Beware of Insurance Adjusters! How to Navigate Your Insurance After a Car Crash


If you’ve ever been in a car crash, you’ve probably talked on the phone or in person shortly after the collision with an adjuster from your insurance company or the other vehicle’s insurance company. It’s a confusing time, often with police and ambulances and many other concerns in addition to your car insurance.

But if you have been in a crash, you’ll have to deal with insurance adjusters. They usually appear to be nice people, soothing and sympathetic. They are trying to make you think they are Here To Help You. They reassure you that they are recording your statement about the crash to get your version of events right away, and they’ll process your claim faster this way.

But before you get swept up in the frantic moments after a crash, remember this about insurance adjusters: They’re not your friends. They are doing their job, and that’s to save the insurance company as much money as possible on your crash.


Here are some great points to remember about insurance adjusters and recorded victim statements:

  • Most crash victims just want to do the right thing and honestly record what happened in their crash when meeting with an insurance adjuster. But when the recorder is running, many crash victims misstate the facts, ramble, and make incorrect assumptions that will hurt them in the long run.
  • They are recording your statement in hopes that once you get talking, you’ll make a mistake they can use later against you in a trial, deny your claim or pay you less money.
  • Most people are not prepared to be questioned by a trained investigator, so it’s best to decline the adjuster’s request for a recorded interview or statement. Once that red light is on on the recorder, you will forget things, or remember something incorrectly, or misspeak in some other way. It happens to everyone in a high-pressure situation. Of course, the adjuster will make it sound like a rejection makes you act like you have something to hide. Don’t fall for that line. Just politely decline and end the discussion. Get a lawyer and be prepared professionally for your statement.
  • If you want to talk to the adjuster, ask to schedule a follow-up call for the statement and take time to read the police report, revisit the crash scene, review the damage to your car, and read any medical records you can obtain. Call witnesses and review the evidence carefully. Finally, be sure to review your insurance policy.

Set some rules for yourself for the meeting with the adjuster:

  • Request that the adjuster take notes and not record your meeting, unless your insurance carrier required it in your contract.
  • Be honest but brief.
  • Focus on each question, briefly answer it, and don’t ramble.
  • Do not volunteer information.
  • Only explain when asked to do so, and do it briefly.
  • If you don’t understand a question, don’t answer it.
  • When it comes to distances and amounts and speeds and items like that, don’t guess or make assumptions.
  • You can’t remember everything. If you’re not sure about something, say you are unsure.
  • Don’t be bullied into answering questions.
  • No absolute words like “never” and “always”.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Never guess. If your answer is a guess, say you can’t answer the question.
  • Ask for a transcribed copy of your recorded statement and review it for accuracy.
  • Memories of collisions get jumbled. Don’t easily admit wrongdoing if you do not believe you were at fault.
  • Bring a witness when you speak to the adjuster.
  • Take notes of questions asked of you by the adjuster.
  • Do not sign anything unless an attorney on your behalf has reviewed it.

If you’re a crash victim and you’re concerned about dealing with insurance companies, contact the Ziff Law Firm to see how we can help you by calling (607) 733-8866 or emailing [email protected].

Be well and drive safely,


James Reed
Managing Partner
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: and

Many thanks to the lawyers at the Hepworth Holzer law firm in Boise, Idaho, who contributed to these tips.

Warning to Homeowners: Protect Bikers and Obey the Law By Keeping Grass Clippings and Leaves out of the Road


Most people think distracted drivers and bad roads are the biggest dangers facing motorcyclists and bicyclists.

Those are the most obvious dangers.

What many homeowners don’t realize is that they could be responsible for one of the most overlooked types of dangers to motorcyclists: blowing yard waste like grass clippings and leaves into city streets and rural roads.

Grass clippings are slippery when dry and feel like you’re riding on ice or grease when they get wet.

Leaves are slippery, wet or dry, but they hide other dangers, too, by disguising potholes and other hazards in the road that can shred tires and worse. Large leaf piles raked into streets and roads send bicyclists into the path of cars. The leaf piles also clog the storm drains, leaving more water on streets and roads – another danger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew York has two different statutes that prohibit the blowing or placing of grass clippings and leaves on roads.  Vehicle and Traffic Law Sec. 1219(b) requires that any person who drops, or permits to be dropped or thrown, upon any highway any material which interferes with the safe use of the highway shall immediately remove the same or cause it to be removed.  Vehicle and Traffic Law Sec. 1220(a) provides that “no person shall throw, dump, deposit or place, or cause to be thrown, dumped, deposited or placed upon any highway, or within the limits of the right of way of such highway, or upon private lands adjacent thereto, any refuse, trash, garbage, rubbish, litter or any nauseous or offensive matter.”

