Articles Posted in Bodily Injury

Over the past decade, automakers have rapidly introduced new safety technology into their fleet of vehicles. The technology available only on high-end vehicles just five years ago – such as blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking, and lane-departure warning – is now becoming standard on new vehicles. These life-saving technologies, however, do have limits and, according to a new report by AAA, most drivers do not seem aware of these limits.

One example cited by the association is blind-spot monitoring. According to the report, a full 80 percent of drivers mistakenly believe that blind-spot monitoring systems detect cyclists, pedestrians, and fast-approaching vehicles better than current technology allows. Because of this mistaken belief, one-fourth drivers with blind-spot monitoring do not check their blind spot before changing lanes.

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Westchester County agreed to pay over $3 million in a lawsuit over the 2015 death of a local bicyclist. The bicyclist, Robert Small, an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital, died after an accident on the North County Trailway. Small, an avid and competitive bicyclist, according to LoHud.com, lost consciousness after biking into a marked pothole. The Briarcliff Manor resident did not regain consciousness and died four days later.

Small’s wife sued Westchester County, alleging that by failing to fill the pothole in the bicycle trail Westchester County acted negligently and caused the death of her husband. Steve Schirm, a surgeon who did not previously know Small, rode his bicycle in front of Small on the day of the accident. In a deposition taking during the trial process, Schirm recalled hearing the doctor yell and turned around to see Small flip over the handlebars of his bike. With one leg still attached to the bike clips, Small then landed head-first onto the ground. Though he was wearing a helmet, Small landed on his forehead.

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New York City became the first city in America to put a cap on the number of vehicles used by ride-hailing services last month. The move by City Council is part of a broader regulatory scheme meant to address a range of issues concerning ride-hailing services including their effect on medallion prices, driver wages and benefits, and limited access for New Yorkers with disabilities. Uber, Lyft, and Via – the three most prominent ride-hailing services in the five boroughs – decried the regulation and said that their services offered a pivotal service to low-income New Yorkers without access to taxis or the subway, in addition to jobs with flexible schedules.

In addition to capping the number of vehicles used by ride-hailing services at their current level of 100,00, the bill also allows for New York to set a minimum hourly rate for Uber and Lyft drivers. Previously, these drivers were considered independent contractors under the law – not employees – and therefore were not subject to minimum wage laws, among other protections given to employees. According to the City Council and Mayor de Blasio, the new law will put a “pause” on the industry for twelve months while it commissions a study on the effect of ride-hailing services on congestion which the Mayor said contributed to the “congestion grinding our streets to a halt” without citing any evidence.

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According to the National Institute of Highway Safety, August 2 is the most lethal day for driving a car in America – with 505 deaths on the day just between 2012 and 2016. As the most common cause of death in America, car accidents tend to peak in the summer, with three of the five most dangerous days occurring during the warmer weather months. Perhaps surprisingly, Thursday 8/2 is the deadliest day of the week to be driving.

The summer is “prime vacation time,” according to Bloomberg, which reported on the federal government’s study. The first week of August, especially, is the most common time for a family to take a road trip in America. According to the researchers, the increase in travelers on the road is essentially the sole cause of the higher accident rate in August. Anecdotal evidence also shows that “driving habits” tend to be more erratic in the summer months – with no icy, dark roads to fear. Other data indicating that August is the most dangerous month for American drivers? According to Nationwide Mutual Insurance, more motorists report claims in August than in any other month.

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Amid a steady decline in pedestrian deaths, New York lawmakers will allow a law allowing speed cameras in school zones to expire this week. According to Mayor de Blasio, traffic deaths have decreased 55 percent in school zones equipped with cameras. Despite its effectiveness and relatively low cost, the Republican-led state Senate refused to renew the program while in session, despite its passing the Democratic-controlled state Assembly

Originally part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero,” the cameras originally went up across the city in 2014. Since that time, over 140 schools have been equipped with speed cameras across the five boroughs, according to NY1.  Hoping the Senate would be recalled from recess to extend the deadline before it reconvenes in January, Mayor de Blasio accused the state legislators of “effectively legalizing deadly driving in New York City school zones,” and failing to “protect New Yorkers.”

