As the weather has gotten better, people on bikes have become more prevalent on the roads. This poses unique challenges for both motorists and those on bikes. Many would not know that a person on a bicycle may ride in the middle of the roadway, and might be shaking their fist (or worse) at the cyclist holding up traffic. While motorists may want to relegate them to the shoulder, the roadway is for both. The shoulder frequently contains hazards for a cyclist, such as potholes, depressions, variations in the asphalt, glass, debris, and other safety hazards. It is important for anyone traveling on the roadway to be aware of traffic, which does include cyclists. For those utilizing leg power instead of horsepower, it is important to remember and keep track of the traffic around you. There is a reason there are signs that say be on the lookout for motorcycles. It is probably doubly true for those on bicycles. Be alert because if you fail to recognize others on the road, an impact can occur and people can be injured. Many cyclists do attempt to keep to the shoulder/curb area, but sometimes there are impediments which cause the cyclists to dart out or stop suddenly. It behooves everyone to be alert. If you have been involved in an accident involving a bicycle, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a consultation.
Personal Injury Attorneys
Driving is a responsibility that must be taken seriously, and in the state of New Jersey there are many laws and guidelines that have been established for the purpose of keeping motorists safe. Violating these laws generally results in a traffic ticket, which is accompanied by a fine and which in some cases require a court appearance. Different violations carry different penalties, including points which can accumulate and have an impact on your ability to retain your driver’s license in the face of repeated offenses. As few as six accumulated points can result in your driver’s license being placed on a probationary status, and when you have accumulated twelve points you can lose your license entirely.
This situation can quickly become critical, as depending upon the situation a New Jersey State trooper can issue several tickets at once. Knowing the laws and making sure that citations are properly addressed is crucial, as in many cases the payment of a fine may also add points to your driving record, thus leading to increased drivers’ insurance and harsher penalties for future violations. Some of the traffic violations that can lead to these serious consequences include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Driving too closely behind another vehicle (tailgating)
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Reckless Driving
- Refusal/Failure to submit to a breathalyzer test
- Careless Driving
- Using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving
- Driving without proper insurance
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Leaving the scene of an accident
The New Jersey point system is standardized. Below you will find the points imposed for different violations:
- Most traffic violations are given two points. For speeding, two points are assessed for exceeding the speed limit by between one and 14 mph. Additional examples include failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, failure to obey traffic signals, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, going through a red light, and moving violations out of state. There are many others.
- Three point violations include making an improper turn at a traffic light, improper right or left turns and U-turns, and many others.
- Four-point violations are represented by speeding between 15 and 29 mph over the speed limit, improper passing, improper passing of an ice cream truck and many others.
- For speeding violations of 30 mph over the speed limit, five points are assessed. The penalty is the same for reckless driving, racing on the highway, tailgating, and many others.
- If you leave the scene of an accident in which a person is injured, there is an assignment of eight points.
Failure to pay a fine or appear in court in the face of a traffic violation can result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.
In order to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are provided with good legal advice, it is smart to consult with an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced in New Jersey traffic laws.
The state of New Jersey has enshrined strict laws regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. A person is considered to be guilty of drunk driving when they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, though smaller amounts of alcohol or lower blood alcohol concentrations can still lead to a conviction. There are additional charges that can be filed for exacerbating circumstances: if a parent or legal guardian is found to have been driving under the influence when they were transporting a minor passenger, they may also be charged with a disorderly persons offense, and can be forced to give up their right to drive for up to six months. They may also be required to perform community service.
Penalties for violation of New Jersey’s drunk driving laws vary depending upon whether it is a driver’s first offense or if they are a repeat offender. For first time offenders, fines between $250 and $400 can be imposed, as well as imprisonment for up to thirty days, license suspension for three months, required driver educational classes specifically geared towards intoxication, and a surcharge on their insurance rates of $1,000 per year for a three-year period. Penalties are higher for those whose blood alcohol content is 0.10 percent or higher, and for first time offenders whose BAC is 0.15 percent or higher, an ignition interlock device is required. The requirement of the ignition interlock device is currently under consideration in the New Jersey legislature for lower BAC levels.
Penalties for driving under the influence for a second time are punishable with fines between $500 and $1,000, imprisonment for at least 48 consecutive hours and up to ninety days, a license suspension of two years, required driver educational classes geared towards intoxication that include 48 hours of detainment, and the same insurance surcharge as for first time offenders. Installation of the ignition interlock device is required for an extended period of up to three years after license reinstatement.
