Articles Posted in Personal Injury Law

The de Blasio administration continued implementing the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” program last week with a slew of initiatives meant to reduce the likelihood of pedestrian accidents in New York City. According to ABC 7 New York, the Mayor’s plan, which aims to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths to zero each year, has been fairly successful. The number of pedestrian accidents in the city is the lowest ever recorded, according to The New York Times. The city has seen its rate of pedestrian accidents decline each year of Vision Zero’s implementation, which initially focused on installing more bike lanes, reducing speed limits, and creating more pedestrian plazas.

Now that those policies have been fully implemented, Mayor de Blasio’s administration is moving forward with a different set of policy initiatives meant to lower the pedestrian accident rate even lower. According to ABC News, these new initiatives will include:

  • Congestion Pricing. New York became the first city in the United States to pass congestion pricing this year. Beginning in 2020, drivers entering Manhattan’s congested areas will be subjected to a hefty fee – which has not been disclosed but is expected to settle between $15 and $20. The Mayor expects congestion pricing to substantially reduce the congestion in the city and, consequently, reduce the number of car accidents. Judging by the success of congestion pricing in other cities across the world, the Mayor’s prediction appears likely to come true.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a program to study injuries caused by electric scooters. Dockless, electronic scooter companies have invaded cities across the country hoping to further revolutionize the transport in America. According to a report by CNBC, companies such as Lime and Bird now operate in over 100 cities in the country. Despite their rapid expansion, there is little data on the safety of providing electric scooters to anyone over the age of 18. Riders of electronic scooters are known to drive on sidewalks, streets, or any other surface available and many of their scooters can reach speeds up to 15 mph.

Federal agencies appear to have finally woken up to the potential threat to public safety, which one emergency room doctor described as a “disruptive technology” to CNBC. The new study will be limited to the city of Austin and the CDC says it plans to “identify the risk factors for those who get injured, how severe their injuries are and why they’re getting hurt.” While still in the preliminary stages, data provided by Austin-area emergency rooms has already provided some answers. According to the CDC, 98 percent of emergency room visitors with injuries caused by an electronic scooter were not wearing their helmet. Further, a little more than half of the injured were under the influence of alcohol or another drug. The majority of electronic scooter injuries were caused by falls. Perhaps surprisingly, injuries caused by electronic scooters do not increase during the nighttime hours.

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New York’s only-one-in-the-country scaffold law is under scrutiny, again. Council Speaker Corey Johnson is hoping to reform the heavily criticized law while overhauling the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the pseudo-independent government agency responsible for the subway and bridges around New York City. According to The New York Post, the scaffold law assigns 100 percent of the liability to owners and contractors for any injury occurring on a construction site, regardless of whether the worker was at fault or not. Proponents of the law describe the dangerous conditions that New York construction workers must operate and say the law incentivizes contractors and companies to create a safe workplace.

Opponents of the law say the law is unnecessarily expensive, driving up the cost of much-needed infrastructure projects across the state. Across the country, construction liability insurance typically averages between 2 to 3 percent of a construction project. In New York, that number is between 7 and 10 percent, according to Lawsuit Reform Alliance Coalition of New York. Johnson said the law eventually makes a construction project 10 times more expensive to insure in New York. Johnson used the MTA’s East Side Access Project, which links the LIRR to Grand Central, as an example. In 2002, liability insurance on the project cost $93 million. The same liability insurance policy now costs taxpayers $584 million each year. Johnson says the Scaffold Law is a major contributor to the increased costs.

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Carbon monoxide poisoning injured nine workers at a construction site in Midtown Manhattan last month. According to ABC 7 New York, the FDNY responded to a call at a high-rise residential development in Flatiron when several workers complained of feeling dizzy. When the firefighters arrived, the level of carbon monoxide at the construction site tested around 750 parts-per-a-million. According to the news agency, carbon monoxide is “dangerous” at 10 parts-per-a-million. The entire site was quickly evacuated.

All workers at the site immediately sought medical care and nine were admitted into the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. According to the FDNY, workers were pouring the foundation in a 60 square-foot-area. “It is very difficult to ventilate because there’s only a very small area to enter into the confined space. While the names and injuries suffered by the workers have not been released, witnesses at the scene reported seeing multiple construction workers carried off in stretchers. “We were able to begin IV treatment, cardiac monitoring while our peers on the fire side did all the heavy lifting of pulling them out,” EMS Deputy Chief Kathleen Knuth told ABC’s local affiliate.

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New York City spent approximately $1 billion settling tort lawsuits last year. According to the Wall Street Journal, this hefty sum actually represents an 8 percent decrease from the previous year. Tort claims include most personal injury lawsuits, such as slip-and-fall accidents, motor-vehicle damages, and medical malpractice lawsuits.

The decrease is largely driven by a small number of settlements against the New York Police Department. The newspaper reports that settlements against the NYPD reached only $230 million. Last year, settlements against the police were approximately $336 million. Despite the almost one-third decrease, the NYPD is still the most expensive city agency when it comes to settling lawsuits. According to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office, the Department of Transportation, Department of Correction, Department of Sanitation, and the Department of Education round out the top five most expensive agencies when it comes to personal injury and tort lawsuits.

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