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How One Accident Changed So Many Lives

/ Personal Injury /

How One Accident Changed So Many LivesNEW YORK – If you have ever been in a fender-bender, it can be frustrating. Hopefully, it’s minor and you walk away without any injuries but sometimes accidents can be devastating. Any time a person is injured in an accident, it can put a strain on your health, your job, your relationships, and your finances.

Just one accident can change your life.

This week, Americans honored the lives of seven people who were killed in one of the nation’s most horrific accidents. They were engineers, physicists, service members, pilots, and teachers aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

A New York personal injury attorney at Cellino & Barnes says this one tragic event affected so many American lives.

“This one accident took loved ones away from their families and robbed school children of their teacher,” New York personal injury attorney Ross Cellino said. “Whether it’s a space shuttle or a car crash, it’s heartbreaking to think about how many people can be impacted by just one accident.”

The space shuttle’s external fuel tank collapsed, causing the shuttle to break apart just 73 seconds into its flight. A major investigation tasked with finding the cause of the accident discovered that a fault seal on one of the rocket boosters didn’t function correctly.

Federal investigators say the accident could have been prevented: it was a design flaw.

Engineers originally recommended postponing Challenger’s launch date because the “O-ring” seals had not been tested in low temperatures. Mission managers had only slept for two hours before they rejected the engineers’ recommendation.

The official accident report was issued later in 1986 and had determined that “time pressure… increased the potential for sleep loss and judgment errors,” and working “excessive hours, while admirable, raises serious questions when it jeopardizes job performance, particularly when critical management decisions are at stake.”

Families of the Challenger crew members received settlements 11 months after the crash. More than half of the settlement payments were made by the manufacturer responsible for the space shuttle’s rocket boosters.

“Legal action can provide security for accident victims and their families,” Cellino said. “It can also promote positive changes and improve safety for future generations.”

The accident was no doubt a tragedy and it completely changed America’s space program.

After Challenger, NASA completed a total redesign of the space shuttle’s rocket boosters. The space agency also created the Office of Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance, which continues to be responsible for safety analysis and assessments of space technology.

Beyond these changes, the Challenger had a larger impact on America: although its crew never completed its educational mission, heartbroken families and friends have continued it by establishing and supporting the Challenger Center, a non-profit educational organization that aims to teach children the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math.

One accident continues to have a profound impact on many lives.

Today, there are more than 40 Challenger education centers around the nation encouraging millions of children to reach for the stars.

Safety Violations Found in 83% of Construction Inspections

/ Construction Accidents /

Safety Violations FoundBUFFALO, N.Y. – Workers across the nation are enjoying a construction boom and some areas like Western New York are seeing great benefits. However, there are extreme safety concerns.

The Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH) released a report this week that found safety violations were discovered in 83 percent of the construction inspections conducted by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

WNYCOSH members also concluded that federal investigators don’t conduct enough safety inspections in the Buffalo-area. A construction accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says the findings are concerning and many workers could get hurt without the proper safety protocols.

“Too often, we see a company cut corners and compromise worker safety so it can meet deadlines or boost profits in Buffalo,” construction accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “When safety guidelines aren’t followed, a construction injury can be costly and devastating to workers and their families.”

There were thousands of construction permits issued in Western New York in 2014 and according to the WNYCOSH report, OSHA only conducted 288 inspections that year. That’s roughly one inspection per weekday in an area that covers ten counties, including two heavily populated metropolitan markets (Buffalo and Rochester).

Of OSHA’s inspections, the report found that 86 percent of all violations were classified as “serious,” “repeat” or “willful.”

“Safety violations should be unacceptable on construction sites but every day workers are risking their health and sometimes their lives,” Barnes said. “It is time for constructions businesses to put safety above the bottom line.”

The report stated it focused its research on construction falls because the construction industry and its insurance companies are currently backing legislation that would weaken New York State’s Scaffold Safety Law, which holds owners and contractors liable for many types of injuries.

The proposed changes would allow employers to take more safety shortcuts and the risk of worker falls would likely go up.

WNYCOSH members hope the findings can improve safety and raise the penalties for construction companies slapped with violations. Currently, the average penalty costs only $1,963 and WNYCOSH argues it is “too little to effectively deter construction employers from taking safety shortcuts.”

Many workers who have been injured on a construction site may need an advocate who will protect their rights and help them receive fair compensation. For over 50 years, the Buffalo construction accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes have helped workers get the best results possible. Click here to learn more about construction injuries and how one of our legal advocates can help.

