Why you should give commercial drivers more room

We all know that delivery services have gone up during 2020 for two big reasons: stay-at-home orders and people just generally buying into the convenience of shopping online. It’s common sense that there would be more truck drivers on the highways and residential streets. But with more of these large commercial vehicles using the roadways, what has that done to vehicle crashes?

In March 2020, a report from the National Safety Council stated that fatal crashes have gone up nationally 14%, and crash fatalities are up 17% in New York. This is surprising when the average consumer is likely driving less because of stay-at-home orders, working from home, unemployment and furloughs, and numerous delivery options.

Some accidents in the news

In addition to the fatal crashes, many accidents involving commercial trucks are resulting in serious injuries and fatalities, such as these recent incidents:

Commercial drivers include not only long-haul truckers such as semis and tractor-trailers, but food delivery services are also on the road now more than ever such as Grub Hub, Uber Eats, Door Dash, Bite Squad, not to mention every delivery pizza chain. Good delivery services such as FedEx, UPS and DHL are now commonly seen driving down residential streets. The Amazon smile painted on the side of trucks whizzes by. All of these increased commercial vehicles on the road add up to more severe accidents and more need for drivers to be cautious. The increased use of commercial vehicles during this time has added to the severity of crashes for several reasons.

Why you might be in danger

Understanding what it’s like to be in the shoes of a large vehicle driver may help you to know why you need to yield to them whenever possible. Three main conditions may cause you to be in danger when these delivery vehicles and other large vehicles are near:

Poor visibility – You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating. If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, they can’t see you.

Driver can’t feel collision – In a semi-truck or even down to the size of a pickup truck, the driver may bump or scrape your car and not even feel it.

Time pressure and deadlines – Delivery services are in high demand and this leads to pressure to deliver more items in less time. This pressure can lead to speeding and less care for safety, which puts you on the risk while sharing the road.

Increased delivery windows – The United States Post Office delivers packages and mail sometimes on Sundays while in the past the service would be closed that day. Other delivery services have followed suit such as in the collision referenced above where the pedestrian was struck after 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.

All these factors point to people needing to be more careful – for their own safety – when driving and being near commercial vehicles. If you were injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, seek legal advice. The claims process may be complicated by the commercial nature of the vehicle and the driver’s personal insurance policy. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help ensure your injury claim includes all possible avenues for seeking compensation.

4 ways to advocate for a loved one in a nursing home

Not being able to see a loved one regularly when they are in a care facility can be stressful and worrisome. Knowing that many people are falling ill or dying from coronavirus and its complications only adds to this distress and worry about people you care about.

As of May 3, 2020, 15 states have passed laws in an effort to protect nursing homes from being held accountable during the pandemic. New York is one of those states. ABC7NY news reported 20,000 deaths nationwide in nursing homes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The health and care decisions have become literally life and death for workers in these facilities, so the laws were enacted to make medical decisions easier for the workers. But what about the loved ones? How will you know if your loved one is receiving the care and attention they need during this time, especially when you can not see the resident in person? How will you know how they are doing? Even if you can’t see your loved one in a nursing home face-to-face, you can still stay involved in their care.

Staying involved from a distance

Here are some suggestions on how to stay involved, even in the most difficult circumstances.

  1. Be proactive – Don’t wait for the nurse or staff at the facility to reach out to you. Pick up the phone and call the front desk. They will be able to direct you to the best contacts to get your questions answered, including nurses, aides, dietitians, and administration. They should also be able to provide emails for these contacts so you can send a message, which also gives you answers in writing for ease of future reference.
  2. Be consistent – Set up regular chat meetings with your loved one such as weekly or monthly. Perhaps before the pandemic, you visited your loved one every Friday or every other Wednesday. Try to set up a similar schedule so you will have regular check-ins to see how mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or other family members are doing.
  3. Be a video-conferencing expert – Use technology to see your family member online if you are unable to be there in person. Many video conferencing technologies have become household names during 2020 such as Zoom, Facetime (for iPhone users), Google Duo (app for non-iPhone users), Google Chats and Skype.
  4. Be prepared with questions – Video visits with a loved one may be shorter than in person visits, so having a list of questions to ask your loved one and the staff at the facility can help you feel prepared and empowered. Here are some questions to ask:
    1. Are they eating meals?
    2. Are they getting enough liquids to stay hydrated?
    3. Are they talkative?
    4. Are they responsive?
    5. Are they up and out of bed for the day?
    6. Has anyone checked their feet lately?
    7. What are their vitals (blood pressure, temperature, oxygenation)?

Accountability should never be optional

If you’re think a loved one is being neglected or injured in a nursing home, there is help. Speak with an attorney well versed in representation of nursing home injury cases. Nursing homes should still be held accountable, even in the worst of times.

