What Should I Do When Injured in a Hazmat Truck Accident?

Commercial trucks transport a wide range of products, including clothing, produce, paper products, and building materials, to customers across the country. Tanker trucks are responsible for carrying fluids in the form of oil, gas, or corrosive chemicals from one location to another. Oftentimes, the material inside these trucks can be extremely hazardous. According to the Department of Transportation, tanker trucks transport close to three billion tons of hazardous materials each year. If one of these trucks is involved in a traffic accident and the hazardous material spills onto the road, or noxious fumes escape into the air, it can cause devastating injuries. The contents of the truck can cause a range of serious health issues, some of which can be fatal. If someone is injured in a truck accident involving hazardous materials, a dedicated truck accident lawyer will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and secure the financial compensation the victim deserves.

What Makes Hazmat Truck Accidents Particularly Dangerous?

Owing to the massive size and weight of the average truck, most truck accidents cause extensive property damage and severe injuries. However, if the truck involved in the accident is carrying hazardous material, the situation can be far more dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Hazmat trucks that are carrying a liquid can cause dangerous, slippery road conditions if the contents of the truck spills onto the road. If the hazardous material is oil based, the roads can become extremely slippery and cars can lose traction. This can quickly turn into a multi-vehicle accident if other cars in the vicinity lose control.
  • Truck drivers who are carrying solid goods can make sure that the cargo is loaded correctly and properly secured so it does not shift or move during the trip. If a tanker truck is carrying a liquid, the truck’s center of gravity can be thrown off when the liquid moves. This can increase the risk of a rollover or jackknife accident.
  • If an accident occurs, the material may leak or spill out onto the road, exposing motorists to the hazardous gas or liquid that was inside the truck. Depending on what type of material the truck is transporting, it can cause serious injuries and health issues, in addition to the injuries caused by the collision.

What Types of Hazardous Materials Do Trucks Carry?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are nine classes of hazardous materials, including the following.

  • Explosives: These are materials that can cause an explosion or become blasting agents or detonating devices.
  • Gases: Flammable, non-flammable, and toxic gases are included in this category.
  • Flammable liquid: Examples include gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, kerosene, and ethanol.
  • Flammable solids and spontaneously combustible materials: This category includes materials such as activated charcoal, aluminum powder, and magnesium, as well as other household materials.
  • Oxidizers and organic peroxides: These materials can cause other materials to combust. Some organic peroxides can be explosive.
  • Toxic materials and infectious substances: These include poisonous materials that are not gases or infectious biologic materials.
  • Radioactive materials: These hazardous materials can have a devastating impact on the environment for hundreds of years. Special handling and management are required.
  • Corrosive materials: These materials include strong acid and base materials that can burn and corrode.
  • Miscellaneous: This includes a range of other materials, including lithium batteries, which can be flammable and explosive under certain conditions; and dry ice, which lowers the percentage of oxygen in the air, causing asphyxiation under certain circumstances.

What are Specific Examples of Hazardous Materials?

The following are examples of flammable, toxic, radioactive, explosive reactive, or corrosive materials that are considered hazardous:

  • Ammunition
  • Battery fluid
  • Blasting agents
  • Certain medicines
  • Compressed gases
  • Display fireworks
  • Dynamite
  • Explosive devices
  • Flammable and non-flammable gases
  • Flares
  • Fuel oil
  • Gasoline
  • Helium
  • Infectious substances
  • Organic peroxides
  • Oxidizers
  • Poisonous and toxic gases
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Propane
  • Radioactive materials and waste
  • Spontaneous combustibles 

Rules for Truck Drivers Who Transport Hazardous Materials

Truck drivers who transport hazardous materials have to follow the same rules and regulations that all truck drivers must follow, as well as additional regulations that are specific to carrying hazardous cargo. Truck drivers carrying hazardous cargo must adhere to the following rules:

  • The driver must place signage on the outside of the truck to warn other motorists that they are carrying hazardous materials. These trucks should have placards placed on all sides of the truck.
  • The hazardous material must be handled properly; this includes safe loading and storing procedures.
  • Drivers should avoid roads where transporting hazardous materials is prohibited. Also, they must follow all roadway laws and rules about where hazardous trucks may park. Drivers should not park within five feet of a public road.
  • Certain types of hazardous material must be monitored.
  • Drivers carrying hazardous material must have the appropriate training and education on how to safely haul the cargo, as well as the packing process, transportation rules, and safety techniques. 

What Types of Injuries Result from Hazmat Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents are known for causing devastating injuries, including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, internal organ damage, and other injuries that can have a permanent impact on the person’s quality of life. Accidents that involve trucks carrying hazardous materials can cause additional injuries, including the following:

  • Serious burns: If the material on the truck causes a fire or explosion, the accident can cause serious burn injuries to the truck driver, the drivers and passengers in other vehicles, and first responders who arrive at the scene. Explosions often cause third-degree burns that lead to permanent disfigurement or death. Other serious burns can occur if the truck’s wet lines, the pipe used to load fuel on and off of the truck, are damaged in a collision, spilling up to 50 gallons of fuel on the road. If a spark or some other flame source reaches the gasoline, it can cause a fire of up to 5,000 square feet, resulting in severe burn injuries and fatalities.
  • Injuries caused by toxic fumes: Fumes can travel miles from the accident site, particularly if there are strong winds. This can expose many people to toxic gases that can irritate the skin and eyes. In some cases, they can cause respiratory and neurological conditions that do not have treatment options available.
  • Other injuries include organ damage and blindness.

