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NYPD Crack Down on Cyclists

/ Bicycle Accidents /

NYPD Crack Down on CyclistsNEW YORK – The number of bicycle summons handed out by police has spiked drastically in just one year. According to the Brooklyn Paper, officers in the 78th Precinct wrote 151 tickets to cyclists for cell phone use in 2014.

Alongside the city’s Vision Zero campaign, police have been extremely active when it comes to issuing traffic citations for cell phone use, texting while driving and distracted driving. The Gothamist reports NYPD Legal Affairs believes state traffic laws applying to motor vehicles also technically apply to the operation of bicycles, however some bicyclists are attempting to fight their citations.

“Motorists will most often bear responsibility if there’s an accident on the streets of New York,” bike accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “However, a jury may determine a distracted bicyclist bears some responsibility for a crash and that could decrease the amount of damages a defendant receives if they are injured as a result of an accident.”

Police are not just cracking down on distracted cyclists but also those who blatantly ignore traffic laws. According to DNAinfo, bicycle summons have gone up 600 percent this month; targeting cyclists who run red lights and stop signs.

“Bicyclists are subject to some of the same traffic laws motor vehicle operators are subjected to,” Barnes said. “Many of the serious bicycle accidents that happen are due, in part, by bicyclists ignoring these rules of the road.”

In many areas, including New York City (see § 19-176 – Bicycles operation on sidewalks prohibited), riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is considered illegal but it is rarely enforced.

New York bike accident attorneys say bicyclists should consider the recent uptick in citations as a reminder that it is best practice to follow the same rules of the road as drivers do. In many cases, cyclists are required to follow these laws, which were created to make streets safer.


Gravity Can Be a New Yorker’s Nightmare

/ Construction Accidents /

Gravity Can Be a New Yorker’s NightmareNEW YORK – There’s a famous phrase coined by Sir Isaac Newton; “what goes up must come down.” In the sprawling concrete jungle of New York, everything is going up. New skyscrapers and multi-story buildings are being built every day, defying Newton’s warning. Unfortunately, construction poses risks not only to workers but the people walking by.

In March, a young woman was struck and killed by a plywood board that was blown off a construction fence in Greenwich Village. Although this sounds like an extremely rare and unlucky event, falling tools, glass, or other objects injure a person more than 12 times per year.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of city Department of Buildings records, there were 96 construction accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists in New York City between 2008 and 2014. These accidents resulted in 155 injuries, most of which occurred in Manhattan.

Construction accident lawyer, Ross Cellino says almost every kind of accident can be prevented with the right precautions and protocols. However, construction accidents keep happening for a variety of reasons.

“In the cases we see, negligence is usually a factor in these kinds of accidents and it’s not the workers but the construction companies held responsible,” said Cellino, a co-founder of the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes. “Our laws and regulations require managers to have safety measures in place so construction accidents don’t happen but we get cases every day coming from construction sites.”

In 2014, 18 construction accidents involving non-workers were reported to New York City. Although no one was killed, fences have been blown over or, in some other way, struck pedestrians in 16 separate events, injuring 23 people, the Journal’s report revealed.

In 2011, a construction worker dropped a hammer from a scaffold, striking a child in the head.

A building code revision put in place last year now requires construction fences to be built to withstand 80 mph winds however, other accidents are happening at the highest rate in years.

“It’s not just pedestrians getting hurt either,” Cellino added. “Cars are getting struck by falling objects and several people have been hurt because falling debris like bricks came crashing down on top of a vehicle.”

Construction accident lawyers say it’s not just New York going through growing pains either; any city with construction sites can potentially put those passing by at risk.

What Causes Car Accidents?

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

What Causes Car Accidents?BUFFALO, N.Y. – A car crash can be disorienting. You may be asking yourself or overhear someone say, “what happened?” Researchers have been asking that question for decades but the numbers keep changing due to an evolving American lifestyle centered on technology, weather, accurate records, and safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error was a primary cause in more than 94 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. Since 2010, this statistic has remained fairly constant but the specific factors leading to a crash have changed slightly.

The leading cause of accidents just five years ago was speed. speeding drivers accounted for 21 percent of all car accidents, costing Americans over $59 billion in 2010.

At the time, drunk driving was also a major influence, accounting for 18 percent of the nation’s total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes.

Since then, speeding and drunk driving accidents have taken a back-seat to a problem car accident lawyers say is just as, if not more, dangerous.

“Five years ago, we were just starting to talk about distracted driving,” said Stephen Ciocca, a Buffalo car accident attorney at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes. “Today, it’s one of the primary factors leading to car crashes.”

Before 2010, only 14 states had some type of ban on texting while driving. Five years later, 48 of the 50 states have made texting while driving illegal and many states have increased fines and patrols due to the prevalence of this distraction.

