Articles Posted in Accidents, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

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A Jamesville, New York biker was killed yesterday when a United States Post Office mail truck made a left hand turn in front of him. Forty-seven year old William J. Allen was traveling north on Apulia Road, at or about the intersection of West Shore Manor Road, when the mail truck turned into his path. According to, a witness driving behind the mail truck said that there was sun glare which may have made it hard for the mail truck driver to see Allen.

“While this sounds like an ordinary motorcycle accident, it is not,” said Syracuse wrongful death lawyer Michael A. Bottar. Because the United States Postal Service owned the mail truck involved, there are special rules that apply to any legal proceedings that may arise out of this incident. Generally, under a doctrine called “sovereign immunity,” a private citizen was not allowed to “sue the King.” The doctrine was continued into modern times and prohibits private citizens from suing the government – unless the government authorizes the lawsuit. The details about whether a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the government is authorized can be found int the Federal Tort Claims Act.

In order to file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the injured and/or or the injured’s family must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency allegedly responsible for the negligence. The claim typically is reduced to a document called a Form 95. This is where may lawyers fall short. If a Form 95 is not filed, then the private citizen lacks standing to file a lawsuit against the government. Also, the window to file a Form 95 is only two years from when the claim accrues.

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According to Syracuse ladder accident attorney Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Law, PLLC, “hundreds of ladder accidents happen every year despite OSHA regulations that require companies to make ladders safe for construction workers to use.” Some of those regulations are discussed in our recent release titled Syracuse Ladder Accident Lawyers Discuss New York Construction Site Fall and OSHA Injury Statistics.

A shocking 127 people died in 2009 due to falling of a ladder. That number rose to 129 in 2010. Fortunately, a ladder accident that occurred yesterday on Old Liverpool Road in the Town of Salina, did not result in a fatality.

Even so, worker Richard Coe was badly injured. reports that Coe, 49, fell approximately twenty-five (25) feet to the ground when the aluminum ladder he was working from tipped over. Coe, who was employed by Landmark Constracting & Development Co., sustained a traumatic head injury and back injury. OSHA and Syracuse construction accident lawyers will be investigating the accident.

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A Syracuse man died yesterday after falling into a hydro-turbine. On Monday, July 8, 2011, Wave Hydroelectric, LLC co-owner Jon C. Stranburg fell off of a walkway and into the turbine water tank below. Because the turbine was running, Stranburg was pulled below the surface of the water. According to, the turbine’s braking system malfunctioned.

In the State of New York, a worker cannot sue his or her employer for lost wages or pain and suffering unless he or she suffers a “grave injury.” According to section 11 of the Workers Compensation law, a “grave injury” is defined as a “death, permanent and total loss of use or amputation of an arm, leg, hand or foot, loss of multiple fingers, loss of multiple toes, paraplegia or quadriplegia, total and permanent blindness, total and permanent deafness, loss of nose, loss of ear, permanent and severe facial disfigurement, loss of an index finger or an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in permanent total disability.”

By definition, the tank Stranburg fell into is a “confined space.” A confined space is an area that limits the way a worker can enter or exit the space. Confined spaces are not intended for continuous occupancy.

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“The third New York tour bus accident in sixteen days just occurred on Route 81, in Whitney Point,” said Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a Syracuse bus accident lawyer. Whitney Point is located in Broome County, roughly 50 miles south of Syracuse and 20 miles north of Binghamton. The bus was carrying 28 passengers, many of whom were injured when the bus left the roadway and flipped onto its roof. The injured were transported to Wilson Hospital in Johnson City and Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton.

We reported on the July 18, 2011 accident in a blog post titled New York Tour Bus Crash Lawyer Reviews Steuben Tour Bus Accident. That accident appears to have been caused by a tire blow-out. We reported on the July 22, 2011 accident in a blog post titled Waterloo Bus Crash Lawyer’s Analysis of Tractor Trailer Accident With Tour Bus On New York State Thruway. A mechanical problem or a failure to yield appears to have caused that accident. The cause of the third accident, which occurred only three hours ago, remains under investigation.

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may want to take a look at what is happening in central and upstate New York,” Bottar said. “In the past year, more than 100 people have been injured in central New York bus accidents.”

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At 1:30 a.m. this morning, a tour bus traveling from Canada to New York City was struck from behind by a Matrix tractor trailer carrying seven tons of ball bearings. The New York State Thruway accident occurred in the eastbound lanes, near the Waterloo Premium Outlet mall. The driver of the tractor trailer was killed and dozens of tour bus passengers, many from Canada, where injured and transported to hospitals in Syracuse and Rochester.

According to Syracuse bus accident attorney Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Law, PLLC, a Syracuse-based law firm with experience prosecuting New York tractor trailer accident lawsuits, including cases for people injured in an accident on the New York State Thruway, “this is the second tour bus accident in upstate New York this week. Since Sunday, when a Bedore Tours bus left I-390 and crashed, three people have lost their lives and more than 50 people have been injured.”

The reason for the Matrix crash, which caused the involved bus and tractor trailer to catch fire, is under investigation. Early reports suggests that the tour bus had been stopped on the shoulder of the Thruway and was attempting to return to a lane of eastbound travel when it was rear-ended by the tractor trailer.

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On Sunday, just 10 months after a Megabus traveling from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls crashed into a bridge in Syracuse, New York, a tour bus en route from Washington, D.C. to Niagara falls crashed in Steuben County. The New York tour bus crash happened at around 4:15 p.m., in the Town of Avoca, when the tour bus left the right, northbound shoulder of I-390, proceeded down an embankment and drove into a wooded area. The Bedore Tours bus crash killed two passengers and injured nearly three dozen others. Preliminary reports indicate that a tire blowout might have caused the wreck.

