Archive for September, 2013

Avoid Car Accidents — Don’t Use Your Cell Phone for Texting

By admin

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Texting Behind The Wheel: A Deadly Game

“He that can have patience can have what he will”- Benjamin Franklin

How important is that text message? That email? If you are behind the wheel, it is not very important at all. Do yourself and others on the road a favor and wait until you are done driving, before you glance down at your cell phone. Driving on New Jersey’s roadways is dangerous enough without introducing the added risk of cell phone usage.

With the rise in cell phones in this country, there is also a rise in the deaths that are caused by cell phones. In 2011, distracted drivers accounted for over 170 care accident fatalities in New Jersey. Undoubtedly, a large majority of distracted drivers are those who are using their cell phone while driving. Not only is this practice dangerous for the driver of the vehicle, but also a great danger to others on the road.

In an effort to prevent the number of deaths that result from cell phone usage while driving, New Jersey has passed a bright line law.

Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3(a),

The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway shall be unlawful except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone or the electronic communication device is used hands-free, provided that its placement does not interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment and the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle.

The law is simple. If you use your cell phone, you are breaking the rules. The law takes away any discretion from law enforcement that may have previously existed. In the event that you are seen using your cell phone while driving, you can be pulled over for that offense alone.

This advice also applies to your personal injury case. If you are the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident and you are injured, you may be entitled to recover damages from the driver of the other vehicle. However, your ability to recover may be limited by your own negligence. Using your cell phone while driving constitutes negligence and the other party will certainly use it against you.

Obey the law and don’t use your cell phone. The text message can wait. Your email will be there when you park. More importantly, your life will not be lost and you will be able to see the other person on the other end of that text message when you get home.

Car Accidents: New Jersey Police can Consficate your Cell Phone

By admin

Friday, September 20th, 2013

You Have the Right to Give Me Your Cell Phone: Anything You Texted Will Be Held Against You

There is a new bill that was just introduced in the New Jersey State Senate that would allow a police officer to confiscate a driver’s cell phone at the scene of a car accident. Not only would the officer be allowed to take the cell phone, but the new bill permits the officer to look through the phone as part of their crash investigation.

What is the officer looking for? To see if the driver has broken the law by using their cell phone when the car accident occurred.

Proponents of the bill hope that the latest measure to combat driver inattention will cut down on the 1,840 handheld cell phone-related crashes that occurred in New Jersey in 2011, which resulted in 807 injuries and six deaths. Those who oppose the bill believe this is just another step in the complete loss of the right to privacy.

How the bill will be implemented is an entirely separate and complicated issue. According to early reports, the police officer responding to the scene will only be allowed to search the phone if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the law against cell phone use has been broken. But who is to say what constitutes reasonable grounds?

Realistically, this will be a bill that we may not see for quite some time in New Jersey. Undoubtedly, the Supreme Court will have to weigh in on whether the new measure crosses the line that protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the fact that the bill is being seriously considered goes to show that New Jersey is serious about cutting down on the car accidents involving cell phone use.

Injured in Auto Accident — Be Careful of Recorded Statements to Insurance Investigator

By admin

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

“What You Say Can & Will Be Used Against You: Auto Insurance Companies & Recorded State

There has been an increasing trend for automobile insurance companies requesting recorded statements of everyone involved in an auto accident, if they believe that their insured may have been at fault. Sometimes, insurance companies make these requests only minutes after the accident. I have even seen where an insurance company asked their insured to put the other driver on the phone at the scene of the accident to get a recorded statement. Insurance companies do this to deprive any potentially injured person the benefit of (1) medical treatment; (2) time to calm down after a traumatic accident; (3) the chance to speak with loved ones or the police; and most importantly, (4) the opportunity to consult with an attorney before giving such a statement.

Insurance companies do not want anyone who may later make a personal injury claim to have the opportunity to speak with an attorney before the insurance company has its chance to ask its own set of questions. While the answers to these questions are not the same as testimony in a courtroom, the recording and the transcript of that recording do have an effect on any lawsuit that is filed down the road, and the insurance company can try to use the contents of that interview as leverage later on.

If you are involved in an automobile accident, you must be skeptical if asked by an insurance adjuster or investigator to give a recorded statement. This is particularly true when it is the other driver’s insurance company asking for the statement immediately or shortly after the accident. The other driver’s insurance company hopes that, before there is time for some injuries to present themselves, you will say you were not injured. That way, they can use that statement later on to try to disclaim coverage of and compensation for legitimate injuries.

You must still cooperate with your own insurance company and report any accidents in a timely fashion, and you should always contact the police following a serious accident, but if you are asked to give a recorded statement immediately after an accident by another driver’s insurance company, you must be very careful about what you say. Ideally, you should not give a recorded statement to another driver’s insurance company without first consulting with an attorney, and you must always be careful whenever giving a recorded statement, even to your own insurance company.

A skilled personal injury attorney can not only protect your rights before, during, and after a case goes to court, s/he can also aid you with requests for a recorded statement by an insurance company after you are injured in an accident. Call 1-800-432-LAWS to speak with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney, who can answer all your questions about your rights.

Put A Lid On It: Head & Brain Injury

By Thomas R. Smith

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Head or brain injuries are on the rise as more people engage in sports, competitively or recreationally, ride bikes, ATVs, and motorcycles, all of which have a high risk of injury.  Head injury is any trauma that injures the scalp, skull or the brain.  It can be due to a minor bump, as well as a major external force.  Head injuries include traumatic brain injuries and concussions, either of which can come from not just a blow to the head, but also as simple jolt of the head or body, most common in motor vehicle, truck and motorcycle accidents.

The residuals from a head or brain injury can be temporary and minor, such as lingering headaches, dizziness, and nausea.  More significant injuries can cause long and short-term memory loss, loss of balance or coordination and other cognitive defects leading to permanent disability.

The NFL has recently drawn much attention to head injuries, with more players suffering season and often career-ending concussions, and/or neck injuries as a result of on field collisions, despite the use of state of the art protective helmets.  Many athletes in high school or younger are not required to wear helmets in risky activities like soccer and girl’s lacrosse and field hockey.   Recently a local school district required, at least athletes in the elementary schools, to wear some sort of protective headgear.  Princeton Township schools will soon require even those students in high school to likewise wear protection on the head while engaging in a sport in which a helmet is traditionally not worn.

Registration for motorcycles has increased dramatically in recent years with more people taking up riding across the country.  As a result, the number of reported head and brain  injuries or fatal accidents has likewise gone up.  Riding without a helmet increases the chance of death, or catastrophic head, and/ or neck injury.  Some states, like New Jersey mandates helmets for all motorcyclists.  Other states don’t, like Pennsylvania, which, for some reason changed its law 10 years ago to make helmets optional.

If you suffered a head or brain injury in an accident, contact a lawyer who specializes in person injury to maximize any compensation you may be entitled to for your losses or harms.  If you engage in any activity subjecting you to more risk, use your head, and wear a helmet.  For more information call us at 1-800-432-LAWS for a free consultation.