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100 Dangerous Days of Summer

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

100 Dangerous Days of SummerBUFFALO, N.Y. – Everyone looks forward to summer. Sunshine, barbecues, days at the beach, and summertime road trips. That’s the good stuff. Sadly though, it’s also the most dangerous time of year.

Since 2010, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during what’s called the ‘100 Deadliest Days.’ According to AAA, deadly crashes historically climb during this dangerous time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

A Buffalo car accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says the crash rates for teens skyrocket in the summertime weather and it puts everyone at risk.

“Teenagers are more likely to be involved in a car crash than any other age group and this is particularly apparent during summers in Buffalo,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Summer is a great time to learn how to drive but it’s important to teach young drivers responsibility and safety before they’re driving on their own.”

In 2013, more than 370,000 people were injured and nearly 3,000 people were killed in crashes that had a teenager at the helm. Many of those accidents occurred during the months of June, July and August.

“The weather is nice, teens are off of school and they have the keys to the car,” Barnes said. “It’s a dangerous combination.”

Progress has been made in recent decades. Injuries to teen drivers have decreased by more than 50-percent and crashes involving teens at the wheel have dropped by roughly 20-percent. However, crashes are still the leading cause of death among teenagers.

In an effort to improve road safety for everyone throughout the summer, Buffalo car accident attorneys are urging everyone – drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians – to be mindful that they’re sharing the roads with young drivers.

For safety tips and the latest news, Follow Cellino & Barnes on Twitter.

How Money Can Protect You in a Car Crash

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

How Money Can Protect You in a Car CrashBUFFALO, N.Y. – When a Hummer and a Versa collide, most people can assume the Hummer will win. The Versa is not only much smaller than a Hummer, it’s also much cheaper. With a price tag of around $13,000, the Nissan Versa was credited as 2015’s cheapest set of wheels.

Why does the price tag matter? New research is showing a vehicle’s cost can be deal breaker when it comes to safety. Sure, the Hummer (H2 series) is much larger than the compact Versa, but it also carries a much larger sticker at about $32,000.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo found there’s a correlation between accidents with serious injuries and the price of the cars involved in the crash.

Buffalo car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said when it comes to safety, you get what you pay for.

“Larger vehicles are almost always more expensive but they can also keep drivers safe in Buffalo,” car accident lawyer Ross Cellino said. “The type of vehicle, the weight and the price are all significant factors in predicting the cost of a personal injury.”

According to research, for every $10,000 spent on a vehicle, injuries go down by over 10 percent. Researchers said vehicles also become 19 percent safer for every thousand pounds.

Larger vehicles also cost to manufacture. The obvious reason is that they require more materials, and sometimes more parts. However, Buffalo car accident lawyers said SUVs and trucks also have an unappreciated safety feature: space.

“The larger the vehicle, the more space it has to compress,” Cellino said. “Crumple zones are now built into every vehicle but the old saying ‘bigger is better’ is still true when it comes to car safety.”

When analyzing the number of injuries associated with vehicles, the top 25 to 50 vehicles are all smaller cars with smaller price tags.

Luckily, carmakers are beginning to place more focus on vehicle safety. Most dealerships offer the latest safety technology like automatic brakes on premium vehicle packages, which cost more. Some vehicles will place the newest safety features in standard packages but it’s up to the consumer to find out which cars offer this protection at no additional cost.

So, if you can’t pay for protection with your checkbook, check the boxes and make sure you’re getting the best deal for your safety.


July 4th Could Be Drunkest, Deadliest in Years

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

July 4th Could Be Drunkest, Deadliest in YearsROCHESTER, N.Y. – Americans love celebrating the Fourth of July. It’s a time to kick back in a lawn chair with family and friends, throw some hot dogs on the grill, and throw down a few drinks. Unfortunately, a ‘few’ drinks can be deadly for irresponsible drivers traveling this weekend.

About 750 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers who were over the limit, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over a five-year period. NHTSA said these deadly crashes accounted for nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities over the same five years.

Rochester car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said drinking and driving over the holiday weekend is no way to celebrate.

Drunk driving could be a major problem this weekend in Rochester,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “The fact that the holiday falls on a Saturday could make the streets even more dangerous.”

The National Safety Council predicts that 409 Americans will be killed in car accidents this weekend and another 50,000 will be injured. If the council’s prediction comes true, this Fourth of July will be the deadliest Independence Day since 2008.

The council said higher levels of traffic and an expected increase in drunk driving attributed to its gloomy prediction.

“Anytime you get in a car, you’re taking a bigger risk this weekend,” Barnes said. “Even the responsible drivers who don’t drink could put themselves in the path of a drunk driver and there could millions of them on the road this weekend.”

In years past, Americans not only drove to holiday parties; they also downed about 70 million cases of beer last year, which is more than any other holiday (including St. Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve). With the Fourth falling on a Saturday, even more alcohol could be flowing.

