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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Rural Roads Pose Greatest Danger to Drivers

stop?Where do drivers ignore the speed limit? A clue – it’s not a superhighway, the Autobahn or a racetrack.

It’s the same place drivers also ignore poor road conditions. But it’s not an off-roading park.

The place where most of our nation’s traffic fatalities occur is a situation many Twin Tiers drivers see every day: a rural road.

Unfortunately, it’s also a place with a double danger. Not only do most traffic accident deaths happen off the major highways, by their very nature rural roads take emergency services more time to arrive at the scene.

I’ve written about some of the most dangerous roads in the region before on the NY Injury Law Blog. As New York accident lawyers, we have handled WAY too many cases on these roads:

  • Route 352 between Elmira and Corning is a busy road with some serious curves, but many drivers apparently see the open farmland and figure the speed limit is optional.
  • County Route 64 in Big Flats and Horseheads, the rural road that passes into the busy snarl of traffic for Consumer Square in Big Flats. It’s a hub for commerce, all right, and traffic accidents.
  • On Route 14 between Elmira, Watkins Glen and Geneva, drivers zip along at highway speeds, but there are many hidden drives down to lakeside properties, not to mention an active deer population.

I am revisiting this topic because of a recent USA Today story, “More Motorists Die on Rural Roads” (10/7, Copeland). The story exposes the fact that a majority of the nation’s traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2008, 56% of 37,261 traffic deaths occurred on rural roads.

It goes to show that the roads we take for granted as places to play with the rules are riskier than highways. The best solution is to hope that individual drivers take the statistics to heart and drive strategically for the safety of all.

In South Carolina, the state with the highest percentage of rural road accident deaths, lawmakers are making changes – roads are getting rumble strips and an anti drunk-driving task force formed in July aims to cut down the number of alcohol-influenced accidents. I searched for similar rural road safety initiatives in New York and Pennsylvania where I routinely handle car accident lawsuits but I was unable to find a single program devoted to improving the safety of our many rural roads. That’s really too bad…..

There was some good news to the NHTSA report: Overall, traffic accidents are down on all types of roads, across the nation. I think it shows that we can learn from our accidents – and strategies do work to make the roads safer.

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
New York Car 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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New York Car Accident Lawyer Warns: Drivers Take Risks Along Route 14

speed_limit_40_signThe drive north along Route 14 between Millport and Montour Falls follows the bottom of a beautiful valley. It’s near the new Catharine Valley Trail, after all. Area drivers, however, don’t seem inclined to take in the scenery on a leisurely manner.
A recent story by WETM-TV (below) followed up on a Jan. 15 head-on crash on Route 14. Five people were injured in the car accident. The story reports that residents along the speed zone where the limit drops from 55 to 40 mph said that they felt drivers ignore the speed limit. Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman had objective proof – he said that radar run in the speed zone confirms that drivers tend to be going too fast.

Though officials say the cause of the crash wasn’t speed related, such a harrowing occurrence makes you think about road safety on Route 14. It’s a twisty drive that can be slippery in rain or snow. Impatient drivers may take the chance of passing, even though there are few spots along the route that allow enough visibility to do it safely. If drivers ignore the posted speed limits, that’s just adding another – completely unnecessary – risk.

The residents mentioned in the story say that they hope that moving the speed limit signs, adding flashing signs, and/or adding warning “children at play” signs may help ensure that Route 14 leading into Montour Falls is a safer stretch of road. Let’s hope that something wakes drivers up to the dangers of driving too fast on Route 14.

Thanks for reading, Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Car Accident & 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

Schuyler County Road Concerns

Reported by Meagan Kolkmann
Email: [email protected]
Last Update: 1/17 8:03 pm

MONTOUR FALLS – Neighbors that live on a stretch of State Route 14 in Montour are very concerned that people in the area drive too fast. They say this is happening where the speed limit changes from 55 mph 40mph.
Mike Colunio lives along the speed zone and says drivers are constantly ignoring the posted traffic signs.

“Just last week I was checking the mail and I barely made it back across the road because someone was speeding this way.”

The Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman says they run radar in the area and people in the speed zone tend to go too fast.

Just last week a head-on crash in the speed zone sent 5 people to the hospital.

The cause of that crash is still unknown, although, officials say it wasn’t speed related.

Colunio saw the crash and says he disagrees.

He says he’s been complaining to the town for years and their efforts to stop speeders aren’t helping either.

Some neighbors say although the posted roadway warning help, the speed limit signs may need to be moved so drivers can see them coming around the curve.

Another thing Colunio says he’s considering to help make the neighbor more safe is asking the town for is flashing signs and signs that warn children are at play.

When we asked town leaders about the road they told us they haven’t received any complaints from neighbors.

The New York State Department of Transportation says nobody’s filed complaints with them either.

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Bad Car Accident on Rt. 14 in Schuyler County Near Montour Falls

Map of New York highlighting Schuyler County

A WETM-TV story (pasted below) got me thinking about one of the most dangerous roads in the Twin Tiers area– Route 14. Over the years I have handled WAY too many Route 14 car crashes. In particular, the area South of Watkins Glen, NY between Montour Falls and Horseheads, NY is particularly hazardous.

Many of the car crash cases I have handled involve dangerous attempts to pass other cars. Given the fact that Route 14 along this stretch of road is narrow, twisty and turny, with lots of no-passing zones, many impatient drivers unsafely try to pass too many cars when a passing zone finally appears.

The bottom line is that all drivers must be extra cautious along this stretch of road– drive defensively and be on the lookout for a driver who might not be as smart as you! To you impatient drivers, I urge you to slow down, breathe deep and take it easy– the life you save may be your own……

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

Five Hospitalized in Route 14 Crash

Rt. 14 in Schuyler County shut down. (AP 2009)

Town of Montour – At least five people, including two young people, are being treated for injuries at area hospitals following a head-on crash that happened Monday night in the Town of Montour.

According to a spokesman for the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, the crash happened shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.

Ambulances and a helicopter transported victims from the scene, including a child and a teenager.

Identities aren’t being released because sheriff’s deputies are still investigating the crash.

It happened directly across from the Rambling Brook Inn.

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Winter Driving Tips from the New York Accident Lawyer

Winter Car Accident

What Happens When You Don’t Drive Safely
in the Snow!!

The headlines this morning said it all:

  • Buffalo Car Accident Kills Two
  • Snow Causes Two Car Crash in Elmira
  • Corning Highway Accident Due to Snow

In my area of Upstate New York, the first snow falls of the year provoke lots of car crashes and auto accidents. Having spent my career representing people badly injured or killed by accidents, I have seen the same accident causes over and over again. The sad part is that the vast majority of accidents are totally avoidable IF drivers gave some basic thought to safe driving practices. Frankly, there would be a whole lot less winter car crashes if people used some basic common-sense when winter driving. Here’s a few tips to make you a safer driver in the snow and ice:

  • Install Good Snow Tires— This seems like a no brainer but I can’t tell you the number of lawsuits I have handled where drivers were driving on bad or even bald tires. In the winter, you need traction and snow tires are essential.
  • Clean the Snow and Ice Off Your Windows BEFORE You Start Driving— How many times have you watched drivers trying to drive with just a small cleared area on the front windshield. How the heck do you expect to make safe turns if you can’t see out your side windows? How are you going to see the cars behind you if you can’t see out your rear window or use your mirrors? OK, I know it’s cold and you just want to get in to the shelter of your car but it is critical that you take the time to clear your windows.
  • SLOW DOWN IN THE SNOW— Simple but the single best way to avoid a car crash. Just because the speed limit is 55mph or 35mph does NOT mean it is safe to go that speed. Remember: As a driver, you are legally required to have your car under control at ALL times.
  • Choose the Safest Route— As someone who has lived in this area of Upstate NY for my whole life, I am always amazed that some people will choose routes that everyone knows are very dangerous in the winter. For instance, we live in an area of steep hills and deep valleys. Often, it might be faster to go over a hill rather than the long way around a hill but in winter conditions it is usually much safer to avoid the hills whenever possible.
  • Carry a Cell Phone and Equip Your Car with Basic Supplies— God forbid that you follow these safety rules and you have an accident anyway but if that does happen to you make sure you have some basic supplies like a cell phone, blankets, flares, drinking water, some food. If you are involved in an accident, most experts strongly urge you to stay in your car (so long as it is in a safe location) and wait until emergency help arrives rather than setting off in a snowstorm to find help. Every year we hear of someone who dies due to exposure following a car accident…the best advice is to stay put.

I wish you a safe and happy winter driving season. “Let’s be CAREFUL out there!”

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


NY Accident Lawyer Explains Legal Liability in One-Car Accidents

A vehicle which crashed into a small guardhouse.

The one-car accident described below got me thinking about a question I am often asked:

If I am riding in a car driven by one of my friends and he does something dumb (speeding, driving drunk, driving too fast for conditions) that causes me to get injured, can I bring a claim against my friend?

The short answer is YES. If you have been hurt due to the negligence, carelessness or recklessness of another, you can bring an action against them even though they may be your friend, your relative or even your spouse. That goes too for the driver of a car in which you are riding.

Now this does NOT mean that every car crash results in a valid claim or lawsuit. Both New York and Pennsylvania have rules about when you can and cannot bring a lawsuit. For instance, NY requires that you have suffered a “serious injury” in order to qualify to bring a lawsuit in NY auto accident case and in Pennsylvania your right to bring a lawsuit may be determined by whether you elected the full tort or limite tort option.

But what this DOES mean is that just because you have some relationship with the negligent person, does NOT automatically disqualify you from bringing a claim against them and their insurance company.

I hope this helps clarify this issue.

Thanks for reading,

Jim Reed
New York & Pennsylvania Auto Accident Lawyer
[email protected]

Bradford County Crash Injures Three People

Contributor: Katie Graham, WETM-TV

ATHENS TOWNSHIP-Athens Township police are investigating a one-car accident that sent three people to the hospital Monday night.

It happened on Wilawana Road near the Dandy Mini-mart, near exit 59-A, around ten o’clock Monday night.

Athens Township police say they’re not sure how the accident happened.

Ambulances took three people to Robert Packer Hospital. Their conditions are unknown Tuesday morning.

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Fatal PA Bicycle Accident: Elderly Driver Claims She Never Saw the Bicyclist….

Map of Tioga County, Pennsylvania with Municip...Image via Wikipedia

As an avid cyclist, I just HATE stories like the one below as reported on the WETM-TV website. Here, the rider was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing– riding on the side of the road and wearing his helmet– yet the driver claims to have not seen the bicyclist. And this bike/car accident occurred in broad daylight!

With the outrageous price of gas, more and more bicyclists are on the road which means it is more important than ever that ALL drivers start to be more vigilant about watching out for bicyclists (and motorcycles too).

Thanks for reading,

Jim Reed, [email protected]
NY & PA Accident Lawyer

Fatal Bicycle vs. Car Accident in Tioga County Pennsylvania

TIOGA TOWNSHIP- A Tioga County, Pennsylvania man is dead after authorities say he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.

Pennsylvania State Police based in Mansfield say forty four-year-old Thomas Kaufmann of Tioga was riding his bike north along State Route 287 in Tioga Township Tuesday night at about 6-45. That’s when State Police say sixty seven-year-old Annamae Patterson, also of Tioga, tried to make a left-hand turn while heading south on the same road. She says she didn’t see Kaufmann, and struck him with her Volkswagen Beetle. He was pronounced dead at the scene after being ejected from his bike. Kaufmann was wearing a helmet.

The accident is still under investigation.

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Why “Independent” Medical Exams Are NOT Independent

If you have been injured in an accident in NY or PA you will likely be subjected to what the insurance industry refers to as an “independent medical examination” (often called “IME’s” for short). As you will read below, IME’s are NOT “independent” in any sense of the word and they are regularly used by insurance companies to improperly deny benefits to deserving people. IME’s are another example of insurance companies at war with their own customers. Insurance companies love us when they are collecting our annual premiums and HATE us whenever we file a claim for those benefits we have been paying for for so many years….

The stated purpose for an IME is for the insurance company to have a so-called “independent”, supposedly unbiased doctor, offer an opinion on the severity of your injury, whether your injury was caused by the accident, and what will be the appropriate medical treatment of your injuries in the future. Sounds good in theory but the theory starts to break down from the moment the IME doctor is hired….

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