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Death Rate From Traffic Accidents in 2020 Highest in Nearly 100 Years

2020 was a hard year for everyone, and surprisingly, one of the most dangerous places to be was on the road. While many were at home, there was far less congestion, but drivers drove less carefully, and the death toll from car wrecks was 24% higher than in 2019.

According to the National Safety Council, the death toll jumped from 38,800 to 42,060 people on U.S. roads from 2019 to 2020. Because there were far fewer drivers, this upped the percentage of road fatalities to the highest it has been since before 4-wheel brakes were introduced nearly a century ago.

There were several factors that contributed to these statistics. In the beginning, cities rushed to create a variety of accessibility options for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to find a way to get out and still function while socially distancing. These included make-shift bike lanes, car light shows, and others like them designed to stem traffic congestion. However, as the pandemic wore on, these measures grew unsustainable. As the traffic lanes opened up, it became apparent that the number one hazard was the design of roads that enabled high-speed driving without taking other hazards into consideration. For safer driving habits to become permanent, changes need to be made, such as stronger federal laws requiring better safety features like collision warning on new cars and ignition interlock systems to prevent drunk driving and discourage repeat offenders.

The numbers were high across the nation, but five parts of the country showed heavier concentrations of deadly accidents. Accidents occurred at rates of 30% or higher than the previous year in Washington D.C., South Dakota, and Vermont, while Rhode Island and Arkansas increased at rates of 26%. The data clearly shows that something must be done.

The National Safety Council also noted that there are some tighter measures that could also curb other contributing factors such as restricting the rules for getting a driver’s license for teenagers, creating ways to cut down on cell phone usage behind the wheel with better laws and technology designed to protect motorists. Some of these features can be had in some cars, but they are not available across the board. If the nation is serious about saving lives on the road, these elements must be taken into consideration so everyone can enjoy the roads more safely.

As Americans seek to recover and learn from the hardships of the past twelve months, focusing on traffic safety is an important first step. There are countless ways we can improve, and the first is to take this death-toll spike seriously. If everyone were to reach out to their elected officials on every level to shine a light on this issue and demand changes be made, those who lost their lives did not do so in vain. Making our laws more targeted, our infrastructure more supported, and our cars more advanced will enrich the lives of our communities and allow more people to enjoy the road.

2020 Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship Winner

After evaluating hundreds of submissions, we have selected the winner for our Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship for 2020. This year’s winner is a young man named Ben Collier.

When he was 11 years old, Ben lost his father to a string of medical complications that began after a surgeon failed to correctly complete a gastric sleeve operation. The surgeon failed to correctly suture Ben’s father’s stomach after the procedure, resulting in his stomach’s contents leaking into his body, causing severe infection. Ben describes this as “just the first thing that went wrong in a series of unfortunate events.” It seemed that each time the hospital fixed an issue it caused, a new one sprang up. In a matter of days, Ben’s father was put on a ventilator. Soon after, an infection near his colon needed to be drained, a procedure that the doctor described as “no big deal.” A few hours after the infection was drained, Ben’s father went into septic shock, his organs “shutting down by the minute,” as Ben describes it.

His father was taken by helicopter to a trauma hospital, where he saw steady improvements in both his care and condition. After a few months he was able to return home, while attending rehabilitation for all of the trauma his body had been through. Tragically, Ben’s father suddenly fell ill and died. The family soon discovered that the cause of his death was E. coli bacteria in his bloodstream, a tragedy that could have been avoided had the rehabilitation facility taken regular bloodwork as it should have.

Ben grew up without his father as a result of mistakes made by multiple healthcare providers at multiple points in time. Despite such a gut-wrenching setback, Ben graduated high school on the honor roll. He now attends West Texas A&M University, where he studies computer information systems. He says that “Although it has been a struggle not to fall into anger at all of the negligence we have experienced, I am trying my best to use my grief and turn it into doing good for others.”