Snowstorm A Factor in Dozens of Accidents

/ Car Accident /

Snowstorm A Factor in Dozens of AccidentsNEW YORK – A massive snowstorm crushed the east coast with a coat of snow last weekend. It caused dozens of accidents resulting in several injuries and nearly 40 deaths.

Many areas across the coast, including New York City, imposed travel bans as crews began removing up to 3 feet of snow. Despite the warnings and travel bans, some drivers took a huge risk by taking their cars and trucks onto the roadways – and some of these cars made the weekend very dangerous.

A New York car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says the sudden winter weather played a major role in many accidents but most of them could have been prevented.

“Many people suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow and there’s a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when there’s a snowstorm like this in New York,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Unfortunately, there were many car crashes too – and these accidents could’ve been preventing by staying home.”

In Washington, an 82-year-old man went into cardiac arrest and died while shoveling snow in front of his home.

In Kentucky, police said a car crashed into a salt truck, killing one driver and injuring several others.

In Pennsylvania, a pregnant teenager was shoveling snow when she suffered from ‘several heart defects.’ A family member told NBC Philadelphia, “I told her it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to be outside shoveling.”

On Long Island, a 66-year-old man was standing in front of his home when a private snow plow struck him. According to PIX11, he was rushed to North Shore Syosset Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

In New York City, at least three more people died while shoveling snow, according to the New York Police Department.

Several others were found in their vehicles and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning; their tailpipes were found to be clogged with snow and ice.

“Everyone has somewhere to be but it’s not worth your health or the safety of others,” Cellino said. “Whenever there’s snow, it’s important to be prepared and to do everything safely and cautiously.”

When the travel ban was lifted in the city, the problems continued. Monday morning’s commute had cars moving along highways at speeds in the single digits and some streets were still packed with snow.

New York car accident attorneys say the slippery roads created dangerous conditions but in most cases, drivers have a responsibility to adjust to these conditions. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, a car crash attorney at Cellino & Barnes can provide a detailed case evaluation for free. Contact Us now to speak directly with a personal injury lawyer.

Your Case Could Prevent Other Injuries

/ Car Accident /

Your Case Could Prevent Other InjuriesNEW YORK – Every day you are faced with thousands of decisions: Should you jump in the river? Should you swim across it?

The good news is that they are usually your decisions to make… but there are exceptions.

Exceptions like car crashes. Although you’re abiding by the rules of the road, someone else may not be; and when their car collides with yours, you could be paying for an expensive injury – even if you didn’t do anything wrong.

A Queens car accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says for those exceptions, there are lawsuits.

“Many of our clients didn’t asked to be injured but it happened and we know how difficult it can be to lose just one week of pay in New York,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Injuries are expensive and it’s our job to get clients the best compensation they can possibly get so they can pay their bills and afford the medical treatments they need.”

Your decision-making process may conclude that swimming across the river when it is swarming with alligators is an unreasonable risk. But if the alligators aren’t there, you might be able to get across.

However, there are some risks you may not be aware of. That’s how America developed the class-action lawsuit.

Class-action lawsuits are filed when many people have the same or similar complaints against one particular person or company. Here’s a hypothetical example of one: What if an automaker installed a computer program in thousands of cars that would allow the car cheat an emissions test? Everyone who bought one of these vehicles may have believed they were following all the environmental guidelines or, perhaps, even saving the environment. Instead, they found out they were pumping harmful gases into the atmosphere they breathe. Since it would be so time consuming to file individual lawsuits, all these customers came together and filed one claim against the car company. This possible threat of a costly lawsuit should give that car company an incentive not to misbehave.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really hypothetical. It actually happened. In September, Volkswagen admitted its “Clean Diesel” cars were cheating emissions tests and the company now faces several lawsuits that could possibly change the way Volkswagen programs its vehicles and the way governments conduct emissions tests.

In the end, hopefully, the consumer should be better protected from harmful emissions.

“Many lawsuits not only help victims recover from damages, they can also motivate companies to avoid similar mistakes,” Cellino said.

The river you’re trying to cross may look clear but if no one filed a lawsuit, you may have never seen that black and yellow sign that reads “No Swimming: Hazardous Chemicals.”

Buffalo-Niagara Region is New York’s ‘Asbestos Alley’

/ Mesothelioma /

Buffalo-Niagara Region is New York’s ‘Asbestos Alley’BUFFALO, N.Y. – We are facing a global epidemic that kills as many as 43,000 people each year but it goes largely unaddressed. What’s worse is that the Buffalo-Niagara region is heavily impacted by this disease: Mesothelioma.

