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.

 

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.

 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. 

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. 

Tips For Safe Driving While On Vacation

Car on a mapDuring the cold and snowy winter months, many people travel to vacation homes or rentals down in the warmer southern states. Southern locals call them “snowbirds” because they flock down south during the northern cold and are quick to go back home when the south starts heating up. The increase of drivers on the roads leads to more traffic, aggressive driving, and inevitable car accidents.

To avoid conflicts when you simply want to relax and stay warm, you should take these tips into consideration:

Know Where You’re Going

It is understandable that you don’t know where all your destinations are while you’re on vacation. However, that’s why you should always plan ahead. It is easy to be caught off guard and realize you have to make a right turn when you are in the far-left lane on the road. Instead of cutting across three lanes of traffic and risking an accident, search where you’re going before leaving. Apps are available on your phone as well as resources readily available on your computer. A simple Google search will show you exactly where you need to go so you have a clear understanding of where you are headed.

State Rules

Different states and cities have different road rules. For example, some states require you to drive on the right lane of a highway to leave the left lane for drivers that are passing only. Other states don’t have such a rule. To avoid car accidents and being pulled over by the police, you should always make sure you know the law of the state you are driving in. You can Google search the state’s driving laws or call the non-emergency local police number for answers and explanations when you’re unsure of a specific law.

Aggressive Driving

You will likely drive slower when you are in an unfamiliar place. However, there are many locals that will not be so understanding. Locals need to go to work, appointments, and school. They know where they are going because they have likely lived there for quite some time. They may be quick to drive aggressively and be frustrated when a non-local doesn’t drive like the other locals. Be aware of your surroundings and prepared for this possibility.

Distracted Driving

In addition to aggressive driving, it is easy for locals who are comfortable with the local roads to check their social media or text while driving. No matter how much phone usage is prohibited while driving, you can still be the unfortunate person that runs into a cell phone user while driving (literally). In fact, many car accidents have occurred within a few miles of people’s homes that are involved. This is because of the false notion that because you are close to home, it’s safe to start unwinding and using your phone. As with aggressive drivers, be conscious that there are people that will not follow the law.

Contact Us

At O’Brien, we care about our clients and want them to have safe vacations. If you are ever in a car accident, contact our skilled attorneys that can help you receive compensation. Call us today: (716) 907-7777.

Why You Should Never Drink and Drive

Keys and alcohol on a tableDrunk driving has been a serious issue around the world as it has been the direct cause of fatal car accidents. Driving can be dangerous as it is without any impairment, so driving after drinking will clearly be an even bigger risk.

In fact, car accidents caused by drunk drivers have killed thousands of people annually. With the injury and mortality rates being so high, police officers and citizens have been even more vigilant than ever to spot drunk drivers and find ways to stop them.

Regulations

Most people of legal drinking age know that they cannot legally drive when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .08%. However, as little as one drink can cause impairments including slow reactions, sleepiness, distractions, and difficulty steering or braking. Your age, weight, and recent food intake will all affect your reaction and tolerance levels to alcohol. For example, it’ll take a lot more alcohol for a heavier person to feel the same impairments alcohol can cause a thin person.

For most people, only one drink will likely make their BAC at .01% and cause it to continually increase drink after drink. “One drink” also has multiple meanings, however: one drink means one glass of beer/wine or one shot of liquor. Therefore, when you order a cocktail prepared by a bartender, there will likely be more than one shot. In that case, even if you are technically having “one drink,” you have to consider that not all drinks are created equally.

Nevertheless, you can still be pulled over and in violation of drunk driving laws even when you’re under the .08% mark. If your driving falls substantially below what is reasonably expected of you after having even one drink, you can still be fined and charged. Even when you think you know your alcohol levels and what you can handle, you may not realize how impaired your diving can be due to intoxication.

Repercussions

Repercussions to driving under the influence are severe. Not only do you risk injuring yourself and others on the road, but a “drinking while intoxicated” (DWI) violation will stay on your record, cost you fines, make you go to court, have your license suspended, and possibly serve jail time. In New York, you can also receive an aggravated DWI or increased penalties under certain circumstances such as having a BAC over .18%, being a repeat offender, having illicit drugs on you, or if a minor was in the car.

There is never a good excuse to drive after drinking, and you can always find a better and safer alternative. When you go out to a bar, restaurant, or party, you’ll be able to steer clear of any drunk driving repercussions by:

  • Having a designated driver that won’t be drinking to take you home;
  • Calling a taxi, friend, or family member to pick you up;
  • Limiting yourself to one drink only; or
  • Simply not drinking at all. When you know you’re going to drive, drinking is never worth it.

Contact Us

If you were involved in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you may be able to recover compensation. We offer free initial consultations to discuss what happened and see if we can help. Call us today: (716) 907-7777.

