New York’s ban on texting while driving is now in effect!

kiwanja_san_francisco_texting_11

Well, its now official. New York’s ban on texting while driving went into effect on November 1, 2009. You can be sure that law enforcement officers all over the state will be aggressively enforcing the law to let drivers know they are taking it seriously. You can read Attorney Jim Reeds previous article on this new law here.

The question is, how can they enforce it? The problem with this law is that an officer is not allowed to pull you over JUST for texting while driving. They have to pull you over for something else in order to issue the ticket. This means they will be looking for any reason to stop you if they suspect you are texting while driving. Have a broken tail light? Something hanging from your rear view mirror? How about a sticker in your back window? Any of these could give the officer all the reason he needs to stop your vehicle and issue you a ticket if you are texting while driving.

The problem for the officers attempting to enforce this law will be determining whether someone is actually texting or not. Enforcing the ban on the use of hand held cell phones was easy. If the officer saw you with a cellphone in your hand held up to your ear you were guilty. But texting is different. People don’t hold their cell phones up by their ear while texting. It is usually done with the cell phone in or near your lap, where the officer can’t see it.

I foresee two different scenarios in which these tickets will be issued. First will be if an officer sees you driving down the road with your eyes pointed down and a hand in your lap. This will cause the officer to be suspicious, and he or she will find a reason to pull you over. Once they do, they will approach the car quickly, looking for the cell phone. Whether they see the phone or not, they may ask you whether you were texting while driving, and may even ask to see your phone in order to check for the time of the last text. The second possible scenario is when an officer sees a vehicle operating erratically, swerving within its lane or even going on to the shoulder or crossing into the opposing lane. The officer will pull you over for sure, but won’t need any other reason but your erratic operation to do so. When he approaches the car, the officer won’t know whether to suspect intoxication or texting, but the officer will understandably treat the stop as a serious event. The officer will be looking around your car and asking questions to determine why you were operating the car in that fashion. Don’t be surprised if the officer is less than friendly in this situation, as he or she won’t know what sort of situation they are dealing with, and will be cautious.

The best advice I can give people is don’t text and drive, its as dangerous as drinking and driving. If you must return a text, pull over to do so. Or you can do what people did before texting became prevalent – call the person you want to talk to. Just make sure you use a hands free device like a blue tooth!

Thanks for reading,

_______________________________
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Personal 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]
www.zifflaw.com

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NY Accident Lawyer Recommends Free Online Resource to “Sketch” an Accident Scene

AccidentSketch-demo-shotFree is ALWAYS good in my book!

There is a great new FREE resource available to all New York and Pennsylvania car accident victims. AccidentSketch is a online utility that anyone can use to graphically document a car accident. The service is free and doesn’t even require registration!

Why Drawing an Accurate Accident Sketch is Important

Insurance companies, courts and lawyers all require detailed depictions of an accident to successfully resolve claims for compensation. Often there will be disputes about where each car involved in an accident was prior to, during or after the car crash. Ther may be disputes about the direction of travel for each car. There may be disputes about what car had the right of way at the time of the accident.

Experienced accident lawyers know that working with an accident sketch is a great way for your clients to discuss with you the details of EXACTLY how an accident occurred.

I discovered the existence of the AccidentSketch service through the Lifehacker weblog. I think it is a fantastic tool to ease the process of making an accurate accident report – and it puts the means in the hands of the people who were involved in the crash. AccidentSketch is one of those tools that is essential, once you know it’s out there.

One Warning!

Because it is critically important that an accident sketch be as accurate as possible, I would strongly urge anyone who was injured in a car accident to consult with an experienced accident lawyer BEFORE submitting an accident scene sketch to any insurance company. Why? Because anything you submit to an insurance company, even your own insurance company, may be used against you by the insurance company for the other driver involved in your accident. Accordingly, you want to make certain that the sketch is 100% accurate and there is nothing in the sketch that might shoot you in the foot…..

How AccidentSketch works

The software is amazingly simple to use. All of the standard road elements are already created – just put them together like a puzzle to recreate the circumstances of an accident.

First, you select road “pieces” to map an accurate depiction of the road, be it a curve, a urn, an intersection or other type of street. The pieces drag and snap into a grid at a scale of 1:100.

