Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Hit-and-run fatalities have seen a marked increase throughout the country as more Americans are bicycling and walking to work, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing a report released by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the newspaper states that hit-and-run fatalities increased 61 percent between 2009 and 2016. In 2016 alone, 68 percent of the fatalities in hit-and-run accidents were pedestrians or bicyclists. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increase in Americans choosing healthier modes of transportation is the leading cause of the increase in deaths.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run accidents which caused a stunning 2,050 deaths. Both of these numbers represent record highs, according to the federal agency which has been tracking these statistics for over four decades. Overall, there were 40,000 traffic fatalities in 2017 – the second year the rate of fatalities has seen a significant increase, and following years of declining deaths in traffic accidents.

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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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A Queens mom has sued New York City for a missing stop sign that caused the Uber she was riding in to crash, injuring herself and her one-month-old son. The mother, Oddeth Davidson, was traveling with her infant son, Kaiden Brown, in a ride-share vehicle when another car T-boned the Uber in Cambria Heights at the intersection of 225th street and 120th Avenue on January 11, according to the New York Post. According to the lawsuit, the Department of Transportation’s negligence in failing to replace the stop sign, which had allegedly been missing for several months, caused the accident and should, therefore, be responsible for the damages.

In total, Davidson is suing for $45 million in damages – $30 million for her child’s injuries, $10 million for her own injuries, and $5 million for the anticipated costs of caring for her brain-damaged child. The car accident left the young infant with traumatic brain injuries, seizure disorder, and a neck injury from the crash, according to the New York Post. “He is under the care of a neurosurgeon and a pediatric neurologist. This could be catastrophic and affect him for the rest of his life,” Davidson said of her infant child.

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The family of Isaac Ward, the 27-year-old man killed in a drunken car crash by a New Rochelle police officer, filed a lawsuit against the cop and the three bars that over-serving the police officer in January 2017. Penelope Ward, Isaac Ward’s mother, said the police officer, Harry Kyreakede, and three local bars – Brazen Fox, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in White Plains, and Celtic Corner in Dobbs Ferry – should be held responsible for the death of her child because of their “negligence, recklessness, and carelessness.”

drunk-driving-300x150Kyreakede was sentenced last year to two-and-a-half to seven years in prison for driving while under the influence last month. A full two hours after the car crash, Kyreakede blood alcohol content, or BAC, was 0.20 percent – more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent in New York state. Continue reading

distracted-drivingThe number of car accidents in America has steadily increased since 2014, reversing a previous downward trend on America’s roadways. Experts believe that an increase in distracted driving is largely to blame for the increase in car accidents – pointing to the rise of cell phones, in particular.

Distracted driving is a catch-all term for whenever a driver is not focused on the roadways. While this obviously includes activities such as texting and driving or putting on makeup while commuting to work, distracted driving encompasses many more activities. A driver may be distracted if they are changing the radio station, inputting an address into their navigation system, or having an emotional conversation that distracts the driver from concentrating on the road. Experts believe that, since there is no test to measure what a driver was concentrating on at the time of an accident, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is woefully under reported.   Continue reading

Governor Andrew Cuomo has moved to limit the factors car insurers may use when determining a driver’s car insurance rate. The new regulation follows a report by the Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), which Gov. Cuomo had tasked with investigating the issue, detailing that some, but not all, of New York auto insurers utilize an applicant’s education and occupation as factors when determining insurance rates.

This often results in indivgavel-small-300x200iduals with lower educational levels or those working in low-paying occupations having to pay higher rates. According the Cuomo administration, these higher rates are unjustified because there is insufficient evidence that a person’s education or occupation is indicative of his or her driving ability. Lacking sufficient justification, Gov. Cuomo stated that the use of such factors was a violation of Insurance Law provisions which prohibits insurance rates that are “excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory.” Continue reading

In 2012, a Long Island man, Daniel Sajewski, rammed his father’s red Mercedes-Benz through a Huntington house, narrowly missing the two elderly sisters that lived in the residence. Sajewski was, perhaps predictably, intoxicated – blowing an off-the-chart 0.30 on a breathalyzer, far exceeding New York’s 0.08 limit. In addition to losing their belongings (including a wedding band that could not be located in the rubble), the accident left the two 90-year-old sisters homeless for several months. In 2013, the judge sentenced Sajewski to one-and-a-half years to three years in prison.

carcrash-300x181More recently, State Farm, who insured the house that was destroyed, has decided to pursue legal action against Sajewski’s father, the owner of the vehicle. State Farm is seeking $180,000 from the father to reimburse it for the money spent on repairing the home. State Farm is able to pursue this claim because, under New York law, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the damages caused by its drivers – so long as the driver has the owner’s permission to operate the vehicle.  According to the statute, the permission can be expressly stated or implied.

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distracted-drivingNew York State may be the first state in the country to equip police with a Textalyzer, meant to check whether a driver was using his or her phone immediately preceding a crash. Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to study the technology and the inevitable issues it could create for New York residents’ privacy and civil rights. Texting, or otherwise using your cell phone, is illegal in New York and violation of this law carries five driver violation points. There is an exception for hands-free calling.

The term, a play on the age-old breathalyzer which tests the blood alcohol content of potentially drunk drivers, is meant to function in a similar manner. After a vehicle accident, police would arrive on the scene and plug the Textalyzer into the driver’s cell phone. After about a minute, the Textalyzer would respond with whether the driver was texting, emailing, surfing the web or otherwise violating New York State’s hands-free drive law. Also similar to a breathalyzer test, refusing the roadside test could result in the mandatory suspension of the driver’s license.   Continue reading

On September 22, 2015 Delfino Cuautle was forced to have his leg amputated after a series of bureaucratic errors at two different New York City hospitals led to a 13-hour wait and a fixable medical problem turned into a mandatory amputation. Alleging medical malpractice, Cuautle is suing for $24 million in damages caused by the hospitals.

On the day of the amputation, Cuautle was hit by a car at 6 AM on Coney Island. The EMS was on the scene within 3 minutes and took Cuautle to Coney Island Hospital. Within an hour of arriving at the hospital, doctors determined there was no blood in Cuautle’s legs – which were cold to the touch. After performing a CT scan, doctors said “emergency surgery” was necessary to save the limb. Because Coney Island Hospital did not have a surgeon that performs the specific procedure Cuautle needed,med-error it contacted a “transfer hotline” at Kings County Hospital– which is legally obligated to answer after three rings. Kings County Hospital did not pick up and Coney Island Hospital was forced to leave a message.  Cuautle was eventually transferred at 2 PM – a full eight hours after the accident, and in violation of New York state law requiring hospitals to perform transfers in 30 minuts or less. 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.

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