The deadly cancer caused by asbestos fibers impacts more lives in Western New York than in any other part of the state. Nearly 3,000 Western New Yorkers have been killed by asbestos-related diseases since 1999, according to new research.

A Buffalo mesothelioma attorney at Cellino & Barnes says the disease is showing no signs of stopping either; and it could impact thousands of others.

“The mesothelioma death rate in the Buffalo-Niagara region dwarfs both the state and national averages,” Buffalo mesothelioma attorney Steve Barnes said. “It can take 20 to 40 years to develop and begin causing symptoms so many people could already have mesothelioma and not even know it.”

Each year, more people are diagnosed with the incurable cancer and a new analysis expects the number of cases to continue to rise – even though many countries have adopted strict asbestos guidelines.

Although it’s difficult to say what’s behind Western New York’s high rate of asbestos-related disease, doctors say the cancer is primarily caused by workplace exposure – and Buffalo mesothelioma attorneys say the region’s industries had a history of working with asbestos.

“Asbestos was commonly used in steel mills and in auto parts,” Barnes said. “Both steel and car assemblies were economic pillars in the region for decades.”

Many companies knew the health risks associated with asbestos and hid this information from the public for decades in order to continue making high profits. As a result, thousands of workers inhaled the dangerous asbestos fibers and years later, developed mesothelioma.

The cancer is particularly prevalent in Niagara County. Estimates suggest mesothelioma will kill 30 people in Niagara County alone each year. In fact, Niagara County has the highest death rate in New York State and when compared to the rest of the country, it is in the top two-percent for asbestos-related diseases.

“It is concerning that so many hard-working Western New Yorkers are being diagnosed with this deadly disease,” Barnes said. “It is our goal to raise awareness of this issue so others can identify mesothelioma in its early stages and seek treatments that can prevent the disease from metastasizing.”

Treatments, however, can be very expensive.

Those who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases could be entitled to significant compensation. The Buffalo mesothelioma attorneys at Cellino & Barnes have fought for the rights of those who have been impacted by asbestos and they have been trusted by Western New Yorkers for over 50 years.

Click Here to learn more about how Cellino & Barnes can help.

Safety Should Be Standard

/ Car Accident /

Safety Should Be StandardBUFFALO, N.Y. – What if we told you that your vehicle could stop an accident from happening? Sounds good, doesn’t it? That technology actually exists and thousands of cars are equipped with it but probably not yours.

Automatic braking is a crash prevention system that allows your vehicle to sense traffic or an obstacle in its path and adjust the speed accordingly. In some cases, the automatic brakes will completely engage to avoid an imminent crash.

Unfortunately, not all vehicles are equipped with this technology. Many automakers are instead charging top dollar to include the safety feature in premium packages.

A Buffalo car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says it’s a shame because the technology could prevent thousands of accidents and keep many drivers out of the hospital.

“Automatic braking could perhaps be the most significant safety feature since seat belts or air bags,” Buffalo car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Imagine if car companies charged a premium just to include seat belts – it would put a lot of lives at risk.”

The outrage toward automakers extends into the federal government. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is urging regulators and industry executives to quickly adopt automatic braking, among other safety features that have been pushed aside.

In its annual “Most Wanted” list, the NTSB explained the importance of collision avoidance technologies and chastised automakers for not including them in standard packages.

“Although some passenger vehicle manufacturers offer collision avoidance technologies as standard features in many of their models, this life-saving technology is frequently only offered as optional equipment—and even then, it is often bundled with other non-safety features (such as moon roofs or leather seats),” the safety board wrote on its website. “The NTSB believes that not only should more automakers offer collision avoidance technologies as standard features in their vehicles, but that consumers should not have to purchase a luxury option package to get the safety benefits of these technologies.”

“Thousands of people are injured every year as the result of rear-end collisions,” Barnes said. “If all vehicles were equipped with automatic brakes, many of these injuries could have been prevented.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered that the primary reason for rear-end crashes was driver inattention and the NTSB argued that collision avoidance tech could have saved 28 lives and prevented dozens of other injuries between 2012 and 2014.

Some major auto manufacturers agreed in September to begin making automatic brakes a standard feature on all new vehicles but the car companies have not set a timetable to implement the systems. Furthermore, only ten manufacturers announced they will be standardizing the braking systems:

BMW, Ford, GM, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen (including Audi) and Volvo

Since the auto industry is not reacting as quickly as some would hope for, many regulators are heading to Congress to seek laws that would require the safety features on all vehicles in the same way that dual airbags were mandated in 1998.

