Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.
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Carbon monoxide is suspected to have caused the death of 4 elderly people in a house in Queens, NYC on Friday.  83 year old Jerry Hugel and his 80 year old wife Marie as well as their tenant 70 year old Gloria Greco and Walter Von Thadden a 70 year old friend were all found dead in their house on 86th street Avenue in Floral Park. According to the authorities the house filled with gas after a car was left running in the basement. The house didn’t have any carbon monoxide detectors even though it is required by Amanda’s law in New York since 2009.

Amanda’s Law  is named after a 16 year old girl who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping over at a friend’s house. This law requires that  every one or two-family dwelling, condominium, cooperative and each unit of a multiple dwelling shall have an operable carbon monoxide (CO) detector.  The use of a battery operated detector is allowed for homes built before 2008. All homes built after this date must have the alarm hard-wired in the building.  Amanda’s Law also requires contractors to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm. CO detectors are required only if the dwelling unit has appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide or there is an attached garage.

Read more in the New York Times

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Our partners, New York personal injury lawyers Ben Rubinowitz and Peter Sagir represented the family of Marilyn Dershowitz, a retired Manhattan Supreme Court special referee who died in a bicycle accident during which she was hit by a postal tractor trailer truck.  Following a two-week bench trial in February U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn found the federal government 100% liable for the fatal accident in a 72 page Opinion.

The accident happened on Saturday July 2, 2011. Marylin and her husband Nathan Dershowitz of Dershowitz, Eiger & Adelson, and the brother of Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz,  were riding their bikes on West 29th street between Ninth and Tenth Ave in Manhattan, New York. Both were wearing a helmet. As they rode under an overpass connecting two US postal mail facilities, the road was narrowed by a protruding Postal Trailer that was perpendicularly parked at a dock. As Mrs Dershowitz was about to ride her bike in the narrower side way, just behind her another postal trailer, driven by Ian Clement, was competing with a silver minivan to get in first in the narrower roadway as  due to the parallel parked trailers to the south and the protruding perpendicular Postal Trailer to the north, cars were not able to travel side-by-side. The postal trailer got in before the minivan but he didn’t see the cyclist and hit her as he was veering to the right to be able to fit into the roadway.

Southern District Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn ruled Wednesday that the federal government was 100 percent liable for the accident. Netburn said “a preponderance of the credible evidence” showed that Clement’s driving and the placement of a postal trailer protruding into the street were the “sole, proximate cause of the decedent’s injuries. Mrs. Dershowitz was not contributorily negligent.”

“As tragic an event as this is, the Dershowitz family was relieved to know and vindicated to know the judge found no fault on the part of Marilyn Dershowitz.” commented Ben Rubinowitz. Rubinowitz estimated damages would be approximately $5 million.

Read more in the New York Law Journal and in Courthouse News Service

Download a pdf of the complete ruling

plaintiff Exhibit Truck Bicycke Accident 2 plaintiff Exhibit Truck Bicycke Accident

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yellow cabAs part of the Vision Zero Program to reduce traffic deaths and injuries related to traffic accidents in New York, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) started to test a warning system in six of its cabs. The warning system uses artificial vision technology such as cameras and radar to warn drivers about  a potential upcoming collision.  This test is a step in the TLC Vehicle Safety Technology Pilot Program.

Read more in the New York Post

Picture: courtesy of Wikipedia

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blood bagIn the US red blood cell units can be stored for up to 42 days after they are collected.  Previous studies have questioned this medical practice and  have implied that the storage duration may impact the quality of the blood cell units. These studies which were based on observations showed a correlation between the transfusion of blood stored for a longer duration and increased morbidity and mortality. However according to National Institutes of Health the clinical significance of these findings was  difficult to determine due to study-design limitations.

In order to get a better opinion on whether red blood cell storage duration impacts a patient’s clinical outcome after transfusion  the NIH  funded the Red Cell Storage Duration Study (RECESS) that was also supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

RECESS was conducted at 27 hospitals in the US including Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University and Columbia University Medical Center in New York. The study evaluated 1,098 cardiac surgery patients who were randomized to receive red blood cell units stored for short (up to 10 days) or long periods (21 or more days).  The study was conducted from January 2010 to January 2014.

The study found no statistical difference in the outcome of adult patients undergoing complex cardiac surgery receiving transfusions of red blood cell units stored for short (up to 10 days) versus long (21 or more days) periods. Therefore the NIH believes that there is no need to alter how hospitals currently transfuse blood in adults going through complex cardiac surgical procedures.

Read the press release


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April is distracted driving awareness month and the National Safety Council is running its annual campaign to  prevent car accidents related to driver cell phone use. This year’s campaign’s focus is on the risks of hand free devices and new vehicle technologies that allow drivers not only to talk on the phone but also to check emails, post social content or order take out food while driving. According to the NSC, even though 80% of drivers mistakenly believe hands free devices are safer than hand held, more than 30 studies have already demonstrated that hand free devices don’t make drivers safer as their brains remain distracted.

