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.

 

Trucking Accidents: Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Millions of trucks and tractor trailers drive our highways and roads every day, delivering food and other goods to stores in every city and town in America. With so many trucks on the road, accidents are inevitable. Because of their size and weight, trucks are particularly dangerous in an accident – according to the National Highway and Safety Administration, 73% of those killed in accidents involving large trucks were occupants of the other vehicles, and 81% of the fatal accidents involving trucks were multiple vehicle collisions.

One of the most challenging tasks after a trucking accident is determining who is responsible. All interstate commercial truck drivers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates all aspects of commercial trucking, including drug and alcohol testing, hazardous material transportation, training and licensing of commercial truck drivers, and insurance requirements for trucking companies. Once the actual cause of the accident has been determined, the next step is to determine if any of these regulations were violated.

Some common causes of trucking accident include:

Driver Error

Driver error is the leading cause of all auto accidents, including trucking accidents. Often, truck drivers are found in violation of regulations regarding the number of hours they drive in one trip. Drivers are limited to 14 consecutive hours at one time, including breaks and mealtimes. After 14 consecutive hours, drivers must be off duty for 10 hours before being allowed to drive again. Drivers should have logbooks to record their hours, but the books can be neglected or even falsified. Studies have shown that fatigue has the same effect on one’s ability to safely drive as alcohol, so failing to follow these regulations can have disastrous effects. Other driver errors include distracted driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances, speeding, and simple lapses in judgment or concentration.

 

Cargo

Improper loading of cargo may cause a truck to be unbalanced, increasing the chances of an accident. Contents inside a truck may shift if not properly secured, also creating a potential hazard. After an accident, a spill of hazardous materials may cause additional injuries. In these cases, liability may fall on the manufacturer of the materials or the shipper in charge of loading the truck.

 

Mechanical Failure

Commercial vehicles, like all motor vehicles, must pass periodic safety inspections. Safety inspections for commercial vehicles are more rigorous and detailed than those for private vehicles. The owner of the truck, either a trucking company or an owner/driver, is responsible for proper maintenance of the vehicle. Cutting corners on safety inspections or equipment can lead to accidents. After an accident involving a truck, it is important to access inspection record and also have the truck inspected for faulty equipment that may have been improperly maintained.

 

All of this may seem overwhelming for someone who is already struggling with a serious injury or with the loss of a loved one. The attorneys at The O’Brien Firm have many years of experience handling trucking accident cases and can help identify the responsible parties to work with their insurers. We are available any time for a free consultation at 716-907-7777. Visit the firm’s website at http://www.theobrienfirm.com /for more information about the firm and our attorneys. COVID-19 UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.

Protecting Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, it is normal to feel anxious, frightened, and even relieved if you were not seriously injured. Understandably, you may not be able to think clearly immediately following the incident or even a few hours to days after. However, time is not on your side after an accident and you must act quickly to preserve your rights. Before going out for a ride, all motorcycle riders should know what they should do to protect their rights in case they are involved in an accident.

  1. If you can, take photos of the accident scene before any vehicles are moved. The relative positions of the vehicles can be a crucial piece of evidence needed to establish who was at fault. Other physical evidence, such as skid marks and debris on the road, may disappear or fade within days or even hours. Photos can also help show weather conditions at the time of the accident.
  2. If there are witnesses, try to obtain their contact information, in case they leave the scene before the police arrive.
  3. Do not admit any fault to anyone. Even if you believe you may have been partially or completely at fault for the accident, you may not be aware of all of the circumstances. A hasty admission of fault can affect your rights, even if it turns out that you were mistaken.
  4. Ask for a copy of the police report. It will contain important information that you may need later on.
  5. Always seek medical care. Some injuries are not immediately apparent. The stress and adrenaline of the accident may mask pain and lead you to believe that you are uninjured. Failure to seek immediate medical attention will weaken your case if you start to experience symptoms afterwards. Even in extenuating circumstances, such as with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it is important to be checked by a doctor after an accident. Take proper safety precautions, but do not delay in getting medical attention.
  6. Call an accident attorney. Your attorney will be able to help preserve evidence, interview possible witnesses, and work with insurance adjustors to get money for your medical expenses even before your case is settled.

The attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are dedicated to helping accident victims and have the experience necessary to handle the unique circumstances involved in motorcycle accident cases. Visit our website at  http://www.theobrienfirm.com/ for more information, or call us at 716-907-7777 to arrange a consultation. During the current coronavirus outbreak, we are available for phone and video consultations.

Preventing Workplace Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, workplace accidents cost over $161 billion in 2017, taking into account medical expenses, loss of productivity, administrative costs, and uninsured expenses. Of that amount, employers paid over $12 billion in uninsured costs. Employees lost over 104,000,000 days of work due to on-the-job injuries, time that had to be covered by overtime, temporary workers, or extra shifts. Many of these accidents could have been prevented.

