Deer Season Makes Twin Tiers Roads More Dangerous This Fall, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

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It’s deer season for hunters – and drivers – this fall.

Hunting seasons are underway in New York and Pennsylvania, so that means deer collisions on Twin Tiers roads are going to skyrocket. It’s also mating season for deer, so they are more restless and your chances of hitting a deer are much higher this time of year. Remember that dusk and dawn are the most dangerous deer-related collision times for motorists.

So be prepared.

Traffic-Signs-RM213-lgYour first step, in addition to being more watchful on area roads, is checking your car insurance policy to make sure you are covered sufficiently in case of an accident. Deer collisions are covered under the comprehensive section of your policy, which protects you against acts of God or nature.

Although we call it a deer collision – it is not covered under your insurance policy’s collision coverage, which protects you if you strike a fixed object or another vehicle. For example, your collision coverage would likely cover you if you swerve to miss a deer and strike a guardrail or a tree.

Keep in mind that you will have to pay a deductible on your comprehensive and collision coverage. You may also want to consider rental coverage so you do not have to pay out pocket for a rental car or be left without a vehicle in the event yours is inoperable after a deer collision.

If you are injured in the collision, your medical bills and lost wages will be covered under no-fault insurance.

It’s also important to check your liability coverage. Many drivers and passengers are injured in deer-related crashes because drivers swerve to miss the deer and strike other vehicles or fixed objects, such as a tree or guardrail. In these instances, an injured passenger or other motorist may bring a claim against you for their pain and suffering.

Therefore, it is very important to heed the advice below to keep you and your loved ones safe and free from liability.

If you strike a deer …

Mike Brown.

Michael Brown.

Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights. If you must leave your vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles.

Call the police if there are injuries to you or passengers, or the deer is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury or property damage, you may need to fill out an official report. This report also can prove useful when filing your insurance claim.

Document, document, document. Write detailed notes about what happened and be as specific as possible. Shoot photographs of the roadway, your surroundings, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries you or your passengers sustained if it is safe. If witnesses stop, take down their account of what occurred and get their contact information.

Stay away from the animal. A frightened, wounded deer could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to harm you.

Contact your insurance agent. The sooner you report damage or injuries, the sooner your agent can file and process your claim.

Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Double-check that your car can be driven after colliding with a deer. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.

Consumer Reports offers the following tips to help you avoid striking deer this fall:

Slow down. Watch for deer especially around dawn and between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m., when they’re most active.

Be aware. Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where animals are likely to travel. If you travel the same route to and from work every day, you may find deer consistently grazing in the same fields. Make a mental note of when and where you regularly see the animals.

Be alert. If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down. At night when traffic permits, put on your high beams for improved visibility.

Brake, don’t swerve. Swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your car. It can also confuse the animal as to which way to go. Instead, just slow down as quickly and safely as you can. Your odds for surviving an accident are better when hitting an animal than hitting another car.

Assume they have friends. The “where there’s one, there’s usually more” often holds true. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.

Don’t rely on deer whistles. Some drivers put these devices on their front bumpers to scare off animals, but animal behavior is unpredictable, even if you use one of these.

Buckle up. A seat belt is your best defense for minimizing your risk in a crash. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing their seat belts.

Thanks for reading,

Michael Brown, Esq.
NY Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
[email protected]
Office: (607) 733-8866
Web: www.zifflaw.com


After Deadly Limo Crash, It’s Time To Review YOUR Vehicle Insurance, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

Capture2The crash of the stretch limousine last weekend in Schoharie, N.Y., that killed 20 people has left a lot of people in the Twin Tiers shaken. At some point in our lives, many of us have hopped aboard a limo for happy events like a wine tour or a wedding or a birthday party. Most of us were having so much fun with family and friends and co-workers that the thought of a crash never occurred to us. Or we have been passengers with another driver with insufficient insurance to protect their passengers in case of a crash.

But during this week of grim news, as the operator of the Schoharie limo company was charged with criminally negligent homicide, I want to provide something positive that Twin Tiers motorists can do to protect themselves. You’ll need your current car insurance policy.

Here’s why: Some people probably think that getting in a limo, there must be at least $1 million in coverage.  Unfortunately, that simply is not true in most cases.  In New York State, owners of stretch limos are not required to have much insurance. A limo that can hold up to 20 people is only required to have a total of $150,000 of coverage to cover everyone in that limo in the event of a fatal crash.

So in the Schoharie crash, the families of the 20 people killed the crash, in some cases with small children, may only be able to recover $7,500 per person from the insurance company assuming the limo company had the state-required minimum coverage.

