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

 

 


Tracy Morgan Accident Puts Spotlight On Fatigued Truckers Who Pose Real Danger To Other Drivers, Says NY and PA Truck Accident Lawsuit Lawyer

Actor Tracy Morgan is recovering in a New Jersey hospital after almost being killed in a highway accident involving a tractor-trailer.

Actor Tracy Morgan is recovering in a New Jersey hospital after almost being killed in a highway accident involving a tractor-trailer.

The tragic June 7 accident that critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has led to a renewed focus on the danger on our highways from fatigued truck drivers working too many hours without taking a break.

A friend of Morgan’s was killed when a Walmart tractor-trailer driven by Kevin Roper rear-ended Morgan’s Mercedes limousine at 1 a.m. June 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan is now in fair condition in a New Jersey hospital.

The truck driver, charged with Vehicular Manslaughter By Operating A Vehicle Recklessly and Recklessly Causing Serious Bodily Injury, remains free on $50,000 bail. Prosecutors claim Roper went more than 24 hours without sleep before the fatal wreck. The Jonesboro, Ga., man pleaded innocent last week to the charges in the crash.

In a recent Law Talk segment on WETM-TV News at Noon, I talked about the accident and the charges faced by the truck driver.

Q&A 1Question: Who is held responsible when a truck driver is driving for a company?

Answer: The driver and the owner of the truck are both responsible. The driver has the responsibility of driving safely, and if he is not safe, he can be held liable.

If the truck driver works for Walmart and is operating the truck in the course of his employment, then the company is responsible, too.

In this case, there is an allegation that the driver had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. That would be a major violation of federal trucking regulations.

Federal regulations are very specific. Drivers are not supposed to operate a truck for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period, and after those 11 hours, they are supposed to rest for at least 10 hours. They cannot drive more than 70 hours in a week.

The truck driver is also supposed to list the hours he spends on the road in a log book in his truck. There are many log requirements, but I know from handling many truck accident cases that often the log books are incomplete, and in some cases, falsified.

Sen. Schumer is calling for tougher monitoring of truck drivers.

Sen. Schumer is calling for tougher monitoring of truck drivers.

Drivers are trying to get in more hauls because they get paid by the number of miles they travel and so often, we see truck drivers who have broken the law.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called for “black boxes” (electronic logging devices) in trucks yesterday so trucker hours can be monitored. He cited some startling statistics: 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in accidents involving trucks, and 13 percent of serious accidents are cause by trucker fatigue.

Schumer also wants the federal Department of Transportation to study, and if necessary, increase the insurance coverage level that truck companies are required to cover so victims of accidents receive the compensation and coverage they deserve, he said.

As a lawyer who has handled many tractor trailer cases in N.Y. and PA, I strongly support Senator Schumer’s call for great safety action.

To submit a legal question you’d like answered here on one of our Ziff Law blogs, please send an email to me at [email protected]

Thanks for reading, and remember when you are sharing the road with tractor-trailers, use extreme caution.

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

 

 

 


Q&A: Act Quickly If Your Vehicle Is Recalled By Manufacturer, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

GM recalls

GM has recalled 2.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches.

In today’s Question & Answer feature, Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed fields a questions about car recalls, which have been a big national news story lately because automakers are on a record pace for recalls.

According to news reports, about 9 million vehicles have been recalled already in 2014, including 2.6 million small GM cars for defective ignition switches and 1.8 million Toyotas.

Toyota has recalled 1.8 million vehicles recently.

Toyota has recalled 1.8 million vehicles recently.

A Georgia couple’s search for the truth after their daughter died in a one-car accident in 2010 in a Chevrolet Cobalt drove the GM ignition switch problem into the headlines.

On a recent “Law Talk” segment on WETM News at Noon on Wednesdays, Jim talked about why car owners need to pay attention to the recall notices. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues, often in connection with news events.

Question: What should Twin Tiers residents do if they receive a recall notice for their car? And what happens if they get in an accident in a vehicle that has been recalled?

Jim Reed: Car owners are seeing a lot of recalls now and wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Recalls are a good thing because they are saying that the manufacturer is doing the right thing, rather than sweeping it under the carpet, as used to happen years ago. We used to talk about cases like the Ford Pinto, where manufacturers knew there was a dangerous problem with one of their vehicles and did not do something about it. The Pinto was recalled in 1978 after fuel-tank design flaws led to fatal fires in some cases when Pintos were struck from behind. At that time, Ford was accused of deciding that it was cheaper to pay off lawsuits than make the repairs.

recall signThese recalls are getting away from that and they are a good safety step. Frankly, a lot of people are critical of lawsuits – I understand, I am a lawyer who handles these lawsuits – but the thing I have to constantly stress to people is it is often these lawsuits that motivate manufacturers to change their behavior. So people should embrace recalls.

When you get a recall notice, make an appointment with your dealer right away. Some of the recalls may be for something small, like weather stripping that can lead to a leak in your car, but others involve braking systems or ignition systems, things that make a huge difference.

