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Teen Drivers: A Risk to Everyone

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety, Personal Injury /

Teen Drivers: A Risk to EveryoneROCHESTER, N.Y. – More American teens die in car crashes each year than suicide, violence and cancer combined. Still, millions of parents will hand the car keys to their teenagers this summer hoping their child is smarter and safer but experts say even the brightest teens are at a higher risk of being involved in a deadly car crash.

New research released by AAA found that nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a teen driver crash are people other than the driver. If someone is hurt in a crash, researchers found that half of the time it’s someone in another vehicle.

“More people are on the roads during the summer months and teenagers tend to drive more between Memorial Day and Labor Day here in Rochester,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “This puts almost everyone at risk of being hurt or killed.”

According to AAA, other passengers are killed 27 percent of the time in a deadly teen crash. Pedestrians and bicyclists are at risk too: accounting for 10 percent of teen crash fatalities.

“Each year, it’s the same grim message to teenagers and unfortunately, it rarely changes,” Cellino said.

In fact, a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said there’s been “Little or no positive change has occurred in teen crash numbers in the past 10-15 years. Clearly, current measures aimed at curbing teen drivers’ involvement in crashes are not sufficient.”

Some researchers have suggested that teens are inherently bad drivers because their brains are not ‘sufficiently developed.’ Researchers said the frontal lobe, which regulates emotion and decision-making abilities, does not fully develop until the age of 25.

“Driving is a challenge for people of all ages because there are complex decisions that must be made in the matter of seconds,” Cellino said. “Teens often don’t have the proper experience with these decision-making processes and they need more practice than a veteran driver.”

Rochester car accident attorneys at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes said teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes when compared to any other age group.

Parents are urged to understand the risks when putting a teenager behind the wheel.

For example, children face high crash risks when riding with a teen driver.

-Parents must set limits on teen driving and enforce them

Crash risks go up even higher at nighttime.

-Parents are urged to restrict teen driving to daytime hours only, unless it is unavoidable

Wearing a seat belt greatly reduces the risk of being hurt in a crash

-Parents should make rules before each trip; including safety belt enforcement for everyone riding in the vehicle.

 

Feds Investigating Hysterectomy Device as Cause of Cancer

/ Defective Products /

Feds Investigating HysterectomyNEW YORK – Federal agents have launched an investigation into a surgical device known to spread cancer in women, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports the FBI is looking into the makers of laparoscopic power morcellators, used in hysterectomies.

The largest manufacturer of the surgical device is Johnson & Johnson and the FBI may want to know if company execs knew about the tool’s risks before it was pulled from the market last year.

The FBI’s Newark, N.J. office is reportedly overseeing the investigation but an FBI spokesperson declined to confirm the inquiry by saying, “we don’t comment on the existence or nonexistence of any investigation.”

The Journal reports FBI agents have already interviewed a retired pathologist who alerted Johnson & Johnson about potential problems with morcellators in 2006; a doctor who went public after her own cancer was worsened by the tool in 2013; and a California woman who has collected names of close to 400 patients and families of patients who may have been harmed by the device.

The investigation comes nearly seven months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned morcellators shouldn’t be used in most hysterectomy procedures.

 

The Dangerous Days of Summer

/ Driver Safety /

Dangerous Days of SummerBUFFALO, N.Y. – As the Earth tilts its northern hemisphere toward the sun, statisticians and government officials fear what could happen in the next three to four months. The fears are not celestial but the destruction could be astronomical, not only to American families but to our wallets as well.

After years of progress, the number of deadly car accidents has jumped in the last six months by eight percent. The National Safety Council recorded nearly 18,000 fatal car crashes between October and March. That number is up from around 16,500 deadly accidents in the previous year.

Safety advocates are most concerned because the deadliest time of year is about to strike: summertime.

“Statistics consistently show an increase in the number of serious and deadly car crashes during the summer months in places like Buffalo,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “This is largely due to an increase of cars on the road.”

Buffalo car accident attorneys at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes say Americans tend to travel more frequently during the summer months, adding to an already congested highway-transit system.

This year, the National Safety Council fears the number of accidents could sky rocket because travel is now more affordable than it has been in years.

“There will be more people on the road and there can also be an increase in alcohol use during the summer,” Cellino said. “And more than ever before, cell phone-related distractions are an issue. This could spell disaster.”

The newest statistics show cell phones are involved in 27 percent of all car crashes.

