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The Perecman Firm

New York, NY Personal Injury Blog

Winter Driving in New York: How to Avoid Being in A Car Accident

The National Weather Service reported that parts of New York State are being hit with near record snowfall.   These winter storms make driving extremely hazardous. According to CNN News (11.19.14) one person has already died due to an automobile accident linked to the harsh weather.

The aftermath of a winter storm on an area can have an impact for days, weeks, or even months. Storm effects can include extremely cold temperatures, snow accumulation, and ice.

Driving in harsh winter weather is difficult no matter how experienced a driver is. However, there are a number of proactive measures that drivers can take to help prevent a car accident while driving in the snow and ice.

Motorists should make sure that their vehicles are properly maintained. The headlights, tail lights and turn signals of the car all need to be in working order. Tires need to be in good condition and properly inflated. It’s also important that drivers clear the snow and ice off their cars, including the hood, windows, mirrors, reflectors, lights, roof and trunk. Drivers should also allow sufficient time for the windows to defrost before driving.

When out on the road, motorists need to understand that it will take much longer to stop when the roadway has snow or ice on it. Driving too fast for weather conditions is a common cause of car accidents. Accidents can be avoided if drivers give extra space between their vehicles and other vehicles in front of them. The more space, the more time a driver has to react. Then, if a driver needs to stop, he or she can do so without having to slam on the brakes. Sudden stops may result in the loss of control of the vehicle, which can lead to an accident. When sharing a road with a snowplow, drivers should allow a safe distance of at least five car-lengths in front of their vehicles.

Parents should discuss

Orthodox Jewish Man Attacked In Hate Crime At Brooklyn Subway Station

A teenager was charged with assault as a hate crime for an alleged anti-Semitic attack in Brooklyn. The victim, a 53-year-old Orthodox Jewish man from Israel, was attacked in a Williamsburg subway station, reported ABC News (11.19.14).

ABC News reported that the suspect allegedly said, “He looked at me, so I got upset and attacked him.”

The victim said three men approached him from behind while he was waiting for the train at the Marcy Avenue station. The Israeli national said he was called a “dirty bloody Jew” and spit at, before being hit with two umbrellas and punched.  He was not seriously injured in the attack.

The other two suspects are still being sought by the police.

The attack came the night before two Palestinian terrorists with a gun and butcher knives attacked worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue, killing four rabbis and a policeman.  Three Americans died in the attack.

Williamsburg is known for its diversity, including a large Orthodox Jewish population.  Interestingly, The New Republic (9.5.14) did a study to find the most racially diverse building in America.  With the help of TargetSmart, a political data firm, they screened voter and consumer registration files.  The most diverse building was found to be 31 Leonard Street in Williamsburg.  The 22-story building had 586 residents who were almost evenly divided by race into thirds: 33.1 percent white, 31.1 percent East Asian, 30.3 percent Hispanic, and 4.3 percent African American.

In New York, hate crimes are defined because their victims were targeted due to their real or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.

Hate crime statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program show that there were 715 hate crimes reported in New York State in 2012. New York City reported 260 incidents related to religion.

Across the U.S., hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,166 offenses reported by

U2 Lead Singer Bono Seriously Injured in Central Park Bike Accident

U2 lead singer Bono, 54, had a cycling accident in New York City’s Central Park.   He required five hours of surgery following the accident.

According to Fox News (11.17.14), the band publicized the incident in a short statement on the official U2 website. The post, which was attributed to guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen, said that they had to reschedule their appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” because they were “one man down.”

The New York Daily News provided an accident update on November 19. The tabloid reported that Bono “was zipping through the park when he swerved to avoid another rider.” The singer broke his shoulder in three places, shattered his left upper arm bone in six places, and broke a bone near his left eye. The accident was described as a “high energy” accident by doctors.

Bono’s accident should serve as a caution to other cyclists warned Men’s Journal (11.17.14). Bikers who are seeking to ride safely around a city should avoid multi-use urban spaces like Central Park because it and parks like it “are usually the most dangerous place in the city for bikers.”