Homeowners, if you blow your grass into the street or road, blow it back onto the curbing or into your yard. It won’t hurt your grass – its actually good for it. If you fail to do so, you are in violation of the statutes listed above and could be sentenced to a fine, community service of both.

Slippery-When-Wet-Sign-X-W8-10aMore importantly, if your yard waste is responsible for a biker losing control and crashing, you will be personally responsible for the biker’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with his injuries. These damages could easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a serious injury.

No responsible homeowner would ever intentionally place bikers at risk of harm. By following the laws requiring you to keep yard waste out of the street, you’re doing your part to ensure motorcyclists and bicyclists can safely pass your property.

Many landfill operators no longer accept bagged leaves or grass, so mulch or compost your grass and keep your leaf piles out of the street or road for easy pickup by your municipality.

Those are great ways to share the road with motorcyclists and bicyclists.

Thank you for reading,

Adam Gee
[email protected]
(607) 733-8866

Legal News You Can Use: Check Out Ziff Law’s New Summer 2018 Newsletter



Adam Gee, Christina Sonsire, Jim Reed, and Mike Brown.


The Ziff Law Firm debuts its new – and redesigned – free newsletter this week as the Summer 2018 issue arrives in mailboxes and inboxes around the Twin Tiers. It is filled with legal news that you can use – and much more.

Our cover story explains how our popular Veteran of the Game program came home to Elmira this summer.

Then we get to the legal news:

Our lawyers write about some of the key issues they encounter in their practices as they tackle these questions:

  • Do bicyclists in New York State have to operate by the same laws as vehicles? Ziff Law managing partner and noted bicycle law expert Jim Reed educates readers.
  • Is motorcycle insurance the same as car insurance? Partner Adam Gee, a longtime motorcyclist and motorcycle law expert, has some surprising answers.
  • Why does Ziff Law partner Christina Sonsire teach for a statewide legal education organization?
  • How does Ziff Law attorney Mike Brown’s family play a role in his legal practice?

And just for fun, we profile a downtown Elmira shop, a hidden gem that is in the “upcycling” business, in our Business Spotlight.

The owner of Nutmeg Upcycling, longtime downtown business owner Rich LaVere, talked to us about his growing business and why he keeps returning downtown.

We published a short interview in the print newsletter and there is a bonus longer interview with Rich here, where he talks about the challenges facing downtown and how the city can start turning things around. He’s an optimist!

At Ziff Law, we are committed to being environmentally responsible, so if you’d like to receive our free newsletter by email, send an email to us today at [email protected] and we will send you a PDF right away – and as a bonus, add your name for an upcoming drawing for a $50 gift card to Lib’s Supper Club in Elmira.

If you’d like to receive the newsletter by mail, call (607-733-8866) or email ([email protected]) us with your name and address and we’ll send it right out.

Happy reading!


James Reed
Managing Partner
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: and

Q&A: Don’t Let Insurance Companies Twist State Law After Motor Vehicle Crashes, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

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

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

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Questions & Answers.

If you have legal questions, we will try to provide answers here.

Q&A 1While we will answer questions about personal injury, medical malpractice and divorce law, our primary practice areas, we will also be glad to talk about car/motorcycle/truck insurance, medical bills, lost wages, property damage and any legal issue in the news.

If we can’t answer your question, we will refer you to a lawyer with expertise in that particular area.

Submit your questions by email to [email protected]

Today’s question is from a Twin Tiers resident who received misleading information from an insurance adjuster after a minor car accident.

Question: I was in a car accident yesterday evening. A woman failed to stop at a stop sign and pulled out in front of me, and I struck her vehicle on the front driver side.

I just spoke with my insurance adjuster and she indicated that New York State has a shared responsibility law, or something like that, and that the insurance adjusters determine who was at fault and how much fault each party has.

signThe officer at the scene indicated the woman driving the other vehicle was clearly at fault because she failed to stop at the stop sign and pulled out in front of me.

