Campbell & Associates named in most notable verdicts

We are proud to announce that the ­New York Law Journal has recognized two of the verdicts we achieved in 2019 as among the most notable in the entire state:

Gumas vs Niagara Frontier Transportation Agency, a jury verdict in Erie County Supreme Court (Buffalo) in a case involving injuries to a bus passenger was named as the #1 Highest Verdict in a Transportation case in the state.

Maggio vs Kahle,  a jury verdict in Chautauqua County Supreme Court (Mayville) was named as the 15th Highest Verdict in a motor vehicle crash case in the state.

With fewer cars on the road, drivers speed, crashes worsen

The pandemic of 2020 has been a time of staying at home and less driving. But now that the state and country are opening up, people need to be careful to stay safe on the road.

When people do drive, many have been speeding or not paying attention due to the lack of other cars on the road. But this carelessness has also led to more serious crashes.

On June 12, a fatal crash was reported in Gowanda County. One person died and multiple others were injured in the early morning crash. This is just one more in many recent reports of fatal crashes occurring during the pandemic – a time when one would expect less accidents on the roads but what is turning into more severe accident results.

The Buffalo News reported that on some area roads, the lack of traffic during COVID-19 crisis has seen a jump in speeding of 30% during times that would normally be congested traffic at rush hour.

How do your odds change with speeding?

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), speed affects crashes with injuries in several key areas:

Decreased reaction time — Drivers have less time to react when they have to stop or slow down if they are speeding.

Increased chances of fatalities – The chances of having a fatal accident are 20 times greater when someone is driving at approximately 50 miles/per hour rather than slower speed of 30 miles per hour.

Bystander fatality odds – Perhaps more impactful even are the percentages affecting pedestrians and bicyclists when struck by a car.  Survival rates after these crashes are only 50% when drivers were going 45 kph or 27.96 mph, whereas reducing driving speed affected survival rate favorably at 90% of the victims living after being struck by someone going 30 kph or 18.64 mph.

Furthermore, the WHO stated that for every 1kpm faster someone drivers (or .62 mph), drivers increase the chances of having a crash with injuries by 3%. They also increase the odds of having a crash with fatalities by 4 to 5 %.

What can drivers do?

Knowing that even a few miles per hour can dramatically change outcomes of crashes and severity, there are several things people can do to keep everyone safer on the roads.

Be aware of your speed limit. Without other cars on the road, you may not be as aware of how fast you are traveling because there are not other vehicles to keep pace with.

Keep your distance. Allow for more distance between your vehicle and others on the road.

Give yourself enough time. Allow yourself plenty of time when driving from place to place, so you won’t feel the need to speed.

We can all do our part to keep roads safer during the pandemic.

Increase In “Extreme Speeding” by Drivers During Covid-19 Quarantine

The Covid-19 health crisis and social distancing measures have significantly altered everyday life in America.  One result is fewer vehicles on the roads as citizens shelter at home.  Unfortunately, it appears that some drivers are taking advantage of emptier roads to drive at speeds over 100 miles per hour (mph), including street racing and other selfish stunts.

According to an article from CBS News, New York City – the eastern epicenter of the pandemic – saw speed camera tickets in March more than double.  In the Washington D.C. area, a driver was caught going 111 mph on Interstate 95, typically one of the most congested roads in the country.  In Minnesota, traffic deaths have more than doubled.  These actions waste critical medical resources.

Most disturbingly, a driver in California was caught going 117 mph without insurance.  The prospect of any driver, especially an uninsured driver, being involved in a collision at such high speeds is catastrophic.

As the weather improves, more and more people are leaving their homes to walk, jog and bike as a respite from the monotony of staying home and social distancing.  It is therefore even MORE vital now that drivers pay attention and drive within posted speed limits.  If you have to go somewhere, please drive safely.  After all, what’s the hurry?

If you have questions or need any advice regarding a personal injury matter, you can always reach Campbell & Associates at (716) 992-2222 or https://www.campbellpersonalinjury.com/.

 

Grass clippings are a hazard for motorcyclists

 

As the warmer months continue, people are going to be cutting their grass. While this is a necessary task, it is one that poses a unique hazard for motorcyclists. Anyone who is going to cut grass must ensure that they aren’t blowing it into the street.