Who is Liable for Hazmat Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents differ from regular car accidents when it comes to liability issues because there are multiple parties that may be responsible. This also applies to truck accidents involving hazardous materials. Although it might be assumed that the truck driver is liable for injuries resulting from a truck accident, there are other parties that may be liable as well, including the following:

  • Trucking or shipping company
  • Company responsible for the truck maintenance
  • Trucking manufacturer
  • Company responsible for loading the truck
  • Company that manufactured the hazardous material

Determining the liable party will depend on the specific detail of the accident. For example, if the hazardous material was not packaged safely or the manufacturer did not properly identify the material as hazardous, that company may be held liable for the accident. If the trucking company did not train the truck driver on how to safely handle and transport hazardous material, the company may be held liable for the accident.

How can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

Truck accidents involving hazardous material tend to be particularly catastrophic, so it is crucial for the victim to have an experienced lawyer on their side who can identify all the liable parties. This is important, particularly if a single party does not have enough insurance to cover the costs associated with the injuries. A skilled truck accident lawyer will also negotiate with insurance companies to reach the best possible settlement. Depending on the severity of the injuries, damages may include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages

Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Hazmat Truck Accidents

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a truck accident involving hazardous materials, contact the Freehold truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law. Our dedicated legal team will thoroughly review the details of your case and determine who is responsible for causing the accident. If multiple parties are liable, we will ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve from each party. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online.

Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

Can High Winds Cause Truck Accidents?

Commercial truck accidents are some of the most devastating, destructive accidents that occur on roads and highways across the country. Most truck accidents are caused by unsafe driver behavior, including drowsy driving, distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving. However, inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and fog, can also make road conditions treacherous for truck drivers. Another weather-related hazard that is particularly dangerous for large trucks is heavy wind. Although truck drivers cannot control the weather, they can take safety precautions when inclement weather is expected. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for injuries resulting from the accidents.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), winds that are greater than 25 miles per hour can have a significant impact on a truck driver’s ability to maintain control of a large commercial truck. Because of the large surface area, the trailer can essentially become like a large sail, increasing the wind resistance on one side of the truck. A heavy gust of wind can cause the truck to tip over and crash, resulting in massive property damage and devastating injuries and fatalities to other motorists involved. Areas that are particularly susceptible to high winds include highways, bridges, overpasses, and open prairies. Experienced truck drivers should be aware of these risks and take the appropriate precautions if winds are too strong.

What are Common Causes of Wind-Related Truck Accidents?

There are several factors that can increase the risk of a catastrophic truck accident during windy weather conditions, including the following:

  • High crosswinds: A strong gust of wind can cause the trailer to sway as it travels along a road or highway. If the wind is particularly strong, it can cause the truck to tip over. If the truck driver is driving too fast for conditions when this happens, it can cause a catastrophic accident.
  • Improperly loaded cargo: When a truck’s cargo is not loaded properly, the contents of the trailer can shift. A sudden change in weight distribution can affect the truck driver’s ability to safely navigate the truck, particularly during high winds. An empty trailer is also very susceptible to tipping over during windy conditions. In fact, local wind restrictions prohibit truck drivers from operating an empty rig on certain roads and bridges during heavy winds. If a truck is empty or improperly loaded, the truck driver may be held liable for injuries resulting from a truck accident.
  • Failure to take appropriate action for weather conditions: Truck drivers have a responsibility to check the weather on a regular basis, including reports about windy conditions. If the weather report calls for strong winds, truck drivers must take the appropriate safety precautions, including slowing down to a safe speed, pulling over until the weather conditions improve, and planning an alternate route that avoids high-risk areas, such as bridges, overpasses, and highways.

What Types of Truck Accidents are Caused by Strong Winds?

Poor weather conditions can make it more difficult for a truck driver to maintain control of the truck or come to a complete stop to avoid a collision. High winds can increase the following types of truck accidents:

  • Rollover accidents: This is the most common type of truck accident that is caused by windy conditions. If a gust of wind hits the trailer, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle, it can roll over on its side. If this occurs on a busy highway, other vehicles can be crushed by the overturned truck.
  • Underride accidents: If a truck driver hits the brakes in an effort to maintain control of the truck that has been hit by a gust of wind, a motorist who is following too closely can crash into the rear or side of the truck and slide underneath. These accidents often result in devastating injuries and fatalities.
  • Jackknife accidents: This occurs when a truck driver hits the brakes too hard, or too quickly, causing the trailer to fold in on itself at the point of separation, forming a 90-degree angle. If other cars are in the vicinity of the truck when this happens, it can cause a serious accident involving multiple vehicles.
  • Lost load accidents: When cargo is not properly loaded for windy conditions, contents in the truck can come loose and fall out of the trailer and onto the road. Other motorists attempting to swerve out of the way to avoid the debris can crash into the truck or other vehicles on the road.

What are Common Injuries Associated with Wind-Related Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents are usually quite serious and can require costly medical care. The following are examples of injuries associated with truck accidents, including those that are caused by strong wind:

  • Back and neck injuries: Whiplash is the most common example of this type of injury. Like any injury, if it is not properly treated, it can cause chronic pain and discomfort.
  • Spinal cord injuries: This can cause partial or complete paralysis, depending on the location of the injury. If a motorist suffers permanent paralysis, it can involve multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and adaptive devices, which can be very costly.
  • Head and brain injuries: These can range from minor concussions to serious traumatic brain injuries. Serious head injuries can cause permanent physical and cognitive impairments that may require ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, or long-term care.
  • Burns: If a truck’s fuel tank erupts in an accident, a fire can spread quickly, causing serious burns to motorists involved in the accident. These can be extremely painful and often require multiple grafting procedures.
  • Amputation and disfigurement: If an injury to an arm or leg is too severe, amputation may be necessary. These injuries require continued medical treatment, as well as adaptive prosthetics to walk, drive, and complete daily tasks.
  • Internal injuries: The extreme impact of a truck accident can cause a range of internal injuries, including those to the bladder, spleen, liver, and kidneys. These can quickly become life-threatening if not treated, particularly if a vital organ is damaged, or if the injured victim is having trouble breathing as a result of a punctured lung.

