Why You Should Hire a Local Personal Injury Attorney

If you have ever watched television late at night, you have probably seen ads for personal injury attorneys who represent clients across the country in large class action lawsuits against drug companies and manufacturers. If you have suffered an injury similar to the ones described on television, your choice of a personal injury attorney is very important to the success of your case. For your peace of mind, you want to be sure you are making a choice that will be comfortable, lead to success, and allow you the ability to understand and control your case. Before calling the toll-free number you see on the screen, consider the advantages of hiring an attorney in your own state or city.

State Licensing

 

All states require attorneys who practice within their borders to be licensed. Even though victims may be located throughout the country, any lawsuits on a victim’s behalf should be brought in the state in which the victim resides. Often, law firms who handle multiple lawsuits against a large defendant will have to hire local attorneys to do the actual work involved with filing suit in each state. These local attorneys may work in conjunction with the main firm but are ultimately responsible for the cases within their jurisdictions. By hiring a local attorney to handle your case, you will be able to choose the attorney you want to represent you.

 

Personal Attention

 

If the law firm representing you has thousands of clients, it may be difficult to talk to the attorney handling your case. When you have questions or concerns, it is comforting to have access to someone who can give you answers when you need them. It is also comforting to know that you can talk to your attorney in person.

 

Familiarity with Local Courts

 

When you are involved in litigation, unfamiliarity with local court rules and procedures can lead to delays and could even hurt your chances of success. Choose an attorney who knows your local laws and court rules.

 

The personal injury attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are well equipped to handle any case, large or small, and able to handle the most complex litigation. The O’Brien Firm is also available when you need to talk to see if you should file suit. Do not trust your case to a stranger hundreds of miles away – instead, call us today at 717-907-7777 for a free in-person or virtual consultation. Visit our home page here for more information.

Winter Sports Injuries

Summer is officially over, and soon thousands of New Yorkers will be donning their winter gear and enjoying winter sports like snowboarding, skiing, ice hockey, and football. Many of those who participate in individual and team sports this season may be injured. After a sports injury, one of the first questions you might ask yourself is, “Could this have been prevented?”

Assumption of Risk

All sports carry inherent risks. With ice sports such as skating, curling, and hockey, falls are inevitable. The same is true for skiing and snowboarding. Children playing football can expect to collide with other players, trip and fall, and suffer some minor injuries from overworked muscles. These types of hazards are inherent and expected when participating in any physical activity. Because these risks are well known and expected, participants are considered to assume to risks voluntarily when they engage in the activity.

 

When children or adults participate in organized team sports or engage in any sport that involves renting equipment or using a commercial facility of any kind, they (or their parents) will almost always be required to sign a waiver that explains the inherent risks of the sport they are about to engage in. Furthermore, this waiver lets them know that they assume these risks voluntarily and explains that the organization providing the equipment or facility, or organizing the activity, is not responsible for any injuries sustained by participants.

 

Many people assume that, once they have signed a waiver, they are not eligible to sue a rental agency, facility, or team organizer if they are injured. In most cases, that is probably true, but there are circumstances in which these waivers may be voided.

 

Organized Sports

When a school or team organizer fails to take proper precautions to protect players, they may be held responsible for injuries. Some examples of this may include:

 

  • Failure to properly maintain equipment or facilities.
  • Inadequate supervision.
  • Failure to enforce safety rules, such as rules against bodychecking in hockey, or rules against unnecessary roughness in football.
  • Failure to require players to wear proper safety equipment

 

Commercial Facilities

While the owners of commercial facilities such as ice skating rinks and ski lodges are generally not responsible for the normal injuries one might expect from falls, collisions with other participants, or exposure to cold temperatures, they do owe their patrons a duty of care when it comes to maintaining their facilities and equipment. When an injury is directly related to faulty equipment, such as broken bindings on skis, loose blades on ice skates, or even an unsafe ski lift, the provider of the equipment may be sued for damages.

 

Snowmobile Accidents

Most snowmobile accidents, like most car accidents, are caused by distracted driving, excessive speed, and impaired driving. Like other vehicles, snowmobiles can suffer mechanical failures that may lead to accidents. If you are injured in an accident with a snowmobile driven by someone else that was caused by a mechanical problem, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.

 

New York Injury Attorneys

If you or a family member have been injured in a winter sport accident, talk to a personal injury expert who can evaluate your case and explore all possible options for compensation. The attorneys at The O’Brien Firm have decades of experience representing injured persons, and will be happy to provide a free consultation. Just call 716-907-777, or visit our website.

Seeing Your Doctor After a Car Accident

If you believe that you may have been injured following a car accident, it is always imperative to see a doctor as soon as possible, even if you are not experiencing any immediate symptoms. Sometimes, symptoms may not appear until hours or even days after an accident, but waiting too long to receive medical attention may not only make injuries more difficult to treat, but could also make it more difficult to receive compensation for your damages. The longer someone waits to seek medical care, the more difficult it will be to prove that any injuries were caused by the accident rather than some other cause.

Length of Treatment

In most cases, injuries sustained in an auto accident are diagnosed and treated, and the patient is released from care within a few days or weeks. With more serious injuries, treatment may continue for months or even years. During that time, an injured person may be out of work and worried about supporting family or paying for medical expenses. It may be tempting to accept a premature settlement, but that would be unwise. Once a settlement has been accepted, any future medical treatment or other damages will not be covered. It is important to continue treatment until released by a doctor, or until a doctor has determined that the injuries, as well as the future need for medical care, will be long-term or permanent. It is never advisable to discontinue treatment without consulting with both your doctor and attorney.

 

Long Term Medical Care and Personal Injury Settlements

 If you need long term medical care after an accident, it is usually possible to receive ongoing payments for medical expenses before a final settlement is reached.  Payment for lost wages may also be available. Your personal injury attorney will help identify all possible sources of compensation and arrange for any compensation for medical treatment or lost wages.

If a doctor determines that an injury is likely to be long-term or permanent, a settlement can be arranged that takes into account the cost of future medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

 

New York Accident Lawyers

 If you are injured in an accident, do not wait to seek medical or legal advice. Your chances of receiving full compensation for your injuries will be greater if you talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. At The O’Brien Firm, we concentrate our practice on representing injured people. We will help identify and preserve important evidence, collect necessary medical records, and work with insurance companies to get compensation for medical bills and lost wages while your case is pending. Once your treatment is completed or the extent of any long-term or permanent injury is known, we will work to get a fair settlement or take your case to court if necessary. You can arrange a free consultation by calling us at 716-907-7777.  For more information about our firm and our personal injury experts, visit our website here.

Injuries from Potholes and Other Road Hazards

There are over 4 million miles of roadways in the United States, including interstate highways, state roads, and city streets. Maintaining those roads is an ongoing and enormous job, costing over $185 billion per year to maintain. Given the enormity of the task, it is only natural that potholes and other issues may exist for months or even years before being repaired. Unfortunately, these road hazards are responsible for thousands of accidents each year, causing millions of dollars in property damage and often resulting in serious injuries and even death. If you are injured in an accident involving a pothole or other road hazard, how can you recover your damages? The answer depends on the type of hazard, the location of the accident, and other factors.

Potholes and Road Maintenance Issues

Drivers and other persons who are injured on city streets may be able to recover damages, but the process is not easy. A pothole, uneven pavement, or other hazard on a city street or state road is the responsibility of the governmental body responsible for the roadway. In order to pursue a claim against the governmental agency, an injured person must be able to show that the agency either knew about the hazard or that the hazard was so obvious that the agency should have known about it through routine inspection.

 

Some jurisdictions, like New York City, have “pothole laws” which require proof that the city received prior written notice of a hazard. There are strict procedures and time limits for claims against city and state governments, so it is important to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident, even if all of the evidence has not been gathered. The State of New York has its own “pothole law” which only allows claims for damages due to road defects that occur between May 1st and November 15th each year.

 

Road Debris

For accidents caused by debris in the road, the person responsible for the debris may be liable for injuries. For example, if items fall from a truck or car, the person who loaded the vehicle may be responsible if the load was not properly secured. The owner of a commercial trucking company may be held liable if cargo leaks or spills from the truck during transport.

 

Private Property

Owners of private streets have a duty to exercise reasonable care to their guests and customers. This means that they must maintain thruways and keep them clear of hazards.

 

Construction Sites

When construction is done on or near public roadways, the contractor may be liable for injuries caused by hazards such as holes, power lines, or construction debris.

 

What to Do After an Accident

It is important to take photos as soon as possible, after the accident, especially when the accident involves debris or other temporary conditions. Take photos of the pothole or other road condition. If possible, take photos of your vehicle before it is moved. Note the exact time and location of the accident and the weather conditions.

 

Always seek medical attention immediately if you believe you are injured and then speak with a New York personal injury attorney, especially when the accident happened on a city or state road. Claims against government agencies must be made soon after an accident to be considered, and your attorney can help identify the agency responsible and prepare necessary claim forms within the deadlines.

 

New York Injury Lawyers

The injury lawyers at The O’Brien Firm are available for free consultations whenever you need us. We make sure to preserve your rights and secure evidence that you need to prove your case. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our website to learn more.

 

 

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 https://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.

 

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 https://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.