Month: May 2013

Alcohol-Related Accidents, Injuries & Fatalities

Few errors in judgment affect others so detrimentally as drunk driving. When an individual makes the decision to drink and drive, they put everyone on the road in danger including other drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

In New York State, a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle can be considered legally impaired if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.05%. Once their BAC is 0.08% or greater, they are considered legally intoxicated.

In 2011, drunk drivers caused approximately 10,000 deaths in the United States with 315 fatalities occurring in New York State. According to MADD, every 2 minutes someone is hurt in an alcohol-related accident, with injuries including minor bumps and bruises, broken bones or trauma to the neck, brain and spinal cord. 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives.

Young people are most at risk of being involved with drivers 21 to 24 years of age most likely to be intoxicated during a fatal crash. Most states have a zero tolerance policy for underage drivers. Other common offenders are motorcyclists and drivers who have previous convictions for drunk driving. While a majority of DWI arrests involve men, a report by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation reveals that DUI and DWI arrests for women rose nearly 30% from 2000-2010. In total, there were 35,541 arrests in 2011 in New York related to driving under the influence.

Drunk drivers tend to take greater risks than sober drivers
including driving aggressively, speeding, ignoring traffic signals
or even falling asleep at the wheel. The NYC police department reports that every month about 100 traffic accidents involve alcohol.
These can be especially deadly due to heavy rush hour traffic, road construction and scores of pedestrians on the road.

While the criminal justice system will punish drunk driving with jail sentences, heavy fines and fees, license suspension and/or treatment programs, it may fail to fully address the financial burden the accident and resultant injuries have on innocent victims.

Many choose to pursue a civil action against the parties responsible. This may not just involve the intoxicated driver. In some instances, bar or restaurant owners who over-serve customers, hosts of social gatherings or employers at work-related events who allow a clearly intoxicated person to leave in their car may also have some liability. Medical bills, repair of damages, loss of wages and wrongful death compensation are just some of the costs that may be recoverable from those responsible.

Okun, Oddo & Babat specializes in the representation of victims who have suffered serious personal injuries. We represent accident victims in all areas of personal injury arising out of automobile accidents, medical malpractice, hospital negligence, defective products and drugs, premises liability, construction site accidents and wrongful death. We handle civil litigation and trials in both the State and Federal Courts. We also offer high quality representation in all types of criminal and commercial matters. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our New York attorneys.

Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.

Property Owner’s Responsibility For Slips & Falls

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every 8 seconds someone is hurt by a slip and fall. The odds that you will have a slip and fall accident requiring medical attention in a given year are 1 in 35. Injuries sustained from this type of accident can range from minor scrapes and bruises to broken bones, fractures, head and spinal cord trauma or even death.

The CDC reports that falls account for nearly 8 million visits to the emergency room each year, or 33.3% of all visits. In 2011, falls were the number one cause of non-fatal injuries. Of these incidents, approximately 1 million involved slipping. Slips are often caused by insufficient friction between the ground and a person’s shoes as a result of a slick floor, spill or poor treading. A fall involves a complete loss of balance, sometimes from a platform higher than ground level.

In the United States, there are more than 21,000 fatalities each year as a result of slip and fall accidents. While injuries are equal among men and women, studies show that men are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents.

Seniors and children are more likely to be involved in a slip and fall accident. 40% of all nursing home admissions are a result of care needed after a fall, and approximately 2 million Americans over 65 are treated in emergency rooms annually after falling. They are the 6th leading cause of death among people over 70, with nearly 1,800 older Americans succumbing to injuries each year.

Slips & Falls in the Workplace
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that slips and falls are consistently in the top 4 causes of death in workplaces and in 2011 resulted in 58% of disabling injuries. Employees were forced to miss more than 30 days of work in 25% of these cases. Though slips and falls are not the most common cause of workplace fatalities, they are the cause of most work-related time off. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Organization, they cost employers an estimated $70 billion in compensation costs each year.

Workplace accidents are not the only instances where another party may be liable for damages. With any slip and fall that occurs in a public space such as a restaurant, store, hotel, etc. where the establishment has not provided safe conditions, a lawsuit may be pursued. Negligence in these cases includes slick or uneven floors, obstacles scattered in walking areas, poor lighting and failure to adequately remove hazards caused by weather.

When slips and falls are caused by a property owner’s failure to provide a safe environment for pedestrians or during performance at work, the victim should pursue compensation for any medical bills incurred. Wherever they happen, slips and falls can result in missed work, disability, the need for long-term care and pain and suffering damages that should be recovered.

