Trick or Treat Safety

If you have young children, they are probably already planning what to wear for Halloween.  Some parents opt to forego traditional trick-or-treating in favor of parties, haunted house tours, or one-location trick-or-treat events. For those who opt for the traditional trick-or-treating, here are some ways to help make it a fun and safe experience.

Costume Choices

  • Make sure to check the length and fit of children’s costumes before they go out. Costumes that are too long or too loose may restrict a child’s movement or may be a tripping hazard.
  • If cold weather is anticipated, long underwear and other layers can keep a child warm while not spoiling the look of their costume.
  • Face paint is more comfortable than a mask and allows for unrestricted vision.
  • If the costume is dark in color, make sure to sew or pin some reflective material on the costume so that your child can be seen by drivers.
  • If your child’s costume includes any type of weapon, make sure it is obvious from a distance that the weapon is not real. This is especially important for older children, who could be mistaken for an intruder in the dark. For maximum safety, any costume piece that resembles a firearm should be avoided.

Precautions

Furthermore, children should carry a flashlight after dark. Children should also be instructed not to approach any house that does not have a sign, porch light, or other indication that the occupants are participating in trick-or-treat. Despite the name, “trick-or-treat,” children should be instructed not to play any pranks on non-participating neighbors.  A frightened homeowner may mistake a child for a burglar, to disastrous ends, or the prankster might encounter an aggressive or overly protective pet.

 

Supervision

 While very young children are happy to trick-or-treat with their parents, older children prefer some freedom. Parents may give their older children a sense of freedom while still keeping an eye on them by restricting their children to known streets or neighborhoods, and by accompanying them to a location where they can be observed but not escorted. Children should be instructed not to enter any house or building unless their parents know and trust the occupants and have specifically given permission for the child to enter. Lastly, all children should observe the local trick-or-treat hours.

 

The Spoils of the Night

 Despite the numerous urban legends, verified incidents of tampering with Halloween candy are rare. Nevertheless, children should be instructed to bring all candy home before eating it so you can inspect it. Candy that is not in its original packaging, or in packaging that appears damaged, should be discarded.

 

New York Personal Injury Attorneys

 The attorneys and staff at The O’Brien Firm wish your family a safe and happy Halloween. If you or a family member is injured due to someone’s negligence, call us at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation.

 

 

Rush Hour Accident Prevention

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most automobile accidents occur during the hours of 3-6pm, the traditional “rush hour” commute. With more cars on the road and drivers hurrying to get home after working all day, conditions are ripe for accidents. You can lessen your chances of becoming a rush hour statistic by following a few tips:

  1. Adjust your work times. If you can avoid traveling during these peak times, your chances for being involved in an accident decrease significantly. Many companies offer flexible schedules; even a thirty minute to one-hour change in your commuting time can help avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. Full or part time telecommuting is also becoming more popular. Telecommuting one or two days per week, especially if one of those days is a Friday, will also keep you off the road during the most dangerous hours.
  2. Slow and steady wins the race. Many rush hour commuters like to step on the gas when an opening appears ahead, just to brake suddenly a few seconds later. Maintaining a slow and steady pace may allow some vehicles to get ahead of you in traffic, but it will help avoid a rear-end collision. Remember, if you hit a vehicle in front of you, the responsibility for the accident will fall on you, in most cases.
  3. Be on the lookout for slow or stopped vehicles. Many rush hour accidents are rear end collisions, caused by drivers who did not anticipate the actions of other drivers. When traffic is heavy, assume that the vehicle in front of you will be stopping or slowing suddenly.
  4. Don’t tailgate! Following too close can cause accidents even in the best conditions and is especially dangerous in stop-and-go traffic.
  5. Take extra care at intersections. Rush hour commuters are anxious to get to their destinations and may not take time to stop completely at a stop sign. They may also enter an intersection just as a light turns from yellow to red. You can reduce your chances of being involved in an accident by looking before proceeding into an intersection, even when your light is green, and then proceeding with caution. Don’t assume that other drivers will always adhere to the rules of the road.
  6. Minimize lane changes. In heavy traffic, drivers will often rush to occupy an open spot, usually without signaling or giving other drivers around them time to react. The more often you change lanes, the more chances there are for one of these careless drivers to hit you. Don’t be one of those drivers but be on the lookout for them.