How can Wind-Related Truck Accidents be Prevented?

The FMCSA urges truck drivers to keep the following regulations in mind when driving during windy conditions:

  • Check the weather report, as it affects the truck driver’s route.
  • Pay attention to signage, flags, trees, and foliage that can indicate excessive winds in the area.
  • Secure all loose cargo and make sure that it is evenly distributed and tightly fastened.
  • Follow the speed limit and reduce speed if the weather warrants it.
  • Understand the impact that wind can have on a large commercial truck, and that light or empty trailers are more dangerous to haul during heavy winds.
  • Stop driving until winds have died down.

Why Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Even if a truck accident is caused by strong wind, the truck driver may bear some responsibility for the accident. For example, a truck driver may be considered negligent if he or she was speeding, driving while distracted, driving carelessly, or did not properly secure the load during windy weather. Experienced truck accident lawyers have a vast knowledge of the law as it relates to the trucking industry.  A skilled truck accident lawyer will collect the necessary evidence to determine whether the truck driver was negligent, including the truck’s electronic control module, also known as a black box, medical records of injuries sustained, and property damage to the vehicles. In addition, an experienced legal team will ensure that victims are aware of all deadlines and federal regulations that may impact their case.

Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Secure Maximum Compensation for Victims of Truck Accidents 

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a truck accident that occurred during high winds, it is in your best interest to contact a Freehold truck accident lawyer at Ellis Law. We understand how devastating these accidents can be, and the physical and emotional trauma they can cause. Our dedicated and experienced legal team will investigate the details of your case and ensure that the negligent party is held liable for your injuries. We will not stop fighting for you until we secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online.

Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

How Can Teen Drivers Stay Safe During the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer?

As COVID-19 restrictions slowly start to lift, allowing people to enjoy some of their favorite summertime activities, the last thing anyone wants to think about is getting into a car accident. However, there is a reason why the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. More fatal car accidents occur during this time, compared to the rest of the year, and teen drivers are particularly vulnerable. In fact, according to data from AAA, from 2008 to 2018, over 8,300 people died in car accidents involving teen drivers. Their inexperience behind the wheel, combined with other factors, such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving, contribute to the spike in car accidents during the summer months.

Alarming Accident Statistics Involving Teen Drivers

Although teen drivers are not the only motorists who are responsible for the spike in car accidents during the summer, new teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to adult drivers. The following statistics show how serious this problem is among teen drivers and how important it is for parents to educate their children about the rules of the road:

  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens.
  • An average of 260 teen drivers are fatally injured in car accidents during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, which is an increase of 26 percent, compared to the rest of the year.
  • Approximately 60 percent of teen-related car accidents are caused by distracted driving.
  • Other passengers in the vehicle cause more distractions for teen drivers than texting or talking on the phone.
  • In 2015, for every 100,000 Americans under the age of 21, 1.2 people were killed in drunk driving accidents.
  • Teens aged 16 to 17 are close to four times more likely to be involved in a car accident compared to drivers who are aged 18 and older.
  • Teens aged 16 to 17 are 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash, and 3.2 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, compared to drivers aged 30 to 59.
  • The number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers increased by over 10 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Why Do More Car Accidents Occur During the Summer?

Car accidents occur year-round, and although many people might assume that more accidents occur during the winter months, the summer is actually more dangerous when it comes to car accidents. The following are reasons why the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer can be dangerous for motorists, particularly teen drivers:

  • School is out for the summer: While schools have been closed for months as a result of the Coronavirus, students had to continue their schoolwork from home. However, summer has officially started for many students, which means that more drivers are on the road, including inexperienced teen drivers. Whether they are heading to the beach, driving to a part-time summer job, or going to a friend’s house, more teen drivers on the road increases the risk of car accidents.
  • Summer storms: People love summer for the warm, sunny days and the long evenings. However, summer is also known for having severe thunderstorms, which can involve heavy wind and rain. This can cause dangerous road conditions and limited visibility. If weather reports call for torrential rain and wind, it is highly recommended that drivers stay off the road until the storm passes. This is particularly true for teen drivers. In addition to thunderstorms, bright, sunny days can cause sun glare, making it difficult to see. When this happens, a motorist can lose control of his or her vehicle and crash into another car, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.
  • Extreme heat: Teen drivers may not realize the effects hot weather can have on a vehicle’s performance. Constantly running the air conditioner on high can put a strain on the vehicle. In addition, when the heat causes the air in the tires to expand, this can cause a dangerous blowout in worn tires. If this happens, a teen driver can easily lose control of the vehicle, causing a serious accident if the blowout occurs on a busy highway.
  • Road work: Construction crews tend to do most of their road work during the warm summer months. Lane closures, detours, and increased traffic, particularly in congested urban areas, can increase the risk of car accidents, including those involving teen drivers. Speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving can cause serious accidents, including rear-end accidents.

What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers?