Buffalo car accident lawyers suggest taking appropriate safety precautions when getting behind the wheel this summer:

-Always wear a seatbelt; including back seat passengers

-Avoid using a cell phone, even with a hands-free device

-Never drink and drive, even if you believe you are under the limit

Financial Incentives Shown to Make People Healthier, Safer

/ Driver Safety /

Financial Incentives ShownNEW YORK – If you need to motivate your family or coworkers to kick some unhealthy habits or drive safer, money is a powerful influence. In the end, researchers say financial incentives can also save you in the long-run by promoting a happy, healthier lifestyle.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), U.S. employers are increasingly relying on incentives to drive-up participation in health programs. SHRM reported that about 85 percent of employers offer incentives for health risk assessments and nearly 60 percent of employers offer financial kickbacks to promote health and wellness programs.

“More and more, health and safety are becoming a major part of our lifestyle in New York,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Safer drivers can mean lower insurance premiums and healthier workers can translate into cheaper healthcare.”

The latest study focused on smoking cessation. Researchers placed over 2,500 workers in smoking cessation programs and promised financial rewards for those who succeeded. If a worker failed to quit, they could face a fine. The study found that these incentives pushed most of the workers to kick their nicotine habit.

“At 12 months (6 months after the cessation of incentives), roughly half the participants who were abstinent through 6 months in all groups submitted negative cotinine assays, and only the reward-based incentive programs remained superior to usual care.”

Vitality Health, a health and life insurance company, recently studied over 20,000 workers and found over 10 factors directly affected productivity at work. The study found employees who get less than seven hours of sleep each night were ‘significantly less productive’ than workers who had more hours of sleep. Researchers also found employees who are physically inactive or have health issues can also lower workplace productivity.

On the roads, millions of Americans drive during work hours and many more commute every day. To promote safety (and minimize liability), many car insurance companies have offered financial incentives to promote safe driving and some states have enacted safe driver incentive plans.

“Your car insurance can go up as high as 350 percent, depending on the number of points against your license,” Barnes said.

New York car accident attorneys say safe driving can also keep you and your family out of the hospital, avoiding the extra costs associated with doctor’s appointments, lost time at work and other costs associated with a crash.

 

The Worst Summer Ever: What Parents Need to Know

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

The Worst Summer EverROCHESTER, N.Y. – Now that Memorial Day is behind us, it’s time for millions of American families to get outside and enjoy the summer. That means boating, bicycling and family vacations but for thousands of families, 2015 could forever be known as ‘the worst summer ever.’

The most dangerous time of year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is in the summer months when more families are taking road trips and people are outside walking the neighborhood and bicycling around town. The summer is especially dangerous for children.

Almost 14,000 children died in 2012, according to The National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths.

“Most children will enjoy the summer and have a lot of fun at camp, or on the boat, or at a swimming pool in Rochester,” personal injury attorney Ross Cellino said. “The worst thing most families will deal with is a scraped knee or sunburn but when a child dies, that family changes forever.”

In 2012, nearly 2,300 children died in motor vehicle-related accidents. This includes driving teens, or other children riding, walking or biking.

“One of the top reasons children are killed in car crashes is because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt,” Cellino said. “It’s one of the easiest ways to keep your children safe and statistics show when parents buckle-up, so do their children.”

Outside the car, children remain at risk. More children are struck by vehicles during the summer months. The website, KidsAndCars.og keeps track of deadly accidents involving children. In 2014, the website reported 67 backovers, 60 front-side crashes and 30 heatstrokes.

In nearly three quarters of all backovers, a close relative is responsible for the death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that around 40 young children get trapped inside hot vehicles and die. Statistics from the CDC show most of these children were ‘forgotten’ by a parent or guardian.

“The summer can be very dangerous because people tend to get out more; in the sun, on the roads and in the water where it’s extremely important to watch your children closely,” Cellino said. “It’s up to adults to make sure kids are safe at all times.”

Children should also be supervised when playing sports or around fire and fireworks.

Rochester personal injury attorneys say every accident is preventable with proper oversight and safety precautions.

5 Facts You Should Know About Massive Airbag Recall

/ Car Accident, Defective Products, Driver Safety /

Massive Airbag RecallBUFFALO, N.Y. – The 33.8 million vehicles recalled by Japan’s Takata Corporation is the largest recall in automotive history. The recall is also creating mass confusion among U.S. consumers wondering if their vehicle is part of the recall or if their family is at risk of being victimized by defective air bags.

So many people were trying to log into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s sister website, SaferCar.gov that the site crashed on occasion this week.

