Personal Injury Articles for the Injured of NJ

Francis M. Smith

Esq., NJ Personal Injury Attorney
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Recent Posts

FDA Approves New Test for Concussions

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Thu, May 02, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Concussion injuries, referred to in the medical profession as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are at once among the more common injuries suffered by both children and adults, and one of the more dangerous kinds of injury. Every year, emergency rooms across the United States treat roughly 2.5 million head injuries, and correctly diagnosing whether a patient has sustained a TBI is key to ensuring proper treatment and optimal recovery. Unfortunately, concussion injuries aren’t always easy to diagnose.

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Topics: Sports Injuries, concussion, traumatic brain injury

New NJ Insurance Policy Limits Disclosure Law

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Thu, Apr 25, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

A bill recently passed in the New Jersey Senate will help injured plaintiffs make informed decisions in their pursuit of fair compensation for their injuries. The bill, S-2429, passed in the State Senate at the end of March, requires that insurance providers disclose the limits of coverage on a policy held by a customer who is party to an injury claim. After receiving a request for disclosure in connection with an injury claim (which must include a statement that the attorney represents a person injured in an accident involving someone insured by the provider, the insured person’s name and last known address, the date and time of the accident, and any existing police report), the insurance company has 30 days to respond in writing with a disclosure of the policy limits in question. The bill was sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari and Senator Nellie Pou, and co-sponsored by Senator Chris Brown. Having passed in the Senate on March 25th by a vote of 27-9, S-2429 will be sent to the Assembly to be considered.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Automobile Insurance, injury compensation

Road Safety for NJ Walkers and Bikers

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 19, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Relying less on automotive transportation and choosing to walk or bike, either recreationally or as part of your daily commute, is often characterized as a frugal, healthy, and eco-friendly choice. Being a pedestrian or cyclist is not without its hazards, however; 2018 saw the highest number of pedestrian accident fatalities across the country since 1990. In the last decade alone, pedestrian deaths have increased by more than a third. These troubling trends persist despite pressure from pedestrian safety groups on states and municipalities to implement policies and modify road designs to protect pedestrians.

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Topics: Distracted Driving, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Bicycle Safety

Common Residual or Permanent Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 12, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

After suffering an injury in any sort of accident for which someone else was at fault, you are generally advised to wait until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement before sending a demand letter for injury compensation to the relevant insurance company. “Maximum medical improvement” refers to the point at which your treating doctors believe that you have healed as fully as you are likely to heal, and that further medical intervention will not result in any additional improvement. For some patients, this means that they have recovered completely from their injuries, as though the accident never happened. Unfortunately, many accident victims are not so lucky. When they reach their maximum medical improvement, they still have some pain, stiffness, limited mobility, or other impairment that did not exist before their accident. These impairments are not expected to improve with time or treatment, remaining a permanent fixture in the patient’s life. These permanent injuries may prevent the accident victim from returning to a previous job or recreational activities, or impose other disruptive changes in the victim’s life. These long-term consequences are compensable harm, just as much as the medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional suffering that the victim incurred during treatment.

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Topics: Permanent Injury, injury compensation, residual injuries

Sussex County NJ Fatal Car Crashes Increased in 2018

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 08, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

While there has been an overall downward trend in automotive accident fatalities nationwide, New Jersey stands out with one of the lowest rates of car accident fatalities, with 6.7 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2017. Only Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and the District of Columbia reported lower fatality rates that year. In even better news for New Jersey residents, the number of fatal accidents last year decreased from the 2017 figures, with 624 automotive-related fatalities in 2017 and 566 fatalities in 2018. However, that reduction in automotive deaths was not evenly distributed; Sussex County saw an increase in fatalities from 2017 to 2018.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney, injury compensation

Head Injuries: National Youth Football Organization Changes Rules to Reduce Risk of Head Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Tue, Apr 02, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

The sport of American football has come under scrutiny in recent years at all levels of play, from the schoolyard to the Super Bowl, for the heightened risk of head injury that its players experience. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the more medically-accurate term for concussions, can have lasting effects on a sufferer’s physical, cognitive and emotional health, especially as repeated injuries accumulate over time. This year, the largest youth football organization in the US is implementing policies that it hopes will make the game less dangerous for participants in its youngest leagues.

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Topics: Sports Injuries, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Increased Cell Phone Usage While Driving Creates Greater Accident Risks for Drivers

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 29, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

For years,a common rallying cry used in efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, especially involving the use of mobile devices, has been, “Hang up and drive!” While the intent behind this slogan remains as relevant as ever, the language may be due for an update, based on roadside surveys conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While distracted driving involving the use of cell phones remains a major contributing factor to deadly automotive collisions, the manner in which drivers are interacting with their mobile devices has changed over the past few years.

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Topics: Distracted Driving, Text While Driving

Driving Danger Increases When Daylight Savings TIme Springs Forward

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 25, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Despite the stubborn residue of the last snowstorm still clinging to curbs and lawns, spring is only a matter of weeks away, and with it comes one of the more curious phenomena of the modern era: Daylight Savings Time. However, as we “spring forward” to chase the gradually-expanding daylight hours, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how the transition will affect our bodies and our safety as we make our daily commutes.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving, Pedestrian Accidents, drowsy driving

Alarming Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 22, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

While automotive accident fatalities overall have been declining over the past few years, one kind of traffic-related death is dramatically bucking that trend. The rate of pedestrian deaths in motor vehicle accidents has been steadily increasing since 2009, to an estimated high in 2018 that hasn’t been equaled since 1990. These projections have been compiled in a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit group that represents and draws data from highway safety offices nationwide. Using reported pedestrian death statistics from the first six months of 2018 and coupling those figures with historical trends in fatal accident data, the Association has produced an estimate that 6,227 pedestrian fatalities occurred as a result of automotive accidents in the whole of 2018. This figure, the largest number of pedestrian deaths in almost 30 years, represents a 35 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities over the course of a single decade. Coming at a time when other motor vehicle accident fatalities have been declining, this trend of increasing pedestrian deaths is a dangerous aberration that demands explanation.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving, Drunk Driving, Pedestrian Accidents

When Insurance Companies Ignore Demand Letters

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 06, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

If seeking compensation for injuries you suffered in an accident were a chess match, the demand letter you send to the other party’s insurance company might be the opening move. In this letter, your attorney lays out the facts of the case: the circumstances of the accident and why the insurance company’s client was at fault; what injuries you suffered and the costs of the treatment those injuries required; any other expenses and financial losses following from your injuries; and a description of the harm your injuries have caused you beyond the financial, for which you are also entitled to compensation. But what happens if the insurance company decides that their best move is not to play at all – if they offer no response whatsoever to your demand letter? The response to a demand letter is meant to open negotiations over an injury settlement, and the absence of a response leaves you and your attorney arguing with thin air. So what can you do in this case?

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Topics: insurance company, settlement compensation, personal injury demand letter, insurance adjuster

Winter Slip and Fall Hazards Continue into Spring Months in NJ

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 01, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Spring has arrived at last, bringing with it warm temperatures and clear skies…. April Fool! Winter has been hanging on stubbornly this year, ushering in the new season with a vernal nor’easter and starting out the month of April with fresh snow. This unpredictable and unseasonable weather is more than a minor inconvenience that prevents us from packing away the ice scrapers for another season; it creates an unfortunate mix of hazards for anyone venturing outside at this time of year. Slip and fall risks associated with winter weather linger on, while fluctuating temperatures bring springtime slipping hazards into the mix.

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Topics: Slip and Fall, traumatic brain injury

What is the Difference between Trip and Fall Accident and a Slip and Fall Accident?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 27, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

One of the most common causes of injury is a fall to the ground after losing one’s balance or footing. If you suffer such a fall because of a hazard on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Depending on the nature of the fall, these claims are generally referred to as “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents. In many ways these two types of accidents are identical, but there are some key differences that may have relevance to your injury case if you have suffered one of these accidents.

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Topics: Trip and Fall, Slip and Fall

Pre-litigation in Personal Injury Cases Explained

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 20, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

For many people who suffer injuries in an automotive or other accident, their efforts to obtain compensation for their injuries are the first experience they have with civil courts and litigation. The procedures and jargon surrounding personal injury suits can be confusing to anyone encountering it for the first time, and that confusion only adds to the stress of dealing with serious injuries and the resulting financial pressures. As an example, an injured plaintiff might anxiously wonder what “pre-litigation” is, what role it plays in their pursuit of compensation, and how a suit can be successful even if it never moves past the pre-litigation stage.

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Topics: Car Accidents, Slip and Fall, Bicycle Accidents, motorcycle injuries, personal injury complaint

Personal Injury Torts and Defenses

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 18, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Navigating the legal process of seeking compensation after someone else has caused you an injury can often be confusing to an injury victim without a legal background, in part because the jargon used in the legal world is unfamiliar and often archaic. This is not out of any deliberate intent to confuse the layperson, but rather because specific words and phrases carry particular meaning under the law, while words with a similar conventional definition aren’t charged with the same legal force. An important example of legal jargon that you will encounter frequently in your pursuit of injury compensation is the term “tort.”

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Topics: injury compensation, negligence, tort law, tort lawyer

Car Accidents and Collisions in NJ: Year End Review for 2018

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 06, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

The start of a new year is a natural time for looking at past trends and reflecting on ways to improve them going forward. As a personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling cases involving automotive accidents, I tend to turn that reflective impulse toward collision trends, in the hope of gaining a better understanding of the causes of the accidents that affect my clients. The New Jersey Department of Transportation compiles statistical records of collision rates throughout the state, broken down by county. It’s no surprise that more heavily-populated and urban counties tend to see more auto accidents than their less-populous neighbors, but what is remarkable is the way some counties see major fluctuations in the number of collisions that take place from year to year, while other areas experience a fairly consistent rate of crashes. Understanding what causes those changes, and why they affect some counties more strongly than others, may help uncover ways to keep all New Jersey road users safer.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, Distracted Driving

New Jersey Reports on Injuries from Crashes from 2017

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 04, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

No motorist who is struck by another vehicle is likely to consider him- or herself “lucky” regarding any part of the incident. The fear and trauma resulting from the collision itself, the headaches of dealing with damage to the vehicle, and the pain and life disruption resulting from any injuries sustained are categorically awful experiences. The idea that “it could have been worse” is small comfort to anyone who has suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, but statistical trends are important to examine on a larger scale for what they can teach us about making roads safer in the future.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, injury compensation

Rear-end Hit Collisions are Considered Negligence in NJ

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 30, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

When you are injured in an automotive accident involving another vehicle, your ability to collect fair compensation for your injuries relies on whether you can demonstrate that the other driver caused the accident through negligent behavior. In some cases, proving negligence can be a difficult task, requiring your attorney to collect witness testimony, pore over the statements given by both drivers, or even bring in experts to reconstruct the accident. However, there are certain types of collision in which it is much easier to argue for negligence.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, negligence, settlement compensation

Dangers of Slip and Falls During Freeze and Thaw Cycles

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jan 28, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

In the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm, the bitter cold and piles of snow and ice make venturing outside a daunting prospect. Winter storms can leave behind dangerously slippery conditions for anyone traveling on foot, or even walking to their cars. However, when the temperature starts to rise a little, surely that’s a sign of safer walking conditions to come, right? Not necessarily. Warmer days and sub-freezing nights result in freeze and thaw cycles that, if anything, make it more dangerous to traverse sidewalks and driveways, rather than less.

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Topics: Dangerous Condition, Dangerous Premises, Slip and Fall, hazardous road conditions

Slip and Fall Injuries when Rain is Followed by Falling Temperatures

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 23, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

The fact that snowy weather can create slippery conditions that increase the danger of falling accidents is not news to any long-time New Jersey resident. However, it’s much easier to forget that a brief stretch of 40-degree rainy weather can create conditions that are just as dangerous – if not worse – when the temperature dips below freezing again during the night. The rainfall may melt away any accumulated snow at the edges of roads and walkways, but very little of that moisture is absorbed into the cold winter air. Most of it lingers on the surface of sidewalks and driveways until the weather turns cold enough that the residual water re-freezes into a slick, near-invisible sheet of ice. If that isn’t perilous enough, even a dusting of snow can completely conceal the ice on walkways, making it harder for pedestrians to anticipate the presence of slipping hazards.

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Topics: Dangerous Condition, Dangerous Premises, Slip and Fall, hazardous road conditions

Falling is Leading Cause of Most Nonfatal Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jan 18, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

No one who has lived in New Jersey for any length of time is surprised by the fact that snowy weather increases a person’s risk of slipping and falling. What may be surprising for many of us, however, is how great the effect of that increased risk can be, and how often these falls can lead to serious injury. While the best-case scenario for a fall on ice results in nothing more than damp dress or trousers and something to complain about for the rest of the morning, many falls cause injuries serious enough to warrant a hospital visit. In fact, the workload increase in emergency rooms during slippery, snowy days is comparable to the increase resulting from a major accident or moderate natural disaster, according to some studies.

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Topics: Dangerous Condition, Dangerous Premises, Slip and Fall, hazardous road conditions

Caution: Icy conditions cause falls, sprains, broken ankles

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 16, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

For many people, the new year is a busy time, whether that means embarking on new projects or finishing up things that were put aside for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the bustle of new year productivity is all too readily derailed by a slip and fall injury. Freezing temperatures quickly turn any precipitation into a slipping hazard, creating prime conditions for ankle sprains and fractures.

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Topics: Slip and Fall, hazardous road conditions

Severe Burn, Inhalation and Explosion Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jan 11, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

Fires and explosions are among the most profoundly terrifying kinds of accidents, both because of how suddenly a situation turns from normalcy to chaos, and due to the devastating injuries they can cause. Burn and inhalation injuries often involve lengthy hospitalization, extensive medical treatment, and permanent scarring. In light of these facts, it’s chilling to think how easily a bit of preventable negligence can result in such an accident.

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Topics: severe burn, inhalation injuries, explosion injuries

Injuries Caused by Negligent and Inadequate Security

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Dec 31, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When most people hear the phrase, “premises liability suit,” they tend to think of slippery floors and cracked sidewalks resulting in patrons falling and being injured. The deliberate criminal actions of another private individual seldom conjure the notion of liability on the part of the property owner in an observer’s mind. However, every property owner has a duty of care toward visitors and patrons to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition to minimize the risk of foreseeable harm, and that includes providing adequate security measures in locations where patrons and visitors might be vulnerable to crime.

