Category: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Injured in an accident? We can help. From car accidents, workers’ comp claims, construction accidents to medical malpractice and police misconduct, we have you covered. Check out our blog for helpful tips and examples of claims, including many related to motor vehicle accidents.

traffic accident with 18 wheeler

Legal Alert: 3 Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

In today’s article, we look at some of the causes of accidents involving motor vehicles, along with some ways you can minimize the risk of getting into an accident.

Failing to Maintain Lane Position.

Changing lanes without regard for other road users is one of the top causes of motor vehicle accidents around NYC. From blind spots to high speed, several factors may contribute to a driver making the decision to change lanes before checking if it’s safe to do so. We encourage all motorists to understand the importance of exercising extreme caution prior to switching from one lane to another.

To limit the risk of an accident, follow these tips

  • Use your turning signals prior to switching from one lane to another. Turning signals are a way to communicate to other road users of your intention.
  • Only change one lane at a time, as other drivers may assume you’re only changing a single lane.
  • Never cross lanes separated by solid lines.
  • Never change lanes in an intersection or even close to an intersection.
  • Be sure to maintain your current speed while changing lanes.


This is New York – our life is packed with social and professional events, and sometimes drivers try to make up time by speeding. Going faster than the posted speed limit is dangerous (not to mention illegal), but so is driving too fast for the prevailing conditions. If it’s snowing or pouring with rain, you’ll want to reduce your speed accordingly.

Some tips on how to drive at a safe speed include:

  • Leave a few minutes early to reach your appointment on time. A side benefit is that you arrive relaxed and ready to fully engage with your friends, coworkers or client.
  • Watch your speed. Even if others are speeding around you, don’t feel socially pressured to do the same. Chances are they’ll get tangled in a fender bender at some point.
  • At lower speeds, even if you get into a crash, the consequences will be less severe, especially if it involves a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist. A pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of survival if hit by a vehicle moving at 20 mph, decreases to 70 percent at 25 mph, and less than 20 percent at 30 mph.
  • Recognize what makes you speed – keeping up with traffic, overtaking or being tailgated.

Distractions While Driving

Eating is a common distraction among drivers. With so many fast-food places along your route, it can be difficult to resist. Perhaps you brought a couple of bagels from home plus some coffee. You’re in a hurry to get to where you need to be. Dropped food and hot liquid spills are huge distractions, causing you to lose focus on driving.

A cellphone is probably the number one reason for distracted driving. The use of any hand-held cellular device while driving is prohibited on any New York road. Anyone who violates this law will be issued a traffic violation, pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225c, which will carry a fine of up to $200. Additionally, there will be points assessed to the offender’s driver’s license and driving record.

Tips on how to reduce the chances of distractions include:

  • Leave for your appointment a few minutes early and have a quick light snack before you leave your home or office.
  • Place your cellphone in the back seat or away in a bag. Out of sight, out of mind.

While we may never reduce road accidents to zero, each of us as responsible drivers can do our part to help make the NYC roads a little bit safer.

In the event you do get into an accident on the roads which caused injuries, possibly loss of time at work or other traumatic events, please reach out to our experienced legal team. With decades of experience helping victims of car accidents, let us give you a free case evaluation to see if you’re eligible for compensation.

vehicle accident insurance claim form

Must-Know & Best-Kept Secrets: Car Insurance Coverage

Car insurance coverage… what insurance companies don’t want you to know

.. and everyone should know

If you are like most people, you did not read the declaration pages of your car insurance policy, and therefore, there is a good likelihood that you are not carrying a sufficient amount of insurance. Well, you should read it!

Let us go through the different coverages:

Bodily Injury Liability (each person/each occurrence)

This is the coverage limit if you cause damage to someone else. In NY the minimum limits required are $25,000 ($25K) per person and $50,000 ($50K) per occurrence or accident. That means if you injure only 1 person, the most they can get is $25K, if you injure 2 people they can each get a maximum of $25K and if you injure 3 or more people, they would have to share a maximum of $50K.

Let’s face it; those limits are absurd in today’s economic times. In my opinion, no one in NY should be driving with less than a $100K/300K limit or preferably a $300K single limit policy, so that although the maximum limit per occurrence is $300K, there is no maximum per person limit.

Property Damage Liability

This coverage is for property damage you may cause to another car and/or property. In my opinion $100K should be the minimum limit to carry.

Basic Personal Injury Protection

The minimum in NY which everyone gets is $50K in No Fault benefits (covers all medical expenses associated with your treatment as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. The host vehicle’s policy covers those benefits. If you are injured as a pedestrian, then the insurance carrier of the car that struck you is the primary carrier for the N/F benefits. In addition, you get up to $2K in monthly lost wages (calculated at 80% of you monthly salary not to exceed $2K per month if you are unable to work as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.)