Couple the alcohol with an expected 40 million drivers on the road (which is the highest in eight years), Barnes said some families could be ripped from their parties to make a visit to the emergency room.

Seniors May Have Lasting Pain after a Car Crash

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety, Personal Injury /

Lasting Pain after a Car CrashMELVILLE, N.Y. – One in four seniors will have lasting pain after being in a car crash and many of those affected will struggle with basic daily activities in the weeks and months after an accident, a new study finds.

Doctors say motor vehicle crashes are the second most common form of trauma among older adults. A research team headed by doctors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has set a goal to prevent these types of injuries from escalating.

Long Island car accident attorneys at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes said chronic and persistent pain is a common problem after a crash but continued research could help millions of Americans recover.

“There are dozens of car crashes every day in Long Island,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Even a minor crash can take its toll on the human body and cause long-term side effects, including chronic pain.”

Researchers studied over 150 patients over the age of 65 and went to the hospital for minor injuries after a car accident. Patients with more severe injuries like fractures or head trauma were not included in the study.

Initially, more than 75 percent of the patients reported moderate to severe pain at their initial visit to the emergency room. Six month later, researchers found over a quarter of their patients were still complaining of a nagging, severe pain.

Barnes said whiplash is one of the most common injuries to adults who’ve been in a car accident. Whiplash, although it is not always immediately recognized, has been known to damage the spinal cord and cause lasting, severe pain.

“We represent clients who’ve been hurt in just about every way imaginable,” Barnes said. “The most common injuries however usually involve the head or neck.”

Researchers discovered similar results in their study: patients with the most persistent pain were likely to have suffered injuries to the head, jaw, neck, back, or legs. The study also discovered that patients who reported chronic pain were more likely to have had symptoms of depression before the crash and less education, compared to patients without chronic pain.

“Chronic pain is one of the nation’s most expensive health problems,” Barnes said. “Some of our clients are not only forced to live with this pain but it can also increase their risk of another injury in the future.”

Head trauma in particular has been associated with cognitive failures in older adults but researchers believe the best way to tackle chronic pain is to treat it early and increase physical activity.

All-America: A List of the Most American Cars

/ Driver Safety /

List of the Most American CarsNEW YORK – Your clothing might say “Made in China.” A glass bottle of soda could say “Hecho en Mexico.” Even that phone you’ve grown so attached to was made somewhere else. More than ever, it seems, there’s nothing more American than Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet this Fourth of July.

Oddly, even the American automobile is becoming endangered. For the first time in history, fewer than 10 cars are composed of at least 75 percent domestic content (and those that made the list might surprise you).

In a study conducted by Cars.com, even the Ford F-150 fell below 75 percent when it came to its domestic parts. The truck was considered ‘most American’ in 2014 but a 2015 redesign sent the automaker looking to other countries for its truck parts.

Who took the top spot this year? Toyota.

  1. Toyota Camry (Georgetown, Ky.; Lafayette, Ind.)
  2. Toyota Sienna (Princeton, Ind.)
  3. Chevrolet Traverse (Lansing, Mich.)
  4. Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, Ala.)
  5. GMC Acadia (Lansing, Mich.)
  6. Buick Enclave (Lansing Mich.)
  7. Chevrolet Corvette (Bowling Green, Ky.)

Yes, the Toyota Camry is now more “apple pie” than Ford’s F-150.

The Camry, which is assembled at plants in Georgetown, Ky. and in Lafayette, Ind., supports nearly 6,000 American assembly-plant workers and more than 75 percent of the vehicle’s parts are Made in America.

New York car accident attorneys at Cellino and Barnes say auto recalls have also boomed during this trend of importing parts.

“Just look at safety and how many American automakers were affected by the recent air bag recall in New York,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Nearly every major automaker was impacted by one company that made its parts overseas.”

According to some auto market gurus, the number of recalls exploded last year because different automakers are ordering similar parts from the same manufacturer. Japan-based air bag maker, Takata Corp. has been linked to over 50 million car recalls, all of which were equipped with the company’s airbags. So far, the recall has impacted 10 different automakers and many operate assembly lines in the United States.

Experts say the imported parts are, by no means, slowing down production in the states. Instead, the auto industry is expanding into a much larger global market.

“At one time, American automakers assembled, marketed and sold their cars exclusively to American consumers,” Barnes said. “That’s all changed and last year, a record-setting 2.1 million American-made cars were exported to different countries.”

Although more vehicles have fewer American-made parts, U.S. factories are booming, manufacturing nearly 12 million cars in 2015, up from 8 million in 2010.

Feds Investigated for Year of the Recall

/ Driver Safety, Personal Injury /

Feds Investigated for Year of the RecallNEW YORK – Following a record-setting year of serious safety issues in American motor vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is promising a harsh crack-down on the auto industry, but only after being slapped with a critical audit.