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Topics: Dangerous Premises, premises liability, negligent security

Traffic Laws Help Determine Fault when Pedestrians are Struck by Motor Vehicles

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Dec 12, 2018


By Francis M. Smith

In the majority of cases when an motor vehicle collision takes place, the cause can usually be traced to an error or lapse in attention on the part of either someone involved in the crash, or someone who contributed more indirectly to the situation (through faulty vehicle repair, poor road maintenance, and so on). More often than not, however, one or more of the parties involved in the accident will ultimately prove culpable. Everyone who uses the roads has a duty of care toward all other road users to conduct themselves in a reasonably safe and predictable manner in accordance with traffic laws. This includes both motorists and pedestrians, though of course the laws that apply to pedestrians differ from those governing automobiles and trucks. When an auto or truck accident involving a pedestrian occurs, both sets of legal responsibilities are examined to determine where the fault for the accident lies.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

Settlement Process and Timeline for NJ Car Accidents Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Dec 05, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After a serious car accident, it can often feel as though your normal life has come to a screeching halt: you may spend time in the hospital having your injuries diagnosed and treated, and you may not be able to return to work right away even after you are discharged. Even worse, the pain of your injuries can make every moment stretch into weeks of agony, immobility or discomfort. However, there are several ways in which time continues to tick by persistently – bills don’t stop piling up while you’re unable to work, and the administrative deadlines for your injury claim draw closer. Having a clear understanding of the claim resolution process can help you avoid the feeling that the opportunity to be fairly compensated for your injuries is slipping through your fingers.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, settlement compensation, statute of limitations

Train Accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Dec 03, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Whether they serve as part of our daily commute or offer an affordable alternative for longer-distance travel, trains form an important part of the lives of many New Jersey residents. For some, the choice to rely on public transportation including trains is informed by the disturbing upward trend in automotive accidents, with many perceiving trains to be a safer alternative to highways packed with smartphone-wielding drivers. However, no mode of transportation is perfectly safe, and trains are no exception. Negligence or overwork can result in operator error, and inadequate maintenance and mechanical wear may lead to equipment failure, either of which has the potential to cause an accident. Due to the high speeds and massive size of trains, a derailment or collision of any kind has the potential to inflict catastrophic injuries on passengers and others nearby (such as travelers waiting on the train platform). Those who suffer such injuries may require extensive treatment and long periods of healing to recover, and even then may be left with lasting injuries. This makes it all the more important that anyone injured in a train accident be able to obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, injury compensation, train accidents

Dog Bites Leave Permanent Physical and Emotional Scars

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Nov 30, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

For many of us, dogs and other pets are an indispensable part of our lives and our families. But as loving and playful as dogs often are, they are still animals driven by instinct, which can cause them to respond to frightening or unfamiliar situations with aggression – which can have horrifying consequences for anyone who finds him or herself on the wrong side of an agitated dog’s teeth. The physical injuries that a domestic dog is capable of inflicting may be severe and lasting, and the emotional trauma resulting from a dog attack can create enduring problems in the attack victim’s life long after the physical injuries have healed.

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Topics: Dog Bites

Early Snow Wreaks Havoc for NJ Drivers

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Nov 28, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

With more than a month remaining until the official start of winter, the snowstorm earlier this month caught forecasters, municipalities, and commuters equally off-guard. With some areas of the state receiving as much as 8 inches of snow, a far cry from the 2 inches widely predicted in the days prior, commuters across the state found themselves losing several hours to impassible roads and traffic jams caused by hundreds of collisions.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Dangerous Condition, hazardous road conditions

Reporting Deadlines for Car Accident Injury Cases in NJ

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Nov 16, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After a serious car accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the unexpected new demands on your attention – you may have medical appointments and physical therapy to get to, you might have to take time away from work or find someone to take care of your kids, not to mention the hassles of getting your vehicle repaired. With all these demands on your time and concentration, it’s easy to forget about the reporting deadlines for your accident. However, missing these deadlines can cause tremendous problems for your injury case, and may prevent you from getting the care you need or the compensation you deserve.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, New Jersey motor vehicle accident attorney

What are NJ's Laws Regarding Car Baby Seats?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Nov 14, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Today’s automobiles are designed with a truly impressive array of features meant to protect passengers in the event of a collision, sudden stop, or other dangerous event. However, these safety features are overwhelmingly designed with adults in mind. This is understandable, since not all cars will carry child passengers, and a child’s safety restraint needs change as they grow. But just as adults are legally required to wear a seat belt, New Jersey law requires that children be secured in appropriate safety restraints when riding in a car. In 2015 the New Jersey legislature passed an updated standard for required child safety car seats, to ensure that child passengers remain as safe as possible. As these requirements are rather detailed, I wanted to break them down here to help parents trying to make sure that their vehicles are equipped to keep their children safe.

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Topics: NJ Car Seat Law

Road Dangers for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Whenever cyclists and pedestrians share space with motorists, there exists the danger of a collision. The person walking or biking will almost inevitably come off worse in any such accident, because they lack the protection of a motor vehicle and its myriad design features intended to protect its passengers from harm. Most cyclists have no more protective gear than a bicycle helmet standing between them and serious injury, and pedestrians generally have only the clothes on their backs, which offer negligible protection. It’s no surprise, then, that pedestrians and cyclists who are struck by motor vehicles often sustain severe injuries, including bone fractures, abrasions and lacerations (with ensuing risk of infection and scarring), head trauma (including traumatic brain injury), and back or spinal injuries. In the worst cases, the collision may result in death.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Bicycle Safety

Car Racing Belongs on the Race Tracks - Not on Streets

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Nov 09, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Our nation’s roads, from lazy suburban streets to bustling interstate highways, exist for the benefit of everyone – and as such, all road users have a responsibility to obey traffic laws and otherwise conduct themselves in a way that does not create unnecessary danger for others who share the road with them. For most of us, this is an intuitive and obvious fact: don’t drive recklessly because you might hurt someone. Unfortunately, some drivers choose to ignore this fundamental societal agreement, using public roadways as an arena for illegal street racing.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Speeding, car racing

Insurance Tactics to Reduce Claims for Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 15, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Insurance companies employ highly trained professionals known as claims adjusters to handle personal injury cases caused by the negligence of their policy holders. When a pedestrian or cyclist like you is struck by a vehicle, a claims adjuster for the driver’s insurance company springs into action as soon as the accident is reported. Regardless of what the claims adjuster may say to you, he has one goal in mind, the purpose for which the insurance company hired him: to ensure that his employer has to pay you as little money as he can manage, or none at all. To that end, insurance adjusters have a large playbook of tactics at their disposal, but a few tricks are particularly common – simply because they overwhelmingly tend to work against injured claimants who lack experience in dealing with insurance companies and injury lawsuits. By learning how to recognize these deceptive tactics and knowing how to respond, you can protect yourself from being unfairly denied the opportunity to receive the fair compensation you deserve.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, injury compensation, insurance company, insurance adjuster

Boating and Jet Ski Accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 12, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

For New Jersey residents, taking to the water is a popular way to beat the late-summer heat, either at the beach or at one of the state’s numerous bodies of fresh water. The warm weather is an excellent opportunity to enjoy boating or the use of personal watercraft, but the popularity of boating brings its own dangers along. Car accidents remain the largest source of transportation-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S., but recreational boating accidents easily take up second place, with more than 4,158 accidents that caused 2,613 injuries and 626 deaths, as reported by the U.S. Coast Guard for 2015, an increase in fatalities over the year prior.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, injury compensation, boating accidents, jet ski accidents

How is medical care for bicycle accidents’ and pedestrian accidents’ injuries covered?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Sep 21, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

In the aftermath of any accident, your first priority should be to seek medical care for yourself and anyone else who suffered injuries. However, that critical step brings up its own series of concerns, starting with the question of how the medical treatment you receive will be paid for. If you were injured in an auto accident while driving or riding in a car, the answer is fairly simple, due to New Jersey’s no-fault insurance laws. But what happens when you’re struck by a car while walking or riding a bicycle? This is a much less familiar situation, and many injury victims who find themselves in an emergency room being asked for their insurance information don’t know the answer to it.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

How does the Claims Process Work in Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Sep 19, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When an injured client comes to me after a pedestrian or bicycle accident, their first question is often, “Do I have a case worth pursuing?” Once we discuss their accident and determine that they have a strong enough case, the next question tends to be, “How does all this work, and how long will it take?” This is a question that can be both easy and difficult to answer: easy, in that the basic structure and sequence of events remains much the same for most injury cases – difficult, in that the details of every case are unique and may cause different steps to take more or less time than average.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, settlement compensation

Common School Injuries to Avoid and Mitigate

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Sep 17, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

A new school year has begun, filled with new opportunities for your child: making new friends, developing new interests, and having new experiences. Unfortunately, the start of the school year also marks the start of the potential for school-related injuries. Parents should be aware of the most common ways that children can be injured at or around school, in order to best protect their children without unnecessarily restricting their ability to explore and grow. In the event that a child is injured at school, it’s crucial for parents to know how to get their child the care that they need to recover fully and get back on track, both physically and academically.

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Topics: Sports Injuries, concussion, traumatic brain injury, school bus accident

When a Child is Injured in a School Bus Accident in NJ

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Sep 14, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

It’s a nightmare scenario for parents of school-age children: your child is riding a school bus when the bus gets into an auto accident. Families all across New Jersey rely on school buses to transport their children to and from school, and even children who don’t regularly ride the bus will most likely climb on board a few times a year for class field trips. One such accident took place in May of this year, when a bus taking fifth-graders on a field trip collided with a dump truck. The resulting crash claimed the lives of one student and a teacher, and injured 43 others.

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Topics: injury compensation, federal tort claims act, tort law, school bus accident

Is Marijuana Safer than Opioids for Pain Management?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 01, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

The aftermath of a serious accident often leaves the victim with severe pain that might last for weeks or months while their injuries heal, and in some cases the injured person is left with chronic pain that never fully goes away, especially if the injuries they suffered affected their back, neck, or joints. Other times, the scars left by an accident are psychological, and the victim struggles with PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health conditions brought on by their accident. To make matters worse, chronic pain and physical disability have been known to contribute to depression and related forms of mental health challenges.

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Topics: pain and suffering, pain management, medical marijuana

Rising Pedestrians and Bicyclists Hit-and-run Crash Deaths Alarm Communities

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 30, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

The number of people choosing to walk or bicycle instead of drive, either as part of their daily commute or for other excursions, has increased – in part due to the health benefits of being active. Unfortunately, sharing the road with other vehicles without the protection of a car has its dangers as well as its salubrious effects. There is a rising trend of fatal hit and run accidents involving a pedestrian or cyclist being struck by a car, giving pause to even the most health-conscious jogger or cyclist.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Bicycle Safety

What Do You Need to Report in the Emergency Room following a bicycle or pedestrian accident?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 23, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

There exists a wealth of advice on the internet describing what a person should do if they’ve been hit by a car – but the immediate aftermath of an accident, when you’re on your way to the emergency room after being struck by a vehicle while walking or cycling, is not the time for extensive checklists. When you are struggling with the stress, pain, trauma, and disorientation of a serious accident, the way forward needs to be simple and clear. So here it is. The first time you see a doctor for your injuries, whether it’s in the emergency room, at an urgent-care center, or with your family physician, there are really only two things you need to remember to communicate in order to protect your rights in any eventual injury claim:

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

Bicycle Safety

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jul 20, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Summer has arrived, bringing with it warm weather, long sunny days, and the end of the school year. All of these make the summer months an ideal time for occasional cyclists to drag their bikes out of the garage, and dedicated riders to increase their routes. Summer is also an excellent time to take a moment to review bicycle safety practices, in order to stay safer while sharing the road with cars and trucks.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Bicycle Safety

Communication between Attorney and Client – the Bedrock of a Strong Case

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 16, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Few people seeking an attorney’s help for the first time know what to expect. They might have some vague ideas based on friends’ experiences or media depictions, but when you’re recovering from a serious accident and need help to secure the compensation you deserve, you don’t want to stress over wondering about what to expect from your relationship with your attorney. That’s why I make it clear on my website exactly the kind of personal attention and communication you can expect if you choose to work with me.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney

Do Insurance Companies Require Medical Exams by Their Selected Doctors for Bicycle or Pedestrian Accidents?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jul 11, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When seeking treatment for a serious injury resulting from an accident, it’s reasonable to expect that the doctors and other medical providers you interact with will be primarily concerned with your well-being and recovery – and of course, that’s generally true. However, there is one medical professional often involved in personal injury claims whose main interests lie elsewhere, and of whom you should be wary: the doctor performing what the insurance company may call an “independent” medical examination (IME). (The word “independent” is in quotes here because in reality, this examination is anything but independent; the insurance company pays a doctor they know to perform these exams, and he knows that their continued patronage relies on his reports containing what they want to hear.)

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Independent Medical Exam, Pedestrian Accidents

Overcoming fears and apprehension when filing insurance claims for bicycle and pedestrian accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 09, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

The purpose of a personal injury suit is to help a person who has been harmed through the negligence of another – to return a person as closely to their pre-accident state as possible, and to compensate for pain, inconvenience, and other losses. Why, then, are so many people hesitant to file an injury suit after they’ve been hurt in an accident? While the reasons for this apprehension are as varied and numerous as the injured cyclists and pedestrians who are hurt in automotive accidents, there are a few common threads in their reasoning.

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, insurance company, settlement compensation

Young Drivers at Risk During 100 Deadliest Days

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jun 15, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

The highest cause of death for teens and young adults between 15 and 24 years of age are accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 49% of all deaths that occur in those 10 years of age are caused by accidents – more than any other cause of death.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving

Do You Need to File an Accident Report when Injured in a Bicycle or Pedestrian Accident?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jun 08, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Finding advice about what to do when you’ve been involved in an automotive accident with another driver isn’t difficult; the internet is full of helpful information, and I’ve written extensively on the topic on this blog. But accident victims who have been hit by a car while walking or riding a bicycle are often confused about how much of that advice applies to their situation. For instance, do you need to file an accident report with the police if you’ve been hit by a car as a pedestrian or cyclist?

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Topics: Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

How Do You Pay A Lawyer To Take Your Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 09, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When you initiate the process of pursuing a truck injury claim, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will almost certainly try to convince you not to hire a lawyer. One of the most common arguments insurance adjusters present to injured claimants against seeking legal representation is that “hiring a lawyer is expensive.” The reality is that it’s expensive for the insurance company when a claimant hires an attorney, because injured plaintiffs with a lawyer on their side tend recover substantially more money in compensation for their injuries on average than accident victims who go it alone (even after deducting attorney's fees and expenses). But this does raise a very important concern in the minds of individuals just beginning their injury compensation process: how will they pay for the legal representation they need when going up against an insurance company?

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Topics: New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney, contingent fee, settlement compensation

Do You Really Need to Tell Your Lawyer Everything About Your Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 27, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After an accident, the process of initiating your personal injury case can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’ve never needed to hire a lawyer before. You may find yourself concerned about what to say, how much to share, especially if there’s anything about your case or circumstances or past that you feel may be embarrassing or damaging. If you feel tempted to hold back certain details from your attorney because you don’t want them being brought up in your case, it’s vital for you to fight that urge. Your lawyer isn’t there to judge you, but rather to help you. He can only do that effectively if he knows the whole story, and can prepare for any snags that may result from the reveal of uncomfortable or damaging facts.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney, injury compensation

Driving Myths - Distracted Driving Risks Injuries and Lives

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 23, 2018

Just Drive.

No phoning, texting, interacting with dashboard infotainment. No eating, grooming, daydreaming. Anyone who does risks serious injuries to themselves and to you. It only takes a second of distraction to cause a serious accident with pedestrian, bicycle, or motorcycle, another car or truck.

When behind the wheel, Just Drive.

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Topics: Distracted Driving

When Injured in a Truck Accident, Do You Need a Lawyer?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Apr 18, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When you first begin the process of seeking compensation for your injuries after a truck accident, the insurance adjuster representing the trucking company will most likely try to convince you that hiring a lawyer is unnecessary and expensive, or that your claim will be resolved more quickly and efficiently if you don’t “go to the trouble” of getting a lawyer. In reality, however, injured plaintiffs who work with an attorney receive more money on average in compensation for their injuries than accident victims who pursue their claims unrepresented, even after legal fees and costs are factored in. The insurance adjuster would much rather you go into the injury claim process unrepresented in the hope that your inexperience with the legal process and the stress of your injuries will render you overwhelmed and easier to take advantage of.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, settlement compensation

What You Need to Know About Insurance Companies When Injured in a Truck Accident

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 13, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After you’ve been injured in a truck accident, a representative from the insurance provider representing the trucking company is almost certain to contact you very promptly. The insurance adjuster or investigator who speaks to you will most likely be very friendly and assure you that he wants to help get your claim resolved quickly and easily, and all he needs to make that happen is for you to answer a few questions and sign some release forms. He will probably assure you that you don’t need a lawyer, and that the process will be easier and you will save money without an attorney. However, none of this is true. An insurance adjuster’s job is to protect his employer’s financial resources from “unnecessary losses” like paying out injury claims. No matter how friendly and helpful the insurance adjuster tries to appear, he is not on your side and is not concerned with your best interests. Instead, he hopes to take advantage of the average injured claimant’s lack of experience with the injury claim process to trick accident victims into making mistakes that will hurt their cases and reduce the amount of compensation they can recover.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, insurance adjuster

Hit By A Truck: What Are The Damages In Your Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 09, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When you pursue a truck accident case after a serious crash, you should be seeking more than simply the costs of your medical bills and the repairs to your car. The purpose of a personal injury suit is to restore you fully to your pre-accident state of being, as far as it is possible to do so. This means that any sort of harm you have suffered as a result of your accident should be compensated in some manner, even if it’s difficult to assign a dollar value to some of the ways your life has been impacted by your injuries.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, injury compensation

How are Truck Accident Injuries’ Medical Bills Paid?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 30, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

While the intent of pursuing an injury claim against the parties responsible for your commercial truck accident is, in part, to be compensated for the costs of the medical treatment you received for your accident injuries, rarely does the insurance company representing the other driver actually pay your medical bills directly. In fact, if the insurance adjuster offers to do so, it’s likely that he is simply trying to appease you in order to resolve your claim quickly – and for much less money than you actually deserve for your injuries. In most cases, your medical costs will need to be paid by another means initially, which will then be reimbursed out of your eventual settlement or court-ordered damages.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, injury compensation

Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian: How Safe Are They?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 26, 2018

For years, numerous automotive and technology companies have been working to revolutionize the way people get around by trying to perfect autonomous vehicle technology – in short, cars that drive themselves without the help of a human operator. Given the high safety stakes for all users of our nation’s roads, different states have taken varied approaches to requests by the developers of self-driving car technology to allow vehicle testing within their borders. California requires autonomous vehicles to adhere to a battery of safety regulations in order to be allowed on the road, while other states, like Arizona, court technology manufacturers by offering their roads with fewer restrictions. After a fatal incident earlier this month, it remains to be seen whether Arizona’s policies on autonomous vehicle testing will be reevaluated.

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Topics: self-driving cars

Safe Drivers at Mercy of Unsafe Drivers

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 19, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Careful and responsible drivers take numerous precautions to keep themselves and their families safe on the road, from the scrupulous use of their turn signals to coming to a full stop when required by a stop sign to regular maintenance of their vehicles. Unfortunately, no matter how cautious and well-prepared a motorist tries to be, there is one variable he cannot control: the behavior of others. The safety of everyone on the road depends on the agreement of everyone who gets behind the wheel to abide by the same set of basic rules- we sometimes call them "the rules of the road". All it takes is one person deciding he is in too much of a hurry to follow those rules, to put a dangerous snarl in that carefully constructed system. In moments, the poor choices of an unsafe driver can result in a serious collision affecting not just himself, but anyone unlucky enough to be sharing the road with him.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving

Medical Treatment after a Truck Accident

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 16, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After any serious automotive accident – but especially if you’ve been hurt in a crash involving a commercial truck – the very first thing you should do is seek appropriate medical treatment for your injuries. Prompt treatment will help increase your chance of a full recovery, and obtaining medical care right away provides a clear record of your injuries, which can prove essential later on if you need to pursue a personal injury claim against the trucking company responsible for your accident.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

What legalization of marijuana in NJ might do to car accident rates

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 14, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

With a new year and a new governor, New Jersey residents can expect some significant legislative changes on the horizon. In particular, Governor Phil Murphy is expected to move forward on campaign promises regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the coming months. Understandably, this predicted move has provoked questions from New Jersey drivers about the possible effects that a newly-legalized intoxicant might have on road safety and accident rates. However, accurate answers to these questions are not easy to come by.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents

Using Uber or Lyft? Do you know who pays for the riders’ injuries in car accidents?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 02, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Ride-sharing services occupy a strange sort of middle ground with respect to liability. It’s very clear who pays for your injuries if you’re hurt in an accident while riding in a taxi owned by a cab company and driven by one of its employees. It’s also clear who pays for your injuries if you’re in an accident while your friend is giving you a ride as a favor, even if you chip in for gas. But ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have traditionally been viewed as neither fish nor fowl under the law, leaving customers uncertain where to turn in the event of an accident. Lyft and Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees of the companies that provide the ride-sharing apps. However, these drivers’ insurance companies have balked at the prospect of paying commercial taxi-like claims in exchange for personal-vehicle premiums. Thanks to a law passed in late 2016, New Jersey residents now have a bit more clarity on the subject.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, injury compensation, insurance company, liability insurance

What Causes Semi Truck Accidents?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 26, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After any serious automotive accident, one of the first questions on the minds of those affected by the crash is, “What caused this to happen?” This is even more the case in the aftermath of commercial semi truck accidents, given the severity of the injuries and the size of the lawsuits that often result from such crashes. The reasons for wanting an answer may vary; the injured accident victim and his or her attorney may need to know whose negligence was responsible for the crash, while the trucking company and regulatory agencies are motivated to determine how they can reduce the likelihood of similar accidents happening in the future. Regardless of the motivation, the search for answers often begins with the vehicle’s driver, then moves on to the vehicle itself, and then to the circumstances surrounding the accident. Any or all of these sources may hold a partial explanation of what caused the crash, and by thoroughly exploring all the factors at work in the accident, you and your attorney can assemble a complete picture of what happened.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

Understanding Federal Trucking Safety Regulations

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 21, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Large commercial trucks serve a pivotal role in the American economy, transporting the materials and products that are so enmeshed in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, these semi trucks also have the potential to be extremely dangerous. Any truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more is classed as a large truck – the vehicles we think of as semis, tractor trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers fall under this classification. Many of these vehicles are much larger than the threshold of 10,000 pounds; the maximum legal weight before the truck is considered overloaded is 80,000 pounds, nearly half of which is made up of the combined weight of the empty truck and trailer. Studies addressing large truck accidents have demonstrated that the vast majority of these crashes involve trucks weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds. Coupled with the fact that the weight and momentum of these large vehicles make their crashes particularly devastating for any passenger cars involved in the accident, these facts make semi truck safety all the more worthy of regulatory attention.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

When Injured in a Semi Truck Accident in NJ, Who is at Fault?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 19, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When pursuing an injury claim following any kind of automotive accident, the question of fault is one of the most important matters to address. Your attorney must be able to prove that some other party was negligent in some way that resulted in your injuries. The issue of fault and liability becomes significantly more complex when the vehicle that caused your accident was a commercial semi truck. Several different individuals and companies are involved in the operation, loading, maintenance, and oversight of these large trucks, and the more parties who influence or affect a vehicle, the more different ways there are for something to go wrong. Figuring out exactly which of these potential problems played a role in causing your accident, and therefore who should be included as a defendant in your lawsuit, is one of the tasks facing your attorney in the early stages of the handling of your case.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, injury compensation

How to Handle Accident Follow-up Calls from Other Driver’s Insurance Company

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 14, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

After a car accident caused by another driver, you can expect that driver’s insurance company to try to make contact with you in short order. The insurance adjuster who reaches out to you will probably seem very friendly and accommodating, and talk about how he wants to get your claim straightened out for you as quickly as possible. So what should you say to the representative of the other driver’s insurance company?

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, insurance company, insurance adjuster

Tips on Calling Your Insurer after an Accident with a Truck

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 12, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Following any serious car accident, it can be difficult to know how to proceed or who you can turn to. Your vehicle has probably suffered major damage and might be totaled, and you or your passengers may be injured. You’ve heard how dangerous it can be to interact with the other driver’s insurance company, how their insurance adjuster will try to twist the things you say to paint the accident as your fault rather than his client’s (especially when the other vehicle was a large commercial truck, because of the high stakes usually associated with semi truck accidents) – but what does that mean for dealing with your own insurance company?

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, injury compensation, insurance company

How Insurance Companies Value Truck Accident Claims

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 09, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

The personal injury damages an accident victim receives as a result of an automotive accident are intended to help the injured person to be “made whole” to the greatest extent possible – that is, to be restored to their pre-accident state, or as close to it as financial compensation and medical technology permits. Though the dollar values of some accident damage awards and settlements can sound impressively high to a third-party observer, they are an imperfect form of recompense at best; given the choice, practically every injured plaintiff would rather the accident had never happened in the first place than to receive a settlement or injury damages. Ironically this is especially true in the case of semi truck accidents, despite the often impressive sums involved in resolving these claims. Because of the huge difference in size and weight between a passenger vehicle and an 18-wheeler, the injuries that result from crashes between the two are generally devastating, if not fatal.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents, insurance company, settlement compensation

5 Most Common Misconceptions About Motorcycle Insurance

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 07, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Insurance companies spend a great deal of money and effort to cultivate the impression in the minds of their customers that they are trustworthy and have the customer's best interests at heart. One of the worst times to discover how unwarranted that reputation may be is in the aftermath of a serious motorcycle accident. You rely on your insurance to protect you when disaster strikes, but how justified is your trust in your motorcycle insurance? Too many riders discover too late that they believed one or more of these dangerous myths about their insurance coverage.

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Topics: Personal Injury Protection, Automobile Insurance, insurance company, motorcycle insurance

What is Umbrella (or "Excess" ) Insurance? Is Umbrella Insurance Right for Me?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 05, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Many kinds of insurance policies have two distinct functions: they provide a way to pay for the help we need when we are harmed, and they protect the assets we have worked to earn in the event that a mistake we make harms someone else. The latter type of protection is liability coverage. If you become a defendant in a lawsuit, the relevant type of liability coverage you carry may be used to compensate the plaintiff for their damages without involving your personal funds, property, or future earnings. Having sufficient liability coverage protects your assets and your family's financial stability.

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Topics: Automobile Insurance, homeowners insurance, liability insurance, umbrella insurance

How does a personal injury attorney prepare to win a semi truck accident suit?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 31, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

When you begin working with an attorney on your truck accident injury case, your attorney will need to take action almost immediately. One of the first stages in dealing with any injury claim involves investigating the circumstances of the accident and collecting evidence to support your account of the events that resulted in your injury. Some of the evidence that your attorney will gather must be preserved quickly, or else it may be lost. Photographs should be taken of the accident scene as quickly as possible, ideally before the crash is cleared away, and while any signs of the accident are still present. Eyewitnesses should be interviewed while the events of the incident remain fresh in the minds of those involved. However, when your accident involves a commercial semi truck, there are many more items of time-sensitive evidence that your lawyer must take steps to secure. The more evidence supporting your case that your attorney has at his disposal, the more likely you will achieve a fair and successful outcome to your injury lawsuit.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

Alarming Semi Truck Accident Statistics

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jan 29, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Large commercial trucks play an integral role in our consumer-driven economy, transporting materials and goods across the country. These trucks are an ever-present feature on our highways, so commonplace that it’s easy to forget the very real danger they pose to other drivers and road users in the event that something goes wrong. Semi trucks are huge vehicles, topping out at a legal maximum of 80,000 pounds fully loaded, and all that weight means they impart massive force on impact during a collision. The huge mass of a tractor trailer also means that it takes longer to stop than a smaller vehicle, and this problem is compounded by adverse conditions such as poor brakes or slippery roads. Because semi trucks have a much higher ground clearance than passenger automobiles, a collision between the two may result in the passenger car being crushed underneath the larger truck.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

What Kind of Evidence Needs to be Preserved in Truck Accidents?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jan 26, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Accidents involving commercial semi trucks differ from collisions between passenger vehicles in a few key ways. Most obviously, the massive size and weight of an 18-wheeler means that it has a great deal more destructive potential than any sedan or SUV, resulting in much greater property damage and more severe injuries, on average. As a direct consequence of this, and due to the size and wealth of the trucking companies that own these vehicles, injury lawsuits involving semi trucks generally involve much higher financial stakes than the average automotive injury claim. Because of the large sums of money at risk, trucking companies and their insurance providers are quick to get on top of any accident involving one of their vehicles, often sending an insurance adjuster out to the accident site within hours of the crash. Their investigators act swiftly to gain control of the situation and turn matters to their favor in any way they can – making it all the more important for your attorney to begin his own investigation as quickly as possible.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

How Are Semi Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jan 22, 2018

By Francis M. Smith

Car accidents are not uncommon, and in the aftermath of a serious crash, it's natural to reach out to friends and family with similar experiences for guidance on how to proceed. However, some kinds of automotive accidents are very different than others, and the experience of friends who have dealt with an accident involving another passenger car may not be very useful if you find yourself injured after a crash with a commercial truck, be it a box truck or a semi truck. These collisions are unlike average car accidents in several respects, and require the help of an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.

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Topics: Car Accidents, Truck Accidents

Winter Woes…Parking Lot Slip and Fall: Victim Gets $290,000 Settlement

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jan 12, 2018

In a New Jersey winter, one day we live in Arctic cold and the next it’s in the high 30s. Everything melts only to re-freeze when the temperatures plummet again at night. Add to that a leaky gutter and you have all the elements for a slip and fall accident.

Such was the case for one client who fell at the condominium complex where she was renting an apartment.

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Topics: Spine Injuries, Success Stories, Slip and Fall

Carfax Reports on Auto Accident Car Repairs: Loss of Car Value

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Nov 15, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

After a car accident, the goal of a lawsuit or insurance claim made by the victim of the accident is to make them "whole" -- in other words, to restore them to the condition they enjoyed before the accident, to whatever extent is possible. In terms of bodily injury, this frequently means that the negligent party must pay for any medical treatment required to aid the injured person in healing to their pre-injury state. If the victim's injuries have resulted in permanent disability or impairment, additional compensation is required to make up for the damage caused to the injured person's earning ability and general quality of life. A similar principle applies to compensation for damage to the victim's vehicle; they are entitled to seek compensation sufficient to restore them to their pre-accident state, practically and financially.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Automobile Insurance, carfax reports, loss of car value

Motorcycle Insurance FAQs

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Nov 13, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Motorcycle Insurance

 

Q: Do I need to buy a separate insurance policy for my motorcycle?

A: Yes. Car insurance does not extend to cover motorcycles, due to the significant differences in risk between the two kinds of vehicle, so you will need to purchase a separate motorcycle insurance policy, regardless of whether you already have auto insurance. New Jersey law requires riders to carry a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident of liability coverage. However, this legal minimum is almost certainly insufficient coverage for any serious accident. If a passenger riding with you is hurt, their injuries could be very severe and require extensive medical treatment. Liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident is recommended, along with an equal amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, motorcycle laws, motorcycle injuries, motorcycle accident lawyer, motorcycle insurance

Motorcycle Accidents Most Common Causes

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Nov 08, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Motorcycle accidents are among the most devastating vehicular crashes that happen on our nation's roads. Motorcycles are not only much smaller than passenger cars, but they lack the protective passenger cabin that sedans have; with no sturdy shell between a rider's body and the road (or another vehicle), the only buffer from injury a rider has is the helmet and gear he or she wears. While helmets definitely save lives, it's no surprise that motorcyclists are dramatically more likely to die or be severely injured in a crash than occupants of a passenger vehicle. Because of this, every rider should be aware of the primary causes of motorcycle accidents, how those dangers can be avoided or mitigated, and what options they have in the event of a crash.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, injury compensation, motorcycle injuries

Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Motorcyclists

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Nov 03, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Every vehicle operated on a public road and registered in New Jersey is legally required to carry insurance, to protect both the vehicle's driver and others involved in the event of an accident. However, sometimes the protection provided by a standard insurance policy isn't enough; this is doubly true for motorcyclists, as motorcycle insurance generally doesn't include personal injury protection (PIP), which is a car accident victim's first recourse for medical coverage in no-fault states like New Jersey, in which each driver's own insurance pays their medical expenses. Lacking this option, a rider's best option for injury compensation is medical insurance first, then the other driver's car insurance, given that in the majority of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the rider is not the party at fault. (And if relying on the other vehicle's liability insurance, only at the conclusion of the claim will unpaid medical bills be paid out of settlement proceeds.)

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Topics: Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Motorcycle Accident, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, motorcycle injuries

Motorcyclists' Special Insurance Needs: Read This Before Riding

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Nov 01, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

For all of the mechanical and logistical differences between motorcycles and passenger cars, the regulations governing the two types of vehicles bear plenty of similarities. It's understandable that many riders, especially those who also own a car, assume that their motorcycle insurance and their car insurance work in basically the same way. In some respects that assumption holds true, but if you're involved in a serious motorcycle accident, expecting your medical needs to be covered as they would be if you'd been driving a car could result in a very expensive disappointment.

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Topics: Personal Injury Protection, Automobile Insurance, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Motorcycle Accident, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, insurance company

Can a Smartphone, Sports Band, or Smart Watch Impact Your Personal Injury Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 25, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

As mobile technology continues to make great strides forward with every passing year, we've become more and more accustomed to having ready access to an enormous wealth of information about the world in general and matters relevant to our everyday lives. But at the same time, our technology has become an equally copious repository of information about us. The reason you can so easily pull up a listing of the best pizza places in your neighborhood is because your smartphone has a GPS tracker that monitors your location moment by moment. Ready access to social media and instant messaging while on the go is likewise a double-edged sword, because your device keeps records of the conversations you participate in and the photos or statuses you post. When you and your attorney are working to assemble your personal injury case after an accident, it's easy to forget the trail of virtual "breadcrumbs" your wearables and mobile devices may leave behind -- but the legal teams working for the insurance company will be quick to sniff out any trace of information that could be damaging to your claim.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, NJ Personal Injury Case, social media

How Will Self-Driving Cars Be Regulated

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 23, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

For many years, the cutting edge of automotive safety technology has focused on reducing the possibility for human error to cause accidents, resulting in the development of numerous driver assistance features. According to many automotive technology companies, the logical end goal of these developments is a vehicle that can operate without the input of a human driver: a true self-driving car. Companies from various sectors, including tech companies like Google, auto manufacturers like Tesla, and even the ride-sharing company Uber, have been working on the development of autonomous vehicle technology. Of course, part of the development process requires testing in real-world conditions, which means putting these experimental "robot cars" on the road alongside normal traffic. This, in turn, demands that the vehicles adhere to safety regulations -- which is where things get tricky.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, driverless cars, self drive act, self-driving cars

Motorcycle Accidents: Let Your Lawyer Be Your Guide

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 18, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

In general, the higher the stakes in a motorcycle injury claim, the more complicated the case becomes, in large part due to the fact that the insurance company involved in the case will look for any justification it can find to reduce a large compensation figure. The injury claim resulting from a serious motorcycle accident can quickly become confusing even for experienced injury lawyers, which is why it's so vital to find an attorney with an extensive background in motorcycle accident cases to help you pursue your claim.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, injury compensation, motorcycle injuries, motorcycle accident lawyer

NJ Motorcycle Laws

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 13, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Motorcycles have several advantages over passenger cars, including fuel efficiency and sheer enjoyment to ride, but they also require a different skill set to operate safely, and come with a dramatically increased risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash. In response, New Jersey has implemented a few key regulations governing the operation of motorcycles, intended to ensure that anyone who hits the road on the back of a motorcycle is as safe as possible.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, motorcycle laws, motorcycle injuries

SELF DRIVE Act faces Senate Vote to Approve Autonomous Vehicles' Higher Safety Standards

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 11, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

For many years, the technologies being developed to improve automotive safety have tended toward giving more control to the vehicle itself in an effort to reduce accidents caused by human error. Electronic stability control systems, lane departure warnings, and collision avoidance technologies function automatically to avert crashes, but ultimately these driver assistance technologies still leave a human motorist in control of the vehicle. The logical end result of this technology trend, completely autonomous vehicles, have been slow in development, despite the numerous companies working on them. This is partly due to the regulatory limitations that have existed since the idea of self-driving cars became remotely realistic, as lawmakers were understandably cautious about putting the safety of public roads in the hands of a complicated and unproven technology.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, driverless cars, self drive act

Does Your Motorcycle Have Adequate Insurance Coverage?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 09, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

As anyone who rides regularly knows, the freedom and maneuverability granted by a motorcycle comes at the cost of a greater vulnerability to injury in the event of an accident, and it only takes a fraction of a second for a ride to go horribly wrong. Poor road conditions or inattentive motorists can cause serious accidents in a heartbeat. Of course, some would argue that's why we have motorcycle insurance; to guarantee that we have the resources needed to recover in the event of a crash. But many riders don't realize how little protection the insurance policy they've bought actually provides.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, insurance company, motorcycle laws

Does SnapChat Encourage Speeding by enabling Users to “Snap” their speed to friends

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 06, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Distracted driving is a major contributor to serious automotive accidents, playing a role in thousands of fatal crashes nationwide each year. In response, law enforcement, insurance companies, and public safety interest groups have enacted campaigns to raise awareness among motorists of the dangers of driving while distracted by other activities such as eating, grooming, or -- most significantly -- the use of mobile devices. Using a cell phone is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, and with the diverse capabilities of today's smartphones, the potential for distraction goes well beyond talking and texting. This problem is compounded when social media companies add features to their platforms that seem specifically designed for use behind the wheel.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving, Speeding

10 Tips to Maximize Your Recovery from a Motorcycle Accident

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Sep 06, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

After a motorcycle accident, there are a handful of basic steps that most resources will recommend you take in order to protect yourself and any claim for compensation that you might pursue. I've touched on these ideas before, but I think they're worth a more systematic and in-depth look; the actions you take in the days (or even hours) after a motorcycle crash can have a dramatic impact on your claim for compensation.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, injury compensation, motorcycle injuries

Important Motorcycle Safety Tips

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Aug 28, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Many people come to my blog because they've already suffered an accident, and are looking for guidance about what they should do next. But if you've come here because of a general interest in motorcycle safety, or if you're looking forward to getting back on the road after you've recovered from a motorcycle accident, there are a number of safety tips that might make the difference for you the next time you're out riding. Though many motorcycle accidents are caused by car and truck drivers who fail to notice a motorcyclist or don't know how to share the road safely, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of an accident. Since I am not a rider myself, these tips are drawn from the advice offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and if even one serious accident can be prevented by this information, I'm happy to share it.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, motorcycle injuries

Will Roads be Safer with Self-Driving Cars?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 23, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Since the invention of the automobile, the basic notion of motor vehicle transportation has involved a certain degree of danger; vulnerable human beings ride in large, heavy machines that move at high speeds. Over the years, technological innovations have presented us with ways of reducing that danger. Safety devices such as seat belts, air bags, and vehicle crumple zones help protect our bodies, and driver-assistance features like lane departure warnings, blind spot monitors, and front end collision alerts help drivers avoid accidents by monitoring the vehicle's surroundings and warning the driver of hazards. For the past several years, companies such as Tesla and Google have been working to develop vehicle technology that they hope will make roads even safer: self-driving cars.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, driverless cars

Motorcycle Accident Injuries: Do You Have a Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Aug 11, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When you contact an attorney after a motorcycle accident, one of the first things he will help you figure out is whether you have a viable personal injury case. Not all accidents will result in successful injury claims, because the circumstances and details of every accident are different. In order to win a motorcycle injury claim, you and your lawyer must be able to make a convincing case that someone else (usually the other driver involved in your accident, but occasionally some other party whose actions affected the situation in some way) was negligent, and that this act of negligence caused your injuries.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, injury compensation

Truck Accidents- New Technology Offers Hope - Maybe

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 09, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Any motor vehicle accident has the potential to result in devastating injuries or loss of life, but for a number of reasons, crashes involving large commercial trucks are of particular concern for trucking companies and regulatory agencies. Accidents involving these trucks can be particularly deadly, both because of their sheer mass and due to the height difference between a tractor trailer and a consumer sedan. So we can readily understand that technologies that improve the safety of large commercial trucks and help to reduce the risk of accidents are immensely valuable, both for the companies that operate these vehicles and for the motorists who share the road with the trucks.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Truck Accidents

NJ Restricts the Use of Car Interrupt Devices

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Aug 07, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Generally, we expect that new developments in automotive technology will make our cars safer, more environmentally friendly, or more convenient. We do not expect new technologies to allow banks and dealerships to disable our vehicles if we miss a car payment. However, that is exactly the situation created by the euphemistically-termed "payment assurance devices" that many lenders are installing on the vehicles they sell to sub-prime loan customers. People who are trying to rebuild their credit and improve their financial situation -- which may require them to have transportation to get to work -- may find their cars remotely disabled if they run into a bit of financial trouble.

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Topics: Car Interrupt Devices

Negotiations in Personal Injury Cases - What to Expect

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Aug 04, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When you begin the process of seeking compensation for injuries resulting from an accident, one of the first things you're likely to hear is that the majority of personal injury cases are resolved through a settlement rather than a court decision. (Some judges tell me it's as high as 98%.) But while popular media has given most people a general idea of what a court case looks like, personal injury negotiations to reach a settlement often remain a bit of a mystery.

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Topics: Forced Arbitration, Settlement Offer, insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement

Motorcycle Accidents: Consult an Attorney Immediately

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 02, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Motorcycle accidents have the potential to inflict devastating changes on an accident victim's health, finances, and everyday life. Seeking compensation when the negligence of another party causes your injury may help to mitigate some of those effects, but without the aid of an experienced personal injury attorney, simple mistakes and missed opportunities can seriously damage your case and jeopardize your ability to obtain fair compensation for your injuries.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, Settlement Offer, insurance company

Can Pokemon Go be Made Safer for the Road?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 31, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Since its debut a little over a year ago, Pokemon Go has captured the interest of a huge and surprisingly diverse player base. The ability to encounter and capture animated creatures "in the wild" as you walk around your neighborhood appeals to more than just the children that the colorful characters seem designed for. Many adults who have enjoyed the franchise since its beginning 21 years ago have seized on this new iteration of their favorite game series, while newcomers to the Pokemon world have quickly found themselves drawn into the excitement of "catching them all." As a smartphone app, the game is even more easily able to reach a wide range of potential players, since mobile devices are rarely far from the hands of most Americans.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving, Pedestrian Accidents

Warning: Used Tires May Not be Safe

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jul 26, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Automotive repairs can be very expensive, and often the need to make a repair arises unexpectedly when something goes wrong outside of normal vehicle maintenance schedules. In order to save money, some people look for used parts to replace components that need to be replaced. Many auto repair shops will offer to install used parts to reduce the cost of the repairs they make. Naturally, used parts have already experienced some wear, and can be expected not to last as long as new replacements. With your car's tires, the cost of choosing used replacements can be too high -- old tires can result in deadly crashes.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents

Motorcycle Accidents: 10 Tips Every Motorcyclist Should Know

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jul 21, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident is physically and emotionally taxing under any circumstances, but it can become even harder when you need to contend with an insurance company in order to obtain fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of another. Medical appointments, physical therapy, and being unable to work are challenging enough without the added stress of interacting with an insurance adjuster who does not have your best interests in mind. Fortunately, you can make a difficult situation a little easier on yourself by keeping these 10 important tips in mind.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, Settlement Offer, insurance company

Taxis and Ride-Sharing -- Who is Liable for Crashes?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jul 19, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

To most people who are familiar with the transportation phenomenon of ride-sharing, services like Uber and Lyft seem to be very similar to taxi companies, though cheaper and more convenient. This is certainly how the customer experience appears when all goes well, but unfortunately, accidents happen. Car crashes involving an Uber or Lyft driver reveal the substantial differences between these services and traditional cab companies, and any rider should be informed of the risks before deciding how they're going to get home.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, NJ Auto Insurance, Car Accidents, insurance company

How You Can Help Your Lawyer Build Your Case

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jul 14, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When you hire an attorney to help you with your personal injury claim, he will be able to take from you the majority of the burden of dealing with the insurance company and assembling the evidence for your case. However, there are a few important ways that you can help your attorney build your case to be as strong and persuasive as possible. Some of them should be done as soon after your accident as you can manage, but others happen over time as you work with your doctors to recover from your injuries. By taking these few simple steps, you will enable your lawyer to build a powerful case that will help you obtain the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, NJ Personal Injury Case, settlement compensation

How Insurance Companies Fight to Avoid Taking Responsibility for Your Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jul 12, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When faced with a personal injury claim, insurance companies are much less interested in the reality of the situation than they are in protecting their financial bottom line. Insurance providers want to make money by taking in more in insurance premiums than they pay out for claims, so there is a strong incentive to reduce the amount they pay accident victims as much as possible, or avoid paying them entirely. To that end, insurance adjusters will pursue any plausible-sounding argument (and some really implausible ones as well!) that would stand a chance of convincing a jury that you aren’t entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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Topics: injury compensation, comparative negligence, insurance company

The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 10, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Dealing with the injury claim resulting from an accident in which your child was seriously hurt could be one of  the most important legal situations your family has ever faced. Unfortunately, it's also a situation in which the forces opposing your family are powerful, experienced, and highly motivated. The insurance adjuster assigned to your child's case is a legal professional who has likely handled hundreds of cases like yours. He may not be a bad person, but he's paid to save his insurance company money – which means offering your family as little as possible, or nothing at all if he can manage it. Trying to pursue your child's case alone only makes his job easier; most insurance adjusters don't take claimants without legal representation seriously. (One study showed that a represented injury victim will get on average three times what an unrepresented victim receives.) When you're fighting for your child's medical treatment and your family's financial stability, you deserve the advantage of having an experienced professional on your side.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, Injuries to Children, injury compensation, insurance company, contingent fee

Liability Waivers and Gym Memberships

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jul 07, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

For many people, joining a gym, health club, aerobics class, or yoga studio is an accessible and affordable way to help them stay active and healthy. Some people also find that the group atmosphere helps them maintain their motivation and commitment to meet their exercise goals. It's unfortunate that these fitness centers too often pose the risk of serious injury to the very same customers and members who patronize them in an effort to improve their health. Every year, thousands of people suffer injuries in exercise classes and gyms; many of these incidents involve slip and fall accidents or improperly maintained exercise equipment. Hard shower and poolside floors, heavy free-weights, and enormous metal exercise machines with dozens of moving parts offer abundant opportunities for an accident to result in broken bones, back or neck injury, spinal damage, or even traumatic brain injury (TBI).

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Topics: injury compensation, premises liability, waiver of liability

Getting Damages for Lost Income in Your Injury Settlement

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jul 05, 2017

  By Francis M. Smith

When you are pursuing a claim to seek compensation for injuries you suffered in an accident caused by someone else, it's important to make sure that you include in your claim all the economic losses that you suffered due to your injuries. The unpaid medical bills that have piled up from the treatment your injuries received may be extensive, but they still don't show the whole picture of how much your injuries have cost you financially. You have a right to seek compensation not only for the money your injuries forced you to spend, but also the money your injuries prevented you from earning. Lost income represents a category of injury damages that encompasses both earnings missed at your current employment because you were hurt too badly to work or needed to attend medical appointments, and potential earning opportunities that you were unable to pursue due to your injuries.

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Topics: Injuries, injury compensation, settlement compensation, lost income

Valuing the Nature and Extent of Your Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jul 03, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When seeking compensation for accident injuries, the key to ensuring that the settlement you're agreeing to is reasonable is to understand the value of your injuries. On the surface, this seems simple enough – the costs of your medical treatment can be added up easily enough from your doctor bills, and the value of the wages lost as a result of your injuries can be found with some simple bookkeeping. But there's no easy dollar value to assign to pain and trauma. There are formulas that insurance adjusters use to calculate compensation for pain and suffering; at the basic level, these methods involve applying a multiplier to the more tangible medical costs of your injury. In theory, the more painful and lasting the injury, the higher the multiplier. It has always been a very inexact science, if you can call it that, and many insurance companies now don't trust their adjusters enough to settle case, but make them feed information into a computer program that spits out a value range for the case being evaluated.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, injury case, lost income

The Argument for Strict Liability for Driverless Cars

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jun 07, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Computer technology that allows motor vehicles to navigate roads and respond to changes in the environment without the input of a human driver is currently in development by many major companies, and may see widespread use on our nation's roadways within the next few decades. These driverless cars have the potential to significantly alter many aspects of everyday life, from vehicle ownership and insurance to the tort claims that arise from car accidents. There are numerous challenges that the current standards of product liability law would face from driverless cars, but there is a readily available solution. Imposing a standard of strict liability for lawsuits involving injuries caused by driverless cars would be the simplest, fairest, and most effective solution to the challenges presented by the technology.

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Topics: Product Liability Cases, driverless cars, strict liability

Driverless Cars: Who is Responsible when a Driverless Car Crash with Human-Operated Car?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 31, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

As technology companies and auto manufacturers bring us closer every day to a reality in which fleets of cars with self-driving computer systems travel our roads and highways, their work raises questions for society and the law to wrestle. One of the most important questions regarding driverless cars is the matter of liability – in a collision between a self-driving vehicle and a standard human-driven car, who is responsible for the accident?

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Topics: tort law, driverless cars

Can Health Insurance, Medicare or Medicaid Assert a Claim for My Settlement Funds?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, May 26, 2017

When you initiate a personal injury claim, many times the recovery you're seeking is intended, in part, to pay for your medical expenses, which may have to be reimbursed to a company health plan, Medicare or Medicaid. It can take months to resolve your claim with a settlement agreement, or even years if your case goes to court. In the meantime, your health insurance provider generally covers the cost of your medical treatment. (After an auto accident, however, your own auto insurance must pay your medical expenses subject to some limitations.) If you successfully obtain compensation for your injuries from the parties responsible for your accident, your health insurance company may demand to be repaid from your settlement for the cost of your treatment, if that health insurance is actually an ERISA- based self-funded health plan provided by an employer. If your medical benefits are provided through Medicare or Medicaid, reimbursement subject to some reduction is required by law, and this process can become somewhat complicated. Worse, until all claims and liens against your settlement are resolved, you will be unable to recover your entire net settlement. In New Jersey, there is a statute prohibiting straight medical insurance plans form imposing a lien on your personal injury recovery, or asserting reimbursement rights. It is up to your attorney to determine whether a health plan is really entitled to reimbursement. 

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Topics: insurance company, settlement compensation

Depositions in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 24, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

The early stages of any personal injury suit are dedicated to the gathering of information by both sides. Sometimes this involves doing research, collecting documents, and consulting experts, but the primary source of information for the insurance company is going to be you, the injured plaintiff. This is true both because you are the primary eyewitness to your own accident, and because you know best the pain you feel, the losses you have suffered, and the limitations on what you can do as a result of the injury. Initially the defense lawyers will seek information from you in the form of written interrogatories (questions),but you will almost certainly also be called upon to answer questions in person in a series of depositions.

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Topics: answers to interrogatories, insurance company, settlement compensation, depositions

Discovery & Settlement in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 08, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Once you have decided to pursue compensation for injuries you sustained as a result of another party's negligent actions, your attorney will send the insurance provider of the other party a letter containing your demand for damages. This begins your case; should the insurance company choose not to offer you a check for the full amount of your compensation demand (which essentially never happens), both sides will begin preparing for the lawsuit.

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Topics: discovery phase, insurance company, settlement compensation

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: It Is Our Number One Driving Risk

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 17, 2017

For many of us, hectic schedules demand that we find ways to save time or multitask throughout the day in order to stay on top of everything in our lives. Keeping in touch and coordinating plans with friends and family who have similarly busy schedules make mobile devices a vital part of our everyday routine. Unfortunately, these demands too often lead people to combine cell phone use with activities that demand a person’s full attention, like driving a car.

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Topics: Distracted Driving

How are Personal Injury Settlements Reached?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 10, 2017

A majority of personal injury claims are resolved with a mutually agreed-upon settlement between the parties involved, rather than a courtroom verdict. However, when faced with the legal team employed by an insurance company or powerful corporate defendant, it may not be immediately clear how reasonable personal injury settlements can be reached. Obviously, the first critical component to securing a fair settlement for your injuries is the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, but it’s important for you to understand the process – or rather, processes – that may be involved in reaching a settlement in your case.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement

The Settlement Offer: What Do I Need to Understand?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 07, 2017

Anyone who suffers an injury in an accident caused by the negligence of someone else has the right to seek compensation for their damages through a lawsuit, though in practice the great majority of these cases are resolved with a mutually agreed-upon settlement rather than a jury verdict. There are several advantages to reaching a settlement with the insurance company involved in your case, but it’s critical that you understand what’s involved with the settlement offer. Your attorney has extensive experience with personal injury suits, but ultimately he represents your interests and wishes – so you need to be able to make informed decisions about how to resolve your case.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, insurance company

Will Driverless Car Legislation Come from the States or Federal Government?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 08, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

As advances in technology bring driverless cars closer to an everyday reality on our roadways, the laws of the country will need to adapt to keep up with the changes that self-driving vehicles will effect. The question remains, however, as to where those legal changes will take place: within the court system, in state legislatures, or at the federal level? Although in many cases federal regulation can be a strong tool for consumer protection, it can have its drawbacks when dealing with emerging technologies that have a substantial corporate interest. The danger to consumers comes when federal regulations are considered to preempt, or override, stricter state laws and civil liability.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, driverless cars

Driverless Cars and Liability Alternatives

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 06, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

As automation moves into more and more aspects of everyday life, it generally makes things safer and easier for the people who use the automated products. With respect to potentially dangerous activities like driving a car, automation removes the possibility of driver error from the equation, making the task much safer… until something goes wrong with the programming or the machinery. Auto accidents will not be eliminated with the introduction of driverless cars, so the question remains of how liability will be handled. The most obvious answer is an extension of the current system, with manufacturers carrying strict liability for any harm resulting from negligence or wrongdoing on their part. However, other systems of liability have been suggested (often by auto manufacturers and their advocates, to no one’s surprise) that would place less of a burden of liability on the manufacturers of driverless cars.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, driverless cars

Driverless Cars: Who Will Be Responsible For a Crash? The Driver? The Manufacturer?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 03, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Decades ago, one of the most iconic notions of the future was the idea of flying cars. Today, cars may not be about to take flight, but they may be about to take control of themselves as advances in automation and robotics bring us closer to the reality of self-driving cars on the nation’s roadways. A few early models of “driverless cars” already exist, with more in various stages of development. Many people believe that self-driving vehicles would remove the element of human error from driving and thus make the roads safer – but with technology programmed and constructed by equally fallible humans, it’s impossible to erase error from the equation entirely, which poses the question of what happens when an accident does occur? Who is liable when driverless cars are involved in automotive crashes?

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, NJ Personal Injury Case, injury compensation, driverless cars

Discovery in Personal Injury Cases - The Who, What, Where, Why and When of a Lawsuit

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 01, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

After a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the initial stage in moving toward resolution (by settlement or trial) is the discovery phase. During this time, the two opposing parties in the case exchange relevant information and conduct research into all aspects of the events in question and the people involved. The information obtained during discovery will be used by each side to build their arguments, which will be presented at a later stage of the injury case process.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Cases, discovery phase, answers to interrogatories, depositions

Closing or Settlement Statements - Calculating Your Net Recovery in Personal Injury Case

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 27, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

So your personal injury case has settled. What's next? How much of the settlement do you really get? Read on.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, injury compensation, settlement compensation, settlement statements

Requests for Production in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 24, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

The early stages of a personal injury lawsuit are primarily devoted to collecting information about the case and assembling the facts that will be necessary for each side to construct their arguments. Part of this discovery phase includes requests for production, in which the legal team representing one of the parties involved in the lawsuit asks for copies of documents relevant to some aspect of the claim. These requests are often made at the same time as other information requests such as interrogatories, but may be submitted throughout the discovery stage.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, discovery phase, insurance company, requests for production

Requests for Admissions in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 22, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

During the preliminary discovery phase of your personal injury lawsuit, numerous documents and requests for information will be exchanged between the two sides – yours and the insurance company’s. Some of these inquiries are intended to probe deeper into the background of the parties involved in your accident, while others seek to establish which basic facts are beyond dispute so that neither party needs to waste time or energy in asserting and proving those facts to the court. Requests for Admissions fall into this latter category. This document generally includes a list of factual statements that one side of a lawsuit submits to the other, requesting the opposition to admit or deny each point. Any of these statements that the responding side agrees with are treated as true by the court for the purpose of the lawsuit; neither side has to argue their veracity or is able to challenge their accuracy.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, discovery phase, insurance company, requests for admissions

The Defense's Answer to the Personal Injury Complaint

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 20, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Once your attorney has submitted your personal injury complaint letter to the court in order to initiate your lawsuit proceedings, it’s the insurance company’s turn to respond. If they have not already done so, the insurance company will assign one of their adjusters to your case. It’s his job to resolve your claim out of court if possible, or otherwise lay the groundwork for a strong defense against your lawsuit. Either way, his primary goal is to reduce the amount of money that the insurance company is required to pay you to as small a sum as he can. The insurance company will also assign one of their own lawyers to your case, or hire an outside attorney to represent them. It is this lawyer who will prepare the insurance provider’s response to your personal injury complaint.

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Topics: discovery phase, comparative negligence, answer to personal injury complaint, personal injury complaint

"Interrogatories" (a/k/a Written Questions) in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 17, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

The initial stage of your personal injury lawsuit is the discovery phase, in which both sides exchange information and research the issues surrounding your accident in order to build their cases. An important part of this information-gathering stage is the exchange and completion of interrogatories, a series of written questions submitted by one party in a lawsuit, to be answered by the opposing party. In New Jersey, we have court-mandated "form interrogatories" - questions every litigant must answer, and an attorney may ask 10 additional questions as well.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, discovery phase, answers to interrogatories, insurance company

The Complaint: the First Document Your Attorney Files in Court

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 13, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

The personal injury complaint is one of the first, and one of the most important, documents that will be filed in your injury lawsuit. The complaint is a formal document that outlines for the court the basic facts of your case and the grounds on which you are seeking compensation. Each jurisdiction has its own rules and standards governing exactly what information a personal injury complaint should include, so your attorney will draft the complaint for you, as he is already familiar with the specific requirements of the courts in your area. (For instance, much more specific information is required in a complaint filed in Federal Court.) Still, it is helpful for you to understand what goes into a personal injury complaint, both for your own peace of mind and so that you are better able to provide your attorney with any information he may need.

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Topics: injury compensation, settlement compensation, complaint

What Steps are Involved in My Injury Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 10, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Pursuing your injury case in court is a complex process with several stages, some of which may be very time-sensitive. Your attorney will guide you through the process and make sure your injury case stays on track, but the more you understand about the way your lawsuit will progress, the more comfortable you will be.

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Topics: injury compensation, discovery phase, injury case, answers to interrogatories, insurance company

Following Doctor's Orders and Keep Your Case On Track

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 08, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

After the initial treatment for any sort of injury, doctors will generally provide you with a set of specific instructions: what medications to take, what testing to go for, how long to stay out of work, what specialists to follow up with, who to call if your symptoms get worse, and so on. While these instructions are important for anyone who has suffered an injury, they take on an additional layer of necessity for the victims of accidents caused by the negligence of another. If there’s any chance that you may have a claim for compensation for the injuries you suffered, faithfully following your doctor’s orders is just as important to the success of your personal injury case as it is to your health and recovery.

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Topics: injury compensation, injury case, insurance company, settlement compensation

Fractures to Lower Leg Caused by Slip on Ice Settles for $290,000

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Sun, Jan 29, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Frank Smith recently resolved a case in which he represented a gentleman who parked at a commercial parking lot on his way to work. The parking lot owner was aware that patrons would be coming in to the lot, knew that run off from a snowfall several days earlier would melt in the subsequent warmer weather and then freeze overnight, when temperatures went below freezing, and that in the morning, there would be ice on the blacktop where patrons would be walking.