Why should I have to share responsibility in this accident? There was nothing I could do to avoid the accident. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but I still feel that since she was fully responsible for the accident, her insurance should pay for the repairs to my vehicle.

Why should I have to pay the deductible out of my pocket through my insurance and claim this on my insurance if I was not at fault?

Does New York State really have such a law of shared responsibility, even if one driver is clearly at fault?

Answer: N.Y. does have a comparative negligence rule, which basically means that each party is responsible for their percentage of fault. For instance, if the other driver was 100 percent at fault, the other driver is 100 percent responsible for all damages.

Jim Reed

Jim Reed

On the other hand, if a judge or jury determines that the other driver was 80 percent at fault and you were 20 percent at fault, the other driver (and their insurance company) would only have to pay 80 percent of your damages.

Because New York State is what is called a “pure” comparative negligence state, you can collect from the other driver in direct ratio to their percent of fault, even if they are less than 50 percent responsible. (However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, so I recommend consulting with a lawyer.)

This comparative negligence law makes sense and is logical, but the way in which the insurance carriers often try to apply this law to cases is horrible. Even in cases of absolutely clear liability, where the other driver is 100 percent at fault, the carriers will often try to claim that you were 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent at fault, and will refuse to pay 100 percent of your property damage. I have had them do this in rear-ender cases, drunken driving cases, and other clear cases, and they are betting that most people just want to get their property damage check and will not fight them on this.

My advice is to NOT let insurance companies get away with this nonsense. Go talk to a lawyer and see if they can help you with the insurance carrier. Sometimes just the threat of a possible lawsuit over the property damage or personal injury claim is enough to have the carriers not jerk you around regarding the property damage claim.

Depending on the amount of your property damage, you can also take the other driver to Small Claims Court, suing them for 100 percent of the damage they caused.

And finally, you can (and should) file a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services (used to be called the N.Y. Insurance Department) about the insurance company’s dirty tactics.

File a complaint here.

Good luck and I wish you the best in fighting the good fight!


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

NY and PA Accident Lawyer: Do You Have Enough Car Insurance?

Be sure to check your car insurance policy to be sure you have enough coverage in case you have an accident.

The recent fight between Progressive Insurance and the family of a Progressive customer who was killed in a car accident has drivers everywhere dusting off their insurance policies, wondering whether they have enough insurance.  It is a great question to ask yourself and I generally recommend that most people carry at least $250,000 of both liability AND SUM (under-insured) coverage.

In a recent New York Times Your Money column,“How To Know If You Have Enough Car Insurance,” columnist Ron Lieber looked at drivers’ options from a financial vs. safety standpoint. His question to readers: Do you want to gamble on an inexpensive policy and leave yourself open to staggering bills from a car accident?

To refresh your memory, Matt Fisher, whose sister Katie was killed in a car accident, wrote in a blog post that Katie’s insurance company (Progressive) was defending the other driver in court in hopes of not having to pay a settlement to Katie’s family. The blog post went viral. We wrote about the Fishers’ story here.

Progressive tried to convince a jury that Katie Fisher caused the accident, but it lost and will now have to pay the claim and a settlement.

According to a new report in the Insurance Journal, consumers’ perception of Progressive is at its lowest point in four years after getting rightly trounced in the news media and court of public opinion.

In the Times article, the columnist challenged under-insured drivers to weigh the cost of buying better coverage vs. gambling that they will never have an accident. That’s a dangerous gamble.

Here is how the columnist laid out the options:

“It’s worth looking at a couple of areas where vulnerability can be particularly high: liability insurance (in case you hurt or kill someone else) and the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that was at stake in the Fisher case. Then, we can see what our odds are of needing to make a claim and how comfortable we are making bets accordingly.”

He continues:

“The odds of running into people with no insurance at all to pay for your claims against them are probably higher than you think. The Insurance Research Council’s most recent estimate, from 2009, is that 13.8 percent of all United States drivers have no insurance at all.

“ISO, an insurance risk information service, estimates that about 20 percent of people who do have insurance purchase just the minimum liability coverage in case they hurt someone else. Their policies may pay out as little as $25,000 in many states.”

