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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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. 

Construction Accidents 

If you work in the construction business, you will likely be required to drive and maneuver large construction trucks and heavy equipment. Although it may be part of the job, it can still be dangerous and has led to life-threatening injuries and death. Some accidents are unpredictable and unavoidable, but if you recognize the dangers so that you can take precautions, you’ll vastly lower your chances of being involved in a construction-related accident while working. 

Cement and Dump Trucks On The Roads 

Both cement and dump trucks weigh a lot. They are hard to turn in tight spaces and it can oftentimes be difficult to brake. Their multiple blind spots also make them difficult to maneuver as drivers won’t know if other drivers or objects are nearby. Furthermore, accidents involving these large trucks can be far more severe because of the large impact and lack of protection. It is often difficult for experienced drivers to drive these trucks, let alone inexperienced people. 

On the road, truck drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, well-trained, and of course, sober. It can take a toll on drivers because they need to be even more cautious while driving these trucks rather than driving a regular to mid-sized vehicle. Cement and dump truck drivers need to be confident and proficient in their ability to operate these trucks. 

Heavy Equipment 

Heavy equipment includes: 

  • Backhoes 
  • Excavators 
  • Cranes 
  • Bulldozers 
  • Loaders 
  • Graders, and more 

Constructing structures requires heavy equipment to move and build. Construction areas are typically blocked off to the public so the professionals can complete their jobs. In fact, trespassing in a construction zone is oftentimes a felony. Trespassers will likely be fined and can be imprisoned for entering a construction area without permission. 

The reason why construction zones are so heavily regulated is because accidents can easily happen so having additional people there that aren’t trained can be a detriment. While operating heavy equipment, drivers and people around them need to be additionally vigilant because one wrong move can cause property damage, serious bodily injuries, and/or death. Even though this equipment doesn’t move quickly, their strength can easily cause a damaging impact. 

What To Do If You Are Involved In A Construction-Related Accident 

When you are involved in a construction-related accident, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. Your health and well-being should always be your number-one priority. You should also inform the person in charge of the construction area, as he or she will likely have insurance and may be liable to you. One of the most important things you should do is contact an attorney. Attorneys will be able to help you receive compensation for injuries and guide you through the steps of a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you were on the job or an innocent bystander, these accidents can be devastating and a big shock. 

Contact Us 

Construction-related injuries caused by heavy trucks and machinery have caused a lot of damage and harm but no one should have to deal with that alone. If you are injured in a construction accident, you need a lawyer to help you receive compensation for your injuries. Call us today at The O’Brien Law Firm: (716) 907-7777.

Why And How Commercial Truck Drivers Are Held To A Higher Standard 

tractor trailer rolls over and lands in the medianDriving heavy commercial trucks requires additional skills and expertise over driving a regular sized vehicle. Trucks are heavier, much more difficult to handle, and can cause serious accidents leading to property damage, personal injuries, and even death. Therefore, it makes sense that there are different rules that apply solely to commercial truck drivers with strict repercussions for any truck driver who violates these rules.  

In addition to the skills and expertise requirements, truck drivers must also be ready for the mentality of driving such a large vehicle on specified deadlines. They must drive for very long hours alone with the same scenery often. This can lead to exhaustion, stress, depression, and frustration. All these feelings are never positive while driving because they can worsen a driver’s concentration, focus, and ability to handle a vehicle.  

How To Obtain A Commercial Driver’s License 

Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road. To obtain a commercial driver’s license, truck drivers must pass background and medical checks to make sure that they are fit for the position. They must also successfully pass tests to prove their skills and knowledge on how to handle the class of commercial vehicle they wish to drive (classes A-C). If a driver has to transport hazardous material, he or she also has to pass another test to prove skills of handling and transporting hazardous material. Courses focused solely on the class of vehicle drivers wish to obtain a license for are available. Obtaining a commercial driver’s license justifiably takes more steps than obtaining a regular driver’s license. 

 Violation Repercussions 

Truck drivers who violate road laws may face their license being suspended, canceled, or revoked. Depending on the violation, truck drivers could lose their licenses for certain periods of time or even be disqualified for life. Furthermore, truck drivers can also be sentenced to jail and fined. 

Violations include driving under the influence, having a .04% BAC or higher while driving a commercial vehicle, driving recklessly, and other driving infractions. Violations that only apply to commercial truck drivers include having an oversized load, inaccurate log books, and driving on roads that restrict commercial trucks. Even when truck drivers drive their own personal vehicles off-duty and commit a road offense, their commercial driving license can potentially be disqualified. 

What Can Go Wrong 

Truck accidents have caused pileups on the highway as well as permanent injuries and death. Injuries include whiplash, seatbelt injuries, and back pain. Fires in the middle of the road and unsecured spills have occurred causing hazards to all people in the near vicinity. 

Road regulations are strictly enforced to avoid these types of accidents, but nevertheless accidents occur, which is why people are required to have insurance for commercial trucks in New York. In fact, New York mandates minimum coverages for property damage, bodily injuries, and death coverage. Commercial insurance is needed even if an employer uses his or her own pickup truck for business purposes as personal insurance will not cover such expenses. 

