While most are relatively minor, some can result in severe injuries and even death. To get compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering, it’s vital that you hire a New Jersey attorney who knows and understands personal injury law in the state.
It is time to seek the legal help of the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates. We can help you put together a strong claim and fight to get the necessary compensation to take care of your incoming expenses. We’ll discuss some of the most common legal concerns regarding car accidents in New Jersey.
Common Causes of New Jersey Car Crashes
Driving requires your full attention. Even losing focus for a couple of seconds is enough to hamper your ability to judge the current situation accurately. There are plenty of distractions that can cause you to take your eyes off the road, and it’s vital to avoid these whenever possible.
The most common reason for distracted driving is cellphone use, though eating and drinking come in a close second. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority, the risk of getting into an accident becomes 2.8 times higher when you dial a number on a cellphone.
Poor Weather Conditions
Weather can have a significant impact on your driving ability. Not only does it affect your visibility, but it can also affect road conditions and how you handle your car. Winter driving often includes low visibility and slippery roads, which can be a fatal combination.
Fatigue and sleeplessness have a severe impact on cognition and decision-making. Drowsy or fatigued drivers have slower reaction times and often make worse decisions than their more alert counterparts. Fatigue mainly affects truck drivers, but it can also affect any driver who doesn’t get enough sleep or uses medication that induces drowsiness.
The best solution to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough rest. If you’ve been driving for more than two hours, take a break. Stretch your legs and take a short nap to recharge your batteries before you head back on the road.
According to the CDC, drunk driving killed 1,816 people in New Jersey between 2003 and 2012. Drunk driving accounts for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, and over a million drivers got arrested in 2016 for drunk driving.
Intoxication has a similar effect to fatigue, in that it slows your reaction times and impacts your decision-making ability. Driving under the influence of other drugs is similarly risky, and marijuana users are 25% more likely to get into accidents than people with no history of marijuana use.
Types of Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries can range from very mild to very severe. Some injuries can affect your ability to work and dramatically impact your life for years after the crash. The most common car accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: Whiplash is the common name for the extensive muscle, ligament, and tendon damage that occurs during a car accident. The most common form of whiplash affects the neck and spine and can take several months to heal properly.
- Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often cause problems with memory and cognition, which can be devastating if they’re not identified early. Most TBIs only appear several days or weeks after the accident, which can make it difficult to link your TBI to the accident.
- Broken bones: Broken arms, hips, shoulders, and legs are common in car accidents, as these areas are prone to getting hit in a crash. Broken ribs are also typical, especially when you’re moved forward against your seatbelt by the impact of the crash.
- Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding can be incredibly dangerous if not addressed quickly. The signs of internal bleeding may not be immediately apparent, which is why it’s vital to seek medical attention after an accident.
- Psychological trauma: In addition to physical injuries, car crashes can leave scars on your psyche. PTSD and anxiety are common after car accidents and require extensive mental health treatment to prevent them from taking over your life.
What You Should Do After a
Car Crash in New Jersey
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It can be challenging to know what to do after a crash. You’re dealing with shock and might be in large amounts of pain. However, your actions following a car crash can have an impact on your ability to claim damages. By following these steps, you can protect yourself and your rights and ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries and property damage.
Stop and protect the scene
You should never, ever, drive away from a car crash, even a very minor one. Instead, you should first ensure your safety and the safety of everyone involved by securing the scene. If possible, cordon off the area and keep your flashers on. If the cars involved in the accident are blocking traffic, try to move them off to the side of the road.
Call the police and emergency services if necessary
It’s a good idea to call the police, even in a minor accident. Police officers know how to collect evidence and information about an accident scene, and many insurance companies need a police report as part of their claims process. If someone is injured, also call ambulance services as soon as possible.
If you’re not injured, try to take pictures of the accident scene in as much detail as you can. Include things like skid marks, damage to the cars involved, debris, and at least one photo of the entire scene.
Write down your recollection of the accident as soon as you can. Make a note of weather conditions, the amount of traffic on the road, and so on. By writing this down as soon as possible, you minimize the chance of forgetting something essential or misremembering the crash.
Hire an Attorney
Having an attorney on your side is an invaluable step to protecting your rights. Many insurance companies will try to get you to settle your claim for less than it’s worth, or try to avoid paying out altogether.
No matter how big or small the accident, having an attorney will ensure you get full compensation. It’s a good idea to find an attorney directly after your accident to prevent you from making some common mistakes that can negatively impact your claim.
Even though this is part of police procedure, you should also try and get the information of everyone involved in the accident. This information includes the name, address, and telephone number of everyone on the scene. If you see any witnesses, ask for their contact details as well.
Report the accident to your insurance company
Many insurance companies require you to report the accident as soon as possible. Do so, and provide the police report number, but don’t do anything more than necessary. Follow the procedures outlined in your policy to ensure you get the coverage you bought.
Seek medical attention
Even if you feel fine, it’s a good idea to get medical attention after an accident. Shock and adrenaline can mask injuries, which can be debilitating if not looked at by a physician. You can go to the emergency room or your physician, depending on the extent of your injuries.
Be sure to follow all the medical advice you receive. Not only will this speed up your recovery, but it will also help solidify your claim should you file a personal injury suit. Also, keep all your medical records and bills from the accident in a file somewhere safe.
