Back to School Safety for 2020

School Bus Safety Caution SignThe 2020-2021 school year is upon us, and parents are preparing for a school year like none they have ever seen before. According to the New York Department of Education, students will be engaged in learning five days per week, but will be attending a mixture of in-person and online classes. As parents prepare for their children to go back to school after an unusually long absence, their children’s safety, both online and offline, is always the top priority.

Travel Safety

School buses will begin appearing on New York roads after a long absence. Drivers should be aware, as always, of traffic regulations in regard to school buses, including when to stop. Whenever a school bus is stopped and the STOP sign is deployed, drivers on both sides of the road must stop until the bus begins moving. Although children are supposed to walk in front of a bus while exiting, drivers should not assume that all children will follow these rules. Be on the lookout for children both behind and in front of a bus.

Even after a bus has started moving, children may be present and may cross the road with no warning. After the bus has begun to move, and even after it has left the area, drivers should be alert for children on or near the road.

The normal summer break started several months early this year, so drivers and pedestrians have become unaccustomed to watching out for school busses, commuting parents, and children walking or riding bicycles to school. Additionally, the new, mixed learning schedule for this school term may mean that children might be traveling to and from school at unusual times. When driving near a school zone, drivers should assume that parents and school buses may be dropping off children and children may be present at or around schools, outside of normal school hours.

Drivers should also be aware that children may be home during normal school hours, and should look for children playing outside, even during the day.

Online Safety

The new learning environment means that children may be spending more time online than they have in the past. Younger children may be online for the first time. Increased computer time may increase the risk of children being exposed to online predators, so a child’s online learning time should be supervised by an adult. Fortunately, most online browsers have parental controls to make this supervision easier on parents of younger children.

 

New York Injury Attorneys

The attorneys and staff at The O’Brien Firm wish a safe and productive school year for all New York families. If you or your child is involved in an accident or suffers an injury due to the fault of another, we are here to help. During a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our expert attorneys, we will answer your questions and tell you how we can get you compensation that you may need. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our website here.

What to Do When You Are in an Accident While on Vacation

The last thing you want to think about when planning a family vacation is the possibility of an accident, but unfortunately, accidents don’t wait for the most convenient time. Whether you are taking a road trip in your own vehicle or renting a car when you arrive at your destination, some advance planning can save a lot of trouble if an accident does happen.

 

Plan Before You Go

If you plan to rent a car, check with the rental company about the laws of the jurisdiction in which you will be driving in. Some jurisdictions have “no-fault” laws, meaning that in a minor accident, each driver’s insurance will pay for the damage to their vehicles, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. If you are traveling to a “no-fault” state, talk to your insurance agent before you go to see if your policy will cover damages to your rental car. Regardless of where you are traveling, you should make sure you are adequately covered by your insurance when renting a car. If your insurance does not provide the coverage you need, supplemental insurance is always available from the car rental agency.

 

If your vacation plans include travel to any foreign countries, it is even more important to check with your insurer before you go. International travel may not be covered by your plan.

 

Extra Caution is Important

Many factors can increase the chances of accidents while traveling. A common cause of accidents for travelers is unfamiliarity with their surroundings. When traveling in an unfamiliar area and relying on GPS navigation, you may find yourself having to brake quickly or make a sudden lane change. Since those actions are among the most common causes of highway accidents, it is important to plan your route in advance to minimize such situations. Missing an exit and having to backtrack is a minor inconvenience compared to an auto accident, which at the very least, will set back your vacation plans.

 

If you are renting a car or recreational vehicle, take some time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle before you get on the road. Distracted driving is almost as dangerous as drunk driving, and you do not want to be searching for your light switch or turn signal while driving on the highway at 65 miles per hour.

 

Special caution is needed if you rent a recreational vehicle, especially if you have never driven anything larger than a passenger car. Drive the vehicle around for a couple hours before you start your trip to become accustomed to its size and handling. Learn where the vehicle’s “blind spots’ are. When traveling, remember that a larger vehicle will take longer to stop, and may be more likely to overturn than a passenger car.

 

If You are in an Accident

If you do find yourself in an accident while traveling, remember the following tips:

 

  • Report the accident to your insurance company, and to the car rental agency if you are in a rented vehicle.
  • Report the accident to the local police and get a copy of any police report.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are injured or think you may have been injured.
  • Talk to a local attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

 

New York Accident Attorney

If you are involved in an automobile accident while vacationing in New York, the attorneys at The O’Brien Firm can help. Call  716-907-7777 or Visit our website for more information.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

What to Do After a Hit and Run

You could have been driving alone, minding your own business, when a car suddenly came out of nowhere, hit you, and sped off. Perhaps, you were riding a bicycle and a driver got a little too close and knocked you off onto the pavement. Worse yet, a driver could have hit your child and left the scene. What can you do after a hit and run accident to protect yourself and your loved ones?

Call 911. If anyone needs immediate medical attention, this is your first priority.  However, even if immediate medical attention is not necessary, alerting the police to the location of the accident as soon as possible increases the chances that the hit and run driver will be apprehended.

Try to notice as many details as possible. The more you can remember about the vehicle or its driver, the better chance the police will have to find and apprehend the person responsible. If you are capable, identify possible witnesses at the scene who can potentially remember and identify additional details.