A 42-page internal review was published this week, charging the auto-safety regulation agency with several missteps, including failing to uncover a General Motors ignition switch defect linked to over 100 deaths.

“Collectively, these weaknesses have resulted in significant safety concerns being overlooked,” the review stated, prepared by the Office of Inspector General.

Every year, millions of car owners get recall notices. These recalls can stem from a variety of safety issues and defects but no year has seen more vehicle problems than 2014. More than 60 million vehicles had open recalls, more than double the previous record.

New York car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said vehicle malfunctions and defects can cause car accidents and sometimes make injuries more severe.

“If an airbag doesn’t deploy like it’s supposed to, an occupant can get severely injured and we’ve seen several cases like that here in New York,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Many of these safety features are required in vehicles to save lives but they’re no good if they aren’t working properly.”

NHTSA slapped GM with a $35 million fine in 2014 for the ignition switch problem that, to date, has claimed over 100 lives. Lawsuits and an ongoing federal probe into the issue could force GM to spend more than $1 billion, in total.

However, the OIG concluded NHTSA failed to uncover this problem, and many other issues, in a timely manner. By the time NHTSA forced GM to recall 2.6 million vehicles, the automaker admitted it waited a whole decade to address the problem.

“Hundreds of people have been injured and even killed because some carmakers messed up,” Barnes said. “That’s not right and these families deserve to get compensated for those injuries because, in the end, they could have been minimized or prevented.”

NHTSA was also accused of failing to properly train and supervise its staff at the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). According to the internal review, ODI staff members discovered several vehicle defects but didn’t follow-up or act on them, including issues with faulty airbags.

Agency heads have publicly complained to Congress that the ODI is severely understaffed. In February, these complaints made it to the White House and the President asked Congress to increase the ODI budget threefold. ODI currently has just 60 workers answering roughly 330 consumer complaints each day.

OIG developed 17 recommendations to improve the investigation process and the NHTSA has agreed to implement the recommendations with targeted completion dates.


Employee Well-Being Found To Be As Important As Productivity

/ Driver Safety /

Employee Well-BeingNEW YORK – Workplaces that emphasize employee safety as much as productivity are some of the most efficient companies in the nation, researchers at Colorado State University discovered.

Researchers measured employee perception of their workplace safety measures using “ergonomics,” a method of increasing efficiency in the workplace by designing a worker’s job to eliminate hazards and reduce injury risks.

The study found that when management promoted safety and productivity equally, workers reported having fewer injuries. On the other hand, when one of the categories had more emphasis, employees reported a higher injury risk.

Brooklyn construction accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say safety has long taken a backseat to productivity but hope studies like this can change the work-site culture.

“Some companies see health and safety policies as an obstacle in Brooklyn,” construction accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Every company wants peak-efficiency but safety can’t be sacrificed because studies have shown it greatly increases the risk of injury.”

“American families are demanding safety today. Car companies are now marketing vehicles as ‘safe’ cars instead of fast ones, food and cosmetics are advertising how healthy and safe they are.” Barnes asks, “isn’t it time employers market safety to their employees and job-seekers?”

The study is called “Ergonomics Climate Assessment: A measure of operational performance and employee well-being” and was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and health.


Depression, Anxiety Can Set-In After Concussion

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety, Personal Injury /

Anxiety Can Set-In After ConcussionNEW YORK – Concussions often accompany several symptoms including dizziness and headaches. These injuries can also result in lasting mental damage, most often taking the form of depression, anxiety and irritability but doctors have struggled understanding why.

These symptoms are common in people who recently bumped their head as a result of a construction accident, car accident, or other personal injury.

New research may give clues as to why concussions and other brain injuries can lead to these long-lasting symptoms. According to a new study published in the journal Radiology, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center used an MRI technique that measures white matter, the brain’s signal-transmitting nerve fibers.

The study found unique white matter patterns in patients who had depression or anxiety, while those who did not display these long-term effects had different, stable patterns.

“The regions injured in concussion patients with depression were very similar to those of people with non-traumatic major depression disorder,” said lead author Lea M. Alhilali, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at UPMC. “This suggests there may be similar mechanisms to non-trauma and trauma-dependent depression that may help guide treatment.”

Treatment can often take years and be extremely costly for victims of an accident. New York personal injury attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said definitive treatment plans could ease the recovery process for some.

“Traumatic brain injuries, or concussions are some of the most common injuries stemming from accidents in New York,” personal injury attorney Steve Barnes said. “Unfortunately, concussions are still rather mysterious but ongoing research could someday make treatment options more effective and cost-efficient.”

Doctors estimate almost 3.8 million Americans suffer concussions every year and millions more could be dealing with the after-effects.