Third time offenders may face a fine of $1,000, imprisonment for 180 days, a ten-year license suspension, detainment in an alcoholism treatment program, fees to be paid to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, an auto insurance surcharge of $1,500 per year for three years, and required installation of the ignition interlock device for up to three years after license restoration.
All New Jersey drivers found guilty of driving under the influence also face miscellaneous penalties and charges to community safety programs and other related funds.
New Jersey also imposes strict consequences for those who are under the age of 21 and found to have been drinking, as well as to those adults that provide them with alcoholic beverages. These fines can include $500 fines and the loss of a driver’s license for six months, or suspension of the ability to receive a license. New Jersey also has zero tolerance laws for those under the age of 21 who are found to have any alcohol in their system while driving.
There are many different circumstances that account for workplace injuries. Statistically speaking, injuries that occur at work kill over 4,500 workers in the United States every year, and millions are injured in ways that can have serious, long term impacts on their ability to earn a living or have a return to their previous quality of live. According to former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, “Every day in America, twelve people go to work and never come home. Ever year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
Though some accidents cannot be foreseen, most work-related injuries can be prevented through responsible actions on the part of the employer. Every worker has a right to a safe environment, and it is their employer’s job to make sure that is what they have. This means that appropriate precautions need to be taken regarding the worksite, the equipment that is being used, that employees are properly trained and that appropriate supervision and protections are in place.
Some workplace injuries are more common than others. The ones that are reported most frequently include:
- Injuries caused by workplace violence and on the job attacks by coworkers. Proper supervision and preemptive employee training, as well as careful attention to the worksite can prevent these dangerous episodes from occurring.
- Repetitive motion injuries occur when employees are not properly instructed in the use of their equipment or encouraged to take breaks. They can also result from a lack of ergonomically correct equipment. These problems are often exacerbated when the work environment discourages seeking appropriate medical attention.
- Factories, ships and other worksites that utilize heavy equipment and machinery often see accidents involving machine entanglement. Careful training and the provision and use of protective equipment can make all the difference in protecting employees from dismemberment, crushing injuries and other traumatic results.
- Motor vehicle accidents happen all to frequently when employees are required to drive for work. Many of these accidents are fatal. Employers are responsible for ensuring that drivers are well-trained in safe driving practices and that any company vehicles that they are provided with are in good working condition and well maintained.
- Work environments need to be kept free of hazards that cause slipping and falling or walking into objects. Work areas must be dry and clean of clutter to protect employees, and employees need to be trained on safety guidelines.
- Whether an object falls from a shelf or a crane drops a heavy load, many employees end up being injured by falling objects. Equipment must be well maintained and used properly, and care needs to be taken to minimize injury.
- Construction workers and employees in a host of other types of jobs are at high risk of falling from ladders, falling down stairways, and falling off of elevated platforms. Safety equipment must be provided.
In an interesting twist, the Appellate Division has decided that in legal malpractice cases, the person authoring the Affidavit of Merit, stating that the defendant attorney and/or firm has violated the standard of care, does not need to be certified, even if the attorney named is certified. What is most interesting about this decision is how different it is from medical malpractice decisions, which require that the author of the Affidavit of Merit have the same or similar qualifications, including board certifications and/or additional qualifications. In the particular matter, Davis v. Ellis, a certified matrimonial attorney had sued her former client for unpaid legal fees owed to her. The former client counterclaimed (asserted a claim against the attorney) alleging legal malpractice, and submitted an Affidavit of Merit from a general practitioner, rather than a certified matrimonial attorney. The trial court judge found this inadequate and dismissed the litigation. The Appellate Division disagreed, and found that even if the attorney involved is certified, the author of the Affidavit of Merit does not also have to be so certified, but instead will qualify if they have practiced for 5 years and have devoted a majority of their practice to the particular area or specialty involved.
The purpose of the Affidavit of Merit has been to require the Plaintiff to make an initial showing of merit to the claim, by having a person with the same or similar qualifications render an opinion. Failure to provide one within 120 days of the filed Answer (originally 60, and the Plaintiff may request a single 60 day extension) will in most cases, result in the case being dismissed. If you feel as though you have suffered damages as a result of the treatment by a doctor, or handling of a legal matter by an attorney, feel free to contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free initial consultation.
I have been working on blogs and I find myself using legal terms or “legalese.” In an effort to explain some legal terms I utilize frequently in practice, I will define some of the more common words.
1. Plaintiff: a person bringing a civil suit, making allegations of wrong on the part of the defendant.
2. Defendant: 1. In a criminal matter, a defendant is charged with violation of a statute or ordinance; 2. In a civil matter, a defendant is alleged to have wronged the Plaintiff in some way.
