Top parking lot hazards where businesses are held liable

People may know that someone who slips and falls on a business premises can hold that business liable for injuries. But what people may not know is that premises safety and liability extend much further.

  1. Parking lot security – Security in parking lots could include multiple things such as cameras, good lighting, emergency phones and security guards either patrolling the lot or offering to escort people to their cars.
  2. Poor lighting – This goes along with security issues. Poor lighting could be an invitation to criminals that this location would be great for targeting unsuspecting victims walking back to their cars in a dark parking lot at a store or a college campus. Good lighting could deter criminals who don’t want to be seen or easily identified.
  3. Construction projects – An onsite project must have ample safety measures in place to prevent people from tripping on materials, falling into dug holes or being injured by equipment. Prevention measures the property owners could have in place include warning signs, barriers, cones and other types of barricades to warn people and keep them clear of unsafe areas.
  4. Messes not cleaned up – If a business has broken glass, potholes, or nail sticking out of wood, just to name a few examples, they could be held liable if one of these messes causes someone injury. The property owner has a duty of care to keep that property in safe condition for people to walk through it.

Businesses are responsible for offering a safe environment for patrons and employees anywhere on the premises, even in the parking lot.

Can you spot a drunk driver on the road?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drunk driving accounted for 10,511 deaths related to fatal crashes in 2018. NHSTA further stated that this numbers means 30 people a day are dying related to these crashes. If you are a commuter or anyone who uses roads with any frequency, it’s helpful to know how to stay safe and avoid these reckless drivers.

What to look for

Here are some of the tips compiled by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving to help you spot a driver who may be drunk:

  • Does the driver cross traffic lanes repeatedly?
  • Has the car crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic?
  • Is he or she driving well below the posted speed limit?
  • Are headlights off when they should be on?
  • Does the driver signal right but then turn left?

Any of these actions should be a red-flag warning you the driver may be unsafe and could be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What can you do to avoid a crash?

Finding yourself on the road with a potentially unsafe other vehicle is unnerving to say the least. The best thing you can do to avoid a collision with a drunk driver is to stay far away from them. You can call 911 to alert the police for your safety and the safety of others. Be prepared to give the location, make and model, and license plate of the vehicle, if possible.

Being able to spot someone driving who has had too many drinks may save your life.

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/