To support this claim, the magazine cited a 2009 meta-review from the University of British Columbia that looked at types of infrastructure and crashes. The study found that multi-use trails that mixed pedestrian and bike paths posed the highest risk for cyclists, making parks more dangerous than major roads.

Bike crash statistics from the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) show that Central Park had 5.5 times as many single-bike crashes and five times as many bike-on-bike crashes as the next area in 2013. In bike-pedestrian crashes, Central Park and the Midtown South precinct shared the lead.

Men’s Journal recommends that Central Park cyclists ride between 6 and7 am on weekdays to avoid accidents. To reduce injuries and fatalities at all times, everyone using the park

David Perecman Weighs In After School Loses Special Needs Child

A mother in Atlanta, Georgia blamed a middle school for her 12-year-old son’s disappearance. The woman’s son, Jonathan Hilliard, is autistic.  Attorney at Law David Perecman understands her frustration and urges schools to do more to protect children with special needs.

At the end of the school day in Georgia, Jonathan decided to walk home from school, which is more than four miles away.  His mother, Catrina Hilliard, said she found him walking nearly two miles away from the Memorial Middle School’s campus. The family was alerted after the boy’s teacher called his father because the school knew he had not boarded his school bus. Jonathan was found walking on a “winding road about to cross a narrow bridge with a low railing and no sidewalk,” reported Fox News (11.13.14).

This event comes after similar incidents in New York, all of which also occurred during a transition period at school.

“There seems to be gaps in the protocol covering the supervision of special needs children at a number of schools,” said Perecman.  “However, schools must provide reasonable and necessary supervision for them, especially during transition periods. Special needs children have challenges with safety awareness and this can result in potential harm or injury.”

In October, Dyasha Smith, 21, a student with autism choked on a muffin at her school in Brooklyn, New York at lunchtime, said The New York Times (10.29.14).  Before her death, Dyasha’s mother had let the school know that they needed to cut up her daughter’s food.

In September, Nashaly Perez, 15, a special needs student in Brooklyn wandered off from her New York City school and was found unharmed three days later at her friend’s house, reported The Wall Street Journal (9.18.14). Nashaly walked out a back door during lunchtime.

In January, Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic student, was tragically found in the East River months after he disappeared from his school in Queens after lunch,

Safety Questioned After Fracking Accident Kills One Worker and Seriously Injures Two

As municipalities in New York consider whether to ban fracking or accept it in their communities, an industrial accident at a fracking site in Weld County, Colorado killed one worker and seriously injured two others. ABC News (11.13.14) reported that work crews were trying to thaw out a frozen high pressure water line when it ruptured causing about 2,500 to 3,500 psi (pounds per square inch of water pressure) to come out.

The fracking site was on an Anadarko Petroleum well lite.  The injured crew worked for Halliburton. As a precautionary measure, Anadarko suspended all fracking operations in the area following the accident. Both the accident and the cause of the rupture were under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as others.

Municipalities in New York have the right to choose to ban the natural-gas extraction method. In June 2014, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, determined that each municipality has a right to decide whether or not to ban drilling. This was upheld in a 5-2 decision, reported The Wall Street Journal (6.30.14). The decision of the court in Matter of Norse Energy Corp. USA, v. Town of Dryden, 2014 NY Slip Op 04875, allows municipalities to use zoning laws to ban the hydraulic fracturing. More than 170 towns and cities in New York have either banned or passed a moratorium on fracking.

Fracking opponents argue that water supplies are threatened by the process, which drives millions of gallons of high pressure fluids underground to crack open the shale formations that hold natural gas. Fracking fluid contains water, chemical additives and sand. Injecting the fluid into the earth may also cause hazardous gas emissions and seismic activity near the wells.

Energy companies contend that fracking is safe when done properly.