Take photos.  If possible, take photos of the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Tire marks, skid marks, debris from the hit and run vehicle, and other physical evidence can help identify the vehicle who hit you and tell a story about how the accident happened. Even if the other driver is found guilty of hit and run, you must still prove that he was at fault for the accident in order to recover your damages.

Make sure you have enough insurance. This is the most important protective measure you can do to protect yourself in case of a hit and run accident, but, of course, it must be done before an accident occurs. Many drivers leave the scene of an accident because they do not have proper insurance. Some hit and run drivers are never found. If the driver who hit you is not found or is uninsured, you can still make a claim with your own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits. Make sure you have enough coverage to protect you and your family if one or more of you is seriously injured in a hit and run accident.

Seek the advice of an attorney. Don’t wait to talk to a personal injury attorney after a hit and run accident. Important evidence can be lost or destroyed within days or even hours after an accident, and your attorney can send investigators to collect and preserve this evidence if necessary. You may be able to get compensation for lost wages and/or medical expenses even before the other driver is found. If litigation is necessary, you will need an experienced attorney in your corner.

The attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are available any time for free, no obligation consultations. Just call 716-907-7777 to arrange an appointment. Visit the firm’s website at http://www.theobrienfirm.com/personal-injury/ for more information. COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

 

Car Issues During Quarantine

It is an uncommonly known fact that when you don’t run your car for a long time, it risks forcing you to deal with  maintenance issues that you normally would not have to worry about, rather than prolonging its lifetime. During quarantine, most people labeled as nonessential workers have had to stay home. Therefore, their cars aren’t being used as much as they normally would have been. While this has led to decreases in car insurance and gas prices, it has caused a rise in car problems as our country begins to open back up.

Common Issues

  • Dead Battery: Even when your car is not running, there are many electronics in it that will slowly drain your battery over time. When you run your car, your battery starts charging. However, if you let your car sit for too long, the battery can drain, and you won’t be able to start your car back up without a new battery or charging the current one with proper equipment or professional help.

 

  • Sun Damage: Leaving your car out on your driveway, in the sun, can cause interior damage. Your seats may become discolored and the fabric can be damaged. If you have any items inside your car that could melt, that can also cause permanent stains.

 

  • Brakes: Brakes can stick to the rotors, freeze, and stop working. The last thing you want is a running car that cannot stop under its own power.

 

  • Tires: Tires can deflate over time. Temperature changes affect tires and air can escape over time if this goes unnoticed. This can cause you to either have to inflate your tires or replace them altogether prematurely.

 

  • Gas: Gas can break down over time if it sits for too long. Bad gas can cause issues with a car’s ignition system and performance. Left unchecked, it may have to be checked by a professional to flush out or proper additives might be needed.

 

  • Critters: Unwanted critters can make your car their home if you don’t start it up over time. This could cause your car to be inoperable and even cause bad odors. Furthermore, certain critters, such as rats, can chew wires and hoses if they nest under your hood.

Contact Us

Throughout this pandemic, The O’Brien Firm has remained open to help their clients with any of their personal injury issues. Contact us today at: 716-907-7777 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

 

How Will COVID Affect Auto Insurance Rates?

It is now more than two months into the nationwide COVID lockdown, and medical experts and government officials are warning Americans that returning to their normal routines may take months, or even years. With many people laid off from work or working from home, and travel severely restricted, there is some good news. The number of automobile accidents have decreased, and people are putting less wear and tear on their cars, causing many drivers to wonder how their insurance rates might be affected.

Fortunately, most major car insurance companies have taken steps to compensate their customers for part of the premiums they have paid for vehicles that have been virtually idle since March. Many have offered rebates and/or discounts on premiums during the pandemic. Some of these include:

Allstate: A 15% discount on premiums for April and May

Farmers: A 25% credit for April premiums

GEICO: A 15% discount on premiums for new policies, and for policies that renew between April and October 2020.

Liberty Mutual: A 15% discount on premiums for April and May

Progressive: A 20% credit on April premiums, and a 20% discount on May premiums

State Farm: An average credit of 25% for the period between March 20 and May 31.

USAA: A 20% credit for April and May premiums

All companies report that discounts and rebates will be applied automatically.

Since driving habits may be altered for quite some time after the pandemic is over, some insurers are offering new products, such as User Based Insurance (UBI). A UBI insurance policy calculates premiums based on the actual number of miles driven during the policy period. Users will have to install a tracking device on their vehicle to qualify for the programs, which could save money for people who drive sporadically. Some insurers also offer discounts for safe driving, based on devices that monitor such things as speed, the time of day a car is driven, and whether the driver makes sudden stops. While many are skeptical about allowing insurers to have access to so much information, others may be willing to accept the trade-off.

Insurance tracking devices may also be useful in the event of an accident, to prove that a driver was not exceeding the speed limit, for example. If your insurance company offers UBI or safe driving discounts, make sure to learn as much as you can about the type of devices they use and how the collected information is protected from unlawful use and disclosure.

If you or a loved one is injured in an automobile accident, the attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are here to help. Just call 716-907-7777 to for a free consultation. COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.