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A new study released by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed that falls remain the second leading cause of death for workers across the country. The study showed that falls represented 14 percent of all workplace fatalities in the United States during an 11-year period between 2003 and 2014. Workers with the highest rates of fatal falls were employed in the construction industry, representing 42.2 percent of all fatalities, and installation, maintenance, and repair, representing 12.5 percent of all workplace fatalities caused by falls.

Overall, a total of 8,800 workers died in America as the result of a fall during this 11-year period. The falls were further divided into the “length of the fall” and, unsurprisingly, workers that fell a single story or more were more likely to die as a result – with 84.7 percent of all worker deaths caused by a fall of “more than one level.” For workers that fell, but not a full story or level, only 12.7 percent of workers died. The remaining 2.6 percent passed away from “all other types of falls.”

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Following a five-year pattern, New York’s traffic deaths continued to decline during the first six months of the year. From January to June, a total of 81 traffic fatalities occurred throughout the five boroughs. With the exception of motorcycle fatalities, all other traffic fatalities saw a decrease compared to the immediately preceding year. The continued decline is largely attributed to Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign which aims to reduce vehicular deaths and pedestrian deaths to zero.

Across the city, vehicular deaths have decreased a full 30 percent since 2013. For pedestrian deaths, the decline is even steeper – at a full 45 percent compared to five years ago. According to The New York Times, pedestrian deaths are the lowest since at least 1910, when the city began keeping record of the fatalities.

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Doctors and legal financing companies are pushing women into receiving unnecessary surgeries in a brazen attempt to win legal settlements, according to the New York Times. The article focuses on women who have received vaginal mesh implants – a medical procedure fraught with problems for some women. In the illuminating piece, women with these implants are contacted by legal financing companies, which offer high-interest rate loans to finance removal of the implant. In the end, the women typically receive an unnecessary, and sometimes unsafe, medical procedure that they are then forced to pay for over time, with a high-interest rate attached.

The article describes the process as follows: Women with vaginal mesh implants are contacted by a legal financing company. The women, who may or may not have any side effects from the device, are warned of impending doom – in one instance described by The Times, a company representative told the woman that her life was in danger. These women, understandably alarmed, are then told that doctors can remove the implant and the women can even receive part of any legal settlement from the supposedly malfunctioning device.

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A recent study suggests that marijuana use may cause fatal car accidents. The study, released by JAMA Internal Medicine, found there were more fatalities and car accidents on April 20, a “holiday” of sorts for cannabis enthusiasts, compared to the same period of time a week beforehand and a week afterward. This study comes on the heels of an increasing push by legislators and public policy experts to determine the effects of marijuana on driving habits, and consequently, to establish an objective standard for measuring intoxication by the drug.

To measure the effect of marijuana on car accidents, the researchers gathered data on car accidents on April 13, April 20, and April 27. April 20 is widely “celebrated” by marijuana users, and 4:20 PM on that day is traditionally regarded as a time to imbibe on the once-illicit drug. Consequently, researchers looked at the number of car accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20 and compared the results to the statistics during the same time period a week earlier and a week later.  The researchers compared the data over a 25-year period and in several different locations throughout the country. The results showed a 12 percent overall increase in fatal accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20. Further, the increase in car accidents was particularly notable in drivers under the age of 20. New York, along with Texas and Georgia, saw the sharpest increase in fatal car accidents on April 20.

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After a helicopter crashed into the East River last month and killed five passengers, the victims’ families and politicians are looking for answers to how the tragic accident  occurred. The deadly helicopter crash was part of a photo tour of New York City’s skyline, an increasingly popular tourist activity. Like most other scenic tours of Manhattan, the helicopter had its doors removed. As a consequence, the helicopter’s occupants used a unique safety system involving a snug harness that was tethered to the interior of the chopper. While this prevents the tour’s patrons from falling out of the helicopter mid-flight, it can also create a tragic disaster in the event of a helicopter crash because the harness, in the words of one of the victim’s family, becomes a “death trap.”

According to the New York Times, the helicopter’s engine began to fail near Midtown Manhattan. The pilot said he immediately told all five passengers to return to their seats – all of whom were apparently free to walk around because their harnesses were tethered to the helicopter. According to the pilot, one of the passengers was taking a photograph while dangling off the side of the helicopter, a so-called “shoe selfie”, when the engine lights began to indicate danger. On its website, the helicopter tour company, FlyNYON, advertises “dangling your feet for a #shoeselfie.”

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