Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?

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The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

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

 


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

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

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]

 

 


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]


Twin Tiers Drivers, Have You Heard Of The “Move Over” Law?

move-over-law

I recently received a message from a Twin Tiers resident after a friend of hers received a $300 ticket on a New York State highway for allegedly violating the state’s “Move Over” law.

The woman said her friend slowed down as she passed a police car, which was stopped with flashing lights. The officer was helping a motorist with a disabled vehicle.

Shortly after that, an officer pulled over her friend and informed her about the law and told her she always needs to slow down AND move to the passing lane. The woman who wrote the note to me said she had never heard of the law, and neither had any of her friends.

She suggested I warn our blog readers, and I thought that was a great idea!

I hope this story opens the eyes of many Twin Tiers drivers who were not aware of the law, and serves as a stark reminder to those who have heard of the law but did not know the specifics.

The Ambrose-Searles Move Over Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, is named in honor of New York State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose and Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Glenn Matthew Searles, who were killed by vehicles while helping motorists. The law is designed to protect law enforcement and emergency workers.

In 2012, the law was amended to include tow and service-vehicle operators.

When approaching these vehicles that are stopped, parked or standing on the shoulder, drivers are required to:

  • Reduce speed.

  • Move to an open lane (unless they cannot do so safely).

Read the full text of the law here.

The penalties are stiff:

It’s a moving violation and three points on your license. (It was two points in 2011, but increased to three points when the law was revised in 2012.)

The fine is $275 PLUS a state surcharge (tax).

If you have two violations of this law in an 18-month period, the state DMV slaps you with a Driver Assessment Fee, which STARTS at $300 and could go up from there.

So the next time you approach an emergency vehicle or service vehicles helping motorists, SLOW DOWN AND TRY TO GET OVER INTO THE NEXT LANE.

If it’s not possible to get over, give them as much room as you can and go slowly.

 

Thanks for reading, and take it slow out there!

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