What to do After a Car Accident

/ Car Accident /

What to do After a Car AccidentNEW YORK – If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know there are headaches. Some of those headaches stem from the frustration of working with insurance companies and other headaches could stem from the injuries suffered in the crash. Either way, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Nearly 300,000 car crashes happened in New York State last year, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many of those crashes resulted in serious injuries – with expensive treatments. Some victims could be forced to pay $50,000 or more due to injuries suffered in a car crash.

A Brooklyn car accident lawyer with Cellino & Barnes says it is important to document everything – including your injuries.

“Some victims avoid seeing the doctor or they stop their treatments because of the high medical costs in Brooklyn,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “These choices can be used as evidence against you – so it is vital to see a doctor and get all of your injuries documented following any accident.”

Lawyers say the most important thing to do after a car accident is to assess the injuries and call 911, if necessary. Even if everyone is walking and coherent, injuries can manifest over the next few days, weeks or months.

Some injuries like concussions can slowly develop severe symptoms over time.

“Even if a person doesn’t experience any symptoms immediately after a crash, that doesn’t mean they aren’t injured,” Barnes said. “Many times, the pain gets worse.”

If a person does discover they have been injured in a car crash, accurate records of the accident could be difficult to obtain. Since many police organizations do not have the resources to thoroughly investigate crashes they deem ‘minor,’ attorneys suggest taking the following steps:

  • Take photos of the crash scene – including ski marks
  • Document any injuries
  • Collect witness information and 3rd party accounts
  • Write down your account of the crash
  • Request an accident report from police

Even if an insured driver is found to be at-fault in an accident, they could collect up to $50,000 to cover lost wages and medical bills in Brooklyn.

If you’ve been injured, you may require a skilled attorney who will represent your rights throughout the claims process. The Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Cellino & Barnes can help guide you and obtain all the information necessary to get the best results possible.

Volkswagen’s ‘Dirty’ Secret Sparks Lawsuits

/ Defective Products /

Volkswagen’s ‘Dirty’ Secret Sparks LawsuitsNEW YORK – If you own a car made by Volkswagen, you likely heard about the company’s dirty secret: their “Clean Diesel” vehicles are not so clean after all.

In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says regulators recently uncovered a computer program that was intentionally installed in thousands of Volkswagen vehicles that would cheat global emissions tests – hiding the fact that the “Clean Diesel” vehicles actually emit up to 40 times more pollutants.

A New York Volkswagen emission lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says more than 600,000 diesel vehicles were sold in America and many owners are taking the automaker to court.

“If you own or lease one of these ‘Clean Diesel’ vehicles, you might feel mislead and victimized,” New York Volkswagen emission lawyer Ross Cellino said. “Owners could also experience decreased value and suffer real financial damages if it’s found that the automaker lied and cheated in order to sell their cars.”

According to Reuters, dozens of Volkswagen shareholders are also driving to court. They plan to get compensated for their losses after shares plunged due to its reported test-cheating.

Volkswagen (VW) shares have plummeted in value – an estimated $24 billion drop since the company admitted to misleading regulators in September.

The German automaker has yet to issue a recall for the vehicles affected. According to the California Air Resources Board, Volkswagen’s proposals to recall its vehicles have been inadequate. The Environmental Protection Agency added that VW’s recall plan ‘unacceptable.’

Although federal regulators say the affected vehicles are safe to drive for now, New York Volkswagen emissions attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say owners and lessees have a lot to lose. Already, the value of VW’s “Clean Diesel” vehicles has diminished significantly and any recall would likely have severe impacts on performance and fuel economy.

The list of vehicles connected with emissions cheating software now includes:

  • VW Beetle (2013-2015)
  • VW Golf (2010-2015)
  • VW Jetta (2009-2014)
  • VW Passat (2012-2015)
  • VW Touareg (2009-2016
  • Audi A3 (2010-2015)
  • Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattrao (2014-2016)
  • Audi A8 (2014-2016)
  • Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
  • Audi Q7 (2009-2016)

Ski, Snowboard Injuries Extremely Expensive

/ Personal Injury /

Ski, Snowboard Injuries Extremely ExpensiveROCHESTER, N.Y. – Do you have plans to go skiing or snowboarding this winter? If so, sprinkle some safety on top; it could save you a lot of pain, suffering and money.

