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New Rules Being Considered to Combat Truck Driver Fatigue

Authorities Express Concern Over Truck Driver Fatigue—Consider New Rules for Drivers

In the aftermath of the crash that killed one comedian and severely injured Tracy Morgan, authorities have acknowledged that driver fatigue continues to be a frequent cause of trucking accidents. According to reports, the driver who caused the accident that injured Morgan had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the crash.

The statistics tell a harrowing story. On an annual basis, more than 5,000 people are killed in accidents involving commercial trucks, and another 150,000 are seriously injured. Truck accidents account for almost 25% of all traffic fatalities nationally. An accident involving a truck is twice as likely to involve three or more vehicles, and nearly all fatalities in truck-car accidents are passengers in the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver fatigue is a factor in at least one-third of all traffic fatalities.

Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers are required to take scheduled breaks and may not be on the road more than a specific number of consecutive hours or for more than a specified number of hours in a 24-hour period. Current rules prohibit a driver from being behind the wheel more than 10 hours in a row without an eight hour break. This, unfortunately, means that a truck driver may be on the road for 16 hours in a 24 hour period.

Under a proposed revision to driver time regulations, drivers would not be able to spend as many hours on the road in a 24-hour period. The proposed rule would be based on a 24 hour clock and would mandate 9-12 continuous hours off the road every day. In addition, drivers would be required to take 2-3 hours of breaks in any given day.

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 Filed Under: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury, Personal Injury Topics

Playground Injuries on the Rise in New York City

City Faces Significant Increase in Playground Injury Claims

Over the last decade, the city of New York has seen claims of playground injuries rise by over 50%. According to authorities, since 2010, the city has paid nearly $20 million to resolve lawsuits stemming from injuries on the municipal playgrounds. Critics say that the city has known about the problems for years, but that required inspections have been ignored or poorly done and work orders have often taken months to be resolved. One investigation found that nearly 200 work orders designated as requiring “immediate attention” were not addressed for four months in late 2014.

A spokesperson for New York City Park Advocates, a watchdog group, labeled the city’s park inspection system “a joke” and said that people (mostly children) have suffered serious injuries for years because of the lack of attention to playground equipment and park facilities. Among the injuries suffered are:

  • A young girl who permanently lost part of a finger on a slide. City officials had been notified of the potential problem a number of times
  • An 8-year-old boy who broke his elbow when he fell from monkey bars. The padding below the bars was old and worn out.

New York City parks commissioner Mitchell Silver has launched an initiative to standardize the procedures for reporting and responding to safety issues at the city’s parks, a program that he believes will properly address the delays in maintenance and repair. He has also proposed the appointment of a playground supervisor for each borough, as well as a digital map of all open work orders.

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.

Texting and Driving on the Rise

Officials Cite Increase in Texting and Driving

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident

Even though many states have enacted laws banning texting while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that texting and driving has more than doubled over the last year. In fact, much to the surprise of insurance industry officials, the number of accident claims involving texting and driving went up in 75% of the states studied. One report concluded that there was a 50% in texting and driving from 2013 to 2014.

According to the NHTSA, sending or reading text messages while you are driving increases the likelihood of an accident 23-fold. Officials speculate that the increase in accidents subsequent to the enactment of texting bans may come from how drivers are texting, not how much they are texting. Researchers believe that many drivers, worried about being observed violating the law, are sending or receiving text messages with their phones out of view—probably in their laps. They theorize that drivers who have their phones in their laps are less attentive to the road, and more likely to be involved in a collision. According to a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, in 2014, more than 300,000 people reported injuries from motor vehicle accidents where at least one driver was texting while driving.

As expected, the incidence of texting and driving is far more prevalent with younger drivers. Of those under the age of 24, half indicated that they had sent or received text messages while driving. But there’s also a problem with older drivers—nearly one in five people over the age of 18 admitted to texting and driving.

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.

Motorcycles Still More Dangerous than Cars

Motorcycle Injury Statistics Show Little Change in Injury Rates

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has confirmed what most authorities already know—it’s far more dangerous to travel on a motorcycle than in a car or truck. Researchers found that, per mile traveled, people riding on a bike were more than 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, even though nearly five times as many people were killed in car accidents than motorcycle crashes. Though the study concluded that wearing a helmet reduced the likelihood of death by nearly 40%, only 19 states and Washington, D.C. require operators and passengers on motorcycles to wear protective headgear.

Here are some of the relevant statistics concerning the risk of injury while on a motorcycle:

  • Nearly 60 percent of motorcycle accident injuries result from multi-vehicle accidents, a statistic that has been essentially unchanged since the 1980s
  • A significantly larger percentage of people involved in motorcycle crashes were operating the bike without a valid license
  • The average age of persons dying in motorcycle accidents has continually gone up in the last 40 years. In 1975, 80% of motorcycle fatalities involved people under the age of 30. In 2013, only 27% were that young.
  • The vast majority (91%) of people who die in motorcycle accidents are male
  • While smaller bikes (1000 cc or smaller) still account for 47% of all motorcycle fatalities, that percentage is down dramatically from its peak of 72% in 1986 and 1987.
  • August is the most dangerous month to ride a motorcycle, with 14% of all annual fatalities. February and December are the safest months, with less than 3% of deaths.
  • Approximately half of all fatalities happen on the weekend, with 6 pm until 9 pm as the most dangerous time.
  • About one-third of all motorcyclists who died in a crash were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

You can reach us by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to discuss your Nassau County motorcycle accident injury 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

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.

Contact Our Office

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.