Fatal Accidents from Impaired Driving an Increasing Problem in New York

Motorists driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is still a major problem in New York, as new data published in an Adirondack Daily Enterprise (Saranac Lake, NY) column indicates. Over two out of every five fatalities are related to drugs or alcohol.

According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 36,560 traffic deaths in 2018, nearly 30%, or over 10,000 people, were in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle accidents. As a result, the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) gave funding to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a research center within New York University at Albany, to update its studies regarding the involvement of drugs and alcohol in fatal and personal injury crashes in New York.

The ITSMR found the number of intoxicated deadly crashes in 2019 had fallen 12% since 2015. Impaired fatal crashes made up 38% to 51% of all deadly accidents during the four-year span from 2015 to 2019. In 2018, nearly half (42%) of reported impaired fatal and personal injury crashes happened on weekends, and 58% happened at night (from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.). The study showed that 51% of the intoxicated fatal and personal injury crashes that year involved more than one vehicle, and 35% involved just one vehicle. Cyclists and pedestrians were victims in 14% of the intoxicated fatal and personal injury crashes.

In 2019, three-quarters of intoxicated drivers in fatal accidents were male. That same year, drivers between the ages 21 and 29 made up 30% of impaired fatal and personal injury crashes. Drivers between the ages of 30 and 39 made up 27%. Drivers 60 and older made up just 8% of impaired fatalities and personal injury crashes, despite making up 30% of the licensed drivers in New York. Also, 4% of these crashes involved people under the legal drinking age of 21.

Drunk Driving Accident Injuries

Common injuries sustained by victims of drunk driving accidents in New York include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
  • Amputations
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Disfiguring facial injuries and scars
  • Soft tissue injuries

You Could Be Owed Compensation

 Depending on the facts and circumstances of the drunk driving truck accident, you could be entitled to various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Rehabilitation and therapy
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium

Contact a New York Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured from a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, you might be eligible to pursue a claim for financial compensation. At Hach & Rose, LLP, our skilled and compassionate personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you hold the negligent party accountable. Call now for a free and confidential consultation.


Staying Safe in the Snow: Most Common Winter Personal Injury Claims

There are always risks as we go about our days, but winter provides a wealth of additional opportunities for accidental injury. With icy sidewalks, treacherous roads, falling ice, and more, we must be aware of the potential dangers. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most common personal injury claims that occur in the winter.

Slip and fall accidents

Slip and falls aren’t always just a painful and embarrassing accident – they can be extremely dangerous. Many falls occur in the winter due to business owners that don’t clear snow thoroughly, or at all. Property owners must shovel snow from public walkways within a “reasonable” timeframe. They are not required to have a completely clear sidewalk while a storm is still in progress, but once the storm is ended, they must make a safe pathway for shoppers and passersby. If business owners don’t shovel properly and prevent ice from building up, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur.

Icy roads and auto accidents

Winter storms also lead to icy roads, which cause thousands of accidents each year. When the roads are slippery, every driver has a duty of care to drive as cautiously as possible. Drivers must adjust their speed, brake carefully, and leave plenty of room between their car and the car in front of them. If possible, you should avoid driving in icy conditions altogether unless it is absolutely necessary. We’ve all seen the one driver who is completely ignoring the icy roads and zooms around everyone else. This is how injuries happen. Unfortunately, here in New York this is all too common.

Construction site accidents

Falls are among the most common causes of injuries for construction workers. Once you’ve added snow and ice into an already dangerous job site, you have a recipe for potential disaster. The heights workers must reach on job sites make falls that much more hazardous. This can lead to head injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Even simple snow removal, if it is on an unsteady surface such as decks, scaffolding, or a rooftop, can be an opportunity for serious injury. Job sites must provide their workers with appropriate safety equipment, including additional materials to adapt to snowy conditions. If they fail to provide adequate equipment for construction workers, they can be held accountable for any injuries that result.

