Car Accidents in New Jersey
Every year, more than three million people are injured in car accidents in the United States. Approximately two out of every three people injured in a motor vehicle accident suffer some type of permanent injury. The consequences can be devastating. Victims may be unable to work again or may need long-term medical care, including physical therapy or rehabilitation. Accident victims may be forced to give up activities they love.
When these accidents occur, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are involved must know how to recover compensation. Victims are urged to reach out to a New Jersey car accident lawyer for help when injuries or even deaths cause turmoil and financial upheaval for the family.
Car Accidents and Recovering Damages
Car accidents occur in a variety of ways. Although these accidents can be serious and painful, others seem simple and almost harmless. Irrespective of the scale of the accident, drivers should not leave an accident scene because it seems as if nothing terrible has occurred. Every accident deserves to be investigated because there is no way to know if someone was negligent or if there are other variables that might have caused the accident. Car accident lawyers help injured victims in a variety of car accidents, including those involving the following:
Aggressive driving and road rage. Road rage is a situation caused by drivers who have refused to regulate or control their emotions. Everyone is capable of road rage because they are stressed, trying to get somewhere in a hurry, or simply have no regard for the people around them. Drivers, however, have a duty of care to everyone around them. Drivers must take time to calm down and even pull over if the situation has gotten out of control.
Aggressive driving often results in situations that can end in a confrontation off the road or unsafe driving on the road. Drivers might try to cut one another off, brake repeatedly, or run the other driver off the road. A recent study on road rage found the following:
- An average of eight out of 10 Americans experience road rage once a year.
- Road rage is exempted in most insurance policies.
- Cases involving guns doubled from 2014 to 2016.
- Approximately 95 million Americans have yelled at another driver in the past year.
Auto defects. It has been reported that 28 million vehicles were recalled in 2018. These recalls do not include any defects that might have been missed by manufacturers or did not result in a recall. The average age of light vehicles on the road has increased every year for the past two decades, and that leaves more cars on the road that could malfunction at any time. Approximately six million vehicles were recalled for electronic defects. These defects are almost impossible for drivers to detect until the defect causes an accident. Although drivers should be as diligent as possible, they cannot avoid all defects and the serious consequences they face. Vehicles should be inspected by a lawyer after an accident to determine which, if any, defects caused the crash.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving accidents occur when people on the road are not focused on what they should be doing. Most people who drive safely are susceptible to distracted driving given the right circumstances. Some drivers think that they are looking at their phones only for a moment, or they justify their behavior because they are answering an important phone call.
Unfortunately for busy drivers, New Jersey has distracted driving laws that prohibit the use of a cell phone for any purpose if it is not attached to a Bluetooth or sync system. Drivers who are on a learner’s permit cannot use a cell phone at all even if they have synced their phone to the vehicle.
Drivers can expect to be pulled over if it appears they are distracted. Moreover, someone who is driving at 55 mph will travel about 100 yards when they glance at their phone.
Drowsy driving. Drowsy driving affects people at all times of the day. Some people are very tired when they get up to go to work even if it is bright outside. These same people are often tired when they leave work. Someone who has been out all night might be tired even if they have not been drinking.
Drowsy driving might not seem dangerous to some drivers because they have made it home safely many times over. Someone who is falling asleep at the wheel might slide onto the shoulder and be woken up by the grooves that have been added to prevent drowsy driving crashes.
There are other situations in which drivers are taking long trips across the state and they are tiring when it gets late and they have been behind the wheel all day. Drivers should rotate with others in the car. Drivers can call for a ride-sharing company and get home safely. Carpools help prevent drowsy driving, and taking frequent breaks on long trips helps prevent drowsy driving accidents.
Drunk/impaired driving. Drunk and impaired driving plagues American roads. Approximately 800 people are hurt in drunk driving accidents each day. Approximately 29 people die in these crashes daily. People who have successfully driven impaired in the past will continue to do so simply because they think they are better at driving than others. Some drivers want to get home instead of sleeping on a friend’s couch.
There are others who refuse to ride in cabs or use ride-sharing services. Everyone who goes out drinking should have someone with them who can drive home. In the absence of a designated driver, everyone who has been drinking should use an alternative that does not involve driving.
Poor weather conditions. Poor weather conditions are common in New Jersey because of its location in the mid-Atlantic region. Drivers in New Jersey contend with hurricanes, heavy rain, wind, snow, ice, and darkness.
When drivers go out in poor weather conditions, they often believe they have no choice but to keep driving. This is simply not true. Drivers who feel unsafe should pull over or stay where they are until conditions improve. If drivers are not aware of how to drive on snow, they should not get behind the wheel.