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, close to 3,500 people have been killed over the past five summers in car accidents involving teen drivers. Close to two-thirds of the victims who were seriously injured or killed were the teen drivers. The following are top causes of fatal accidents that occur during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer:

  • Speeding: According to a AAA survey about teen drivers, close to 50 percent of respondents admitted to speeding on a residential street and 40 percent said that they exceeded the speed limit on the freeway within the previous 30 days. This is worrisome because speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash, which can cause life-threatening or fatal injuries. Teen drivers must always obey the posted speed limit whether they are driving on a busy highway or on a quiet residential street.
  • Distracted driving: Teen drivers are notorious for using their phones to read or send messages, to make a phone call, or to check social media. Too often, however, they do this while driving. Over half of the teen drivers surveyed said that they read a text or email while driving, and close to 40 percent admitted to sending a text or email within the previous 30 days. Dash-cam video footage found driver distraction to be the cause of 58 percent of teen crashes, which is approximately four times the federal estimate.
  • Impaired driving: The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, but that does not stop teen drivers from drinking and getting behind the wheel. According to the survey, one in six teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents during the summer months had alcohol in their system.

What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe?

One of the most important things parents of teen drivers can do is lead by example. If you do not want your teen driver to text while driving, model that behavior and put your phone away when behind the wheel. The following are additional steps that parents can take to protect their teen drivers:

  • Always wear a seat belt. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent serious injuries in the event of a car accident. Unfortunately, teen drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt use, particularly when they are in the passenger seat or the backseat. Parents should encourage their teen drivers to wear their seat belt at all times.
  • Put the phone out of reach. Set the right example by putting your phone down when driving. Texting or talking on the phone while driving puts you and the other motorists on the road at risk. Discuss these risks with your teen driver and the consequences of distracted driving. There are many videos available that show what can happen to teen drivers who text while driving.
  • Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving is against the law no matter the age of the driver. Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving with your teen, and the fact that even tipsy driving is considered drunk driving. Make sure that they understand the importance of choosing a designated driver.
  • Create a driving contract. This should include a list of rules and expectations, as well as consequences for violating the contract. Discuss the details of the contract together so that you are all in agreement and there are no questions. Sample contracts can be found on the AAA website.

Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Seek Justice for Car Accident Victims

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident involving a teen driver, do not hesitate to contact the Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve of your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

What is the Best Car Insurance for 2020?

Car insurance is a significant household expense. According to a recent AAA study, the average annual policy for full coverage of a medium-sized sedan is around $1,251. Expect to pay more if you drive a larger or more expensive car or SUV, or one that is prone to theft. Although it is natural to want to cut costs, your auto insurance is not necessarily the place to pinch pennies.

Buying the right coverage for your vehicle from a reputable insurance company may save you money in the long run, especially if you are involved in a crash. However, shopping for insurance can be confusing and overwhelming. To help you, Money Magazine and ConsumersAdvocate.org ranked the best car insurance companies for 2020.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

Coverage for Personal Liability and Property Damage

Every driver must carry their state’s minimum liability and property damage coverage. It is the “bare bones” of insurance coverage, and without it you cannot drive legally. You risk losing your license and fines if you get pulled over for driving without car insurance. Personal liability and property damage exist to protect other drivers from damage you may cause in an accident. Personal liability, also called bodily injury coverage, is usually written as a fraction, such as $20,000/$40,000; the first number is the maximum dollar amount to be paid out per person, and the second number is the maximum to be paid out per accident.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage either covers the repairs for your damaged vehicle or refunds you the cash value of your car if it is totaled in a collision. That can be a crash with another car or a run-in with something other than a vehicle, such as a mailbox, tree, pothole, or fire hydrant. In most states, this applies only to collisions where you are at-fault or do not know who the at-fault party is. Your deductible is subtracted from the total payout. Although collision coverage is not required in many states, if you take out a loan to buy your car, your lender probably requires it.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage occurring from anything other than a collision, including:

  • Damage caused by animals
  • Fire
  • Storm damage
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

Comprehensive coverage can be added without collision, but the reverse is generally not true. It is a good option to protect vehicles you may be storing but will not be driving for a while; for example, a car you are saving for a teen in your family who does not yet have a driver’s license.

When creating your plan, you must purchase the minimum coverage mandated in your state. Some states also require personal injury protection (PIP) for yourself and coverage in case you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. From there, speak with an agent to determine if it makes sense to add other products, such as collision or comprehensive. A skilled agent will tailor coverage based on your needs, driving history, and lifestyle.

Money Magazine’s Best Auto Insurance Options for 2020

In evaluating various car insurance offerings for the year, editors from Money Magazine and ConsumersAdvocate.org partnered together, logging more than 200 hours of research. They evaluated three major qualities of each company:

  • Coverage options and discounts
  • Customer service
  • Financial strength

These are the best options based on their findings:

Allstate – Best for Local Customer Service

Allstate offers a variety of insurance types and has agents in all 50 states, which is great for consumers who want more personal service. Their “Drivewise” program gives an initial 10 percent discount for using the app, and an additional 25 percent discount for every six months of safe driving.

Esurance – Leader for Online Presence

If you prefer to do your banking and other business online, you will find Esurance especially convenient. Now part of Allstate insurance, Esurance offers the ease of online use with the financial security of an industry leader with Allstate. Esurance also rewards safe drivers through their “DriveSense” program.

GEICO – Offers Some of the Lowest Auto Rates on the Market

The second-largest auto insurer on the market, GEICO has some of the most inexpensive policies available. They also have excellent customer satisfaction with a National Association of Insurance Commissioners customer compliant score that is much lower than the national average.

