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 Andrew M. Rockman

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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“I Was Just Involved in a Car Accident – What do I do Now?”

By Bhaveen Jani

February 8th, 2017

If you have ever been involved in a car accident, it can be a really terrifying experience and one where you may not be in the right frame of mind to make quick and necessary decisions. However, if you follow these simple instructions you can mitigate your damages and also ensure that you are fully protected.

It is important that you stay at the scene until you have been instructed to do so by the police. If you are involved in a car accident and if it is your fault, you can be susceptible to criminal penalties as a potential hit and run driver. As soon as an accident occurs, check on the well being of your passengers along with yourself. Of course, pain and injuries may not manifest at this point due to adrenaline but check for any cuts and bruises. After you have made sure everyone is safe, call 911. If you are uncertain on the property damage or who was at fault do not engage the other driver or come to an “agreement,” it is very important to call the police because the police report will be the objective evidence of fault and liability.

After you have called the police, you can exchange information with the other driver. The pertinent information to exchange includes: names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers and basic insurance information. If there are passengers try and obtain their information as well. At this juncture, it is very important to not admit fault or apologize at the accident scene. You can be polite but do not admit anything! This is crucial because anything you say at this point can be used against you in a subsequent civil proceeding. While at the scene, try and also identify any witnesses and take down their names, numbers and addresses as well.

At this point, it is important to take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of your car and the other car involved. If you suffered bruises or cuts take pictures of those injuries as well.

After the accident and after you speak to the authorities, inform your insurance company of the accident. It is important to be honest with them and tell them your account of what occurred. Next, it is important to keep track of your medical treatment. If you are any of your passengers feel any sort of pain from the accident at the scene, inform the police officer to call an ambulance. It is important to seek medical treatment and go to the ER. With respect to medical treatment, pain symptoms from car accidents can manifest a day or two after the accident. When you experience pain go to the ER.

If you do seek medical attention, it is important to keep track of the various treaters and also the medication you received. If you lost time from work, keep track of those days as well.

Do not talk to anyone about the accident other than your injury attorney, the police, and your insurance company. If an agent from the other insurance company calls you, be polite and simply refer them to your attorney.

Be weary of early settlement offers. It is important to consult with an injury attorney to analyze your case with respect to property damage and medical treatment rendered. An attorney can help best maximize the value of your case. If settlement cannot be achieved in New Jersey, you have two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.

The injury attorneys at PELLETTIERI, RABSTEIN & ALTMAN are extremely experienced in representing victims of motor vehicle accidents. Our office provides free initial consultations and a contingency fee, so you do not have to pay anything unless we secure a settlement or a verdict.

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Injuries Due To Trucks’ Tire Debris

By Thomas R. Smith

February 2nd, 2017

Tire debris from a tractor trailer traveling on Route 1 North, near Princeton, caused a motorist, who was trying to avoid the debris, to lose control of his car, swerve off the road, and into several trees – ultimately causing his death. Trucks, often referred to as “18 wheelers”, use tires much larger then used by the average automobile. When those tires fail, they are prone to cause major damage either by a direct strike, or due to the evasive action the driver must take to avoid the debris.

Many tractor-trailers use retread tires as a cost saving measure. Retreads are permitted on trucks with the exception of the front tires. Used or worn tires are fitted with a cap, or a piece of a new tread, over the worn area of the tire. When a retread fails, the tire shatters, sending tire pieces in different directions, often at unsuspecting vehicles. It is not unusual to travel on a highway and see pieces of a retread tire laying in, or on the side of, the road. Those pieces are heavy, can separate from the tire at very high speeds, and create dangerous and hazardous situations for other motorists, often times causing significant property damage or serious personal injuries.

Tractor trailer drivers must follow strict guidelines and regulations to inspect tires before operating the vehicle. Tires are to be visibly and physically inspected to ensure they are inflated properly and the treads are of a minimum depth. Tires that don’t meet those standards create an increased risk of failure, and consequently property damage, personal injuries, and unfortunately, wrongful death.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to tire from a tractor trailer that fails, contact a truck accident attorney experienced in handling cases against trucking companies to learn and protect your legal rights.

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Personal Injuries: Be Careful, it’s Nice Out There

By Thomas R. Smith

April 20th, 2016

Finally, the cold dreary days of winter are behind us and spring is in the air. With the warmer, nicer weather, comes an increase in motor vehicle accidents, and personal injuries motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians.

Drivers and pedestrians have the right to use the roadways, and have mutual duties and obligations to do so in a safe manner, and to look out for each other. More people are out walking and using some portion of the roads during the nice weather, and longer days. Both drivers and pedestrians must use reasonable care to observe anyone crossing into their paths of travel.