Take precautions in the winter

To the best of your ability, take extra care during the winter months. Check your local news station for weekly weather reports and consider checking a convenient app, like the one Weather.com offers, for day-to-day updates. When shoveling your sidewalk, be sure to thoroughly salt so that you don’t allow ice to build up. If you are elderly or have physical limitations, don’t risk it. Paying someone else to do it is a far better solution than suffering a severe injury. Finally, be sure to wear quality winter boots that will protect you from frostbite, slush, and ice.

Contact a New York Attorney

If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are well versed in winter accidents and are ready to review your case. Call our office today at (212) 779-0057 to speak with a member of our team.

Spotlight on Aaron Haimowitz

Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Aaron Haimowitz gives insight into why he became a lawyer and who he is.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

In my family, getting an education was extremely important goal and it was not an option. We had a lot of professionals in my family ranging from doctors, accountants, a pharmacist, a college professor, and a few lawyers. I had a great uncle who I looked up to, and he was a lawyer. Like him, I found myself in a lot of debates and I took pride that I always thought quick on my feet. Eventually, I realized that I was always advocating on behalf of my friends and family. After taking a business law course in college, it finally clicked that being an attorney was what I was meant to do.

What practice areas do you focus on?

While I handle many different types of complex tort litigation, I have focused much of my carrier on construction litigation. I have also been relied on to handle matters that involve catastrophic injuries or high exposure damages. Since I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants during my legal career, I bring a unique perspective on case strategy, analysis, handling, evaluation, and negotiation so that the most favorable results can be achieved on a case-by-case basis. At this stage in my career, I find it much more rewarding seeing the impact my legal experience can have on the lives of injured individuals and their families.

Tell us about your unique approach to litigation.

I believe that one of the reasons that I add value to the Hach & Rose team is my unique experience throughout my career of handling complex legal matters from all sides of litigation. In addition to currently representing plaintiffs, my past legal experience has allowed me to defend claims as a defense attorney, directly collaborate with insurance carriers, and handle claims in-house for a major corporation. Each of these experiences throughout my career gives me a significant advantage because I have a rare perspective and understanding of how each player in the litigation process approaches, strategizes, handles, evaluates, and negotiates cases.

What are you most proud of, professionally or personally?

Personally, I’m most proud of my family. They mean everything to me. My wife and I have been married for 13 years and we have a wonderful 8-year-old son. Being a dad is my most important job. During the pandemic, I had a unique opportunity to slow down and enjoy time with my son. At the beginning, we made the decision to quarantine in Vermont. In addition to helping my son navigate Second-Grade remote learning, we spent a lot of time having fun going on hikes, listening to music, watching movies, doing puzzles, and playing with remote control cars. He even learned how to ride a bike while in Vermont. It was an amazing bonding experience that I will cherish forever.

Professionally, I am very proud to have been relied upon and trusted to handle complex, high exposure cases. I also feel it is important to be a leader in my community, whether serving on committees, being a mentor to other attorneys, or presenting as a speaker at trade conferences. I’m also proud of being able to develop authentic relationships with my clients. Over the years, many of these work relationships have developed into personal friendships that have spanned years beyond our professional ties.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?

I am a huge Islanders fan. When I was 9 months old, my father purchased season tickets for the team’s inaugural season in ’72. He made sure to put both of our names on the account and we have had seasons tickets ever since. I am one of a handful people who has been a season ticket holder since the team’s inception. Also, since my mother grew up in Liverpool, my family have been generational fans of Everton Football Club. We fly over to England for games whenever we can. In 2019, we attended Everton’s first home game of the season and the team featured my family in the opening day program. After the game, the team honored us and gave my son autographed pictures of many of the players because we “flew across the pond for the home opener”.

What is your favorite quote?

Willy Wonka: “Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.”

New Must Know Info: What is No-Fault Insurance?

Attorney Halina Radchenko has penned a new article for our “Must Know Info” series. In it, she explains what no-fault benefits are available to people who are injured in car accidents.

Click here to read the article.