Researchers in the UPMC study noted that their findings also raise the possibility that anyone diagnosed with depression may actually have experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lives, which could have developed the depression.

“An auto accident, a boat accident, a slip and fall; any time you hit your head, it greatly increases the risk of a traumatic brain or spinal injury,” Barnes said. “As we’re discovering now, these effects don’t go always go away after a few days – in fact, the depression and anxiety may not set-in until weeks, months, or years after an accident.”

New York personal injury attorneys say it’s important to get evaluated by a physician for possible brain damage after an accident and if symptoms persist, it may be worth discussing options with an attorney focused on personal injury cases.

UPMC researchers plan to compare their findings in concussion patients with people suffering non-traumatic depressive disorders. Doctors hope the findings can further develop treatments and medicines that target depression.

How to Avoid the Rear-End Crash

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

How to Avoid the Rear-End CrashNEW YORK – Each year, there are nearly 2 million rear-end collisions on American highways. It is the most common type of car accident on roadways today, often caused by distracted drivers or adverse weather conditions. Although these crashes may seem minor, rear-end crashes have resulted in nearly 2,000 deaths and another half-million injuries.

In a new report, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a bold statement: More than 80 percent of these deaths and injuries might have been mitigated had the vehicles been equipped with a collision avoidance system.

“You don’t pay extra for your seatbelt,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart in a statement. “And you shouldn’t have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether.”

Researchers have found the new technology can detect vehicles and objects ahead of them and brake automatically. The devices are currently available in some cars but are usually attached to luxury vehicles and at a higher cost.

New York car accident attorneys at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes believe if the technology will help prevent crashes it should be standard on vehicles.

“Seatbelts work, air bags work, we’ve seen how these devices significantly reduce the risk of serious injury and death in New York,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “If crash avoidance systems will make the roads safer, they should be available to everyone and not just those who can afford the safest technologies.”

The NTSB has made 12 recommendations over 20 years in favor of forward collision avoidance technologies, including 10 recommendations resulting from an earlier Special Investigation Report in 2001. Clearly, the progress has been limited and the general public is relatively unaware that crash avoidance technology is available.

According to federal authorities, only 4 out of 684 vehicle models in 2014 included a complete and standard forward crash avoidance system. When the technology is offered as an additional option, they’re usually bundled with other features at a higher price, making consumers less likely to invest in the safety system.

“There’s no reason safety should be extra,” Barnes said. “Every responsible driver should be comfortable knowing they have the best safety features on the road today.”

In a separate report accompanying the NTSB recommendations, federal officials pointed to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that 87 percent of rear-end collisions happened because the driver simply wasn’t paying attention to the road.

New York car accident lawyers said if crash avoidance systems do become standard in future vehicles, it’s not an excuse to use a vehicle recklessly or while distracted. Barnes said no matter what safety features are installed, drivers should always pay attention to the road and traffic around them.


Drunk Drivers Banned For Life

/ Car Accident, Driver Safety /

Drunk Drivers Banned For LifeROCHESTER, N.Y. – Nearly 4,000 New Yorkers are banned from driving because of alcohol violations, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These permanent revocations were put in action three years ago when New York State adopted some of the harshest laws battling drunk drivers.

Among the changes, drivers with three or more DWI convictions can have their license suspended and the worst offenders (those with five or more alcohol-related convictions) could get a lifetime ban on New York roadways.

Rochester car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said the harsher laws are already making streets safer by taking thousands of irresponsible drivers off the streets.

“If a person has been convicted of driving while intoxicated five or more times, that’s a person who can be a danger to everyone in Rochester,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Hopefully taking these drivers off the roads will bring down the number of alcohol-related crashes.”

The number of deadly alcohol-related crashes had steadily decreased since the 1980’s but this number has relatively plateaued since the early 2000’s when New York State recorded a yearly average of about 450 alcohol-related deaths.

“Hundreds of people are still killed by drunk drivers every year,” Cellino said. “These are all accidents that can be prevented by taking drunk drivers out of their cars and today, authorities can keep you off the road forever.”

In 2013 however, the number of deadly crashes reported to the DMV was higher than any other year after 2006. A total of 387 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes that year and another 6,019 people were injured.

In addition to the near 4,000 lifetime bans on drivers with DWI convictions, another 3,500 drivers will be denied license renewals for the next five years. These offenders had three or four alcohol convictions in the past 25 years and when they finally do get their license back, they may be required to install an ignition interlock, a device which tests a driver’s blood-alcohol level before the vehicle can be turned on.

“New York State is taking drastic measures to keep drivers safe,” Cellino said. “The fatality rate in cities like Rochester is consistently lower than rates in other states and the harsh penalties and laws could be playing a major role.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers New York’s STOP-DWI program as model for the rest of the nation and the 2014 crash statistics are expected to show a decline when they are released later this year.


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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