I Was In a Car Accident, Should I Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

By admin

December 21st, 2015

No.

If you get into a car accident, you should not speak to the other driver’s insurance company before consulting with an attorney. The reason for this is pretty simple. Insurance companies train their claims adjusters to take advantage of drivers and witnesses before they have the opportunity to seek legal counsel to explain their rights.

Once a company is given notice about an accident that involves one of their insured drivers, they are told to immediately begin investigating the accident. The reason they hit the ground running from day one is because they are thinking about how they can escape liability for the accident and avoid paying claims. They don’t really care whether you’re injured or not, they only really care about how your injury will affect their bottom line.

The typical situation arises following a car accident. The drivers exchange information and following the crash, both drivers alert their insurance company that they were involved in an accident. Shortly after that, you get a call from the other driver’s company asking for information about how the accident happened (from your perspective) and your injuries. Again, this is not because they care, but rather they are trying to build their defense and figure out how much they think your claim is potentially worth.

When they contact you, they may ask you for a recorded statement. This is typically taped by an adjuster who asks questions about the happening of the accident and any treatment you’ve had.

DO NOT under any circumstances give a recorded or written statement to the other driver’s insurance company. They are NOT mandatory regardless of what the insurance company tells you.

These statements can be very harmful to you and any potential claim you may have. They could be used against you years later at a trial. The best bet is to consult with an attorney soon after a car accident so they can properly advise you of your rights and obligations, including those owed to the other driver’s insurance company.

When in doubt, just say no.

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Holiday Parties: Homeowner Liability

By admin

November 16th, 2015

Where did the summer go?  Thanksgiving and Christmas are now just around the corner and with those holidays comes the holiday parties.

Often many people wonder what their liability is if someone is injured at their home during a holiday party or if someone has a little too much to drink and gets into an accident. This can be an important and somewhat confusing topic of conversation around this time.

In New Jersey, a social guest who is invited to someone’s home has limited protections from dangerous conditions. The host has no obligation to make his or her home safer for party guests than for themselves. The host is also not required to inspect their property to discovery dangerous conditions that can lead to injuries. But that’s not the end of it.

Homeowners can still be liable for guest’s injuries. If the host knows or has reason to know of a dangerous condition on the property that could harm their guests and it is a condition that a guest could not reasonably discover, the host has a duty to make the condition safe or give warning to the guest. It may be easier to look at a quick example:

Martha wants to host a Christmas party at her home and plans to invite about twenty people. In the process of cleaning her house for the party, while dusting her hardwood floors, she notices that there is a sharp nail poking out of the floor. It’s the same color as the floor, but she happened to notice it because she was cleaning. Martha gets distracted and forgets about the nail. Later on all her guests arrive and she forgets to mention the nail to any of them. At the end of the night her guest Donald gets his pant leg caught on the nail and falls and breaks his ankle.

In this example Martha actually knew of a dangerous condition that could pose harm to her social guests. Rather then remedy the condition by nailing it down or removing it, she left it. She gave no warning to Donald and he was unable to discover the condition because the nail was small and blended in with the flooring. When Donald gets hurt Martha is liable to him for his injuries.

This is just one example of how a social host can be liable to guests this holiday season. Other common scenarios aren’t as cut and dry as Martha’s knowledge of the nail. Often times, the dangerous condition may be one that the homeowner does not discover but is one that they should have discovered. Let’s look at another Martha example:

Martha is again cleaning for her party, but this time she doesn’t actually discover any dangerous conditions. She walks through her house about a dozen times before her guests arrive, including her long wooden hallway. Throughout the day she walks the hallway about ten times but she’s so preoccupied with the party that she fails to see a large puddle of water on the floor. Later when Donald is walking through the hallway he slips and injures himself. It is quite possible that Martha will be liable even though she never saw the spill as she should have been aware of the spill and warned her social guests.
If these scenarios sound familiar, you may want to speak to an attorney who handles these matters and see what your options are.

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Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Rocks the Globe

By admin

September 23rd, 2015

This week, automobile company Volkswagen admitted that they intentionally designed vehicles to evade environmental regulations. The news began last week when the EPA accused the company of installing software on nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to manipulate emissions tests. The software fools regulators into believing that a four-cylinder diesel car complies with emission standards. In reality, the cars were letting out harmful pollutants at alarming rates, which some say are over 40 times the required standards.

