Chances are, you or someone you know has been in a traffic accident. New York state averages 1,000 fatalities and nearly 140,000 hospitalizations annually due to traffic accidents. Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of injury-related fatalities in New York. New Jersey motorists are also at risk of being involved in a car accident. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT), there are typically around 275,000 motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey each year.
If you suffered serious injuries from a car accident, you are likely to be concerned about your ability to go back to work, pay your medical bills, and deal with your insurance company.
How Do Car Insurance Laws Affect Personal Injury Claims?
New Jersey and New York have no-fault car insurance laws. This affects personal injury claims because you must first seek to obtain financial compensation under your own personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance policy before you can sue the other driver directly. However, the amount of compensation you can receive is limited to specific dollar amounts specified in your insurance policy. For example, in New Jersey, if your policy states that you agree to a limited right to sue, you can only receive additional compensation if your injury meets certain criteria, such as loss of a limb, permanent disfigurement, death, or other stated criteria.
There may be other circumstances in which injured accident victims in New York and New Jersey can go outside of no-fault laws and file a lawsuit directly against a negligent driver. However, you must first meet the statute of limitations, which is two years in New Jersey and three years in New York. If you attempt to file a claim after the statute of limitations has expired, the court system will likely dismiss your case. Other restrictions also apply. As the rules for filing personal injury claims may be complex and are subject to change, seeking the help of a qualified car accident attorney is the best course of action for ensuring you receive maximum compensation.
What Types of Car Accident Injuries are Covered by Settlements?
The most common types of car injuries include the following:
- Soft-tissue damage, including sprains and whiplash
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
These types of injuries are often covered by settlements offered by insurance companies and personal injury lawsuits. However, you should never accept a settlement from an insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first. Insurance companies attempt to minimize payments to injured victims, and routinely offer much less than a victim deserves.
How Much Compensation Can I Get for Whiplash Injuries?
Many people suffer from whiplash after a car accident. Those who seek compensation for their injuries may receive anywhere from hundreds of dollars to more than $100,000, depending on the duration of the injury, medical evaluations, and documentation provided about the accident. However, all cases are different and there is no way to predict what a personal injury claim will be worth. That it is why it is important to seek an initial consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain the process for obtaining compensation.
Whiplash occurs when the neck is jerked back and forth forcefully, similar to the cracking of a whip. It can happen in any type of motor vehicle accident but is most common when a car is rear-ended. Although many people recover from whiplash in a few weeks, others end up with chronic pain and other complications.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Loss of range of motion in the neck and back
- Pain and stiffness
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Numbness in the arms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep disturbances
It is very important to see a doctor if you were in a rear-end collision or other car accident because the symptoms of whiplash may not appear until a day or so later. Brain injury is also possible after an accident and may go undetected, so it is vital to receive medical attention, even if you do not believe you were seriously hurt.
You may end up experiencing pain for months after the injury. If you are older, or if you have had whiplash before, it is even more likely that you will take longer to heal. That is why it is so important to consider enlisting the help of an experienced car accident lawyer who can secure adequate financial compensation to pay for medical treatment for a long as it is needed.
What Should I Do at the Scene of an Accident?
When you are in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is turn off your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights, and take a deep breath. It is very important to remain as calm as possible. If anyone is injured or if there is substantial damage to your vehicle, call 911. If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene with your phone and then move your vehicle off the road.
It is best to wait for the police to arrive before speaking with other drivers involved. When speaking with the police, provide information clearly but do not admit fault or make comments about how the accident occurred. If paramedics arrive, do not refuse medical treatment. Injuries may surface later, and the value of any personal injury claims you file will be directly affected by the medical evidence you can provide.
Ask the police how to obtain a copy of the accident report, then contact your insurance company to provide details about the accident. Before accepting a settlement, it is best to reach out to a car accident lawyer who can explain your rights, the terms of your insurance policy, and the key terms of personal injury law so you can be better prepared if and when a settlement offer comes your way.
What are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents?
Sadly, many tragic accidents could have been prevented if the negligent parties exercised a reasonable amount of judgement and caution. For that reason, thousands of personal injury claims are filed each year. In New Jersey, personal injury recoveries, including settlements and verdicts, collectively total between $97 million and $200 million each year.
Road rage is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. It is defined as uncontrolled aggressive or violent behavior toward another driver’s actions on the road. If you have ever been on a highway and drove behind a slow driver, you may have felt an episode of road rage coming on. At that point, it is best to take a deep breath and be patient rather than do something illegal or irrational. Illegal driving maneuvers may include tailgating, cutting off other drivers, not using turn signals, or verbally abusing other drivers. The effects of road rage can be tragic. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that an average of at least 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the United States as a result of aggressive driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving kills approximately 30 people every day. Many drivers operate vehicles after having a few drinks, despite the obvious penalties that they may face if caught. Drunk drivers make poor decisions, including running red lights, driving too fast, driving too slow, and driving on the wrong side of the road. Drivers who are convicted of drunk driving may be fined, have their licenses suspended, and go to jail. In some cases, the supplier of the alcohol can be charged as well.
Texting While Driving
Texting while driving is never important enough to risk crashing into another vehicle. Driving involves making split-second decisions; the human brain can only handle so much information at a time while driving. You may not be able to give your full attention to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles if you are distracted. Checking a text while the light is red may seem like a great idea, until the light turns green and you need to move quickly. Texting on a highway always puts you at risk for causing a collision. Wait until you are parked or at home to use your phone.
Safety Tips for Avoiding Car Accidents
Numerous studies suggest that human error accounts for more than 90 percent of all car accidents. An ounce of prevention can make the difference between a safe ride home and a tragic accident. The following paragraphs provide suggestions for staying safe on the road.
Driving at Night
It is easy to get into a car accident if you or another driver forgot to turn on their headlights at night. The following are tips to keep in mind if you are driving at night:
- Keep your windows clean. Dirty windows can distort your vision while you are driving.
- Keep your headlights on. Failure to use headlights is a leading cause of nighttime car crashes.
- Reduce noise levels in the car. Turn off your radio so you can pay attention to what the other vehicles are doing around you on the road. Keep your ears and eyes open for any traffic changes on the roads and highways.
- Stay alert. If you find yourself nodding off at the wheel, pull over to a rest stop.
Also, watch out for other drivers who may be tired or driving under the influence. If you see a car swerving, try to avoid them if possible.
Driving Through Intersections
Serious accidents occur at intersections, particularly when a driver is attempting to make a left turn. The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation reports that 28 percent of fatalities occurring at intersections happen because a driver attempted to run a red light and broad-sided cars entering the intersection legally. Many of those killed in this way are pedestrians, passengers, and people in other vehicles. Tips for avoiding accidents at intersections include the following:
- Slow down when the light is yellow.
- When the light turns green, look both ways to make sure other drivers are not trying to beat the light.
- Use extreme caution when making a left turn at an intersection.
- Always look for pedestrians or bicycles when driving through or turning at an intersection.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Fight for Their Clients’ Best Interest After a Serious Car Crash
If you were injured in a car accident, contact the New Jersey car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We will review your case and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we help accident victims throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, New Jersey, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.