Grass is 85% water and is very slick even when it is dry. Grass that comes between the motorcycles tires and the road can make it impossible for the motorcyclist to steer, which can lead to a crash. The roadway doesn’t have to be covered for this to occur. Even a small amount of clippings can lead to the loss of traction that causes the biker to lose control. The hazard is so great that driving on grass clippings is often compared to riding on a sheet of ice.

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Sections 1219 and 1220 cover the discharge of debris onto roadways in the state. These laws specifically prohibit putting anything onto the road that might cause injury. This shows how important it is to keep the roads safe for everyone, including motorcyclists, to use.

For a motorcyclist who loses control on grass clippings, the injuries can be severe. Road rash (which has a risk of infection), head injuries, damage to the spinal cord, broken bones and other injuries are possible. It’s imperative that they receive the care they need. They might opt to pursue a claim for compensation that can help them to cover the costs of getting treatment for their injuries, as well as any other financial damages they suffer due to the wreck.

How New York gets it wrong on wrongful death

The most recent issue of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association’s publication ‘Bill of Particulars’ includes an article by NYSTLA President Michele S. Mirman, Esq. about the deficiencies in New York’s wrongful death laws.

New York was actually the first state in the Union to enact a wrongful death statute.  The law, passed back in 1847, finally allowed the families of deceased victims a chance to recover for the losses caused by that death.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much, if any, progress since then.  Today, New York is one of only six states that limits recovery for wrongful death to pecuniary injuries (i.e., economic loss) and the victim’s conscious pain and suffering.  The loss and anguish experienced by survivors is not compensable under New York’s laws.

This means that huge swathes of the population, including children, stay-at-home parents, and the elderly – basically anyone who isn’t actively earning money – just are not as important under the state’s current wrongful death laws.  The worst tragedy imaginable would be to lose a child due to someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct.  But under the current draconian law, the parents of such a child would have no right to make a claim for their immeasurable suffering.

Please contact the Governor’s office (1-518-474-8390) and your state representatives to let them know that you agree that the current law is unfair and should be changed.  If you have questions concerning this or other personal injury matters, you can always call Campbell & Associates at (716) 992-2222, or send an email to [email protected].

 

 

 

Beware of insurance adjusters bearing (small) gifts

As discussed in an earlier blog post, Campbell & Associates does more to protect our client’s rights to “no-fault” benefits than any other personal injury firm in Western New York.  Today we discuss the flip side of New York’s automobile insurance system – the “serious injury” threshold, and how insurance adjusters use the public’s lack of understanding about this law against them.

The interaction between “no fault” benefits and the “serious injury” threshold is a compromise.  On one hand, as the name suggests, drivers in New York are entitled to reimbursement for basic economic loss (lost wages and medical expenses), even if the collision at issue is entirely their fault. 

 The flipside of that compromise is the serious injury threshold.  While everyone is entitled to no-fault benefits, not everyone who is involved in a motor vehicle collision is entitled to compensation for their injuries.  Only “serious injuries” qualify.

The law defines nine different categories of injuries that apply.  Some of those categories are self-explanatory and easy to determine.  For example, “death”, “dismemberment”, “fracture”, or “loss of fetus”.

However, some of the classifications are not so clear.  For example, “permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member”.  What does that mean?  Fortunately, this is an oft-litigated area of law, so the answer to that question is readily accessible to attorneys who specialize in this area of law.  But what about the average person?

Unfortunately, many insurance companies attempt to take advantage of the average person’s misconceptions and lack of understanding regarding these specialized questions of law.  Very often, upon learning that someone has been involved in a motor vehicle collision for which they might be on the hook, they will swoop in, contact the injured person almost immediately, and act like they are there to be helpful.  Sometimes, they even mislead the person, telling them (incorrectly) that under New York law they cannot possibly get money for their injuries unless they die, lose a limb, or break a bone.  Then they try and convince the person to sign a release for a small amount of money, effectively cutting off all their rights.  The results can be tragic.

The most important things for you to understand are: 1) you should never speak with a representative from another person’s insurance company before first consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney so that you know your rights; and 2) just because you may not have a broken bone, or a massive scar, or some other immediately apparent injury does not mean that you can’t or won’t qualify under the serious injury threshold.  Injuries can sometimes be latent and take weeks or even months to be fully diagnosed.  For example, to what extent a person has suffered a serious neck or back injury is often not apparent for many months.  The symptoms linger, various types of treatment are tried, and finally an MRI is ordered which reveals that there is a herniated disc or other serious spine injury.  Therefore, if you have any injury which requires medical treatment, you should consult with a good attorney as soon as possible.

