Year: 2014

Uninsured Motorist Laws In NJ: What They Mean For You

We have insurance to protect us from the unexpected. Getting in an accident with an uninsured driver is a risk we all take when driving. To protect people from that risk, the State of New Jersey used to require that all motorists carry uninsured motorist coverage. Unfortunately, in an effort to combat high insurance premiums, the State no longer protects all motorists. New Jersey insurance companies are now allowed to sell you “Special” and “Basic” polices that do not offer this very important protection.

On “Standard” policies only, New Jersey requires the following minimum uninsured motorist coverage, along with your regular car insurance:

· $15,000 to cover injuries suffered by a single person in an accident;
· $30,000 to cover injuries by everyone involved in the accident;
· $5,000 to cover property damage caused by the accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is inexpensive and you should cover yourself in the amounts you would want in the event of an accident. You should purchase as much as you can, however, you can only purchase up to what is covered for others. For example, if you have a policy that has 100/300 bodily injury limits for others, you can buy that same amount for yourself. The minimums are merely the lowest amount required by law.

When does your uninsured coverage kick in?

Your uninsured motorist coverage is designed to cover you when the other party has no insurance. This coverage also applies when the car that hit you was a stolen vehicle or the driver that hit you took off right after the accident (Hit and Run). Included in the uninsured coverage is under insured coverage. This covers you if the other party has less insurance than you do and your injuries are worth more than the other party’s policy limits.

To collect on your claim, you will have to prove that the other driver was at fault in the accident. If you were partially at fault, your insurance company may reduce your claim by the percentage you were at fault in the accident. If the other driver is at fault and has insurance, then your initial claim must be to the other driver’s insurance first. Only the unpaid amount will be covered by your insurance. However, if their coverage is inadequate, your insurance carrier will have to authorize your settlement with the other driver’s insurance company.

Collecting from Your Insurance

Like any insurance claim, the insurance company will investigate and look for a reason to deny your request should you file an uninsured motorist claim. Even though it looks clear to you, they may see a problem and seek to deny your claim.

They may claim your injuries were insignificant or that the other driver’s coverage was adequate enough for your injuries. Regardless, many times people need to resort to retaining a personal injury attorney to obtain a fair amount from their insurance company.

More importantly, you will likely need a lawyer just to find out what coverages are in place — otherwise, you risk losing money because you did not realize you had more coverage available. You purchased this coverage to cover your injuries and you have a right to it. That’s why uninsured motorist coverage exists.

Can Social Media Content Be Used Against You In New Jersey?

With the popularity of social media sites skyrocketing in recent years, the courts in New Jersey as well as elsewhere have just begun to address how and when social media content can be used for or against parties in civil court cases. According to a recent New Jersey Law Journal article, the courts are now beginning to weigh in on the discoverability and admissibility of social media posts from sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

While the issue of access is still a bit unclear in the Garden State, neighboring states such as New York and Pennsylvania are beginning to set precedents that the New Jersey courts may end up following.

As an example, suppose a plaintiff has filed a lawsuit for a personal injury and is seeking compensation for damages. However, during the time the plaintiff claimed to be injured, he/she posts pictures from a recent gym class depicting strenuous activity and exercise. Despite these posts being “private” within Facebook, the courts are now beginning to determine the relevancy of such items and how they can be used as evidence.

Prior to the social media age, private investigators hired by insurance companies would typically be asked to acquire this type of evidence for the courts. However, with many individuals now sharing every intricate detail of their lives on Facebook and Twitter, the lines between invasion of privacy and relevancy are now being drawn in cyberspace.

As more courts begin to rule on this issue, it will be no surprise when it is determined that posts on social media, even if they are not intended for the general public, are admissible in NJ civil cases. In fact, Facebook’s own privacy policy states that the disclosure of a user’s information may be made “pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other civil or criminal requests.”

As a personal injury law firm that represents clients in all types of accident and injury cases, we always advise our clients to be truthful in everything they say or do following an accident and to stay off social media sites.

In light of recent rulings and the way things appear to be headed, it should always be assumed that whatever you share on social media could very well be used against you in your case. Always use good judgment and refrain from posting updates, videos or photos that you will have to explain down the road. The last thing you want is a seemingly innocent Facebook update being used to deny you your rights as an accident/injury victim.

For more information or if you have any questions on this matter, feel free to contact our law firm at 973-325-7711.

Greenberg Minasian Attorneys Nominated for Top 100 Trial Lawyers

West Orange Accident Attorney

Greenberg Minasian, LLC is proud to announce the nomination of William S. Greenberg Esq. and Lawrence D. Minasian Esq. to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers for Civil Plaintiff Attorneys. This prestigious organization recognizes the top trial lawyers in the United States based on their qualifications and skills. In addition, it offers the highest-quality education programs for trial attorneys, as well as a quality network of talent willing to interact and share ideas.