Those are minimums, but in my opinion, if you earn more than $30K a year, you should get APIP. Additional Personal Injury Protection doubles all of the benefits you are entitled to under No Fault (up to $100K in medicals, up to $4K in monthly lost wages etc).

Supplementary Uninsured (UI)/Underinsured Motorist Insurance (SUM)

That offers you coverage in the event that you get injured in an accident involving a car without insurance or with limited insurance coverages. Insurance companies don’t like to talk about these coverages (because they lose money on those) and regardless of how much in liability insurance you carry, they give you, the insured, only the minimum $25K/50K limits.

What that means is that even if you carry for example a $300K single limit liability policy to insure others, if you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured car, the most you would be covered for yourself is $25K.

Therefore, your UI, SUM limits should equal what your Bodily injury Liability Limits are.

So for example, if you have a $300K UI and SUM limit and you are injured by a car that is not insured, you will be covered for bodily injury claims up to $300K. If you are injured by a car carrying for example the minimum $25K bodily injury limits, if they tender their full policy, you have the availability to go after the SUM limits for another $75K.

I know this sounds complicated. If you have any questions about your car insurance policy, call me to discuss.

car rear ended on streets

Albany Lobby Day – May 17 2016

Together with other plaintiffs’ lawyers who are members of the New York State Trial Association, I went up to Albany to speak with lawmakers and advocate for the following changes in the law:

Car insurance

A family struggling to make ends meet can ill afford to bear the costs of an accident, which can include medical bills, lost income or property damage. Medicaid and other State benefits should not have to cover costs that should be addressed by automobile insurance. NYSTLA supports bills that address the need for adequate insurance and protect consumers, including, but not limited to the following bills:

  • Increased protection to injured drivers passengers and pedestrians by increasing insurance liability limits to require minimum insurance coverage for limousines to be a single minimum requirement of $1.5 million for bodily injury or death for one or more persons and property damage. Currently New York is far behind the times (requiring coverage of only $120,000 for two or more injured passengers if the vehicle seats 13-20 passengers.)
  • Increase insurance liability limits on rental cars to $1 million.
  • Increase the minimum required coverage for automobiles to $250,000 for a bodily injury and $500,000 for a death, and to $500,000 for bodily injury and $1 million for death of two or more persons in a single accident, plus $25,000 for property damage, as proposed in (Increased from the current $25,000/$50,000.00 coverage currently in effect.)
  • Institute a requirement that insurers include with the policy supplemental spousal liability coverage equal to the bodily injury insurance coverage, but notify consumers that they may decline such coverage in writing. Provides a more useful, modern definition of what constitutes “Serious Injury” under the NY No Fault Threshold law, and clarify that serious injury is a question of fact, thus allowing a seriously injured person to seek justice in court.
  • Sunshine Act: A bill that would require greater transparency from Insurance Companies and provide the public and policy makers need readily available, detailed and transparent information on auto insurance claims and costs to make informed policy decisions and purchasing choices, and to monitor the industry for fair treatment.

Pass fair claims settlement legislation

A proposed fair claims law would give policy holders some extra peace of mind. When a fire or extreme weather damages a home, it’s common for the insurance company to dispute the amount of the claim – especially in New York.

New York’s consumer-unfriendly insurance laws give insurers an incentive to drag out the settlement process. That’s because claimants have to pay out of their own pockets when they need expert help to resolve a dispute. If they hire an architect or engineer to support their claim or a lawyer to fight the insurance company, those costs are effectively subtracted from the final settlement. The result: Even when they win, they are not made whole.

In 42 other states, the added costs of reaching a fair settlement can be tacked onto the insurance payout. In those states, insurance companies are motivated to quickly and fairly settle disputed claims, according to advocates for reform of New York’s insurance laws. Here, it’s often so difficult and costly to challenge a low-ball settlement offer that many consumers just take what money they can get and walk away.

Advocates of reform legislation introduced in the state Senate and Assembly say that’s why insurance companies that do business in New York are so profitable. They return only 43 cents on each dollar of collected premiums, compared to the national average of about 65 cents paid out to policyholders.

This bill would create a civil remedy for New Yorkers who are harmed by an insurer’s delay or denial of a claim when the delay or denial was “not substantially justified”. For example, the bill would hold an insurer accountable if they:

  • Fail to settle a claim promptly and fairly where the insurer’s responsibility is clear;
  • Fail to provide a written denial of claim that explains the reason for that denial
  • Fail to determine the value of, and responsibility for, a claim within 6 months
  • Compel a policyholder to bring a lawsuit to recover on a legitimate claim by offering a low- ball settlement

In addition, this proposed bill would forbid the insurer who has to pay compensatory damages to a policyholder from passing on those costs to consumers in higher premiums.