A new study from the United Kingdom suggests driver dehydration can also be a factor in thousands of crashes. Researchers at Loughborough University discovered that even mild dehydration was equivalent to being drunk behind the wheel.

The study measured the number of driver errors in a lab-based driving simulator. Adequately hydrated drivers made 47 errors, according to the simulation. Drivers who were dehydrated more than doubled that number to 101 errors. Researchers estimate that’s the same number they’d expect of someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Dehydration can also lead to a loss of energy, and sleep deprivation is known to be a very common factor in many crashes too,” Ciocca said.

Although some drivers may blame an accident on their vehicle, statistics show that a vehicular malfunction was truly at fault only in extremely rare occasions.

Weather can also cause a crash, however, it’s most often a secondary factor. Car accident lawyers say there are usually many reasons for a car crash and it’s often difficult to blame a collision on just one.

“There can be more than one cause of an accident,” Ciocca said. “Defendants will often blame the weather or their car for a crash. Our argument is that they must reasonably respond and adjust to these outside influences. In the end, we’ll discover almost every accident could have been prevented if the driver would have acted in a calm, responsible manner and taken the road and weather conditions into account.”

Texting Tickets Shoot Sky-High in Empire State

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety, Texting While Driving /

Sky-High in Empire StateNEW YORK – in the mid-1990s, a nationwide campaign took aim on drunk drivers. The slogan, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” was plastered on billboards from Boston to Los Angeles. Law enforcement stepped-up sobriety checkpoints; and arrests for driving under the influence sharply increased.

Today, drinking and driving is still a common problem on the roads but it’s taken a back-seat to an issue many experts consider to be just as dangerous but much more prevalent: texting.

“When a driver looks down to view a text message, they’re putting lives on the line. Even if a driver is distracted for just three seconds, a car can travel over 300 feet without eyes on the highway in New York traffic.” accident attorney Ross Cellino said.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office reports there was a 143 percent increase in cell phone-related crashes between 2005 and 2011. In the same time, the state reported an 18 percent decrease in alcohol-related crashes.

Statistics show New York State law enforcement officers recorded fewer than 5,000 alcohol-related crashes in 2011. The same year, officers tallied over 25,000 crashes involving at least one distracted driver, now the most common factor leading to a crash.

“It’s unfortunate these crashes continue to happen because just about every driver knows texting and driving puts their life at risk but they do it anyway,” Cellino said. “The problem is so prevalent, personal injury lawyers are requesting cell phone records every day as part of discovery to prove a defendant was texting behind the wheel.”

Local and state officials are very cognizant of the texting trend and New York State is leading the charge in the battle against texting and driving.

Statewide, the number of texting while driving citations increased 35 percent in one year. In 2014, officers handed out more than 75,000 tickets, up from 56,000 in 2013.

As part of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign, the city has been a hotbed for texting citations, which increased by almost 50 percent to 48,000 tickets issued in 2014.

“A driver can get fined up to $200 and get five points against their license, if caught texting and driving,” Cellino said. “They’re taking a tough stance in the city because there’s so much foot traffic and pedestrians are getting hit because drivers aren’t paying attention.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013 saw more than 3,000 people get killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and another 425,000 were hurt.

New York law enforcement officers warn the only true way to avoid a texting citation is to turn your phone off and put it out of sight so you’re not tempted to shift your focus off the road.

Dog Bites Kill 59,000 A Year

/ Dog Bites /

Dog Bites Kill 59,000 A YearROCHESTER, N.Y. – A groundbreaking study on canine rabies discovered nearly 59,000 people die from the virus every year. Researchers equates these findings to 160 deaths each day and a worldwide economic toll of about $8.6 billion a year.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science, is the first to estimate the cost of rabies in dogs and how countries around the world are trying to control it.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classify a rabies infection as “very rare,” estimating 90 percent of all animal cases reported occur in wildlife. The CDC notes that before 1960, the majority of cases were discovered in domesticated animals.

The report found the disease hit poorer areas of the globe the hardest. Although the United States as a whole would not fit this category, statistics can show what techniques work and which ones don’t, said Steve Barnes, a dog bite injury attorney at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes.

“When you vaccinate, you’re not only protecting your dog, you’re also protecting your family,” Barnes said. “It’s the number one way to avoid the spread of rabies and protect your family from a potential lawsuit.”

Researchers concluded poorer countries often did not invest enough resources into dog vaccinations and as a result, some nations experienced more than 20,000 rabies-related deaths in one year.

“The scary part is that rabies is almost always fatal if left untreated,” Barnes said. “The good news is it’s almost 100 percent preventable as well.”

The global report recommended dog vaccination as the most cost-effective way of saving lives. In countries like the United States and Canada, rabies-related deaths have nearly disappeared completely and researchers attribute that to an increased access to healthcare, human vaccines and a large investment in dog vaccination.