The NSC campaign’s video shows a mother driving with a child in the back seat and receiving a a call from her husband. As she talk to him through a hand free device, her brain gets distracted and she drives through an intersection without seeing a stop sign resulting in an accident and the video ends on the sentence “Calls Kill”.

The NSC also makes available posters to download asking drivers to focus on the road and asking pedestrians and bicyclists not to assume that drivers always see them as drivers talking on cell phones, handheld or hands-free, can miss seeing 50% of what’s around them. Fact sheets and infographics are also available on the NSC website. Additionally two free webnars Our Brains on Technology: A Risky Combo for Drivers and Hands-free or Handheld: Risks your Workplace Can’t Afford will be held respectively on April 9th and 21st.

recent study  shows cell phone use was more likely among females, those younger then 25 years and those driving alone. The study also shows that the overall prevalence of any cell phone use tended to decline from 2011 to 2013 but texting appeared to increase from 2011 to 2013.

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Our Managing Partner Ben Rubinowitz  was interviewed by Mario Diaz of  PIX 11 as to the recent NYC East Village gas explosion.  Mr. Diaz quoted Ben as follows,  “It’s a  rare thing to have one party to blame. Usually there is shared fault in these cases.” Ben went on to state,  “The gas should have been shut down to the entire building no  matter what until this was rectified. In other words the failure to make sure that everyone was protected is where the fault lies.” To read the full article and see the video  interview click here.

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An explosion that injured 19 people, causing a massive a massive fire which caused three buildings to collapse, was caused when construction workers inside a sushi restaurant in the East Village accidentally hit a gas line. The explosion inside 121 Second Ave., between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place, caused the buildings at 121, 123 and 119 to collapse after they became engulfed in flames, according to city officials. No. 125 was still burning Thursday evening. “The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 Second Avenue,” said Mayor de Blasio at a news conference Thursday evening detailing the explosion that injured at least 14 civilians and five emergency responders. See Photos,Videos and  Read more at NBC New York.

See Video Below from CBS News;

According to The New York Times, “Among the 19 people reported injured, four were critically injured; four were firefighters who were taken to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries; and three others, including one emergency medical worker, declined medical attention at the scene, according to the Fire Department.”


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protect construction workers from exposure to Crystalline SilicaConstruction workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica have a high risk of developing silicosis, a debilitating and sometimes fatal lung disease. Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as renal disease are also common among workers who are exposed to silica dust.

0.05 mg/m3 is NIOSH’s respirable crystalline silica Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) but many worker’s exposure exceed this limit.

Construction workers involved in asphalt pavement mining are among the workers  who are the most at risk of being overexposed to respirable Crystalline Silica.

To protect these workers from personal injury related to overexposure to crystalline silica, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has worked with an array of industry stakeholders — heavy/highway construction contractors, labor organizations, equipment manufacturers, and government officials — to identify solutions. They recently published guidelines and industry best practices to control construction workers exposure to this dangerous dust during Asphalt Pavement Milling. The complete document can be downloaded here. A brief Field Guide for Controlling Silica Dust Exposure on Asphalt Pavement Milling Machines  produced by CPWR, NIOSH and NAPA is also available.

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3449 people were injured and 13 people died  in traffic accidents in New York City in January 2015 compared to respectively 3899 and 21 in January 2014 , 3993 and 28 in January 2013 and 4179 and 21 in January 2012. These numbers are encouraging and may indicate that the Vision Zero Program started approximately a year ago may be effective in making New York City streets safer. Data from December 2014 and January 2015 also show, for the first time, two consecutive months during which the total monthly number of traffic fatalities was below 14. The total number of motor vehicle accidents was stable. Below are graphs depicting traffic accident rates from January, 2013 to January 2015 for various types of accidents for each month for this time period in NYC.

Traffic fatalities NYC january 2015

Motor Vehicle Accident injuries by month in NYC

Motor Vehicle Accidents NYC january 2015

6 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in January 2015 compared to 12 in January 2014, 20 in January 2013 and 12 in January 2012. This is the lowest number since May 2013. This is also half the number recorded the same month a year before.  In January 2015, 902 pedestrians suffered personal injury after being struck by a car compared to respectively 1075, 1107 and 1045 in 2014, 2013 and 2012. Its the first time that this number is below 1000 for the month of January.

Pedestrian deaths and injuries NYC January 2015

115 people were injured and 1 person died in bicycle accidents in January.  Bike accidents are usually at their lowest in New York City during the months of January and February because less people use their bikes because of the bad weather and the snow.

Bicycle accidents injuries deaths NYC January 2015

Driver inattention continues to be the primary cause of traffic accidents in New York City. Following too closely, failure to yield the right of way, passing or improper lane usage as well as passing too closely are also the cause of  many vehicle collisions in the city.

Human factors in traffic accidents NYC January 2015