Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf 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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helpOn January 28 2019, there was a major development for those who have been victims of sexual abuse as children. Both chambers of the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which has been sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature.

The Child Victims Act extends the current statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse that occurred in the state of New York. Under the new law, prosecutors will be able to bring criminal charges against sexual abusers until the victim is 28 years old. The act also allows victims to bring a lawsuit in civil court against their abusers until the age of 55.

In addition, the act allows a one-year window, starting six months from the effective date of the act, for past victims of child sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits against their abusers and the public and private institutions that let the abuse happen. Further, the act eliminates the Notice of Claim requirement for bringing suits against public institutions both prospectively and during the one-year window for past victims.

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Protect construction workers from winter injuriesDuring the winter, New York construction workers face difficult conditions  that put them at risk of specific injuries. Contractors are responsible for their workers safety and they should take extra precautions to protect them from cold related injuries.

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) just released a serie of infographics in English and Spanish that can be used by contractors to make sure their employees are taking special precautions to protect themselves from winter injuries.

Workers should dress appropriately and contractors should make sure that they provide a heated area for their workers where they can take frequent breaks and drink plenty of warm and sweet beverages. Caffeine and of course alcohol should be avoided.

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e-bikeOn Wednesday, at a hearing on four e-bike and e-scooter bills  Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg indicated that they were not in favor of immediately legalizing the usage e-bikes and and e-scooters. According to them, they are too dangerous and can lead to additional pedestrian and regular bicycle accidents.

Polly Trottenberg said that the DOT had two e-scooter fatalities on record. She also added that New York State should be first to legalize this mode of transportation. However Governor Cuomo recently indicated that localities should be in charge of deciding whether or not they want to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters.

Despite being illegal the usage of e-scooters and e-bikes has been increasingly popular in the city especially among delivery workers.  On Wednesday, many of them were present at a press conference held outside of City Hall before the City Council hearing on the bills.  Delivery workers who are using them for work are fed with paying for tickets that can go up to $500 or have their vehicle confiscated. They want the city to legalize this new mode of transportation as soon as possible. Last year the NYPD confiscated 1,215 e-bikes and distributed 1,154 tickets for using e-bikes. Additionally 1,362 moving violations were issued to e-bike riders during the same period.  For a delivery worker the amount of a ticket can be equivalent to a week of work.

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Location of the deadly limo accident3 months after 20 people were killed in a limousine accident in Schoaries, NY (see previous blog), the National Transportation Safety Board has still not been able to inspect the vehicle. The NTSB has not been able to get closer than 15 feet from the vehicle because the local district attorney is blocking them from doing so. The accident was the deadliest of all traffic accidents in the US since 2009.  The vehicle was a modified 2001 Ford excursion that had failed a state inspection and was driven by a driver that didn’t have the credentials to drive such vehicle.

In certain area such as aviation or train transportation, the NTSB has the legal authority to control the investigation but in highway crashes, local authorities are in charge and in this case the local district attorney has been keeping the federal agency from completing their investigation.

Loss of critical evidence

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US deaths from Methylene ChlorideMethylene Chloride is a dangerous product that has previously caused the death of many people. Short term exposure to methylene chloryde can cause mental confusion, nausea, vomiting , headache and death in the worst cases. In the long term, workers exposed to it can develop cancer, nervous system problems, toxicity in their kidney, liver and reproductive system.Major retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot have removed it from their shelves even before the EPA finalized a ban proposal that was published one day before President Obama left office.  In Europe the deadly chemical was pulled from general use in 2011.

Last May, Scott Pruit confirmed that the EPA was committed to finalize the proposed methylene chloride ban however last month the EPA drafted two new final rules that would ban the use of methylene chloryde to regular consumers but not to commercial operators.  Two new final rules drafted by the EPA allow the usage of the dangerous product for commercial use as long as the workers using it have been trained.  These rules that have not been made public yet but that have been sent by the EPA to the Office of Management and Budget have sparked the furor of public health advocates and and of congressional Democrats. This is a major step back compared to the proposed rule announced by the EPA during the Obama era.

Workers specialized in refinishing bathtubs are the most at risk of dying from Methylene Chloride exposure

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Production_of_cheeseA worker died after falling in a mixing machine in Orangeburg in Rockland County NY. Edwin Nunez, a 41 year old worker at the Icco cheese factory was found dead inside a mixing machine on January 15th around 10:30 am. According to the Daily Voice, Nunez was familiar with the machine. It was his regular assigned workstation.  The accident is being investigated by OSHA.

