NY Lawmakers Steer Motorists To Better Insurance Protection, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

car-insurance

Most New York State motorists will now be better protected by their car insurance policies — and they didn’t even have to call their agents, thanks to the lobbying efforts of lawyers across the state, who finally persuaded Albany that it needed to reform the way insurance companies operate in the state. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association was among the leaders fighting for motorists.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Driver and Family Protection Act on Dec. 18, which improves Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage for all motorists. The Senate and Assembly bills are here: S5644B and A8519A.

State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in June to send the legislation to Cuomo’s desk. The Senate voted 62-1 and the Assembly 104-6.

This is why it is important to anyone who travels in a vehicle, not just drivers: the new law helps to protect New Yorkers who are involved in car accidents with drivers who are uninsured or underinsured.

Under the old law, an insured had to specifically request that their SUM policy limits be increased to match their liability limits.

Under the new law, an insured’s policy will automatically match the liability and SUM limits unless the insured specifically waives the increased SUM coverage by signing an opt-out form. (Why would anyone sign the form?)

I have always said SUM coverage is very important because it protects the insured and their family in the event they are involved in a crash with an uninsured/underinsured vehicle.

The automatically matching limits are great news for auto insurance consumers because the SUM coverage is the most critical component of your car insurance policy.

Here’s why: If you have an accident caused by another driver who has no or inadequate insurance, you could end up paying for your own recovery, and your medical bills could be staggering.

If you’re like most drivers, you accept the minimum levels of coverage to keep your costs down. But those low levels can get you in trouble if you have an accident, regardless of whether it was your fault.

Here’s an example: I once met with a local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only the legal state minimum of $25,000 in SUM coverage to protect himself and 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 add additional SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.

I have met too many people who don’t learn about the need for sufficient SUM coverage until it is too late. Don’t be one of those families.

Insurance companies like to keep their customers in the dark. They do a terrible job of educating consumers and are far more interested in profits than helping their customers.

Make reviewing your car insurance policy one of your resolutions in the new year. Do it now, in fact. Make sure your insurance company follows the new law and sets your liability and SUM limits at the same amount.

If you have a question about your car insurance policy, email me at [email protected].

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
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: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 


Before Your Holiday Road Trip, Review The Most Common Causes Of Car Accidents — And Be Prepared For A Safe Trip!

Car_crash_1

Patrick Allan recently wrote a timely story for LifeHacker about vehicle accidents – and what to look out for this holiday season (and any other time) – as you race about to your next distracted destination.

To get there safely, take a deep breath when you hop in the car and remember what Patrick wrote in “The Most Common Cause of Car Crashes.” Yes, his story is a reminder for drivers 365 days a year.

He suggests some basic safety procedures in addition to getting some sleep before driving – wear your seat belt, don’t drive while intoxicated, and avoid using your phone while driving. All good advice we should already be listening to every day.

Patrick also cites Steve Casner, a safety expert and author of “Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds,” who used data collected for the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey for the U.S. Department of Transportation, to come up with  a post for Slate on the types of accidents that happen the most:

  • Falling asleep at the wheel: About 7 percent of all accidents and 21 percent of fatal crashes. Check out Patrick’s previous blog post about drowsy drivers for more information about just how dangerous it is, and how much sleep is ideal. (Hint: it’s NOT five hours a night.)
  • Loss of vehicle control: Accounts for 11 percent of all crashes. Always keep other driving variables in mind. Consider the weather, your vehicle’s maintenance, and other drivers.
  • Blind left turns: Accounts for 12 percent of all crashes. If you can’t see around that bus, don’t risk driving out into the intersection. Always stop and wait until you know the coast is clear.
  • Rear-enders: Accounts for 23 percent to 30 percent of all crashes. Pay attention to the car in front of you, watch for those brake lights, and always give yourself plenty of space to stop if you need to.
  • Not staying in your lane: Accounts for roughly 30 percent of all crashes. It doesn’t take much for a driver to drift out of their lane and cause a serious accident.