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Topics: Injuries, Success Stories, Slip and Fall

Mediation in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jan 16, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Most personal injury claims are resolved with the two sides agreeing to a settlement rather than going to court (some say over 97%). Reaching a settlement has distinct benefits for both the injured plaintiff and the insurance company that is liable for the injured person’s damages. For the accident victim, a lawsuit can be expensive, and it may take years before you actually receive the compensation due to you. In the meantime, you have to deal with the stress of a court case and the impacts an ongoing lawsuit has on your everyday life (such as staying off social media to avoid giving the insurance company’s lawyers anything to twist against you). For the insurance company, there is always the risk that a jury will award an injured person substantially more money than that person would be willing to accept in a settlement. But despite the fact that both sides benefit from reaching a settlement agreement, sometimes negotiations become stalled, with that elusive mutually-acceptable middle ground nowhere in sight. When this happens, or in response to an order from the courts prior to bringing your case to trial, you may take your claim to mediation.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Cases, Settlement Offer, Mediation, injury compensation, insurance company

NHTSA National Crackdown - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jan 13, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, hope, and renewal in defiance of the cold and long nights. During this season, many people travel long distances for a special dinner with relatives or a party with friends. Unfortunately, this merry-making has a significantly less jolly side effect: the periods surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays see dramatic spikes in drunk driving fatalities compared to the yearly average. The combination of treacherous winter driving conditions and holiday drinking create a deadly mix for people traveling on the nation’s roads in late December. In 2015, the period surrounding Christmas and New Year’s (just over a week) saw 259 deaths in drunk driving related automotive crashes.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Drunk Driving, Holidays

Arbitration in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 11, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

When you are making a personal injury claim, most lawyers will rightly tell you that the process begins with investigation of the accident by your attorney and the insurance company. After both sides have had the opportunity to gain a clear understanding of the incident and assemble the evidence they require to support their claims, the next step is settlement negotiation, in which both sides try to persuade the other to agree to a settlement value closer to their own ideal figure. If the two parties cannot reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, the case goes to trial. In broad strokes, this is an accurate picture of the personal injury claim process, but there are alternatives to several of the steps that can be added to or substituted for these stages. Generally, these alternatives may involve hiring a legal professional to serve as a disinterested third party in pursuit of resolving the claim.

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Topics: Personal Injury, Forced Arbitration, court mandated arbitration, insurance company

Keeping Joggers, Walkers, Pedestrians Safe

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jan 04, 2017

By Francis M. Smith

Winter is beginning in earnest, and reactions to the onslaught of winter weather vary depending on who you ask. Children delight in fluffy snowdrifts and the possibility of school closures, while commuters dread the prospect of slippery roads. Die-hard joggers defy the cold weather for the sake of their morning runs, and some cautious would-be motorists would prefer to walk short distances rather than risk driving in winter conditions. However, for these latter groups, winter holds particular risks for pedestrian auto accidents. It’s easy for joggers and other pedestrians to forget the ways in which this time of year increases the danger of motor vehicle accidents, and some motorists forget that anyone might be walking or jogging in the cold to begin with. For both groups, a reminder of the ways that winter increases the risk of pedestrian traffic accidents might be useful.

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Topics: Injuries, Dangerous Condition, Distracted Driving, Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Safety

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Dec 30, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Winter weather can be beautiful, but that beauty conceals many hazards for anyone who has to brave the cold and go outside – that is, almost everyone. Slippery roads can quickly spell disaster for drivers, but the danger of wintry conditions to pedestrians should not be overlooked. This is true not only for habitual walkers and joggers, but also for anyone walking between their front door and their car, or crossing a business parking lot. It’s important for everyone to keep pedestrian safety measures in mind any time they leave the house at this time of year.

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Topics: Dangerous Condition, Distracted Driving, Pedestrian Accidents

What is a Pre-Litigation Settlement?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 28, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Contrary to the image in many people’s minds when they hear of someone “suing for damages” after an accident, some personal injury claims are resolved long before they would see the inside of a courtroom. This resolution is usually the result of a pre-litigation settlement agreement between the insurance company and the injury victim. Reaching a pre-litigation settlement is advantageous to the injured plaintiff because it means they will receive their injury compensation sooner, and enabling them to pay for medical treatment and other expenses associated with their accident. It’s also often beneficial to the insurance company, because a trial is a lengthy and expensive process, and it might end with them being ordered to pay the accident victim even more money than the plaintiff might have accepted in a settlement.

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Topics: injury compensation, settlement compensation, pre-litigation settlement

Why Some Injury Cases Take Time to Develop

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 26, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

After a serious accident, what injury victims tend to crave most is for everything to get back to normal. They want to heal quickly, return to work, and go about their normal lives. A lengthy settlement negotiation or court case doesn’t fit into this ideal – and insurance companies know it. Often an insurance adjuster will reach out to the injured plaintiff and offer them a check right away, supposedly so they can resolve the matter quickly and simply. However, a quick settlement resolution usually doesn’t benefit anyone except the insurance company. There are important reasons why you should resist the temptation to wrap up your injury case quickly.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Cases, injury compensation, injury case

What to Expect When You First Contact a Lawyer About Your Injury Claim

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 24, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Most people who suffer serious injuries in an accident have never had occasion to speak with a lawyer before. Dealing with the pain and upheaval caused by a severe injury is hardly the ideal circumstance for stressful new experiences, and many people feel anxious about approaching a personal injury attorney for the first time. In my practice, I make every effort possible to put prospective clients at ease, but I know that with so much at stake for an accident victim, some worry is unavoidable. Still, knowing what to expect when you first approach a lawyer about your injury case can make the process feel more manageable.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, NJ Personal Injury Case, injury case

How Does Lost Income and Loss of Earning Capacity Impact My Personal Injury Case?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 21, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you suffer an injury as a result of the careless or negligent actions of another, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for the costs associated with your injuries (as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life). This is not limited to the sum of your medical bills; the purpose of an injury claim is to make you “whole,” to restore you (to the degree that it is possible) to the life you enjoyed before you were injured. A serious injury may take you out of work for a period of time, or even prevent you from returning to your former career. This damage to your livelihood is part of the harm you suffered from your accident, and as such, you are entitled to seek appropriate compensation for it. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to prove these losses.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Case, injury compensation, lost income, loss of earning capacity

How Does Pain and Suffering Factor in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 19, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

A personal injury claim is meant to restore you, as much as is possible, to the life you enjoyed prior to the actions of the negligent party that caused your injury. With some kinds of damages, this restoration is accomplished fairly simply: you seek to be compensated for the cost of your medical expenses, and the wages that your injuries prevented you from earning. But other kinds of harm are a little more tricky to assign a dollar value. At the same time, the pain and suffering that you experience in connection with your injuries are very real forms of damages for which you are entitled to compensation.

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Topics: Injuries, injury compensation, pain and suffering

Loss of Consortium Claims in Personal Injury Cases

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 17, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

A serious injury often affects those who are close to the accident victim, as well as the injured person him- or herself. The aftermath of such an injury can be particularly hard on the spouse of the injury victim. For many couples, marriage is a partnership; spouses rely on one another for support in all aspects of their lives, from help with household maintenance and child rearing to emotional and intimate companionship. The loss of this aid, support, and company due to one spouse’s injury in an accident is known as loss of consortium, and is a form of harm for which the spouse who was not injured may have the right to seek compensation.

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Topics: Injuries

The Settlement Process for a Child's Injury Claim

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Oct 14, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Once you and your family’s attorney convince the insurance company involved in your child’s accident to settle for an appropriate amount of compensation for your child’s injuries, the worst part of the battle is over – but you’re not finished with the court system yet. Because the accident victim is a child, the settlement money belongs to them, and the government takes an interest in ensuring that the child’s interests are protected with regard to those funds. Though most children’s settlement money would be perfectly safe in the custodianship of their parents, the state has no way of making certain which families would resist the call of temptation or hardship, and so it protects the financial future of all children who receive injury settlements.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, settlement compensation

Common Medical Tests Used to Diagnose the Extent of Your Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Oct 12, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

After any serious injury, one of the most important first steps your doctors will take is to order diagnostic tests to evaluate the nature and extent of your injuries. These diagnostic tests are also highly useful as proof when you were injured in an accident caused by someone else and seek damages for your injuries. The results of these diagnostic scans and medical tests can be used as evidence during settlement negotiations or at trial to prove how severe your injuries were and how necessary the medical treatment you received was. This can help ensure that you are compensated fairly for the harm that you suffered as a result of your accident.

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Topics: Injuries, settlement compensation, negotiated personal injury settlement, Medical Tests

Prognosis for Children Diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Oct 10, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI),commonly referred to as concussions, can have a significant impact on any accident victim, though when a child is injured, the prognosis may be very different than for an adult suffering the same injury. The medical profession had once believed that a child’s still-developing brain was malleable enough to recover more readily from a concussion injury than an adult’s; sadly, science has since discovered that the opposite is true. Damage to a child’s brain can have lasting repercussions, some of which may not be fully revealed until years after the initial brain trauma.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Favorable Resolution of Your Claim Depends on How Well We Prove Your Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Sep 14, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

One of the most basic, and yet the most unfortunate, facts to understand when pursuing just compensation in a personal injury claim is that the insurance company does not want to help you. It's not that they actively wish you harm, but rather that helping you recover from your injuries would cost them money. As for-profit businesses, insurance companies seek to maximize income (premiums) and minimize expenses (insurance claims payouts). That means fighting the insurance adjuster for every dollar you are owed because of your injuries.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, injury compensation, insurance company

Resources Available to Injured Children

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Sep 07, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

An accident that seriously injures a child is an intense trauma for the entire family, and parents dealing with the aftermath of such an accident often don't know where to turn for the help their child and their family need. If your child's accident was caused by the negligence of someone else, right after proper initial medical care is under way, one of the first places you should turn for help is to an experienced child injury attorney. Finding a lawyer with extensive experience in handling cases involving injured children gives you access to his resources and connections, including specialists who can help you and your attorney build a strong case against the negligent party's insurance company. But this is likely only the beginning of the help your family will need during this time of crisis.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, Injuries to Children, injury compensation

NHTSA: Back to School Safety Month. Walk, Bike, and Ride to School Safely!

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Sep 02, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

The new school year is fast approaching (undoubtedly much faster than most school-aged children would prefer), and with it comes the rush of back-to-school preparations. But in the scramble to buy notebooks, #2 pencils, and the perfect pair of sneakers, it's worth taking a moment to consider your child's route to school and back again every weekday. Kids travel between home and school in a variety of ways: some are driven by parents, while others take the school bus, walk, or ride a bike. There are benefits to each of these, depending on a family's situation, but each method comes with its own hazards as well. Considering these possible dangers carefully can help you plan the safest commute possible for your child.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Injuries to Children, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Bicycle Safety

Drowsy Drivers are a Hazard to Roads

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 31, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Thanks to efforts by transportation safety organizations and law enforcement, the public has become much more aware of the risks involved in engaging in certain behaviors while driving. For decades, public awareness and enforcement campaigns have been working to reduce the rate of drunk driving, with much success. Similar efforts have been implemented in recent years to pursue similar results in curbing distracted driving, which has dramatically risen as a roadway danger with the rise in smartphone ownership. However, there is another condition that can be as dangerous as intoxication or distraction when behind the wheel, and it has received much less public attention. Much like drunk or distracted driving, drowsy driving can kill.

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Topics: Injuries, New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney, drowsy driving

Pokemon Go Gaming Drivers: Another Form of Dangerous Distracted Driving

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Aug 19, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

It has been a long time since cell phones were solely, or even primarily, used for placing phone calls. Today's smartphones serve numerous purposes in the everyday lives of an increasing share of the population. According to a State Farm survey, in 2014 about 80 percent of drivers had a smartphone, up from about 50 percent in 2011. And we use those smartphones not just for talking and texting, but for GPS navigation, shopping, email, internet browsing, social media, and games. Of all these uses, it would not be unreasonable to believe games to be the least likely source of distraction for a driver. Reasonable, but wrong – at least since the release of Pokemon Go.

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Topics: Distracted Driving

Understanding Soft-tissue Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Aug 17, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

After an accident, the only battle you should have to face is the fight to recover from your injuries. Unfortunately, if your injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else and you're seeking compensation from their insurance company, the insurance adjuster is already preparing to go to war with you. His preferred mode of attack depends on a number of factors, including the circumstances of the accident and the nature of your injuries. In particular, "soft tissue injuries" give the insurance adjuster plenty of ammunition for attacking your claim – which is why you need an experienced professional fighting on your side to protect your rights.

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Topics: Injuries, injury compensation, insurance company, soft-tissue injuries

How is Permanent Disability Determined?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Aug 15, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

For most accident victims, it's best to hold off from agreeing to a settlement until they have fully recovered from their injuries, so they know what the full cost of their medical treatment will be. Unfortunately, some people who suffer serious injuries in accidents don't have that option; a major accident can leave the victim with a permanent disability and ongoing medical treatment. This affects how the injury claim process moves forward, adding new factors to the calculation of your damages.

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Topics: Permanent Injury, injury compensation, insurance company

Severe and Catastrophic Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Aug 12, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

With some accident injuries, the process of determining the value of the damages sustained by the victim as a result of the accident is a fairly straight-forward process – though the eventual sum will still be contested by the insurance company. However, accidents involving catastrophic injuries often require a much more complex process for determining the full expenses that your injury will impose on you. Most injury claims benefit from the help of a personal injury lawyer, but when a case involves injuries of this magnitude, the assistance of an experienced attorney is essential for the accident victim to recover the full value of the damages they deserve.

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Topics: Injuries, injury compensation, insurance company

Signing a Pre-Injury Release Document on Behalf of a Child

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jun 13, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

For many children, sports and other physical activities are an excellent way to stay active, bond with friends, learn teamwork and sportsmanship, and simply have fun. Of course, it can't be overlooked that most of these recreational activities carry a certain element of risk as well. The gymnasiums, sports leagues, and other organizations that offer these activities are certainly aware that those dangers exist, and many require parents to sign a liability waiver on their child's behalf in order for the child to be allowed to participate. As a parent, it's vital to understand what exactly you're agreeing to when you sign these release forms, and what kind of legal weight and enforceability they carry in the state of New Jersey.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, waiver of liability

Determining the Value of a Child's Injury Claim

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jun 10, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

As you begin legal action in your child's injury claim, the natural and obvious first question to ask is, “how much money can I expect to recover on my child's behalf?” Unfortunately, there's no simple and definite answer to that question. You may have heard about an “injury compensation formula” that insurance companies use to calculate the value of claims, but this is not a precise mathematical model that delivers a precise dollar value for a child's injuries based on the cost of their medical bills. Some insurance companies, instead of trusting their claims personnel to accurately evaluate claims, use a computer program into which information is added- like medical bills, days of treatment, days out of school or work, etc. When allowed to do so, insurance adjusters use a large array of variables – including the outcomes of similar recent cases in the same jurisdiction, the child's age, and the amount of successful trial experience the family's personal injury lawyer has – to estimate a value range for the amount a hypothetical jury would likely award the injured child. You can use a similar process to approximate how much your child's claim is worth, but the number and variety of factors that can affect the value of a child's injury claim make it tremendously difficult to estimate accurately without the help of an experienced professional.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, insurance company

Children and Dog Bites

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jun 08, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

For many children, the family dog is a loyal friend and protector. Sadly, numerous other children develop a justifiable fear of dogs at an early age, often due to the traumatic experience of a dog bite attack or close call. Seeking to protect their kids from this kind of awful experience, it's not uncommon for parents to hesitate before bringing a new family pet into the home, or regard friends' and relatives' dogs with wariness.

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Topics: Dog Bites, Injuries to Children

The Wrongful Death of a Child

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Jun 06, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

At times in my practice as a personal injury attorney, parents come to me for help after the unthinkable has happened – unthinkable, because what loving parent doesn't flinch away from contemplating the loss of their child in an accident? No amount of money can ever make up for the wrongful death of a child or erase their parents' grief. However, New Jersey law acknowledges the financial burdens imposed on a family by a fatal accident, and the liability borne by the negligent parties who contributed to the child's death. New Jersey's Wrongful Death Act provides an avenue for bereaved parents to seek compensation for these burdens from those responsible for their child's death.

