“No Fault” Automobile Insurance

By Lara R. Lovett

August 27th, 2018

If you live in New Jersey, chances are you have heard the term “no fault” auto insurance. But, do you know what this term means? Most of my clients think that “no fault” has something to do with their ability to bring a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault for their motor vehicle accident. It actually has nothing to do with suing an at fault driver for injuries suffered in an accident.

“No fault” refers to payment of medical bills following an automobile accident. In order to avoid delay in obtaining medical treatment, New Jersey does not require an assessment of fault for the accident before insurance companies can pay for or approve treatment. Rather, each person involved in an accident is initially responsible for payment of his/her own medical bills. Your insurance company retains the right to go after the at fault driver’s insurance company for repayment of medical bills, but that is after it has already paid for your treatment. This way, you don’t have to wait around for the insurance companies to hash out who is liable for the accident.

Whether it is your own automobile insurance policy or health insurance policy that is responsible for paying has to do with your selection of which is primary on your auto insurance policy. Determination of who pays your medical bills is also more complicated if you are not covered under any insurance policy or if the vehicle you were riding in was uninsured. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is imperative that you speak with a personal injury attorney who can advise you as to who should be paying your medical bills and how much medical benefits coverage you have.

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Cancerous Toxins Found in E-Cigarettes

By Christina Lazzaruolo

April 16th, 2018

Today, in front of movie theatres and malls, it is not uncommon to see teenagers “vaping” or using “e-cigarettes.” Ask any teen or adult who vapes or uses e-cigarettes and they will tell you that these devices are the “safe” alternative to smoking. But, did you know that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are exposed to significant levels of cancer causing chemicals found in traditional cigarettes? This is despite the fact that they do not contain nicotine.

According to a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, tests on teenagers show that those who use e-cigarettes have higher levels of the cancer-causing chemicals than nonsmokers do. Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein, a professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, in a press release said, “Teenagers need to be warned that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes is not harmless water vapor, but actually contains some of the same toxic chemicals found in smoke from traditional cigarettes.”

While e-cigarettes are marketed to adults as a safer, healthier alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, Dr. Rubinstein believes that children should not be using them at all. These potentially cancer-causing chemicals include acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns there is enough evidence that vaping can be harmful to teens.

If you believe you or someone you know has been harmed from the use of an e-cigarette or vaporizer, contact our firm for a free legal consultation.

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New Jersey Jurors Send a Message to Johnson & Johnson

By Lara R. Lovett

April 12th, 2018

After a two month trial against Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, a jury in Middlesex County Superior Court awarded plaintiff Stephen Lanzo, III and his wife $37 million in compensatory damages. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder contained asbestos and Mr. Lanzo’s long time use of that product led to him developing mesothelioma. The company failed to warn consumers that there was asbestos in its product. 70 percent of the award is against Johnson & Johnson and the remainder is against the talcum supplier.

The jury was then asked by the plaintiffs to award punitive damages against the defendants. Punitive damages can be awarded if the jury finds that the defendants acted in wanton and willful disregard of the plaintiffs’ rights. On April 11, 2018, the Middlesex County jury awarded the plaintiffs a total of $80 million in punitive damages. $55 million of that award is against Johnson & Johnson and $25 million is against the talc supplier.

This week a New Jersey jury sent a message loud and clear to a Goliath company that they are not going to stand for their residents being poisoned. If you or someone you know has been injured due to a toxic substance in a product they use, contact an attorney to learn your rights.

 

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Toxic Torts

By Lara R. Lovett

April 11th, 2018

A “toxic tort” is an injury caused by contact with a toxic substance. Because it is not always obvious what substances may contain toxic ingredients, a consumer can unwittingly expose him/herself to such substances and suffer great harm.

If you are harmed by a toxic substance, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for your injuries and get compensated for that harm. A recent verdict in a toxic tort case in Missouri, against Johnson & Johnson, demonstrates that the public is no longer going to sit by and let consumers be lied to and harmed by big companies.

