Car Accidents

As everyone knows, car accidents are quite common. New York State averages 1,000 fatalities and nearly 140,000 hospitalizations annually as a result of traffic accidents. Motor vehicle 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. About 600 of those crashes involve fatalities, and many are left with permanent or debilitating injuries.

Anyone who has suffered serious injuries in a car accident is likely to be concerned about their ability to go back to work, pay their medical bills, and deal with their insurance company. Car accidents can cause a lifetime of medical expenses that are difficult to manage, and victims may miss work for extended periods of time.

New Jersey is the most congested state in America, and much of that congestion moves into New York. Therefore, drivers in the area need to know how to drive on congested roads, how to handle city driving, and how to avoid accidents as much as possible. At the same time, drivers need to be aware of what to do if they are involved in an accident.

When someone has been injured in an accident, they should reach out to the New Jersey car accident lawyers at Ellis Law right away. We will work diligently to ensure that our clients are given the compensation they deserve, and we will prove that our clients are not to blame for accidents that have occurred.

How can Car Insurance Laws Affect Personal Injury Claims?

New Jersey and New York have no-fault car insurance laws. This affects personal injury claims because victims must first seek to obtain financial compensation under their own personal injury protection (PIP) before they can sue the other driver directly. However, the amount of compensation victims receive is limited to specific dollar amounts specified in the insurance policy. For example, in New Jersey, if the policy states that the insured agrees to a limited right to sue, they can receive additional compensation only if their injuries meet certain criteria, such as loss of a limb, permanent disfigurement, death, or other stated conditions.

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, victims must first meet the statute of limitations, which is two years in New Jersey and three years in New York. If victims attempt to file a claim after the statute of limitations has expired, the court system will likely dismiss the case. Other restrictions also apply.

Because the rules for filing personal injury claims may be complex and are subject to change, seeking the help of a qualified car accident lawyer is the best course of action for ensuring that clients receive maximum compensation. We will review each case before proceeding because we need to know if our clients have a claim for additional damages.

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, victims 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 less than a victim deserves.

We ask our clients not to talk to another lawyer or insurance company representative. These people want to close the case as quickly as possible. When victims speak to other people involved in the case, they could say something that will reduce their claim or invalidate it. We want to ensure that we are the only people involved in the claim so that we can speak with other stakeholders.

Our lawyers understand how to negotiate a settlement and increase compensation for our clients. We will support our clients in court or during a settlement meeting, and we will do most of the talking so that there is no confusion. Car accidents can cause lifelong injuries and disability, and even cause victims to lose their jobs. We work diligently with our clients to determine how they have been affected by the accident. We can request damages for the following:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Medical expenses
  • Lifelong medical treatment
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Disability
  • Wrongful death

We cannot tell our clients how much they will receive when a lawsuit is filed, but we will use industry standard formulas to help our clients claim damages. We will work with doctors to determine how much medical care costs, and we can accurately determine how much the victim would have made if they had not been involved in the accident.

How Much Compensation can a Victim Receive 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. Therefore, it is important to seek an initial consultation from an experienced car accident lawyer who can explain the process for obtaining compensation.

Whiplash occurs when the neck is jerked back and forth forcefully. 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 experience chronic pain and other complications. Symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Loss of range of motion in the neck and back
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances

It is important to see a doctor if anyone was in a rear-end collision or other car accident because the symptoms of whiplash may not appear until days later. Brain injury is also possible after an accident and may go undetected, so it is vital to receive medical attention, even if the victims of the crash do not believe they were seriously hurt.

Victims may end up experiencing pain for months after the injury. Those who had whiplash before, as well as older people, will take longer to heal. Therefore, it is 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. Whiplash should be taken seriously for the following reasons:

  • Whiplash can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour (mph)
  • Most whiplash injuries happen below 12 mph
  • Neck injuries make up 60 percent of minor impairment claims
  • Half of people in low-speed crashes will be injured
  • A fourth of low-speed accident victims will experience chronic pain
  • Whiplash can cause chronic pain more than six months after a crash

What Should Drivers Do at the Scene of an Accident?

