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New York to change how bus inspections are done to improve safety

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, April 26th, 2012

After a devastating year of fatal bus crashes in New York last year, lawmakers decided to earmark $1 million of the state’s budget to improve bus safety. Instead of inspecting a every bus several times each year, the new system will use a performance-based approach to identify bus companies with the worst safety records and target those companies for increased inspections. Every company will still receive two inspections per year however, regardless of their safety record.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo applauds the changes and said the increased enforcement and additional manpower will allow the state to crack down on some of the worst offenders that repeatedly put passengers and others on the road at risk. After the number of fatal bus accidents last year the Governor had hastened inspections and added unannounced inspections.

After repeatedly failing the state’s inspections, operating licenses for eight tour and charter bus companies were suspended, removing 100 of their buses from active service. Prior to the increased inspections, the New York Department of Transportation was scheduling 160,000 bus inspections each year.

In March of last year, a bus returning from a casino in Connecticut tipped over and collided with a pole ripping the roof off the bus and killing 15 people. At the time of crash the driver had been speeding close to 80 miles per hour. After a federal investigation discovered the driver of that bus had previously been incarcerated for grand larceny and manslaughter the Governor called for an investigation into how this man was able to get a commercial driver’s license.

In another fatal bus crash in October of 2011, a New York Trailways bus rear-ended a truck in Sloatsburg killing eight people. After the spate of crashes last year, the Department of Transportation performed 2,000 surprise roadside inspections this spring, resulting in the state police issuing 197 tickets. A total of 173 bus drivers and over 140 buses were also removed from service during those inspections.

With the advent of spring and summer upon us there will be an increase in college students and tourists riding buses so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration came out with a cool new app for iPhones and iPads called the SaferBus app. The application is a free download on iTunes store or the FMSCA website titled “Look Before You Book.” It lets consumers check a company’s safety record before purchasing a bus ticket from them.

Source: Lohud.com, “N.Y. to do more safety checks of buses,” April 9, 2012

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New York family’s medical malpractice suit settled for $5 million

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

A New York family will be able to better care for their disabled child now that their law suit against a New York hospital has been settled in their favor. The lawsuit alleged that hospital staff failed to provide proper care to the mother during her pregnancy. After several visits for observation and treatment during her pregnancy, her child was born prematurely and was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice lawsuits encompass a wide variety of areas from nursing home negligence, surgical errors and birth injuries. More common birth injuries include bleeding in the brain, spinal injuries, skull fractures and cerebral palsy. These cases are based on the belief that negligence was involved in causing the serious injury, either prenatally or during the birthing process. A birth injury suit allows parents to file a claim on behalf of their child and seek damages for past and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

The main complaint in a medical malpractice case is that the patient did not receive proper medical care at a standard of quality expected in the medical profession. Birth injury plaintiffs might claim the hospital or health care provider did not properly monitor the mother or baby, or the doctor may have failed to take the necessary precautions during certain types of pregnancies.

There are several factors required for a successful medical malpractice claim. First, the plaintiff must offer proof that the injury in question was caused by the negligent act of a medical staff member. Ultimately this means they must prove that the physician or staff member’s actions did not meet the accepted standard of care and that failure to do so is what caused the injury.

In this birth injury medical malpractice case, the New York hospital settled the suit for $5.3 million before it went to trial, indicating there must have been enough evidence to meet the required threshold for successful trial verdict.

Source: Reuters, “NY Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Settled for $5.3M,” Stephanie Rabiner, April 13, 2012

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One dead in New York from listeria outbreak in cantaloupe

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

At least 21 people have died from an outbreak of listeria traced to cantaloupes contaminated with the bacteria. More than 109 people have been sickened. The cases of illness and death have been reported in 24 states all across the U.S., including New York. One of the victims killed in the current food poisoning outbreak was a New Yorker.

The number of people who have died or been sickened by the contaminated fruit products may go up because it can take up to two months for a person to fall ill after they eat listeria. The typical length of time between eating the bacteria and becoming ill is one to three weeks. Officials also may not have yet received reports and confirmed deaths of people who died from eating the cantaloupe before the recall began.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that one woman has suffered a miscarriage as a result of listeriosis, or a listeria infection. The bacteria is most dangerous for older people and for people with weakened immune systems.

Women who are pregnant have weaker immune systems because the immune system naturally goes down so that the body does not reject and attack the developing fetus. Listeria eaten by a pregnant woman may cause flu-like symptoms for her, but it also may infect the fetus and can cause a serious illness that can result in a miscarriage, stillbirth or permanent disability.

Older people may experience nausea, fever, diarrhea and muscle aches. Symptoms can develop into confusion and incapacitation.

Any Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado should be thrown away. Any refrigerator surfaces that the cantaloupe touched should be washed with a bleach solution to kill the bacteria because it can continue to live in the cold temperature.

Source: CNN, “Death toll from tainted cantaloupes rises to 21,” Oct. 7, 2011

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Airplane maker ruled not responsible for fatal New York crash

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, June 3rd, 2011

On October 11, 2006, New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was flying over Manhattan with his flight instructor, with plans to see the sights of New York from the air before heading toward the West Coast. But just north of the Queensboro Bridge, the plan began to spin out of control. It eventually crashed into a high-rise condominium building on the Upper East Side and plummeted to the ground in flames. Lidle, 34, and his 26-year-old flight instructor were killed on impact.