What kind of evidence can help your claim after a car crash?

Without evidence, the investigation into a car crash would likely involve just the conflicting accounts of the drivers involved. Evidence helps police officers and other parties, like insurance companies and the courts, know what actually happened during and after a wreck.

Adequate documentation of what occurred at the time of the crash can make a big difference in the success of your claim for compensation and how much you are able to secure. Without the right evidence, you may struggle to make even an insurance claim, let alone bring a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. 

Documenting the scene of the crash can show you didn’t cause it.

The police officers who respond to collisions often have to weigh the statements made by each party involved and make a determination of fault based on what information those people provide. Some people will intentionally manipulate police officers or the scene of the crime to make it look like they are less responsible for the crash than they were.

For example, if you have to move your vehicles to allow for the continued safe flow of traffic, the position you moved them into may not clearly show how the other driver was obviously at fault. Taking pictures of the scene of the crash immediately from multiple angles can help demonstrate the actual scene of the accident and better establish fault.

Request video footage and secure witness statements.

Police vehicles and police body armor typically have cameras installed, which means that if there was an officer nearby at the time of the crash, they may have valuable evidence of the collision. They may even have documentation that can help you prove impairment or exhaustion on the part of the other driver thanks to recording their appearance and words after the crash.

Even if police footage isn’t available, there may be security cameras from nearby businesses, traffic cameras from nearby intersections or even dashcam footage from vehicles in nearby traffic, to say nothing of people who are physically present and witnessed the crash who can provide testimony.

Those who get hurt will need medical evidence.

To claim compensation for an injury you suffered in the crash, you will need to prove to the courts or insurance company that the crash either caused the injury or significantly exacerbated it. You will need medical documentation to do that.

The sooner you see your physician or seek evaluation at a hospital or urgent care facility, the clearer the connection between your injuries and the crash will become. Additionally, medical records can help demonstrate that you have made every reasonable effort to reduce the impact of the injuries on your life and to comply with doctors’ orders, which can limit claims that your actions contributed to your current condition.

The pandemic is not an excuse for lax safety standards

Just a quick glance at headlines across the construction industry reveals a clear picture of a troubling situation. Despite COVID-19 prompting the shutdown of many projects, dangerous accidents at construction sites continue.

The construction worker safety conversation has become all but lost amid discussion of the pandemic. But the continued existence and spread of COVID-19 is not an excuse for employers to ignore their worker safety responsibilities.

Trainings must continue if possible

Things are hectic right now. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has acknowledged that fact. Recent enforcement guidance from the agency, however, makes it clear that is not an excuse for employers to ignore safety requirements.

While OSHA recognizes local closures mean certain mandated training may not be possible, the agency says it expects employers to make “good faith compliance efforts” to meet OSHA standards. That includes both annual and recurring:

  • Audits
  • Reviews
  • Trainings
  • Assessments

In addition, employers that cannot complete these requirements should take care to ensure workers are not exposed to hazards for which they were not properly trained to handle.

Businesses that use this pandemic as an opportunity to ignore safety mandates may end up with a citation.

Protecting construction workers

Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are operating in a safe environment. Part of that responsibility is making sure safety training thresholds are met.

Construction remains one of the most dangerous professions, with workers exposed to injury and fatality risks not seen in many other industries. Adequate training is one of the key pillars to addressing this longstanding issue, one advocacy group argues.

Employers that neglect this all-important aspect of running a safe business ultimately put all their workers at risk. And it is those workers who might pay the ultimate price.

What might workplace safety training look like during the pandemic?

As workplaces continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, many employees remain worried about their own personal health. While the pandemic is indeed something that requires workers to take precautions, do not let it overshadow the basic, everyday dangers posed by certain jobs.

Ladders remain a serious worry on construction sites. Railroad workers are still at risk of serious head or limb injuries. The same risks that were present prior to the coronavirus outbreak still exist today. Because of this, workplace safety requirements can’t just disappear.

Workplace safety training

Some industries involve more risk than others. Jobs in these fields often come with mandated workplace safety training. Pausing these trainings only puts workers at more risk of being hurt on the job. But workplace safety courses should also be, well, safe.

In addition to following national, state and local guidance on COVID-19, trainers can make some specific adjustments to help protect participants. Some suggestions from Occupational Health and Safety Magazine include:

  • Reducing the training group size to allow for social distancing or eliminate the sharing of equipment
  • Requiring participants to wear gloves and face masks
  • Taking the temperature of all participants upon arrival
  • Shifting training programs online whenever possible
  • Communicating these new guidelines ahead of time and identifying those who may be at risk

These types of measures may be able to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, while ensuring regular workplace safety standards are met. Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety. That cannot go by the wayside for any reason – including a pandemic.

