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White Plains New York Legal Blog

What data and tech companies do to fight distracted driving

In New York, distracted driving is affecting everyone from ordinary drivers to CDL-holding professionals. According to data analytics firm Zendrive, there are approximately 69 million drivers using their phones behind the wheel every day. Smartphone use contributes to 26 percent of all accidents. That's not the only form of distraction, either; simply letting the mind wander can also constitute a distraction.

Distracted driving accidents are among the costliest. Drivers who aren't paying attention to the road cannot mitigate the impact by slowing down or trying to avert the crash, thus causing severe damage to vehicles and injuries to passengers. Many truck fleets are using new technology, though, to combat the problem.

Study finds that bail judges show racial bias

A study published recently in the Quarterly Journal of Economics suggests that the average bail set for black defendants in New York and around the country is more than $7,000 higher than for white defendants. The research team from Princeton University and Harvard Law School also suggests that white as well as black bail judges treat black defendants unfairly and make decisions based on racial stereotypes that exaggerate the dangers of releasing them prior to trial.

The researchers studied cases involving 93,914 defendants from Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania and 65,944 defendants from Miami-Dade County in Florida who appeared before bail judges between 2006 and 2014. They discovered that inexperienced and part-time bail judges were more likely to be influenced by racial bias than their more seasoned colleagues. Furthermore, black defendants in Florida were more likely to be denied bail than black defendants in Pennsylvania.

Uber’s alleged gender discrimination

Gender discrimination describes any situation in which an employer uses a worker’s gender to make an employment decision about him or her. Popular ride-hailing taxi service, Uber, has reportedly been under federal investigation for gender discrimination complaints since August of 2017.

In 2017, former Uber software engineer, Susan Fowler, accused the company’s Human Resources department of being unwilling to address claims she made of sexual harassment by her former manager. New York and federal gender discrimination laws forbid sexual harassment.

Women often face financial surprises during divorce

Almost half of all divorcing women in New York and around the country face unexpected financial issues during the process, according to a study by Worthy. To avoid such situations, many experts suggest that women investigate their financial situation before heading to court.

For the study, Worthy surveyed 1,785 women who were going through various stages of divorce. The study included those who were considering it, those who were in the middle of one and those whose divorce had been finalized. Approximately 22 percent of the participants were ages 55 and older, and most of the women in that age group had already completed their divorce. The study found that 46 percent of the participants had experienced nasty financial surprises during their divorce. Of those who reported such surprises, nearly 50 percent were under the age of 55, while 38 percent were at or over that age.

Few workers who experience age discrimination file complaints

New York readers know that age discrimination is against the law. However, most older workers who experience job-related age discrimination choose not to file a complaint according to a new report issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The report, which cites upcoming research results from an AARP study, says that only 3 percent of older workers who suffer age discrimination formally report the incident to their employer or federal and state agencies. However, other research has found that up to 60 percent of workers age 45 or older have experienced at least one incident of on-the-job age discrimination. Meanwhile, the EEOC reports that age discrimination complaints have steadily increased over the years with a high of 24,000 being filed during the recession in 2008.

CVSA to inspect CMV brakes during September

From September 16 to 22, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will have certified enforcement personnel standing by in New York and across the U.S. for its annual Brake Safety Week. These workers will stop large trucks and other commercial motor vehicles at random and inspect for both driver- and vehicle-related safety violations. The majority will be Level I inspections, the most comprehensive there are.

Mechanical fitness is a crucial part of the inspection. Inspectors will check rotors for defects, linings and pads for wear, air reservoirs for their integrity and air chamber sizes for a mismatch. They will make sure that drivers have the required brake-system warning device, that there are no loose or missing parts and that there are no air or hydraulic fluid leaks.

Retirement readiness affected by divorce

New Yorkers preparing for divorce can expect to see cascading financial effects over their lifetimes, indicated a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. While many people choosing to end their marriages fully expect an array of short-term financial, emotional and practical repercussions, the effects can linger over the years, especially when people who have been divorced don't make changes to their financial planning as a result. In particular, this study examined people's readiness for retirement, looking at how divorce impacted people's ability to maintain their standard of living after leaving their jobs.

The CRR uses its metric, the National Retirement Risk Index, to examine the number of households across the country that could be at risk of being unable to maintain their current standard of living after retirement. In particular, the study noted that while approximately 50 percent of all American households face some form of retirement risk, that figure is 7 percent higher for households that have been through a divorce at some time.

Eyewitness errors can lead to wrongful convictions

Eyewitness testimony might not always be reliable in cases in New York. A man in California, who was identified both by the victim and witness in a rape case, was exonerated when DNA evidence indicated he did not commit the crime. He had spent eight years in prison.

A co-director of the California Innocence Project says that mistaken identifications can be reinforced over time. Often, an eyewitness identifies the photo of a person who most looks like the person who committed the crime. The same person is then picked out of the lineup. In the California case, the victim initially identified the man from photos. At the time, she said she was 70 percent sure, but by the time of the trial, she said she was 100 percent sure. A witness who made the same identification was of a different race than the man. Studies have shown that cross-racial identifications tend to be even more inaccurate.

Some parents avoid paying child support by freelancing

New York is among a handful of states that are proposing to make it more difficult for non-custodial parents who work as independent contractors to avoid paying child support. The proposal would apply to residents who take on gig work.

Nationwide, around 70 percent of child support payments are collected from non-custodial parents' paychecks. All states require employers to submit the names of new part-time and full-time hires to a database of those who must pay child support. This allows the state to order the employer to withhold child support payments from a parent's paycheck. These laws do not apply when a business hires an independent contractor or someone who works by the gig or project. Even in states that require this, some businesses are not complying with this law.

Surgical fires remain a potential hazard for hospital patients

As many as 650 surgical fires occur each year in U.S. medical facilities with some of them inflicting serious injuries such as first- and second-degree burns, disfigurement and death. There have been cases where patients went in for gall bladder surgery or routine mole removal only to discover that surgical room complications led to them sustaining severe burn injuries.

Such situations may be attributed to unpredictable incidents or simply due to carelessness by the surgical team. Regardless, such hazards must continue to be addressed and minimized. They really should not happen. When you enter an operating or clinical room, you expect to be in a safe place. Sadly, that is not always the case.


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