What the state requires is ridiculously low but the one thing Twin Tiers residents can do to protect themselves and their families is make sure they are protected on THEIR car insurance.

On your insurance policy, there is a section called Supplemental Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage.

You should make sure you have at least $250,000 of SUM coverage in your vehicle insurance policy that would come from your own insurance company to protect your family in the event of your injury or death in your vehicle or someone else’s vehicle (for instance, if you were in a limo).

So please check your policy and make sure you have $250,000 in SUM coverage. In the Schoharie crash, SUM coverage would at least offer some additional money to compensate the grieving families and help provide for the children who lost a parent or parents.

Be sure to watch this week’s Law Talk, where I urged WETM viewers to check their insurance policies.

Here is the state law on insurance and more information I have written on SUM coverage here and here.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

Jim Reed
Managing Partner
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

New Drone Pilots Need To Follow Regulations, Be Safe, Says NY and PA Injury Lawyer

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As winter turns to spring in the Twin Tiers and people of all ages get ready to fly the new drone they got for Christmas, I would encourage all new owners of all ages to do some homework, if they haven’t already, before taking to the air.

113154-fullDrones are not toys. If a child will be flying the drone, prepare the child. Drones in the wrong hands can damage property, injure and kill people on the ground, and endanger passing commercial aircraft. It’s a HUGE responsibility, and in careless or uneducated hands, drones can be a dangerous weapon that could lead to criminal charges and lawsuits for the operator and their family. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, I know drones are going to be a big problem for those who don’t respect the power they possess in a drone.

I will say it again: It’s NOT a toy.

A few basics you need to know right now:

Go to the FAA website and look at the rules and regulations on drones. (Click on Part 107 for a summary of the rules and regulations.)

  • You need to register the drone – that is something a lot of people don’t know. The buyer should have been told that when they bought the drone but if not, Remember: Ignorance of the law is no defense.  You can register your drone here.  The good news?  It only costs $5.
  • You must have visual identification of your drone at all times. If you can’t see your drone, you are not operating it properly and you can be subject to penalties and fines.
  • You must not operate your drone over other people, under a covered structure or inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • Your drone can’t exceed 100 mph or weigh more than 55 lbs.

Most of the new Twin Tiers drone operators will be recreational users. You have to register your drone with the FAA but you don’t need any special license operate it, like commercial users do. A handy site for recreational users is here.

Here are the website’s safety guidelines for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS):

  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Do your homework, and be prepared before you take your first flight.

It’s a big responsibility. It’s not a toy.

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]

 

 


Doctors Struggle To Curb Patients Who Pose Serious Danger To Other Drivers On The Road, Says NY and PA Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Doctors face a daunting challenge when they are treating a patient who is impaired or has a disability that makes that patient an unsafe driver.

the-information-age-has-enabled-doctors-to-view-patient-data-on-laptops-_1508_608708_0_14091474_500Many doctors will want to get the patients’ keys away from them quickly and without incident, but they have to take great care not to breach that patient’s confidentiality.

Doctors shouldn’t notify the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles without talking with the patient, and with the patient’s permission, notify their family and the DMV, unless the patient has already done so.

Those are some of the key conclusions discussed in a story in the Spring 2016 Dateline newsletter published by the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co.

According to Donnaline Richmond, counsel to the company, doctors need to document every step they take to protect themselves and their employer.

Doctors know patients will rarely do what’s required and report a disabling condition to the DMV, Richmond said. So doctors need to inform and warn patients of the risk of their medical condition – and fully document those warnings.

According to Richmond, among the steps doctors should document:

  • How medication or a medical condition make it unsafe for the patient to drive.
  • All attempts to communicate doctors’ concerns to the patients and their families, and their attempts to gain consent from patients.
  • All DMV paperwork completed for the patient, once the doctor has the patient’s written authorization.
  • All phone records from calls to patients and their family members regarding the patients’ inability to drive.
  • Patients’ written authorization to release medical information.
  • Reports to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, if it applies.

Thanks for reading.

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Icy Roads Kill…..Especially When Large Trucks Fail to Slow Down for Conditions…..

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

There is a fundamental rule every new driver is taught:  You are REQUIRED to reduce speed when conditions require.

Unfortunately, many drivers violate this fundamental rule and often the consequences are deadly.

An Odessa man who was critically injured Tuesday morning when a UPS tandem tractor-trailer struck and rolled over on his vehicle on an icy Route 13 died early Wednesday, according to the New York State Police.

Troopers said Glenn Marsh, 58, of Odessa, was driving south on Route 13 at about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the truck, which was traveling down a hill, crossed the center line near the Chemung-Schuyler county line and struck Marsh’s sedan head-on and rolled over on it, according to news reports.