I know we have written about the need for SUM (Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists) coverage MANY times but I keep beating the drum about the need for EVERYONE to check their car insurance policy to have this very important coverage because every day I continue to encounter folks who don’t have this coverage.

Just last week I met with a very nice and very bright local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only $25,000 to protect himself or 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 buy the SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.

So PLEASE dig out your insurance policy and check your coverage.  If you are unsure if you have the proper types of coverage and the right amounts of coverage, feel free to email me the declaration pages listing your coverages and I will be happy to let you know what I think.  You many email me at [email protected]  Of course there is no fee for this review– I just want to make sure folks get the coverage they need.

If you find you don’t have enough coverage, contact your insurance company and invest more in your future, if necessary, to protect you and your family in the event of an accident.

For drivers in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Thanks, Jim

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

New Ziff Law Apps Help NY and PA Accident Victims Do The Right Thing After Crash!

Our clients at the Ziff Law Firm often ask us, “What should we do if we are in an accident?”

Most people don’t think of protecting their legal rights in the critical and very stressful minutes after a crash.

That’s why Ziff Law has created free apps for iPhones and Android phones that take you step by step through collecting information to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Our free Ziff Law Accident App will help you understand what to do – and what not to do – immediately after an accident. Our app will help you respond appropriately and wisely in a difficult time.

The app is useful to ANYONE involved in an accident: motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The same information should always be promptly recorded.

The Ziff Law Accident App keeps it simple by presenting you with things you SHOULD be doing in the moments after a crash: collect contact and insurance information from the other driver, contact information from witnesses, take photos of the accident scene and more.

Our apps feature:

  • A camera, voice recorder, text notepad and drawing pad to record all data.

  • A valuable FAQ section that tells you about the proper procedures to follow after an accident.

  • The forms needed to collect information from other people involved, including drivers, witnesses and passengers.

  • A GPS locator, which records traffic patterns and driving conditions.

Click here for the iPhone app or here for the Android app!

We believe we have the first law firm app of its kind in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania! The Ziff Law Firm has always prided itself on staying
on the cutting edge of the latest technology, and we love technology that helps our clients.

The Ziff Law Firm has provided New York and Pennsylvania residents with expert legal counsel for more than 60 years.

Learn more about the Ziff Law Firm and its continued commitment to its community by reading its free spring newsletter, which includes a look at our very successful and highly regarded Veterans of the Game promotion at Elmira Jackals games, as well as a profile of downtown business owner Rich LaVere of LaVere Media and much more!

Read all about it today!

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

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




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)
Blogs: and

New Campaign Reminds Us – Don’t Be Distracted When You Drive, Walk Or Ride A Bike!

Typical scene at a local emergency room

A new campaign aims to cut down on accidents caused by unnecessary distractions.

We live in a world of distractions, and a new campaign launched this week in the Southern Tier aims to remind everyone – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists – about the dangers of not paying attention.

The traffic safety boards of Chemung and Steuben counties kicked off “Be Alert, Distraction Kills” in hopes of curbing accidents.

“We had a spate of bicycle and pedestrian deaths in Elmira, but that alone was not the reason for this initiative,” Jay Schissell, vice chairman of the Chemung County Traffic Safety Board and director of the Elmira-Chemung Transportation Council, told the Star-Gazette newspaper at a news conference.

“If there’s one commonality to the crashes we’ve been having recently, it’s distraction,” he added. “Distraction on the part of all users in the transportation system.”

He’s right! We all have the potential to get distracted when we walk, ride or drive – too often by cell phones and other devices.

But it is OUR JOB (and our legal obligation) to pay attention!  Failing to do so needlessly endangers other people and it just is NOT right that we should put someone else at risk of serious injury (or death) just because we don’t care enough to pay attention!

Schissell listed some all-too-common distractions – cell phones, CD players in cars, eating, putting on makeup, wearing headphones and using illegal drugs.

We forget how dangerous distractions can be until someone gets hurt!

Law enforcement will be involved in getting the message out, too.

The Elmira Police Department used a grant to buy a distracted driving simulator to be used in classrooms.

“We don’t want it to be just a video game,” Police Chief Michael Robertson told the Star-Gazette. “We want it to be an educational tool.”

Corning Police Chief Salvatore Trentanelli said they also plan an educational campaign, adding, “However, there will be some enforcement maintained by the police agencies.”