The rest of the causes involve things like rolling right on red lights, which Casner says accounts for 6 percent of all pedestrian fatalities – but 21 percent of those fatalities are children.

The survey also says about 36 percent of all “pre-crash events” occurred while drivers were turning or crossing at intersections. That’s why it’s critical that you always come to a complete stop, and then check carefully for pedestrians and vehicles, before turning or driving through.

Bottom line: Keep your eyes open after a good night’s sleep. Keep your eyes on the road, not your phone or satellite radio or anything else. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, children, anything or anyone who is moving around you.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
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: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Sonsire Becomes Lifetime Member Of Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Christina Sonsire of Ziff Law FirmAttorney Christina Sonsire of the Ziff Law Firm has been certified as a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

MMDAF_144_white gifChristina was first accepted as a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2013.

Membership in the forums is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members, according to the forums.

“Judges and lawyers from other parts of New York state often assume big results only happen in big cities,” said Christina, a partner in Ziff Law and a medical malpractice lawyer for eight years. “It is reassuring to know we are able to help our clients receive every penny of compensation they deserve, regardless of where the case is located.”

Christina is only the third attorney in the Twin Tiers ever to be named a Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, joining me — Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed — as part of the exclusive group.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

I am proud that Christina has been accepted into this forum. The fact that two lawyers from our firm have earned the right to be called Multi-Million Dollar Advocates speaks volumes about our firm and the services we are able to provide to our clients. Our goal is to continue the Ziff Law legacy of achieving big-city results for the people we proudly represent.

Membership in the forums recognizes excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange.

Members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of $2 million or more.

To learn more about the forums, go to www.milliondollaradvocates.com.

Thanks for reading and congratulations Christina!

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

Upstate NY Law Firm Selected Among Best Law Firms In U.S. For Sixth Straight Year

Ziff Law attorneys, from left, Mike Brown, Christina Sonsire, Jim Reed, and Adam Gee.

Ziff Law attorneys, from left, Mike Brown, Christina Sonsire, Managing Partner Jim Reed, and Adam Gee.

For the sixth year in a row, the Ziff Law Firm is the only law firm in the Elmira, Corning, and Ithaca area named to a nationally recognized directory of top personal injury law firms in the United States.

Ziff Law was named a National Best Law Firm for 2017 in the practice area of Personal Injury Law for Plaintiffs by U.S. News – Best Lawyers.

I am so proud of the team we have assembled and the incredible results we have achieved. We have always believed that working hard and caring deeply about our clients would create good results, and it is so gratifying to see that we were correct. Winning this award once was great. Winning it six years in a row is amazing, and we could not be any happier.

Law firms were evaluated using client and peer reviews, and additional information provided by the firms, according to U.S. News – Best Lawyers, which ranked more than 10,000 law firms in more than 100 practice areas.

The rankings were announced this month by U.S. News & World Report, the parent company of U.S. News, and Best Lawyers, a national directory of top-rated attorneys that included Reed in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

To learn more about the Best Law Firms rankings, go to bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

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

NY Injury Lawyer Wins $550,000 Jury Verdict For Elmira Woman Injured In Rochester Hospital Fall

Highland Hospital in Rochester.

Highland Hospital in Rochester.

A six-person Chemung County court jury awarded an 83-year-old Elmira woman $550,000 Friday afternoon as a result of a 2013 fall at Highland Hospital in Rochester. Christina Sonsire of the Ziff Law Firm represented the woman in the one-week trial.

Christina Sonsire.

Christina Sonsire.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated for less than 20 minutes before returning with the verdict in response to a personal injury lawsuit filed in Chemung County’s State Supreme Court in Elmira.

Judge Judith O’Shea presided over the trial and attorney James Wolford of the Wolford Law Firm in Rochester represented Highland Hospital and its corporate owners, Strong Health MCO, LLC, and Strong Partners Health System Inc.