After the EPA called out Volkswagen, their CEO admitted to the deception. As a result of the gaft, the EPA can fine the company up to 18 billion dollars for their actions. Many are also predicting that this will trigger recalls of the affected vehicles as well as a bevy of consumer lawsuits.

The full ramifications of the manipulation are unclear at this time, but one thing is for sure, this is another clear example of a company putting profit before consumer safety. We’ve seen this script before. Such historical examples like the Ford Pinto of the 1970’s or the Ford Explorer of the 1990’s remind us that car companies don’t always get it right and often put greed ahead of safety.

Volkswagen’s stock has plummeted and their CEO is on his way out but the company may need the EPA to set a tone for this behavior and put other companies on notice that this behavior will not be tolerated. But, something tells me no matter what happens, this is just another business expense for Volkswagen and car companies like them.

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Backyard Fireworks: Still Illegal in New Jersey

By admin

July 10th, 2015

July 4th has come and gone and like every year, there were a few guarantees for the holiday, grilling, American flags, and of course, fireworks. The latter has been a tradition on the 4th for years, especially in New Jersey. Another guarantee that went fulfilled this holiday season was firework injuries.

This past weekend a 22 year old from Maine was killed when he attempted to shoot fireworks from his head. Fireworks are legal in Maine. In an ever more publicized story, Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants was injured in Florida over the weekend when fireworks he purchased exploded in his hands. JPP lost an index finger in the accident and is still hospitalized for thumb fractures and other hand injuries. His career is in serious jeopardy.

These two glaring examples remind us what we already knew. Fireworks are extremely dangerous and should not be used by untrained citizens. In New Jersey, their use is flat out illegal.

Under N.J.S.A. 21:3-1, the possession and use of fireworks is banned as it has been found to be against the “public health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of New Jersey”. There are exceptions of course, such as obtaining the proper licensing and permits from the municipality where you intend to use the fireworks. But these are generally granted for firework displays.

There will be continued debate about whether or not this past weekend’s events are tragedies or whether they are actions by people who should know the dangers that fireworks possess. The mother of the Maine man who passed away called for stricter laws for fireworks. In New Jersey, we have no such issue. It is illegal to possess them in this state. Period.

As the summer continues, keep this in mind as there can be both penalties assessed due to their possession and their use can cause serious personal injuries or even death.

Be safe this summer.

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New Dog Legislation on The Way: Large Breed Dogs Beware

By admin

June 15th, 2015

On May 11, 2015, two New Jersey lawmakers introduced “The Responsible Dog Ownership Act”. The legislation would ask the New Jersey Department of Health to establish new requirements for dog owners. Most notably, the legislation would require dog owners to have a fence on their property that was at least eight feet high.

The new dog legislation is in response two separate attacks that occurred in recent years, in which children were attacked and bitten by neighborhood dogs. The fence requirement would be for dog owners with “large breed dogs”. The difficulty will be establishing what size dog is a large breed dog. The lawmakers would ask the Department of Health to consult with experts in this field to determine what a large breed would be and what requirements should be placed on their owners.

Questions about whether the fencing requirement would be retroactive and apply to owners who already have large breed dogs are still up in the air. While the possible law is far from being put on the books, the outrage and debate is sure to come. The requirement for private citizens to spend large sums of money to build these fences may have some doubters believing their rights are being infringed upon.

And what happens to those dogs that are considered large breeds but have owners who cannot afford a fence? Are the dogs sent to overcrowded shelters or kennels? The topic will surely have much debate among New Jersey citizens as it makes its way though the new dog legislature. Balancing the safety of citizens against the requirement to spend what amounts to a tax will be a difficult task for lawmakers and whatever the result, there is sure to be dissenting opinions.

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Headed Down The New Jersey Shore: Not So Fast

By admin

May 29th, 2015

With the unofficial start of summer upon us many people enjoying heading down the shore on the weekends for some sun and everything the great New Jersey beach towns have to offer.

This year, make sure you aren’t flying too fast down the shore on the parkway or turnpike. The New Jersey State Police unveiled a new crop of patrol cars today that are being labeled “ghost cars”. In reality, they are black Chevy Caprices with a frosted image of the State Police logo on the door.

The cars are being used as an effort to curb speeding on New Jersey’s major roadways, which in the summer, are heavily trafficked by beach goers. The key to the design is that they will be more difficult to spot in traffic and will blend in. When you get pulled over however, there will be no mistaking the car for a civilian’s when you are reprimanded.

If you’re issued a ticket this summer, you should know your rights under New Jersey’s motor vehicle statutes and you should consult with an experienced attorney who can explain those rights and what options you have

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Casino Falls: A Roll of the Dice when an Injury Occurs

By admin

May 26th, 2015

Casinos have been a hot topic for sometime in New Jersey. Some are closing while some are opening and re-opening under new owners. Whatever the case, casinos have long been a favored pastime of the people of the state. Outside of Las Vegas, Atlantic City is one of the biggest cities in the country for casinos.

While trying your luck at casinos can be a ball, a day trip or weekend getaway can turn into a real nightmare in no time when a fall and injury occurs. Much like other commercial businesses, casinos are responsible for making sure that any patrons that come onto their property are granted a safe place to do so.

Casinos and their employees are required to inspect the casino floors on a regular basis and ensure that there are no hazards present that pose a threat to a customer’s safety. Year after year, many of these casinos fall short of their duty and people are injured when they fall on the casino floor. Some of the causes of the falls include liquid substances, shoddy flooring and casino chairs and even food.

Now we are talking about more than just Atlantic City, as casinos are branching out to areas of Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. If you or someone you know is injured at a casino as a result of the casino failing to provide a safe environment, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You should contact an attorney to determine your rights.

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Train Accident: Negligent Conduct

By Thomas R. Smith

May 19th, 2015

Late Tuesday evening, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train, traveling from Washington DC, to New York, derailed outside of Philadelphia. Consequently, 7 of the 238 passengers on board were killed thus far, and over half of the other occupants were hospitalized with various personal injuries. Several people remain missing. The cause of the train accident is being investigated, although it appears the train was traveling at twice the allowed speed when it left the tracks. Regardless, a derailment should never happen and is almost always the result of at least, negligent conduct. The train accident victims and their families will be entitled to compensation for their harms and losses by Amtrak and any other party deemed responsible. Any lawsuits against Amtrak will be filed in the United States District Court. If you or someone you know was unfortunately victimized by crash, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to start preparing your claim immediately.

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Attention Shoppers: Injuries Due to Defects, or Other Dangerous Conditions

By Thomas R. Smith

April 24th, 2015

A pleasant trip tpi - pico a supermarket or shopping mall can turn into a nightmare if you encounter a dangerous condition on the property which causes you to fall and sustain a personal injury. Generally, the owner of a store or shopping center must take reasonable care to provide a safe place for those invited, the public, to enter their premises. Any defects, or other dangerous conditions, inside or outside the store, must be corrected, and effective warnings of those conditions must be provided. The owner or occupier of the premises has a duty to inspect for any dangerous conditions. A shopper, who falls because the owner failed to make the premises safe, is entitled to be compensated for any losses caused by resulting personal injuries.
Ordinarily, in order to be compensated, an injured victim must show there was a dangerous condition that caused the injuries and the condition was known, or could have been known, by the owner upon a reasonable inspection in time to correct or warn against the condition. However, if the owner, in their normal operations or course of business created the condition they will be liable for damage regardless of whether they knew of it or not.

If you have suffered personal injuries because of a danger condition at a supermarket or shopping center you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

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Snow & Ice: Slip & Fall Injuries

By Thomas R. Smith

January 28th, 2015

Slip & Fall injuries from slipping and falling on ice and or snow can be life changing.  If you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation for any losses and harms.  Commercial landowners, such as shopping centers, have a non-delegable duty to keep parking lots safe and free from ice and snow.  When they don’t, and a customer slips and falls and sustains personal injuries, they are liable for money damages.

Homeowners generally have no obligation to clear abutting public sidewalks, although some municipal regulations may require shoveling snow and keeping clear of ice.  However, if a homeowner undertakes to clean the walkway, they must do so in a reasonably safe manner, and will be liable for compensation to an injured victim if they fail to do so.

If you have fallen on snow or ice and sustained slip & fall injuries, contact an experienced lawyer to help you obtain the compensation for your losses and harms that you are entitled.

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