New York Accident Attorneys

Even the best and most cautious drivers may find themselves a victim of someone else’s poor driving habits. If you are injured in an accident, call the experts at The O’Brien Firm at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation http://www.theobrienfirm.com/.

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Why You Should Take Photos After an Accident

Capturing Evidence After an Accident

In a popular exercise for students of criminal justice law, the professor will arrange for an interruption in the middle of a lecture. While the students have their attention focused on the lesson, the door will open suddenly. One or two people will enter the classroom, engage in a short activity, such as an argument or even a proposal, and then leave. Afterward, the professor will ask the students to describe what happened. Most students are surprised at what few details they recall, even minutes after the incident. Descriptions of the actors’ height, weight, hair color, clothing, and even race will vary significantly. If the professor waits until the class is over to interview the witnesses, their recollection is even worse. In a stressful situation like an automobile accident, witnesses’ ability to correctly observe and report important details can be compromised further. After an accident, any details that are captured in a photo can help prove important facts that you cannot remember or that varies from another witness’s memory.

 

Imperfect recollection is not the only reason why photos are important, however. In many cases, police officers seek to clear roadways as soon as possible and ask the drivers involved to move their vehicles to the side of the road. The placement of vehicles after an accident may provide clues as to the cause of the collision, so, if possible, take some photos of the vehicles before they are moved. Photographic evidence may also be used to show the extent of damage on a vehicle in case the driver tries to attribute additional damage from the accident afterwards.

 

Professional accident examiners will often take pictures of an accident scene to show skid marks that might indicate speed, damage to surrounding objects that might indicate the force and direction of a collision, and the positions of intersections, traffic signs, and/or barriers. These photos can be important in establishing the cause of the accident and the fault of the drivers. Photos taken at the scene, however, can capture evidence that later photos cannot. For example, photos taken at the scene provide evidence of weather and traffic conditions. It may even be possible to capture an image of a traffic light immediately after an accident to prove whether it was red or green.

 

Safety First

The safety of yourself and the other parties, of course, is more important than gathering evidence. If you or anyone else needs immediate medical attention, the photos can wait. Take photos only when you are safely capable of doing so.

 

Accident Attorney

One of the most important steps you can take to protect your rights after an accident is to talk to an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible. Learn more at http://www.theobrienfirm.com/ or call (706) 907-7777 for a free consultation.

Bicycle Injuries Frequently Demand Litigation

Whether you are on your own bicycle or on one of the many bicycle rentals that are popping up in cities all over the country, accidents are always a possibility. In an accident between a bicycle and a car, the bicyclist is much more likely to be seriously injured or killed. Injuries to bicyclists are often above the no-fault insurance limit, and therefore, bicycle accidents may result in litigation.

Keeping Safe While Riding in New York

Safety precautions such as helmets, lights, reflectors, and bells are essential when riding, especially on public roads. Remember to obey traffic laws as if you are driving a car and to ride in designated bicycle lanes whenever possible. The most important safety tip for bicycle riders is to be aware that drivers of other vehicles are often not trained to watch out for smaller vehicles or bicyclists. Never assume that another driver can see you.

 

The doctrine of comparative negligence in New York limits recovery for injuries when the injured party has been found partially responsible for the accident. Therefore, failure to observe traffic laws or follow accepted safety procedures could make it more difficult to recover the full amount of your damages.