“The jury’s award sends a huge message to Highland Hospital and other regional medical providers that if they are going to encourage people to come for treatment, they need to take basic steps to make sure their facilities are safe,” Christina said. “My client will have to live with chronic limitations from a shoulder injury for the rest of her life, something that greatly interferes with her ability to care for her daughter with disabilities.”

The Elmira woman fell shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2013, while helping her daughter get into a wheelchair in a parking garage near the hospital’s emergency entrance.

“Highland Hospital allowed cement parking stops to be placed inside a pedestrian walkway that bordered the handicapped parking stalls. The parking stops were the same color as the parking garage floor, and lighting in the area was grossly inadequate. My client – who was told to report to Highland Hospital in the early morning for her cancer surgery – was walking near her car when she tripped,” Christina said.

“As a result, my client suffered a severe fracture of her left shoulder, leaving her with a significant loss of range of motion. These limitations make it very challenging for her to care for her daughter in the manner she did before the fall.”

The trial was about much more than the placement of parking stops, Christina said.

“When my client first learned she had cancer, her Elmira-area doctor told her she needed to seek treatment in a bigger city. She decided to go to Rochester, just like many people from our area choose to do,” Christina said. “This case showed Highland Hospital and other regional providers who invite people to travel for their medical services need to do much more to make sure their patients are safe.

“The managers of Highland’s maintenance and security departments were unable to provide any inspection or maintenance records for the area where she fell, they offered inconsistent testimony regarding very basic safety measures in the parking garage, and they even tried to shift the blame to my elderly client by claiming she should have used a flashlight when she got out of her car. Taken together, Highland Hospital gave the impression in the trial that my client’s well-being was not important to them – and the jury took notice.

Twin Tiers residents can be confident that Ziff Law lawyers are capable of achieving big-city results,” Christina said. “We are not afraid to stand up to big corporations that cause people in our community to suffer injustices. It’s not always easy to do, but the alternative – allowing things like this to happen without doing what we can to bring them to light – would be the greatest injustice of all.”

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

 


ZiffLaw Welcomes Mike Brown, New Injury And Malpractice Attorney

The Ziff Law Firm welcomes Mike Brown.

The Ziff Law Firm is pleased to announce the expansion of its personal injury and medical malpractice law practice with the addition of a fourth lawyer, Mike Brown.

Mike, 29, a former Assistant District Attorney in the Broome County District Attorney’s Office who was working in the New York Attorney General’s Office in Binghamton, joins Ziff Law attorneys Jim Reed, Christina Sonsire, and Adam Gee.

Mike’s resume was academically and professionally outstanding, and his three interviews were excellent. We truly believe Mike is a good fit for our firm, and we look forward to working with him.

Mike, a 2012 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, was admitted to the bar in 2013. He was an Assistant District Attorney in the Broome County DA’s Office from May 2013 to September 2015 and joined the AG’s office in September 2015.

“I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to benefit from the Ziff Law attorneys’ many years of experience,” Mike said. “The law firm has a great reputation and it is apparent to me that they do things the right way.”

In the DA’s office, Mike handled all aspects of criminal litigation, including many jury and bench trials. Some of his cases, such as assault, driving while intoxicated, and other traffic-related violations, had personal injury components, he said.

In the AG’s office, Mike worked in the Claims Bureau, defending the state in the Court of Claims against medical malpractice, slip and fall, and other negligence claims, he said.

Every lawyer I spoke with about Mike said the same thing: he is hard-working, smart, and tough.

Mike was an outfielder for the NCAA Division 1 Le Moyne College baseball team for four years, and one of his great catches was an ESPN Play of the Day,

I think that catch says a lot about who Mike is. It takes an enormous amount of hard work and discipline to play Division I baseball, and real courage and confidence to make a catch like that. I am confident he will bring those qualities to the Ziff Law Firm.