Industrial mixing machines can be dangerous and injuries and deaths related to mixing machine accidents are sadly not uncommon. In their investigation, OSHA inspectors will have to determine if the machine was installed in compliance with OSHA safety measures and if the worker was sufficiently protected from potential exposure to the machine hazards. The following factors are usually taken into consideration when evaluating employee exposure to industrial mixers:

  • Point of operation: was the employee performing his task from a safe location?
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When  the temperature goes down in New York City the risk of fire accidents increases.

Several people were injured during this long cold weekend in fires that erupted all over New York.

On Saturday morning around 10:00 am 7 people including one resident and 6 firefighters were injured in a five-alarm fire that destroyed a building located on Atlantic Avenue between New Jersey Avenue and Vermont Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood  of Cypress Hills. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It started in a store in the first floor and then spread to residential floors above. 20 residents had to be evacuated. One of them was injured. Among the six firefighters injured many of them suffered frost bite injuries. 13 people lost their homes.

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drone assessing crash sceneSecondary traffic accidents are accidents that occur after a first accident mostly because the traffic conditions changed. When  a car accident occurs,  the road may be blocked for a significant time so that police can proprely assess the accident scene. As a result traffic conditions quickly change, with congestion increasing the risk of additional collisions especially rear-end crashes.  Studies show that secondary crashes go up by a factor of almost 24 when highway safety officials are assessing an accident scene.

REDUCED RISK OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

To try to speed up the assessment process, Engineers at Purdue University teamed up with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office to study how drones could help in assessing car accident scenes. They found that drones can significantly reduce the time to assess a crash scene. A drone can typically assess a crash scene in 5 to 8 minutes. As a result safety improves for everybody involved,  from officers securing and assessing the scene of the accident to emergency responders assisting the victims and regular road users stuck in the traffic congestion created by the accident. The faster the road is back to normal conditions, the safest it is for everybody.

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Tractor Trailer Accident ManhattanIt’s a miracle that no one was injured in a tractor-trailer truck accident that occurred Monday morning in Manhattan around 8:00 am. The morning commute was light that day as most  New Yorkers were observing the Martin Luther King Day Holiday and were off from work. As the tractor-trailer was crossing the intersection of 23rd Street and 6th Ave, the trailer disconnected from the truck cab and slammed into the entrance of the subway station for the F and M lines. The trailer not only blocked the access to the subway entrance but all also to all the 6th Avenue lanes. The police temporarily closed 6th and 7th Avenues to the traffic while they were towing away the rogue trailer. The entrance of the subway that had just reopened in November after 4 months of renovations was slightly damaged and was temporarily closed again. Read more in the Gothamist

Dramatic increase of NYC truck accidents

Truck Accidents NYC October 2018Truck accidents have been increasing dramatically in New York City over the last few years. In 2013 the monthly number of truck accidents in New York City was around 500 to 600 monthly. In 2014 it increased slightly and the NYPD was recording between 600 and 700 truck accidents every month. In October 2015, the number of truck crashes reached 827. The number of truck crashes recorded that specific month was a record number for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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dangerous skyscraper construction sites in ManhattanLast week a giant concrete slab fell from the 26th floor of a skyscraper construction site and crashed into the roof of a sixth story building next to it, destroying the studio apartment of 34 year old Steven Jones. Jones was taking a shower at the time of the accident. If he would have been in his kitchen instead he would be dead. Instead miraculously he only  suffered minor injuries. While he was in the shower, Jones heard what he thought was an explosion and walked out of his bathroom to discover a huge hole in his ceiling and thick dust all over. Jones tried to get out of his apartment but the debris was blocking the entrance as well as the fire escape. Firefighters came to the rescue. They were able to clean the debris and get him out of his apartment safely while the rest of the building was evacuated. The slab of concrete fell after the the 26th floor of the skyscraper under construction at 1059 Third Avenue collapsed.  The Department of Buildings issued a full stop work order for the site. According to their records, a similar accident previously occurred a month earlier and the DOB had already issued a partial stop work order between floors 26th and 30th after debris fell and broke the glass roof of a nearby townhouse. The stop order was lifted after an inspection determined that the violation had been corrected. Apparently the problem was still there.

Construction elevator dangling 30 stories on top of sidewalk

On Monday another freaky accident occurred at a super skyscraper construction site located on 57th Street near Sixth Avenue. An exterior elevator came loose on the 58th Street side of the building and began smashing against the building sending glass and other debris onto the street below. The police closed the entire area for hours. Tenants were evacuated from the top floors of a nearby building.  Customers were stuck in restaurants for hours until the heavy elevator that was dangling from the scaffolding 3o stories above the street was removed. Again the worst was avoided and nobody was injured as the cold kept many New Yorkers inside and very few pedestrians were in the street when the accident occurred around 8:00 pm.