStop has something unique, and they could probably charge a whole lot more for it, but I’m grateful that they don’t.

Having now assembled my SawStop saw, I am pleased to report that not only does it feature incredible safety technology, it is also, by far, the most precision-machined, well-engineered piece of power woodworking equipment I have ever owned.

My point of this post isn’t intended to serve as an advertisement for SawStop — it is intended to reach out to my woodworking friends to encourage them to very carefully consider ALL aspects of safety, which would include consideration of the latest, greatest safety technology.

The alternative — doing nothing, using an old, unsafe table saw — is not wise. According to an October story by The Associated Press, the U.S. government says about 10 people EACH DAY lose a finger or get their hand mangled by unsafe table saws! That is remarkable!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has started looking for ways to reduce injuries. The agency estimated there were more than 67,000 blade-contact medical injuries in 2007 and 2008, costing more than $2 billion.

Table saw makers say those numbers don’t reflect the new products like SafeSaw. So we’ll keep track of this story and watch for newer figures from the government!

In the meantime, be safe out there!

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, 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 Injury Lawyer: Important Tips for Filing a Property Damage Claim With Your Homeowner’s Insurance Carrier

Stillaguamish River (South Fork) flood at Gran...

Take the proper steps to repair your home if you've been a victim of a natural disaster.

Here in the Elmira, Corning, Ithaca, Binghamton area of Upstate New York, we were luckily spared any serious damage because of Hurricane Irene. Downstate NY and many other areas were not nearly so lucky. Gov. Cuomo issued a list of tips that I thought were great for anyone who has experienced damage on their property that they feel might be covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy.

  • The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.
  • Take photographs or video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you’ve documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property, such as covering broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls. DO NOT have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact the Insurance Department at www.ins.state.ny.us. You can file a complaint about an insurance company at http://www.ins.state.ny.us/complhow.htm.
  • Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to get answers to specific questions about their policies. Consumers who need further help should feel free to contact the New York State Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 which operates from 9 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

The full news release from Gov. Cuomo can be found here: http://governor.ny.gov/press/08292011HurricaneInsuranceClaims.

Thanks, 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