Then select your vehicle type (trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians are also options) and place it in the road map you created. You can choose vehicle colors and input license plate numbers.

Continue to add vehicles and other details, such as traffic signs, lights, arrows, braking marks and more, until you have an accurate drawing of your accident.

You may even create a time-lapse version of the accident, by placing multiple images of vehicles on the map and using arrows to show their courses of action.

To complete your account of the accident, AccidentSketch allows you to type in a text report, where you can explain the accident in depth.

At this point, without paying a fee and with minimum effort, you will have a detailed, accurate and easy-to-follow accident report that will be invaluable information in settling insurance claims or a court case. Check out this sample: AccidentSketch-example.

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
New York Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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Motorcycle Insurance Misconceptions Part 8 – My Insurance Company Will Take Care Of Me!

MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE MISCONCEPTIONS PART 8 – MY INSURANCE COMPANY WILL TAKE CARE OF ME!

“Don’t worry, be happy – my insurance company will take care of me!”

Perhaps the most dangerous misconception people have is about the insurance industry as a whole. Some people feel that because they have insurance and pay their premiums every month that the insurance companies will take care of them when necessary. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Year after year and case after case, I see just the opposite happen. I see insurance companies shirking their obligations even to their own customers. I see insurance adjusters lying to people about the laws governing vehicle collisions. I see insurance adjusters beating the ambulance to the accident scene in the hopes of having someone sign all their rights away in exchange for a few hundred dollars. Insurance companies are money making institutions. The only thing they care about is their bottom line. They love you when you send them a check every month and don’t submit a claim. When you have the potential to cost them money, the audacity to expect them to finally provide the coverage you have been paying for, they look for any excuse to keep from paying you a penny.

For a limited time, I am offering a FREE INSURANCE REVIEW! Send me a copy of your motorcycle insurance declaration page by fax or e-mail, and I will explain to you what your policy covers and what it doesn’t, and also recommend coverage amounts you should consider to make sure you are protected in the event of a motorcycle collision.

This post is the last in an eight-part series based on topics covered in my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” My book is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers, and to those whose loved ones are bikers. Click the link above to get your free copy now, before it is too late!

Thanks for reading,

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

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Motorcycle Insurance Misconceptions Part 7 – The Insurance for The Car That Hit Me Will Pay My Bills!

MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE MISCONCEPTION PART 7 -THE INSURANCE FOR THE CAR THAT HIT ME WILL PAY MY BILLS!

Another common misconception I hear is that if the biker is not at fault for the collision, the insurance for the car that is responsible will pay their damages. This is only partially true.

Car insurance, not motorcycle insurance, has two general categories; liability coverage and coverage that protects the operator and his or her passengers known as “no fault” insurance. As stated in a previous post, if you are injured in a motorcycle collision, even if it wasn’t your fault, there is no “no fault” insurance for the motorcycle occupants. Under New York’s rules, you are NOT eligible for the car’s no-fault coverage because you were not a passenger in the vehicle. Your damages can be covered by the liability portion of the car’s insurance policy, but the problem is when those damages are paid.

The insurance company for the car responsible for your injuries can’t be MADE to pay anything until a jury orders them to pay. And that may be YEARS after you were injured. They won’t pay your lost wages as they are incurred. You can’t submit your medical bills and have them paid as you receive treatment. Under the liability portion of a policy, insurance companies make only one payment in full and final settlement of your case. Depending on the complexity of your case and the nature of your injuries, that could take years.

For a limited time, I am offering a FREE INSURANCE REVIEW! Send me a copy of your motorcycle insurance declaration page by fax or e-mail, and I will explain to you what your policy covers and what it doesn’t, and also recommend coverage amounts you should consider to make sure you are protected in the event of a motorcycle collision.

This post is the seventh in a eight-part series based on my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” My book is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers, and to those whose loved ones are bikers. Click the link above to get your free copy now, before it is too late!

Thanks for reading,

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

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Motorcycle Insurance Misconceptions Part 4 – My Car Insurance Will Cover Me If I am Hurt On My Motorcycle!

