Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Distracted Driving – Personal Injuries

By Thomas R. Smith

Wednesday, 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.

Staying Safe When Your Motor Vehicle Breaks Down On A Highway

By Thomas R. Smith

Thursday, 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.

Car Accidents: Uber

By Thomas R. Smith

Wednesday, 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.

Car Accidents: Cell Phones Crackdown in New Jersey

By admin

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

As previously discussed on this blog, cell phone usage behind the wheel has become a growing concern in the state. New figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that 30% of car accident fatalities in New Jersey, are due to driver distraction.

In an effort to cut down on deaths caused by cell phone usage, New Jersey police departments are cracking down on drivers who are caught using their cell phone behind the wheel. While many departments have made this a focus in the past, this new campaign is quite different. For the first time, New Jersey is using federal aid to fund police activity in over 60 communities throughout the state.

So starting April 1st, these communities will be receiving funding from the state that will allow overtime for police officers to conduct distracted driving patrols. These extra patrols will allow police departments to pay overtime to their staff to specifically target cell phone users, similar to prior crackdowns on seat belt violations and drunk driving.

How serious are these departments about stepping up their efforts? One new strategy that has been discussed is using plainclothes officers on street corners so that the officer can spot the violators and report them to a nearby officer who can pull them over in his vehicle.

Some may have serious reservation with that approach, as some believe it is close to a form of entrapment. However, proponents of the crackdown efforts believe that not only will the increased presence make the roads safer, but it will lead to important arrests on drug charges and outstanding fugitive warrants.

Regardless of your opinion on the increased efforts, it is clear that the police departments in New Jersey are taking this issue seriously. Texting and/or talking on your cell phone while driving is illegal in the state and come April 1st, there will be extra pairs of eyes patrolling New Jersey roads. When you receive a ticket for a violation or when you are involved in a car accident, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Motor Vehicle Accidents are on the Rise in Middlesex County New Jersey

By admin

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Middlesex County: Traffic and Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise

In 2012, five hundred and forty-two people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey. That number represents an increase of approximately 8.3% deaths from 2011. However, not all New Jersey counties have suffered an equal number of fatalities.

Middlesex County, located in the heart of central New Jersey holds the distinction of being the second most populated county in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it may also contain the most dangerous roads in the state. According to a recent report, more people were killed in 2012 on Middlesex County roads than any other county in the state.

In fact, fifty-four people were killed in motor vehicle collisions in the county in 2012. The second greatest number of fatalities occurred in Ocean County. This unfortunate statistic is nothing new to Middlesex, as the fifty-seven people who were killed in 2011, was the highest of that year as well.

Another alarming statistic is that forty-one pedestrians were killed on Middlesex County roads from 2009-2011. Route 1, Route 9, and Route 35 were singled out as the roadways, which suffered the highest number of pedestrian deaths.

When analyzing these frightening statistics, questions arise as to what the cause of these fatalities is.

Could it be the size of the population that resides in Middlesex County, resulting in greater numbers of cars on the road? It could be, but the state’s most populated county, Bergen County, suffered thirty deaths in 2012, twenty-four less than Middlesex.

Could it be the roads themselves, the design of which, may be contributing factors of these types of accidents? It’s possible, but if anyone has ever driven in other parts of the state such as the congestion filled counties of Bergen, Essex, and Hudson or the inadequately lit roads of Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris, they can tell you New Jersey roads are a problem in general.

Maybe it’s the reduction in law enforcement or the ongoing construction that occurs in parts of the county. Odds are it is a combination of these and many other factors, including lack of due care on the part of the drivers.

Regardless of the contributing causes of these accidents, drivers have a duty to exercise due care when driving on the state’s roads. If you or a loved one is a victim of an accident resulting in personal injury or death, you should consult a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. While the numbers may be rising, that does not mean that you or your family have to be victims of another driver’s negligence.

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.

Limitation On Lawsuits – When Small Savings Don’t Add Up

By Thomas R. Smith

Friday, February 24th, 2012

A victim who suffers personal injuries from a motor vehicle accident may have restricted their ability to be compensated under New Jersey law.  Choosing the Limitation on Lawsuits options when purchasing automobile insurance, will restrict your access to compensation.  With this option, you will only be able to recover damages if your injuries result in one of the following defined categories:  death, displaced fracture, disfiguring scarring, dismemberment, loss of a fetus, or a permanent injury – which must be proven by objective medical evidence.

Your choice of insurance will not only restrict your rights to recover, but also those family members residing in your household, or others listed on the insurance policy.  This often results in an unfair denial of compensation to those suffering personal injuries due to a negligent motor vehicle operator.

Insurance companies vigorously defend claims brought against them by injured victims who choose the Limitations on Lawsuits threshold.  Juries appear reluctant to find permanent injuries and thus fewer awards are made.

While you may save a few dollars in the policy’s cost by electing the threshold, you in turn will give up important rights to be fairly and adequately compensated by a careless driver that caused you pain and suffering, loss of quality of life and/or disability.  Give much consideration when purchasing your policy if the small savings is worth it.

Don’t allow the NJ Department of Banking & Insurance regulate your auto accident treatment!

By Edward Slaughter, Jr.

Monday, November 7th, 2011

A standard NJ auto policy provides up to $250,000 to pay for medical treatment due to an auto accident, regardless of fault. This is why NJ auto insurance is more expensive than in other states. Many states require less or no medical treatment coverage.

Now the auto insurance companies are seeking to restrict access to needed treatment by getting the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance to allow them to put auto accident victims into “organized delivery systems”. They will thereby restrict treatment to doctors or groups of their choosing, control what tests will be allowed, and otherwise deny needed care.

It is the mission of insurance companies to make profits. Profits are made by restricting payments to injured people. If they are given control of treatment they will try to limit it, thereby reducing what they have to pay. Thereby making more profit.

I have nothing against profit but insurance companies are not your typical business. They don’t make or sell a product. All they do is collect premiums from people against the risk that they may have to pay certain claims. If they never have to pay a claim they get to keep all the money they collect.

Insurance companies originally were there to spread the risk of loss amongst us all. We all paid premiums so that if one of us had to be helped in some way because of a loss that person would be made whole. Now the profit motive is all they are interested in. And they have the ability to influence politicians because they have a lot of money that they collected from people just like you.

You can oppose this by speaking or writing to the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance before it is too late.  They can be reached at 800-446-7467 or by visiting their website at http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/.