 

Bicycle Accident Litigation

There are many possible causes of bicycle accidents. Some of them are unavoidable or caused by errors and/or inattention on the part of the cyclist. In many cases, the accident could have been avoided. Cyclists can be struck by other vehicles when those vehicles are driving in a bicycle lane or when a driver does not look before changing lanes and making a turn. Drivers can also misjudge distances, thinking there is plenty of space to pass, and hitting the cyclist as they drive by. Poorly maintained roads, debris on the road, and other hazards are also responsible for accidents.

 

On the other hand, a cyclist may be injured when his own equipment fails. Deflated tires, faulty brakes, and other equipment problems can cause a cyclist to lose control, fall, and/or swerve into traffic. Moreover, a lack of lights or reflectors can lead to an accident if the driver of a vehicle can’t see the cyclist. Lastly, improperly designed or manufactured helmets may lead to serious injuries following an accident or fall.

 

Bicycle Accident Attorney in New York

The unique circumstances involved in bicycle accidents demand an attorney who has experience, not only in personal injury law, but in handling bicycle injury cases. The O’Brien Firm, with offices in Buffalo and many other New York locations, can help if you are injured in a bicycle accident. Visit our website at http://www.theobrienfirm.com/ or call 716-907-7777 for more information.

How Much Car Insurance Do You Need?

Minimum Insurance Requirements 

Best NY Car Crash LawyersEven though New York is a “no-fault” jurisdiction when it comes to automobile accidents, all drivers and car owners in the state are required to carry insurance.  All drivers must have a $50,000 no-fault policy, which will pay for your damages if you are involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. In addition, you must have uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, in case you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance.

Finally, all drivers must have a minimum coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for bodily injury, $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident for death, and $10,000 per accident for property damage.

It is perfectly legal to operate a vehicle in New York if you have the minimum insurance coverage specified above, but is it wise?

What is Not Covered By the No-Fault Law

New York’s no-fault auto accident law is designed to make claims easier for most accidents. When an accident only involves property damage or the injuries are minor, the minimum coverage should be sufficient to cover the expenses. However, the minimum coverage may not be enough in these particular circumstances:

  • Accidents involving motorcycles. Motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles for purposes of the no-fault laws. In an accident involving a motorcycle, an injured person may sue for personal injury damages that fall below the threshold of “serious injuries” for other accidents. Even a non-serious injury claim may exceed the $50,000 minimum required coverage.
  • Serious injuries. Claims for serious or permanent injuries are not covered by the no-fault law. If you only carry the minimum amount of insurance, you could be personally liable for any damages above that amount. If a person is permanently injured, the claim can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Pain and suffering. An injured person may still sue a negligent driver for pain and suffering. This type of damage is often far greater than the monetary damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and property.
  • Uninsured motorists. If you are injured in an accident with a driver who has no insurance, or whose insurance is inadequate, you may make a claim from your own insurance company. The minimum uninsured motorist coverage will not compensate you if you suffer any serious or permanent injury

Seek Professional Advice

Talk to your insurance agent about the best insurance plan for your needs. If you have been injured in an accident, talk to a New York accident attorney right away to learn about your rights and options. No-fault accident claims must be filed within 30 days, so do not delay. Attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are available for free consultations 24/7.  Call us at (716) 907-7777

 

 

 

How To Have Fun While Staying Safe On St. Patrick’s Day 

Saint Patrick's Day PartySt. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and most cities have annual parades to celebrate with traditional Irish food, events, and specialty drinks. In fact, Buffalo has its own St. Patrick’s Day parade with bands, dancers, and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. While this is always a fun time to celebrate with friends and family, this is also a day that invites the potential of excess drinking. The last thing you’ll want on a fun day of celebrating is to be involved in an accident that could have been prevented, so from our team at The O’Brien Law Firm, we hope you have a safe holiday weekend by following these tips. 

Plan Ahead 

If you know you’re going to be partaking in drinking a traditional green beer or Irish whiskey, you should do so responsibly. Moreover, keep in mind that police officers will be on the lookout for drivers under the influence and people that may have had too much to drink. Knowing what to expect and planning ahead will allow you to have a good time while still being safe. 