Contact Okun, Oddo & Babat to arrange an appointment with an experienced New York attorney to review the details of your case.

Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.

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Birth Defects: Cerebral Palsy

There are few things as precious to new parents as their baby’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, many face the unexpected challenge of birth defects that will deeply impact the child’s quality of life, living costs and risk factors for other medical conditions on an ongoing basis.

One of the most common disabilities in early development is cerebral palsy, often caused by damage to the brain during birth or when the baby is still in the mother’s womb.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70% of cases result from a disruption in the development of the brain before birth. A CerbralPalsy.org study reports out of every 1,000 children, 2 to 3 have one of the four types of cerebral palsy. Of the babies born each year, about 10,000 will develop the condition.

While there are several causes including fetal distress, asphyxia and meningitis, premature birth and related affects of premature birth are commonly involved. Prematurity does not necessarily mean a child will have cerebral palsy—about 7.6% of births occur prematurely– though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half of children who do develop cerebral palsy were born prematurely.

Since babies born before 37 weeks (or less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) are not fully developed, they are more susceptible to injury and have a higher risk of brain damage and infection. The lower the baby’s birth weight, the more danger they are in of developing the condition.

The cost over a lifetime of caring for an individual with cerebral palsy is nearly 1 million dollars, as estimated by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the expenses involved are not covered by insurance and can put a serious financial strain on a family. Often the child will need a constant caretaker and may require years of physical and emotional therapy.

In some cases, proper care during pregnancy and delivery may have prevented cerebral palsy. A baby’s brain can be damaged in the uterus by improper drug administration by a physician or inability by a medical professional to notice and treat premature labor.

Parent and child may have a right to receive compensation for cerebral palsy cases if a doctor fails to recognize and treat problems with a baby’s development. The attorneys at Okun, Oddo & Babat are highly skilled Medical Malpractice attorneys and will work diligently to pursue legal compensation on your behalf. Contact us for a consultation.

Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.

New York City Elevator Safety

In a highly-publicized incident in 2012, a New York City woman was fatally injured and five maintenance workers were fired after several security precautions were not followed during service on an elevator. This put the issue of elevator safety more prominently in the headlines and led to closer examination of the frequency and causes of such incidents state and nationwide.

Elevator accidents are very rare, so when one occurs there is a great deal of cause investigation and focus on future prevention.

With about 900,000 elevators in the United States used by 18 billion passengers each year, an average of 27 die in elevator accidents and 17,000 are injured according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For most New York City residents and workers, elevators are a necessary part of daily life with approximately 600,000 elevators and 2,000 escalators in the five boroughs. While elevators are generally a safe way to get from A to B, New York City has the highest number of individuals in the nation injured or killed while using elevators each year.

The most common cause of elevator accidents is poor maintenance resulting in open shafts, uneven platforms, faulty wiring or pulley systems, malfunctioning doors and other mechanical failures. More often than not, human error is a factor. Most incidents of injury or death caused by elevators could have been prevented by scheduled maintenance and standard safety measures.

Under the New York Premises Liability Law and per ASME, it is required that every elevator be inspected by a certified third party annually. Building owners are responsible for maintaining security standards and most have a contract with the manufacturer, installer or a maintenance company to meet these requirements. In certain cases of injury or fatality, accountability for damages may rest with one or more of these individuals or groups if they fail to address dangerous conditions.

Anyone involved in an elevator accident where negligence is a factor should seek to identify the responsible parties to receive compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost income. Contact Okun, Oddo & Babat for a consultation.

Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.

New York Bicycle Accidents

With warmer weather in the New York Metropolitan Area, more and more bicyclists are venturing out on the busy city streets, navigating car and heavy vehicle traffic. The city’s roads, parks and recreational areas, sadly, see an increase in injuries, many times involving motor vehicles and bicycles. Of course, bicyclists are also expected to observe all the same traffic laws as everyone else and to take safety precautions. However, violating a traffic regulation does not give a motorist the right to hit you. Drivers must exercise reasonable care to avoid bicycle accidents.

Understanding New York City Bicycle Laws 
Under the New York State Law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other vehicle operators. Drivers of motor vehicles are legally required to respect the fact that bicycles, even though they may be slower and smaller, have every right to be on the roads.

If you were hit by an impatient or otherwise negligent driver
while riding a bicycle, you may have a right to compensation
from that driver’s insurance company. 

At the law firm of Okun, Oddo & Babat, we help clients seek fair compensation from the drivers who are legally responsible for bicycle accidents.  Contact us or call us at 212.642.0950 today to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Learn more about Bicycle Safety to avoid bicycle injuries and fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.