Monthly Archives: May 2018

Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Crash Fatalities Up 46%

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released a report indicating that pedestrian deaths in crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians rose a shocking 46% between 2009 and 2016. This is particularly surprising since the number of pedestrian deaths as a result of vehicle accidents was actually lower in 2016 than in 1975, by 20%.

Arterials and SUVs Responsible for Increased Deaths

The figures, derived from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System, also pinpointed where differences in pedestrian deaths above the average occurred.  The biggest climb was on arterials, where 67% more pedestrians died as a result of crashes during the period. Darkness was also responsible for a large rise, 56%, and deaths in urban areas rose 54%. Pedestrian deaths at non-intersections increased 50%.

What kind of vehicle were most involved in pedestrian fatalities? The number of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) involved in pedestrian deaths was significantly higher than any other vehicle every year.

Deaths among children actually decreased during the period, but deaths rose more than 5% every year for people between the ages of 30 and 69.

The report noted that more people are walking as a mode of transportation, including work commutes. The number of Americans walking to work, for example, rose nearly 1 million in the decade between 2005 and 2015.

More Safety Measures Needed

The authors called for an increase in safety measures to combat the sharp rise in pedestrian deaths.

The fact that more fatal crashes occurred at arterials, urban areas, and nonintesections strongly indicate that safety measures should be concentrated there.

Both drivers and pedestrians should also be strongly urged to exercise safety precautions at night, including caution for drivers (vehicle headlights are a must, of course), and improved visibility for pedestrians, who should wear reflective gear and walk where there is road lighting.

Improved road lights, especially in urban arterial areas, should also be a focus of safety precautions.

Urban arterials especially could benefit from proven safety measures, including road diets (the narrowing of roads or lanes), median crossing islands, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and speed enforcement measures.

If You Need Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in New York or New Jersey

The startling rise in pedestrian accidents between 2009 and 2016 should remind us all to exercise safety precautions, as walkers and drivers, as citizens whose taxes pay for roads and as parents of pedestrians.

Sadly, even with improved safety measures, tragedies involving vehicles and pedestrians will still occur  in New York and New Jersey.

If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a pedestrian and vehicle accident, please contact our law firm to discuss your case. KGG attorneys have decades of experience in pedestrian accidents.

Call us at (800) 711-5258 to speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer NYC trusts to take on the deep-pocketed insurance companies and fight for maximum compensation. We have offices both in Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ. All initial consultations are complimentary.

Additional Resources:

  1. Hu, Wen and Jessica B Cicchino. “An examination of the increases in pedestrian motor vehicle crash fatalities during 2009–16.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. May 2018. http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=2160.
  2. Jaffe, Eric. “So What Exactly Is a ‘Road Diet’?” CityLab. September 12, 2014. https://www.citylab.com/design/2014/09/so-what-exactly-is-a-road-diet/379975/
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Can You Change a Divorce Agreement?

Photo of divorce petitionAs all divorcees well know, life does not always go as planned. People grow, relationships evolve, children are born, jobs are changed, and unexpected detours happen. When a divorce is made legal, both spouses will agree – in writing – on the terms of the settlement. This may be done through mediation, litigation or arbitration. Depending on the couple, this decree may include provisions for child support, child custody and parental rights, division of assets/property, as well as alimony payments.

After a divorce is finalized, and all the terms spelled out, you may decide that the agreement is no longer feasible or in your best interests. Whether it’s six months later or six years later, significant life changes can compel ex-spouses to seek an amendment or modification of their divorce agreement.

Modifying a divorce decree in NY and NJ

Generally speaking, the courts will only consider modifying a divorce decree in the event of drastic life changes, or if one party committed fraud during settlement negotiations. As an example, a child support agreement may be altered if it is later proven that one spouse failed to disclose income or assets. In this situation, a judge may change support payments to reflect this additional income.

If one ex-spouse loses their high-paying job, or otherwise comes into financial difficulties, they could file a motion to change their child support order. In the state of New York, this modification is only allowed if one parent can show a substantial (at least 15 percent) change in income.

