Times Union | Opinion: Scaffold Safety Law Saves Lives

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Staten Island Advocate | Legal eagle Myron G. Lasser receives lifetime achievement award

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Times Union | Opinion: Don’t shortchange safety rules

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Times Union | Opinion: Homeowners have little insurance recourse

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The Buffalo News | Opinion: Another Voice: No one should lose his life over a text message

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AMNewYork | Editorial: City on the rise mustn't overlook safety

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New York Law Journal | Goldberg to Head Trial Lawyers Association

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CBS2 New York | Patient Advocates Urge Closure Of Malpractice Loophole

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New York Daily News | State Sen. Thomas Libous — who is battling cancer — to make personal push for Lavern's Law

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New York Daily News | State Assembly approves Lavern’s Law to help medical malpractice victims; Senate must now act on bill

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New York Daily News | De Blasio Lends Support to "Lavern's Law" to Give More Rights to Medical Malpractice Victims

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New York Daily News | Editorial: Cure for an Injustice - Fix the State's Broken Malpractice Law

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New York Daily News | Andrew Cuomo backs Lavern’s Law to toughen rights of medical malpractice victims

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The New York Times | Fatal Construction Accidents Are Rising in New York

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The Buffalo News | Letter: No need to forfeit safety to add jobs

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Gothamist | NYC Construction Workers Demand Safer Conditions

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DNAinfo | Construction Worker Deaths Show Need for Safer Work Sites, Advocates Say

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NY1 | Council Lawmakers Focus On Construction Safety

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AM New York | Opinion: NY's scaffold law protects workers in growing city

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The Buffalo News | Letter: Gutting Scaffold Law will put workers at risk

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The New York Times | Letter: For Consumers, Forced Arbitration Equals Injustice

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Legislative Gazette | Scaffold Law advocates: 'Let the sunshine in'

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NY State of Politics | Moya, Building Trades Push Scaffold Sunshine Law

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The Buffalo News | Letter: Scaffold Law protects construction workers
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The Leader-Herald | Scaffold law keeping workers safe

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12.17.14 | Don't gut New York's scaffold safety law

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12.07.14 | Letter to the Editor: Injured Ironworker Makes Plea to Keep New York's Scaffold Safety Law

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New York Times | Letter to the Editor: How Online Shoppers Give Up Their Legal Rights

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New York Daily News | Lesson from Joan’s death

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Opinion: Critical protection from Scaffold Law

Times Union, 7.30.14

The results of a Freedom of Information Law request on a much-criticized study on the Scaffold Law authored by SUNY’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government directly contradict the institute’s public statement to Gannett defending its work in April. The biggest lie was when they said: “The funder did not attempt to influence the development of the research design, collection or analysis of data at any time during the study.”


Letter: Scaffold law still much needed

Newsday, 7.18.14

Accidents like mine are why the state's scaffold law is so important. The law holds contractors and developers accountable for injuries when they don't provide safety equipment or training. This is especially important because construction is one of the most dangerous jobs.


View: Keep the Scaffold Law strong

Lohud, 7.10.14

Lawmakers in Albany declined to water down the Scaffold Safety Law again this year and, as a construction accident survivor, I say thank goodness.


Safety First: the Golden Rule of the Construction Site

New York Real Estate Journal, 6.24.14

Under New York's Scaffold Law, which provides critical protection for construction workers, the owner and the general contractor are liable and responsible for providing a safe place to work. This includes an obligation to keep sites free of debris, stray tools or supplies that might trip a worker. The owner and general contractor are also required to outfit workers with appropriate safety equipment including ladders, scaffolds, railings, harnesses, netting, gloves, lifelines, tielines and braces or any other device necessary to create a safer job site.


Commentary: Engineer's stamp can add safety

Times Union, 6.22.14

Critics of the existing law blame it for the high cost of construction in the Empire State and want to change its 100 percent owner liability clause. One proposal before the state Legislature this past session would cap insurance payouts for workers' injuries, which would also dampen the 30 percent cut for personal injury lawyers. Yet none of the proposed amendments address the problem of worker safety. The disturbing assumption is that injuries would continue.