Drivers should also keep an eye on the road because it can become slick in a matter of moments. Drivers often see slippery spots on the road before they reach them. Slowing down gives drivers more reaction time and a vehicle that is easier to control.
Poorly maintained roads. Poorly maintained roads are a major issue across New Jersey. A recent report found that New Jersey has the worst roads in the United States. Another study showed that 37.2 percent of New Jersey roads are in poor condition. Additionally, 8.1 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient. Poor road maintenance includes these issues:
- Unsafe ramps that enter and exit highways
- Missing or broken signs and signals
- Existing construction sites that leave debris or misuse signage
- Roadside hazards that were not moved or marked
- Uneven pavement that is dangerous, which can cause rollovers, unsafe lane changes, or accidents
- Potholes that damage vehicles, cause drivers to swerve, and cause multi-vehicle crashes
- Defective guardrails that do not prevent vehicles from leaving the road
- Intersections that may be missing signs or have poor design features that go uncorrected
- Shoulders to drop off too steeply because they have not been maintained
- Lane designs or merges that are dangerous, create narrow lanes, or do not have proper signage
- Poor drainage that can leave standing water on the road that causes crashes, vehicles to hydroplane, or dangerous emergency braking
Speeding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding has been a factor in about one-fourth of traffic accidents in the United States for approximately the past 20 years. Even as speeding deaths decrease because of better automotive safety technology and medical care, speeding remains an issue. In one poll, 53 percent of drivers considered speeding to be normal because they believe they would be run over by other vehicles if they did not speed up.
New Jersey is home to several interstates, many state routes, and U.S. highways. Bridges connect the state to New York City, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The New Jersey Turnpike provides a clear run from Delaware to New York City, and speeding on all these roads is common because traffic is especially heavy during morning and evening rush-hour. New Jersey is known as The Garden State because much of its interior is filled with farms, wineries, and breweries. There are thousands of miles of rural roads, and these roads invite speeders who might not see pedestrians, bicycles, or farm vehicles.
Teenage drivers. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the eighth-most populous. Therefore, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America. Although this impacts all drivers, teenage motorists are traveling on packed roads in communities that are more densely populated than any other in the country.
Teenage drivers have very little experience, and they are often allowed to drive after holding a learner’s permit for a short period of time. Even though drivers do not receive a full license until they turn 18, they might get their learner’s permit not long before that.
Because there are so many levels of licensure, teen drivers might be allowed to drive unsupervised before they turn 18. These factors make the roads even more dangerous.
Unsafe road design. Unsafe road designs include intersections, lane merges, and ramps that do not provide safe passage for all drivers. For example, someone who gets onto the highway may drive down a ramp that leaves them in the middle of traffic with no warning. Each of these issues must be reviewed by a car accident lawyer to determine who caused the issue. Because liability can fall on so many different people, businesses, or agencies, the lawyer must carefully review all relevant information before a lawsuit can proceed.
Driving Near Trucks and Trailers
Although it is impossible to avoid large trucks or trailers on the roads of New Jersey, drivers are wise to give these trucks a wide berth, pass instead of staying in the driver’s blind spot, and signal before turning or changing lanes. Because these vehicles are so large, they tip over easily, do not stop quickly, and the trailers can skid out of control at any time. If one of these accidents occurs, a New Jersey car accident lawyer will review the following:
- Truck defects
- Hour-logging violations
- The state of the driver
- The truck’s load
- The trucking company’s potentially negligent behavior
Truck drivers could easily be involved in road rage, distracted driving, drunk driving, or drowsy driving accidents, and they or their employers should be held accountable.
Road Rage Incidents
Road rage incidents either stay on the road or leave the road. Road rage involves any feeling of intense anger directed at another driver. Everyone is advised to drive away in a situation such as this, but some people will persist because they want to get back at the person who has angered them, prolonged their drive, or nearly caused an accident. If someone is driving recklessly, drivers should call 911 or a non-emergency number to report it. It is important to stay away from an aggressive driver, and do not engage or even make eye contact with them. The following are troubling statistics related to road rage:
- It has been reported that 50 percent of drivers become aggressive because of someone else’s aggressive driving.
- Approximately two percent of drivers seek revenge when they believe they have been wronged.
- A gun is involved in 37 percent of these incidents.
- Road range or aggressive driving can be linked to 66 percent of accidents.
- Another report notes that 30 murders a year occur because of road rage or aggressive driving.
If a road rage incident occurs, the police should be called immediately. A police report will document the actions of the other driver, and the other driver might even be arrested. In addition to criminal charges brought against the at-fault driver, the victim can sue an aggressive driver for their negligent or malicious acts.
