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Motor Vehicle Accidents Main Cause of Teen Deaths

A recent study by WalletHub has found that car, truck and motorcycle crashes are the most common cause of death in 16-19-year-olds. The report, which looked at statistics from 2011, cited more than 2,600 deaths and almost 300,000 injuries to drivers under the age of 20. As a group, these drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than all other drivers.

Those most at risk include:

  • The newest drivers—Crash rates are the highest for drivers in their first six months behind the wheel
  • Young males—Teen boys are twice as likely to be in a fatal accident as teen girls
  • Teens riding together—Fatal accidents rates are greater when teens are driving with teenage passengers

The Principal Causes of Teen Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the study, there are a number of reasons why accident and death rates are higher among 16-19-year-olds. Researchers say teens are more inclined to misjudge traffic situations, either underestimating the risks involved or failing entirely to identify a potentially dangerous situation. Teens driving together, especially teenage boys, encourage risk-taking and dares, often fueled by peer pressure or hormones. Teens also have a greater propensity to speed and to engage in drinking and driving—statistics showed that more than one-third of the fatal crashes involved a speeding teen, and one in four involved alcohol.

Additionally, almost half of all teens interviewed said they don’t always wear seat belts, and that statistic goes up when teens have been drinking and driving. The study found that 71% of teen drivers killed after drinking and driver did not have seat belts on at the time of the crash.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

You can reach us by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to discuss your Nassau County motor vehicle accident claim. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us in Garden City at 516-248-2234 or in Flushing-Queens at 718-539-3100 (toll free at 888-519-3100).

We can arrange to meet with you in your home or at the hospital, if necessary. We have offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Nassau counties.

Helping Injured People Get Maximum Compensation for Personal Injury

Self-Driving Technology Not a Factor in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Google Says “Other Factors” Responsible for Self-Driving Motor Vehicle Accidents

Last week, Google released information about the dozen accidents thus far involving the self-driving vehicles that it is developing and marketing. The company said it was keeping its promise to provide monthly reports on performance and safety issues. According to the press release, all of the crashes involving Google’s vehicles have been “minor,” and no personal injuries have been reported.

Though the company has continually insisted that none of the collisions have resulted from problems with the self-driving technology, it was reported that at least one accident involved a self-driving car that ran into the back of another car in traffic. According to Google, though, that car was actually being operated by a staffer at the time of the accident. The report issued last week found that:

  • Half of the accidents occurred while the car was in autonomous mode and half while being operated by a Google employee
  • Ten of the twelve accidents occurred in Mountain View
  • At least one accident occurred on a highway near San Jose, with the self-driving vehicle operating at a speed of more than 60 miles per hour

Sources say that the California DMV has licensed 48 self-driving vehicles since September of 2014, and that four of them have been involved in accidents. Of the 48 licensed vehicles, 23 are owned by Google and 12 are owned by Tesla motors. Under current California rules, though a self-driving vehicle may be on the road in autonomous mode, a licensed operator must still be in the driver’s seat.

Currently, there are four states with specific laws allowing self-driving vehicles—Michigan, Nevada, Florida and California. However, no other state has a specific ban, so the vehicles may be operated anywhere.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York motor vehicle accident injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

Injured Fans Face Legal Challenges When Hurt at a Game

Fan Injuries Generally Considered “Part of the Game”

Person Receiving Aid Inside an Ambulance
In the aftermath of a serious injury to a fan at Fenway Park last week, spectators and legal experts have publicly asked whether the so-called “baseball rule” needs to be revised or thrown out. The “baseball rule,” adopted by courts about 100 years ago, absolves stadium owners and operators from liability for injuries to fans from errant balls or bats, provided the stadium has a “reasonable number” of seats that are behind protective screens or netting. Courts have almost universally applied the baseball rule to deny recovery to fans injured by foul balls or broken bats.

Owners assert that there is some assumption of risk that must be assumed by anyone attending a baseball game—that foul balls and broken bats are an unavoidable aspect of the game and that fans have a responsibility to pay attention, in order to minimize the risk of injury. They also point out that there are signs posted throughout most ball parks, advising fans of the potential dangers. Ticket stubs also put attendees on notice of the inherent risks. A court in Missouri in 2009 agreed with this position, calling the risk of injury to fans “an unavoidable—even desirable—part of the joy that comes with being close enough…to smell the new-mown grass.”