Editorial: Resist industry pressure; it won't be futile

Times Union, 6.7.14

The American Insurance Association last week stepped up opposition to a bill from Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, D-Queens, who wants to require insurance companies to reveal data that would clarify the true impact of the Scaffold Law on insurance rates.


As New York’s Construction Industry Booms, Workers’ Lives Are Being Put on the Line

The Nation, 5.2.14

Though the construction industry employs less than 4 percent of New York’s workers, it claims nearly one-fifth of work-related deaths—making it the “deadliest industry” (followed by transportation), according to a report on work-related fatalities in New York by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). That construction is a dangerous business should come as no surprise to anyone who has walked past a churning urban construction zone, fraught with hollowed-out sidewalks and narrow scaffolds. What might surprise you is that it doesn’t have to be that way; the dangers besieging workers reflect the cold business calculations of their bosses.


When Money Isn’t Enough: The Argument for Product Liability

Times Union, 4.21.14

Impersonal as it sounds, our society weighs the costs and benefits of safety all the time, whether it’s deciding how many cops and firefighters we put on the street or how much the market will bear for the latest in automotive safety features. But what are we to do about businesses that know of deadly defects in their products, yet fail to warn the public? The answer until now has largely been to hold companies financially liable. And perhaps, as we’re seeing in the case of General Motors, rake some executives over the congressional coals. Criminal charges — even where the law allows — are rare.


When lawsuits protect hardhats: The fight over the Scaffold Law

New York Daily News, 4.17.14

New York is about to embark on a historic building boom — and that has touched off a furious new round in a long-running battle about how to protect the health and safety of the workers who create the city’s glittering skyline. This month alone, two men have fallen to their deaths while working on midtown buildings under construction — a grim reminder that the skyscrapers we boast about come at a high cost, and sometimes a tragic one.


Scaffold Law Supporters Mobilize to Counter Reform Push

New York Law Journal, 4.15.14

The Scaffold Safety Coalition ( said its groups have a combined membership of more than 1.5 million. Organizations in the alliance include the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, the New York Hotel Trades Council, the Service Employees International Union 32BJ and the New York Hotel Trades Council.


Labor groups defend scaffold law

Real Estate Weekly, 4.11.14

New York’s construction unions are hitting back against a recent push to modify the law governing liability for safety on construction sites. Arguing that insurance costs are crippling development and economic growth, a coalition of industry groups, including the New York Building Congress, is lobbying the New York State government to move liability for construction industries off of the developers and onto individual workers. But the labor unions  recently launched a website to voice their perspective on the issue.


Labor groups align to defend Scaffold Law

New York Daily News, 4.10.14

As business groups try to get Albany legislators to move on reforming the Scaffold Law before they ditch the State Cap for the session, a coalition of labor, political, and advocacy groups are massing on the other side of the battlefield. About a week after I reported two groups were underwriting radio spots urging lawmakers to dismantle the law on the grounds that it jacks up business costs and kills jobs, enter the Scaffold Safety Coalition, which says the lack of protective regs kills people.


VIDEO: Smerconish Discusses GM Controversy and the Importance of the Civil Justice System

CNN, 4.4.14


Letter: Scaffold Law helps keep workers safe

The Buffalo News,  3.23.14

The News editorial on the Scaffold Law failed to scrutinize the group that paid more than $80,000 for the study cited: the New York Civil Justice Institute, a right-wing research group that shares offices with an industry-backed front group that has lobbied for years to gut the law. Moreover, the study’s central claim – that the Scaffold Law actually puts Buffalo workers at higher risk of injury – is a flimsy, unfounded industry talking point. Digging into the details, the finding is based on comparing rates of injury in the construction industry to those of much safer sectors, including lines of work like “wholesale trade.”


Letter to the Editor: Tougher Car Safety Rules by NYSTLA President Robert F. Danzi

The New York Times, 3.12.14

Safety advocates have long charged that automakers continue to put profits ahead of people, waiting to recall dangerous cars as long as the cost of doing so is higher than government fines and lawsuits. Indeed, up until the 1960s, carmakers were not even held responsible for design flaws.


Industry Attacks on "Scaffold Law" Put Construction Workers on Shaky Ground

In These Times, 3.12.14

New York City’s tens of thousands of construction workers face a precarious landscape at work.  Teetering at the edge of rooftops, sidestepping mammoth cranes and noisy bulldozers, and navigating through half-collapsed walls and chemical-laden debris, they’re surrounded by hazards day in and day out. Yet many workers remain silent about unsafe conditions. For them, the risk of retaliation outweighs the risk to life and limb.


Ending the Scaffold Law would hurt, not help, minorities

New York Amsterdam News, 1.31.14

While I believe strongly that New York must take steps to help minority- and women-owned businesses, gutting critical worker safety laws like the Scaffold Law is a seriously flawed approach. Unfortunately, some of the basic facts about this law and its implications are getting lost in the debate. While I have enormous respect for the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses, it is important to set the record straight when it comes to the Scaffold Law.


Patient Safety Takes a Back Seat, Once Again

Huffington Post, 1.20.14

If 20 jetliners began crashing weekly, said a safety expert recently, "There would be a national ground stop. Fleets would be grounded. Airports would close. There would be a presidential commission. The NTSB would investigate. No one would fly until we had solved the problems." You're probably now thinking, "What kind of crazy hypothetical is that?"

Be Our Guest: Keep New York's Scaffold Law

New York Daily News, 1.8.14

Construction in New York City isn’t like anywhere else in the U.S. No other city in the nation has as many tall buildings, bridges and other structures with as many workers building and renovating them. Although it’s statistically among the safest places to work, particularly given how much more complicated and dangerous construction in New York City can be, there are still too many accidents where workers are killed, disabled and injured because of failures to provide adequate safety for work at heights.


Contractors and Workers at Odds Over Scaffold Law

The New York Times, 12.17.13

Weislaw, a Polish immigrant, was the plaintiff in a liability case that was settled last month. (He spoke on the condition that his surname not be used in this article, out of concern for his privacy.) He had been part of a crew repairing the roof of a one-story public school building in Long Beach, on Long Island. While he was working on the roof one spring day in 2010, he was concentrating so hard on his task that he lost track of the edge of the roof and fell, he said, suffering multiple fractures. “I will most likely never be able to return to work,” he said.


NYSTLA Special Announcement: Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Limited Partnership, et al.

NYSTLA, 12.10.13

Thanks to the efforts and support of a remarkable coalition of lawyers, labor and community groups, the Court of Appeals today reversed its ruling in Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Limited Partnership, et al. It was a wise decision.  If the Court's original ruling had been allowed to stand, injured workers would have been unjustly denied the opportunity to seek justice in the courts while receiving Workers Compensation benefits.  


To Make Hospitals Less Deadly, a Dose of Data

The New York Times, 12.4.13

Until very recently, health care experts believed that preventable hospital error caused some 98,000 deaths a year in the United States — a figure based on 1984 data. But a newreport from the Journal of Patient Safety using updated data holds such error responsible for many more deaths — probably around some 440,000 per year. That’s one-sixth of all deaths nationally, making preventable hospital error the third leading cause of death in the United States. And 10 to 20 times that many people suffer nonlethal but serious harm as a result of hospital mistakes.


Scaffold Law Critics Cite Rising Costs, Defenders Want to See Numbers

City & State, 11.19.13

Building owners and contractors are mounting another campaign to modify the state’s Scaffold Law, arguing that the construction safety statute all but guarantees a big payout to workers injured in falls and drives up insurance costs to exorbitant levels. But defenders of the law, who say it’s critical for worker safety, are striking back with legislation of their own that would open up insurance companies’ books to see whether the Scaffold Law is actually raising costs.


The Race Case: Opposing Sides Cite Race in Scaffold Law Battle

City & State, 11.11.13

The state’s Scaffold Law has long been a source of deep division and disagreement. The law’s supporters, including unions, trial lawyers and worker advocates, say that it is critical to ensuring the safety of construction workers. Building contractors, developers, insurers and other opponents say the legislation has dramatically raised project costs while allowing workers to avoid responsibility for any role they may have played in an accident.


Bystanders Shot by the Police Face an Uphill Fight to Win Lawsuits

The New York Times, 11.10.13

In the months since [the shooting], however, lawyers for the City of New York have presented a far more aggressive stance against the wounded bystanders who have sued, essentially refusing to settle the cases and moving to have them thrown out before trial.


Woman lost legs because of LI hospital’s negligence, lawyer tells Brooklyn jury

NY Daily News, 11.4.13

Stacey Galette almost died in 2009 after suffering blood poisoning and gangrene, which she claims happened when a surgeon punctured her colon during laparoscopic removal of an ectopic pregnancy. But attorneys for Winthrop University Hospital contend the single mom ‘is alive today because the health care providers … listened to her complaints.’


It Ain't the Lawyers: Medical Malpractice Costs Have Been Dropping

Huffington Post, 11.1.13

You've often heard that one reason health care costs are skyrocketing in this country is because doctors pay so much for medical malpractice. Your medical bill is huge because we doctors have to give half our income to an insurance company to pay off all of those frivolous law suits.


(Un)harnessing civil rights

NY Amsterdam News, 10.31.12

It looks like the Civil Rights Movement can welcome a new set of activists into the fold. Who are these new champions of reform? Perhaps a wide-eyed set of young adults, fresh out of college and yearning for any opportunity to make a difference and level the socioeconomic playing field? Not exactly. In this case, this new legion of freedom riders comes from an unexpected source: the construction industry.


Report: Weakening NY’s scaffold law would hurt immigrant workers and workers of color

NY Amsterdam News, 10.31.12

A new study released last week by the Center for Popular Democracy found that construction workers of color in New York state disproportionately face more danger on construction sites than other workers.


Group fights reforms to Scaffold Law

Queens Ledger, 10.31.13

According to the [Center for Popular Democracy] study, which reviewed OSHA investigations from construction site accidents from 2003 to 2011, workers of Latino descent are at greater risk of being hurt or killed on the job site.


Can Obamacare Improve Patient Safet? Tort Reform Hasn't.

Forbes, 10.26.13

Unfortunately, the quest for improved patient safety has been subsumed in the din of partisan bickering.  And that, sadly, is dangerous for everyone, as the incidence of avoidable fatal medical errors seems to be going up.  Most studies estimate there are at least 400,000 avoidable deaths annually.  Some put the total at over one million.


Latino, immigrant construction workers more likely to die on job in NYC: Study
NY Daily News, 10.24.13

Latino and immigrant construction workers are dying on the job in New York City in disproportionate numbers, according to a new study set to be released Thursday. A review of all of the fatal falls on the job investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 2003 to 2011 found that 74% of construction workers who died were either U.S. born Latinos or immigrants.


Stella Liebeck & the "Hot Coffee Case" Revisited

New York Times, 10.21.13

More than 20 years ago, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck ordered coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through in Albuquerque, N.M. She spilled the coffee, was burned, and one year later, sued McDonald’s. The jury awarded her $2.9 million. Her story became a media sensation and fodder for talk-show hosts, late-night comedians, sitcom writers and even political pundits.


"Last Look": NYSTLA President discusses the Scaffold Law, raising the age limit for judges and patient safety

City & State, 10.17.13

President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Robert Danzi discusses the Scaffold Law, raising the age limit for judges and patient safety in an interview with Jon Lentz.


PRESS RELEASE: New York State Trial Lawyers Urge Voters to Support Constitutional Amendment Extending Retirement Age for Judges on Supreme Court and Court Of Appeals

NYSTLA, 9.23.13


Scaffold Law Protects Workers from Negligence 

The Poughkeepsie Journal, 6.12.13

In July 2005, I was employed as a plumber on a construction project in Ulster County. I was told to work on an unsecured ladder. The ladder fell, and I suffered a life-threatening traumatic brain injury. That ended my career as a plumber.


Web Essay: Keep Scaffold Law Unchanged

Democrat And Chronicle, 6.11.13

What's Keeping New York workers safe? It isn't OSHA. As the Democrat and Chronicle noted recently, would take 130 years for Occupational Safey and Health Administration inspectors to visit every workplace.


Featherstone: Construction Workers Need a Strong Scaffold Law

AM New York, 6.11.13

Last year Adrien Zamora, 28, a construction worker from Ditmas Park,  tumbled to his death while working on a luxury building in SoHo, after he slipped from the scaffolding.


Don't Pit Law's Expense Against the Price of a Life

TimesUnion, 5.19.13

Construction workers know they work in a dangerous profession, sometimes at elevations that can easily injure or kill.


Senate Committe Welcomes Nomination of Abdus-Salaam

New York Law Journal, 5.1.13

ALBANY - The nomination of Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam to the state Court of Appeals sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday without an opposing vote.


Hospitals Profit from Surgical Errors
New York Times, 4.16.13

Hospitals make money from their own mistakes because insurers pay them for the longer stays and extra care that patients need to treat surgical complications that could have been prevented, a new study finds.


Survey Reveals Nurse Fatigue is Pervasive in the Healthcare Industry, 3.20.13 

A new survey titled "Nurse Staffing Strategy", commissioned by Kronos Incorporated and conducted by HealthLeaders Media, revealed that nurse fatigue is pervasive in the healthcare industry and may negatively impact quality care delivery, patient and employee satisfaction, and operational costs.


NYSTLA's End Distracted Driving Campaign Comes to Chappaqua
Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch, 3.18.13

As a part of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association's (NYSTLA) work with the national End Distracted Driving campaign, NYSTLA attorney Robert Greenstein will speak to 200 Horace Greeley High School students and parents to raise awareness of this critical issue.


A Fight to the Death: 2nd victim Pushes for Lavern's Law
New York Daily News, 3.13.13

EXCLUSIVE: Marilyn Veritzan, like many other New Yorkers, has been pained by medical malpractice and victimized a second time by an absurd state law that prevents them from getting justice in the courts.


New York's Statue of Limitations Hurts Victims Beyond Medical Mishaps
New York Daily News, 2.28.13

New York is one of a handful of states that does not have a "discovery rule," which means the time in which a victim of medical malpractice has to take action ends 2.5 years from whenever the harm occurred, or 15 months afterward in the case of municipally owned hospitals, and it's depriving patients of their rights.


City Fails to Do Right by Victim of Malpractice at Kings County Hospital

New York Daily News, 2.28.13:

Gross and admitted medical malpractice by doctors at Kings County Hospital has condemned Lavern Wilkinson to death and will leave her 15-year-old severely retarded daughter to face the vicissitudes of life too much on her own.


EXCLUSIVE: Pittance for Her Pain
New York Daily News, 2.28.13

Lavern Wilkinson discovered in May that a chronic cough was actually lung cancer. Because of New York's statute of limitations, she cannot sue for not being diagnosed. Her settlement from the hospital, which failed to detect the cancer two years prior, will go into a trust for her severely disabled daughter, but experts predict the money won't be able to care for her now-15-year-old daughter past her 20th birthday.


HEALTH: Primary Care Doctors Can Make the Wrong Call
U.S. News and World Report, 2.25.13

Study finds missed diagnoses happen with many common conditions; often traced to communication breakdowns.


Clock Has Run Out for Cancer-Stricken Single Mom to Sue for Malpractice
New York Daily News, 2.24.13

There are 44 states that have 'date of discovery' statute of limitations, which allow patients to pursue legal action from the time they discover the consequences of wrongful medical care. New York is one of six states that does not have a discovery statute, meaning patients' clock starts from the date the bad care occurred.


Job Accidents in New York City
New York Daily News, 1.13.13

Jobsite accidents in New York City jumped 31 percent from 2011 to 2012, while injuries up 46% in same period. Meanwhile buildings department cuts number of worksite inspecitons by 40% from 2009 to 2012.


Overworked Doctors May Jeopardize Patient Safety
My Health News Daily, 1.2.13

Some doctors say they care for more hospitalized patients than they can handle, which may compromise patient safety, a new study finds.  The study surveyed about 500 hospitalists, physicians who manage patients' care in hospitals. Forty percent of respondents said that, at least once a month, they took on more patients than they could safely handle. And, often, this occurred more frequently.


COMMENTARY: Bill Would Protect New York Drivers from Uninsured
Post-Standard, 10.25.12

If you are the victim of an auto accident, will your auto insurance cover your medical bills and lost wages while you’re recovering, and the damage to your car? Many New Yorkers assume the answer is an automatic yes, but the reality is more complicated. When buying auto insurance, many drivers take the wise precaution to purchase more liability coverage above the legal minimum of just $25,000.