Earlier this year, the widows of both men filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cirrus Design Corp., the company that manufactured the personal airplane involved in the fatal crash. In their suit, the widows alleged that design flaws in the Cirrus SR-20 were responsible for the events leading up to the deaths of their husbands.

In court, the widows’ attorney described Lidle and his instructor as experienced pilots, and described the last few minutes of their lives. “They’re fighting the controls and they see the building come at them,” he said. “The crew did everything they could do to control this airplane. It didn’t work.”

The attorney for Cirrus blamed the pilots for the crash, citing a 2007 review from the National Transportation Safety Board which ruled that pilot error was responsible for the deadly accident. Last month, the New York jury agreed, ruling that Cirrus was not liable for the accident or the fatalities.

After the verdict was read, the widows’ attorney stated that he expected the verdict after the judge refused to allow testimony that Cirrus changed several of its manufacturing processes, as well as the testimony of a flight instructor who barely avoided a similar crash less than a year earlier. The widows have stated that they plan to appeal.

Source: Bloomberg, “Cirrus Cleared by Jury in Yankees Player’s Fatal Plane Crash,” Chris Dolemtsch, 24 May 2011

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Wall Collapse Causes First NYC Construction Fatality of 2011

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, January 14th, 2011

Earlier this week, a New York City construction worker lost his life in the first fatal construction accident of the new year. One man was killed and three others were seriously injured when a wall collapsed at a Queens construction site.

The 26-year-old worker was pouring concrete into the spaces in a cinder block wall when the wall collapsed, taking the scaffolding the man was on with it. He and one other man were trapped between the scaffold and the wall, while two others who were on top of the wall at the time were also injured in the construction accident.

Although first responders arrived very quickly after the accident, they were not able to save the man’s life. He died after going into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. The other three men involved in the collapse suffered fractured bones and trauma. They were listed in critical but stable condition on Monday afternoon.

This accident follows multiple building violations at the work site. The Department of Buildings reported that the construction site had received notice of six violations since work began in June 2009. Those violations were primarily for problems like having construction equipment on the sidewalk or not posting proper signs regarding the construction.

The city has ordered work be stopped at the site until the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the New York City Department of Buildings conduct their investigations. They are working to determine what caused the wall to collapse and who is responsible for the accident.

New York City laws offer significant protections to injured workers and the families of those who suffer wrongful death at construction sites. The contractor and property owner will likely be responsible for the men’s medical bills, lost wages and other damages as well as wrongful death compensation for the family of the man who died.

Sources: New York Times, “Wall Collapse at Queens Construction Site Kills One Worker and Injures Three,” Liz Robbins and Mick Meenan, 10 Jan 2011

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Man Hit Twice While Trying to the Cross Street in New York

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Drivers everywhere know that it is important to keep an eye out of pedestrians. But drivers in New York City need to be especially aware of pedestrians because so many people walk as their primary method of transportation. It is a city in which many people do not drive, and walking is often the quickest way to get where you are going.

That is why it was so shocking that a pedestrian was hit by not only one, but two, cars earlier this week. A 28-year-old man was crossing the street in the Bronx when he was hit by a minivan. A few minutes later, that man was lying injured on the ground when he was hit by another car. The pedestrian accident was caused by the negligence of two drivers who should have been paying more attention to their driving.

The victim was crossing the street in the crosswalk of a busy intersection when the minivan driver said he “just ran out in front” of the vehicle. The driver said that he “didn’t see [the victim] until he was right in front.” Yet the minivan driver still had a responsibility to pay attention to the pedestrians who might be crossing at that intersection.

The first accident likely led to the second. After the victim bounced off of the minivan’s windshield, he was hit by a car which was driven by an employee of the New York City Department of Sanitation. The driver of that car, as a city employee, should have been even more careful to avoid a collision of this sort.

Emergency medical personnel took the man to St. Barnabas Hospital to be treated for his personal injuries. Unfortunately, the man may have a hard time receiving the compensation he deserves for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Source: Daily News, “Day laborer, struck by two cars in Bronx, in critical condition,” Sarah Armaghan and Rocco Parascandola, 10 Jan 2011

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Trial Over Deadly Crane Collapse Ends in Acquittal

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The crane rigger accused of negligence and corner cutting prior to a deadly New York City crane collapse was acquitted yesterday by a New York Judge. Seven people died in the 2008 construction accident, including six construction workers and one tourist. Dozens more were injured in the collapse and millions of dollars were lost in damages.

The rigger, William Rapetti, had been charged with manslaughter and, if convicted, faced up to 15 years in prison. The prosecution, New York building officials and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) all fingers Rapetti for the construction accident.

The collapse was blamed on the failure of heavy-duty polyester straps, used by Rapetti to fasten a steel collar to the crane. The steel collar, in turn, helped attach the crane to the building under construction.

Though the crane’s manufacturer urged the use of eight such straps, Rapetti secured it with only four. He was also accused of using at least one strap that was seriously frayed and failed to protect the straps from the crane’s metal edges.

When the worn strap broke, it forced more pressure onto the remaining three straps and broke them as well. With the collar now unsecured, it plummeted down the crane, tearing loose similar steel collars below.

Rapetti’s legal team argued that he had followed accepted safety standards and, in his ruling, the judge appears to have accepted the argument. The defense also claimed that shoddy welding and structural errors were more to blame for the construction accident than Rapetti’s rigging job.

Related Resource

  • Rigger acquitted in deadly ’08 NYC crane collapse (The Associated Press)

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