The terms of spousal support can also be modified in the event one party retires, loses their job, suffers a huge pay cut, or receives a financial windfall (such as an inheritance) that boosts discretionary income. The courts can terminate the spousal support completely or alter the amount to reflect the current circumstances. However, the courts will require proper documentation (such as proof of unemployment) of financial changes in order to process this motion.

Post-divorce modifications to your settlement are easiest to achieve when both parties agree to the changes. If you are not able to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse about changes to child support, alimony or other terms, you can file a petition to modify with the assistance of a qualified attorney.

The fastest way to modify the terms of a divorce is to collaborate with your ex-partner, either alone or with a divorce attorney, to reach a mutual agreement which can then be presented to the courts for processing.

KGG divorce attorneys

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. has decades of expertise in family law. If you live in northern New Jersey or New York and want to modify or alter your settlement decree, we invite you to schedule a private consultation with a divorce lawyer Rockland County residents have come to trust. With seasoned legal guidance, you can take the least-disruptive steps to modify the original order, and come to a mutually beneficial situation.

Additional Resources on Post Divorce Modifications:

  1. WomensLaw.org, Divorce: New Jersey, http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=187&state_code=NJ
  2. NY Courts, Divorce Basics, https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/family/divorceBasics.shtml
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Bergen County Heroes of the Month

KGG law with Habitat for HumanityThe law office of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman is proud to support Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County! The goal of Habitat is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the face of the earth by working in partnership with people in need.  Using volunteer labor and donated funds and materials, Habitat builds or rehabilitates simple, decent houses and sells them to low-income families at cost, but with no interest added.

Jacey Raimondo, Executive Director, was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to meet us at one of Habitat for Humanity’s work sites in Washington Township, New Jersey.  Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County was established in 1994 and has since built 47 homes in Bergen County!  There newest project that we visited is set to house 4 units, for 2 veterans and 2 senior citizens.

How can you help?

Habitat is always looking for more volunteers and with the weather getting nicer, it’s the perfect time!  Click here to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

If you are unable to volunteer, you can also help this excellent cause by donating new or gently used furniture to their Restore Bergen located at 121 Carver Avenue, Westwood, New Jersey 07675.  They offer FREE PICKUPS to surrounding towns which are listed in the link above.  Bergen Restore is also a great place to buy new and gently used furniture as the proceeds go straight to funding house builds and restorations!

Habitat for Humanity also holds fundraising events throughout the year such as Women in Business Networking High Tea on June 7th in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ and their 7th Annual Golf Outing in Tenafly, NJ.

For additional questions, please reach out to info@habitatbergen.org.

KGG Law Firm Proudly Supports Local Charities

KGG Law Firm has been helping Bergen County residents with legal matters since 1975. Our wide-ranging expertise includes personal injury law, family law and divorce, class action litigation, employment law, estate planning, and real estate. While there are plenty of New Jersey law firms you can choose to represent your best interests, we are one that puts our money where our mouth is. We proudly support local causes like the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Shelter to make our community a better place to live. Contact us for a free case review.

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3 Ways of Helping Children Through a Divorce

Photo of childDivorce can be difficult and stressful for everyone concerned. While it affects a wide circle of people, children are often impacted the most. Children, especially if they are very young, may worry that they caused the divorce or that they will be losing one parent. They may feel intense anxiety about what will happen after the divorce occurs.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways of helping children through divorce.

Parents should explain the divorce jointly

Pick a quiet time with no distractions. Parents should sit down with their children and explain that a divorce is occurring. You can keep the explanation very simple, but children need to know that a divorce will be happening, so as not have the dissolution of a household sprung upon them. You can simply say that you are unhappy together and that it is best to live apart. Emphasize that love and concern for the children from both parents will continue after the divorce.

Be sure to state that the child has nothing to do with the divorce. It is best to reassure on this score consistently throughout the process and after. It is very natural, and common, for children to worry that they have done something to cause a parent to leave.

Avoid blame and anger

Never, ever use your children as a sounding board for your anger towards your spouse. It is quite natural and understandable to have these feelings. But you need to talk to friends, family, and counselors about them, not your children.

Expressing blame and anger may place the child in a position of either having to take sides, or feeling that they should take sides. Children have two parents, and need to work out a harmonious relationship to the largest degree possible.

Remember to put the needs of the child first

Children are dependent upon adults for their care, including their housing, their food, their education, their transportation, their clothing, and their healthcare, among others.

All of the factors that make up parental care need to be considered very carefully as you face divorce. While the needs of both spouses are highly important, of course, the needs of the child in basic care must be considered first. In the best case scenario, you and your spouse may be able to arrive at a mutually agreeable plan for all facets of a child’s care. In other cases, litigation may be needed.

Choose a Trusted Family Law Firm in Bergen County, NJ

Choose a family law firm Bergen County, NJ residents trust to handle even the most difficult divorce cases. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has been successfully working on issues of divorce and child custody since 1975. We are committed to long-lasting, fair, and reliable solutions that benefit you and, most crucially, your children.

If negotiation and settlement are ultimately not possible, we will fight for your rights at trial.

Our expertise includes child custody and visitation rights, child support, alimony and spousal support, division of marital assets, post-divorce modification, parental relocation, and conservatorships.

Call us today toll free at (800) 711-5258 to schedule your initial consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Children and divorce: Helping kids after a breakup. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/divorce/art-20047788
  2. Wallace, Meri. “8 Strategies for Helping Kids Adjust to a Divorce.” Psychology Today. February 2, 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-raise-happy-cooperative-child/201302/8-strategies-helping-kids-adjust-divorce
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5 Myths About Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle headlightEvery generation of motorcycle riders creates its own myths about motorcycle safety, but across generations, a group of enduring myths has continued to be passed down from one group of bikers to the next. At least five motorcycle safety myths have persisted among riders for many years.

Myth #1.  Laying Down Your Bike is Better than a Collision

Improvements in motorcycle brake and tire technology have banished the myth of laying down your bike as a way to minimize injuries and damage in a potential accident. Motorcycle safety classes at one time taught riders that they could more effectively slow themselves down and prevent a worse collision by sliding their bike into the ground. Modern brakes and tires now allow riders to stop their bikes more effectively than they could by dropping the bike. Riders can better reduce accidents and injuries by staying alert and relying on their bikes to stop before any collision occurs. 

Myth #2. A Helmet Will: Limit My Sightlines/Cause Brain Damage/Break my Neck/(Insert Your Own Myth Here)

Riders might appreciate the feeling of the wind through their hair that helmet-less riding gives them, but research from the National Highway Safety Administration and other sources indicates that helmets reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 37 per cent. Every generation of riders develops new myths about the purported detriments of motorcycle helmets. Recent university research suggests, however, that relaxed helmet laws have led to an increase in organ donations from riders who did not survive an accident. Riders who are concerned about their safety should always wear a DOT certified helmet while riding.

Myth #3. Loud Pipes Save Lives

The myth that loud pipes saves lives has grown out of the more general safety suggestion that a rider should do everything possible to increase his or her visibility in traffic. Loud pipes are presumably a means of alerting motorists that a motorcycle is nearby. Motorists, however, are bombarded with so much aural and visual information that a loud roar of a motorcycle will just be lost in the cacophony of information that they receive. Riders can make themselves more apparent to motorists by wearing brighter clothing, and by making their own bikes more visible with techniques such as the “SMIDSY” (i.e. “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”) maneuver, in which the rider slightly wobbles his front wheel and headlamp to give oncoming cars an improved sense of the rider’s distance and speed.