When you know you’re going to drink: 

  • Have a designated driver that will refrain from drinking to take you home  
  • Call a taxi 
  • Stay at a hotel close by to walk back to
  • Limit and pace yourself 
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water 

Crowds 

Events usually bring in large crowds ready to celebrate and those people can be rambunctious. Crowds of people bring in the potential that you may trip, slip, and/or fall due to the negligence of another or business establishment. Furthermore, crowds of rowdy people can lead to being shoved or pushed causing injuries.  

You can try your best to keep to yourself with the people you’re with, but it is practically inevitable that you will find yourself side by side with strangers. When you find yourself in a predicament, make sure you remain aware of your surroundings and even more cautious of people, things, and potential dangers around you. 

Helping Others And New York’s Good Samaritan Law 

When you’re going to be around a lot of people with alcohol free-flowing, you will likely see someone that has had too much to drink. If you ever fear that someone else is in danger or see an intoxicated party-goer getting behind the wheel, New York has enacted a 911 Good Samaritan Law that will allow you to contact police without fear of retribution. This can help prevent accidents, injuries, and death. 

Under most circumstances, this law provides that even if you are in possession of alcohol, you will not be charged for notifying police of someone that may be in peril. This law came into effect to encourage people to help others without fear of being charged with alcohol possession when they are trying to help someone. 

Contact Us 

If you are injured due to the negligence of another person, The O’Brien Law Firm offers free, no obligation consultations. Personal injuries can be stressful, but you can count on us to help you receive the compensation required for your expenses endured following an injury. Call us today: (716) 907-7777. 

 What To Consider Before Driving On The Highway 

Car Driving on a HighwayDriving on the highway can be nerve-wracking for not only new drivers but also experienced drivers. Highways often require you to drive at faster speeds than you are accustomed to, around many vehicles, and for several hours at a time. High-speed car crashes can cause serious permanent injuries and death. Before merging onto the highway, you should always make sure that you and your loved ones are buckled in and that you know what to expect. 

Road Rules and State Statutes 

Instead of airline flying, many people now opt to drive when they go on vacation. Plane tickets can be expensive and checking yourself through TSA can be a hassle. A drive across state lines will normally take longer, but many people prefer taking that extra time to avoid using commercial airlines. 

You should always remember that different states may have different road laws when you are traveling across state lines. Additionally, some states are notoriously much stricter about certain violations. When you know that you’re going to be driving throughout different states, you should take some time to see whether different rules apply. 

Road Trips and Towing 

Highways are also filled with families and other road tripping drivers driving throughout the state or from state to state for fun activities. It is common to see recreational vehicles, boats, and off-road vehicles being towed on the highway from a regular vehicle. While one of the last things anyone going on vacation wants to deal with is an accident on the highway, it can still happen to anyone while hitching something.  

Using trailers or driving large vehicles is more difficult because people will have far more blind spots in addition to a harder time driving. On the highway, always watch out for people with larger hauls or baggage in the trunk blocking their windows and creating additional blind spots. People on vacation will also be more likely to feel relaxed and less attentive, so be aware that you may have to be extra cautious to make up for any lack of skill, experience, or awareness. 

Working Drivers 

Many people take a highway even when their destinations are within the same city. Cities oftentimes have several exits so that people can get from Point A to Point B directly without stopping at red lights or other delays that driving through town can bring about. Additionally, highways always have semi trucks driving throughout the states with truck drivers driving for much longer than most people would. 

These working drivers are typically accustomed to the highway, but this can actually be negative as this can lead to speeding and feeling overly confident. Whenever entering the highway, everyone should be cautious. Watch out for reckless or negligent drivers and try to stay away from them when you notice an unsafe driver. 

Contact Us 

When you’re involved in a car accident on the highway, you deserve to have a highly skilled attorney fighting on your side for compensation. The O’Brien Law Firm has the experience and qualifications necessary to help you receive the compensation you need for your injuries. Call us today at (716) 907-7777. 