“Dogs sometimes bite and these results can be extremely painful and sometimes disfiguring,” Barnes said. “Proper training and care of your pets can help minimize these injuries and getting your dog vaccinated should be your first priority.”

Study Reveals Shocking American Driving Habits

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

Shocking American Driving HabitsNEW YORK – Americans spend more time in their cars than they do on housework or exercise, according to studies. One on-going project administered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety aims to keep track of how much time Americans spend behind the wheel on a daily and yearly basis.

So far, the AAA study surveyed thousands of drivers and logged their driving habits between May 2013 and May 2014. Researchers found that, on average, Americans drive about 30 miles every day or 10,658 miles per year.

The data, when combined with crash statistics will allow AAA and other organizations to conduct unique and timely studies of crash rates and locations. Results of these studies could lead to more effective safety plans and countermeasures to improve motor vehicle safety nationwide.

“This type of on-going survey gives us very recent data to work with and compare. We can use these statistics to show what roads are safer for motorists and why and even draw conclusions about current driving habits in cities like New York,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said.

The first-year data found Americans drive the most during the summer, averaging over 30 miles per day. It also discovered that drivers between the ages of 30 and 49 years old drive an average of 13,140 miles each year, the most of any age group.

“Even if you’re the safest driver in the world and you’re always aware of your surroundings, the more time spent on the road can increase your risk of getting into an accident simply because you’re behind the wheel more often.” Barnes said. “It’s a numbers game, every minute you’re in a car, there’s a chance an accident will happen.”

Drivers in rural areas were also found to travel further on average than drivers in urban areas. The research also polled education levels and their correlation to driving distances; AAA found that individuals with a grade school or high school education were on the road for an average of 32 minutes per day. On the other hand, drivers with a college degree spent nearly twice as much time behind the wheel, averaging 58 minutes of driving in a 24 hour period.

The American Driver Survey is an ongoing study based on telephone interviews and aims to identify specific driving patterns and evaluate American road safety.

Biking Statistics Often Ignored

/ Bicycle Accidents /

Biking Statistics Often IgnoredBUFFALO, N.Y. – For years, bicyclists across the country voiced their concerns about safety, or the lack of safety, in many major U.S. cities. However, statistics show some of those cities still lack the proper infrastructure for a safe riding environment.

Many communities are now beginning to rethink the way roads, streets and intersections are designed to account for bicyclists. Bike lanes are a relatively new development for east coast cities but are commonly incorporated into new road designs. However, a well-planned infrastructure may not be enough.

Research and statistics suggest both driver and bicyclist education should accompany redeveloped roads, said bicycle accident attorney Ross Cellino of the law firm, Cellino & Barnes.

“Many drivers seem to forget we all need to share the road,” Cellino said. “In most areas, a bicyclist has just as much of a right to use that street as a driver does.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last collected bicycle accident statistics with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2012. That year, 726 bicyclists died in traffic accidents and 30 percent of those deaths happened at intersections.

“That tells us there’s a real problem today making bicyclists extremely vulnerable at traffic lights and stop signs,” Cellino said. “Drivers should be more aware of bicyclists and pay particular attention to their surroundings when making left and right turns.”

The NHTSA data also suggests bicyclists should be educated on the rules and courtesies of the road as well.

Although it is not illegal in some areas, bicyclists found to be riding without a helmet greatly increased the risk of serious injury or death and according to statistics, one in four bicyclists killed had blood alcohol concentrations registering over .08 grams per deciliter.

“Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and they’re required to obey the same courtesies and rules of the road as everyone else,” Cellino said. “That means stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic signals, and yielding to others.”

According to the 2012 statistics, 49,000 bicyclists were treated in hospitals after a crash in addition to the 726 fatalities. Independent studies discovered cities with higher education campuses were more vulnerable to bicycle accidents and many large campuses, like Ohio State University and the University of Illinois have since invested millions into developing safer infrastructure for bicyclists following high-profile accidents.

“Transportation departments are now constructing bike lanes to make the streets safer but drivers and bicyclists need to be aware of these changes and know how to safely navigate the roads together,” Cellino said. “Education is the biggest key to making streets safer for everyone.”

Deadly Teen Crashes Drastically Drop

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

Deadly Teen Crashes Drastically DropNEW YORK – Over the last 10 years, the number of teen drivers involved in deadly motor vehicle crashes was cut in half. According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,568 teen drivers were killed in car accidents in 2013. That is about half the number of teens who died in 2004.

“This is a drastic improvement. Safer cars and graduated-licensing programs are really making a difference and after ten years, it’s finally showing in cities like New York,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said.

Researchers believe a variety of factors contributed to the slash in the number of teen fatalities and new licensing programs were found to be an important contributor.