Myth #4. Low-Speed Surface Roads are Safer than High-Speed Interstates

Accidents that occur at high speeds may be more deadly, but National Highway Safety Administration studies reveal that more than 90% of all motorcycle accidents occur at lower speeds on city streets. A rider might feel more relaxed at lower speeds on surface roads, but those roads also present the rider with more limited visibility from trees and buildings and with greater dangers of cars that can pull out from hidden side roads or driveways. Riders that fall prey to the myth of the safety of surface roads might let their guard down while riding on those roads. If anything, those riders need to remain more alert and attentive to risks while riding on city streets.

Myth #5. Big Bikes are Safer

Beginning riders, in particular, might subscribe to the myth that they will be safer on a big machine that weighs 700 pounds or more, inaccurately believing that all of that extra mass will more effectively absorb accident impacts. The reality is that a rider will be safest when the size of the bike matches the rider’s abilities. Inexperienced riders might have more trouble handling a bulky motorcycle in stop-and-go traffic. Larger bikes might also need longer stopping distances. Contrary to the big bike myth, the safest bike for every rider is the size that coincides with the rider’s skills.

Hurt in a Crash? Call the NY & NJ Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at KGG

Need a motorcycle accident lawyer Bergen County, NJ trusts to fight for the rights of injured bikers? The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman has helped riders that were injured in accidents to recover monetary damages for their losses and injuries when negligent motorists have caused motorcycle collisions. We know that every rider takes motorcycle safety very seriously, and we fight to help riders recover and to get them back on the road after they have been in accidents with other careless drivers.

Call the New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers at KGG for more information on claiming the damages you deserve when another driver has compromised your safety.

More information on motorcycle safety:

  1. Motorcyclecruiser.com: 11 Big Motorcycle Safety Myths. https://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/11-big-motorcycle-safety-myths
  2. Motocynic.com: You Don’t Lay Down a Bike: (It’s Called Crashing). https://motocynic.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/this-is-called-crashing/
  3. Metro.us: Bikers Want Massachusetts to Relax Helmet Laws for Motorcycles. https://www.metro.us/news/local-news/boston/motorcycle-no-helmet-law
  4. Huffingtonpost.com: 7 Myths About Motorcycle Safety that Need to Go Away. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/05/02/seven-motorcycle-safety-myths_n_9518206.html
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Choosing the Right Motorcycle for You

motorbike driving in the weekendWhether you are buying your first or your fiftieth motorcycle, choosing the right bike for you will require you to balance emotion and logic. Your heart might push you toward a sporty Italian speed machine, while your brain argues for a more comfortable long-distance cruiser. Ultimately, your best choice will be the bike that matches your skills and abilities and that coincides with the kind of riding you expect to do.

These guidelines will help you to choose the right bike out of the many different styles of motorcycles that are now available.

First, Make an Honest Assessment of Your Riding Abilities

Motorcycle riding is safest and most rewarding when you respect your machine and your ability to control it. If you are new to riding, for example, you will likely have a better riding experience if you stay away from sport bikes that have short wheelbases and faster acceleration capabilities. After you have built up your riding skills, you can shift your choices toward a bike with a higher power-to-weight ratio.

Think About How You Will Use Your Bike

Street bikes that are designed for short rides around town will have a different configuration than cruisers that are meant for long weekend rides in the country. A smaller commuter motorcycle might be better for crowded urban environments that have more limited parking. Off-road and trail bikes have higher centers of gravity and more upright riding positions. You can best reduce your fatigue and improve the safety of your riding experiences if you choose a motorcycle that keeps you in a comfortable riding position for the type of riding that you will do.

Do Not Neglect Cost Considerations

The up-front cost of the bike is only one element in your cost of owning it. Call your insurer to get a quote for motorcycle insurance for the type of bike you are considering. Research maintenance and repair costs, particularly if you are buying a used bike. You can quickly sour on riding your motorcycle and you might even compromise your own safety if you spend your entire budget on purchase costs and you neglect regular maintenance.

Talk to Other Riders

Motorcycle riders are a tight community of people who enjoy riding together, sharing experiences, and bringing new riders into their fold. Take advantage of the experiences of other riders, who often give the best advice on the right motorcycle for you.