Driving In The Snow

car driving during snowNot everyone is lucky enough to live in a sunny state where it does not snow. In fact, most states have annual snow fall each winter with some states experiencing more than others. Whenever you drive in the snow, you need to be even more cautious while driving. When it’s snowing, road conditions are more dangerous and can cause serious accidents when you’re not prudent. 

Severe Car Accidents and Pile Ups 

Whenever you turn on the news during a snowstorm, you’re bound to find news regarding a pile up on the highway. With the slipping and sliding caused by frost and snow, it’s easy to lose control of a car. Furthermore, it is difficult to stop in time when you’re driving at high speeds on the highway. Your visibility and traction are worsened, and it is always best to avoid driving in the midst of a snowfall. 

Accidents have happened due to sliding, running red lights because a driver can’t stop in time, and even not seeing a car in front. Whenever you find yourself in an unfortunate vehicle crash situation, the first thing to remember is to remain calm and stay in your vehicle. Contact the local authorities and wait for them to arrive. You never know if there will be another car driving that won’t see you and it’s best to use your car as a “temporary shelter” that will keep you safe while waiting. 

Tips For Driving In The Snow 

Many times, people cannot avoid driving in the snow. Whether it’s your job, school, or other obligation, you can’t always stay at home all winter. When you do have to go out in the snow, always remember to: 

  • Have a well-maintained car with functioning brakes 
  • Have properly inflated snow tires 
  • Avoid surfaces that could be extra slippery 
  • Drive slower when the visibility is low 
  • Wear your seatbelt 
  • Have blankets and warm clothes in case of an emergency 
  • Ensure that all your car lights are in working order so other drivers can see you 
  • Keep your phone charged and have a backup charger so you are never stranded 

Contacting An Attorney 

After the authorities are called, the first thing you need to do is contact an attorney. If you were not at fault, an insurance company will likely try to settle a case with you for less than you deserve. This is when you need an attorney in your corner to review all the details of your case and help you receive adequate compensation. A car accident is a stressful time in anyone’s life, but personal injury attorneys will make sure that you are not taken advantage of. 

Contact Us 

The holidays have begun, and snow has started falling. Many sources have named New York as one of the harshest states to live and drive in during the cold, snowy winter. If you or a family member is ever injured in a car accident, you should contact our experienced attorneys at the O’Brien law firm, so we can help you. We offer everyone free initial consultations with no obligations or charges until you win your case. Contact us today at (716) 907-7777.

Dangers Of Distracted Driving

Using of Mobile Phone While DrivingWhen you’re driving, you should always have your full attention on the road.

Car accidents are far too common and can cause property damage, bodily injuries, and death.

In our fast-paced world, we are always trying to multitask and get as much done in the shortest amount of time, but driving is one of the only tasks that always requires your exclusive attention. 

Phones 

Practically everyone owns a cell phone these days, but when you’re driving, you should always put it away. The problem of texting and driving has caused thousands of deaths. States have now passed laws banning the use of phones altogether while driving in efforts to stop this. With new cars having Bluetooth capabilities that allow hands-free talking when you really need to speak to someone, there is no reason to use your phone while driving. 

Phones can also be distracting with their multiple applications allowing people to listen to music and use maps. However, only a few seconds of looking away from the road invites the chance of an accident. Likewise, checking your email or social media is as dangerous. While you’re driving, anything can wait for you to pull over and park or reach your destination before endangering your life among other drivers on the road.  

Eating 

Surprisingly, people eating while driving has caused multiple accidents. First of all, if you decide to eat while driving, you’ll have to hold the steering wheel with one hand and partially focus on your food which limits your driving capabilities and focus. Then, if you spill, your mind will immediately focus on that. People have tried cleaning up a spill in mid-drive. Even if you wait until you are at a red light to clean up a spill, if you accidentally lift your foot off the brake pedal causing your car to go forward. 

Eating while driving has become so dangerous throughout the years that there are lists that include the most dangerous food items to eat while driving. This list includes burgers, tacos, donuts, and beverages. In fact, coffee has been listed as the number one dangerous food item inside a car. Although eating behind the wheel seems innocent enough, that is far from the truth. 

Mental State 

Your mental state can also impair and distract you from driving. Clearly, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can alter your mental state while driving. Furthermore, if you are too tired, you could start dozing off. Only a few seconds of shutting your eyes could lead to a crash.  Even driving while you’re dealing with heavy emotions such as anger or sadness can cause you to be preoccupied with your feelings instead of driving. Whenever you feel as though your emotions are too strong, it is best to pull over. You always have other options such as taxis and the increasingly popular Uber and Lyft services. There is no excuse. 

Contact Us 

If you are injured in a car accident, you need a personal injury attorney, so you can receive compensation. Our attorneys have years of experience specialized in all types of vehicle accidents. Call us today: (716) 907-7777.