At Campbell & Associates, our practice is 100% focused on personal injury and representing victims of other people’s negligence.  You can always call (716) 992-2222 for a free consultation.

Fredonia, New York is a Small Business Revolution Finalist!

Campbell & Associates is a small business. We work with clients across western New York and especially with people in Fredonia. It’s our pleasure to associate with a town that is now one of the five finalists for Small Business Revolution’s top small towns!

Should Fredonia win the town would get a $500,000 investment in its small business community, expert small business advice, and a spot as the featured town on Hulu’s Small Business Revolution Season 5.

Show your support by voting for Fredonia as America’s favorite small town at https://www.deluxe.com/small-business-revolution/main-street/season-five/

How Campbell & Associates does more to protect our clients’ rights to “no-fault” insurance benefits than any other personal injury firm in WNY.

At Campbell & Associates, we do more than any other personal injury firm in Western New York to help ensure that our clients receive and maximize their right to no-fault benefits.  Although insurance carriers are legally obligated to provide no-fault benefits, they typically will not do so without eventually attempting to cut injured people off.  The most common way they do this is by forcing recipients to submit to so-called “independent medical exams”.  These exams are performed by doctors paid by the insurance company, who assess patients to see if they still require ongoing medical treatment or are still disabled.  Although they claim to be “independent”, there are typically only two interested parties in any such exam – the patient and the insurance company – and only one of those parties is paying the doctors.

Most firms leave their clients to navigate the often-complicated no-fault process by themselves, and simply focus on the bodily injury (“pain and suffering”) portion of the client’s claim.  Often, this includes having clients go to the scheduled medical exams by themselves, without any sort of backup.  Here at Campbell & Associates, we try to ensure that our investigator is there with the client to observe the exam and make sure that the doctor does a fair, impartial exam.    Some exams are actually videotaped.  If the carrier still attempts to deny benefits, we sue them.  We have never lost one of these cases. 

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was not your fault, please call Campbell & Associates at (716) 992-2222.  Our experienced and caring attorneys and staff will do everything in our power to ensure that you receive the best representation possible, including the so-called “no-fault” portion of your case.

New York is a “no-fault” state when it comes to motor vehicle collisions.  This means that, regardless of who is responsible (or “at fault”) for causing the collision, all involved parties are eligible to receive certain benefits.  This applies to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians or bicyclists who are hit by cars.  The benefits are covered by the insurance policy of the vehicle you are driving, riding in, or hit by.  We help clients to complete and submit their no-fault application in a timely fashion.

No-fault insurance (sometimes also referred to as Personal Injury Protection or “PIP”) provides reimbursement for legitimate economic losses (“basic economic loss”) arising from the subject incident/collision, notably medical expenses and lost earnings.  Motor vehicles in New York state are required to carry at least $50,000.00 in no-fault coverage, and that will typically be the available coverage limit, unless the insured has purchased additional protection (“APIP” or “OBEL” benefits).

With regards to medical expenses, no-fault benefits will cover:

  • Ambulance and hospital expenses;
  • Doctor’s bills;
  • Prescription medications;
  • Therapeutic care, such as physical therapy, acupuncture, etc.;
  • Diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and MRIs;
  • Travel expenses (to/from medical appointments);
  • Household help;
  • Other reasonable expenses.

Additionally, no-fault benefits will compensate you for 80% of your lost earnings, up to a maximum amount of $2,000.00 per month.  The no-fault insurance carrier will be responsible for paying lost earnings for up to three years from the date of the subject incident (subject to certain restrictions) or until $50,000.00 in combined benefits (medical and/or wage, etc.) have been paid, whichever occurs first.  These are the minimum benefits required by law – some policies provide additional no-fault coverage.

A couple very important things to remember: (1) no-fault benefits do not apply to motorcycle riders; however, it does apply if you are a driver or pedestrian hit by a motorcyclist.  (2)  You only have 30-days to notify the applicable no-fault insurer and submit a “no-fault application”.  Therefore, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious or long-term, you should still find out what the applicable insurance company is and submit an application as soon as possible. Remember: if you’re a driver or passenger, it’s the vehicle you were in; if you’re a bicyclist or pedestrian, it’s the vehicle that hit you; or, if for some reason the applicable vehicle is uninsured or otherwise can’t be ascertained, it’s the carrier for a vehicle owned by you or a relative you live with.