But many fans and legal authorities say the rule is outdated, particularly in light of the changes t the game over the last century:

Players are bigger and stronger than they were when the rule came into existence
Most players now use maple bats, which are harder than the ash that was predominant for most of the last century. The harder bat, combined with pitches that consistently travel at nearly 100 miles per hour, leaves fans less time to react, even if they are paying attention
Most newer ballparks put fans much closer to the action, and fewer parks have nets or screens, except immediately behind the plate

There are signs, though, that the baseball rule may be losing some of its power. A Massachusetts court ruled in favor of an injured fan in 2004, and the Idaho Supreme Court opted not to enforce the baseball rule in a 2013 decision involving a fan who lost an eye after being hit by a foul ball. Last year, an appellate court in Georgia refused to apply the rule in a case involving a 6-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture from a foul ball at an Atlanta Braves game.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we have more than 60 years of experience protecting the rights of personal injury victims. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400.

Injured in a Mugging? Can You Pursue Damages?

The Obligation of a Property Owner to Provide Adequate Security

In New York, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally on the property. This duty extends to landlords, tenants and others who manage or have control of the premises. Though the common perception is that this requires that any physical hazards—broken steps, slippery floors, dangerous structures—be fixed or closed off, the duty also extends to the risk of injury when there is inadequate security at a building or on real property.

Inadequate security can take many forms, and often depends on a number of factors, such as location of the premises, as well as how the premises are used. For example, if a business or residence is in an area with a known reputation for crime, it will likely be considered reasonable that the owner, landlord or tenant take greater precautions to minimize the risk of injury. This may include additional lighting, restrictions to entry, or even the posting of a security guard.

If the type of business is one where persons may be isolated, such as a motel, it will be more reasonable to have a higher level of security than in an open area in a mall, where there will typically be many people around.

If you are injured in a mugging, you will have to show that the owner, landlord or tenant could have taken reasonable steps to prevent the mugging. There is no hard and fast rule for what will be considered “reasonable.” That determination is always left to a jury, and is based on the unique factual circumstances of each case.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

To set up an appointment with an experienced New York motorcycle accident injury lawyer,
contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

What Can We Do to Keep Teen Drivers Safe on the Road?

Your teen sees a driver’s license as a step toward freedom, but you might not be sure your teen is ready for the road. One thing is certain: teens aren’t ready to have the same level of driving responsibility as older adults. Teen drivers have more fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car. To help your teen stay safe behind the wheel, 46 States and the District of Columbia now have graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs that limit high-risk driving situations for new drivers. These programs can reduce your teen’s crash risk by as much as 50 percent.
What Can You Do?
Learn about New York GDL program, if there is one. Know the restrictions placed on your teen’s license and enforce those limits. Even if your state doesn’t have an official program, you can lay some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while on the phone, and require seat belt use at all times.
Be a good role model. Remember that your child looks to you as a driver, so practice safe driving yourself. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions. It can be a great way to spend time together and to allow your teen to improve some basic driving skills. Your teen’s learning starts at home.
Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive. Remember that driver’s education should be used as just part of a GDL program.

Bottom Line:
You have more influence on your teen than you may think.
Get Involved
NHTSA and its many highway safety partners across the country are encouraging you to get the facts and start the conversations-this week and every week-to talk it out with your teens and help keep them safe behind the wheel.
Set ground rules and consequences for your teen driver, and get it in writing.
Know and understand your State’s GDL laws. Start with this GDL primer for parents
Be a role model – practice safe driving habits every time you drive.

Fact Sheets for Novice Drivers
Alcohol and Driving – Alcohol and other impairing drugs are involved in approximately 40 percent of all traffic crashes in which someone is killed each year.
Blindzone Glare Elimination – With enhanced mirror settings, you can avoid turning and looking into the blindzones. All that’s required is a glance outside the mirror to see if a car is there.
Driver Distractions – Although any distraction while driving has the potential to cause a crash, some are particularly hazardous to young drivers under 20.
Efficient Steering Techniques – Crash statistics indicate that driver errors involving steering techniques are the main causes of crashes where drivers run off the road. Teens are more likely to overcompensate when their vehicle drops off the shoulder than older drivers.
Proper Seat Belt Use – In 2012, 55 percent of all 15- to 20-year-old occupants killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing their seat belts.
Risk Management – Low-risk drivers are those who identify potential hazards, reduce risk by adjusting their speed or position, and communicate their intentions to others.
Visual Search/Perception – Scanning helps you anticipate having to change speed or roadway position because of problems ahead, such as vehicles or people that may be in the roadway or signs warning of problems ahead.
Work/Construction Zones – When approaching a work zone watch for cones, barrels, signs, large vehicles, or workers in bright colored vests to warn you and direct you where to go.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