We strongly recommend keeping an accident file that contains all your accident-related documents. Having these documents in one place makes it easier to get information when you need it. The file should contain:
- The claim number
- The name of the insurance adjuster handling the case
- A copy of the police report
- Names and numbers of everyone involved in the accident
- Receipts from any expenses incurred after the accident, such as car rental, etc.
- Medical records and bills
Common Mistakes Made When a Victim Files a Car Accident Claim
Most people can admit that they had at least some part to play in a car accident. You may think you were going too fast, even though the other person ran a red light. However, admitting any guilt can hurt your chances of getting full compensation.
Even a simple statement like “I’m sorry” can look like an admission of fault, so it’s vital to let your attorney do the talking with any relevant parties.
Trusting the Insurance Company
You may think that because you pay your insurance company a monthly fee, they must be on your side. The unfortunate truth is that insurance companies exist to make a profit, and they’re not on your side. Every dollar they give you is a dollar they don’t get to keep.
Insurance adjusters often use manipulative tactics to either deny your claim or pay as little as possible. That’s why it’s so important to speak to a lawyer to protect your interests.
Settling Too Soon
Understandably, you want to forget about your crash as soon as possible. However, the first settlement is often just a tactic to see how serious you are about pursuing your claim. Work with your attorney to identify a fair settlement and don’t agree to anything below that.
Taking Too Long Before Filing a Claim
New Jersey has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This means you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. If you miss this deadline, your case will get thrown out of court.
Two years may feel like forever, but building a strong case can take a long time. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney and prepare your claim, the better.
What Can I Do to Minimize Risk of an Auto Accident?
There’s no way to avoid the risk of a car crash altogether. Even if you avoid driving at all, you may still get hit by a car as a pedestrian or cyclist. Instead, your best bet to minimize the risk of a car crash is to be vigilant and careful when you drive.
Avoid distractions like your cellphone, and try not to eat or drink in the car. If you feel tired, take a short nap instead of carrying on. If possible, invest in a driving course to understand how to handle your car effectively in stressful situations.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you’re sharing the road with others. Be conscious of that fact and try to avoid risky behavior that can put you and others on the road at risk.
Proving Negligence in a New Jersey Auto Accident
The concept of negligence is the cornerstone of arguing a personal injury case. Negligence consists of three main factors:
- Proving a duty of care: The plaintiff must show that the other party had a duty of care. Duty of care implies any action that is the standard in any given situation. In the case of a car crash, the duty of care includes following road laws and driving carefully.
- Showing the negligent party breached the duty of care: The second step is to prove that the defendant didn’t act per their duty of care. In the example of a car accident, this can include showing that the other driver ran a red light or was speeding.
- Causation: It’s not enough to show a breach of duty of care; it also has to be linked to the injuries the plaintiff sustains. For instance, if a person ran a red light, but the accident happened on the other side of the road, that driver wasn’t responsible for the accident and isn’t at fault.
Car Accident Insurance Claims in New Jersey
New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state. What this means practically is that you have to claim under your own insurance for compensation for medical bills and other financial losses, regardless of who caused the accident.
The issue with no-fault car insurance is that you can’t claim for non-monetary damages, such as trauma and pain and suffering. However, you also have a limited right to sue the at-fault driver under certain conditions, including:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury and disability
Car Accident Statistics
According to the NJ Department of Transportation, New Jersey had a total of 278,413 car accidents in 2018, 524 of which were fatal. 72.3% of known drivers involved in fatal accidents were men and most fatal crashes occurred during clear weather conditions.
These statistics are significantly lower than that of the rest of the country. In the US at large, there are over six million accidents per year and around a 6% fatality rate. Over two million people experience permanent injuries from a car crash every year. The major causes of fatal car accidents include reckless driving (33%), alcohol (40%), and speeding (30%), and often a combination of the three.
Car Accident Resources
The New Jersey Department of Transportation has a variety of car accident resources, including crash records, GIS systems, and traffic rules and regulations.
If you’ve been in a minor accident and don’t want to involve a lawyer, you can complete a claim yourself. As New Jersey is a no-fault state, you need to file a claim with your insurance company and they’ll handle the case from there.
You’ll still have to follow the same procedure as before, making sure to collect evidence for your claim. You should then estimate your damages, both monetary and non-monetary, and take your claim to the insurance company.
If they refuse to settle, we strongly suggest hiring an attorney, as taking a claim to court requires legal expertise.
When should I get a lawyer for a car accident?
Follow the advice we’ve given above. Get a police report, document the scene, seek medical attention, and, if necessary, hire a lawyer.
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee. Instead of charging an hourly rate, we get paid a percentage of your settlement amount. If we don’t win your case, you don’t have to pay us anything. Typically, the contingency fee is between 20% and 25% of your settlement.
New Jersey works on a comparative fault basis, which means that you may recover some compensation. How comparative fault works is that the judge or jury assign a percentage of fault to every involved party. You then get compensation, minus your percentage of fault.
If the jury decides you were 30% at fault, you’ll only receive 70% of your compensation. However, there is a limit on comparative fault, and if you’re over 50% at fault, you’re not allowed to claim anything.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can be a huge relief. Instead of worrying about your legal obligations, you can focus on moving on and recovering from your accident. Our legal team at the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates is determined to fight for your rights. No matter how big or small the accident, our team of expert investigators will compile all the evidence we need to defend you and get you the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free one-hour consultation, and we work on a contingency fee basis. We don’t get paid per hour; instead, we take a portion of your settlement. If we lose, you don’t have to pay anything at all. So if you’ve been in a car accident and want legal representation, get in touch now with the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates.