Despite almost universal state laws discouraging the practice, Americans are still refusing to put down their phones while in the car. Cell phone usage, especially text messaging, and distracted driving continue to be contributing factors in car crashes. The need to stay in contact all the time is especially high among young twenty-somethings. In New York State, residents between the age of 21 and 29 make up only 15 percent of the state’s drivers, yet they are involved in 37 percent of crashes involving cell phone use and 24 percent of crashes involving distracted driving. Continue reading
Mayor Bill de Blasio and union leaders are set to increase the amount of training hours required for construction laborers. Under the new regulations, all workers will be trained between 54 and 71 hours and supervisors will be trained an additional 30 hours.
In addition, certain workers will be required to undergo “task specific training” which could total 242 hours of training. More specifically, any laborers who will be working in “confined spaces” will need two to 16 hours of additional training. Rigging safety and suspended scaffold workers will need an additional 16 hours of training, their supervisors will require an additional 32 hours. Ten hours of additional training will be required for “excavation, demolition, and perimeter protections.”
The move by City Hall comes in response to an uptick in injuries and deaths on construction sites. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health recorded 25 construction fatalities in 2015, an alarming rise from the 17 recorded in 2015. Mayor de Blasio is reportedly “very upset” whenever a fatal accident happens at a construction site. According to Politico, the Mayor “yells at staff whenever a death occurs.” Continue reading
While most states have laws banning “texting while driving,” states are increasingly strengthening enforcement and penalties for so-called “distracted driving.” In 2016, auto accidents and fatalities increased by 9 percent. As a consequence, in 2017, states have taken varying approaches to solve the problem of distracted driving – which often results in accidents.
The states of Iowa and Washington have enacted the strictest laws against “distracted driving” in the country. Now, a violation (texting or calling – without a hands-free device) will move from secondary enforcement to primary enforcement. This means that police officers will not have to witness a secondary violation (such as speeding, failure to signal, etc.) before pulling a car over and issuing an additional ticket for texting or calling while driving. Instead, if a police officer witnesses a driver texting or placing a phone call, they will have the right to pull that driver over immediately and issue a ticket.
- Make Sure Your Teen Hears You
The best advice in the world means nothing if your teenager does not listen to you – so it’s important to pick the right time, place and setting. First, pick a time and place where you can naturally ease into the conversation about driving – your teen will likely be excited about driving, but you want them to remain calm and collected during the conversation, so try to bring it up naturally. Next, be sure to ask your teen questions, such as: What do you think about how that car just swerved around three lanes of traffic? This can be a good opportunity to provide practical, wise advice about how a person should or should not drive. Lastly, there is no better way to make sure your teen hears you than to lead by example! Show your teen what good driving habits look like, and they will be sure to emulate!
- Provide Good Driving Advice
On May 31, five firefighters were injured after a home in White Plains, New York caught on fire. The two-story home, on Milford Drive, caught on fire at 3:47 A.M – the same time that their fire alarm system alerted emergency services. While the family fled the home safely, about 20 firefighters responded to the incident, which had started in the basement and spread to the first and second floor of the home by the time the firefighters had arrived. Unfortunately, one firefighter was inside of the building when the first floor (and consequently, the second floor) collapsed. The four firefighters that helped removed their immobilized co-firefighter were also injured in the fire. On whether anything suspicious could have caused the fire, Wilson Plains Fire Chief Richard Lyman said, “We don’t rule anything out” – adding that “[The house] is going to need quite a bit of renovation. It’s going to need quite a bit of work.”
Under New York Law, specifically General Municipal Law Sections 205-a, firefighters have some legal protection in the event that they may be injured while “on the job.” This is a rather distinct departure from traditional treatment of firefighters (and police officers, for that matter.) Formerly, firefighters were to have assumed the risks inherent in the performance of their duties – solely by choosing to take on that occupation. Therefore, under the old rules in New York – it would have been very difficult to petition the court for any compensation from damages suffered while in the performance of a firefighter’s duties.
Since 1996, however; the so-called “Firefighter’s Rule” has been somewhat weakened by the New York State Legislature. Now, a firefighter may sue private defendants, and private defendants only – meaning, basically, that a firefighter cannot sue his fire department (in a similar vein, a police officer cannot sue his police station.)
Police Officer Jason Behar has the impressive distinction of issuing the most DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in the State of New York. The Port Chester Officer had issued 128 DUI arrests in the last year. Behar says that he is motivated to locate drunk or otherwise intoxicated drivers because of the “numerous accidents, some involving deaths.” The Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway said, “We’re really proud of him, it was a great individual effort.”
When describing how Behar locates so many drivers under the influence, he states there are several “tip-offs” – driving with no lights on, hugging the line, and swerving back and forth. To avoid a DUI, Behar suggests to basically just “Don’t do it.” Adding that taking a cab, an Uber, or not drinking above the legal limit. Behar also has advice for sober drivers – “…. pull over the side of the road and stay away from erratic drivers. There’s an element of danger just being around a drunk driver.”
Falls are becoming a more common cause of injuries in the construction industry. Between 2011 and 2015, the annual number of falls has increased by 36 percent – an increase from 781 falls in 2011 to 985 falls in 2015. According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, the rise in construction accidents is likely attributable to a rise in construction from an improving economy. From a demographic standpoint, these injuries are most common in Hispanic workers, foreign-born workers, workers over the age of 55, and roofers. Geographically, these injuries from falls are specifically concentrated in urban areas – such as Los Angeles and New York.
Hispanic workers are much more likely to die from construction-related accidents than non-Hispanic workers. In a survey by The Center for Construction and Research and Training, Hispanic construction workers have a fatality rate of 4.9 per 100,000 workers, while white non-Hispanic workers have a fatality rate of 3.0 per 100,000 workers. Foreign-born and older workers also have an elevated risk of dying on a construction site – at 3.7 deaths and per 100,000 workers. Workers over the age of 55 are the group most susceptible to falls – accounting for 31 percent of falls, at a rate of 8.1 per 100,000 workers.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that the number of traffic deaths has increased by 6 percent in the last five years. Even more alarmingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 25 percent over the same period of time. Pedestrian fatalities now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities – up from 11 percent in 2011. The State of New York currently ranks 25th in pedestrian fatalities. New York City, as the largest city in the country and most pedestrian-friendly, unsurprisingly has the most pedestrian fatalities. New York City had 131 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, the second-highest city for pedestrian fatalities was Los Angeles which had only 85 in the same year.
The GHSA Report states that the increase in pedestrian fatalities is most likely due to more people choosing to walk or bike. Spurred by the health, environmental and economic benefits – walking and biking have become more popular in recent years. According to the Government Accountability Office, almost one million more people are choosing to walk or bike to work compared to 2005.
On December 9, 2008, Paul Lindebaum went to his primary care physician care physician complaining of stomach pains. The physician, Dr. Richard Federbush, recommended that Lindebaum go to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center for testing. Lindebaum complied with his doctor’s orders and the next morning faxed over the test results to Federbush. After looking over the test results, Federbush diagnosed Lindebaum with colitis and recommended he take the antibiotics he had been prescribed at the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
Unfortunately, Federbush had misdiagnosed Lindebaum and his condition was more serious than colitis – Lindebaum had an abscess, which subsequently infected his brain, causing permanent brain damage. Lindebaum’s wife was granted power of attorney and sued the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Federbush.
On January 30, 2007, Eddie Goodwin was on the fourth day of working to install wood paneling and molding at the Dix Hills Jewish Center in Dix Hills, New York when he was injured after falling from an unstable ladder. In preparing to lay the paneling, Goodwin had removed several fixtures from the walls – including two audio speakers. As the job was nearing its completion on the fourth day, a Rabbi employed by the temple asked Goodwin to re-install the speakers. Because rehanging the speakers would involve drilling holes and installing brackets, Goodwin used a ladder that was at the temple. After successfully installing the first speaker, Goodwin was in the process of installing the second speaker when the ladder “started swinging” and he subsequently fell from the ladder’s fourth rung and sustained injuries.
Goodwin sued the temple under New York Labor Law § 240 (1) which would hold the temple responsible for Goodwin’s injuries if Goodwin were damaged while “altering the building at the time of his accident.” The temple argued that because he was merely installing speakers, and therefore was not “altering” the building. On the other hand, Goodwin pointed to evidence of drilling holes and installing brackets as evidence that the speaker installation should be construed as an “alteration” of the building.