To set up an appointment with an experienced New York motorcycle accident injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

Slight Drop in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents in 2013

Officials Still Concerned about High Number of Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

4,381 people died in motorcycle accidents across the United States in 2013, a slight drop from the year before (4.695), but still significantly higher than 1997, when only 2,056 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that as the total number of fatal traffic accidents has dropped dramatically, from over 42,000 in 1997 to less than 33,000 in 2013, the number of motorcycle-related deaths has gone up and remains high. In 1997, motorcyclists were involved in only 5% of all fatal traffic accidents. Over the last six years, bikers have accounted for approximately one in eight fatal crashes.

The study found that just over four of every ten fatal motorcycle accidents involved only the motorcyclist, a statistic that researchers say is essentially unchanged over the last 30 years. The average age of those killed in motorcycle accidents has steadily risen over the same time period, though. Between 1975 and 1985, nearly 80 percent of all motorcycle fatalities involved riders under the age of 30, and about three percent involved riders over the age of 50. During the last five years, the percentage of motorcycle deaths involving riders over the age of 50 has actually surpassed the percentage of deaths involving riders under the age of 30. In 2013, 34% of all motorcycle accident fatalities involved riders over the age of 50, and only 27% involved bikers under the age of 30.

Fatal motorcycle accidents overwhelming take the lives of men. In 2013, less than 10% of the deaths reported from motorcycle crashes were of women. Furthermore, statistics show that 61% of the women who died in motorcycle wrecks were passengers.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

To set up an appointment with an experienced New York motorcycle accident injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

Study Shows Graduated License Law Reduces Teen Traffic Fatalities

National Study Indicates Graduated License Law Saves Lives

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teenagers have the most significant risk of being involved in an accident. Researchers cite the lack of experience, leading young drivers to improperly gauge both their skills behind the wheel and the dangers they face. In a recent IIHS study, officials found that instituting a graduated licensing system led to nearly a 30% reduction in teen traffic accidents in some jurisdictions.

Every state currently has some form of graduated drivers license (GDL) program for teen drivers. Typically, it involves limited driving after dark, restrictions on how many other teens may be in a car driven by a teen, and minimum requirements of adult-supervised driving. Some jurisdictions set a higher age for young drivers to get learner permits or full driving privileges. Officials say that, though teens may express frustration at not getting full driving privileges, the statistics show that everyone benefits when teens have the opportunity to build their skills in safer conditions. They note that those states with the strongest laws have experienced the most significant reductions in teen motor vehicle accidents.

In its study, the IIHS looked at statistics from all 50 states, and categorized each state’s GDP system as good, fair, marginal or poor, based on five criteria:

  • The age at which a teen may obtain a learner’s permit
  • The number of supervised practice hours required
  • The age at which a teen obtains full driving privileges
  • The existence and time of the nightly curfew for teen drivers
  • Whether the state law allowed a teen to have any teen passengers

GDL laws rated as good produced, on average, a 30% reduction in accidents involving 15-17-year-old drivers. GDL laws listed as fair were tied to about a 10% reduction.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York motor vehicle accident injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

‘Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up’

The percentage of child passengers who die while riding unrestrained generally increases with age and is most pronounced among 13- and 14-year-olds regardless of seating position.

“Kids will always test the limits with their parents or caregivers, but there is no room for compromise when it comes to wearing a seat belt,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “Sounding like a broken record can save your child’s life. Kids need constant reminders and this is one that can’t be skipped.”

The facts about Seat Belt safety among Teens don’t talk, they shout:

  • Out of any driving demographic, teen drivers are the least likely to buckle up. This despite having the highest accident rate out of any other driving demographic per 100,000 drivers.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds in the United States. The majority of these deaths involve unbuckled teens, drivers, and passengers.
  • Use of a seat belt is the single most effective means of reducing fatal and non-fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
  • When employed, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45%.