Don’t ignore a recall notice or wait for something bad to happen. Take steps to make sure you are driving in a safe car.

If there is something really critical in that recall notice, avoid using the recalled car until it is repaired. Better to be safe than sorry.

Jim Reed

Jim Reed

Have a legal question for the Ziff Law lawyers to answer here? Submit your questions by email to [email protected] and we may answer it in a future Q&A blog post. While 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.

Please appreciate that while we are happy to provide basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

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

 


Q&A: Why State Supreme Court Judge Rejected Challenge To Building Horseheads Apartment Complex

Do you have a legal question that needs to be answered? Welcome to a new feature on the Ziff Law blogs called Questions & Answers.

While we will answer questions about personal injury, medical malpractice and divorce

Adam Gee

Adam Gee

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 Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed at [email protected]

Q&A 1Our question today is adapted from my two recent TV appearances about the embattled Biltmore Crossing housing project in Horseheads, which town residents are challenging because they are concerned that the 56-unit affordable apartment complex will hurt property values, among other complaints.

The complex, at Biltmore Drive and Gardner Road, will be for families making $25,000 to $37,000 a year, according to Conifer Realty of Rochester, the developer.

Read more about the ruling here.

My answer below is from the April 1 WENY-TV News broadcast (above) and the April 2 “Law Talk” segment during the WETM News at Noon. In the weekly “Law Talk” segments, the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues, often in connection with news events.

Question: A New York State Supreme Court Judge recently dismissed a legal challenge that sought to block the construction of a 56-unit housing complex on Biltmore Drive in the Town of Horseheads. Why did Judge Judy O’Shea reject 13 of the lawsuit’s 17 legal challenges?

Adam Gee: The residents used Article 78, a New York State law that provides a way to challenge decisions made by a state official or administrative body, such as the Town of Horseheads and its Town Board.

The Town of Horseheads made multiple mistakes in the planning stages of this housing area. But when the law relates to procedural errors that were made, such as is alleged here, they were subject to a 120-day statute of limitations, according to Article 78.

The challengers to the project brought their petition into court in an attempt to have construction stopped because of what they said were failures of the town to comply with certain portions of the law, but the judge rejected it on procedural grounds.

It’s an interesting decision and it clearly lays out that the town did, on multiple occasions, fail to do things it was supposed to do. The town failed to provide the type and amount of notice it was supposed to provide. So when upset town residents say they feel like they were blindsided, really in a way, they were. They didn’t have the notification that the law says they were supposed to have so they could decide whether this is something they want to challenge.

The ironic part here is one of the reasons why so much time went by and no one challenged it in a timely fashion is because the town did not provide residents with the information they were required to, so in a sense, the town was rewarded for making these mistakes.

Click here to learn more about Article 78.

Please appreciate that while we are happy to provide basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

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]

 

 

 


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!

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

Q&A: School Bus Accidents, Snow Days Were Hot Topics On Recent ‘Law Talk’

School bus drivers can be held legally liable if they are involved in an accident.

School bus drivers can be held legally liable if they are involved in an accident.

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Q & A.

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

While 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]

Our question today is adapted from my March 12 appearance on “Law Talk,” a segment at about 12:20 p.m. during the WETM News at Noon on Wednesdays. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues, often in connection with news events.

Q&A 1Q: What happens if a school bus driver has an accident? Is the driver or the school district responsible if there are injuries?

Jim Reed: A school bus being operated on the road is not any different than any other vehicle. The bus driver has an obligation to drive safely, so that means in bad weather conditions, the bus driver should reduce his speed and make sure the vehicle is properly equipped with snow tires and other safety equipment.

Bus drivers must answer to the same laws as other motorists.

Over the years, I have handled a number of bus accident cases. In one case, a school bus driver rear-ended the back of another bus and was ticketed for Following Too Closely like any other driver who rear-ended another vehicle.

Also, as an employer of the school bus driver, a school district can be held liable for the negligence of its employee. In other words, if a school bus driver causes a collision that injures someone, both the bus driver and the school district that employs him can be held liable.

Bus stop signQ: Schools were closed March 12 because of an approaching winter storm, which dumped ice and varied amounts of snow across the Twin Tiers. Some parents, seeing only rain in the morning, raised objections based on the conditions they saw at that hour.

Jim:  School superintendents are trying to make decisions based on weather forecasts and a reasonable assessment of the road conditions that exist at the time or in the near future. Obviously, these superintendents are trying to make the best decision possible based upon their assessment of the conditions.

On March 12, a lot of people early in the day were saying, “It’s just raining. Why is there a snow day?” I believe the schools superintendents made the decision to close schools for the day because the conditions were forecast to dramatically deteriorate in the afternoon. The superintendents knew they could get the children to school safely but they weren’t sure about getting them home safely in the forecasted ice and snow conditions.