According to a study out of the Rochester Institute of Technology, up to 3 out of every 1,000 ski visits will result in an injury.

Snowboarding is even more dangerous. Researchers estimate six out of every 1,000 snowboarders will end up in the hospital.

Rochester personal injury attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say ski and snowboard injuries are often very serious and few families are prepared for such a sudden and large medical bill.

“The slopes can be dangerous and filled with unexpected hazards and if the proper safety precautions are ignored, families can be dealing with a devastating and expensive injury,” Rochester personal injury attorney Ross Cellino said. “In many cases, injuries can be very similar to the injuries people suffer in car accidents like broken bones, torn ligaments, spinal injuries, or head trauma.”

Academic studies on ski and snowboard accidents are rare – but doctors estimated the total cost of these accidents to be over $22,000 in 1996. That’s roughly equivalent $33,500 today.

Doctors say the most common skiing injuries affect the knees and they often require reconstructive surgery.

Snowboarders are more likely to suffer wrist sprains and fractures because of the manner in which they fall.

“These injuries sometimes happen because those who maintain the slopes failed to clear hazards or make the slopes safe for skiiers and snowboarders,” Cellino said. “But we also see those who are less experienced attempt to navigate a difficult slope.”

Doctors and attorneys off the following recommendations to avoid a ski or snowboard accident:

  • Warm-up. Properly stretching and exercising every day can improve posture and endurance, preventing falls.
  • Don’t overdo it. If you start to feel fatigued, take a rest. When your muscles are worn out, they’re more susceptible to injury.
  • Take the bunny hill. Especially for those who are new to skiing, the more difficult terrains can pose a number of dangers. If you’re not an expert, avoid the expert slope – they sometimes have unmarked obstacles.
  • Wear the right safety equipment. Properly selecting a ski size and getting fitted for a helmet is extremely important. Make sure you’re always wearing protective equipment – even when you’re stopped. Another skier could run into you at any time.

Also, know the statistics. Most injuries are caused by falls and collisions. Be aware of your surroundings on the slopes and become familiar with the terrain.

If you have any doubts about your skill level, don’t try the downhill slalom course. Rochester personal injury attorneys say it’s better to enjoy a day on the slopes than a day in the hospital.

Buckling Up is Always Safe – But it’s Even Safer in Front Seats

/ Car Accident /

Buckling Up is Always SafeNEW YORK – Your car is probably much safer today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. New vehicles now include more safety features than ever and most cars are rigorously tested for safety quality and adherence to federal guidelines.

Although safety improvements like airbags and seat belts have curbed crash fatalities, car accidents remain one of the top causes of death and critical injuries in the United States and some safety advocates say more improvements can be made.

A new study in Injury Prevention found that rear-seat passengers are often left unprotected or under-protected by many vehicle safety features, including some seat belts.

A Bronx car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says rear-seat passengers can often suffer more serious injuries due to the lack of safety measures.

“Many back seats don’t have air bags and sometimes the seat belts are only lap restraints and without a properly fitted restraint, any car crash can be deadly in the Bronx,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Seat belts are made to reduce the risk of injury and they’re effective but in some cases, they can be made better.”

Researchers analyzed dozens of car accident records and found that rear-seat passengers commonly suffered chest injuries – including broken ribs or a cracked sternum.

Abdominal and head injuries were also common. The study found that children under the age of 15 would often strike their head against a front-seat head rest or a window frame during a crash.

Researchers said ideally, seat belts should have ‘webbed clamps’ that stop the belt from moving during sudden jolts. The study also points out that most vehicles do not equip warning systems to remind passengers to fasten seat belts that are not buckled.

“Unfortunately, many states don’t require passengers to be buckled up in the back seat,” Barnes said. “But accidents do happen and a person who is not wearing a seat belt can suffer devastating injuries – even if they’re in the back seat.”

The study’s authors hope their findings can influence carmakers to enhance safety features but until the auto industry takes action, doctors and lawyers suggest using the current safety measures correctly:

  • Refrain from modifying seat belts
  • Always wear a seat belt in a manner it was designed to be used (don’t skip the chest restraint)
  • Adjust seat belts to fit snugly across the chest and lap
  • Sit in an upright position – don’t slouch

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I would like to thank your firm for representing our family on behalf of my late husband. This whole process was, at times, difficult for us and sometimes painful. But, we were always in good hands as Brian and Maria are two of the hardest working and sincerest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They did a tremendous job.

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