Recreational Vehicle Accidents

RV AccidentsCamping and road trips with family and friends are typically fun vacations to participate in. When you’re going to be away from your home for a long time period, it is often convenient and more relaxing to rent a larger recreational vehicle (RV) rather than trying to fit the entire family into a regular car. 

While living and sleeping arrangements are much more enjoyable and spacious, maneuvering these large vehicles can be very difficult. Not only do they have many more blind spots, but they are also much heavier and take longer to accelerate or brake. RV accidents can happen in a snap of a finger to anyone inexperienced in driving such large vehicles.  

How RV Accidents Can Happen 

There are different types of RV’s including conventional, campers, and motor homes. Each come with their own dangers. An accident can be caused by: 

  • Fatigue: it is common to drive for several hours at a time while traveling in an RV. This can easily lead to reduced sleep and fatigue. Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous as it is while driving a regular car, but even more dangerous while driving a heavy and large vehicle such as an RV. 
  • Difficult Turns: It is always more difficult to make turns while driving a larger vehicle. If you try to make a tight turn, you risk hitting something. If you try making a turn too fast, you risk rolling the RV over, causing damage and potential injuries or death. 
  • Drinking and Driving: It is understandable to want to have a few drinks while vacationing. However, drinking while controlling a large RV is not only against the law but also extremely unsafe. If you’re going to be drinking, don’t drive any vehicle. 
  • Vehicle Malfunctions: If you’re renting from a company, they are required to maintain their rental vehicles and make sure that they are working properly for renters to drive. However, there are times when a malfunction can be overlooked, and an RV can run into serious problems. 

What You Should And Shouldn’t Do 

The first thing you should do if you are ever in any sort of vehicle accident is to seek medical attention for yourself and the people involved. Furthermore, document as much as you can so everything will stay fresh in your mind. Write down notes, take photos, and capture videos. The shock of an accident can cause you to forget important information later on. You should also speak with an attorney as soon as you can so he or she can analyze what happened and help you receive compensation for injuries that you have endured. 

On the other hand, things you shouldn’t do is speak about the accident on social media. It is far too easy for any insurance company to simply look up your online profile on any social media site that you use and try to use anything you say against you. This can hinder your chances of receiving fair insurance compensation. Furthermore, you should avoid speaking with any insurance provider. Often, they will try to contact you for a statement, but you are under no obligation to speak with them. Instead, have your attorney conversate with them.  

Contact Us  

If you are involved in an RV accident, you need an experienced attorney to help you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Contact The O’Brien Law Firm at your earliest convenience so our attorneys can go over what happened and start working for you. Reach us at: (716) 907-7777. 

How To Prevent Bicycling Accidents

Cyclist on the roadEach year, thousands of people are injured and/or killed due to accidents involving vehicles and bicycles. This is often either the driver’s or bicyclist’s fault but oftentimes, an accident could have been prevented if either party took additional precautions.

Whether you are a bicyclist trying to avoid vehicles or vice versa (a driver trying to get from point A to point B without any problems), you should consider all these tips to avoid injuries and lawsuits.

Bicyclist Prevention

When you are bicycling, you need to always be aware of your surroundings. There will likely be other drivers, pedestrians, and fellow bicyclists around you that can cause you to crash your bike. When you want to go on a bicycling stroll, take these following precautions:

  • Stay within the parameters of any bike lanes on the roads
  • When you have to cross a roadway, check for any vehicles
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Install lights and reflective devices on your bike so that other drivers can see you while biking
  • Wear reflective clothing while bicycling at dawn or dusk
  • Keep your phone on you in case of an emergency
  • Consider purchasing a smartwatch with emergency services that will contact your close family when you signal it
  • Listen to your music at a low volume so you can hear cars coming up behind you

Driver Prevention

Whenever you get behind the wheel, there is a chance of being in a car accident not only with another vehicle, but also bicyclists. You can always reduce your chances of being involved in one when you are cautious and know the various dangers on the road. When you drive:

  • Check the sidewalks to make sure no bicyclists are around before turning onto a road
  • Always look both ways when you are merging onto a road
  • Drive within the speed limit at all times, especially in residential zones – residential zones often have many bicyclists and runners exercising
  • Be aware that many bicyclists may be listening to music on earphones and can’t hear cars driving by
  • Give bicyclists plenty of room when you are passing them in case they lose their balance and fall over

What To Do

Similar to a car accident, you should always write down the information of anyone you are in an accident with. When possible, write down the license plate, vehicle make and model, and name of the driver who crashed into you. You will need this information to inform authorities of what happened.

Additionally, be cautious of what you tell the driver that is at-fault or the police. If you say you’re not in pain and feeling alright and only later feel pain once the shock has settled, this can be used against you if you decide to file a claim. Anything you say can be misconstrued, so it is best to stay neutral and simply write down the information that you need.

Contact Us

If you are injured in a car accident while you were riding your bike, you may be able to receive compensation. We always offer free initial consultations to determine whether you may have a successful case. Call us today at (716) 907-7777 so that our experienced team of attorneys can help you.

Do You Need Additional Insurance Coverage On Your Rental Car?

opening a car doorYou might need a rental car when you’re on vacation or if your car is in the shop. It’ll surely take time to get used to a new car and figure out how everything functions.

One of the last things you need is to be involved in a car accident while driving a rental vehicle. However, do you really need to purchase additional coverage when you’re paying for your own insurance already?

 

Different Insurances 

Rental companies’ additional insurance options can differ from one another, but typically, you will be asked if you want additional coverage on your rental car. Although you should always double check with your insurer if you are covered, your insurance plan for your daily vehicle will likely extend to a rental car without purchasing any of the rental company’s insurance plans. There are four types of coverages that companies offer: 

  • Collision Damage Waiver 
  • Supplemental Liability Protection 
  • Personal Accident Insurance
  • Personal Effects Coverage 

Collision Damage Waiver 

This coverage is also called Loss Damage Waiver or Physical Damage Waiver. Paying for this will mean that the rental company will waive all or some of the cost of the rental car if it is damaged or stolen. However, most insurance policies for people’s everyday vehicles already provide this insurance. Furthermore, some credit cards also already provide this coverage. Before you purchase the Collision Damage Waiver, contact your insurance provider to see if you already have it. 

Supplemental Liability Protection 

New York requires that all rental companies have minimum liability insurance for vehicles for bodily injuries and property damage. Renters that purchase this insurance will have the rental company pay for the amount that their minimum coverage does not cover which is for a very considerable amount. However, in addition to your personal vehicle’s insurance that likely already covers this, the minimum coverage that you have with your car will likely be enough. 

Personal Accident Insurance 

This insurance covers expenses following a car accident including medical, ambulance, and death costs for drivers and their passengers. Although these expenses can be exponentially high, your current insurance policies will also likely already cover these expenses.  

Personal Effects Coverage 

Lastly, this insurance covers your personal property that can be stolen in your rental car. You may also already be covered however through your homeowner’s policy. Therefore, you could end up paying for something that you never end up using. Before choosing to add this insurance, make sure you see if you are already covered and whether your personal items in your car will even be worth the value. 

Before You Decide 

All of these additional coverages are purely optional, and companies are prohibited from forcing you to purchase any of these. While it may sometimes be prudent to purchase additional insurance, you shouldn’t have to unnecessarily pay more money for additional coverage when you are already covered by your current auto insurance.  

Additional insurance can quickly add up, as you will be charged daily for each one. Before spending your hard-earned money, make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for and always contact your insurance provider to verify what you’re already covered for. 

Contact Us 

Whether it’s your personal vehicle or a rental, being in a car accident can be stressful and costly. Although they are often unavoidable, the more information you know, the more prepared you can be if you find yourself in a compromising situation. If you are ever in a car accident, call us as soon as possible: (716) 907-7777.