Posts Tagged ‘car accidents’

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.

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.

Pedestrian Car Accidents

By admin

Monday, 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.

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

By admin

Monday, 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.

Bridgegate: What Could Have Gone Wrong

By admin

Friday, January 10th, 2014

By now, unless you have been living under a rock, or a bridge, you have heard about the George Washington Bridge scandal that has engulfed the great Garden State. Many media outlets have appropriately dubbed the controversy as “Bridgegate”.

In the recent days, Governor Christie has addressed the issue and steadfastly denied any knowledge or involvement in the decision to close down lanes on the George Washington Bridge, resulting in massive traffic backups in the Bergen County town of Fort Lee.

Subpoenas have been flying and the Fifth Amendment has been once again utilized to prevent someone from possibly incriminating themselves. Amid the chaos, New Jersey residents are caught in the middle, unsure of who to believe.

While many advocates on the right and the left side of the aisle have turned this into a massive political issue, there remains a very simple but important subject that seems to be getting lost in the uproar. What could have gone wrong?

Early reports have stated that the massive traffic delays (which happened to occur during the first week of school) in September caused residents to be late for work and school. One lawsuit that was recently filed alleges that a commuter suffered a panic attack behind the wheel during the traffic jam. Worse yet, there are reports that an ambulance team was late to respond to an elderly woman who was in need of assistance on her kitchen floor. The woman later passed away.

Those are the stories we know about. How about those commuters who were involved in car accidents as a result of the massive traffic jams that have not been reported. Or those commuters who, as a result of being late for work, decided to drive a little faster (when they could) and take a few more risks on the road.

While it may not be presently clear why the lanes were closed down, it is clear that the actions of those responsible for Bridgegate didn’t really think about anyone but themselves. They didn’t about the possible danger that Fort Lee residents, commuters and their families were put in, as a result of the decision, nor did they give weight to the possible injuries and deaths that may have resulted from it.

And for that…someone needs to be held responsible.

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.

DWI – without getting behind the wheel?

By admin

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Sometime when talking to our friends and family we can often be told that’s “TMI,” or Too Much Information” when being told something that the person didn’t particularly want to know.  However, in some instances we can never have ‘Too Much Information!”
I received a telephone call from a potential client who had gotten into trouble for being a good Samaritan.  She received a late night telephone call from a friend of hers who was charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Hamilton Township, Mercer County.  The good Samaritan had driven from her residence in Hillsborough, NJ to Hamilton Township to pick up her friend from the Hamilton Police Department. 

 
Before she was allowed to take her friend home she had to sign a document that was placed before her by the police officer.    Unfortunately, she didn’t really read the document.  What she signed was a document known John’s Law, which is a liability warning acknowledging that he/she is picking up someone who has been charged with driving while intoxicated.

It was almost 2:00 am by the time they returned to Hillsborough.  During the ride home the good Samaritan’s car began making a funny noise.   It was late and the good Samaritan had to get up for work that morning.  Her friend offered to take her car for a ride around her apartment complex to see if she could figure out what was wrong with the car while the good Samaritan went to bed.

At 4:00 am that same morning, the good Samaritan is awaken by the telephone.  The Princeton Township Police Department is calling her.  It seems that her friend took her car for more than a spin around the apartment complex.  In fact, she crashed her car into a tree and is now in the hospital where she has been admitted for her injuries.

The good Samaritan rushes to the hospital to check on her friend.  While there she talks to the police about the accident.  She later received a summons in the mail from the police department.

N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (a) (Driving While Intoxicated) provides in part “ ….a person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more ….OR PERMITS ANOTHER PERSNON WHO IS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR, NARCOTIC, HALLUCINOGENIC INFLUENCE OR HABIT-PRODUCING DRUG TO OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE OWNED BY HIM OR IN HIS CUSTODY OR CONTROL OR PERMITS ANOTHER TO OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE WITH A BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION OF 0.08% OR MORE….IN THE DEFENDANT’S BLOOD SHALL BE SUBJECT TO”

In other words, the good Samaritan is now being charged with permitting someone who she knew was intoxicated with driving her vehicle.  Under the statute the good Samaritan faces the same loss of her driver’s license, fines and surcharges as if she was actually driving the vehicle herself.  These are serious charges and she will now have to defend those charges in municipal court.

$2 Million Dollar Settlement: Tire Blow Out Caused Injury during a Car Accident

By Edward Slaughter, Jr.

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Our client, C.P., was severely injured in a car wreck when a Range Rover driven by his brother rolled over. This motor vehicle accident occurred in broad daylight on an interstate highway.

The police investigation revealed that this car accident occurred because the right rear tire of the vehicle blew out. There was no debris in the roadway and no road defects were present to explain why the tire blew out.

C.P. was severely injured; he suffered a broken neck that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He had to be placed in a nursing home and later died from the complications of the injuries he suffered in the motor vehicle accident.

As a New Jersey injury attorney, I represented C.P. and later his family in what became a products liability case against the manufacturer of the tire.

Investigation by this law firm revealed that the tread of the tire had separated from the inner plies of the tire.

This firm hired an expert who had worked as an engineer in the tire industry. This expert examined the tire and concluded that the body of the tire had been contaminated by dirt or grease during the manufacturing process at the tire factory where it was made. This contamination had left the tire with a defect that gradually worsened leading to a separation of the tread and to C.P.’s catastrophic car accident and injuries.

The expert for the defendant tire manufacturer also examined the tire and gave the opinion that the tire had failed because it had been operated under inflated during its life. He concluded that under inflated operation had caused the tire to run hot and that heat weakened the tire. He also stated that the vehicle would not have rolled over had C.P.’s brother been a better driver.

When I took the deposition of the defense expert, the expert conceded that contamination during manufacture could have been a cause of the separation and the motor vehicle accident in which C.P. was severely injured.

The case settled without trial for $2 million.