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High Stakes & Tire Spokes: Bike Accidents

High Stakes & Tire Spokes: Bike Accidents

by George W. Ilchert

Riding on a bike or a motorcycle gives the rider a kind of freedom that you just can’t get while driving: the wind in your hair, the feeling of control, and the thrill of the ride. But all benefits must come a cost, and you are more vulnerable on a bicycle or a motorcycle than you are in a car.

In today’s world, people are more likely than ever to choose a form of transportation that doesn’t involve public transit. Whether it be a car, motorcycle, or bike, we can expect to see more vehicles on the road, as the train cars go empty. Of course, not everyone can afford to own a motorcycle, and they may not have the space to store a bicycle. In those cases, vehicle-sharing services are on the rise, especially in the crowded boroughs of New York City. We can expect Citibikes and other bicycle renting services to be more popular than ever. For those looking for more power, there are even motorized scooter services like Revel (involved in an accident with a Revel scooter? Read more here).

With the sudden surge of cars, scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles on the road, accidents are bound to happen. As renting services do not require any training, be on the lookout for inexperienced riders. Injuries could be as simple as scraped knees, but with the crowded roads, they could be as serious as totaled cars, broken bones, and worse. To make matters worse, rental-riders are likely to flaunt the rules of the road, speeding across lanes and riding on sidewalks, causing danger for other drivers and pedestrians alike.

As one vehicle is operated solely by peddling and the other with a powerful motor, the rules for bicycles and motorcycles are different. The most important danger of riding either a motorcycle or a bicycle is twofold: the rider is not paying attention to the traffic around them, or a motor vehicle is not paying attention to the bicycles and motorcycles around them. In this article we’ll review the differences and the important facts to note when in an accident involving a bicycle or a motorcycle.

Rules for Bicycles

Though bicycles are not motor vehicles, they still have to follow rules of the road, though modified. This may surprise you, as bicycle riders often ride with utter abandon, and ignore all posted signs and traffic patterns.

The following are a summary of regulations that bicycle riders must follow, according to the nyc.gov website:

  • Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so.
  • Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.

Most bicycle accidents are caused by motor vehicles not allowing for the bike rider to have enough room to maneuver. However, they can also be caused by road damage, like a pothole or other road defect, that may not severely affect a motor vehicle but could mean serious damage for a bicycle and its operator.

There is one very important distinction between bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents. When struck by a motor vehicle, bicycle riders are entitled to no-fault benefits and motorcycle riders are not. Article 51 of the New York State Insurance Law, often referred to as the “No-Fault Law”, excludes motorcycles from being defined as a “motor vehicle” for the purpose of determining coverage requirements. The operator of the motorcycle cannot obtain no-fault insurance coverage for their damages in an accident.

Rules for Motorcycles

Motorcycles must follow all rules that a motor vehicle must obey, including insurance with at least the minimum amount of coverage. Motorcycles must drive in the normal car lanes and cannot utilize the bicycle lanes. Because of the power of the engine in a motorcycle, it is not safe or legal for them to share the bicycle lane with non-motorized vehicles.

Accidents are always a danger for anyone on the road, but there is increased danger for motorcycles. Though they can reach the same speeds as a car, the rider has much less protection than the driver or passenger in a car. With no seatbelts, airbags, or other safety features, motorcycles leave their riders extremely exposed. A collision for a person riding a motorcycle is much more likely to have more serious injuries than the same collision involving a passenger in a car.

Injured? Call Hach & Rose, LLP

The attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are extremely knowledgeable about the ins and outs of bicycle and motorcycle accidents. You should not enter into any settlements regarding your accident without contacting an experienced attorney first. To be sure you are getting the compensation you deserve, it is imperative you contact a personal injury attorney who will fight for your rights. Partner Michael Rose achieved an $8,000,000 jury verdict for passenger on motorcycle involved in collision with car, which is just one of the impressive results that the Hach & Rose, LLP team has been able to achieve for their clients. Ready for an attorney who will fight aggressively for your rights? Call us at (212) 779-0057 to set up a free consultation today.

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Protecting your Family from Uninsured Drivers

What is SUM/UM coverage, and why is it important to me?

Supplemental Underinsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist coverage is an important part of your automobile insurance policy. This portion of your policy covers you and your resident relatives up to the amount of coverage you purchase.

This means that if the person who causes a car accident is uninsured, there is still coverage for you and your household relatives, up to the amount of coverage you purchase.

This also means that if the person who causes an accident is underinsured, there may be additional coverage available up to the amount of your rider.

Underinsured Motorist coverage does not provide coverage in the amount you purchase – it means that you have coverage up to the amount you purchase. In other words, any coverage the at-fault party has is deducted from the amount you purchase.