After a car accident, it is important to remain as calm as possible. If anyone is injured or if there is substantial damage to the vehicle, someone should call 911. If it is safe to do so, someone should take pictures of the accident scene and move the vehicles off the road. Pictures and videos could be critical when settling a case. The police will complete a rudimentary inspection of the scene, but they will not take pictures or videos.

The police might not even speak to eyewitnesses at the scene. This is important because drivers and passengers can meet eyewitnesses, gather information, and ask them what they saw. The eyewitnesses may want to talk to the police, or they can speak to one of our lawyers. We want to collect as much information as possible before we begin negotiating.

It is best to wait for the police to arrive before speaking with other drivers involved. When speaking with the police, the driver should provide information clearly but not admit fault or make comments about how the accident occurred. If paramedics arrive, medical treatment should not be refused. Injuries may surface later, and the value of any personal injury claims that are filed will be directly affected by the medical evidence that can be provided.

This is especially important because drivers may believe they do not need to seek medical treatment. If injuries are minor, it may be wise to go to the family doctor for treatment. This starts a simple paper trail of treatment that is easy to use when filing a claim. If we do not have evidence, we cannot file a proper claim for medical damages.

The driver should ask the police how to obtain a copy of the accident report, then contact the insurance company to provide details about the accident. Before accepting a settlement, it is best to reach out to a New Jersey car accident lawyer who can explain everyone’s rights, the terms of the insurance policy, and the key terms of personal injury law so drivers and passengers can be better prepared if and when a settlement offer is issued.

What are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents?

Many accidents could have been prevented if the negligent parties exercised a reasonable amount of judgment and caution. For that reason, thousands of personal injury claims are filed each year. In New Jersey, personal injury settlements and verdicts collectively total between $97 million and $200 million each year. The following are leading causes of car accidents.

Road Rage: Road rage is defined as uncontrolled aggressive or violent behavior toward another driver on the road. 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 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the United States as a result of aggressive driving. People involved in road rage incidents could be caught in the middle of a life-or-death situation. Road rage incidents could involve physical altercations and even firearms. Therefore, it is best to focus on the road and not retaliate against another driver.

Drunk Driving: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving kills approximately 30 people every day. Drunk drivers make poor decisions, including running red lights, driving too fast, driving too slowly, and driving on the wrong side of the road. Drivers who are convicted of drunk driving may be fined, have their licenses suspended, or go to jail. In some cases, the alcohol supplier can be charged as well.

Texting While Driving: Driving involves making split-second decisions; the human brain can only handle so much information at one time. Drivers may not be able to give their full attention to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles if they are distracted. Texting while driving puts everyone around the car at risk because any swerving or erratic driving can cause a collision.

Speeding: Speeding is a factor in about one-fourth of all accidents. Speed limits are posted for everyone’s safety, and it is wise for drivers to let speeding drivers pass. Modern vehicles often have special technology that detects speed limit signs. Moreover, drivers should make sure that they abide by speed limits set for heavy curves and construction zones. Drivers need to slow down or they may slide off the road going around a curve.

Drugged Driving: Drugged drivers can cause crashes and even kill other drivers or passengers. Even if the substance is prescribed, drivers need to be careful. Someone who is taking a prescription medication or other legal product may not be prepared to operate a vehicle.  Drivers are urged to get a ride home or use a ridesharing service.

Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving and road rage are two different things. Aggressive drivers might set off a road rage incident, but many aggressive drivers simply anger other drivers. Aggressive driving is extremely dangerous and other drivers should get out of the way as soon as possible. If necessary, drivers should pull over and let aggressive drivers pass. In some cases, it may be wise to contact local police or highway patrol to report an aggressive driver.

Pedestrians, Large Trucks, and Motorcycles: Pedestrians may walk into the road even though there is no crosswalk, and people who live in rural communities might walk on the road because they feel it is safe. Some pedestrians could even be clipped by a large truck that has cut the corner too tightly. Motorcycles can whip through traffic quickly, and often pass between cars on highways. Small motorcycles can be crushed or destroyed, and riders could be thrown off the bike.