“These air bags were installed in more than 50 different vehicle models that could be driving around Buffalo,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “These can pose serious safety hazards to anyone who drives or rides in these vehicles.”

Buffalo car accident attorneys say Takata’s recall was issued when it was discovered that some airbags may spray shrapnel when they inflate and the faulty safety devices have been liked to at least six deaths.

“There are several ways to find out if your car is part of this increasingly large recall and if you or a family member has been in a recent accident, it’s important to know if that vehicle was part of this recall as well,” Cellino said.

-FINDING IF YOUR VEHICLE IS LISTED IN THIS RECALL:

The recalls are posted at SaferCar.gov, in which you type in a Vehicle Identification Number and the site will tell you if your vehicle is part of this specific recall, or others. NHTSA reported receiving over 600,000 requests this week, so consumers may need to be patient.

-ODDS ARE LOW:

Although there is a real danger of being injured by exploding airbags, the odds of suffering an injury associated with this recall is low. Of the 33.8 million vehicles recalled, six people have died worldwide and another 100 have suffered injuries. That equates to a .00031% chance of getting hurt.

-WHAT MODELS ARE INCLUDED?

The Takata airbag recalls began in 2008 when Honda recalled 4,000 Accords and Civics (2001 models). The recalls have obviously expanded, now to include almost every automaker, but it has taken seven years to do so. It is unclear exactly how many models will be included in the company’s final recall, or when that may occur.

-KEEP REPAIR TIME IN MIND

One in seven vehicles are part of this massive recall. Dealerships and auto shops charged with fixing these vehicles may be overwhelmed with the number of repairs and lengthy wait times should be expected but it is important to get your vehicle fixed as soon as possible to prevent serious injuries.

-HOW DO I PAY FOR THE REPAIR?

Buffalo car accident attorneys said in most recall situations, consumers do not pay for the repairs to their vehicles.

“If your vehicle is part of this recall, it’s important to know you shouldn’t pay a dime for someone else’s mistake,” Cellino said. “Recall repairs are free at dealerships, the question now is how much will the airbag manufacturer be ordered to pay?”

There may be other financial consequences as a result of this massive safety recall. For example, vehicle value may drop and there are questions of liability in case of an accident; does responsibility fall on Takata, the automaker, or both?

The latest recall could be just the beginning of an ongoing legal drama in U.S. courts.

 

Buckle Up! Enforcement Peaks

/ Driver Safety /

Buckle Up! Enforcement PeaksROCHESTER, N.Y. – Police agencies across the country are teaming-up to enforce seatbelt laws and raise awareness to the dangers of driving without one. For the remainder of the month, New York State Police, county and municipal officers will be using marked and unmarked vehicles to hand-out tickets to drivers and passengers who aren’t buckled-up.

Rochester car accident lawyers from the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes know how much more dangerous a crash can be when a person is not wearing a seatbelt.

“The good news is 91 percent of motorists will buckle-up in Rochester,” car accident lawyer Ross Cellino said. “Still, hundreds of people get seriously injured or killed every year because they’re not wearing a seatbelt.”

According to state statistics, about one-third of all deadly crashes in New York State involve drivers and passengers who weren’t wearing seatbelts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates more than 9,000 people are killed each year after getting in a vehicle without buckling-up.

“New York State was the first state to draft a seatbelt law and enforce it,” Cellino said. “Since that time, statistics have shown that wearing a seatbelt can reduce the number of injuries stemming from an accident.”

New York passed the first ever seatbelt law in 1984 when just 16 percent of front seat passengers and drivers used the safety feature. Today, nearly every driver and passenger uses a seatbelt regularly when on the road.

“There’s really no excuse for not using one,” Cellino said. “In hospital costs alone, New Yorkers who weren’t wearing seatbelts were charged almost $130 million for visits to emergency rooms in 2011.”

Taxpayers were required to pick up 12 percent of that tab, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Rochester car accident attorneys said additional costs may include the ticket that can range from $25 to $100 in fines. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles notes about 198,000 tickets were issued in 2014 to drivers who didn’t buckle-up.

New York will join neighboring states, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont as part of the Click-it-or-Ticket campaign, which ends Sunday, May 31.

Look Twice; Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists

/ Motorcycle Accidents /

Sharing the Road with MotorcyclistsBUFFALO, N.Y. – The trees are growing leaves again and the temperatures are getting toasty. Summer isn’t scheduled to officially start until June 21st but motorcyclists couldn’t wait. Thousands of motorcycles are on the road and safety continues to be top priority in New York State.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee declared May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, and for a good reason.