Motorists are faced with new challenges as the weather changes. Conditons that block normal observations, such as sun glare, fog, rain and lightening can lead to accidents. Drivers are expected to act prudently, and take the proper precautions associated with the conditions they are presented with to reduce the risk of harming someone else using the roadway, such as a pedestrian. Sometimes, if the conditions are such to severely impede visibility, they should pull over to the side of the road until the condition improves.

Pedestrians, which include bicyclists, using the roadways have similar duties and obligations to look out for their own safety as well as others. Pedestrians may only cross a street at a crosswalk, marked or unmarked, and once in that walkway, an approaching driver has an obligation to stop its vehicle, as opposed to merely yielding to the crossing pedestrian. Any collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian who is within the crosswalk, it will be presumed the driver did not exercise due care. When sidewalks are available, it is unlawful for one to walk along the roadway.

Bicyclists must follow the rules of road to help avoid personal injuries from accidents with motor vehicles. Operators must ride as far to the right of the roadway as possible, but may move left to make left turns, avoid hazards, or to pass a slower moving vehicle. A bicycle being operated a night should have a lamp in the front and red light in the rear. Bicyclists under the age of 17 must wear helmets.

Motorcycle accidents also increase during the nicer weather as ridership increases. More people are out riding in the Spring and Summer then in the winter months. The major causes of accidents with motorcycles involve driver inattention, or the inability to notice motorcycles, and driver speed, usually a motorcycle driving too fast for the conditions. Operators must take extra caution to ensure are seen by other cars and trucks on the road and don’t drive at excessive speeds. So doing will cut down on the number of an extent of injuries involving motor cycles.

According a New Jersey State Police report, many more crashes and fatalities involving motor vehicles, motorcycles and pedestrians occur during the nicer spring and summer months. The majority occur during clear weather and on a Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, take extra caution when using the roads during the nice weather. If you have been injured by a motor vehicle, contact my office so I, as an experienced personal injury lawyer can advise of your rights to recover for you injuries, losses and any other ways you have been harmed.

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Car Accidents: Uber

By Thomas R. Smith

March 16th, 2016

With one tap of a smart phone app, Uber is forever changing the taxi business as well as the way people commute. The rise of Uber, and other ride-sharing services offer convenience and savings for riders while creating new work opportunities for drivers. However, these services are not problem-proof and with them come a number of legal questions and concerns – specifically liability for car accidents.

Uber and other ride-sharing companies make it clear that they aren’t in the transportation business but instead are technology services that simply connect riders and drivers. The drivers are independent third parties; therefore the rider accepts ALL risk, as clearly stated in the Uber terms and conditions:
“By using the services, you acknowledge that you may be exposed to situations involving third party providers that are potentially unsafe, offensive, harmful to minors, or otherwise objectionable,” Uber states, and “that using the services is at your own risk and judgment. Uber shall not have any liability …” The Uber contract also includes a forced arbitration clause, which greatly limits an individual’s right to take the company to court.

Additionally, Uber drivers typically don’t meet the same licensing and inspection requirements that apply to traditional taxi and limousine services.  According to the company’s safety page, Uber drivers are required to undergo rigorous background checks. The company also provides insurance for its drivers; although gray areas exist that raise serious concerns about whether or not Uber’s insurance would apply in certain situations.

Like many new and groundbreaking business models, Uber has clearly created great opportunities and challenges that previously didn’t exist. Uber car accidents can be particularly complicated. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a ride-share driver, or as a ride-share passenger, contact one of our personal injury attorneys at 800-432-LAWS (5297) to discuss your case.

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Pedestrian Car Accidents

By admin

March 7th, 2016

New Jersey has some of the busiest roads in the country and car accidents are on the rise. Not only are the roads congested with cars, motorcycles and trucks, but many pedestrians use the roads as a cheaper, healthier way to get from point A to point B. Pedestrians have the same rights on highways as motor vehicles.

But what happens when these vehicles, which weigh thousands of pounds, collide with the human pedestrian? Disaster.

You see it in the news almost weekly. A pedestrian is struck by a motorist and seriously injured or killed. As a result, the pedestrian suffers personal injuries, medical expenses and possibly loss of income or the ability to work. These damages can be devastating. Much like a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle, pedestrians have the right to have their medical expenses paid by their car insurance company under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, even if they are not operating a vehicle at the time of the accident.

In addition, they may be entitled to both economic and non-economic compensation from the insurance company of the motorist who was negligent. Often times these cases can involve serious injuries due to the lack of protection from the crash and the sheer weight and speed of the offending vehicle.

It is absolutely crucial to speak to an injury attorney after such a tragedy that knows how to ensure that you are taken care of for the damages you suffer as a result of a pedestrian car accident.

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