20863-2Marsh suffered massive injuries, troopers said, and had to be extricated from his crushed vehicle by emergency workers. He transported to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA.

New York State Police Sgt. Steve Neuberger told the news media it was the fault of the UPS truck driver: “The UPS driver lost control due to slick conditions. The truck went across the road and struck the car, and the car went under the trailer.”

Marsh died during the night, police said.

This is the latest tragic example of what happens when tandem tractor-trailers hit icy conditions, especially on hilly two-lane highways!

Thanks for reading,

Jim
______________________________________
Jim Reed, N.Y. Truck Crash Lawyer
[email protected]


Ithaca Surgeon Faces 12th Malpractice Lawsuit Since 1996!

 

Dr. David Schwed

Dr. David Schwed

The Ithaca Voice newspaper has just uncovered some startling information about an Ithaca-area surgeon: The doctor has been sued for malpractice 12 times in Tompkins County Court since 1996, according to records reviewed by reporter Jeff Stein.

cayuga logoThe latest lawsuit, filed Oct. 22, shows that Dr. David Schwed was sued in late October by Donna Diconstanzo for complications related to a laparoscopic colectomy, which involves the removal of a portion of the large intestine, according to Stein.

The lawsuit states that Schwed performed a laparoscopy on DiCostanzo that “resulted in significant disfigurement, scarring and the removal of covering up of her belly button.”

The lawsuit also notes that the Cayuga Medical Center website states: “At Cayuga Medical Center, we want your surgical experience to be as safe, comfortable and stress-free as possible.”

This comes despite CMC’s awareness that “Dr. Schwed has numerous medical malpractice claims and a history of payments that establish that surgical experiences conducted by Dr. Schwed are not safe, comfortable, and stress-free as possible,” the lawsuit states.

This lawsuit is ongoing.

The Voice reported that Schwed has made four payments in civil litigation since 2009, two of which were for the above-average amount, according to state records.

Only 1 percent of doctors made four or more malpractice payouts in 15 years according to data from the 1990s and 2000s, said Public Citizen, a national consumer watchdog group.

At least three lawsuits are ongoing, raising at least the possibility of a fifth payout. Only 0.5 percent of doctors had five payouts or more in the 15-year period surveyed in the Public Citizen report.

The Cayuga Medical Center, where the surgery occurred, is named as a defendant in the October lawsuit, as is Surgical Associates of Ithaca.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen told The Voice that the number of Schwed’s malpractice payouts should raise concerns with state officials and the Cayuga Medical Center.

Schwed has faced no disciplinary action from state officials, according to records.

“It’s multiple payouts against someone, and the (state) medical board doesn’t seem to be doing anything,” said Wolfe, whose expertise on malpractice has been cited by CBS News, the New York Times and other national publications. “The question is, ‘Why haven’t they done anything?’”

Wolfe said it’s important for patients to be informed of the malpractice histories of their doctors.

“Letting people know about well-established facts about a doctor — including malpractice payouts … is part of a public health responsibility of a reporter,” Wolfe said.

“One might at least raise the question, ‘Would some of the people injured since then not been injured had the medical board acted on these four cases that are between 3 and 5 years old?’”

To see the history of civil litigation against Dr. Schwed, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]


Woman, Child In Stroller Struck By Truck In Corning Crosswalk, Says NY and PA Personal Injury Lawyer

Police car image

A 29-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child she was pushing in a stroller were injured Thursday when they were struck by a pickup truck while crossing East Denison Parkway in Corning, police said.

The driver of the pickup truck told police he did not see the woman and the stroller with the child as he was turning left.

It is inexcusable that a driver could be so inattentive as to miss a woman walking a stroller through the crosswalk on Denison Parkway. I have personally handled almost the exact same case in the past with a pedestrian struck in the crosswalk at Cohocton Street crossing Denison. In my investigation, I determined that Denison is very well lit and even on a cloudy, overcast and rainy night, a pedestrian is visible from hundreds of yards away. The only way a driver could not see a pedestrian in the crosswalk is if they have their eyes off the road for many, many seconds or simply aren’t paying attention to what is going on around them. 

According to news reports here and here:

Brittany Neu was crossing East Denison Parkway at about 3 p.m. Thursday at the intersection with Cohocton Street, in front of Dunkin Donuts, while pushing a stroller with a 3-year-old when she was struck by the truck. The driver was was turning left from Cohocton Street onto East Denison Parkway.

crosswalk signNeu was thrown about 10 feet by the impact of the truck, police said.