The chemistry of the people working in the law firm is important. Our office has great chemistry, and one of my biggest concerns in adding another lawyer was whether a new lawyer would fit in. That’s why we conducted three interviews and spent so much time talking with lawyers who worked with Mike. I am confident that with Mike, we succeeded in hiring a lawyer who will make our chemistry even better.

 

■ To contact Mike Brown, call 607-733-8866 or send an email to [email protected].

Education:

Vestal High School, 2005.
Le Moyne College, Syracuse, Bachelor’s degree in Management and Leadership, 2009.
Syracuse University College of Law, Juris Doctor Cum Laude, 2012.

Family:

Wife Courtney, daughter Everly Mae, born Dec. 18, 2015. He comes from a medical family: his father and two or his brothers are medical doctors, his wife is a nurse, and his mother was a nurse before she started raising her four sons.

Notable:

Mike is an avid outdoorsman. At Le Moyne, he was an outfielder with the NCAA Division I Varsity Baseball team all four years.


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

 

 


Go Car-Less For Two Weeks During 2016 Car-Free Challenge

chemung4

Can you make it most or all of two weeks without driving your car and find alternate ways to get to work, shop and live the rest of your life?

If you are up for the challenge in Chemung, Steuben, Tompkins and Schuyler counties, join the 2016 Car-Free Challenge from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5 and learn about some of the other ways to get around besides as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Check out carpooling resources and mass transit options at the website.

chemung-how-it-works-01To participate, click here and find the link to your Twin Tiers county. You will be asked to register, and to be eligible for drawings, you will need to log at least one car-free effort every day in the two-week period.

Every time during the two weeks that you ride a bike, walk, ride a bus or carpool instead of driving alone, log an entry on the website. To be eligible for a grand prize drawing, you must have at least three days of car-free efforts in the two weeks.

Keep track of your car-free mileage so organizers know how many miles were saved by all participants!

Check out 511NY Southern Tier Rideshare, a free resource to help you find carpool partners who live or work in Steuben and Chemung counties.  When you sign up for ride-matching, you’ll join other riders and drivers in a database. You will save money and be eligible to enter a raffle to win a $25 grocery store gift card when you register for carpooling.

The announcement of the grand prize winner will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 11 at the meeting of the Chemung County Coordinated Transportation Committee at the Corning Community College campus in Elmira at 318 Madison Ave.

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

Jim Reed Named Among Best Lawyers in U.S. for Sixth Year In A Row

Jim Reed is managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed is Managing Partner of the Ziff Law Firm.

Jim Reed, Managing Partner of the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, has been selected by his peers as a “Best Lawyer in America” in a national directory of top-rated attorneys for the sixth year in a row.

Jim, selected as a Best Lawyer in Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice law, was named to the 2017 Best Lawyers in America guide following a survey of lawyers in his geographical region and areas of practice. Reed was first selected for the 2012 guide.

In September 2014, Jim was named the 2015 Plaintiffs’ Lawyer of the Year by the Best Lawyers in America guide among personal injury lawyers in the Southern New York Region, based on the recommendations of lawyers in Chemung, Steuben, Tompkins, Broome and Tioga, N.Y., counties.

JIm, who has been practicing law since 1986, has argued cases at every level in the New York State court system and has successfully handled many multi-million dollar cases. His practice handles serious personal injury, bicycle accident and medical malpractice cases in NY and PA.

Jim’s leadership, experience and hard work have helped to made this the best year ever at the Ziff Law Firm, with multi-million dollar recoveries on behalf of our injured clients.

His selection as a Best Lawyer shows that he has an excellent reputation in the Twin Tiers legal community, and a trial lawyer’s reputation means everything.

Every client should care about the reputation of their lawyer because it can influence the success or failure of their case. If you have a good reputation, as Jim does, opposing counsel and judges afford you courtesy and respect. They know that every case handled by a lawyer of Jim’s stature is a good case.

Jim is also the legal expert for WETM-TV in Elmira and appears in a segment called “Law Talk” at about 12:20 p.m. each Wednesday during WETM’s noon newscast to discuss legal issues in the news.