Progressive – Best for Discounts and Coverage Options

Progressive’s plans are highly customizable, so you only pay for what you need. They have their well-known “Name Your Price Tool” that allows consumers to select a plan that meets their budget. Like many other companies, Progressive offers savings for a good driving record. Progressive also has a high customer service rating and a low complaint ratio.

State Farm – Best for Discounts

The largest auto insurance provider in the country, State Farm, operates in all 50 states. They offer a variety of different discounts depending on the customer, including discounts for returning customers, safe drivers, and those who bundle auto insurance with another insurance products available at State Farm.

Honorable Mention – Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual is the sixth largest car insurance provider in the country and offers several options tailored to customers with unique needs. For example, their policy specially designed for teachers covers losses related to the job, such as vandalism on school property and property loss for teaching supplies.

Consider Adding These Car Insurance Extras to Your Policy

Most auto insurance companies offer a variety of additional coverage options to add value to your policy and give you peace of mind should your vehicle break down or be involved in an accident:

  • Accident forgiveness: This feature keeps your premium from going up after a single at-fault car accident.
  • Gap insurance: All new vehicles depreciate over time. This insurance covers the gap between how much the insurance company says yours is worth at the time of an accident and how much you still owe on it.
  • Minor violation forgiveness: This is an assurance that if you have a single minor traffic violation, your rates will not increase.
  • Rental insurance: This is liability, collision, or comprehensive coverage built-in to your regular car insurance that extends to rental cars.
  • Roadside assistance: This is 24/7 assistance should you get a flat, have a dead battery, or run out of gas. Roadside assistance does not generally help with damage caused by accidents.

It is worthwhile to find out if your insurance company offers these added services. The terms for each will vary by company. Paying more for them up front can end up saving you if you get pulled over or have a fender bender.

Factors That Determine the Price of Your Car Insurance

Your car insurance rates are calculated based on many different factors. Some of these you can control; others you cannot. Knowing what impacts your rate can help you make informed decisions when choosing a new policy.

The following factors may affect your car insurance rates:

  • Age and gender: Typically, younger males have higher accident rates than other groups, which means higher premiums.
  • Marital status: Statistically, married people have fewer car accidents than single people.
  • Credit score: Some insurance companies consider your credit score when determining your rates. A lower score means higher premiums.
  • Location: Urban areas are at greater risk of theft, damage, accidents, and collisions involving uninsured drivers.
  • Vehicle safety rating: Vehicles proven to better protect occupants in a crash may give you a lower insurance rate.
  • Driving habits: If you commute a significant distance for work every day, you are more likely to have an accident simply because you are on the road more.
  • Driving history: Previous accidents and tickets also affect your rates and, in some cases, may even discourage a company from covering you.

Choosing car insurance is an important decision. Not all plans are alike. A bit of time and research when choosing a car insurance company can help ensure you have all the protection you need should you have an accident, driving violation, theft, or vehicle damage.

Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Clients Recover Compensation After a Collision

Auto insurance is an essential means of financial protection should you be involved in a car accident. However, it may not be enough to cover all the losses you might incur. Our Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law represent clients living with pain, suffering, lost income, and property damage after a serious crash. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

How Can I Prevent Backseat Passenger Injuries?

Wearing a seat belt is one crucial way to save the lives of backseat passengers. However, current research suggests other important safety features are lacking, making backseat riders more vulnerable to injuries when involved in a crash. In fact, backseat passengers are 46 percent more likely to die in a car accident than those riding in the front seat. Therefore, how does backseat occupant protection fall short, and is there anything second and third-row passengers can do to protect themselves?

Research on Backseat Passengers and Injuries

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed various vehicle safety systems and found many features protecting passengers in the front seat nonexistent in back rows. After reviewing crash data from accidents where rear-seat occupants were seriously or fatally injured, the IIHS found chest injuries a common occurrence caused by excessive force on shoulder belts.

In many cases, people in the backseat were injured more significantly than those in the front, suggesting backseat restraints were less adequate. Although front seat belts have “seat belt limiters” that reduce the force of impact above a certain threshold during a crash, backseat seat belts do not have this technology. Seat belt limiters work in conjunction with airbags and belt tensioners to prevent upper body injuries in a collision. IIHS research confirmed that in the crashes studied, chest injuries were the most serious and fatal among backseat passengers.

Possible Solutions to Improve Backseat Safety

Auto experts proposed various solutions to better protect backseat passengers and prevent catastrophic chest injuries during a crash. They include the following:

  • Force limiters: Tiny metal rods built into seat belt retractors that allow some webbing to spool out before forces get too high
  • Inflatable seat belt: To spread the force of impact out across the torso and keep the chest from bearing the brunt of a collision
  • Backseat airbag: An airbag engaged from the back of the front seat would reduce the impact of the seat belt and protect a backseat passenger’s head in a crash

Head Injuries Among Backseat Passengers

The IIHS study found head injuries to be the second most common injury after chest injuries for backseat occupants. In many cases, these injuries were not survivable. In nonfatal collisions, it is speculated that passengers were injured after hitting their heads on the vehicle’s interior, but a lack of detailed crash data made it impossible to confirm this suspicion. To better protect backseat occupants from all types of injuries, the IIHS recommends automakers conduct crash tests designed specifically to evaluate and improve backseat protection.

What to Do If You are Injured in a Car Accident

If you are a passenger in a vehicle and are injured in an accident, you may consider bringing a personal injury claim against the driver responsible for the crash. For personal injury claims  sustained in a car crash, the injured person must prove liability and damages.