Fracking must be safe for both workers and surrounding communities. Fracking has resulted in contamination of ground water and surface water

Tractor-Trailer Crosses Pedestrian Bridges and GPS is Blamed

A lost driver of a tractor-trailer ended up on a pedestrian bridge in the middle of a Milwaukee park.  The driver told police his GPS navigation system led him there, reported ABC News (11.14.14).

The driver steered the truck onto a walkway in and over two bridges. Apparently, the driver had to drive over service roads and gravel roads before reaching the bridges.  He damaged some trees and the railings on both foot bridges.

The driver, 50, was fined for reckless driving and failure to obey signs, police said, according to ABC.

Many drivers rely on GPS navigation systems and have used it to replace maps as the easiest way to navigate.  However, there are more and more reports about the devices routing users into lakes, onto train tracks, down closed roads, or the wrong way on a one-way street. In separate incidents in 2008, two Metro-North trains collided with cars whose drivers did what they were told by their GPS units.  Without question they followed the devices instruction to “turn right” onto train tracks in Westchester County, NY, reported The New York Times (9.30.08).

Dependence on GPS devices can result in an increased risk for accidents if drivers rely more on what their device tells them and less on their common sense or their own eyes.

One of the most common human errors when it comes to using a GPS unit is overconfidence in the intelligence of a navigation system. GPS devices are fallible, due in part to possible satellite communication errors and outdated or inaccurate maps. Even when maps are current, some mapping and navigation information does not take into account road types.

Of course, there are some drivers who may blame a GPS for their mistakes when, in reality, their driving is to blame. Driver inattention and distraction increase accident risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that driver distraction plays a role in approximately 16

David Perecman Weighs In On Rescue Of Window Washers From Dangling Scaffold On 68th Floor Of One World Trade Center

Window washing is one of the most hazardous occupations.

Rescuers cut through three layers of glass torescue a pair of window washers, who became trapped on a scaffold near the 68th floor of One World Trade Center. Both workers suffered only mild hypothermia. The accident emphasized the importance of safety devices and safety measures for window washers and other workers who conduct their jobs at great heights, said Attorney at Law David Perecman.

The two workers were trapped after slack developed on the left side of the scaffolding, causing it to tilt dangerously. Scaffold contractor Upgrade Services believed the slack may have been caused by an equipment failure in the traction hoist brake mechanism, which supports one side of the rig, reported CBS News (11.12.14).  In other words, the cables on the basket did not descend at the same speed, causing the cable on one end to go slack.

“Human error causes some scaffolding accidents, but this particular incident appears to have been caused by a mechanical defect,” said Perecman. “However, whatever the cause of the accident, the presence of a safety tether meant the difference between a minor injury and catastrophe.”

Emergency responders from the Police and Fire departments, along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey worked together to rescue the workers and secure the scaffold platform.

First responders worked on two rescue options simultaneously. They tried to lower a rescue basket and transfer the workers to it safely, as well as cut through the three panes of glass.  The FDNY cut through the glass before the second scaffolding was lowered, using diamond saws on two of the panes.

Section 202 of the New York Labor Law requires the building owner, lessee, agent and manager of every public building and every contractor involved to provide safe means for the cleaning of the windows and of the exterior surface of the building. Under the statue,

Audit Shows Safety Measures Not Fully Implemented After Two Crane Accidents

In an effort to make construction in New York safer following two Manhattan crane collapses in 2008 that killed a total of nine people, the Department of Buildings spent $5.8 million to hire private consultants and implement their recommendations, reported the New York Daily News (11.10.14).

The recommendations would have improved safety at construction worksites, as well as helped to protect pedestrians and others from potential construction accidents.

However, a recent audit by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer‘s office found that a number of safety changes were not implemented even though safety would have been improved. Four years after the report was issued, only eight of the 65 recommendations were fully in place. Seventeen other recommendations were partially implemented and 18 were in progress.

Safety needs to be a top priority on any construction site.