Motorcycle Insurance Misconceptions Part 4 – My Car Insurance Will Cover Me If I am Hurt On My Motorcycle!

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of misconceptions about motorcycle insurance. I couldn’t begin to list of all of them, but I will discuss and dispel the most common and most dangerous one I hear on a regular basis in the motorcycle collision cases I handle.

MISCONCEPTION #1

“No worries, my car insurance will cover me if I am hurt on my motorcycle!”

The single most common misconception I hear is people thinking they don’t need to purchase a lot of motorcycle coverage, because their car insurance will cover them in the event of a collision. DON’T MAKE THIS CRITICAL MISTAKE! You are NOT covered by your car insurance for an accident on your motorcycle! In fact, every motor vehicle policy contains an exclusion specifically denying coverage for injuries sustained while operating a motorcycle. It doesn’t matter whether your car insurance is through the same company, whether the bills get mailed to you in the same envelope, or whether the same agent sold you the policy. Your car insurance WILL NOT cover you for an accident with your motorcycle.

This post is the fourth in an eight-part series covered in my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” It is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers, and to those whose loved ones are bikers. Click the link above to get your free copy now, before it is too late!

Thanks for reading,

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

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Motorcycle Insurance Fallacy No. 3 – Your Insurance Agent Will Make Sure You Have The Right Coverage

FALLACY #3 – Your Insurance Agent Will Make Sure You Have The Right Coverage

The third reason people think they have the right kind and right amount of insurance is because their insurance company tells them they do. When a biker needs insurance for his or her motorcycle, they have two choices. They can walk into a local insurance agent’s office or, as more and more people do everyday, they can get their insurance on line or over the phone. When you walk into a local insurance agent’s office, what do you see above the door? Probably a big sign advertising the name of the insurance company they sell policies for. So who do you think that insurance agent works for, how do they get paid? They get paid by the insurance company for selling you a policy of insurance. Let me put it more bluntly: your insurance agent works for his insurance company, not for you! And those people you talk to on the 1-800 numbers? They work for the insurance company, too.

In NY, Insurance agents aren’t like other professionals. Your doctor, your lawyer, your accountant and your architect all owe you a duty of care. They have an obligation to look out for your best interests. If they breach that duty by failing to exercise a reasonable degree of care, you have the right to sue them for it. But insurance agents are different. They don’t owe you a duty because they don’t work for you. They are in essence representatives of the insurance companies. If they fail to sell you the right kind and right amount of insurance you cannot sue them for it.

Just like every other profession, there are good, bad and indifferent insurance agents. The difficult part is telling the good ones from the rest. Since this is my book, I am going to take the liberty of generalizing about insurance agents. Because insurance agents don’t work for you, they will try to push you toward the product they sell that has the highest profit margin for them. At the same time, they will steer you away from insurance products that carry the greatest risk to their employer. They do this in the interest of maximizing their own fees and keeping their employer, the insurance company, happy. Is that the kind of insurance you want? The kind that makes your insurance agent the most money and minimizes the risk for the insurance company? If not, please read on.

This post is the third in an eight-part series covered in my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” It is available FREE to New York or Pennsylvania bikers, and to those whose loved ones are bikers. Click the link above to get your free copy now, before it is too late!

Thanks for reading,

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

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Motorcycle Insurance Fallacy No. 2 – Insurance Is Confusing

FALLACY #2 – Motorcycle Insurance is Confusing – Get Your FREE Motorcycle Insurance Review!

A second reason people sometimes believe they have the right insurance is because insurance is so darn confusing! I deal with insurance and insurance companies every day. I actually read those big fat insurance contracts your insurance company sends you every six months. I make a living fighting with insurance companies and making them live up to their promises, so I HAVE to read those policies. You don’t have to, and probably never have. I don’t know anyone other than contract lawyers who enjoy reading 75 page contracts, so I don’t blame you a bit. Insurance is confusing, but it isn’t rocket science. Your insurance company could write those contracts in a way everyone could easily understand if they wanted to, but the truth is they don’t WANT you to understand those contracts. They don’t want you to understand their obligations to you. They don’t want you to question what they are doing. Insurance companies only want one thing from you; a check every month.