Liability for a Car Accident

When it comes to a car accident, liability refers to who is at-fault. For example, if a driver was distracted by their phone, they are liable for the accident and any injuries incurred as a result.

If the driver denies fault, liability can be established using witness accounts of the accident, footage captured by nearby cameras, and damage to the vehicles that indicate how the crash occurred.

Damages Resulting from a Car Accident

Damages are essentially financial compensation intended to make the plaintiff whole after an injury. There are different types of damages depending on the type of accident, the circumstances surrounding the plaintiff’s injuries, and the laws in the state where the accident occurred. Generally, the following types of damages are available in a personal injury claim:

  • Emotional distress: A serious crash can have a lasting psychological impact, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which is usually confirmed by a professional’s diagnosis.
  • Loss of companionship/Loss of consortium: This is brought by the loved one of a family member who perished in an accident to compensate for the loss of their relationship.
  • Lost wages: This helps to supplement or replace an individual’s income when their injuries prohibit them from working.
  • Medical expenses: Treatment for injuries can be very costly. In some cases, compensation is awarded for hospitalization, surgery, and physical therapy to treat injured claimants.
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is difficult to quantify, but damages are generally calculated based on how long the victim needs to recover, the medication prescribed for their injuries, and how pain and suffering impacts a person’s overall quality of life.
  • Punitive damages: Not every state permits punitive damages, but where they are allowed, they are assigned to penalize a defendant for especially reckless behavior and deter them and others from repeating it.
  • Wrongful death: Wrongful death lawsuits are brought by the survivors of accident victims killed by another’s negligent act or behavior. Spouses can bring a wrongful death suit, as well as parents of minor children. In some cases, siblings, cousins, and even distant relatives can sue for wrongful death.

Backseat Passengers and Car Accident Claims

Individuals who are not driving a car, but are a passenger during a crash, have options for filing a claim to recover compensation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, you may be able to file a claim against the following:

Your Insurance Company

Because you were not driving and were not in your own vehicle at the time of the accident, this option may not be so obvious. If you drive in New Jersey, you should have Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which you can use to pay your medical bills. Unfortunately, because you file a claim, your insurance rates will likely go up. Therefore, it you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to determine the best course of action to minimize your costs and maximize your compensation.

Your Driver and Their Insurance Company

This is an option even if this driver was not at-fault for the accident. The simplest way to recover compensation is through their PIP benefits. PIP is no-fault insurance designed just for car accident injuries, which can sometimes be omitted from health insurance policies. In New Jersey, every insurance policy must carry PIP.

The Other Driver and Their Insurance Company

This option applies to accidents involving multiple drivers. Unfortunately, if multiple people were injured in your accident, their policy limits may not be enough to cover everyone’s expenses. Also, proving liability, or fault, in a crash involving several cars can be more challenging and take weeks, if not months, to do. Because laws and guidelines regarding insurance and accident claims can vary by state, it is always best to consult with a local car accident lawyer regarding the best legal course of action.

Things to Remember If You are a Passenger in a Car Accident

Any accident is stressful, even a minor fender bender. Knowing what do to after a crash can help ease your anxiety and help the claim process go smoothly.

  • First, seek medical attention for anyone with possible injuries.
  • If the car is drivable, have the driver move safely away from traffic.
  • Contact the police and file a report.
  • Exchange contact information with involved parties, including witnesses.
  • Document the scene with photos.
  • Contact your car accident lawyer for guidance.

If you are involved in a car accident as a passenger, you may be confused about your rights and how to file a claim for compensation. However, you may be entitled to damages for your emotional and physical injuries after a serious crash. To learn more about how to move forward and pursue compensation, schedule an appointment with a trusted car accident lawyer in your area.

Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Protect the Rights of Injured Passengers

Backseat passengers have the right to recover compensation if they are injured in a car accident. The skilled Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law will review the details of your case and recommend the most practical legal course of action to achieve a positive outcome. To learn more about our history of success and how we can help you, call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Multitasking while driving has become a common activity within our nation’s drivers. Distracted driving is extremely unsafe and can cause injuries and deaths. It only takes five seconds of distracted driving to cause potential fatalities. Putting yourself and others at risk is not worth the consequences. Practicing safe driving techniques will help prevent car crashes and protect your overall health and wellbeing. Distractions can be avoided if focusing on the road becomes the main priority.

Types of Driver Distractions

There are many different distractions that can cause drivers to divert their attention from the road and increase the potential for an accident. Vehicle distractions come from the following four sources and can danger everyone on the road:

  • Those that are associated with the vehicle, such as the controls, navigation systems, and displays
  • Those that are brought into the vehicle, such as cell phones, food, pets, makeup, and other passengers
  • Those that are external to the vehicle, such as signs, displays, and roadside stands
  • Those that are internal to the driver’s mind, such as daydreaming, ongoing thoughts, and zoning out

There are also different types of distractions that a driver can engage in. These distractions put drivers at risk for an accident and diverts their attention away from the road.

