How Your NJ Car Insurance Policy Affects Injury Compensation

How Does My NJ Car Insurance Policy Affect My Ability to Seek Injury Compensation in Morris County and Sussex County?

Car Accident Injury Lawyer Morris County NJWhen a driver is injured in a motor vehicle accident, the first place the injured driver will turn to for financial compensation is their own insurance company. However, especially for more serious injuries, that same insurance coverage may not be sufficient when it comes to paying for medical expenses and lost income if the injured driver cannot work.

In addition, pain and suffering damages (which usually represent the largest portion of a personal injury claim) are not awarded as part of first-person claims (claims filed by an injured party with their own insurance company).

So, if you have been injured while driving your car, you may not recover full compensation from your own insurance company for your car accident damages. However, you may also be limited from seeking compensation from other responsible parties depending on what type of insurance coverage you have purchased.

Here is what you need to know regarding NJ car insurance policies, and how they can impact your rights and ability to seek compensation from a third party when injured in a car accident in Morris County or Sussex County.

Parsippany Car Accident Injury Lawyer Discusses “Limited Right to Sue” Car Insurance

In New Jersey, there are two specific types of injury protection offered as part of your car insurance policy: “Limited Right to Sue” policies and “Unlimited Right to Sue” policies.

Limited Right to Sue policies tend to appear more attractive, as subscribers are offered a much lower insurance premium. However, the catch is that limited right so sue car insurance policies only allow injured drivers to file personal injury claims against other responsible drivers for very specific types of injuries, those being:

  • Loss of limb, Disfigurement, or Serious Scarring
  • Permanent Injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Death of the driver (wrongful death)
  • Loss of fetus

Consider the following scenario: you are injured in a car accident caused by another drunk driver. You suffer serious injuries to your spine, but those same injuries are projected to heal in two year’s time. Your spinal cord injuries result in extremely high medical and rehabilitative costs, and prevent you from working for some time. However, since those same injuries are not technically “permanent”, and you have purchased a “limited right to sue” car insurance policy, you most likely would not be able to file a car accident injury claim against the negligent driver who caused your injuries.

So as attractive as the reduced premium of these limited right to sue policies can appear, they do come with extreme risk when it comes to your ability to seek injury compensation for car accident injuries.

Morristown Auto Accident Injury Attorney Discusses “Unlimited Right to Sue” Car Insurance

On the other hand, unlimited right to sue car insurance policies allow injured drivers to seek personal injury compensation from other responsible third parties for any type of injury.

Considering the many dangers New Jersey drivers face, including distracted drivers, drunk drivers, negligent drivers, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bus accidents, and more, having the flexibility to seek car accident injury compensation from other negligent drivers or parties for any type of injury is a much more attractive insurance policy option, despite its greater up-front cost.

Contact A Car Accident Injury Attorney with Offices in Morris County and Sussex County Today

At The Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff, we have extensive experience recovering full and fair car accident injury compensation for our clients and their families in towns across Morris County and Sussex County, including Parsippany, Morristown, Netcong, Newton, Denville, Dover, Rockaway, East Hanover, Morris Plains, Florham Park, and more.

Attorney Michael Burakoff has the unique approach of working closely not only with his clients, but with their families as well. This is because he understands just how difficult a car accident injury can be, and the impacts it can have on a family’s financial and emotional stability.

To discuss your unique needs, situation, and options moving forward after any kind of car accident in a free and confidential consultation. with our legal team today, please contact us online, or through either our Morristown office or our Newton office at (973) 520-0525.

When looking at accident causes, the discussion often turns to things like drunk driving, distracted driving or teen drivers. All of these things factor in, but studies have shown that one of the biggest causes is far more simple: failure to yield.

The problem — when one driver fails to yield the right of way — is that the other driver probably assumes he or she knows exactly what’s happening. This can lead to accidents that could have been avoided, but they’re impossible to predict.

For instance, perhaps you’re driving down the interstate at 70 mph. Technically, you have the right of way. It’s nice to move over for merging vehicles at on-ramps, but it’s not always possible. Maybe there’s a car in front of you, another behind and another to your left.