The truth is that someone who knows what they are looking for can tell you whether your coverage is appropriate in about 15 seconds. The first page of the thick renewal packet the insurance company sends you every year is what is called a declaration page, which gives you a thumbnail view of your insurance limits. For a limited time, I am offering a FREE INSURANCE REVIEW! Send me a copy of your motorcycle insurance declaration page by fax or e-mail, and I will explain to you what your policy covers, and what it doesn’t, and also recommend coverage amounts you should consider to make sure you are protected in the event of a motorcycle collision.

This post is the second in a eight-part series on topics covered in my book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” It is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers, and to those whose loved ones are bikers. Click the link above to get your free copy now, before it is too late!

Thanks for reading,

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

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Guest Post From the “Dark Side”: Why You Need To Insure Your Boat!

Boat-on-the-lakeFrom time to time, I ask other folks who work in the “injury” world — doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, insurance agents, etc. — to guest post on the NY Injury Law Blog.

Below is a guest post from Stephen Nagle, a local Allstate agent who has been selling insurance for 20+ years in the Elmira, Corning and Horseheads area.

While I joke that anyone from the insurance industry is my sworn enemy from the “Dark Side,” because I spend 95% of my day fighting to make sure insurance companies fairly settle my client’s claims, the bottom line is that insurance agents play a very important role in ensuring that people have the proper insurance coverage to protect them in the event of damage to a person or property.

Stephen does a great job explaining why it is so important to make sure your boat is properly insured:

The first thing that people think about when they look for insurance is how to cover the “value” of something they own: the home, car, boat, etc. If there is a loan or promissory note out on the value of the object they need to have coverage to indemnify the lender in the case of a loss.

The second thing people think about is their liability exposure related to use or ownership of the home, car, boat, etc. If what they own has little value or no loan, people do not think about their exposure to a lawsuit that could come from use or ownership of the “thing.” Studies show that people view it as an inconvenience to have liability coverage until they understand what they are protecting. If you have a vehicle of any sort, you have a liability exposure that you need to protect, particularly if you have a boat.

As an insurance agent for more than 20 years I ask my customers to think just a little differently. Sure, they need coverage for the value of a loan, but the value of the loan is usually less than the value of their future earnings. The “thing” that is lost is replaceable for an attainable price. The bank gets paid and the insurance company tries to restore the client to being whole.

However, if they are found legally responsible for damage to a third party there is a need to protect earning value far greater than the value of their things. In New York state, people need liability coverage to register a car whether or not they need coverage on the car itself. They give little thought to the value of the liability and other underlying coverage that could pay bills far and away more expensive than replacing the car.

Years ago, an elderly fisherman came into my office with his wife. He was eager for me to explain to his wife why he didn’t need coverage on his old fishing boat and his wife was just as eager for me to explain to him why he did. He didn’t want coverage on the boat, it was “only” worth about $5,000 and he had heard that his boat liability was covered by his homeowners policy. He recognized the need because he often had friends on board. He could hit another boat or damage a dock. Sometimes he took grandkids and their friends waterskiing or tubing – what if they were injured while having fun? He could be held responsible for a fuel spill if he dumped oil or gas overboard while fueling or transferring fuel.

He was partially correct. Homeowners policies extend liability to cover small boats subject to policy provisions which vary from company to company. It is typical to see coverage for boats under 50 HP with inboard/ inboard-outboards motors or under 50 HP for outboards and to sailboats under 26 feet. We reviewed his policy and he realized that his older cuddy cabin 21 footer with a 185 HP I/O was not covered.

A $500,000 liability policy covering anything for which he could be held legally liable with optional coverage for $5,000 med pay turned out to be less than $100 for a year. Full coverage for damage to the boat for ACV up to $5,000 was an additional $86. Needless to say, he took the full package. We wrote a personal umbrella policy for him as well, but that is another story.

– By Steven Nagle, Allstate Insurance in Horseheads. (607) 739-7991

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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NY Injury Lawyer Announces Peanut Company Responsible for Salmonella Outbreak Declares Bankruptcy!

pca-photoPeanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company responsible for the nationwide salmonella scare involving peanut products, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy filing comes as no surprise. The hundreds of people sickened by Salmonella will result in millions of dollars in claims against the company. Additionally, the millions of dollars in products which have been recalled will result in additional claims against the company by the purchasers of the tainted peanut products.