Visual Distractions: These cause drivers to look somewhere other than the road and can include the following:

  • Electronic devices, such as cell phones
  • Changing the music
  • Looking for an item that fell on the floor
  • Reading billboards
  • Looking in the mirror
  • Rubbernecking

Auditory Distractions: When a driver hears something that is not related to the task of driving, including:

  • Engine noises
  • Crying children
  • Outside noises

Manual Distractions: Controlling and touching something other than the steering wheel. Anything that removes your hands from the wheel is a manual distraction, which includes:

  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Personal grooming

Cognitive Distractions: Thinking about something other than driving that causes you to lose focus, such as:

  • Listening to the radio
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking to a fellow passenger
  • Reprimanding children
  • Tiredness
  • Stress

Texting is the distraction that causes the most accidents to occur. Texting requires a driver to focus their visual, manual, and cognitive attention toward a phone rather than the road ahead. This makes texting while driving extremely dangerous and causes the most motor vehicle crashes. It only takes a few seconds of looking at your phone to end up in a scary situation. Many states passed laws that ban the use of a cell phone while driving to try and lower the accident rate. Texting has become a serious problem and will only continue to get worse if nothing is done to stop it.

Drunk driving is also a dangerous distraction that is responsible for car accidents and fatalities. A drivers visual, manual, and cognitive skills are decreased due to intoxication and the ability to make split-second decisions is significantly reduced. Driving while intoxicated is never the right decision as it puts many lives at risk.

Hands-Free Devices

Cell phone use quadruples the risk of accidents and places a safety concern for drivers on the road. Many drivers believe that hands-free devices are safe to use while driving; this assumption is incorrect. Hands-free devices are not risk free and are no safer than handheld devices. Anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction.

Consequences of Distractions

Distraction is hard to manage and becomes more of a habit than a spontaneous act. Driving while distracted can cause accidents, injuries, and death. Driving distracted is a dangerous act that most drivers participate in. Some consequences of distracted driving include:

  • Being involved in an accident
  • Traffic tickets
  • Car repair bills
  • Criminal sentences
  • Increased insurance
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Serious injury or death

The task of driving should always have your full attention to ensure safety on the roads. Any non-driving activity that you participate in while operating a vehicle puts you and everyone else at a risk.

Distraction Prevention Tips

Accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by distracted driving are devastating, but there are ways to prevent these situations from happening in the future. If you need to send a text or make a phone call, find a safe place to pull over. This will reduce the likelihood of becoming distracted and maintain safety on the roads. Always concentrate on your driving and plan your route in advance to avoid having to look for road signs and exits. Also, recognize what makes you distracted while in the car and think about how you would feel if you saw another driver doing the same thing. If you are triggered by this thought, then that distraction should not be something you participate in.

Teenagers are the future of driving and need to understand the dangers of driving distracted. Teens are encouraged to speak up when they see a peer driving while distracted and be vocal on social media about how dangerous distracted driving is. It is also important for parents to lead by example and never drive distracted. Talk with your teenage drivers about the consequences of driving distracted.

Car companies are also doing their part to help prevent distracted driving. Attention assist has been placed in vehicles to monitor drowsiness in drivers based on their steering wheel movement. This system will emit audible and visual warnings to the driver. Car companies have also implemented a safety system where infotainment systems will read your texts out loud when they come through the phone. This allows the driver to continue safe driving habits.

Phone Applications Help Prevent Distracted Driving

In addition to the strives being made by car companies and future drivers, there are also phone applications that have been created to help prevent distracted driving and phone use. Some of these applications include:

  • AT&T Drive Mode: Available for both iOS and Android, this application detects when your car starts moving and automatically replies to texts that come through during your trip. These replies will state that you are driving and will answer once it is safe to do so. This is great for young drivers as parents can be notified if their child has turned off the application.
  • Down for the Count: This application is a great way to promote safe driving between your friends and family. The app allows drivers to set up a safe driving goal and will track your phone use behind the wheel. Incentives are given if you hit your goal and you can team up with other people to help them set a goal as well.
  • LifeSaver: Once you start driving, this application turns on and shows a lock screen on your phone, preventing you from using it. Once you arrived safely, you are free to use your phone again. Drivers will still be able to receive calls and set certain necessary exceptions.


Laws have been passed in the recent decade that attempt to prevent distracted driving. In 2012, then Governor Chris Christie signed the Kulesh, Kubert, Bolis’ Law that specifies clear penalties for drivers who cause severe injury or death because of cell phone use. The state of New Jersey also initiated the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign in April 2019 to spread awareness of National Distracted Driving Month and its consequences.

Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Fight for the Rights of Distracted Driving Victims

Distracted driving is a deadly problem and needs to be rectified before more lives are taken. If you were injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, contact the Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law for a free consultation. Our dedicated team of accident lawyers will help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 732-308-0200 or fill out an online form for a free consultation.

Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

How Can I Minimize My Pain After a Car Accident?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans are injured in car accidents each year. Three out of four adults report having been in a car accident at some point in their lives. Knowing what to do after a car crash can go a long way toward minimizing your pain in the aftermath, including physical suffering, emotional distress, financial difficulties, and legal hassles.

Stay Calm

It may be difficult to think clearly after an accident, especially if you are injured. Turn off your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights. Next, pause to collect your thoughts and do not panic. If you feel angry at the driver who hit you, stop yourself from expressing your anger at the scene of the accident. If you believe the accident may have been your fault, refrain from saying so. Anything you say can be used against you to prove you were at-fault or diminish the value of your potential claim.

Call 911

Never leave the scene of an accident. In New Jersey, you must call the police if the accident results in death, injury, or at least $500 worth of damage. When the police arrive, you can minimize future legal hassles by cooperating fully and providing your name, address, car registration, license, and insurance card. If the officer issues you a traffic ticket; do not argue about it. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt. However, you are under no legal obligation to answer questions about driving under the influence or any other action which may result in a criminal charge. You have the right to ask for attorney if an officer asks additional questions.