City firefighters and a Rural/Metro Ambulance crew treated Neu and the child at the scene, then transported them to the Corning Fire Department. Neu was airlifted by a Guthrie helicopter to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. The child was also transported to Robert Packer.

Their injuries were not considered life-threatening, police said.

Witnesses said Neu was within the markings of the crosswalk when she was struck. The stroller was not struck but toppled over during the accident, police said.

The driver was cooperative and went to the police department for questioning, police said.

The intersection was closed for about an hour during the start of the investigation, which is continuing. No tickets have been issued yet, police said.

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]


Government Recalls Millions Of Vehicles With Dangerous Takata Airbags, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Takata 1

Federal safety regulators this week called for all automakers to recall any vehicle equipped with driver’s-side airbags made by the Japanese supplier Takata.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Takata and the vehicle manufacturers this week to call for the recall of millions of vehicles after evaluating a recent incident that involved a failure in a driver’s side air bag inflator.

Takata 2Based on this new information, unless Takata and the manufacturers quickly agree to this recall, NHTSA will use the full extent of its statutory powers to ensure vehicles that use the same or similar air bag inflator are recalled.

“We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “We’re pushing Takata and all affected manufacturers to issue the recall and to ensure the recalls capture the full scope of the problems.”

According to news reports, the agency said it had yet to make a detailed list of the models or model years affected. But the recall will affect millions of vehicles made by Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW, mostly from model years 2008 or earlier, Friedman told the news media in a conference call.

More than 14 million vehicles made by 11 automakers have been recalled worldwide since 2008 over concerns about Tanaka airbags, news reports said. At least five people have died in accidents linked to the airbags.

There is a propellant in the airbags that can lead them to explode when they activate in an accident, spraying metal debris into the car and possibly injuring the driver or passengers.

The agency did not expand a limited recall that was already in place for some Takata passenger-side airbags in some vehicles in humid regions of the country. The agency said they had a different design than the driver’s-side airbags and tests did not suggest a need to include them in the recall.

Residents of the Twin Tiers, if you believe you have been injured by a Takata airbag, contact me today for a free consultation.

Thanks for

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]

 

 

 

 

 


‘Inspiring’ Day On Judicial Panel for Ziff Law partner Christina Sonsire

New York State Court of Appeals.

New York State Court of Appeals.

Christina Sonsire called Sept. 12 “one of the most interesting and inspiring days in my legal career.” That was the day our Ziff Law attorney and 11 of the other top trial lawyers in the state interviewed seven candidates for the New York State Court of Appeals, the top court in the state, in Albany,

“The finalists were so intellectually outsanding that at times we were almost in awe of their answers,” Christina said.

Christina Sonsire.

Christina Sonsire.

The panel of trial lawyers, assembled by the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, advised Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his selection of a new justice following the day of interviews Friday.

Beyond respect for the great judicial minds, Christina also brought home some lessons that helped her immediately in her practice.

“Several candidates were sitting appellate-level judges, and listening to them talk about what is most persuasive to them or what they look for in cases when they are deciding appeals was incredibly helpful,” she said. “I was coming back to the office to write an appeal on a case and the discussion is very much on my mind as I begin to draft it.”

She sees similarities in working with juries and appellate judges.

“When you are talking to members of a jury, you want to give them something to take back with them to the jury room so they can fight for your client when you are not there,” she said. “You want to give them facts, data and arguments they need so that when they go back to the jury room to discuss the case, they might fight for your client.

“Appellate work is very similar. Instead of a jury, you have a panel of appellate judges, and you have to give them enough facts and be as persuasive as you can so they fight for your client when the sit together to decide the case.”

Lawyers across the state have taken note of Christina’s skill as a trial lawyer. Christina is a member of the board of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers and was appointed to the judicial panel by Academy Executive Director Michelle J. Stern.

Christina was selected because of her strong record as a plaintiffs’ attorney, primarily in medical malpractice cases. She has also lectured extensively across the state.

And Christina was the ONLY trial lawyer on the panel chosen to represent the Elmira, Corning, Ithaca and Binghamton region.

The state Commission on Judicial Nomination announced the judicial finalists in a letter to Cuomo on Sept. 3. Cuomo then asked the Academy and other state bar associations to screen the candidates and make a recommendation.

Cuomo is expected to soon announce his selection.

The committee will meet again later in the fall to interview candidates for another position soon to open on the top court.

“It was a great honor to be named to this committee and meet so many professionals with great legal experience. I am sure every time I go to Albany for a meeting, I will come back with new ideas and strategies that will help my clients at Ziff 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