Additional Policy Avoids Insurance Collision
Albany Times Union, 10.11.12

It is every driver's nightmare: a life-altering injury in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, and underinsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. Most of us have car insurance that we believe will at least cover our medical and other expenses if this nightmare occurs. Unfortunately, this belief does not reflect the reality for many New York drivers. And by the time they discover the truth, it is too late.


Protect Patients' Rights, Protect Patients' Lives

CNN, 10.11.12

We are facing a medical malpractice crisis in our country. More than 98,000 people die every year because of preventable medical errors. That is equivalent to two 737s crashing every day for a whole year. Preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country $29 billion a year. Lawsuits are only a symptom of the disease. The root of the medical malpractice problem is medical malpractice itself.


Legislation Would Give Drivers Critical Information
Buffalo News, 10.11.12

All New York drivers are required to buy auto insurance to protect themselves and others in case of a car accident. But despite this universal requirement, New Yorkers are given far too little information about what kind of insurance, and how much, they should buy. All too often, this lack of knowledge leads to tragic consequences. Consider Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage. Most New Yorkers probably do not know whether they have enough SUM coverage, let alone know what SUM coverage is.


Insurance Gap Needs to be Filled
Buffalo News Editorial, 9.19.12

New York's legislation would establish the default setting for SUM coverage at the amount chosen by the consumer for liability. It is aimed only at consumers choosing liability coverage above the statutory minimums, and should cost less than $100 per year for most policyholders. Again, this is not a requirement. The supplemental insurance, for those who can afford it, is a prudent investment. This law will ensure that they know about it.


GUEST VIEWPOINT: Law Would Strengthen Drivers' Safety Nets
Press & Sun Bulletin, 9.17.12

By Amy Bach.  As a consumer advocate and former insurance analyst with the New York State Consumer Protection Board, I urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law S.7787/ A.10784. This is a pro-consumer bill that will help protect New Yorkers by promoting a low-cost but substantial enhancement to auto insurance: supplementary uninsured/ underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage.


How to Know if You Have Enough Auto Insurance 
New York Times, 8.24.12

The trial lawyers’ association backed a bill, which recently passed the Legislature, that would automatically increase uninsured and underinsured coverage (and hit-and-run motorist insurance, which is included in those policies) when consumers elect to buy more liability coverage. Drivers can still choose to opt out of increased uninsured coverage, however.


When Your Auto Insurance Isn't Really Auto Insurance: Staten Island Lawmaker Seeks to Close Loophole That Can Lead to Financial Ruin
Staten Island Advance, 8.20.13

The Raos expected that their car insurance would pay for the high pile of medical bills they have incurred while recovering from this terrible accident.  But there was a problem. The Raos had car insurance, but the driver who caused the crash did not.


Transportation Advocates, Trial Lawyers Urge Cuomo to Sign Bill Boosting Supplemental Insurance Rates
New York Daily News, 8.20.12 

When Thomas Reilly was hit by a car outside a Propect Heights school more than three years ago he had no idea his supplemental insurance was capped and that he'd be stuck with limited coverage.  Reilly and transportation advocates as well as the powerful New York State Trial Lawyers Association are urging Gov. Cuomo to sign a bill that would set the default for that benefit to the same rate as higher liability coverage, a regulation already in place in many other states.


New Yorkers Deserve Good Insurance Options
WGRZ Buffalo, 8.20.12

When New Yorkers purchase car insurance, they should be presented with all the necessary information to decide the best option for them and their families. Most New York drivers don’t know it, but if they are the victim of an accident caused by an under or uninsured driver, they can only receive injury compensation in the amount of their Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) insurance.


Pitfall in Auto Insurance at Crux of Staten Island Couple's Plight
Staten Island Advance, 8.11.12

The last thing Wilma and Victor Rao want to have to worry about is money. But after their car was allegedly hit by an uninsured ex-convict -- Christopher Chin, 29, who police say was driving drunk and blew through a stop sign -- money has become part of the stress on the couple as they try to put their lives back together after serious injury. "It's been a nightmare," Rao, 51, said from his room at the Verrazano Nursing Home, Tompkinsville.