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Canandaigua Personal Injury Law Blog

First wrongful death trial against General Motors set for 2016

News media stories about the faulty ignition switch in certain General Motors vehicles have been everywhere over the past several months. The issues have been complicated and not just from a legal standpoint. Many families have suffered the loss of a loved one allegedly due to car accidents caused when the switch inadvertently turned off, causing collisions without the deployment of air bags or other injury countermeasures. The car company officials have admitted knowing about the defect. A huge number of lawsuits and class actions have been filed.

It's reported that a Southern District of New York judge has scheduled the first consolidated litigation trial in federal court for Jan. 11, 2016. While the approximately 130 lawsuits included in the proceedings involve lost vehicle value claims as well, the bellwether trial will reportedly be a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Counsel for GM has separately requested that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court dismiss class action lawsuits seeking about $10 billion in compensation for lost value. Adding to the complex litigation is the fact that GM's reorganization under its Chapter 11 filing could preclude product liability claims relating to vehicles manufactured before the bankruptcy.

What is accident reconstruction in New York?

When someone is hit and injured or killed while walking on a New York sidewalk, crossing a street or in a parking lot, police reports follow. Regardless of what kind of claim may be filed on behalf of the victim or survivor, the police investigators have an obligation to report the pedestrian incident with precision. One of the tools they can use is called accident reconstruction.

New York State Police support a division known as the Collision Reconstruction Unit. With highly specialized expertise, this 50-member unit utilizes a series of helpful tools to investigate the accident and clearly report their findings through what they call a forensic map. Highly trained, they work behind the scenes of serious motor vehicle accidents, including those involving pedestrians, to identify and document evidence found on site. Their precision and meticulous attention to detail is utilized quickly, while an accident scene isn't contaminated by traffic or other reasons.

Motorcyclists: Protecting the vulnerable after an accident

Everyone who travels the highways and byways of Canandaigua assumes a degree of risk. Our fast-paced, get-from-here-to-there society spends countless hours on the roads – most of the time safely and productively. For many, however, mere seconds change their lives forever. They are caught up in some type of vehicle crash. Some of the most devastating involve motorcycles.

Bikers have always been more susceptible to injuries on the road because of the size of their vehicles and their physical exposure. Nowadays, the risk is heightened as car and truck drivers become more distracted by cellphones and other diversions. The popular increased size of passenger vehicles doesn't help either.

Drivers in New York: What is a DMV reexamination?

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles has restrictions that will apply to many drivers at one time or another. Driving the beautiful highways and byways of our state is a pleasure for some and a necessity for others. There is no question that the task can also carry accident liability along with it if something should go wrong.

The DMV provides driver guidelines and requirements, especially for those who are considered to be seniors by the department. The goal is to keep aging drivers independent and behind the wheel as long as they are capable and safely operate their vehicles. Basic vision tests are usually given for renewal and in some circumstances, a written test is required. If the minimum standard for vision isn't met, a specialist eye exam is needed. An Eye Test Report is provided to the DMV. Those results determine renewal. Any driver with a medical condition that might interfere with driving safely must meet certain restrictive conditions to maintain a license.

Losing a loved one leads to wrongful death lawsuit against bank

New York courts have evolved over the years to a certain degree, especially regarding punitive damages associated with civil claims. Whether plaintiffs have survived a pedestrian or vehicle accident or a loved one died as a result of someone's negligence, the loss is still the same. Most survivors respond to this emotional upheaval with a sincere desire to punish whoever is responsible.

An example of this strong wish for accountability is shown in a case on the west coast. A daughter is suing a huge banking organization because she claims its foreclosure of her mother's home was deadly.

Are drivers or pedestrians liable in a New York accident?

Personal injury cases that arise as a result of car, truck, boat or pedestrian accidents are meant to provide victims and survivors with the peace of mind that someone is being held accountable as well as compensation for medical expenses, income lost and other recovery needs. When it comes to pedestrians, New York has particular safety guidelines in place. They are designed not only to reduce the number of injuries in the state but also may help to determine fault when an accident does happen.

Many laws apply equally to vehicle drivers and pedestrians. Others are distinct. For example, pedestrians are required to obey traffic signals, pavement markings and other traffic signs. They may share most public highways with motor vehicles but not parkways, expressways or interstate highways. If there aren't sidewalks, a person must walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.

Distracted driving in New York: Hands-free doesn’t help

Experts note that New York will soon have some of the most stringent penalties in the country for vehicle operators charged with distracted driving. The fact is people have always allowed themselves to be distracted while driving with such things as music, conversation with passengers, reading a map and eating or drinking. What may be different now is the combination of cellphone use and increased traffic on roadways has made it a more dangerous undertaking. Car accidents caused by someone who is texting and driving are on the increase, and recent studies are supporting the fact that even hands-free communication may be to blame.

According to the American Automobile Association, three out of four drivers believe hands-free technology is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. But a new research study indicates the opposite may be true – it actually increases mental distraction. The AAA study finds that current shortcomings in voice-based technologies, intended as safety features, are likely to cause unintended higher cognitive distraction. It has already been proven by researchers that drivers can miss stop signs and red lights, as well as pedestrians and even other vehicles, because their minds are not fully engaged in operating the car or truck.

Tractor-trailer accident leads to fight for trucker safety

It doesn't matter if you're a New York resident or live elsewhere. Drivers and parents can easily relate to the pain, anger and frustration a mother has been feeling since two of her daughters were killed in a highway accident involving semi-trucks. Without celebrity fame creating national headlines about her loss, this mother of nine has been steadfastly pressuring United States lawmakers to devise and enforce safer trucking practices and improve equipment.

Her fight reportedly began after the 2013 accident. She and three of her children were traveling a southern highway when a tractor-trailer rear-ended their car. It spun around and was forced under the trailer of another semi-truck. One teen, 17, died on the scene. Her 13-year-old sister passed away a few days later. Reports are the 59-year-old slowed her car because of an accident ahead. A truck hauling automobiles attempted to change lanes when, according to the police report, it swiped the Crown Victoria. As it spun around, the truck hit it again. The trucker was charged with failure to maintain a lane and two homicide by vehicle counts. The case is pending.

What does New York alternative dispute resolution mean?

The New York State Unified Court System provides plaintiffs and defendants, insurance companies, injured persons and other parties with some options in lieu of trial. These creative out-of-court solutions can sometimes help to resolve conflicts and aid in reaching settlement agreements in personal injury cases such as motor vehicle or pedestrian accidents.

Known as alternative dispute resolution, this option can be chosen voluntarily. An experienced review of the circumstances with legal counsel will help determine its likelihood to succeed. Often when settlement negotiations don't work and a lawsuit is filed, a court will order ADR is tried first.

Is a lawyer necessary to file a lawsuit in New York?

Many New Yorkers find themselves faced with personal injury, the loss of a loved one or extensive property damage that happened as a result of someone's negligence or deliberate action. Sometimes, criminal charges are filed against the at-fault person. Other times, it is strictly a civil matter, and insurance companies are responsible to pay for losses. The most serious occurrences often end up as wrongful death claims that eventually lead to trial.

A question often on the minds of injured parties is whether or not they need an attorney if they want to file a lawsuit. The simple answer is no, it isn't required by the New York judiciary. Without legal counsel representing a claimant, he or she is known as self-represented or pro se. What a person might wish to consider, however, is exactly what is involved, and what is at stake for the family.