As an invitation-only organization, Top 100 Trial Lawyers Membership is extended to only the most qualified attorneys from each state. One of the goals of the organization is to support the importance and value of the trial setting. The following video from the National Trial Lawyers President explains this valuable concept:

The networking opportunities, advocacy training, and continuing education that the National Trial Lawyers makes available to its members becomes a great asset for the clients at Greenberg Minasian.

We are excited about the opportunity of this nomination and what it will offer to our firm and clients in our area.

Distracted Commercial Drivers

Distracted Commercial Drivers

Despite their reputation as the best drivers on the road, commercial motor vehicle operators could be the original distracted drivers. Long before cell phones, CB Radios kept truckers connected to each other—and distracted. Even though the CB had few buttons to push, it was hardly hands free. Additionally, since long-haul truckers live and conduct business in their cab, activities such as eating, drinking hot coffee, doing paperwork, and even checking out the sights while driving have long been problems. Then came the cell phone . . .

The Danger of Cell Phones

The advent of the cell phone meant that truckers didn’t have to stop to place a call to their dispatcher. Cell phones connected truckers to the rest of the world but also became another distraction. Texting became mainstream around the year 2000 and surpassed telephone calls as the dominant mode of communication in 2007. Texting while driving became the ultimate distraction.

In 2010, the Federal agency that regulates commercial trucking, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) passed a rule “limiting the use of wireless devices” and in 2014 announced “New texting and mobile phone restrictions for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.” The FMCSA seems proud of the announcement despite the lag time between acknowledging the problem and passing any meaningful regulations.

Unfair Fight

Trucks and cars travelling at 70 mph may appear most of the time to play well together but even a slight disagreement during a lane change would show how tenuous the truce is between these two vehicles. Their compatibility is an illusion. Truck – car accidents usually result in catastrophic injuries or death, with the car absorbing the worst of it.

Who Started it?

Even though truckers are anxious to blame these accidents on the car, they are like any other accident; negligence played a major role. As mentioned above, CMV operators are susceptible to distractions, the same as any driver. However, trucks don’t respond or maneuver as well as a car. A minor distraction, even a glance, is much more difficult to correct in a timely manner.

Also, trucks are more susceptible to mechanical failures that result in accidents. When trucks are inadequately maintained or if owners cut corners on tires and other, essential items, they create circumstances that even the best driver can’t overcome. Fleet owners that cut maintenance corners become liable for injuries caused by their negligence.

Dealing With the Aftermath

Everything involving a truck is bigger, including the legal aftermath of an accident.

When anyone has been in an accident involving a commercial truck, they will not only have to confront their injuries and property loss, they will be facing a cadre of attorneys representing the insurance companies of the driver, truck owner, and any maintenance companies. These attorneys go to work immediately after the accident in an attempt to absolve their clients of liability.

Victims of a truck accident may feel like their whole world has collapsed, but they do have an important benefit available to them. Because truck accident attorneys only collect fees from the settlement they win, truck accident victims are able to retain an experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled attorney to fight for their just compensation and legal rights. Since initial consultations are free, victims of truck accidents can relax and focus on their recovery.

Greenberg Minasian Wins $17 Million Verdict for Client

Angelique Baker wasn’t able to keep her appointment. She stepped off the New Jersey Transit bus with time to spare but her bag string got caught in the door that had closed before she was clear. The accident reconstruction expert hired by Ms. Baker’s attorney showed that the bus dragged her for over 25 feet before she broke loose and slipped under the rear wheels of the bus which drove over her mid-section.

Ms. Baker’s appointment was changed to the Emergency Room and later to Intensive Care as she struggled to survive her extensive injuries including severe hip, leg and arm injuries as well as head trauma.

A Dramatic Change of Plans

At 39 years of age, Angelique was five months into a successful battle against her past addictive behavior. She missed her appointment that fateful day in 2011; her efforts cut short by a door that closed too soon.

On February 21, after a six-week trial, it only took the jury a little over an hour to reject the defense and award  a $17 million verdict to Angelique. Her attorney, William Greenberg commented on behalf of himself and his law partner, Lawrence Minasian:

“We are very pleased with the verdict. The two of us lived with this case since the accident and saw firsthand how devastating the injuries were to Angelique. This verdict reinforces our belief that a person’s past history must not overshadow the devastating injuries and pain with which Angelique continues to suffer. These monies will allow her to get the proper medical care and home care she so desperately needs for the rest of her life.”

Your Share of This Verdict

There is no doubt that Angelique needs and deserves this verdict. If it were you, you would expect the same. However, there are other benefits we all share when a jury does the right thing.

Every transit company in the U.S. should be examining this case and adjusting training procedures to ensure that every driver is properly trained so that this type of accident never happens again.