You assume that driver will yield the right of way to you, but if he or she doesn’t do so, there’s almost nothing you can do to avoid the crash. The statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that this is a leading cause of car wrecks with senior citizens. In particular, it’s also an issue for long-haul truckers, who are constantly trying to watch out for merging traffic that doesn’t yield properly.

This is just one example; it can also happen by driveways, at four-way stops, at red lights and, of course, at yield signs. In all of those situations, the problem is the same: Drivers predict what others are going to do and then those other drivers make mistakes that cause accidents.

Have you been hurt in a crash like this? Be sure you know all of your legal rights to compensation.

Source: Road and Track, “The 9 Most Dangerous Things Drivers Do,” Benjamin Preston, accessed Aug. 10, 2017

Those of us who don’t have kids to transport to and from school often choose small vehicles. They don’t use a lot of gas, and they are easy to maneuver in and out of parking spaces. Many of them are also very cool-looking. However, they also account for the highest rate of traffic fatalities, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The IIHS studied 2014 vehicles and older of all sizes and the number of fatalities reported between 2012 and 2015 according to the federal government. Over half of the mid-size and larger vehicles included in the study had the lowest fatality rates. Some had no fatalities in those years.

The highest fatality rates occurred in two models of mini cars — the Kia Rio sedan and the Hyundai Accent sedan. The larger fatality rate was attributed to the fact that smaller vehicles don’t provide the protection for occupants that larger vehicles do.

The IIHS researchers analyzed fatal crash data collected by the federal government between 2012 and 2015. They found overall, smaller vehicles on the road don’t protect occupants the way that larger ones do, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Mini and small cars topped the IIHS list of vehicles with the highest number of driver deaths. The Hyundai Accent sedan and the Kia Rio sedan, both mini cars, had the highest rate of deaths.

That’s not to say that larger vehicles guarantee safety. Two large vehicles, the Nissan Titan Crew Cab and the Dodge Challenger, were among the top ten vehicles with the highest driver fatality rates.

Of course, when purchasing a vehicle, safety features are key. It’s important to do your homework. However, no matter how safe your vehicle, a reckless or negligent driver can still cause serious injury or worse. That’s why it’s essential to hold at-fault drivers legally responsible for their actions.

Source: CBS News, “Mini and small cars have highest traffic deaths rates, IIHS report says,” May 25, 2017

Despite the increasing laws across the country against cellphone use and texting while driving, even more people than ever are dying on America’s roads because of distracted drivers. The number of distracted driving-related fatalities rose by nearly 9 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While teens and other young drivers are involved in these texting and driving accidents, an official with State Farm puts some of the blame on the parents they’ve been riding in the car with since childhood. He says, “When they get behind the wheel, if they’ve been watching you use the phone, if they would rather use the phone it’s gonna be hard to break that habit and get them driving safely from the get go.” The insurance company says that more than a third of drivers text while they’re behind the wheel.

Even if you aren’t involved in a distracted-driving accident, you’re going to pay a price for distracted drivers via higher insurance rates, according to an official with the University of South Carolina’s Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management.

Not all accidents caused by distracted driving are even identified as such. Even though law enforcement officers now can look at driver’s phones to determine whether they were talking or texting at the time of the crash, there are numerous other distractions that take drivers’ focus off the road.

If you’re involved in a crash and you believe that the at-fault driver may have been distracted by a phone or other device, your New Jersey attorney can work to ensure that the circumstances that led the driver to be negligent or reckless are properly investigated.

Source: NBC News, “Your Car Insurance Rates Are Going Up Because Everyone Keeps Texting and Driving,” Jo Ling Kent and Chiara Sottile, accessed March 24, 2017

New Jersey residents are just digging themselves out from Winter 2017’s worst storm to date. That means that the highways and streets are being subjected to more harsh salt treatments that melt the ice but contribute to the problem of eroding roads and potholes.

There’s no doubt that when ice and snow build up on the roads, the New Jersey Department of Transportation workers must do what is necessary to make safe passage for motorists, but these measures do play havoc on the highways’ infrastructures. In some cases, the deteriorating roads and highways may even be contributing factors to some serious accidents and injuries for drivers and their passengers.

In some collisions, the at-fault party is easy to identify. Mr. Smith runs a red light and crashes into Mrs. Jones, sending her and her children to the hospital. Clearly, Mr. Smith was in the wrong, and both he and his insurance company are liable for their injuries and damages.