The campaign will also include portable message signs along some roads and YouTube videos, according to news reports, but in the end, it is up to all of us to STAY FOCUSED!

“It’s not for bicyclists, it’s not for pedestrians, it’s not for motorists,” said Schissell of the campaign. “It’s for everybody.”

Let’s remember that – and BE SAFE!

To see the news reports:

Elmira Star-Gazette

The Leader in Corning




Thanks, Jim

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


Auto Insurance Coverage Vs. Workers Compensation: Who Pays The Bills?

By definition, accidents aren’t supposed to happen. I think we do all we can to learn from them – and use what we learn to reduce the risk. That’s how we develop safer cars, roads, and driving rules. But accidents aren’t absolutely avoidable – which means you have to be prepared, and understand your options if you are ever in a car crash.

A local man and woman were very seriously injured last week in a car accident that’s cause is still unknown. WETM reported the incident in the story “Southport Woman in Critical Condition After Crash” (pasted below). The woman veered out of her lane and hit a bakery truck in the oncoming traffic on Route 352. The truck driver was seriously injured too.

A crash like this raises a lot of questions: “What happened?” and “Why?” And then “What happens next?”

After an auto accident, that question is strongly connected to Auto Insurance. How does it work to cover damages and injuries? It’s a complicated topic, which I’ve helped many clients understand. There are even a different set of rules when motorcycles are involved, a topic I write about frequently on my motorcycle blog, the NY Biker Law Blog.

In the Route 352 accident, the driver of the car, who appears to be at fault, will have coverage for her injuries through the No-Fault portion of her policy. The bakery truck driver was likely working at the time of the accident, meaning that rather than No-Fault, his Worker’s Compensation carrier would be responsible for paying his medical bills and lost wages.

What is “No-Fault” Insurance?

We have an FAQ section at devoted to the legal issues our firm covers, from injuries and accidents to family law; bankruptcy, medical malpractice to real estate. There’s a section explaining No-Fault coverage and how it works.

No-Fault Insurance in New York state means that the insurance carrier for your vehicle, rather than the insurance carrier for the other vehicle, pays your medical bills or lost wages. This is true regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident, hence the name.

Some No-Fault benefits:

  • All No-Fault policies in New York are required to provide TOTAL coverage of no less than $50,000 for both medical costs and lost wages.
  • No-Fault covers hospital and medical expenses.
  • No-Fault covers lost wages at 80%, up to $1,000 per month (that’s the N.Y. minimum, some policies pay more) for a period not exceeding three years

What doesn’t No-Fault cover?

No-Fault does not apply to property damage claims. Such claims are usually paid for by the insurance carrier for the vehicle that caused the collision or by your carrier if you carried collision coverage.

No-Fault does NOT apply to motorcycles. Check out the explanation in my motorcycle insurance FAQs to see how motorcyclists are treated differently, or order a free copy of my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” It explains how many motorcyclists are riding “naked” because they don’t have the proper insurance coverage – and don’t even realize it.

It’s sad when accidents happen and people get injured. I think about Chris Ackley, the truck driver, just doing his job and probably a family and children relying on him at home.  He did nothing wrong, and yet he is now laying in a hospital bed.  No one yet knows why the accident happened, why the other driver left her lane. We have seen it happen many, many times in other cases. She could have been distracted by her cell phone, texting, changing the radio station, eating, or even putting on nail polish, the cause of a fatal accident I recently blogged about in the post “‘Nail Polish Crash’ Driver Sentenced for Causing Fatal Motorcycle Accident.”

Thanks for reading and please drive safely!


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

Visit the NY Biker Law Blog at!

Southport Woman in Critical Condition After Crash

Reported by: Naveen Dhaliwal ([email protected])

BIG FLATS – A Southport woman is in critical condition in Rochester.

The Chemung county sheriff says the crash happened about 10:15 am on Thursday morning on State Route 352 in the Town of Big Flats.

They say Christina Pappas of Southport was driving her jeep Cherokee westbound.  She veered into the eastbound lane and hit a Stroman’s bakery truck.

The Sheriff says the truck driver is 52-year-old Christopher Ackley.  Ackley is in stable condition at a local hospital.

Pappas is in critical condition in Rochester.  The Sheriff says the road was closed for about an hour and a half.  The road is open now.