3. Prima facie case: In every case, the Plaintiff must prove the elements of the claim (i.e. a prima facie negligence claim requires 1. Duty, 2. Breach of duty, 3. Proximate cause, and 4. Damages.
4. Negligence: When a Plaintiff alleges that a Defendant(s) owed a duty to the Plaintiff, that the Defendant(s) violated that duty in some way, and that the violation was the cause of the Plaintiffs damages.
5. Duty: What one party owes to another (i.e. a homeowner has a duty to advise guests of any dangerous conditions which are not open and obvious to the guest; drivers on the roadway are to observe the “rules of the road” so as not to cause a collision, etc.)
6. Breach of Duty: When one party fails to uphold the duty they owe to another (i.e. when a driver is following too closely to the vehicle in front of it and rear ends the first vehicle, or when a driver makes a left hand turn across traffic when there is not enough time to safely cross all the lanes of travel, resulting in a collision)
7. Proximate Cause: The relationship between the breach of duty and the claimed damages. Proximate refers to a large extent to timing, in that the breach of duty must occur within a reasonable time of the claimed damages for the person alleged to have breached the duty to be found responsible.
8. Damages: The injuries, both monetary and otherwise (i.e. pain and suffering, consequential, punitive…) which are claimed to be a result of the breach of duty.
9. Complaint: A complaint is a document filed by a Plaintiff which contains allegations of wrongdoing against a defendant or group of defendants. These allegations of wrongdoing are generally made on a count by count basis, with each count alleging a separate cause of action, or wrongdoing by the defendant(s).
10. Answer: An answer is the Defendants response to a Complaint, and contains on a count by count, and allegation by allegation basis, a response. An answer also contains separately pled defenses to the complaint, and may also contain a 1. Counterclaim, 2. Crossclaim, 3. Third Party Complaint, or some mixture of the three.
11. Counterclaim: A counterclaim is a claim by a defendant against the plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on the part of the Plaintiff.
12. Crossclaim: A crossclaim is a claim by a defendant against another defendant alleging wrongdoing on the part of the other defendant, usually claiming to be the real cause (in part or completely) of the Plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing and damages.
13. Third Party Complaint: A third party complaint is a claim by a defendant against a party not previously named as a defendant or plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on the part of the new party, and alleging the new party is the real cause (in part or completely) of the Plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing and damages.
These are just a small sampling of the words that attorneys use every day which may as well be Greek to the average person. I could go on, but I am sure I have given too much information and the above information is solely to explain some of the terms which pop up at the beginning of every civil matter. If you feel as though someone has wronged you, causing you to suffer damages, or if you have been named as a defendant in a Complaint, feel free to contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free initial consultation.
The weather has been poor lately (unless you live on the West Coast) with some significant snowfall dropping in January. This has caused chaos on the roads and a significant number of accidents. In Atlanta, and many southern states, chaos reigned, with many abandoning their vehicles where they sat stopped in traffic and found what shelter they could. In the aftermath of this weather, people are dealing with damage to their vehicles, damage to themselves, and the clean up process. For example, in Alabama, it was being reported that at least 5 people were killed in weather related traffic accidents. But motor vehicle accidents are not the only types of incident that occurs when the weather is bad. After a snowfall, and when melting occurs, frequently there is a re-freeze, which can be even more dangerous than the original snow-fall. Businesses and residents are required to clear the sidewalks and driveways as soon as is practicable. I was watching Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia the Tuesday afternoon on television, and he indicated that this snow removal was to commence within 6 hours of the end of the snowfall in Philadelphia. If a homeowner, landlord, or business fails to clear the sidewalks, walkways and driveways of snow, they are responsible for the slip and fall injuries which occur on their property. Therefore, it behooves a homeowner, landlord and business to take action to clear the hazard for individuals to safely travel. This does not always happen, resulting in injuries for which expensive treatment is necessary.
In a motor vehicle accident case in New Jersey, individuals with auto insurance have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits available, which pay for medical treatment for injuries which resulted from a motor vehicle accident (insert link to previous blog about PIP). In a slip and fall event, the insurance available comes from the individual injured, and depending on the type of property, possibly med-pay from the property’s insurance policy. This is frequently a low amount, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, although the amounts may vary from that range. This unfortunately may leave the injured person with significant medical bills and no way to pay them or with significant out of pocket losses as they pay the medical bills. If you have been injured in a slip and fall event due to weather conditions and poor clearing of the snowfall and/or ice, contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free consultation.
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame, it is a good idea to seek accident claim advice to confirm if you are eligible to receive compensation. In most cases, your eligibility will be determined by who was to blame, how long ago your accident or injury occurred, and whether you needed the attention of a doctor or other medical professional as a result.