According to New York State News on the Net, the two passengers killed, Shail Khanna and Sakina Kiazar, were from India. Michael A. Bottar, of Bottar Law, PLLC, a New York personal injury attorney representing several individuals injured in the 2010 Syracuse Megabus crash added that “a husband and father of two from India was also killed in the Megabus tour bus crash. Anyone injured or killed in the accident has rights, whether or not they live in New York or are United States citizens,” Bottar added.

“We often work with individuals and families from other states or countries who have lost a loved one in an accident in the United States.” With offices around the State of New York and nearly three decades of experience prosecuting complex personal injury cases like tour bus accidents, including last year’s Megabus accident (read more here), the legal team at Bottar Law, PLLC has the institutional knowledge and resources necessary to help the victims of mass casualty events recover for pain and suffering, lost wages and permanent disabilities.

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A large explosion occurred early today in Salem, New York, a small town located approximately 50 miles north of Albany. According to witnesses, a two story house was destroyed. Debris from the blast, including cinderblocks, was found more than 50 yards away. Neighbors reported hearing the blast for miles. The explosion caused the death of 5 people, and injured 6 others.

“We have been retained throughout the State of New York to investigate explosions like this one, and to determine the cause of other catastrophic events such as a building or bridge collapse,” said Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, of Bottar Law, PLLC. “Typically, we try to get to the scene as soon as possible so that we can take pictures and have one or more experts we work with conduct an investigation. Often, our own investigation runs parallel to fire or police department investigations. Sometimes, our experts uncover evidence missed by the authorities.”

According to, area police suspect that a propane leak may have caused the explosion. Propane is a three-carbon alkane, usually a gas, that is heavier than air. The “weight” of propane causes it to sink into low-lying enclosed spaces. This creates the potential for an explosion. If propane caused the Salem explosion, there are a number of entitles that could be liable for the injury and wrongful death of nearly a dozen New Yorkers, e.g., the manufacturer of the propane tank, the company that installed propane tank and/or the company that fills the propane tank. In addition, if the people involved were renting the house, the owner of the home could be liable for damages. In certain circumstances, town and county municipalities may also be liable for an explosion, or structural failure, if one or both improperly issued a building permit or certificate of occupancy. “It’s too early to tell,” Bottar added.

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The latest in a string of New York boating accidents occurred yesterday on New York’s Hudson River, near Tivoli when, at around 6:30 a.m., a nineteen foot Chris Craft boat collided with a concrete structure near the eastern shore of the river. According to reports, Joseph Vehnick called 911 after reaching shore. Jessica Hotailing also survived. John Uvino, Robert Macarthur, Deena Cordero and Jay Bins were killed in the crash.

According to Syracuse boat accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, “nationally, more than 600 people die every year in boating accidents, including on New York’s waterways.” Bottar added, “while most people are injured when two boats collide, the number three cause of death and injury is collision with a fixed object.” Recent United States Coast Guard boating accident statistics can be found here.

Liability for a death or injury that occurs as a result of a boating accident can fall on a number of parties, including the boat’s owner, the boat’s operator, a bar or restaurant (if alcohol was involved) and a town, county or the state if, for example, a waterway is improperly marked. Examples of improper markings include the failure to identify a known hazard with a buoy, the absence of channel markings, and blown buoy or channel lighting.

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Earlier today, two CSX employees abandoned a moving locomotive just seconds before a collision with another train. The New York train crash occurred in Dewitt, near Court Street. According to, witnesses reported that it felt like an “earthquake” when the trains collided. Several cars derailed.

New York train accidents are more common than one would think. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) database, CSX has been involved in more than 80 accidents since 2008. The majority of these accidents were due to track switches that were improperly aligned. Per the FRA, other causes of CSX train accidents include the use of excessive horsepower, human factors (i.e., human errors), improper instruction, defective equipment and fouled tracks.

“We have handled several train accident cases over the past decade,” said Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq. “Each case has involved negligence on the part of the railroad, e.g., ignoring warnings about pedestrians crossing the tracks, speeding, improper track maintenance, and failing to use appropriate signal lights and warning devices.” Cases against the railroad are complicated because evidence necessary to establish railroad liability frequently goes missing. Things like speed tapes, event recorders and dispatch or inspection records quickly vanish. Bottar added, “a review of published court decisions reveals that several motions against railroads for the destruction of evidence. This pattern of behavior is suspicious, to say the least.”
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A Syracuse man was killed on Saturday while riding his motorcycle, without a helmet, to protest New York’s motorcycle helmet law. According to, at or about 1:30 p.m. on July 2, 2011, 55 year old Philip Contos went over the handlebars of his Harley motorcycle. Apparently, Mr. Contos looked down to inspect a problem and, when he looked up, traffic had slowed. He slammed on his brakes, fishtailed and was propelled forward onto his head. He was pronounced dead at University Hospital in Syracuse.

According to Syracuse motorcycle accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Law, PLLC, a New York personal injury law firm, “approximately 5,000 people are killed every year while operating a motorcycle – many due to head trauma.” Even though helmets save lives, as many as 50% of riders report that they do not wear a helmet. Common complaints about helmets include impaired sight lines, difficultly hearing traffic sounds and discomfort. Bottar added, “the single most critical factor in the prevention of a motorcycle head injury is the use of a safety helmet, assuming the helmet is one that complies with FMVSS218.”

Helmets are a necessary safety countermeasure because motor vehicle operators often fail to see motorcycle riders. Bottar added, “two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents occur when a car invades the motorcycle right-of-way.”

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