Common Causes of Workplace Accidents

Overexertion

The most common cause of injuries leading to lost workdays is overexertion, accounting for over one-third of reported workplace accidents. Overexertion can include lifting or moving heavy objects, using improper lifting techniques, and engaging in any repetitive motions over long periods of time. While it is ultimately up to the employee to know the limits of his own body, employers can help reduce overexertion injuries by:

  • Making sure all employees are trained in proper lifting techniques
  • Requiring the use of safety equipment such as back braces and wrist supports.
  • Making sure that shifts are adequately staffed, so workers do not have to lift heavy objects without assistance.
  • Allowing workers whose jobs duties require repetitive motions to take regular breaks.

 

Contact With Objects

This category of accidents includes being struck by falling objects, getting caught in machinery, and being struck or crushed by collapsing structures or materials. Employers can help avoid these injuries by:

  • Not allowing untrained employees to operate dangerous equipment
  • Enforcing a dress code that does not allow loose clothing that could get caught in machinery
  • Making sure that boxes and other materials are stacked properly
  • Frequent inspections of storerooms, warehouse space, and dangerous machinery

 

Slips and Falls

This includes falling off of ladders and scaffolding, tripping over objects, slipping on spilled liquids, and falling from high places at worksites, such as roofs, decks, and ledges. In addition to proper training of employees, employers can take the following steps to reduce slip and fall accidents:

  • Not allowing employees to work on ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or other high places alone
  • Making sure ladders and scaffoldings are properly maintained and sturdy
  • Having proper equipment available for every job so workers do not have to improvise with equipment not suited to the task
  • Keeping floors and aisles clear of debris
  • Having a janitorial crew or assigned workers on hand to clean up spills quickly

 

Workplace Diseases

Exposure to chemicals, dust, fumes, and other environmental hazards can lead to permanent disability or death. OSHA standards require all employers to provide adequate safety equipment for employees working with hazardous chemicals or materials. These include breathing equipment, eye protection, hearing protection, and protective clothing. Employers should make sure all workers use protective equipment at all times, even when it may seem inconvenient or less efficient to do so.

 

New York Workers Compensation Firm

If you or a family member is involved in an accident at work, call The O’Brien Firm at 716- 907-7777 to learn more about your rights and options. You may also visit our website at http://www.theobrienfirm.com/.

 

Highway Etiquette – Avoid Accidents by Being Considerate

When driving, as in other aspects of daily life, practicing the Golden Rule can make for a safer, more pleasant experience. Here are some practical driver etiquette tips that may help avoid an accident, a road rage incident, or an unpleasant encounter.

Knowing and Obeying Right-of-Way Rules

New York traffic laws govern rights-of-way in intersections, the most common locations for automobile accidents. New York law and common courtesy require that a driver approaching an intersection must yield to a driver already in the intersection. Even if your light is green, do not pull out in front of another vehicle. You may be legally within your rights, but that will be little comfort when your vehicle is damaged, or you are injured.

In an intersection with four-way stop signs, drivers are required to yield to the driver on their right. If there are drivers at all four intersections, highway etiquette dictates that the first driver to approach should be allowed to proceed first.

No Tailgating

It can be frustrating to be stuck behind a slow driver but failing to leave enough distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you is not only impolite, but also dangerous. If that driver makes a sudden stop, lane change, or has to swerve to avoid an obstacle, you may not have enough time to stop. If you rear-end another vehicle, you will almost always be found responsible for the accident.

Avoid Aggressive driving

Aggressive driving practices such as frequent or sudden lane changes, honking or repeatedly flashing your lights in order to get a vehicle to move out of the way, and excessive speed, increase your chances of being involved in an accident. In addition, these practices may startle an inexperienced driver, further increasing the risk of an accident.

Use Your Signals

New York law and common courtesy require the use of turn signals before turning or changing lanes. Think about yourself in a similar situation: would you appreciate another driver suddenly stopping to turn without any warning? The driver behind you may be distracted, or may be following a bit too close. He may even be distraught over some bad news or a family emergency. Give him a chance to see that you are about to slow down or move into his lane, and you may avoid a potentially deadly accident.

General Courtesy

Drivers who are considerate of other motorists and who treat others on the road as they would prefer to be treated may avoid creating situations in which other drivers feel the need to retaliate for rude behavior, either with aggressive driving of their own, or even deliberate actions.

New York Accident Attorneys

Despite your best efforts, you may fund yourself in an accident someday. If you do, call the personal injury experts at The O’Brien Firm at 716-907-7777, or visit our website at www.theobrienfirm.com for more information.

 

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.