For example, if the at-fault party has the New York State minimum liability coverage of $25,000, and you have a $100,000 SUM/UM rider, then the most you could ever recover is $100,000. In basic terms, it means that you have an additional $75,000 available, that you would not have had if you did not purchase the SUM/UM rider.

There are many situations where your SUM/UM coverage might be used – but again, this is coverage for you. Even if you have $100,000/$300,000 in liability coverage, it might not mean there is that much available for you. It is a good idea to make sure that you are properly covered.

Contact us at (212) 779-0057 to review your automobile policy coverage, so that we can explain how the coverage works, each coverage’s limitations, and how it might benefit you.

How To Deal With The Other Guy’s Insurance Adjuster

After an accident, if you are deemed not at fault and file a bodily injury or property damage claim, expect to become very popular with the other party’s insurance adjuster. They will likely request a recorded statement from you. You are not required to do this, and our office recommends that you never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. (Note: If your own insurance company needs to discuss details of the accident with you, you should cooperate but still exercise caution.)

The adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company probably will also ask you to sign a medical authorization to gain access to your medical records. Do not sign it. There’s no need for them to have more information than necessary. They’re simply fishing for information from either past injuries or medical conditions that could damage your claim or limit your ability to collect fair compensation.

The other party’s adjuster may also want to settle your bodily injury claim with you before you’re finished with treatment, sometimes within 24 hours of your filing…think vultures on the savannah. Remember, they’re not looking to do what’s best for you; they’re looking to do what’s best for them—saving money. Threats to withdraw a settlement offer are empty ones. Don’t settle without talking to an accident attorney.

If adjusters press you to sign a release of any sort, confer with your attorney before signing anything. Don’t be intimidated. Again, do what’s right for your circumstances, not theirs. Adjusters can also be charming, friendly, and ask seemingly innocent questions. But even a “How are you?” and a response of “Fine” can damage your case.

Let an experienced accident attorney be your mouthpiece and guide you each step of the way to fully recover damages you are owed.


Drowning is Silent: Portable Pools

Portable pools are affordable and easy to transport, but they can be just as dangerous as any other pool. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received an average of 35 reports of deaths of children under the age of 5 in portable pools each year. These pools account for 11% of all pool drownings for children that age. You can prevent these deaths.

If a portable pool, either large or small, is in your plans or already in your yard, follow these simple steps:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa, and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments
  • Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends, and neighbors
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
  • Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency
  • Install a four foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates, and ask you neighbors to do the same at their pools
  • Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa
  • If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install doors alarms and always use them for additional protection, and install window guards on windows facing pools or spas
  • Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
  • Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
  • Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm.

Simple steps save lives. Find more pool safety guidelines and safety videos at PoolSafety.gov. Whether the pool is a small blow-up pool or a huge structure with rigid sides, portable pools are often left full of water and unsupervised. Just like in-ground pools, portable need barriers and fencing that keep unsupervised children out. Empty and store small portable pools when you are not using them. Cover larger ones.

The New York personal injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP have successfully handled diving, drowning, and many other types of recreational accident cases. Contact us at (212) 779-0057 today for advice on your specific case.


Eye Protection in the Workplace

Every day an estimated 1,000 eye injuries occur in American workplaces. The financial cost of these injuries is enormous – more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and workers compensation. The personal toll these accidents take on the injured workers is unimaginable. Often, the injuries are permanent.

Take a moment to think about possible eye hazards at your workplace. A 1980 survey by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of about 1,000 eye injuries reveals how and why many on-the-job accidents occur.

What contributes to eye injuries at work?

  • Not wearing eye protection. BLS reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident.
  • Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. About 40 of the injured workers were wearing some form of eye protection when the accident occurred. These workers were most likely to be wearing eyeglasses with no side shields, though injuries among employees wearing full-cup or flat fold side shields occurred, as well.

What causes eye injuries?

  • Flying particles are the most common cause. BLS found that almost 70% of the accident studied resulted from flying or falling objects or sparks striking the eye. Injured workers estimated that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Most of the particles were said to be traveling faster than a hand-thrown object when the accident occurred.
  • Contact with chemicals caused one-fifth of the injuries. Other accidents were caused by objects swinging from a fixed or attached position, like tree limbs, ropes, chains, or tools which were pulled into the eye while the worker was using them.

Where to accidents occur most often?

Accidents most commonly occur on construction sites, involving industrial equipment. Potentially eye hazards can be found in nearly every industry, but BLS reported that more than 40% of injuries studied occurred among craft workers like mechanics, repairers, carpenters, and plumbers. Over a third of the injured workers were operatives, such as assemblers, sanders, and grinding machine operators. Laborers suffered about one-fifth of the eye injuries. Almost half the injured workers were employed in manufacturing; slightly more than 20% were in construction, and the rest were in carpentry, plumbing, and the like.

How eye injuries can be prevented?

Always wear effective eye protection. OSHA standards require that employers provide workers with suitable eye protection. To be effective, the eyewear must be of the appropriate type for the hazard encountered and properly fitted. For example, the BLS survey showed that 94% of the injuries to workers wearing eye protection resulted from objects or chemicals going around or under the protector. Eye protective devices should allow for air to circulate between the eye and the lens. Only 13 workers injured while wearing eye protection reported breakage.

Nearly one-fifth of the injured workers with eye protection wore face shields or welding helmets. However, only six percent of the workers injured while wearing eye protection wore goggles, which generally offer better protection for the eyes. Best protection is afforded when goggles are worn with face shields.

Better training and education is also recommended. BLS reported that most workers were hurt while doing their regular jobs. Workers injured while not wearing protective eyewear most often said they believed it was not required by the situation. Even though the vast majority of employers furnished eye protection at no cost to employees, about 40% of the workers received no information on where and what kind of eyewear should be used.

Maintenance is also an extremely important factor in preventing eye injuries. Eye protection devices must be properly maintained. Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare, and may contribute to accidents.

Where can I get more information?

You can get more information at your nearest OSHA area office. Safety and health experts are available to explain mandatory requirements for effective eye protection and answer questions. They can also refer you to an onsite consultation service available in nearly every state through which you can get complimentary, penalty-free advice for eliminating possible eye hazards, designing a training program, or other safety and health matters.

Don’t know where the nearest federal or state office is? Call an OSHA Regional Office at the U.S. Department of Labor in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, or Seattle.

The National Society to Prevent Blindness is another great resource for information. This voluntary health organization is dedicated to preserving sight and has developed excellent information and training materials for preventing eye injuries at work. Its 26 affiliates nationwide may also provide consultation in developing effective eye safety programs. For more information and a publications catalog, write to the National Society to Prevent Blindness at 79 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016-7896.

Eye Protection Works!

BLS reported that more than 50% of workers injured while wearing eye protection thought the eyewear had minimized their injuries. But nearly half the workers also felt that another type of protection could have better prevented or reduced the injuries they suffered. It is estimated the 90% of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear that is our goal and, by working together, OSHA, employers, workers, and health organizations can make it happen.

Hach & Rose, LLP has successfully represented many workers who were injured due to a failure to provide proper eye protection on the work site. Contact us today so that our attorneys can review your case.


Work Site Table Saw Injuries

In New York, every year, more than 10 percent of all workers on a construction project will suffer an injury that results in lost time from work or a permanent disability. One reason for the high rate of injuries is the dangerous equipment required on building sites. One of the most dangerous is an unguarded table saw.

Industrial table saws were designed for use on a level ground, with a safety guard covering the moving saw blade. Experienced workers know, however, that the ground on a typical building site is rarely level and the safety guarding on the table saw is usually missing. The most common table saw accident happens when the wood “kicks back” towards the worker. This unexpected and sudden movement causes the worker’s hands to jerk forward and strike the spinning teeth of the unguarded saw blade. The worker has no time to prevent catastrophe. An unguarded table saw is an accident waiting to happen.

Mauricio Garcia was such a worker. He was injured by an unguarded table saw at a work site, Brooklyn, New York. He worked for a company for a period of approximately one year as a laborer. While making a thru-cut, the wood suddenly kicked back and Mauricio’s hand came into contact with the unguarded blade. He sustained a bad laceration to his left hand involving the median nerve. The workplace injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP were able to recover $325,000 for him without the necessity of a trial. For advice on your specific circumstances, contact us at (212) 779-0057 today.


Popular Scooter-Sharing Service Revel Under Fire

by George Ilchert

Less than a year after Revel launched their scooter rental service, the company has been hit by a deluge of lawsuits.

“A new way to get around,” boasts the website. Not a safe one, according to lawsuits. All you need is a valid driver’s license and $5 and you’re clear to rent one of Revel’s electric scooters. Focused on the trendy areas of Brooklyn and Queens, the service has been popular with the young residents of NYC. Unfortunately, with absolutely no training required to ride away on electric scooters that can reach speeds of 30 MPH, accidents were a given.

Multiple lawsuits have been launched against the company, claiming that Revel was reckless, negligent, and careless to set untrained cyclers off on what is essentially a motorcycle into the busy streets of NYC.