Yet, despite these alarming statistics, teens continue to ignore the grim facts after they get a driver’s license or driver’s permit. According to a research poll taken by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teens cited seat belts as being “potentially harmful” as their main reason not wearing them.

A recent series of NHTSA focus groups found seat belt use can fall by the wayside when shuttling kids to and from school and activities, when running short errands, or when parents are a bit worn down by the daily grind, which makes this campaign urgently important. It is important for Kids to be trained to Buckle Up at an early age . As parents, we need to lead by example and reinforce the message to make sure it sticks,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This campaign urges parents to never give up until their kids buckle up.”

New York Child Car Seat Laws

  1. Any child younger than four must ride in a federally approved child safety seat that’s properly secured by a safety belt or a universal child restraint anchorage system.
  2. All children younger than 8 years old must be secured in a child safety seat restraint system. This includes safety seats, harness vests and booster seats attached via safety belts.
  3. Any child younger than 4, but who weighs more than 40 pounds, may be secured in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
  4. If all safety seats are occupied, a child who would normally require a booster seat should instead be secured by a lap belt
  5. Every rider younger than 16 must use a seat belt.

Many kids already understand the seat belt safety laws . “Everybody’s parents teach them as children; first they do it for them, then the children pick it up and do it themselves.” said a 14 year old Dallas boy.

Seat belt laws prove effective. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) teens who reside in states with primary seat belt laws are 12% more likely to buckle up when driving, and 15% more likely when riding as passengers.

Please contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP online or call us on our toll-free line at 516-248-2234 to be connected with one of our attorneys.

Study Dispels Myth of “Defensive Medicine”

In a study published in a recent copy of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reported that laws enacted to shield emergency room doctors from liability had no meaningful impact on the tests and procedures ordered or the types of services provided.

Insurance industry lobbyists have long argued that “tort reform,” i.e., laws limiting the ability of private individuals to sue for medical negligence, or setting recovery ceilings for medical malpractice, would reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of care. A principal, recurring premise advanced by insurance providers was that doctors who feared being sued practiced “defensive medicine,” worrying more about potential legal action than the needs and health of the patient. This increased costs, they argued, because doctors ordered more tests and procedures to make certain they couldn’t be accused of negligence or malpractice.

In the study conducted by NEJM, researchers looked at emergency room data at nearly 1,200 hospitals between 1996 and 2012, including those in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, where legislative enactments had dramatically restricted lawsuits against ER medical professionals. The statistics they gathered showed that doctors in those states behaved exactly as doctors in other states. They found no appreciable difference in the number of MRIs or CAT scans ordered in tort reform and non-tort reform states. Accordingly, the actual costs to insurance companies in tort reform states were indistinguishable from the costs in other states.

The NEJM study is, insurance industry critics say, just another indication that tort reform is an illusion. They allege, with factual support, that the real motive behind “tort reform” is a desire by insurance companies to improve their bottom line. They point to concrete evidence refuting a key assumption by insurance companies—that juries will, as a matter of course, award higher verdicts in personal injury cases. A Department of Justice study, however, found that the median jury award in a medical malpractice claim is $400,000, whereas the median award in a non-jury medical malpractice trial–$631,000.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

How Does Weather Affect Traffic Accidents?

It’s been a rough winter, weather-wise, in the northeast—snow, snow and more snow. Every night, there seems to be another report of a major pileup on a snowy highway.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are nearly six million traffic accidents in the United States every year. About one in five—over 1.3 million—are caused in part or in full by adverse weather conditions. The weather condition most likely to lead to a traffic accident—precipitation, either in the form of snow, ice or rain—accounts for three out of every four weather-related traffic accidents. But other weather conditions also play a significant part. Here’s an overview.

On average, 74% of weather-impacted motor vehicle accidents occur on wet pavement. About half happen when it’s raining and only 31% during snowy conditions (17% happen on icy roads). That’s a little misleading, say authorities, because most parts of the country only have snowy conditions for two to three months of the year, at most.

One of the surprising statistics—researchers found that traffic accidents were less likely to be fatal in adverse weather conditions. Though weather contributed to 23% of all crashes, it was a factor in only 17% of fatal accidents. NHTSA personnel say that adverse weather conditions necessary lead to reduced speeds, especially on freeways and highways. As a result, when an accident occurs, the impact is not as great, reducing the risk of death or serious injury.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

To set up an appointment with one of our experienced New York motor vehicle accident injury lawyers, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.