Even though I know it bothers parents when schools are closed when conditions don’t seem that bad, I think most superintendents would rather be safe than sorry.

In the area around Elmira, Horseheads and Corning, we have a lot of rural roads where all that stands between a school bus and a large drop-off is a small guardrail. A bus sliding on snow and ice could easily drive through that guardrail, sending the bus over the edge and likely causing a horrible accident.

The bottom line for the schools, and for all of us, is this: “Be safe, be smart and slow down!” If in doubt, stay home until the road crews have done their work.

Please appreciate that while we are happy to try to provide you some basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

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

 

 

 

 


Q&A: Why Horseheads Residents Who Found Dropped Money At Walmart Are Facing Serious Charges

Q&A 1Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Q & A. If you have legal questions, we will try to provide answers for you here.

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

Submit your questions by email to [email protected]

Our question today is adapted from my Feb. 26 appearance on “Law Talk,” a segment during the WETM News at Noon. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues that come up with events. The segment is usually on at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesdays.

Q: Two Horseheads residents have been charged with grand larceny after being accused of stealing a large sum of money that was dropped by a Walmart shopper in Horseheads on Feb. 18. Why are suspects Heidi Hoskins and Anthony Coil, both 36, facing such a serious charge? They found money that was dropped by another shopper.

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed: The crime of Larceny includes theft by acquiring, and then failing to return, lost property.

What the law says is that if you know the property is lost, you have an obligation to make reasonable efforts to find the owner and return their lost property to them.

In this case, there is an envelope with cash on the floor at Walmart. Somebody didn’t leave it there on purpose. The bottom line is, someone lost it. And the suspects’ obligation, under the law, is to make a reasonable effort to find the person who lost the money.  They can’t just pocket the money and say “oh well, it’s mine now.”

“Reasonable efforts” to return the money might be to turn it in to the store or turn it in to the police.  You need to show that you made some effort to get the lost property back to the rightful owner or you could be charged with Larceny.

If you don’t try to do the right thing by returning the lost property, there can be really bad consequences. In this case the charge is Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a Class E felony with a sentence of up to four years in state prison.  Larceny in the Fourth Degree involves property of $1,000 to $2,999.

If you find over $3,000 and don’t attempt to return it, that is a Third-Degree Larceny that carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail.

We were all taught by our parents that if you find lost property, do the right thing – make a reasonable effort to try to get it back to its owner.

You can avoid some very serious legal consequences by doing the right thing.

Please appreciate that while we are happy to try to provide you some basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

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

 

 

 


You Have Legal Questions, We Have Answers! Welcome To The New Q&A Feature On Our Blogs

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Q & A.

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

Submit your questions by email to [email protected]

Our first question is adapted from my Feb. 12 appearance on “Law Talk,” a segment during the WETM News at Noon. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues that come up with events in the news at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesdays.

Q: A Steuben County woman was recently sentenced to three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service in connection with a teenage drinking party that ended in the death of a 16-year-old boy, who was struck and killed by a tractor trailer. The mother was charged with first-degree Unlawfully Dealing With A Child and two counts of Endangering The Welfare Of A Child because police said she attended the party with her teenage daughter and provided alcohol to the children. The boy’s family said the sentence was too light. In general, how do courts decide sentencing in a case like this?

Q&A 1A: Unlawfully Dealing With A Child means you are providing alcohol to someone under 21 years old. It is a Class A misdemeanor that carries with it a sentence of up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. The mother in this case received just probation and community service.

Given the fact that the sentence could have been up to a year in jail, many people may wonder, what happened?

Well, in sentencing, the judge gets a report from the county probation department called a Pre-Sentence Investigation (often called a PSI). The PSI reveals a lot of information about the defendant, including whether they have a past criminal record, and it goes into some of the circumstances in that person’s life.  The PSI also describes the victim of the crime and any damages suffered by the victim.

The judge reviews the report and he has a wide range of discretion to impose a sentence. It this case it could have been anything from probation to up to a year in jail. We call that “judicial discretion.”

There is also “prosecutorial discretion”, where prosecutors have a wide range of options on the charges. In this case, the prosecutor could have considered going for a felony, Criminally Negligent Homicide; that’s where the defendant is criminally negligent causing the death of another person. There is also a second-degree Manslaughter charge, where the defendant recklessly causes the death of another person. That is a higher-level felony.

There are a wide range of things that can happen in these types of cases.

People have to understand that when there are intoxicated minors, the consequences can be very, very serious.

People can go to jail for a long time, so my best advice is: never provide alcohol to minors!

Please appreciate that while we are happy to try to provide you some basic legal information, doing so does NOT create an attorney/client relationship (unless you formally retain us to represent you). The information provided is general information and should NOT be considered legal advice. Also appreciate that in order to give definitive legal answers, it is critically important that a lawyer meet with you to get all the necessary details to provide a definitive answer so we encourage you to review the information we are providing with your own lawyer.

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