PCA’s insurer, Hartford Casualty Insurance, has filed a lawsuit in an effort to limit its liability.

PCA’s products have been linked to nine deaths and 636 cases of food poisoning in 44 states, including one case in Steuben County, New York, and more claims are expected to follow. Records released during congressional hearings last week showed the company continued to ship its products even after they tested positive for the deadly bacteria.

The bankruptcy filings show that the company carries debt with between 100 and 199 creditors and faces between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities.

The bankruptcy filing has the effect of “staying” all claims filed against PCA, but does not bar new claims from being filed. A “stay” means that all filed claims are stuck in limbo, with neither side able to conduct any action in relation to the claim. An action can be brought in Bankruptcy Court to lift the stay.

Reports indicate that PCA carried only $24 million worth of liability insurance to satisfy all claims. This means that anyone having a potential claim should act immediately to preserve their rights.

Salmonella is a serious illness that can be fatal to children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system. It causes nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

If you think you may have contracted Salmonella from the tainted peanut products you should see your doctor and be tested for Salmonella. Testing will confirm both the fact that you have Salmonella (as opposed to some other intestinal illness) and also confirm that the strain of salmonella you have is the same strain indicated in this peanut product outbreak.

If you have a package of the recalled peanut products and believe you may have contracted Salmonella DO NOT THROW IT OUT!!! Instead, secure the package so that no one else will consume it, attempt to locate your sales receipt showing your purchase of the contaminated product and consult legal counsel immediately.

The Ziff Law Firm will be accepting salmonella cases related to this peanut product recall, as we have in previous food-borne illness cases.

Thanks for reading,

Adam M. Gee, Esq.

NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]
www.zifflaw.com

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Elmira Injury Attorney Warns Second Peanut Plant Tests Positive For Salmonella!

Spreads Peanut Butter from Edge to Edge

A second peanut processing plant run by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) has been shut down after Texas authorities discovered Salmonella in peanut products processed there. Meanwhile, Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corporation of America, was subpoenaed to appear before Congress and testify concerning the involvement of his family owned business in this nation-wide Salmonella outbreak that has killed eight people and and sickened 600 more across 44 states, including one suspected case in Steuben County, NY.

PCA runs three peanut processing plants, in Georgia, Texas and Virginia. The Georgia plant was shut down several weeks ago, followed by the Texas plant Monday after laboratory results showed salmonella in samples of roasted peanuts, peanut meal and granulated peanuts. Additional analysis is needed to determine if the bacteria are the same strain of salmonella involved in the outbreak linked to the Georgia plant.

Federal Investigators have now expanded their investigation of PCA to include the Georgia plant. Unbelievably, the Texas plant has been operating since 2005, totally unknown to government regulators. It was not registered with the state and had never been inspected by health officials. State and federal officials only learned about the plant after the Food and Drug Administration began their investigation into the Salmonalla outbreak.

Federal investigators say Peanut Corporation’s Georgia plant knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella on 12 occasions in 2007 and 2008. The company makes peanut butter for institutions such as nursing homes and schools, and processes peanut ingredients used by other food companies in products ranging from energy bars to candy to dog biscuits.

The full list of of recalled products can be found on the FDA’s website by clicking here.

Salmonella is a serious illness that can be fatal to children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system. It causes nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

If you think you may have contracted Salmonella from the tainted peanut products you should see your doctor and be tested for Salmonella. Testing will confirm both the fact that you have Salmonella (as opposed to some other intestinal illness) and also confirm that the strain of salmonella you have is the same strain indicated in this peanut product outbreak.

If you have a package of the recalled peanut products and believe you may have contracted Salmonella DO NOT THROW IT OUT!!! Instead, secure the package so that no one else will consume it, attempt to locate your sales receipt showing your purchase of the contaminated product and consult legal counsel immediately.

The Ziff Law Firm will be accepting salmonella cases related to this peanut product recall, as we have in previous food-borne illness cases.

Thanks for reading,

Adam M. Gee, Esq.

NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]
www.zifflaw.com

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