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In the wake of the first pedestrian fatality caused by a “self-driving” car, New York renewed its autonomous driving program this month. The program will operate under the strict limits set by Gov. Cuomo a year ago and will last until April 2019, when government officials will re-examine the program and its effectiveness. The measured approach favored by New York contrasts with many states in the western part of the United States, including California and Arizona, which have provided car manufacturers more unfettered access to their roadways.

New York’s history with autonomous vehicles has been relatively brief. After quickly securing a permit last year to test its technology, Audi became the first automobile manufacturer to test a self-driving car in New York. The drive only lasted 6.1 miles, though and Audi has not performed any other test drives in the Empire State since its initial run. Cruise Automation was the only other company granted a permit to test drive the futuristic vehicles, but apparently never utilized the permit.

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In 2016, a total of 71 construction workers were killed on the job in New York State. This number represents a 29 percent increase compared to 2015 and brought New York’s construction fatality rate to a level not seen since 2002. New York consistently ranks among the “Top 10” most dangerous states for construction workers. Perhaps most concerning, construction fatalities are increasingly more likely outside of New York City, which actually saw a decline in construction deaths – from 25 to 21 – during the same period.

Construction workers have always performed a dangerous job with limited protections. However, the decline of unions coupled with the reduced power of regulatory agencies has only made the job even more dangerous. A construction worker in New York is now 4.6 times more likely to die while on the job than the average New Yorker, according to NBC New York. Accounting for almost half of all deaths, falls were the leading cause of death for construction workers over the last decade.

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Combating the growing problem of distracted driving, New York State Police recently began an aggressive enforcement campaign across the state. Distracted driving, which includes a wide variety of activities that range from texting to changing the radio station, is illegal in New York and across many states in the country. While tickets for talking on the phone while driving have dropped in recent years, New York issued 20 percent more tickets for texting drivers in 2017 – bringing the total to 110,000 tickets. According to police, this high number of tickets still only represents a small fraction of distracted driving violations that occur across the state daily.

Nationwide, almost 3,500 people are killed each year by distracted driving. In New York alone, 160 people were killed and 33,000 injured in accidents caused by a distracted driver in 2015, the most recent year with data available. For drivers who are 29 and younger, distracted driving contributed to almost 30 percent of all car accident fatalities across the country, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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On March 19, New York City rolled out a new system for alerting residents about hit-and-run drivers in their area. The new system is modeled after Amber Alerts, but instead of offering information about a missing person, it will provide geographically targeted alerts about hit-and-run drivers and their vehicles. The new system is part of a broader push to reduce pedestrian accidents and traffic fatalities in the city.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the alert will only activate when the hit-and-run accident results in “serious injury or death.”  The alert, which will be sent by the NYPD within 12 hours of a serious hit-and-run accident, will be distributed via social media, email, texts, as well as phone broadcasts on iPhones and Androids. Similar to Amber Alerts, the short message will include the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the license plate or any other relevant information.

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food-safety-272x300A new lawsuit has been filed against Bartaco, the Port Chester restaurant responsible for a Hepatitis A outbreak last October. The lawsuit marks the fourth against the popular Westchester restaurant, including one class action lawsuit. All lawsuits seek unspecified remuneration for damages relating to the negligence of the restaurant.

Last October, a Westchester couple began experiencing fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and poor appetite. A blood test confirmed the Yonkers couple had been exposed to Hepatitis A, a generally mild and short-lasting illness. After several other Westchester residents also tested positive for the illness, the Westchester County Department of Health pinpointed Bartaco as the cause. Stating at the time that “people have a right to expect that the food served to them at a restaurant is safe to eat” and noting that simple hand-washing is generally sufficient to prevent the spread of the illness, Westchester County began to notify the notify patrons of the popular restaurant.  Continue reading

On November 16, 2013, a sanitation truck driver for the City of New York, Darrel Lindo, reached the intersection at 109th Avenue and 205th Street in Queens at the same time as another vehicle, driven by Hugo Fuertes. Lindo was driving on 109th Avenue – where traffic is controlled by a stop sign. Fuertes was driving was driving on 205th Street – where traffic was not controlled by a stop sign, or, for that matter, any other traffic control devices. The two drivers, Lindo and Fuertes, collided in the intersection. Subsequently, Fuertes, the driver without a stop sign, sued Lindo for the injuries he endured damages as a result of the collision.

The Court ruled in favor of Fuertes, saying that, because he did not have a stop sign requiring him to stop then Lindo was fully at-fault for the collision. Lindo argued that he should not be “fully liable” – or fully responsible – for the damages for two reasons. First, Lindo argued that he should not be fully liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries because he did, in fact, stop at the stop sign. The Court said that even if this were the case, Lindo is still responsible because he failed to yield to Fuertes who, without any stop sign, had the right-of-way. The Court essentially pointed out the obvious – that stopping at the stop sign is pointless if you then fail-to-yield – which is the whole point of putting the stop sign on that street.

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The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Schiano v Mijul, Inc.,  2015 NY Slip Op 06910 [131 AD3d 1157], affirmed a trial court order for the imposition of sanctions for the failure to produce necessary documents in an action to recover damages for personal injuries.

The plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell while walking in the parking lot of defendant’s premises in 2006. The plaintiff claims that he fell “due to the presence of a defective matter in maintaining the path.” The plaintiff also claimed that the defendants were reckless, careless, and negligent in failing to properly fix, repair, and maintain the area, which he walked upon. The plaintiff also argued that the defendants’ failure to maintain the area was a breach of their duty of reasonable owning, operating, and maintaining the area. As a result of the plaintiff’s fall, he claims to have suffered injuries and brought an action to recover damages for his injuries.

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