Contact Us 

If you are injured in an accident involving a truck, you need to be compensated. The experienced attorneys at The O’Brien Firm are available for a free initial consultation to discuss your potential claim. Call us today at (716) 907-7777. 

School Bus Safety 

School Bus Safety Caution SignWithin the past recent years, parents and police have been increasingly monitoring school buses and the drivers who ignore traffic laws. Disregarding these rules have led to injuries and even deaths. These laws are necessary to protect children and drivers because school buses are large, slow, have multiple blind spots, and are difficult to maneuver.

How To Keep Your Children Safe

School buses typically pick children up in the early hours of the morning at the corner of a neighborhood street. Oftentimes, it’s still dark out. Open communication with your child is key to explain the dangers of walking outside so early in the morning without adult supervision. When you can, you should always walk with your children to the bus stop, but it has become quite common for children to walk alone. When your children walk alone, make sure you tell them to:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk and stay off the road
  • Wear reflective clothing and use flashlights in the dark
  • Keep a fully-charged phone on them at all times
  • Watch out for vehicles that might not be paying attention
  • Stay in the street lights as often as possible

Regulation

One school bus law is to stop whenever a school bus’s stop signs are out. This is an indication that children are either boarding or leaving the bus and therefore will be near the road. Drivers are required to stop behind the bus, even when the bus is pulled to the side or there is room to pass.

It might be tempting to rush and go around a school bus, but you never know when a child might jump out of nowhere into the middle of the road. Unfortunately, drivers over the years have been ignoring these laws and often pass school buses. This had led to accidents that could have easily been avoided if the drivers had simply followed the law.

Enforcement

Parents, police, news outlets, and school districts have realized that people are breaking these laws and have been making efforts to stop these offenses by monitoring school buses:

  • Parents: Parents now often walk with or drive their children to bus stops. When parents see a violation, many also video-record it to show the authorities and bring awareness to other parents.
  • Police: Police often park near school buses and school zones as a warning and to pull over drivers cutting off, driving around, and speeding near school buses when they clearly have stop signs out.
  • The Media: News outlets have also picked up on these multiple infractions and often broadcast it. Occasionally, reporters will film right at the bus stops to show proof of drivers breaking the law.
  • School Districts: Many school buses now have cameras installed to record traffic violations to show police and find ways to make school buses safer.

Contact Us

No matter how much of a hurry you might be in, you should always follow your state and county’s road regulations not only to protect yourself, but also the people around you, other drivers, and passengers. If you are ever in a vehicle accident, you need a personal injury attorney. Contact us today for a free initial consultation: (716) 907-7777.

Off-Road Trucking Accidents Precautions 

off-road truck stuck at snowOff-roading and overlanding have become increasingly popular these past few years. Many people enjoy going out onto trails and roads that not everyone gets to ride on.

Major car companies have caught on to this new hobby and are manufacturing vehicles built for these roads that are still available to use as daily drivers. In particular, the demand for high-powered off-road trucks has grown in popularity.

While you’ll want to go out and have fun with your recreational truck, there are serious accidents that can happen, so you always have to be cautious. 

Being Stranded Or Stuck 

One of the biggest concerns for most off-roaders is being stranded. Oftentimes, these trails don’t have cell service. Not many authorities are there to help either. If something is to happen to your off-road camping vehicle such as getting stuck in the mud, running out of gas, or simply breaking down, you’re going to need to have planned ahead for the worse, just in case. 

When you are driving on the trails, you’re bound to come across puddles. While puddles aren’t big deals on maintained gravel roads, that is not the case when you’re out on trails and have no way of knowing how deep a puddle is. Water puddles can be a few inches deep, but they could also be much deeper and cause damage to your recreational truck. Additionally, mud causes vehicles to slide and tires to lose traction. You can easily get stuck or slide in mud and require someone to pull you out. 

Animals 

You might think that you are alone out in the wilderness, but you have to remember that there are animals living around you. Depending on your location, you might have to watch out for deer, bears, and other predators in the woods that may jump out of nowhere into the middle of your path. Heavier trucks are more difficult to reach to a full stop so large animals can not only damage your truck, but also cause serious injuries from swerving into a tree or hitting the animal. 

Incoming Vehicles 

While you’re on trails, it’s easy not to realize that you are out on a public road because there are often not many people out there. However, you have to recognize that there can be other people near you driving their recreational vehicles. There are often no speed limits set out on these trails or no authorities to enforce them, so it is easier to inadvertently speed. Driving at a reasonable speed in case another person drives out in front of you from a connected or hidden path will allow you to stop in time. 

Precautions 

Each time you go out on trails, you have to make sure that you take precautions beforehand. It’s always a good idea to have: 

  • Off-road insurance 
  • The proper equipment, such as a wench and tow straps 
  • A full tank of gas 
  • Satellite radio 
  • GPS Chargers 
  • Food and water 
  • Friends and/or family that know where you are 

Whether you’re with friends, family, or a group of fellow off-roaders, you should recognize that there are dangers out on the seemingly peaceful wilderness. It’s better to be overly cautious than caught off guard in a bad situation. 

Contact Us 

If you or a close family member is involved in any kind of truck accident, The O’Brien Law Firm can help. When you pursue a personal injury claim, you need professionals that will be there for you. Call us today at (716) 907-7777 for a free, no-obligation consultation.