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Topics: Wrongful Death, Injuries to Children, lost income

Can You Believe This? Textalyzer Roadside Tests To Catch People Who Text While Driving

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Jun 03, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

It's a brave new world out there. Law enforcement agencies nationwide are becoming increasingly aware of the very real dangers that hand-held cell phone use by drivers poses to everyone on the road. Talking or texting on a cell phone are forms of distracted driving, one of the leading causes of car accidents. Experts estimate that 1 in every 4 car crashes is caused by cell phone use by a driver. Up until last year, the rate of fatal accidents on our nation's roads had been experiencing a downward trend; in 2015, it rose by 8 percent, thanks to distracted drivers who are unable (or unwilling) to keep their hands off their cell phones. It's clear that distracted driving can be every bit as dangerous as drunk driving, and so some safe-driving advocates are pushing for a similar response to combat the behavior: Textalyzer roadside tests.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, Distracted Driving, Drunk Driving, Text While Driving

Turn Signals Past and Present - Car Crashes Resulting from Failure to Communicate

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Jun 01, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

One of the greatest potential hazards for any driver on the road is the behavior of other motorists. In order for large numbers of fast-moving vehicles to be able to share the road safely, drivers need the ability to anticipate speed and direction changes made by other cars. When motorists fail to communicate their intent to turn or to move left or right within a road or highway, disastrous car crashes are too often the result.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, turn signals

The Legal Process for Child Injury Claims

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 30, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Understanding the legal process ahead of you is crucial to pursuing any personal injury claim. This is doubly true in the case of child injury claims, as there are several important differences between claims involving children and those only affecting adults. Many of these differences in procedure exist to protect the rights and well-being of the injured child, who has unique needs due to their age and cannot act on their own behalf in the way that an adult can.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, statute of limitations

Child Injuries: Role of Clinical Experts and Evidence

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, May 27, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When a child is injured in an accident, typically the last thing on their parents' minds is gathering and preserving evidence for a future legal claim. Between worrying about the child's well-being, seeking medical treatment for the child, making arrangements to take time off work to care for the child, and other immediate concerns related to the child's injury, even thinking about future legal action -- let alone making preparations for a lawsuit -- is nowhere close to a priority for many parents. However, if filing a claim for your child's injuries proves necessary, failure to collect and preserve witness statements, important documents, and other evidence can be highly detrimental to your child's case. To solve this problem, it's advisable to hire a lawyer as early in the process as possible; your lawyer can handle the legwork of gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and finding medical experts to testify in your case, while you focus on taking care of your child.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, Evidence, injury compensation

Motorcycle Crash Injuries Settled for $465,000

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 25, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

A $465,000 settlement was reached recently for a client that was seriously injured in a motorcycle
accident. The client was injured while riding as a passenger when the motorcycle was driven into the
street from a parking lot. Unfortunately, a car was coming down the road at the same time. A crash ensued and the passenger on the bike was thrown over the car. The passenger was airlifted from the scene of the accident and underwent emergency surgery, which placed plates and screws in both an arm and a leg to stabilize multiple serious fractures. My client was left with a lot of medical bills and some limitation of movement and pain at the fracture sites. The amount of the settlement reflects the seriousness of the injuries.

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Topics: Motorcycle Accident, Success Stories, motorcycle injuries

Snapchat's Speed Filter Contributing to Distracted Driving and Devastating Car Accident

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 25, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Mobile devices are an integral part of modern life for most Americans, with apps and features that make them useful for much more than just making a phone call. The development of mobile apps is a booming industry, with apps designed to help us find products, track our health and fitness, and keep in touch with our friends. However, as mobile devices become more useful and more engaging, they also become more distracting – which can have disastrous consequences when we get behind the wheel. A Georgia man discovered the truth of this danger firsthand when he suffered a devastating car accident caused by a teenager using her smartphone to take selfies on Snapchat.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, Distracted Driving

NJ Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 23, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Most kinds of injury have the potential to impact your life dramatically, but injuries to the nervous system can be particularly devastating, especially since the body's ability to heal nerve tissue damage is very limited. Obviously, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause a host of physical and cognitive symptoms, but spinal cord injuries can have an equal (or sometimes greater) impact on your health and quality of life.

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Topics: Spine Injuries, Spinal Injuries

NJ Speed Deaths on Routes 80 and 287 Increase with 10 mph Speed Limit

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, May 20, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

The behavior of other drivers is one of the more unpredictable elements on the road, and potentially one of the more dangerous. In recent years, legislative and enforcement efforts across the state of New Jersey have successfully taken on several aspects of this threat, resulting in a downward trend in overall traffic deaths. These efforts have included a Graduated Driver License law that placed additional limitations on inexperienced teenage drivers, lowering the blood-alcohol threshold for drunk driving to 0.08, and legislation that penalized the use of hand-held mobile devices while behind the wheel. However, while all these efforts helped to curb the total number of highway deaths in the state, one type of automotive fatality has not experienced the same consistent, downward trend, and during some periods have seen significant upward spikes. The culprit? Speeding.

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Topics: Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, Speeding

Child Brain Injuries: Insurers' Efforts to Identify Pre-existing Conditions

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 18, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you seek injury compensation after your child has been in an accident in which they suffered a traumatic brain injury, one of the critical facts that you and your attorney must prove is that your child's injuries were caused by the accident. This may seem like a simple notion at first glance, but insurance companies will demand copies of your child's medical records to see if they can find any past issues or conditions that hey might be able to convince a jury were the “real” cause of your child's symptoms. Your child's school records will also be fair game, as the insurance adjuster searches for any previous academic struggles that might enable them to argue that your child's current difficulties are not the result of cognitive impairment due to traumatic brain injury. It's vital to the success of your claim (and therefore your ability to get your child proper treatment for their injuries) that you have an experienced child injury attorney working on your case. Your attorney should have the resources, connections, and experience to mount a proper counter-argument to the insurance company's cries of “pre-existing conditions.”

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Topics: Brain Injury, Injuries to Children, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Children and the Law: Proving a Child's Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Function Impairment (TBI)

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 16, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

As you pursue any kind of personal injury claim, one of the first things you'll discover is that the insurance company really doesn't want to give you the money that you deserve for your accident injuries. In the case of parents filing claims on behalf of their kids, the fact that a child is the injured party doesn't change the insurance company's stance at all. The insurance adjuster will look for any available excuse to get his employer out of paying you fair compensation. Sometimes that excuse is a denial of liability or an accusation of fault on your part. Other times, the insurance company may flat-out dispute the very existence of your child's injuries.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, concussion, traumatic brain injury

NJ Personal Injury Attorney Gives Back to the Community

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, May 13, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

In our fast-paced, technologically-focused society, we don't always have the same sort of connection to our neighbors as we might have in decades past. With that conceptual distance between us and the people around us, it's all the more important to remember that being part of a community is more than just about where you live – it's what you do. Finding ways to contribute to our community through volunteering not only benefits the people around us, it also helps us become more invested in our local corner of the world. Even though I've practiced law in the area of personal injury for over 35 years, I try to help my community of Westfield in a whole different way. For many years I have volunteered my time to serve on the Westfield Town Planning Board, and before that, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Mayor's Land Use Task Force.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, Featured Charity, New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms in Children

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 11, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When your child has been injured in an accident, it's critical for your child's injuries to be properly recognized and diagnosed in order for him or her to receive the necessary treatment. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injury symptoms often go overlooked or are incorrectly attributed to other injuries or the trauma of being the victim of an accident. Since traumatic brain injury symptoms may not show up immediately following the injury that caused them and can easily be mistaken for the effects of other injuries, but can cause lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional problems, it's critical for parents to be able to recognize the signs of a traumatic brain injury and advocate for their child if they believe that an injury is being overlooked by the child's doctors.

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Topics: Brain Injury, Injuries to Children, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Can Children Have Traumatic Brain Injury and Not Lose Consciousness?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 09, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

In popular media, concussion injuries are often caused by a blow to the head that knocks the accident victim unconscious for a period of time. People who have neither medical training nor firsthand experience with traumatic brain injuries may have no other frame of reference for what a concussion looks like, and may assume that a traumatic brain injury always involves a loss of consciousness. However, these portrayals present a partial and inaccurate depiction of traumatic brain injuries, which often occur without any loss of consciousness in the victim.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, concussion, traumatic brain injury

What Parents Need to Know About Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, May 06, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Perhaps in part due to their still-developing brains and the difficulties of navigating a world sized for adults, children who are the victims of accidents frequently suffer concussions or brain trauma. Every year, almost 1 million children sustain this type of injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The more medically-accurate term for a concussion is traumatic brain injury, which sounds frightening – and indeed, concussion injuries can have lasting effects on a child's life. Though there is some disagreement within the medical community, three classes of traumatic brain injury are commonly accepted: severe, moderate, and mild. Most TBIs suffered by children in accidents are classed as “mild,” because they are generally not life-threatening on their own; however, the term “mild traumatic brain injury” can be somewhat misleading, because this kind of injury can still have a profound physical, cognitive, and emotional impact on the child victim.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Will My Injured Child have to go to Court?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, May 04, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When an accident victim makes a personal injury claim in order to seek compensation for their injuries, the injured victim's testimony is often a critical piece of evidence if the case goes to court. But what happens when an injured child is the injured plaintiff deserving compensation? Many adults get nervous entering a courtroom for the first time, and for a child, the situation can be downright frightening. Moreover, the injured child will be asked to relive the accident that caused their injuries by describing it and answering questions about it, since their testimony's value relies on their personal experience and recollection of the event. Then, the child may face cross-examination by the insurance company's lawyer, who may confuse the child with convoluted sentence structure and legal jargon in order to provoke the child into giving inaccurate responses and make the child seem unreliable as a witness.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement

Mother of Brain Injured Son Wins Wrongful Death Settlement from Largest Youth Football League

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, May 02, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Perhaps more so than any other sport, even the one nicknamed America's “national pastime,” football has captured the imagination of millions across the United States. But only in recent years has attention become focused on the deadly dangers that the sport can pose to its players, even years after they step off the field. Experts have begun to study the deleterious effects of football-related brain injuries on professional players, most of whom are healthy and strong young men – but children in high school and junior leagues are just as vulnerable, if not more.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, Sports Injuries, concussion, traumatic brain injury

Dealing With the Insurance Company

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 29, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you pursue a personal injury claim of any kind, it's critical to understand your enemy: the insurance company. It may sound like an exaggeration to refer to the opposing party in any legal claim as “the enemy,” but this isn't hyperbole – it's in the insurance company's financial interest to pay you as little as possible, or nothing at all, if they can get away with it. The insurer's representative in your claim, the adjuster, is a trained negotiator whose job is to attack your claim ruthlessly. The fact that your case involves a seriously injured child is completely irrelevant to the insurance adjuster's task, except insofar as they have all the more reason to trick you into giving up your claim or accepting an unreasonably low settlement, because a jury might be more sympathetic to a child's suffering and award your family more money.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, insurance company

Can a Government Agency be Sued for Injuries to a Child?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Apr 27, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Seeking appropriate compensation for a child's serious injuries stemming from an accident may be critical to ensuring that your child is able to get the medical treatment he or she needs to make as full a recovery as possible. But what happens when the party responsible for your child's injuries is a government body? Many people are uncertain about whether it's even possible to sue a government entity. In fact, it is possible to bring a lawsuit against government actors, but there are unique requirements and restrictions that apply to these suits – which is why it's even more important than usual to hire a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with these regulations and has experience with suing government agencies when your child is injured.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, negligence, NJ Title 59

Who is Responsible and Liable for My Child's Injuries?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 25, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When a child is injured in an accident caused by the negligence of others, filing an injury claim is often the best way to ensure that the child is able to receive all necessary medical treatment, get compensated for all losses such as pain and suffering, and the family's financial stability is not harmed by the associated expenses. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, one of the first things you should ask your personal injury lawyer to help you with is identifying all the parties who may bear some responsibility for your child's accident.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, injury compensation, negligence

What Does the Doctrine of Parental Immunity Mean?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When a child is seriously injured in an accident, one of the first things the parents and their attorney try to do is identify who is responsible for the accident that harmed their child. Of course, the insurance company representing the defendants in any resulting injury claim will try to to the same thing -- and often their investigation begins with the parents themselves. It's common for insurance companies to argue that a lack of appropriate parental supervision was a significant contributing factor in causing the accident. In some cases, frequently involving a child with separated or divorced parents, one parent may directly sue the other for injury damages or wrongful death of a child resulting from an accident that took place while the child was in that parent's care. Regardless of who is accusing a parent of negligence in an injury case involving their own child, such arguments have additional challenges due to the legal doctrine of "parental immunity".

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Topics: Injuries, Injuries to Children, parental immunity

Can the Insurance Company Claim Parental Negligence to Avoid Paying for My Child's Injuries?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Apr 20, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Many insurance companies present a friendly, helpful, and concerned face in their advertising, but the success of these businesses involves finding ways to avoid paying out for claims, or to minimize the amount they have to pay as much as possible. One very common tactic insurance lawyers use to this end is the assertion of comparative negligence – the accusation that the injured victim was partly (or entirely) responsible for their own accident. In the case of child injury claims, especially those involving children who are too young to have the capacity for careful or negligent behavior, this often involves accusations of parental negligence. Parents who are seeking to have their child's medical bills and other expenses (or, in the most tragic cases, pursuing a wrongful death claim) after a serious traumatic accident are often discouraged or angered to be confronted with the suggestion that they were negligent and partly to blame for their child's injuries. Sadly, this is business as usual for insurance companies – but there is good news. Accusations of parental negligence have a harder time gaining traction than other comparative negligence defenses, due to the doctrine of parental immunity.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, comparative negligence, parental immunity

When are Children held Negligent in Injury Cases?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 18, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you pursue a personal injury claim of any kind, the insurance company representing the negligent party responsible for your injuries will look for any possible defense against your claim that might reduce the amount they have to pay out in damages. One of the more common defenses insurance companies attempt is to suggest that the injured person was partly to blame for causing their own injuries. New Jersey is one of the many states that has adopted a comparative negligence law, under which the maximum value of the injury damages an injured plaintiff may collect is reduced in proportion to the degree to which that plaintiff is culpable for their own injuries. Demonstrating that an injured person shares the blame for their accident generally requires the insurance company to prove that the injured victim was negligent in some way. But when a child is the injured party, the issue of injury negligence becomes more complicated.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, comparative negligence

Do we Have a Claim for our Child's Injury?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 15, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When a child is seriously injured, obviously the first priority is to seek appropriate medical treatment for the child's injury, but it's then natural to consider whether you have grounds to file an injury claim. This is not, as some critics of litigation would assume, a cynical grab for money, but rather the act of a responsible and loving parent to ensure that their child's injuries receive the best care possible and that the family's financial stability is not damaged by providing that care. After all, it's the child who has the injury claim, and the parents or guardians simply pursue it on the child's behalf. Often any compensation remaining from a child's injury claim after medical bills and other expenses have been paid is placed in trust for the child until they are of age to claim it, providing for a fund for later- sometimes for college, or a down payment for a home.

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Topics: Injuries, Injuries to Children, negligence

Protecting Children from Tragic Drowning Accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Apr 13, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

It's natural for parents to seek out all reasonable measures to protect their children from dangerous accidents, but that can be difficult when many sources of danger are poorly understood. Swimming accidents are unfortunately both a common and a serious threat to children, but many people don't have an accurate understanding of water dangers and signs of distress. Without the ability to accurately recognize the contributing factors that cause swimming accidents, it's more difficult to protect your children from serious injury.