But is it really so clear? Let’s look at it from a different perspective.

Suppose Mr. Smith was driving at a normal rate of speed and came up to the intersection, but the stop light was not working. As luck would have it, a huge mound of snow was piled up there at the corner, obscuring Mr. Smith’s view of Mrs. Jones approaching the intersection from the right. The two cars collide.

All of a sudden, the liability in the accident is quite muddled. The non-working traffic light and the location of the mound of snow where it obstructs drivers’ vision both contributed to the wreck. This potentially opens up the agencies responsible for traffic light maintenance and snow removal to potential liability should Mrs. Jones decide to file a claim against them for her and her children’s injuries.

The DOT website encourages drivers to be proactive by reporting the locations of hazards like broken stop lights and dangerous pot holes that could pose dangers to drivers.

If you were injured in an accident and feel that the road conditions may have contributed to the circumstances, a New Jersey personal injury attorney can help sort out all possible defendants.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Transportation, “Pothole/Highway Maintenance Reporting,” accessed Feb. 10, 2017

Okay, so you’re probably not going over the river and through the woods, but chances are good that you will be traveling to some destination this Thanksgiving.

According to AAA, they anticipate that nearly 49 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles during the period of the day before the holiday to the Sunday following it. This projected number is an increase of roughly a million more than last year’s total, and the greatest number since 2007.

Nearly 90 percent of that total will be on the highways. The lower gas prices and the improving economy were cited by AAA as the reasons for the uptick in travel numbers for this year.

To assist those who will be on the highways around more than 30 major cities from the Sunday preceding Thanksgiving to the one after it, Google Maps has provided driving recommendations.

The company is using an aggregate of anonymized speed and location data to calculate highway congestion. This data was collected from users’ Android phones when the location services were enabled.

The general advice for all major cities was to head out when possible around noon on Monday or Tuesday for your destination. Expect heavier traffic patterns, but the peaks will generally be at the same time as everyday traffic. Traffic should slack off after 8 p.m.. and also in the early morning hours.

Still, all the extra automobiles on the highways and byways, coupled with drivers who may have indulged in too much turkey and gotten sleepy — or worse, alcohol, and become impaired — creates more potential hazards. If you wind up injured in a Thanksgiving holiday collision, knowing your rights can lead to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Source: Boston Globe, “What Google says are the best and worst times to drive during Thanksgiving week,” Matt Rocheleau, Nov. 16, 2016

Driving while impaired is one of the crimes most frequently committed in the United States; it’s estimated that police arrest one driver for every 772 incidents of DWI.

Annually across the nation, police officers arrest 1.5 million intoxicated drivers. Many are repeat offenders responsible for a great deal of the accidents attributed to alcohol use. Every half hour, somewhere in the U.S., a person is killed by a drunk or drugged driver, adding up to almost 50 individuals each day.

Statistics show that the fatality rate is actually rising, with nearly 18,000 killed annually and another 250,000 injured in the U.S.

In 2012 here in New Jersey, 28 percent of deaths in car accidents were related to alcohol use, with 164 deaths. More than 10 million drivers self-reported incidents of impaired driving due to illicit drug usage in one survey of U.S. driving behaviors.

During the same year, 10,322 lives were lost in alcohol-related collisions in America, which accounts for 31 percent of all traffic deaths in the country. That number was up 4.6 percent from the year before when 9,865 died.

Clearly, there is a problem. New Jersey’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety supports the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative to keep drunken drivers off the roads. Sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols are part of the highly visible enforcement strategies police departments are employing in targeted areas.

If you get hurt in a collision with an impaired driver, you don’t have to wait for the adjudication of any criminal charges against the driver before filing civil litigation in the New Jersey courts in order to seek financial remuneration for your injuries, losses and related expenses.

Source: The State of New Jersey, “Talking Points,” accessed Aug. 26, 2016

A new and amazing “sticky” technology has been patented by Google. The technology is intended to help protect pedestrians from serious harm when they are hit by Google’s self-driving cars. The patent for the technology was granted on May 15.