CTL Engineers & Construction Technology Consultants (CTL) were the experts hired by the Department of Buildings to prepare the safety report after the two fatal crane accidents.

Safety is important on all construction projects for the protection of workers, for a safe work environment and, even, for controlling construction costs. Workers should not need to worry about their safety nor should pedestrians or residents walking by or living near a construction site. A dedicated commitment to safety also helps ensure project success and can significantly impact the bottom-line. Injuries cause high dollar losses. Implementing various safety procedures can help contractors and others avoid these costs.

In March 2008, a construction crane toppled and smashed through several residential buildings on E. 51st St., killing seven people and injuring 24. In May, a crane collapsed on E. 91st St., killing two construction workers and critically injuring one.

At the time the study was green-lighted, buildings officials said they would implement 49 of the 65 changes within two years, according to the audit.

According to the New York Daily News, some changes that were

Nissan Urged To Withdraw New Datsun Go From The Market

The Datsun Go is a new budget hatchback produced by Nissan.

Cars have gotten less dangerous over the years with inventions such as seat belts, padded dash surfaces, airbags and anti-lock brakes.  Some of today’s vehicles even actively try to avoid a crash. Then there is the Datsun Go, a brand new car that is likely one of the least safe cars ever made.  In its recent crash test by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) safety group it received an adult safety rating of zero out of five stars and just two stars for child safety.

The car is so badly made that the Global NCAP is calling for an “urgent withdrawal” of the “sub-standard” hatchback.

Made by Nissan, the Datsun Go was designed for the Indian-market and marketed as cheap transportation.  It features a 1.2-liter engine and prices starting around 400,000 rupees (around $6,500).  The little car also poses a huge risk of injury in a crash.

According to Jalopnik (11.7.14), the NCAP said that the car carries with it “a high probability of life-threatening injuries” in the event of an accident.  The Datsun Go has no airbags meaning in the event of an accident the driver’s head will hit the steering wheel and dashboard.  The car also has no anti-lock brakes.  The main problem, however, appears to be the shell of the car.  As NCAP notes on the website, “the failure of the body shell makes it redundant to fit an airbag.”

A video shows the 40-mile-per-hour test from multiple angles.   As Jalopnik described the visual, the car “completely crumpled like an accordion” in the test.

Global NCAP Chairman Max Mosley said, “As presently engineered the Datsun Go will certainly fail to pass the United Nation’s [sic] frontal impact regulation. In these circumstances I would urge Nissan to withdraw the Datsun Go from sale in India pending an urgent redesign of the car’s body-shell.”


Older People Can Prevent Falls and Resulting Injuries

Loose rugs are a common cause of serious falls in the home.

Being more careful is only part of the prevention of falls for people 65 and older. Experts who have studied falls recommend that people take measures to protect themselves from falls, like they do to protect themselves against heart disease or viral infections, reported The New York Times (11.3.14).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that adults over 65 years of age have the highest number of fatal falls. Among older adults, falls are actually the top cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries.

Regular exercise classes can help, especially those that include balance drills, such as standing on one foot. Studies have shown tai chi may reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%, said Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Tai chi involves very slow, purposeful movements in coordination with breathing and muscle activity.

Integrating balance and strength work into daily life, like standing on one foot while brushing teeth, for example, can help as well.

Several studies have shown that vitamin D reduces falls. According to WebMD, taking a certain number of Vitamin D supplements a day may make falling 19% less likely for people aged 65 and older.

Medical management is an important aspect of fall prevention. The New York Times said people on multiple medications or blood pressure medication can be at especially high risk of falling. One recommendation to reduce falls is for elderly patients to discuss their drugs with their physician, with a thought towards lowering dosages or eliminating unnecessary medications. Also, remaining appropriately hydrated, particularly on hot days or for people at risk for low blood pressure is important.

Identifying risk factors and utilizing prevention tips can help to avoid falls.  This strategy includes reducing the number of trip, slip and fall hazards