Thank you 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]

 

 


Ziff Law Lawyers Fighting In Albany For NY Families

 

tort reform art

Christina Sonsire and Adam Gee of the Ziff Law Firm recently went to Albany to fight for grieving families in New York State – like Craig and Melissa Storms, who lost their 2-year-old son in a hospital emergency room.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

Christina and Adam lobbied with other members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association in the New York State Legislature to fight for reforming New York’s 153-year-old wrongful death law, something the lawyers at Ziff Law have been doing for nearly a decade.

“We have been to Albany numerous times to fight for justice for those who lose a loved one due to negligence. It’s one battle we will never stop waging until the laws in New York finally improve,” Christina said.

Under the present wrongful death statute in New York, the assessment of damages is based almost exclusively on expected future income, something that is very biased toward the state’s highest-earning residents. Worse, New York is one of only seven states that do not compensate family members for their grief and sorrow.

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” Christina said. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

Having to tell a family that we cannot take a case because their loved one’s life is worthless in the eyes of New York State law is a very difficult thing to do, Adam said. “Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York.”

The tragic case of 2-year-old Zachary Storms highlights the discriminatory nature of New York’s wrongful death law.

Zachary’s story is heartbreaking.

Craig and Melissa Storms rushed their child to a hospital emergency room because they feared he may have ingested some red and blue dye from a child’s chemistry set.

They did all the right things. They consulted with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which recommended, to be safe, that they take the child to a local hospital for precautionary treatment.

Things turned nightmarish quickly.

The Poison Control Centers urged “observe-only” to the hospital, but instead, the doctor forced young Zachary to drink an activated charcoal solution. He vomited and refused to drink more and the hospital put a gastrointestinal tube down his throat and poured so much liquid that it filled his throat, stomach, and lungs, killing him almost instantly.

“He was running around the emergency room, playing. Then he was dead,” said Melissa Storms.

“This is about justice and holding the people who caused his death accountable,” said Craig Storms.

However, New York’s wrongful death law only values financial loss, not human loss. A toddler, Zachary clearly was not earning any income, and his young age made it too speculative to project what he would make in the future. Therefore, under New York’s current wrongful death law, Zachary’s life was worthless.

When Congress established the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it circumvented the law so surviving victims and victims’ families could be properly compensated. “Congress understood New York’s law is antiquated, and doing something like denying compensation to the parents whose children died that day was just wrong,” said Christina.

It’s time for New York State to do the same and take a giant step toward civil justice reform.

The lawyers at the Ziff Law Firm will not stop fighting for families until New York State changes this law.

Contact your local state representative and tell them about Zachary and why it’s important to modernize the state’s wrongful death law.

Thanks for reading.

Jim

___________________________________

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

 


Is Your Surgeon Operating On A Second Patient At The Same Time?

surgery photo

Here is a new practice that Twin Tiers residents should remember when they, their family or their friends are facing medical procedures in a local hospital: concurrent surgery.

Last fall the Boston Globe newspaper reported Massachusetts General Hospital has surgeons who are performing surgery in two operating rooms at the same time. It’s called double-booking.

mass-generalDouble booking is a very controversial and risky procedure that is apparently an open secret in hospitals. But patients are rarely told. The surgeon responsible for the patient relies on a general surgeon or surgeon-in-training as he or she goes from room to room, performing multiple operations at the same time.

There is a lot of disagreement in the medical community over both the ethics and safety of double-booking. Let’s face it – it’s clearly done to make money and get as many patients through operating rooms in the shortest amount of time possible.

As the Boston Globe reports: Hospitals that permit double-booking consider it an efficient way to deploy the talents of their most in-demand specialists while reducing wasted operating room time. For patients, however, it can come as an unsettling surprise — especially when things go wrong.

At the very least, patients have the right to informed consent. In other words, patients must be informed their surgery has been double-booked so that they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to allow it.

It should be very interesting to see what transpires.

Thank you for reading!

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]