In 2013, there were over 5,000 motorcycle crashes in the Empire State alone causing nearly 200 fatalities and many more injuries.

“Automakers have taken steps to make cars safer with sensors and airbags but you don’t have that when you’re riding on two wheels in Buffalo,” motorcycle accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “All a biker could have is their judgement and a helmet.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records over 4,000 deadly motorcycle crashes each year, accounting for about 15 percent of all highway fatalities. Motorcycles only represent 3 percent of all vehicle registrations in the United States.

Statistics show motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash and 5 times more likely to be injured.

“Everyone needs to work together to ensure the roads are safe for all motorists,” Cellino said. “Motorcyclists must be responsible; follow the traffic laws, make yourself visible and avoid bad weather and drivers have the same responsibilities.”

Buffalo motorcycle accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say drivers should always check their blind spots before changing lanes. Since motorcycles are smaller, they can often be obscured when traveling next to a larger vehicle.

 

Bill Would Make More Hurdles for Asbestos Victims

/ Personal Injury /

Hurdles for Asbestos VictimsROCHESTER, N.Y. – For those living with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, every dollar can help them live with and treat the deadly cancer. However, a new bill drafted by members of the House of Representatives could make it more difficult for victims to be justly compensated.

A House Judiciary Committee approved the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015 on Thursday by a 19-9 vote.

If passed, the bill would effectively rewrite the federal bankruptcy law concerning asbestos trusts. Rochester mesothelioma attorney Ross Cellino said there are currently 60 trust funds with almost $40 billion set aside for asbestos victims.

“Since the mid-1990’s, bankrupt companies have created trusts to compensate workers who were affected by the manufacturing or other exposures to asbestos,” Cellino said. “These trusts are a vital resource for victims suffering from Mesothelioma.”

The FACT bill intends to protect the trusts from paying out money for inflated or fake claims. Trusts would be required to file quarterly reports on their public bankruptcy dockets and include information on any payment requests or payments made. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) introduced the FACT bill in January.

“Every dollar taken through double-dipping or unscrupulous legal practices is a dollar less for those victims who face mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses,” Farenthold said in a statement. “The FACT Act will shine sunlight into the opaque asbestos trust system to fight this fraud and abuse.”

Critics of the FACT act believe the bill would create legal roadblocks for victims and delay compensation for thousands of Americans with mesothelioma. In another release, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization claimed the bill was “benefiting the same corporations responsible for causing this national health crisis.”

Rochester mesothelioma attorneys said victims deserve to have a system that allows each person suffering from asbestos-related injuries to be fairly and justly compensated in a timely manner because many victims don’t have the luxury of time.

“More than 10,000 people die each year from an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma,” Cellino said. “These victims and their families have a right to get the compensation they deserve.”

A similar bill, introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), is making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Train Company Funding Slashed Hours after Crash

/ Train Accidents /

Train Company Funding SlashedWASHINGTON – As federal investigators were sifting through the wreckage of a deadly Philadelphia train crash, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut funding to the passenger rail service.

Investigators determined the train, owned by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (also known as Amtrak), was speeding around a curve at 106 miles per hour. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it was traveling at more than twice the speed limit for that area.

Meanwhile in Washington, the House approved an appropriations bill that cut Amtrak funding by $260 million.

A report issued by the Amtrak Inspector General in 2012 concluded the railway would need funding like this to meet a late-2015 federal safety deadline. Amtrak is required to complete installation of Positive Train Control by the end of the year.

Train accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes said the plan to implement Positive Train Control could be a safety feature that would save lives.

“Positive Train Control would use a complex network of computers and GPS to safely navigate the railways,” train accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “These safety features could automatically apply the brakes if the computers detect a train is going too fast before going around a curve.”

A top transportation official told CNN Positive Train Control would have prevented the crash of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188.

In a 2013 NTSB hearing, the Federal Railroad Administration said acquisition and installation of Positive Train Control would cost Amtrak an estimated $875 million and billions of dollars in additional expenses for the next 20 years.

“Nearly half of all train accidents are due to human error,” Cellino said. “Without additional safety features, every train could be just human error away from another accident.”

Amtrak has said it is “committed to meeting the requirement of positive train control” and will have it completely installed in the Northeast Corridor “by the end of this year.” The commuter train business recently planned to install the safety feature on 1,200 more miles of track from Washington, D.C. to New Rochelle, N.Y. and from Harrisburg, Penn. to Philadelphia.

Some lawmakers have proposed extending the deadline to completely install the safety feature to as late as 2020.

 

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