‘Nail Polish Crash’ Driver Sentenced for Causing Fatal Motorcycle Accident

This article was previously published on Adam Gee’s newest blog, NY Biker Law Blog.  The original article can be found here.

We’ve all seen it – the drivers who are talking on cellphones, fixing their hair, eating, drinking, applying makeup – doing whatever they can to combine their driving time with some other task.

Distracted driving is not only dangerous – it’s deliberate. Does anyone really want to have on their conscience the fact that they harmed someone else because they were trying to finish their grooming in the car?

Last year in Chicago, a driver who was painting her fingernails while driving, struck and killed a motorcyclist in a Chicago suburb.

The American Motorcyclist Association recently posted an article, “Fingernail-painting driver who crashed into motorcyclist sentenced to 18 months” (the story is also pasted below), about the resolution of the 2009 case.

Lora Hunt, a nurse, hit biker Anita Zaffke at a stoplight. Hunt admitted to police at the scene that she had been doing her nails at the time of the accident. Hunt has been vilified on the Internet, and the accident labeled “The Nail Polish Crash.”

Last week, the sentencing was announced in the case. Hunt was charged with “reckless homicide.” She was sentenced to 18 months of nighttime jail, 240 hours of community service and 30 months on probation.

I hope it is enough to bring Anita Zaffke’s family some peace. Anita’s son, Gregg Zaffke II, began painting his own nails black in remembrance of the accident that took his mother’s life. He created an organization, the Black Nail Brigade Foundation Against Distracted Driving to spread the word about distracted driving and to lobby for laws that would impose appropriate punishment for distracted driving that harms or kills others.

A photo on Gregg’s website even shows the dashboard of Lora Hunt’s car – splattered with nail polish after the crash that killed Anita Zaffke. It’s shocking that such a trivial thing ended one life and damaged many others.

The AMA also strives to educate motorists and motorcyclists about the risks of distracted drivers. The organization has an AMA position statement about distracted driving, which includes this quote from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report: “Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes . . . Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.”

Four out of five crashes are caused by driver distraction. Remember that statistic when you’re out on your motorcycle.  Assume that car is going to pull out in front of you.  Assume that car turning left will fail to yield the right of way to you.  Plan your escape and be ready to act.  Assuming the worst may save your life some day.

Thanks for reading,

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

My book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” It is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers; follow the link to order your copy today.

Fingernail-painting driver who crashed into motorcyclist sentenced to 18 months

Posted July 23, 2010 on the AMA website.

Lora Hunt, the motorist who crashed into motorcyclist Anita Zaffke in a Chicago suburb in 2009 and killed her, has been sentenced to 18 months of nighttime-only imprisonment. Hunt ignited outrage within the motorcycling community when she admitted to police that she was painting her fingernails at the time of the accident.

During her jail sentence, Hunt, who is a nurse, will be allowed to work during the day as well as go to counseling sessions. The Morris, Ill., resident must also perform 240 hours of community service and spend 30 months on probation.

Hunt was sentenced on July 22 by Lake County (Ill.) Judge Fred Foreman after being convicted on May 6 of reckless homicide.

Zaffke, 56, of Lake Zurich, Ill., was killed on May 2, 2009 when Hunt ran into the rear of her motorcycle at a stoplight in Lake Zurich, about 40 miles north of Chicago.

After the fatal crash, Greg Zaffke II of Wauconda, Ill., the victim’s son, began painting his fingernails black as a reminder to anyone he meets of his mother’s death. He also formed the Black Nail Brigade Foundation Against Distracted Driving ( to publicize the dangers of distracted driving, push for legislation to impose appropriate penalties for distracted drivers who seriously injure or kill others, and to boost awareness to share the road with motorcycles.

Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, called the entire episode tragic.

“On behalf of the AMA and its members, I want to express our sincere condolences to Ms. Zaffke’s family,” Moreland said. “Tragedy can result from distracted driving, and we hope that our efforts and those of Greg Zaffke will help avoid further tragedies.”

In 2009, the AMA adopted a formal position statement that endorsed enhanced penalties for those who injure or kill others while operating a motor vehicle when distracted or inattentive operation is involved, with the goal of preventing motorcycle crashes from occurring in the first place. To read the AMA’s position statement on distracted and inattentive driving, go here.