Know the Laws of Your Own State and the States Where You Will Ride

Different states have different laws, rules, and regulations on matters such as helmet requirements and lane splitting. Those laws may well affect your choice of motorcycle, as well as how and where you will ride your bike.  Riding a motorcycle outside of the boundaries established by applicable laws can come back to haunt you if you are in an accident on your bike.

Hurt in a crash? Call the Ny & NJ Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at KGG

Need a motorcycle accident lawyer Bergen County NJ relies on to fight for the rights of bikers and their families? The attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have represented scores of motorcycle riders who have had accidents throughout New Jersey and New York. From our many years of experience, we believe that choosing the right motorcycle is a key to minimizing riding risks and to deriving the maximum enjoyment from your bike.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents do happen, often times because an inattentive motorist failed to see a motorcycle in traffic. If you are in a riding accident, contact us today. All initial consultations are free, and we charge no fees unless we win money for you.

Additional Resources:

  1. Artofmanliness.com: How to Buy Your First Motorcycle. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-buy-your-first-motorcycle/
  2. DMV.org: Choosing the right type of motorcycle. https://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/choosing-a-motorcycle.php
  3. AmericanMotorcyclist.com: Six types of motorcycles for new riders. https://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Riding/Story/six-types-of-motorcycles-for-new-riders
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What Not To Do In a Custody Battle

Photo of couple arguing

Litigation over custody is both complicated and emotional. That confusion and emotional involvement unfortunately leads many parents to take irrational steps that hamper their cases.

Keeping perspective when facing a custody dispute

It is common for parents to get caught up in a fight over parenting time and in the process lose sight of the impact it will have on their children and in the court. But just because something is common does not mean you should overlook it. We see too many parents fall into these traps that you should avoid:

#1: Put down the other parent

When one parent continually puts down the other, the child feels the need to choose between them. Courts look toward the best interests of the child and judges are reluctant to grant primary custody to a parent showing visible animosity toward the other because it is unhealthy for the children. It is good practice to keep your opinions to yourself.

#2: Try to handle it on your own

Even if you think you know everything there is to know about divorce and custody fights from reading articles, watching court television shows, or hearing about your friends’ legal battles, you do not. There will be legal implications to decisions that those who do not practice regularly in the family law realm will not comprehend. It is important to speak with a child custody lawyer because what you do now can impact your family arrangements for a very long time to come.

#3: Fight over everything

If ever there is a time to choose your battles, this is it. There very well may be issues worth taking a stand on but there are likely many more that are not crucial. In the adversarial process of custody litigation, too many parents fight over less important things that do not actually reflect the ex’s suitability as a parent. You may not like the variety of breakfast cereal your ex feeds your child for breakfast but it likely does not mean they are unfit to parent so learn to look the other way on nonessential topics.

#4: Lapse on your duties

The court process can lead some people to think of parenting as a transaction – if one parent has not made a child support payment, the other may try to withhold visitation, or vice versa. In reality, your duties are to your children so trying to punish the other parent by not following through on your responsibilities will hurt the kids – and you, since judges do not take kindly to these kinds of actions. Even if you do not think you are given enough time with the kids, make the most of it, follow through on scheduled calls, show up at soccer games, and keep paying your child support.

Child custody lawyers in Rockland and Bergen County

As committed child custody lawyers in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY, we at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we know the potential case pitfalls that parents can fall into. We help clients understand how to put the best foot forward for a positive resolution. If you would like to speak with one of our child custody lawyers, call (201) 576-8134.

Additional Resources:

  1. Very Well Family, Dos and Don’t’s for Winning Child Custody, https://www.verywellfamily.com/dos-and-donts-for-winning-child-custody-2998180
  2. Huffington Post, What Not to Do in a Custody Battle, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashley-tate-cooper/what-not-do-in-a-custody-_b_9091242.html
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