How does New York’s Scaffold Law protect workers?

Everybody knows the construction industry is dangerous due, in large part, to the great heights at which individuals must work. It is for this reason basic safety laws exist. The workers deserve to be protected.

Yet according to the most recent Deadly Skyline report, falls remain the top cause of fatalities on construction sites. In addition, fall protections account for the most frequent construction site violation cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

All of this underscores the continued need for the Scaffold Law.

Why is the Scaffold Law important?

As the Center for Justice Democracy points out, workers themselves generally have little control over things like equipment and the implementation of safety measures on a site. These workers are instead relying on other parties to look out for their well-being.

The Scaffold Law, which is unique to New York, actually dates back to the late 1800s. Essentially, it requires property owners and contractors to provide basic fall protections for workers on a construction site. That can include things like proper guard rails, secure attachment mechanisms, the availability of personal safety equipment and thorough training.

If a party fails to make the site safe for the construction workers, they can be held liable for related falls that occur as a result. In this way, victims are able to hold those in power accountable for their neglectful actions.

Campbell & Associates recently won scaffold case

We recently utilized the Scaffold Law on behalf of a 35-year-old painter of industrial tanks who was required to scrape and paint the interior surfaces of large holding tanks at a Chautauqua County business but was not provided with proper scaffolding or fall protection equipment. He unfortunately fell and suffered a serious shoulder injury that required surgery and continues to cause him pain and limitations.  Once we gathered all the evidence, a Supreme Court justice found the defendants to have been in violation of the law and they settled for $825,000.

What does Scaffold Law allow in compensation?

When a construction worker falls and suffers an injury, the Scaffold Law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against a contractor or site owner that failed to provide a safe environment. Families of those who tragically die in such falls may also consider legal action. Compensation could include damages such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship (often referred to as consortium)
  • Medical care costs

All the law asks is that responsible parties take basic steps to ensure workers on a construction site are protected from preventable falls. The high number of fall protection violations coupled with continuously high fall fatality figures suggest many of these third parties are simply not taking safety seriously enough.

What is the brightest color for a cyclist?

As a cyclist, you put your life in the hands of the drivers that you share the road with on every ride. But under New York law if a driver hits you, even if it was their fault, the clothes you wear may diminish your final compensation.

The injury statute in New York makes it clear that if both parties in an accident are at-fault, then the final compensation may decrease. This is comparative negligence. So, even if a driver hits you because they turned right in front of you, they could claim “I didn’t see them because of their clothes” and that might hold weight with the court. So what can you do?

Keep visible

One way to help stay safe – and protect any possible compensation — is to make sure that you’re as visible as possible. What you want is a bright lime-green vest or shirt. That color is right where the colors green and yellow merge into one another on the scale.

Just think about it. That shade of green is often used in logos and branded content. It also shows up on warning signs. Many firetrucks, which are traditionally painted red, are now in this green/yellow instead. The same is true for ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

That’s not to say that colors like red and orange don’t help. You just want to avoid black, gray and other colors that blend in. Anything bright can help. But, if you want to be as safe and as visible as possible, that green/yellow is the color that you want.

Bicycles have a special vulnerability

Of course, even wearing the right colors doesn’t mean you won’t get injured when a driver makes a mistake, and you need to understand your legal options if it happens.

 

What should you know about post-concussion syndrome after a slip and fall?

Head injuries are a common problem after slip-and-fall accidents. Even a mild concussion can make a victim feel pretty miserable for a few days, due to the associated headaches, nausea and dizziness that’s common. But what if you don’t get better in a few days? While the symptoms of most mild concussions fade away over the course of a week or so, some victims experience problems that go on and on — often for months.

If the above description sounds familiar, you may have post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome isn’t associated with the loss of consciousness or anything else that might be an obvious trigger, but it can quickly become a debilitating set of symptoms that affect your ability to work or enjoy life. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:

  • Head pain, especially tension-type headaches
  • Dizziness and ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision and light sensitivity
  • Loss of memory and problems concentrating
  • Anxiety, insomnia and irritability
  • Decreases in your ability to taste or smell
  • Fatigue and other unusual problems

Nobody is certain why post-concussion syndrome strikes some people and not others, although older adults experience it more often than younger people. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with it than men, but that may be simply because they’re more likely to seek medical treatment for their health concerns.

Slip-and-fall accidents can happen almost anywhere. One minute you’re walking down the stairwell of your apartment, the next minute you’re nursing your wounds at the bottom of the landing. A frayed rug, a broken curb or spilled ice in a store can cause you to tumble and suffer a serious injury. If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, find out if you have a premises liability claim.