For the best personal injury service anywhere in Western and Central New York, please call Campbell & Associates at (716) 992-2222 for a free consultation.

Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy – The Perils of Childbirth

As discussed more generally in the Childbirth Injuries section, the birth of a child is a wonderful yet fraught time in any parent’s life. While medical advances have made childbirth exponentially safer than it was even 100 years ago, one type of birth injury is still quite common: brachial plexus injuries. [1]

The brachial plexus is a root bundle of nerves in the shoulder region of the arm that empowers movement and sensation in the arm, hand, and fingers. It starts at the spine and then branches out to various parts of the arm, controlling all sensory and motor function. Brachial plexus injuries typically occur when the baby is positioned in such a way that its shoulders are obstructed and cannot breach smoothly. This condition is referred to as “shoulder dystocia.” In those situations, it is up to the doctor to either consider an alternative to vaginal birth (e.g. Cesarean section) or to maneuver the baby’s position such that it can be born safely and without injury. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes use far too much force when moving and pulling the child’s shoulders and/or arms (especially given how fragile newborns are), which can bruise, tear, or even completely sever the brachial plexus. When the upper trunk C5-C6 nerves are severed, this is referred to as Erb’s palsy.

The result is partial or even complete paralysis of the arm. Fortunately, the condition can often be fixed via surgical intervention or physical therapy, depending on the severity of the injury. Infants who suffered from Erb’s palsy have gone on to play in the NFL (Adrian Clayborn) and be Hollywood stars (Martin Sheen). However, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 5-10% of infants that suffer a brachial plexus injury during birth will experience permanent functional disability. [2]

Some signs and symptoms to be aware of in your newborn include: limp and useless arm and hand; arm pain; numbness; lack of response to heat or cold; and a lack of touch sensation. If your newborn child is exhibiting any or all of these symptoms, please do not hesitate in seeking medical advice – babies are resilient, and the sooner the problem is addressed, the better the potential for a full recovery.

However, these injuries are almost always preventable. Doctors are expected to recognize shoulder dystocia and either maneuver the child without causing injury, or change course and pursue an alternate delivery method (generally a C-section). Not to do so results in great pain and suffering to both the parent and the child, as well as the potential for a lifetime of physical difficulty. Therefore, if your child has been diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury and/or Erb’s palsy, we invite you to call Campbell & Associates at 716-992-222 for a free consultation.

Example Verdicts and Settlements for Brachial Plexus/Erb’s Palsy

N.W., Pro Ami v. Clements, M.D.; Clark, Clements and Syeda, M.D. P.C. (2016 WL 4773203) – Newborn infant’s representatives claimed she suffered right Erb’s palsy, a right brachial plexus injury, and other injuries as a result of shoulder dystocia. They sued the Defendant gynecologist and his practice under a variety of theories, including: negligent delivery and application of excessive force to the right arm and shoulder; failing to perform appropriate maneuvers to deliver her; failing to timely recognize and address the increased risk of Erb’s palsy, given the babies fetal weight; and failing to discuss a Cesarean section as an alternative. The Defendants denied liability, but ultimately agreed to a structured settlement in the amount of $2,000,000.00.

Fisch, Pro Ami v. Wind, M.D. (NY St. Ct. 2008) – A female infant suffered a brachial plexus injury during her child birth. The infant Plaintiff (via her parents) contended that the Defendant gynecologist failed to exercise the skill and knowledge necessary to perform the delivery, that he used excessive force during the delivery, and that he failed to provide the proper standard of care. The Defendant denied liability, but the parties ultimately agreed to a pre-trial settlement of $1,950,000.00.

Kwabena v. Defendant (1995 WL 259593) – A newborn infant suffered brachial plexus injury and Erb’s palsy when abundant traction (force) was used by the Defendant intern during childbirth. The plaintiff, through his mother, contended that the Defendant intern was negligent and that the Defendant hospital negligently failed to have a staff obstetrician available. The Defendants denied that excessive force was used, and claimed that the infant was examined and found to be in normal condition following delivery. They further contended that the infant Plaintiff’s condition was caused by a congenital irregularity. The jury found for Plaintiff in the amount of $1,000,000.00 (just over $1.5 million, adjusted for inflation). [3]

1 – Brachial Plexus Injury: A Survey of 100 Consecutive Cases from a Single Service, Neurosurgery, Vol. 51, Issue 3, 1 September 2002, Pages 673-683.
2 – https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/brachial-plexus-injuries/
3 – https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm