Is Your Ford Explorer Poisoning You?

If you drive a Ford Explorer, it may be poisoning you. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there have been more than 2,700 complaints about carbon monoxide poisoning in drivers and passengers of 2011-2017 models of Ford Explorer SUVs.  41 injuries and 3 motor vehicle accidents are presumed to be linked to the poisoning. Just this past July, 24 officers in Texas were found to have high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, leading the police to remove 400 Explorers from the roads.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be dangerous for both drivers and passengers and include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of breath
  • Loss of consciousness

The NHTSA has determined that the poisoning is attributed to leaky exhaust systems in the SUVs. At the urgency of the Center for Automobile Safety, although Ford has not agreed to do a formal recall, they have agreed to inspect and repair the exhaust systems of Ford Explorer models 2011-2017 free of charge. If you or someone you love owns a 2011-2017 Ford Explorer, contact your local Ford dealership immediately to schedule an appointment to have your vehicle’s exhaust system inspected and repaired:

In Poughkeepsie – 845-462-1900
In Beacon – 845-831-1400
In Newburgh – 845-561-3900
In Kingston – 845-338-7800
In Rhinebeck – 845-876-4400

In the event you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident attorney at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera LLP.

Why the California Fires should be a Wake-Up Call to New Yorkers

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In the wake of the destructive and horrific California fires, it has been reported that at least 40 people have died and 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed since the wildfires began making it one of the deadliest fires in California’s history. In just 30 seconds a single flame can turn into a full-blown fire capable of great destruction. Although wildfires are uncommon in New York, other causes of fires including electrical problems can destroy homes and other buildings. What may surprise you is that your home insurance may not cover your losses if your house is destroyed in a fire.

In recently reported news, two years ago a woman in Long Island was denied her claim after a house fire. The reason? Her application failed to mention that she owned a pit bull. Last year a family in Queens lost their home to a fire. What was the insurance company’s reason for denying their claim? The house had a third apartment and the family was only paying to insure a two-family structure. Later that same year a family in Middletown was forced to pay out of pocket to stay at a hotel after a house fire because the home insurance policy didn’t cover rent in the event a family is displaced by a fire.

When an insurance company fails to pay on a claim there are two potential causes of action: Breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith. A breach of contract claim is based on the insurance company’s failure to pay according to the terms of their contract whereas a breach of the duty of good faith is based on the insurance company’s failure to thoroughly examine a claim and reasonably negotiate a settlement. Unfortunately, New York is one of the few states that does not permit a private cause of action against an insurance company for bad faith. Despite this, the New York Court of Appeals has held that policyholders can recover consequential damages or “extra contractual damages” from insurance companies if the damages were foreseeable at the time the policy was written. However, subsequent cases hold that these damages must be alleged within the breach of contract claim not as a separate bad faith claim.

Since lawsuits against insurance companies for failure to pay claims are limited in New York it is important to make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy adequately protects you in the event of a fire. Some tips when shopping for homeowner’s insurance are as follows:

  • Ensure that the information on the application is complete and accurate
  • Make sure the policy covers rental fees in the event you are displaced from your home
  • Look for language that protects the contents of your home in the event they are damaged in a fire
  • Make sure it covers other detached structures on your property such as a garage or shed

For additional information or in the event you have been injured in a fire, contact the legal team at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera.

“Hurricane Cars” are Likely to Flood the Used Car Market

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With still two months left in the hurricane season, the United States has already been hit with two major category 4 hurricanes, Harvey and Irma. These two storms resulted in intense storm surge and flooding. According to Carfax, it is estimated that 500,000 cars sustained flood damage from Hurricane Harvey. Carfax estimates that half of these cars will end up being sold in the used car market, and often are shipped to distant locations where consumers may be less aware of the potential of purchasing a flood damaged vehicle. According to Consumer Reports, many of these vehicles appear in the market with clean titles and are disguised as used vehicles rather than salvage vehicles. Flood damage is easily concealed and can be difficult to spot so it is important to be cognizant of this when shopping for a used car.

Some warning signs of flood damaged vehicles include the following:

  • Debris and dirt under the seats, in the doors or glovebox, under the hood, in the truck and in the wheels
  • Musty odors that may be covered up by a strong scent of air freshener
  • Upholstery that does not match
  • Rust and corrosion in unexpected places such as under the seats
  • Evidence that seat screws that have been removed
  • Water lines on the head and rear lights and behind the engine
  • Evidence that rubber drain plugs have been removed

In addition to physically inspecting the car for any flood damage, it is important that the car be taken for a test drive to discern if there is any mechanical or technological damage to the vehicle. Even with these initial inspections, there are long term effects of a car being submerged in water that may take months or years to appear as a result of corrosion and oxidation. The damage sustained by “hurricane cars” can lead to vehicle malfunction and make operation of these cars dangerous for drivers and passengers.

For additional resources and to find out if a particular vehicle has sustained flood damage visit https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars.

Personal Injury Claims for Motorcycle Accident Victims

Motorcycle accidents can be fatal and those who do survive often suffer devastating injuries. The federal government estimates that in 2014, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 27 times that of people in cars. Motorcycle accidents often result in serious brain injuries. In 2015, 40% of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents were not wearing a helmet. It is for this reason it is important that helmets are worn. Motorcycle helmets are approximately 37% effective in preventing death and approximately 67% effective in preventing brain injuries.

Duty to mitigate
In a New York personal injury action, when a person is injured by the negligence of someone else, even through no fault of his or her own, the injured person has a duty to minimize the consequences of the injury. This is also known as the “duty to mitigate.” In the case of a motorcycle accident, defense counsel may raise a defense to prevent recovery for any injuries caused or enhanced by a plaintiff’s failure to wear a helmet.

New York’s No-Fault Law does not apply to motorcyclists.
Unlike drivers and passengers injured in cars, motorcyclists do not receive the protection of New York’s No-Fault law. This is because motorcyclists do not fall under the statute’s definition of “motor vehicle.” Thus, motorcyclist will not be entitled to receive the benefits of no-fault insurance including payment for accident-related medical bills, lost wages and extraneous expenses such as travel to and from medical appointments and household help.

Motorcyclist plaintiff’s do not have to meet the “serious injury threshold.”
Although motorcyclists do not receive the benefits of New York’s No-Fault law, they also do not have to meet the often challenging “serious injury threshold.” This is the threshold that you must meet in order to sue for pain and suffering resulting from a motor vehicle accident. New York’s No-fault statute sets forth what qualifies as a “serious injury” and limits who can recover for injuries suffered in a car accident.

An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in getting maximum compensation for your motorcycle accident-related injuries.
Though the fallout after a motorcycle accident may be traumatic and the wellbeing of all parties involved should be the primary concern, you should seek an experienced attorney to represent you in the claim against the driver who hit you. The attorneys at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP are here to assist you in pursuing your claim, will evaluate your case free of charge and obtain the maximum recovery available for your injuries.

Keeping Kids Safe in the Car

Motor vehicle injuries amongst children are a tragic cause of death that can be prevented by an increased use of the appropriate safety restraints. The first step to keeping kids safe in the car is ensuring the use of a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt as their height and weight requirement permits. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, car seats reduce the risk of infant fatality by 71% and to toddlers by 54% in passenger vehicles.

Aside from ensuring kids are buckled up, correct usage of car seats and booster seats can save lives. Knowing which kind of car seat your child should be using based on their age, height and weight is preeminently important. After installing the car seat following your specific car seat’s guidelines, you should register the car seat here to receive any recall notices should they occur.

New York’s Occupant Restraint laws require the following:

  • Children up to the age of 4 must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat that is attached to a vehicle by a seat belt or universal child restraint anchorage (LATCH) system. However, a child who is under the age of 4 and weighs more than 40 pounds may be restrained in a booster seat with a lap/shoulder safety belt.
  • Children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7 must be properly secured in a child restraint system that is designed to accommodate a certain height and weight.
  • Children ages 8 through 15 must be restrained by a seat belt that has both a shoulder and lap belt. According to The CDC states that seat belts reduce the risk of death and severe injury in half for older children and adults.
  • Although not required, it is recommended that children be secured in a booster seat until the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height or weighs 100 pounds.

In addition to New York’s laws, the CDC recommends that children be seated in the back seat until the age of 12 to prevent injury from a front seat airbag. The safest spot for children in the back row is the middle back seat. Having your child seated in the back seat reduces his/her risk of death by 33%.

New York recently passed legislation that would require children under the age of 2 to remain in rear facing car seats. The legislation cites a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics that showed a rear-facing car seat best protects a child’s head by “preventing the relatively large head from moving independently of the proportionately smaller neck.” If Governor Cuomo signs this bill, failure to abide by the law will result in a penalty of a fine of $100 and 3 points on the driver’s license for violations involving children under the age of 16. This penalty applies to violations of any of the above referenced requirements under New York’s Occupant Restraint laws.

Above all, parents and caregivers must set an example for children by using a seat belt themselves. As children get older, they may be resistant to comply with the child safety restraint laws, especially if they see a role model ignoring regulations. To keep your kids safe, you must also take your own safety seriously.