The way the technology works is by functioning kind of like flypaper. Cars equipped with the sticky substance will have an egg-like shell. When a car hits a person, the egg-like shell will shatter and the person will get stuck to the front of the car. That way, the pedestrian does not bounce off the windshield or fly from the car onto the pavement. Ideally, the sticky material will adhere to the pedestrians instantly, so if the vehicle stops suddenly, the pedestrian will not be thrown forward by the stopping action.

Google is not the only company to develop technology to help pedestrians in a collision situation. In fact, Volvo and Land Rover created outside airbags that activate during an impact to help lessen the injuries suffered by pedestrians during a collision. Jaguar and Citroen have also developed a special technology designed to lessen pedestrian injuries.

Unfortunately, no amount of technology will even the playing field between cars and pedestrians, but these innovations do sound like they might help. Indeed, if it can turn a life-ending injury into a survivable injury, the safety tech that these car makers develop is most certainly worth the trouble. In the meantime, when pedestrians are hurt by motor vehicles, they may want to research the incident and the law to determine if they have a viable claim for financial damages relating to the incident.

Source: The Guardian, “Google patents ‘sticky’ layer to protect pedestrians in self-driving car accidents,” Nick Woolf, May 19, 2016

Let us consider the dangers of texting while driving for a minute. In order to operate a smartphone, New Jersey drivers need to take at least one of their hands off the steering wheel — some might even take both of their hands off the steering wheel. In addition, the smartphone user has to take his or her eyes off the road in order to navigate the cellphone screen and its keypad. Researchers have determined that smartphone users on average remove their eyes from the road for as long as five seconds at a time in order to manipulate their smartphone devices.

Drivers are essentially operating their vehicles blind while using their smartphones. This increases smartphone users’ chances of getting into a car crash exponentially. In fact, numerous accidents — some of them injurious and fatal — happen all the time in New Jersey as the direct result of smartphone use.

All that said, it can be difficult for New Jersey officers to know for sure whether a driver was texting and driving or not. This is because, unlike intoxicated drivers, motorists who were using their cellphones while behind the wheel appear sober and not show any signs of having committed an offense while driving.

This is where Textalyzer technology comes in. Textalyzer technology is currently being developed by a technology firm in Israel, which believes it can give police officers the ability to check whether a driver has been operating his or her smartphone without violating the drivers’ personal information or divulging any protected data from the device.

This new technology could be particularly useful to injured plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Indeed, whenever plaintiffs have an additional tool with which to prove that a negligent or unlawful driver caused their accident injuries, it brings more attention to the problem and increases the safety of the driving public as a whole.

Source: Motoring, “Texting detection tech coming to a cop car nr u,” John Mahoney, April 14, 2016

Pedestrian accidents usually happen on busy city streets in New Jersey, where people are walking to and fro and cars are darting in and out of traffic. Less common are pedestrian accidents that happen on highways and interstates. This is because there are not a lot of pedestrians present on these high-speed roadways. However, because drivers are not expecting them to be there, pedestrians are particularly at risk on highways and these kind of interstate accidents do, at times, occur.

When it comes to pursuing a lawsuit over a highway pedestrian accident, some complicated issues come up for the pedestrians who were harmed. For example, pedestrians are typically held to a higher standard of care when they are present on highways. In other words, pedestrians need to be more careful on interstates — to protect themselves and avoid getting hit by a car — than they do on regular roads. If the pedestrian is acting in a risky fashion on the interstate, for example, an accident may be deemed as the pedestrian’s fault and a viable claim for damages might not exist.

The most important question to ask first in these types of scenarios is: Why was the pedestrian on the highway or interstate in the first place? If a reasonable answer can be made — like the pedestrian was working on a broken down car, an accident had just occurred or some other viable reason — then there is a higher likelihood that another party is at fault for the accident. Next, it is important to look at the behavior of the driver who struck the pedestrian. For example, was the driver speeding, drunk, distracted or failing to drive inside of his or her lane?

If you or your loved one have been hurt or killed in a New Jersey pedestrian cash on an interstate highway, you may wish to get an expert legal opinion as to the viability of any potential claim. If successfully navigated, such a claim could be a way to obtain financial compensation to pay for medical care or end-of-life expenses stemming from the incident.

Source: FindLaw, “Pedestrian accidents on highways,” accessed March 25, 2016

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