Under a new law called the “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law,” proof that a defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle may give rise to the presumption that the defendant was engaged in reckless driving. Prosecutors are empowered to charge the offender with committing vehicular homicide or assault when such type of accident occurs from reckless driving. Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury occurs and a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury occurs. A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
I’ve previously shared stories about insurance companies that engage in unfair claims settlement practices in order to avoid paying out on legitimate claims. The bottom line for insurance companies is money. The more claims the insurance company denies, the greater the profit. This is why several insurance companies have developed a reputation for systematically denying claims. Incredibly, some of these companies are proud of their reputation.
Involved in a premises liability claim involving a commercial property? Depending on the facts of your case, you may find yourself subject to a little known immunity provision due to the existence of a “triple net lease”.
The American Bar Association has determined that it is ethical for lawyers to search the internet for publicly available information on citizens called for jury duty — and even jurors in deliberations.
The ABA issued its report in April of this year which states that unless limited by law or court order, a lawyer may review a juror or potential juror “Internet presence” which could even include postings by the juror during a trial. The ABA did state that attorneys are not allowed to communicate directly with the jurors, such as asking to “friend” them on Facebook.
As the popularity and participation in water based recreation increases, the designers, builders and owners of water structures must recognize the potential that the public may intentionally or unintentionally encounter their structures during recreational activities. A review of the current dam safety permitting regulations reveals that most do not require planners, designers or owners to address the potential hazards created by the structure to recreational users of the waterway and surrounding areas. Also, most often absent from these regulations is any requirement that designers and owners create and implement a safety program to reduce the risk to recreational users.
Many members of the general public find themselves closer than ever to seemingly safe and suitable reservoirs and other waterways for recreational activities. As the population density of the United States continues to rise, previously remote waterways and hydraulic structures are now easy to access and are neighbors to residential communities. Reservoirs, waterways and other areas near dams are popular locations for recreational activities. Further, new hydraulic structures which change the character of the waterway may appear to create new opportunities for recreation
Recreational activities in rivers, streams and lakes are enjoyed by millions of Americans every year. Paddle sports and other water based recreational activities have dramatically increased in popularity over the past twenty years. The American Canoe Association reports that 202 million paddle trips occurred during 2012. It is estimated that at least fifty million Americans have experienced canoeing, kayaking and other paddle sports. Of these, at least four million people consider themselves avid paddlers. In addition, specific activities have surged substantially in popularity. For example, kayaking has experienced an exponential growth since the 1990s. It is expected that participation in kayaking, canoeing and boating will continue to increase. The barriers of entry to these sports have fallen. Kayaks, canoes and other craft are becoming less expensive and commonly available through “super” sporting good stores.
Here’s some more interesting traffic safety information, courtesy of the “2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws”, issued by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. We know that youthful drivers are dangerous drivers, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that a recent study found that fatal crash rates per mile driven are twice as high for 16-year-olds as they are for 18 to 19-year-olds. The greatest incidence – 20% – of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths occurs from 9 PM to midnight, which probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to anyone. A number of states have adopted graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, which include such things as a mandatory waiting period, a nighttime restriction, passenger restrictions and supervised driving for at least 30 hours. These programs have been demonstrated to be effective: states with nighttime driving restrictions show crash reductions of up to 60% during restricted hours, and fatal crash rates are 21% lower for 15 to 17-year-old drivers when they are prohibited from having any teenage passengers in their vehicles, compared to when two or more passengers are allowed. Statistics demonstrate that as the age of obtaining a learner’s permit decreases, fatal crash rates increase. The earlier young people are allowed to learn to drive, and the younger the age at which they become licensed, are both factors associated with higher fatal crash rates.
Recently, the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics addressed whether a lawyer who represents plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits can be required to personally guarantee a client’s failure to repay an asserted reimbursement interest out of the personal injury recovery obtained with the services of the attorney to the client’s health plan. See https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/notices/2013/n130927c.pdf. In Advisory Opinion 727, the Committee found that a lawyer may not agree to personally guarantee a client’s repayment of monies to a plan, however, a lawyer may agree to satisfy a valid lien out of funds in the lawyer’s possession.
In the wintertime, I usually post a few blogs about the dangers of ice and snow to pedestrians and drivers. Now that summer is starting and more people are outside with their pets, it’s time to discuss another issue that can pose a danger to pedestrians, walkers, and runners: dog bites. Although many people’s dogs are no threat to strangers, there often is a rise in reported dog bite incidents during warmer weather months when animals and humans tend to be outside more often. Recently, a 15-year old boy in Illinois was riding home from school on his bike when he stopped to talk to some friends. During that time, a 120-pound bullmastiff which had escaped from its owner’s yard pulled the boy off his bike and attacked him. The dog continued to attack the boy for about 5 minutes until a neighbor subdued the dog. The victim suffered serious bite wounds, which required two surgeries. His physical injuries resulted in permanent scarring. He also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for which he underwent psychological counseling. His medical expenses totaled about $70,600.