In February 2018, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. Jacqueline Fox used talc-based products, made by Johnson & Johnson, for over 35 years. As a result of her use of those products, she died at age 62 of ovarian cancer.

A Missouri jury awarded $10 million for Fox’s damages and an additional $62 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. This verdict is unprecedented, as it is the first where a jury has awarded punitive damages over the plaintiff’s claims. The reason behind the punitive damages is that Johnson & Johnson has known since the 1980’s that the talc in their products could lead to cancer and they failed to warn consumers.

In 2013, there was a federal case in South Dakota where the use of talc was found to have caused the plaintiff’s cancer, however, the jury did not award the plaintiff any damages. There are approximately 200 talc cases filed in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson, so it will be interesting to see how a New Jersey jury will hold this company accountable.

The importance of this verdict is twofold. First, it holds a company accountable for what it puts in its products. Second, a jury has punished the company for not warning or educating the consumers about the dangers of using the products. Hopefully, this verdict will send a message to other companies that, if they gamble with their consumers’ lives, the price to pay will be high.

If you believe that you have been harmed by a toxic substance, contact our firm for a free consultation.

 

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Motor Vehicle Accident Fatalities On The Rise

By Thomas R. Smith

January 3rd, 2018

According to a New Jersey State Police report, more people were killed by motor vehicle accidents in 2017 than in the previous year. Further, the number of fatalities has continued to rise each of the last three years and is the highest in the last ten. Most of those killed in car accidents were either the driver or passenger of an automobile.

The State Division of Highway Traffic Safety attributes the increase in fatalities to a number of factors including lower gas prices, more cars on the road, and distracted drivers and pedestrians. Alcohol and drug use also continues to be a concerning factor.

The operator of any motor vehicle, whether a car, truck or motor cycle, has the obligation to do so in a safe manner, using due caution, so as not to endanger or likely endanger another person or property. Failing to do so can result in a careless driving charge, probably the most common traffic violation in New Jersey. Police will generally issue such a ticket to any driver they determine causes a motor vehicle accident. The punishment can be influenced by the nature of the motor vehicle accident and the severity of any personal injuries suffered.

If you have suffered personal injuries due to another’s careless driving or negligence, you are entitled to receive compensation for any losses or harms incurred. You should speak with an attorney experienced in representing injured victims to learn the full extent of your legal rights.

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Corporate Responsibility & The Sugar Industry: Not So Sweet

By Thomas R. Smith

November 27th, 2017

After years of denial and misleading the public, the tobacco industry is finally going to admit, through mandated advertising, that cigarettes cause disease and death and that nicotine is addictive. Who can forget the scene years ago when the CEOs of the major cigarette companies stood before a Senate committee, under oath, and denied any knowledge of harmful effects from smoking.

It now appears that the sugar industry used tobacco-style tactics to ensure that government agencies would dismiss troubling health claims against their products. In a ground breaking study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine it was revealed that for nearly 60 year the sugar industry has been hiding a major secret. The Sugar Research Foundation – now known as the Sugar Association – was responsible for secretly paying nutrition scientists to publish findings that would transition the cause of heart disease from sugar, to fat and cholesterol.

And while a growing body of research suggests that sugar and its nearly chemically identical cousin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, may very well cause diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year the sugar industry continues to obscure the science on sugar consumption. Just like big tobacco, the motive is greed to protect the huge profits from sugar sales. With big budgets and aggressive and often deceptive advertising practices the sugar industry particularly targets women, children, minorities and low-income populations.

Much like other product manufacturers, the sugar industry needs to address corporate responsibility and be held accountable. Compensations should be made to those victims suffering serious, harmful diseases, injury and death as the result of the fraudulent and irresponsible behavior of the sugar industry.

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Distracted Driving – Personal Injuries

By Thomas R. Smith

November 1st, 2017

Anyone operating a motor vehicle is at risk for significant, permanent personal injuries due to a distracted driver. These days, there are many temptations to entice a driver to engage in activities unrelated to the operation of their automobile – thereby interfering with its safe operation. Texting, eating, sending and reading emails, paying bills, or talking on a cell phone, while convenient, are easy ways to distract a driver and create a potentially dangerous and hazardous situation – possibly even putting lives at risk.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving has been the leading cause of fatal car crashes for at least the last five or six years. Drivers distracted by such activities have caused over 3,100 deaths and injured an estimated 430,000 plus people in 2014.

New Jersey has some of the toughest laws against distracted driving. Use of hand-held phones and texting is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle. Cell phones are banned for bus drivers and beginner drivers. Violations of these distracted driving laws can carry significant fines and penalties.

Distracted drivers who cause wrongful deaths and personal injuries are responsible for compensating their victims. It is possible to be subject to civil liability even if you are not operating a motor vehicle but it is found that you have communicated via text to someone who you know is driving; and an accident is caused by the receiving driver.

If you or your loved one has suffered serious personal injuries or death as the result of a distracted driver, you should contact an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases to discuss your rights.

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Staying Safe When Your Motor Vehicle Breaks Down On A Highway

By Thomas R. Smith

July 13th, 2017

Only July 4th a motorist who exited his vehicle after stopping on Route 80, in Western New Jersey, was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle that had veered onto the shoulder of the highway.

The NJ State Police and the American Automobile Association advise motorist never to leave their vehicles, for any reason, while stopped on a highway. This even applies to vehicles that become disabled. The better choice is to pull the car to the shoulder, as far from the highway as possible, stay in the vehicle with the safety belts secured, and wait for help. Activate the car’s hazard lights, and, if dark out the interior lights.

Motorists should not exit the vehicle to obtain flares and place them on the ground behind the car. If a deflated tire is the problem, and must be fixed, never work on the side of the car exposed to traffic. Exiting the vehicle while stopped on a highway creates a risk of being struck by an oncoming vehicle and sustaining serious bodily injury, or even wrongful death.

If you have been injured due to a negligent motorist contact a lawyer who has experience handling personal injury matters to discuss your rights.

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Jury Awards $110.5 Million for Illness Caused by Baby Powder

By Thomas R. Smith

May 5th, 2017

A 62 year old woman obtained a jury verdict this week against Johnson and Johnson for $110.5 million. The jury found that the woman’s severe personal injuries were indeed caused by her long term use of company’s products containing talcum, including baby powder. The victim was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, that spread to her liver in 2012, and she presented scientific evidence that her illness was caused by the talc contained in Johnson and Johnson products. These studies have shown a connection between the use of talc on the genital area, and a 40% higher risk in developing the cancer.

If you or someone you know has developed cancer or some other serious injury or illness, and have used products containing talcum for an extended period, you may be entitled to compensation for any losses, or harms you have suffered as a result. You should contact an attorney who is experienced in handling product liability cases to discuss your rights. Don’t wait as there are often time limitations to make such claims.

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Your Accident Should Not Be Just A Statistic – Talk to an Injury Attorney

By admin

February 13th, 2017

An accident today, whether in an auto, from a bad product, or dangerous conditions on someone’s property, get played out on a different stage from not too many years in the past. Changes in laws threaten the injured person and his or her injury attorney with becoming a category or statistic, rather than the individual human being you are, with your story, your life and your needs.

The art of representation means identifying your individuality and what your diagnosis and your injury means, and will mean to you, and sometimes, to your loved ones. Legislation and insurance policies try to categorize and depersonalize. Your injury attorney needs to learn who you are so that it is the “you” in you that is presented and appreciated.

In part, the doctor who is to help present and describe what happened to you, has to be made aware, you are not a diagnosis, but rather a unique person with that diagnosis and its impact on the “you” in you. This is part of the art of having you and your case understood for what it means to you, with the explanation of needed witnesses, who know you are not a category, but a person.

That is who you want representing you, above being just a case, a statistic, or a “typical diagnosis”. You are not typical. You are you and you should seek an injury attorney who gets that, so that those who are responsible for compensating you get that.

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