Avoiding Distracted Driving
Avoiding distracted driving is important because anyone could get distracted and cause an accident. Distracted drivers often do not believe they are all that distracted. They have confidence in their abilities, and they are looking at their phones, turning around, gesturing at another motorist, or reaching for something in the car for just a moment. Traffic does stop, patterns change, and vehicles change lanes when a driver is not looking. A few tips to avoid distracted driving include the following:
- Turn off or set down cell phones.
- Use cell phones only when they are set to the side and connected to a Bluetooth or similar system.
- Drivers should not eat or do anything else at the wheel that makes it difficult to control the steering wheel.
- Motorists should not turn around to discipline children or speak to passengers.
- Drivers should avoid making hand gestures while talking.
- Eye contact should not be made with passengers during conversations
- Drivers should not gesture at other motorists unless they are involved in a potentially dangerous situation.
- It is important to remember New Jersey laws pertaining to distracted driving.
New Jersey does not allow the use of handheld devices while driving, and it believes eating, drinking, and other activities should be reserved for moments when the car is stopped. Arguing with other drivers or gesturing with one or both hands reduces the driver’s control over their vehicle. Children should be kept entertained to ensure that it is not necessary to turn around while driving.
Motorists should contact a car accident lawyer if a distracted driver causes an accident. Despite the best efforts of most New Jersey motorists, distracted driving causes accidents and deaths every day.
Steps Drivers Should Take After a Car Accident
The moments following a car accident can be stressful and leave everyone feeling a bit scattered. Knowing what to do at the scene of an accident is just as important as trying to avoid accidents. Although drivers often do not need this information, there is no way to know when they may find themselves in a precarious or dangerous position. The following advice can help save lives, minimize injuries, help protect the victim’s rights, and make the claims process much smoother. These steps also make it easier for drivers to respond to car accidents and build a compelling case when they have been injured through no fault of their own.
Pull over to a safe place. Some drivers cannot do this because their vehicles are inoperative after the accident. If the car still moves, it should be taken out of the road. When the driver reaches a safe space, they must engage their hazard lights and check on their passengers and the other driver. In most cases, the other driver will also pull over and get out to check on everyone. If possible, drivers should take pictures of the other vehicle or their plates.
Call 911. Someone should call 911 and request necessary assistance for the accident. A police officer can be dispatched to a simple car accident that needs a report. An ambulance or fire engine can be dispatched when the accident is more serious. Drivers should wait for the police officer to arrive and contribute to the police report. Drivers should not give away any information, admit to anything, or apologize.
Ask for medical care. If an ambulance is at the scene, victims should be examined by an EMT or go to the hospital. Medical care is very important when anyone has been hurt or may potentially have serious injuries. Medical care also creates a paper trail that is easy to follow when the driver seeks damages in a lawsuit.
Exchange personal information. Drivers should exchange personal and insurance information with the other drivers. If a bystander has come forward, they should be asked for their information. This is the best time to gather evidence because the accident scene is often cleaned up quickly.
Take notes and photographs. Notes on what occurred around the accident are helpful. Drivers should write down anything overheard that might be useful and take as many pictures as possible. Giving all this information to a car accident lawyer makes the accident much easier to understand.
Call a lawyer. A lawyer should be called to initiate an investigation and/or lawsuit. The lawyer will schedule a consultation because they need to discuss the case with their client before proceeding.
A lawyer should be retained as soon as possible to represent the victim or their family. Hiring a lawyer should not be delayed because the statute of limitations is only two years. Some accident victims take longer than two years to recover. In short, a lawsuit must be filed as soon as possible.
Do Accident Victims Need a Lawyer?
Accident victims require full-service legal counsel whether they are drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. A car accident lawyer will travel to the scene of the accident if necessary and will work closely with expert witnesses, including accident reconstruction specialists, so that they can develop and present the strongest arguments for full financial recovery.
The lawyer represents people who have suffered any type of injury in a car accident, from soft tissue trauma to serious and catastrophic loss, such as brain or spinal cord injury, paralysis, broken bones, burns, and amputation or loss of a limb. Lawyers also take wrongful death claims arising out of car accidents. They will help victims pursue damages for all their losses, from lost wages and potential income to medical expenses, as well as physical pain and suffering.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Assist Victims After Any Accident
If you have been involved in a car accident, reach out to the New Jersey car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr for help. We have protected the rights of personal injury victims in central New Jersey since 1975. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Services available in Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Gujarati, or Spanish upon request.
Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.