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Brooklyn Legal Issues Blog

New York sees drop in vehicular fatalities

If you are like many people in New York, you have at times been very concerned about the number of people killed in automobile accidents, especially when these accidents could easily have been avoided if another driver had made a more responsible choice. Good examples include crashes caused by drugged or drunk drivers, wrecks that happen when a driver is distracted by a phone or other device and even those that occur when a driver maneuvers their vehicle in a reckless fashion.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, New York State experienced something of an up and down trend when it comes to the number of deaths in vehicle accidents. Overall, in 2016 there was a slight decline in the total number of fatalities as well as the number of fatalities in crashes involving alcohol, excessive speed, large trucks, motorcyclists and pedestrians. However, 1,025 people still lost their lives that year alone.

Spotlighting the severity of ground-level falls

It may be easy for many in Brooklyn to dismiss those who seek civil action following a slip-and-fall accident as people simply looking for a quick cash grab. This line of thinking no doubt comes from the assumption that ground-level falls cannot produce significant injuries. Most have likely experienced a moment where a false step caused them to lose their balance and fall. Often, one simply uses his or her hands or arms to absorb the impact and is able to walk away with nothing more than wounded pride. Yet depending on the circumstances contributing to them as well as the demographic profile of those who suffer them, falls can easily produce devastating results. 

The World Health Organization reports that every year, 37.7 million falling accidents produce results severe enough to require medical attention. What contributes to the severity of fall injuries? In many cases, it is the lack of anticipation. A slip on a slick surface can often not be foreseen (especially in places one would not expect such a condition). Such an incident can leave one with virtually no time to react, exposing his or her head, shoulders, hips and ankles to sudden (and unprotected) impacts with the hard ground. 

How can workers' comp help families?

For New Yorkers hurt on the job, workers' compensation usually helps replace some of your lost income while you recover. Along with money to pay the bills and medical care to treat your injury, you may not realize there are social services to help you and your family deal with the frustration and stress that comes with an injury.

The state Workers' Compensation Board explains that injuries, both permanent and temporary, can have an overwhelming effect on the family of an injured worker. Not only are they harmed financially, but they can experience a change in social status and personal roles within the family dynamic. Social workers can help counsel family members in dealing with the changes, and offer a variety of additional services as well.

  • Social workers are able to work with insurance carriers to arrange for benefits, and they can also:
  • Attempt to delay legal actions against the worker until other issues are settled.
  • Negotiate for lower payments with landlords, as well as utility businesses and other services.
  • Help the family develop a budget more in line with its now-reduced income.
  • Refer the family to community programs offering food stamps, shelters, food pantries and others.

What is an attractive nuisance?

Summer means more kids running around the streets of Brooklyn. While it is great to see such youth and the vibrancy it brings to local neighborhoods, having more kids out of the house also increases the risk of them being exposed to danger. You no doubt school your children on what they should avoid in order to stay safe, but try as you might, kids are naturally curious and often unaware of the risks certain things pose. This is what makes an attractive nuisance so dangerous. 

What is an "attractive nuisance?" The Cornell University Law School defines it as any property feature or condition that attracts children to it while also presenting a risk to their safety. The acknowledgement of the presence of attractive nuisances allows for the application of the attractive nuisance doctrine, which states that property owners can be held liable if they fail to protect child from the dangerous features on their lands. 

Construction accounts for 20 percent of job fatalities

It is not just New York construction workers who are hurt when safety problems occur at a building site. Depending on the where the renovation, repair or construction is taking place, any number of people may be at risk, including delivery drivers, passersby and other, non-construction employees as well.

Such was the case in the recent death of a 67-year-old security guard in midtown Manhattan, who a local news station reported was crushed by a glass panel that fell on him at a building site near Central Park. The panel fell while being moved by workers at a skyscraper where a 1,550-foot tower is under construction on West 57 Street, just down the street from Carnegie Hall.

Falling objects in the construction industry

Depending on the industry, a falling object can seem less of a rare occurrence and more of a common threat. In the construction industry specifically, such threats could impose dangers at any point during a shift. Not only can New York workers employed in this field face significant risks every day; just one fallen object could prove fatal. There are certain practices affiliated with this type of work that can prove more dangerous than others. 

EHS Today reported in 2016 that fall protection violations made the top of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's list of violations in 2015. With 7,402 violations, this statistic follows a trend of safety violations in recent years. Each year, OSHA records roughly 50,000 dropped object cases; EHS shares that one injury occurs from a dropped object every 10 minutes. While many argue on whether dropped object accidents are entirely preventable, EHS goes on to state that lightweight objects -- when dropped from great heights -- can create fatal accidents. EHS also criticizes the failure to create safer methods of carrying tools when working at such incredible heights, suggesting that more employers instill fall protection programs for tools as well as people.

The truth about police brutality

No matter how one looks at it, the topic of police brutality is among one of America's most crucial. As incident after incident proves that the nation has long struggled with an imbalance in its justice system, countless innocent lives in New York are lost -- whether placed behind bars, harmed or even killed at the hands of an officer. The nation may still be grappling with this widespread issue, but what are some of the possible solutions raised so far? 

Sometimes, refreshing on the facts can help make solutions seem clearer. Vox uses its own study to show the severe imbalance in regard to U.S. police and black Americans: black people accounted for 31 percent of all law enforcement killings in 2012, despite only making up 13 percent of the population. Using voluntary reports from various police agencies nationwide, Vox goes on to reveal that unarmed minorities are most likely to be killed by police. Furthermore, black people face higher chances of being arrested for drugs and incarceration. Searching for answers, Vox considers subconscious racial biases, a contributing factor to the massive disparities in the ways police use force.  

Fighting america's police brutality problem

Police brutality is one of the most debated topics in America today, but also one that many are hesitant to discuss. Those who have been a victim of violence at the hands of law enforcement can feel overwhelmed at the legal steps involved, and some are apprehensive about reporting the incident altogether. The following discusses the current outlook of this issue in New York and across the country as a whole.

One contributor from the NY Daily News reminded readers last June that a large majority of the country's police are still not held accountable for their actions. 2017 was a horrific year when it came to police brutality, as NY Daily recognizes the thousands who fell victim to excessive force from an officer. While the solution to this problem is beyond complex, the main issues appear to lie in a system rooted in white supremacy, racism and classism. NY Daily makes a call to action, claiming America needs to choose a new path of recourse, in addition to the protesting, marching, petitioning and voting. Among them was a series of 25 policy shifts that the Daily discusses in a later piece on police brutality.    

Construction company fined $25,000 after scaffold crash

Everyone in New York knows that construction job sites are ripe with the opportunity for an accident to occur. They should also know and be able to trust, however, that construction companies and contractors follow the clearly outlined safety procedures that they are legally required to. Unfortunately this appears to not happen all of the time as accidents continue to happen leaving innocent people injured unnecessarily.

One such incident that happened in Brooklyn recently has resulted in a $25,000 fine and a citation being issued to the construction company involved. The fine was issued by the New York City Department of Buildings. The violation was connected to an incident on a Saturday morning in which some workers on a job site were taking apart a piece of scaffolding. Reports indicate that the structure spanned roughly 20 feet.

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