Move to a Safe Spot

If your accident is minor, move your car out of traffic. Otherwise, wait for the police to arrive. Be mindful that you may run the risk of getting hit again by other moving vehicles if you are on a highway. If it is safe to do so, walk over beyond the shoulder of the road until help arrives.

Document Everything

If you are not badly injured and you have your phone, take photos of the entire accident scene, if it is safe to do so. Include traffic lights, signs, and road conditions, such as a pothole. This information may prove vital to your personal injury claim and directly affect the amount of money you may receive. At some point, all vehicles involved will be towed away and you will lose the opportunity to collect critical evidence.

Speak calmly to the other drivers to obtain contact information, license plate numbers, drivers’ license numbers, and insurance information. Limit your conversation and do not say anything about the cause of the accident. Take note of the current weather conditions, the time of day, and the directions in which vehicles were headed. If other drivers exhibit signs of intoxication or admit fault, make notes.

Talk to Witnesses

If any one nearby saw the accident and you can speak with them, ask them for their contact information. Do not say anything to them about who may be at fault; just obtain their name and phone number and thank them for their help. While they are not legally obligated to help you, they may be more than willing to write out a simple statement about what they saw and heard, and sign and date it. This can be invaluable for supporting a personal injury claim.

Seek Medical Attention

When the police arrive, make a note of the officers’ names and badge numbers. If paramedics arrive and want to take you to the hospital, do not refuse. If you are not transported directly to a hospital, make an appointment to see your primary care physician as soon as possible. This is the best way to document your medical condition for potential injury claims. Injuries caused by the accident may not surface until later.

Contact Your Insurance Company

After you leave the scene of the crash, contact your insurance company and provide details about the accident. They may give you directions on filing a claim, however, you should not accept a settlement without speaking to a lawyer, or you may end up with less money than you deserve. If you do not contact your insurance company, they may consider it a breach of your policy. At that point, they might raise your rates or cancel your policy, creating additional financial distress.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Unless your accident was a minor fender bender with less than $500 damage, you probably need a lawyer. When insurance companies are involved, it is important to keep in mind that their goal is to minimize the amount of compensation they pay to claimants. Insurance companies are represented by lawyers and if you attempt to negotiate a settlement without professional legal help, you are at a significant disadvantage. A qualified lawyer can advocate for your rights and seek maximum compensation for your claim.

Take Care of Yourself

Muscle pain is common after a car accident. The sudden trauma of impact can wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system, and the effects often take days to appear. Staying hydrated is the first step in minimizing muscle pain and soreness after an accident. Your muscles will need extra fluid to heal after an accident, and they may cramp if you are dehydrated. Massage therapy, physical therapy, and stretching may also help. Speak with your physician about obtaining a prescription for physical therapy and get plenty of rest so your body has a chance to heal.

How Can a Lawyer Help Minimize My Pain After a Car Accident?

Physical pain, emotional distress, and financial difficulties are common after an accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you obtain financial compensation to pay for treatments needed to ease physical pain and heal faster. A strong legal advocate can also reduce emotional stress by handling interactions with insurance companies, as well as litigation, if that is required.

A skilled lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim seeking financial compensation for the following:

  • Medical and dental bills
  • Cost of physical and psychological therapy
  • Prescriptions
  • Prosthetics, wheelchairs, and crutches
  • Lost wages
  • Pain, suffering, and emotional duress

A personal injury claim will be subject to the laws of your state; these laws can be complex and are always subject to change. A qualified car accident lawyer will be familiar with current law and is best positioned to help you file a successful claim.

Auto insurance in the state of New Jersey is no-fault. As a result, after a car accident, you may need to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident. To bring a claim against the at-fault driver, your injury claim must meet certain pre-requisites.

What to Do Before an Accident Happens

No one wants to get into a car accident, but it is best to be prepared for the worst. Your pre-accident checklist should include the following:

  • Make sure your driver’s license, insurance card, and car registration is in your car.
  • Put emergency supplies in your vehicle, including water, a first aid kit, and a blanket.
  • Place a checklist of what to do after an accident in your glove compartment
  • Keep your phone charged.
  • Take photos of your car periodically so you have a record of what it looks like prior to an accident.
  • When you are driving on a highway, always be aware of mile markers and the last exit you passed so you can report your location in case of an emergency.

Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Clients with Personal Injury Claims

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We will review your case and fight to hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries accountable. For a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. We provide aggressive legal representation for residents of Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

1 Killed, 2 Hospitalized in Piscataway Crash

1 Killed, 2 Hospitalized in Piscataway Crash

One person was killed and two others were hospitalized Saturday morning after a head-on crash. 

Darrius Griffin Jr., 25, of Piscataway, allegedly crossed into oncoming traffic while driving his Nissan Altima on River Road at 4:25 a.m. and crashed into a Ford Ranger, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a release.

The driver of the pickup, Steve Kemmlein, 59, of Wayne, was pronounced dead at the scene, the release said. 

Griffin and his passenger were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick, where Griffin is in critical condition, according to Carey. His passenger was listed as stable, authorities said. 

Driver Killed in Car Crash in Hopewell Township NJ

A 23-year-old Ewing man was thrown from his car and killed in an early morning crash on Interstate 95 Friday, officials said.

Dylan Kathiari was killed in the single car crash at 5:44 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the highway in Hopewell Township at mile marker 4.8, New Jersey State Police said.

According to State Police, Kathiari’s Toyota Avalon veered to the left of the road and overturned.

Kathiari was ejected from the car and suffered from fatal injuries, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.