Date of discovery

This bill would provide that a medical malpractice action accrues when one knows or should have known of the alleged negligent act or omission and knows or should have known that said negligent act has caused an injury and not the current law which provides that an action for medical malpractice must be commenced within two years and six months of the alleged negligent act, even if the patient is unaware that the negligent act has occurred.

  • This proposed bill provides that the 2 1/2 year statute of limitations begins to run when the patient knows or should have known an alleged negligent act has caused injury. However, the bill prevents any malpractice claim from being filed more than 10 years after the negligent act. This is a fair, common sense rule.
  • The current statute provides exceptions for continuous treatment and foreign objects wherein the statute of limitations starts to run after the last treatment or discovery of the object, although both exceptions are limited in scope and have been narrowly construed by the courts.
  • The current statute prevents seriously injured individuals from receiving just compensation simply because they did not discover the negligence or the injury until after the statute of limitations has expired. This injustice manifests itself in cancer cases where x-rays are misread and patients are advised they are fine.
  • The current statute of limitations is an archaic rule, 44 other states apply some form of discovery rule. New York, together with Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota and South Dakota are the only states with no discovery rule.

Grieving families

New York’s Wrongful Death Law was enacted in 1847 and has not been updated to reflect the greater value we now place on human life. NY currently allows grieving families to recover only for the lost income from a family member who died. This values the lives of high wage earners over those who earn little or nothing, such as children, homemakers and senior citizens. The Grieving Families Act would allow families to be compensated for the profound emotional loss and grief caused by a wrongdoer caused by a loved one’s death.

Many other states allow grieving families to be compensated for their profound emotional loss, and several other states are considering legislation to allow families to be compensated for grief and emotional pain. We want to bring NY to the 21st century.

vehicle damaged in accident

Collision Trial on Damages & Plaintiff Directed Verdict was Denied

Rear end collision, directed verdict for plaintiff should have been granted

Trial on the issue of damages only is ordered.

Clarke v Phillips (2013 NY Slip Op 08585)

Decided on December 26, 2013


(Index No. 7516/10)

[*1]Jellicoe Clarke, appellant,


Derek J. Phillips, respondent.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the plaintiff appeals from (1) a judgment of the Supreme Court, Dutchess County which denied the plaintiff’s request for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence at trial and which resulted in a verdict in favor of the defendant.

The AD ordered the judgment reversed, the complaint is reinstated, the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law is granted, and the matter is remitted to the Supreme Court, Dutchess County, for a trial on the issue of damages and for an appropriate amended judgment thereafter.

This case involves a rear-end collision between two cars. At trial, the plaintiff testified that his car was fully stopped at a red traffic light, that he remained stopped even after the light turned green to let pedestrians finish crossing the street, and that his car was then struck in the rear by the defendant’s car.

The defendant testified that, prior to the accident, his car was fully stopped behind the plaintiff’s car, and when the traffic light changed to green, the plaintiff’s car began to move forward and the defendant, in turn, moved forward. As he began to move forward, the defendant saw a group of pedestrians on the sidewalk to the right, and he turned his head to the right for a split second to make sure that no one darted out in front of him. When he brought his attention back to the road ahead of him, he saw that the plaintiff’s car had come to a stop because a pedestrian had run out in front of the plaintiff. The defendant could not stop his vehicle in time to avoid the accident.

The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of evidence. The jury found that the defendant was negligent, but that his negligence was not a proximate cause of the accident. A judgment was entered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff, dismissing the complaint. Thereafter, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s subsequent motion pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside the verdict and for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability or, in the alternative, to set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial.

A trial court’s grant of a motion for judgment as a matter of law is appropriate where the trial court finds that, upon the evidence presented, there is no rational process by which the fact trier could base a finding in favor of the nonmoving party.

A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence with respect to the operator of the moving car and imposes a duty on that driver to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a nonnegligent explanation for the collision.

Here, the AD found that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, there is no rational process by which the jury could find that the defendant had a nonnegligent explanation for the accident, or that the plaintiff was, to any extent, at fault in the happening of the accident. Thus, the accident was attributable to the defendant’s own inattentiveness in taking his eyes off the road in front of him, and not to any negligence on the part of the plaintiff

Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the plaintiff’s motion for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of evidence.

For all correspondence, please use the Queens office address.

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