Street Safety Groups Petition President Biden For Federal Vision Zero Plan

A group of street safety advocates petitioned newly inaugurated President Biden to enact a plan that would entirely eliminate road deaths in the U.S. by 2050. A coalition of 74 street safety organizations, including AAA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Safety Council, and League of American Bicyclists, cosigned a letter to the White House on Jan. 20. The letter brought to Biden’s attention the nearly 40,000 deaths that happen on the nation’s roads each year.

The organizations appealed to Biden’s personal connection to loss, referencing his wife and daughter who died in a car accident in 1972, writing, “You know all too well the pain and devastation that comes when someone is killed in a crash.” They asked his administration to make a commitment to fully eliminate street deaths in the next 30 years.

Vision Zero is a street safety program that was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s. The program aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries while also enforcing measures to increase safety on roads. Vision Zero views traffic deaths as preventable, not an inevitable part of transportation. Some cities in the U.S., including Austin, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Boston, have committed to their own Vision Zero plans, but the letter urges Biden to make traffic safety a top national priority and cut down on fatalities.

Vision Zero’s Road Map to a Safer Future

To achieve its goal of zero traffic fatalities, Vision Zero advocates for fundamental changes in the way people interact with and think about transportation. For example, speeding kills about 10,000 people each year, which is about as many fatalities caused by drunk driving. But the penalties for speeding are much less severe than they are for drunk driving. One of Vision Zero’s key priorities is to reduce speeding “through safe street design, automated speed enforcement (or safety cameras), and setting safe speed limits.” Design, individual road users, and safety components (like traffic signs) are the three elements of street safety.

But Vision Zero is not only focused on drivers and passengers in cars. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is also a top priority. U.S. pedestrian fatalities were at their lowest in 2009, totaling only 4,109. However, ten years later, this number hit a 30-year-high at 6,590 deaths. Biden’s Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg mentioned the importance of implementing more pedestrian- and cyclist-centered street design moving forward. Changing street design from auto-centric to pedestrian-centric will be a challenge for Buttigieg after he is sworn into office.

Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a car crash as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Please call the New York car accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP to learn how our team may be able to help you. We’ll do the legal legwork so you can focus on healing. Call us at (212) 779-0057 today.

Spotlight on Brandon Cotter

Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Brandon Cotter gives insight into why he became a lawyer and who he is.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Honestly, I have no idea! I think a lot of people have a story that drives them from the time they are kids. When I was little, I wanted to be a baseball player because I loved the Chicago Cubs, but it turns out my fastball wasn’t exactly major league level.
I ended becoming a lawyer not so much from one stoke of inspiration so much as a culmination of years of observation. I come from a blue-collar family in a small town. My father ran the local bakery and my mother put herself through school and became a nurse, caring for elderly nursing home patients. I saw them work hard, day in and day out, and they made sure I did too. I think when you spend most of your life living paycheck to paycheck you see these small injustices. Many times, it isn’t that big of a deal. A landlord treats you poorly, or a phone company overcharges you a bit. It seems like the people in power know just how much to take advantage of you before someone will step in and do something.
At some point I realized that I had the ability to be a person who can help. I think it comes from a combination of knowing what it is like to need help, and also wanting to right a few wrongs along the way.

What practice areas do you focus on?

I focus mainly on construction accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and premises cases. I am a trial lawyer, so part of me would love to get in there and try every case put in front of me. However, specializing in these areas means you get to know everything about your client. When we go to court for a client, we know their livelihood is on the line. Knowing I put my full energy into this specific area of law lets me rest easy at night knowing we are prepared to win.

Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.

I think this is probably the hardest question to answer. The easy thing to do here is to list off my biggest verdicts and settlements. If you are reading this trying to decide if you want me to represent you, I am sure that might be comforting, but you can find that stuff online. While it is a nice feeling every time I help someone walk away with millions of dollars, my favorite case didn’t end that way. My favorite case was for an elderly woman I represented early in my career who fell walking out of a restaurant. When I first spoke to her, she somewhat meekly told me what happened, embarrassed to describe her fall. She was ashamed that she needed a lawyer, but her medical bills were piling up and she truly needed help. She walked me through her accident, and I was able to help her. The medical bills were covered, she received a decent settlement, and most importantly she was happy. When she came to get her settlement check she brought her daughter and we talked about her mother and her case. A few years down the road after the client passed, her daughter hired me for a case because I gained her trust while working with her mother. Trust is invaluable, and it felt good to be that family’s lawyer.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of who I represent, and who I fight against. Every client I have is taking on one of the biggest companies in America, and sometimes the world. Building owners, insurance companies, product makers – they have the power. Each of my clients ask me to fight these companies on their behalf. They know from the get-go that our contract works like this: If they lose, I lose. We are in this together. Every time we settle a case or get a verdict, my client’s life will get better and I get the satisfaction of knowing we took down one of the big guys.

Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies, or a fun fact?

I have the opposite of a hidden talent – I have a hidden weakness! I sing so poorly that my father once sang “Father and Son” at a talent show with my sisters. When asked on stage why he didn’t bring his son up to sing, he replied that he had no intention of punishing the audience.

What is your favorite quote?

“Fiat justitia, ruat caelum,” which translates to “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.”

New Must Know Info: Ladder accidents in New York and Labor Law Section 240

A new article has been added to our Must Know Info section. In the article, attorney Brandon Cotter discusses Labor Law Section 240 and how it applies to workplace ladder safety.

To read the full article, click here.

Why Emptier Streets Are More Dangerous In New York

The coronavirus pandemic hit New York City especially hard in the first few months that the virus spread across the United States. Traffic on the streets mirrored the logical trend of more people staying home and only going out when necessary – it decreased dramatically. But the New York Times reported a troubling statistic emerged alongside this trend. There were more deadly car accidents in 2020 than usual in the city.

This is despite the fact that Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted a plan in 2014 to increasingly improve safety on the streets, named Vision Zero. This plan aimed to completely eliminate traffic-related deaths in the city by 2024. With the upward trend of accidents occurring during the pandemic, this goal is becoming more unrealistic. But how did this happen?

The New York Times suggested that because New Yorkers felt isolated, cramped, and bored in their homes while attempting to shield themselves from the virus, they took to the streets to blow off some steam and recapture their freedom. This translated to a higher number of motorcycle riders and street racers on the roads than the city normally sees on an average night.

Because of this increased trend in reckless driving, car and motorcycle accident-related deaths rose 76% in one year. In 2019, the city recorded 68 motor vehicle deaths. But in 2020, that number rose to 120. However, the article reported that the number of pedestrian- and bicycle-related deaths dropped in 2020, related to past years.

NY Mirrors a National Trend

So, even though the city streets are still not as crowded as they were before the pandemic, they likely still have more reckless drivers on them than on an average, pre-pandemic day. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2020, traffic-related deaths increased across the nation. This federal agency recorded traffic-related deaths in all states and found that the coronavirus pandemic is likely connected to this higher number of deaths on our streets.  

Elderly and older people tended to stay home more often than younger people as the virus gained a chokehold on the country. Older people are generally more cautious, slower drivers, and therefore tend to cause fewer traffic accidents due to speeding. But younger, more adventurous drivers tend to cause accidents while speeding or driving recklessly. And because young people had less incentive to stay home during the pandemic, they were more likely to be on the roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also believes that an increase in drug and alcohol usage during the pandemic is a factor in increased accidents. While Americans turned to substances to cope with the stress of the pandemic – from unemployment to a sickness in the family to strained finances – substance-related traffic accidents spiked across the nation.

Contact a New York Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a motorcycle or car accident in the New York City area, do not hesitate to reach out to the accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP immediately. Our lawyers have years of experience handling cases like yours and will fight to win the maximum compensation for you. Call us today at (212) 779-0057.

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