In many states, graduated licenses can restrict driving times for teenagers and the number of individuals in the car. The CDC believes programs like these reduced the crash rate by 20 to 40 percent among teens.

Personal injury attorneys believe a variety of other factors also played a role in the declining number of teen fatalities.

“Cars are much safer today than they were in 2005,” Cellino said. “Most cars now have standard side-impact air bags and electronic stability systems, which are proven life-saving safety features.”

More drivers and passengers use seatbelts today than ever before, Cellino said. His New York-based law firm, Cellino & Barnes, estimates 90 percent of all drivers in the Empire State regularly buckle-up when they’re behind the wheel.

Researchers suggest economics may have also played a role in cutting the number of teen driving fatalities in half. The study examined deadly crash statistics between 2004 and 2013, which many economists considered the height of the economic recession.

The report surveyed high school students in several states and also found that three out of four high school students over the age of 16 indicated they drove to school at least once a month. In rural areas, the percentage was higher while in cities, where urban transportation is more easily accessible, the percentage was slightly lower.

The study’s findings aim to raise awareness to the programs that work to keep teen drivers safe while behind the wheel.

Misdiagnosis Top Problem for Patients

/ Medical Malpractice /

Misdiagnosis Top ProblemROCHESTER, N.Y. – Researchers poured over hundreds of closed medical claims over the span of six years and found the majority of lawsuits stem from diagnostic-related issues. According to the study, 57 percent of claims accused doctors of delivering a delayed diagnosis, a wrong diagnosis, or failing to diagnose a patient with a health issue.

“There’s an increasing strain on emergency rooms nationwide,” said Brian Goldstein, a Rochester medical malpractice attorney at Cellino & Barnes. “It’s not rare for emergency departments to be staffed with non-emergency medicine physicians and that can often lead to more mistakes.”

The study, conducted by The Doctors Company, analyzed 332 legal claims and found “underlying vulnerabilities” that contributed to patient injuries.

At the top of the list, 52 percent of the cases analyzed had patient assessment issues. These problems included a failure to address abnormalities and in many cases, a patient was discharged too quickly.

Other studies, like the one mentioned here, found similar assessment issues were often linked to a lack of safe practice standards and protocols at some hospitals. However, emergency rooms with quality initiatives geared toward patient safety were much less likely to be accused of medical malpractice.

“Unfortunately, we routinely see malpractice cases stemming from poor emergency room management,” Goldstein said. “Hospitals with low scores tend to have more problems while hospitals with high scores have set guidelines that focus, to a greater extent, on patient safety rather than the hospital’s financial bottom line.”

The 2015 research conducted by The Doctors Company also indicated that in at least 21 percent of patient injuries, it was not necessarily the doctor’s fault. The study found patients would sometimes skip follow-up appointments and use the medication in ways it wasn’t prescribed.

“Today’s health system can be tricky,” Goldstein said. “Often, patients in an emergency situation have no choice but to trust the emergency room physician but the reality is that mistakes are happening every day.”

In 2012, researchers found that missed, delayed or incorrect diagnoses affected 10 to 20 percent of all cases. The 2015 closed claims study may suggest the numbers could be higher.

The Doctors Company research aims to reduce the number of diagnostic errors in emergency rooms.

Sleepier America Makes Driving a Nightmare

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

Sleepier America Makes Driving a NightmareBUFFALO, N.Y. – For decades, studies have consistently shown there are real economic advantages to getting less sleep. However, those economic advantages are often coupled with severe drawbacks when it comes to your health and cognitive awareness. Research has also shown that a lack of sleep puts a person at an extreme risk of getting in a severe car accident.

“Sleepy drivers cause about 100,000 accidents each year and those crashes result in over $12 billion in lawsuits and other monetary losses,” said Mike Lovecchio, a Buffalo car accident lawyer from the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes. “That shows that if you get enough sleep, it can save you a lot of money too.”

Researchers have link sleep deprivation to work hours. In effect, the more hours an individual works tend to cut into their hours of sleep. For example, people with two or more jobs sleep less than a person who is unemployed or works just one job.

A compilation of studies compiled by the American Time Use Survey consistently make the same conclusions: the more money a person makes, the less sleep they get.

“These statistics are extremely concerning because, generally speaking, these are the same people who can afford cars and they often live further from work,” Lovecchio said. “That means they spend more time behind the wheel than almost any other economic class and they’re driving after getting just a few hours of sleep.”

Some daily activities like long commutes, nighttime television habits, and even prescription medication have been shown to remove vital minutes or even hours of sleep from a person’s night, increasing their risk of an accident the next day.

“The goal here is to hopefully avoid a workplace or car accident before it happens,” Lovecchio said. “The absolute best way to do that is by getting a restful night of sleep.”

Researchers believe living closer to work and avoiding the television before bed can improve sleep patterns and allow a person to get the most rest.

Client Thanks

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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