Here are some useful facts and hints about accident claim advice to help you to pursue a claim.
Accident claim advice can be free
There are many solicitors and compensation providers who are available to offer their initial advice for free. This means that you can ‘shop around’ if you wish, and gather information to be sure you are able to choose your representation carefully. In many cases, this accident claim advice is given over the phone, meaning you can do this from the comfort of your own home.
An advisor will check your eligibility
In order to make a claim, your accident will need to qualify to receive compensation. An advisor will usually be able to confirm this for you, or alternatively you can use an online tool to double check. Many compensation providers or personal injury lawyers will include an eligibility checker on their website – it is usually a quick and simple process.
Advice can come from anyone
It is important to check the validity of your source of advice – it is imperative that they have been trained in order to provide you with accident claim advice that you can trust. Compensation providers, for example, train their advisory teams to a high standard, ensuring they are able to offer sound advice as well as act with understanding and sensitivity.
Questions are important
Before you speak to an advisor, it is useful to jot down any questions you may have beforehand. Key points for consideration may be:
- Can they progress your claim on a no win, no fee basis?
- Will your legal representatives be expert in your particular injury type?
- What type of communication methods will be involved?
- How much input will be needed from you as the claimant?
- How does the claims process work?
All of these are valid questions that can and should be asked at the advice stage. Make sure that you check about anything that may be on your mind, big or small.
Considering the facts about accident claim advice will stand you in good stead should you need to make a claim for compensation? Going through a personal injury is a traumatic enough experience and seeking compensation should not add to already high stress levels. Make sure you get all of the advice you need before proceeding with your claim, ensuring you understand the process and are happy with your selected compensation provider or personal injury lawyer before instructing them to act on your behalf.
If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for medical expenses, lost income and in many areas, intangibles such as pain and suffering. The average person will not be able to successfully go up against massive insurance agencies, so it is a good idea to retain the services of a personal injury attorney. In the US, lack of lawyers is definitely not an issue—rather, your challenge will be picking the right one amongst the many that will happily take your business. Here are some tips to get you started in your search.
Be Wary of Referral Services
Referral services are available for most types of law, with personal injury being a particularly abundant. The problem with referral services is the varying standards employed to get listed; for some, it may be nothing more than paying a fee to get in the directory. Any recommendations that come from these services may have nothing to do with the attorney’s experience, knowledge or competence.
Look for Lawyers that Specialize in Personal Injury Law
There are many lawyers who dabble in various areas of law and for certain legal needs, this type of lawyer may fit the bill just fine. But, personal injury cases can be complex and there is a lot at stake. Going with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury alone is your best bet for getting a more favorable outcome; additionally, you also want to consider a lawyer who is experienced in your type of injury in particular. They will have the specialized knowledge necessary to secure a favorable settlement.
Consider Attorneys with Trial Experience
Even though a majority of personal injury claims are settled before going to trial—even cases that are set to go to trial typically settle at some point before actually reaching the court room—you might consider working with an attorney who has experience fighting cases in court. This can work to your advantage since the threat of going to court by a lawyer who has successfully tried personal injury cases may motivate insurance companies to come to a favorable settlement sooner than later—most want to avoid trials, which can be costly, bring negative publicity and possibly result in having to pay out more money to the plaintiff than a settlement may have. If the attorney has no trial experience, the insurance company may not take threats of a lawsuit very seriously.
Look for a Lawyer Who Can Take Your Case Sooner than Later
Ideally, you want to get moving on your case as soon as possible, especially if those medical bills are piling in and you are not receiving any income. When evaluating lawyers, how soon they can take your case should be an important consideration. The negotiation process can take awhile and the sooner you start it, the sooner you can reach a favorable settlement amount. Of course, you must balance this out with other factors important in selecting the right attorney.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers all things law; she recommends visiting chicagopersonalinjurylawyer.com if you are in need of an attorney in the Chicago area.
The devastation that Super Storm Sandy caused to many homes along the coastline is not the only damage that needs to be addressed. With so much destruction, many contaminants exist and many workers have already fell ill.
Workers that have been seriously impacted by the contaminants of the storm, may need to be properly represented by a legal of professional so they are appropriately compensated for their injuries. For the sake of the union workers, we hope this does not become the case. However, if anything happens to workers in regards to their health that is directly correlated with the impact of Super Storm Sandy, hiring South Jersey personal injury attorneys may be necessary.
If interested in reading more about the contaminants that were left behind by the devastation, Lynne Peeples from the Huffington Post online, has written this informative article on the topic.