Large trucks pose an even greater risk because they are heavy and hard to maneuver. Large trucks could jackknife when they are forced to swerve out of the way, and drivers cannot make sudden moves while maintaining control of the truck. Motorcycles should be especially concerned with large trucks because these vehicles cannot see small motorcycles.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Car Accidents

Numerous studies suggest that human error accounts for more than 90 percent of all car accidents. The following provides suggestions for staying safe on the road. Although drivers can prepare each day to drive safely, they need to be aware of their surroundings and make good choices that suit the situation.

Driving at Night

It is easy to get into a car accident if vehicles do not have their lights on at night. Although drivers can use the auto function on most modern cars, some vehicles cannot. Drivers should turn the lights on any time it is raining and when it gets dark. The following are tips to keep in mind for driving at night:

  • All windows should be kept clean. Dirty windows can distort a driver’s vision while they are driving. This also includes keeping washer fluid in the car, washing the windows during a fuel stop, and checking the wiper blades. It is a good idea to check and replace wiper blades at regular intervals.
  • Keep the headlights on. Failure to use headlights is a leading cause of nighttime car crashes. If available, drivers should use the auto light function.
  • Reduce noise levels in the car. The radio should be kept at a moderate volume so that it is easy to pay attention to what other vehicles are doing on the road.
  • Stay alert. If drivers find themselves nodding off at the wheel, they should pull over to a rest stop. If someone else in the car can drive, they should be asked to do so. Swapping shifts on a long drive is the safest way to get to the destination.
  • Watch out for other drivers. Other drivers may be tired or driving under the influence. Someone driving erratically on the road should be avoided. In some instances, alerting the authorities is appropriate.

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 at intersections occur 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:

  • Drivers should slow down when the light is yellow and stop if it is safe to do so.
  • When the light turns green, a driver should look both ways to make sure other drivers are not trying to beat the light.
  • Extreme caution should be used when making a left turn at an intersection.
  • Drivers need to be on the alert for pedestrians or bicycles when driving through or turning at an intersection.

Driving in the City

City driving is different from highway driving. Drivers need to keep their eyes on the road because they may need to stop at any time. Drivers need to be alert for unexpected moves by another driver. City drivers should be aware of any locations where people are parking on the street and if there are one-way streets in the area. When parallel parking, be even more careful when taking small parking spaces in the city. The same is true when someone is backing out of a parking space or trying to rejoin traffic on the street.

Avoiding Distractions in the Car

Drivers need to avoid distractions when they are in the car. These distractions may include passengers, especially children. When adults are in the car, those adults can respond to texts or emails, freeing the driver to concentrate on the road. Children in the car can be difficult to manage, and drivers should pull over when they need to discipline their children. Children can be given electronic devices or games that will keep them entertained. Some vehicles have television screens in the center or on the seatbacks.

New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Fight for Victims Injured in All Types of Car Accidents

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, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

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Five-Step Process

Herb and Jon Ellis

1. We Assemble Your Legal Team

You will be assigned a team of seasoned attorneys and dedicated support staff who take the time to listen to you and learn every detail about your accident. Your team will be available 24/7. You will never be left in the dark about the status of your case!

2. We Investigate

Next, we collect all available evidence including medical records, insurance policies, police reports, witness testimony, dashcam footage, security video, and more. We will thoroughly investigate all available evidence to build a solid case.

3. We Demand and Negotiate

We will then send a demand letter to the other party stating the facts of your case and the amount of compensation sought. We will negotiate aggressively to strike the best deal as fast possible, without going to court.

4. We Litigate When Necessary

If negotiations do not produce the compensation you deserve, we will go to court. We are trial lawyers, fully prepared to litigate on your behalf!

5. You Do not Pay Unless We Win!

We have a track record of success. You will never pay a fee for a personal injury case unless we win. CONTACT US TODAY!