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Topics: Injuries, Injuries to Children, drowning accidents

When Dogs Bite Children

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 11, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

There is plenty of truth to the maxim that a dog is “man's best friend,” but like any friendship, the relationship between people and dogs is not one that should be taken for granted – especially when children are involved. Estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) place the number of pet dogs in the United States at around 68 million, and while many of these are well-behaved dogs who will never have an incident of aggressive or dangerous behavior, the same cannot be said of all dogs. More than 1 million dog bite incidents are reported each year, and some estimates suggest that an equal number of incidents take place but are not reported. Alarmingly, about 3 out of 5 of reported dog bite incidents result in injury to a child. Both parents and dog owners benefit from learning about the factors that influence dog bite injuries to children and how to prevent them.

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Topics: Injuries, Dog Bites, Injuries to Children

Children and Bicycle Accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Apr 04, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Bicycles are excellent tools for both transportation and exercise, so it's no surprise that more than 70 percent of American children between the ages of 5 to 14 ride bikes. Unfortunately, bicycles can also present a significant safety risk. Children in the 5-to-14 age group account for more than half of all bicycle-related injuries that require emergency room treatment, and more than one-fifth of bicycle-related fatalities. This is partly due to the fact that children of these ages spend more time on bikes than adults; while most adults have the option of driving from one place to another, a bicycle is the sole independent transportation tool available to many children. Kids aged 5 to 14 spend approximately 50 percent more time behind the handlebars than the average cyclist, giving them substantially more opportunity to be injured.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, Bicycle Accidents, Bicycle Safety

Children and Car Accidents

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Apr 01, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

For the average American, and especially in New Jersey, cars are a ubiquitous and essential fact of life – and this is true nearly as much for children as it is for adults. Though they are not yet old enough to drive, children are regularly passengers in motor vehicles when traveling to and from school, activities, friends' homes, to visit relatives, or to accompany their parents on errands. Unfortunately, since automobiles play such a large role in children's lives, they also pose one of the most significant risks to young people. No one likes to think about children and car accidents, but motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of death and acquired disability for young people aged 2 to 14. According to data regarding children and car accidents provided by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), nearly a quarter million children suffer injuries in automotive collisions each year. This is a chilling figure for any parent to hear, especially since so many of these accidents are preventable.

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Distracted Driving, Drunk Driving, Injuries to Children, NJ Car Seat Law

Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 30, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

While children are particularly vulnerable to serious injury in car crashes, the danger of deadly accidents involving motor vehicles and children doesn't end when the child gets out of the automobile. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates, nearly 1 in every 5 traffic deaths of children under the age of 16 occur while the child is a pedestrian. Though parents strive to protect their children by insisting that younger kids hold an adult's hand when crossing the street and teaching older children the importance of looking both ways to notice oncoming cars, it only takes a moment for a child to do something unexpected, and too often the result is tragedy.

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Topics: Injuries to Children, Pedestrian Accidents

How Payments from Your Own Medical Insurance or Workers Compensation Affect Your Settlement

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Becoming the victim of a serious accident, in addition to being physically and emotionally traumatic, is often very expensive. You may find yourself racking up substantial medical bills while being unable to work. Fortunately, our society has developed some methods of offsetting some of these expenses – chiefly in the form of health insurance. An employer-provided or private health insurance policy, workers' compensation, Medicaid or Medicare, or a similar source may cover some or all of your medical expenses after a serious injury. When this happens, it's important to understand how this coverage interacts with your efforts to secure injury compensation from the parties responsible for your accident.

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Topics: Injuries, Workplace Accidents, insurance company, settlement compensation

Emotional Distress Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 21, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Becoming the victim of an accident that causes you serious injury often does more damage than an x-ray can reveal; in many cases, harm is suffered by your emotions and psyche as well as by the bones and tissues of your body. Though many people remain skeptical of claims about psychological harm, emotional distress is a genuine type of injury and is just as deserving of compensation as the physical pain and suffering you experience as a result of your accident.

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Topics: Injuries, settlement compensation, pain and suffering, emotional distress

Tragic death of 34 Year Old Single Mother and Model Katie May - Who is Accountable?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Katie May, successful model and social media sensation, died on February 4th after experiencing a stroke that left her in critical condition. After having to make the painful decision to disconnect life support, Ms. May's family – including her 7-year-old daughter – are left with more questions than answers. What caused Katie's stroke? Could any of the medical professionals she consulted prior to her stroke have prevented her death? Should anyone be held accountable for the events that resulted in her death? What went wrong?

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Topics: Injuries, negligence, neck injury

What is Tort Law? What's a Tort Lawyer?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 09, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

For a number of reasons, the field of law is filled with jargon that can often seem complex or confusing to people who don't deal with it on a regular basis. This is often because specific words and phrases carry legal weight that their synonyms might not. A term you might hear often if you have been hurt in an accident is “tort.” I first met the term as a first year law student. At the basic level, a tort is any wrongdoing committed against one party by another that unfairly inflicts harm or loss upon the latter party. Sometimes a tort can also be a crime, but often the wrongdoing perpetrated against the victim does not rise to the level of criminal behavior. Still, it is a violation of the victim's rights, and tort law is the means by which that victim can seek compensation for the harm they suffered. The torts I deal with result in personal injury to my clients.

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Topics: injury compensation, federal tort claims act, tort law, tort lawyer

Compensation for Pain and Suffering: The Importance Of Receiving Appropriate Treatment

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Mar 07, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

The pain, disruption of lifestyle, constant discomfort and loss of enjoyment of life caused by injuries sustained due to another's negligence often constitute a substantial portion of the injury compensation the victim receives – sometimes far overshadowing any other compensation like lost wages or medical bills. But physical pain is hard to measure, and even harder to prove, despite the widespread use of the 0 to 10 scale you have probably heard about and is widely used to document doctor's records. As yet, medical science has not developed any test or scan that can empirically evaluate how much pain a patient is experiencing. Doctors and nurses depend on the patient reporting their level of pain, which can vary widely depending on tolerance. So how can your attorney convince an insurance company(who has a strong financial interest in getting you to accept as small a settlement as possible) that your pain, limitations and anguish are worthy of significant compensation?

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Topics: injury compensation, insurance company, pain and suffering

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit When Your Demands Go Unanswered

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Mar 04, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you seek injury compensation from a party that harmed you, your attorney's efforts will likely to be a demand for settlement- either in a demand letter or made during a telephone conversation between the adjuster and your attorney. This is an important step, as it lays out the strongest arguments in support of your claim and puts forward the opening sally in your negotiation efforts. Generally, an insurance adjuster will contact your attorney after receiving your demand, describing what he or she perceives to be the weaknesses in your case, and negotiations proceed from that point onward. But what happens when you've done everything to cooperate with your attorney, you have followed your doctor's orders, proper documentation has been sent to the insurance carrier, and a demand for resolution has been made – which is then completely ignored by the insurance company? The hardest response to prepare for is no response at all.

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Topics: insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement, personal injury demand letter

Who is Responsible for Your Injury?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Mar 02, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you've been in an accident and are considering a personal injury claim, there are many important issues you need to consider, but perhaps the most critical is the question of fault. If your attorney cannot establish and produce evidence to prove that another person or business is to blame for your accident and resultant injury, then there is no one for you to seek compensation from. It's also important to determine whether multiple parties might bear fault for your injuries, because parties with liability insurance (like most businesses) are more likely to be able to compensate you fairly for your injuries.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company, negligence

Will You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

After any accident in which you were injured because of another person's mistakes, one of the most important questions you need to consider is whether you should hire an attorney. Theoretically it's possible to pursue any injury claim without professional legal representation, but in many cases the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer can mean the difference between receiving the compensation you deserve and walking away with little or nothing for your pain and medical bills. That doesn't mean every injury case necessarily requires an attorney, but the question of whether to seek legal counsel is one that you should seriously consider before proceeding with your claim.

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Topics: NJ Personal Injury Attorney, Injuries, Personal Injury, injury compensation

Will Driverless Cars Reduce Car Collisions and Serious Injuries?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 26, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

The popular concept of what automotive technology will look like in the future tends to revolve around the notion of “flying cars.” While it's probably for the best that such vehicles currently remain within the realm of science fiction, some very real-world progress is being made by the industry in another form of next-generation motor vehicle technology: self-driving cars. Programmers and engineers at Google are at the forefront of efforts by several companies to develop technology that would allow specially-designed or modified cars to operate automatically without input from a driver, navigating roads through the use of precision sensors and detailed programming. Already, four states have passed laws allowing the testing and operation of self-driving cars on their roads, and many experts estimate that by 2020, driverless cars will become available to the general public.

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Topics: Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, New Jersey motor vehicle accident attorney

Negotiating a Final Settlement With the Insurance Adjuster

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 24, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

Reaching a personal injury settlement agreement with an insurance company involves a process of negotiation and at times can bear some similarity to bargaining over the price of a used car or haggling with a street vendor for a vacation souvenir. The dollar amounts are greater and the stakes are much higher in an injury claim, but the basic principles of negotiation can be present in all three cases.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement

Writing Your Personal Injury Demand Letter

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 22, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

If you are handling your own personal injury claim, just about every effort to seek injury compensation from an insurance company begins the same way: by drafting and sending a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter initiates the settlement negotiation process and sets the tone for your interaction with the insurance company. Your demand letter is also the first impression that the insurance adjuster gets of how much you understand about your rights and how organized and well-prepared you are in dealing with your case. As such, it's important to make sure that your demand letter is composed well, in order to set the best tone for the negotiations going forward.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company, negotiated personal injury settlement, personal injury demand letter

Tips for Getting the Best Injury Claim Settlement

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 19, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

When you seek compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered due to an accident, you are entering into an extended negotiation process with the insurance company. Specifically, you'll find yourself bargaining with an insurance adjuster whose primary job description is to settle claims for as little cost to the insurance company as possible. When your health and financial well-being are on the line, you need every edge possible as you face a professional negotiator across the bargaining table. Here are a few important tips to help you ensure that the settlement you receive is fair.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company, pain and suffering

The Value of Your Injury Claim vs. Available Insurance

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 17, 2016

  By Francis M. Smith

When attempting to estimate the correct compensation to be paid in a personal injury case, you should of course consider important factors like the type of injuries you sustained, the kind of treatment you required, and the presence of witnesses or physical evidence that support your account of your accident. However, it's just as important not to lose sight of the single absolute limiting factor on your injury compensation: the amount of money the defendant actually has. If the person responsible for your injuries has no liability insurance (or, in the case of motor vehicle accidents, insufficient insurance coverage) and negligible personal wealth and assets, it doesn't matter how ironclad your case is, how obviously at fault the defendant was, or how much your injuries cost to treat – you simply cannot sue a person for assets that he doesn't have.

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Topics: Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Product Liability Cases, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, injury compensation, premises liability

Shared Blame: Comparative and Contributory Fault for a Personal Injury

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 15, 2016

By Francis M. Smith

If you've sustained injuries in an accident, the first critical component of your claim for injury compensation is establishing liability – and that means proving that the other party involved in your accident was at fault. Sometimes issues of fault are simple and clear-cut, and the real challenges in the case lie in securing a fair sum in compensation for the plaintiff's injuries. However, one of the more common tactics used by insurance company lawyers is to argue that the injured person bringing the claim bears some of the fault for the accident. In some cases, this argument may even be true; it isn't only perfect drivers who are injured in auto accidents, for instance. Understanding how the legal concept of shared fault can affect your case and the value of the damages you may receive is important when pursuing any injury claim.

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Topics: Injuries, injury compensation, comparative fault, contributory fault

Attorney Dispute With Independent Medical Exam Report

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Fri, Feb 12, 2016

  By Francis M. Smith

When a victim of another's negligence brings forward a personal injury claim seeking compensation, the insurance company involved often insists on bringing in a doctor of their own choosing to perform an examination on the injured person. In theory, insurance companies do this to ensure that the diagnosis made by the patient's treating physician is correct and that any treatment the patient receives is medically indicated, so that they are not required to pay for unnecessary procedures. In practice, however, these so-called “independent” medical examinations are rarely so benign - and rarely independent. .

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Topics: Injuries, Independent Medical Exam, injury compensation, insurance company

The "Right" Medical Treatment Increases the Settlement Value of an Injury Claim

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 10, 2016

  By Francis M. Smith

When an insurance adjuster sets out to calculate the compensation you deserve when you've made a personal injury claim, determining the total cost of the medical treatment you received for your injuries (referred to in legal terms as the “medical special damages”) is an important first step. Not only is this figure likely to make up a large portion of the financial damages in your claim, but it is also the basis from which the value of your pain and suffering damages is derived. In many cases, figuring out the cost of your medical treatment is as simple as totaling up your medical bills – but not all medical treatment is equal in the eyes of an insurance company, and some types of care will be taken more seriously, and thus valued more highly when it comes time to decide on a damages multiplier for your pain and suffering, than others.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company, medical special damages

NJ's Most Dangerous Roads

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 08, 2016

 By Francis M. Smith

New Jersey's roads and highways see some of the heaviest traffic in the country, and unfortunately that heavy traffic is a major determining factor in the number of fatal auto wrecks that take place in the state. 2014 saw an increase in highway fatalities on New Jersey's highways relative to the previous year, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation. In that year, 229 deadly car crashes took place on the state's major roadways, compared to the 213 fatal collisions that took place in 2013.

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Topics: Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Car Accidents, Distracted Driving

Damage Caps and Other Limits on (non-economic) Personal Injury Compensation

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Thu, Feb 04, 2016

 By Francis M. Smith

It may seem counter to one's intuition for there to be limits on the damages an injured person can be awarded other than the jury's judgment of proper compensation for all the elements of an injury, but there is legislation that can, in some instances, place a cap on the amount that can be awarded as compensation for certain types of damages. Most of the time, these laws apply only to non-economic damages, as these are inherently more subjective and do not correspond directly to a financial loss on the part of the injured person.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company

Does the Insurance Company Use a Formula for Compensation?

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 03, 2016

 By Francis M. Smith

The key to success in any negotiation lies in understanding the thought process of the opposing side, and this is certainly true when negotiating a personal injury settlement with an insurance adjuster. This is part of the reason why claims adjusters are generally evasive about the “formula” they use to calculate the value of your injury case. But as much as insurance companies might wish otherwise, the general formula they use for determining the rough value of injury claims is not a secret. Understanding how the insurance companies' compensation formula works enables you to negotiate more confidently and from a more advantageous position.

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Topics: Injuries, Settlement Offer, injury compensation, insurance company

Calculate Your Personal Injury Settlement

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Feb 01, 2016

 By Francis M. Smith

If you're about to enter into settlement negotiations with an insurance company for a personal injury claim, you will hold a much stronger negotiating position if you understand how the insurance adjuster arrives at his starting offer, and if you can determine in advance what a reasonable compensation figure for your injuries should be. You may have heard about “formulas” used for calculating damages in injury cases, but there's nothing secret or difficult to understand about the math involved. Most insurers use some variant on the same formula, which you can also employ to determine both your own starting figure for negotiations and the minimum offer that you would consider reasonable and adequate to your needs.