One lawsuit is on behalf of a bicyclist who collided with a Revel rider and broke an ankle. Another is from a user of Revel, who claims a scooter failed mid-ride and caused him to crash and fracture his leg. So far, seven people have filed personal injury lawsuits against Revel.

State law does not require a motorcycle license for mopeds that top out at 30 MPH, but this could be a recipe for disaster. Untrained riders have been seen with little regard for the rules of the road, riding without helmets, zooming between lanes and in areas that scooters are not allowed, and driving against the flow of traffic.

If you were injured while riding a Revel scooter, or you were involved in an accident with a Revel scooter, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney – don’t leave your case in the hands of someone who lacks the right knowledge. Hach & Rose has helped many clients who were involved in motorcycle accidents and other injuries involving motorized vehicles. The firm has achieved many sizeable verdicts on behalf of their clients, like a $8,000,000 jury verdict for a victim of a motorcycle accident, a $1,700,000 result for an operating engineer who was also involved in a similar incident, and many more. The attorneys at Hach & Rose are always ready to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options. Call us today at (347) 318-9604.


Meet George Ilchert!

What inspired you to become an attorney?
My family. My aunt and my godfather worked in a law firm my whole life, and I would often visit the office as a child. I always thought what they were doing seemed interesting. They were doing tax and real estate work, which is what I originally thought I wanted to do. During law school I worked for a personal injury firm, and that was very formative for me. That was when I realized that personal injury is what I really wanted to do.

You’re a born and bred New Yorker. Tell us about growing up in Queens.
I grew up in Flushing, which I believe is one of the most diverse areas on Earth. You can’t walk 10 feet without encountering people from 5 different cultures. Everyone was so close knit, and we all supported each other. It was a great way to grow up and definitely instilled in me a respect for all cultures. I’m proud to say that I have worked with clients from all over the world.

Your family owned a construction business during your childhood, and you grew up with an in-depth knowledge of the industry. Did this influence your desire to focus on personal injury cases?
It wasn’t the sole reason I decided to enter into personal injury, but it was definitely a factor. My family owned a construction business that started in the 1890s. My father made sure that I saw how hard construction was and to really appreciate what goes into it. It is truly a tough job, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I have a lot of respect for construction workers. My first job was actually harvesting bricks from demolition sites. If you “cleaned” a brick, knocking off the excess mortar, you would get a penny. But if you broke one, you owed a penny!

As you have insider’s experience in the construction industry, do you have additional insight that helps you work on construction cases?
Absolutely, because I know what it takes to run a construction site the right way. It’s not easy. You’ll find that most of the injuries on construction sites are caused by a failure to prepare, and it’s almost always because someone wanted to save time or money. If you know what was supposed to be done, you can easily recognize where something went wrong.

Over your long career, what is something you’ve learned that non-attorneys probably wouldn’t know?
There are similar cases, but no two cases are identical. And an attorney who doesn’t take the time to listen to their client, and treat each case as its own unique situation, is a sign of weakness. You’re closing yourself off from possible avenues to provide help. An attorney also needs to treat each case with the same respect, even if it seems “simple” like a broken toe. Who was it that broke their toe? What was their career? If it was a postal worker, a bus driver, or anyone else who might use their feet a lot in repetitive maneuvers, those damages will be much bigger. You have to think not only of what the impact is at this moment, what will the impact be 10-15 years in the future?

Tell us about one or two of your most interesting cases.
Oh, this could take a while. I’ve got a million. One of my most interesting cases was actually a case that was turned down by another firm. They thought the injury, a ladder that collapsed, wouldn’t be protected so they wouldn’t take it on. We felt differently, and in the end they settled for $5.5 million. It was a large investment of money and time for the firm, but it turned out to be a huge case well beyond our expectations.

I had another case where an elderly couple were crossing an intersection in NYC on Christmas Eve, and a bus side swiped them making a left turn. The woman passed away, and the man was rushed to the hospital. The next day, their son called the office and told us what happened. I told my secretary to stay on the phone with him while I went to the hospital to meet him. It turned out that the bus driver was at the same hospital, due to an anxiety attack. As long as I was there, I got a statement from the driver. At the same time, I sent someone to the scene of the accident to get photos. It was Christmas, so there were bright lights everywhere which could have blinded the driver. I also made sure to get a picture of a sign saying left hand turns were not allowed in that intersection. Finally, I had investigators take statements from witnesses. All of this has to be done quickly before the data disappears forever. We did all of this work within 24 hours of the accident. Time is everything in this kind of case.

What are you most passionate about?
Making sure that my clients have the financial means to be comfortable at the end of the case. Because no matter how much money you get, it’s never any comparison to their pain and suffering. I’ve never had a client who wouldn’t trade everything they received from their case if they could go back to the way they were before their accident.


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