According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2009, 130 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) died in school transportation-related crashes. Over two-thirds (67%) were struck by school buses, 6 percent by vehicles functioning as school buses, and 27 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes. There were 56 (43%) school-age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes between the ages of 5 and 7.

Although drivers of all vehicles are required to stop for a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, many people do not stop.  It is reported that distracted drivers and/or inexperienced drivers simply do not realize that a bus has stopped or that its lights are illuminated.  The reason the bus is not seen does not matter.  Children simply cannot rely on drivers to stop for them pass safely.

Although we would expect our schools to train children safe loading and unloading procedures and schools are actually required to provide such training, many schools do not.  In order to reduce risk to our children, The National Safety Council encourages parents to take it upon themselves to teach their children rules for getting on and off the school bus.  (A copy of School Bus Safey Rules available for parents can be found here.

Even with teaching children about proper loading and unloading procedures, children are injured too frequently.  If your child is injured loading or unloading from a school bus, contact us for a free consultation.

 

Personal injury attorneys are advocates for people who have been injured in an accident, whether it is a slip and fall, trip and fall, work related, car, motorcycle or recreational accident.  Our job is to represent the rights of the injured party, not the insurance company.  So, why do personal injury attorneys have such a bad reputation in our society and why are we so often seen as greedy ambulance chasers?  Whether the reason for the negative image is television, commercials or the few bad apples out there, the stereotypes are damaging to our legal system and society. The legal system is what people should turn to in their time of need. It is their last avenue for appeal and redress when private parties and the government will not act responsible for their negligent acts. And truth be told‚ the goal of the vast majority of personal injury lawyers out there is to help people in their time of need.

Injury attorneys not only help people‚ but the most important consequence of their work is a safer environment for all of us, our children, mothers, fathers and friends. Corporations and people have to be concerned about what can happen to them if they do not behave in a reasonable manner.  Safety laws and regulations that are currently in place are largely the result of injury attorneys; enacted in response to negligent behavior‚ and these laws provide a standard which intends to keep the public healthy and safe.

There may be a time in your life when you are faced with a situation that will require you to hire a personal injury attorney. You should be represented and protected and not made to feel like just another file in the filing cabinet. You are an individual with your own worries and hopes about your injury claim and we are here to help you.

This is especially true with us at Stark & Stark. We treat all of our clients with the utmost care and we do everything we can to ensure that your rights are represented. If you or your family are ever injured in an accident‚ please contact us  for a free consultation.

 

Under New Jersey law, ordinarily you are not responsible for injuries caused by someone else driving your car. However, there are certain circumstances in which you may be responsible. A motor vehicle, after all, can be a deadly weapon and therefore you have an obligation to act responsibly when loaning it.

Before turning your keys over to someone else, if you ask questions and place limitations on the driver you are essentially limiting your liability. For example, make sure he or she has a license to operate a vehicle, ask about his or her driving history, make sure he or she is not under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication. Also, let the driver know that he or she is not permitted to operate your vehicle under the influence of any substance that could impair his or her ability to drive and that he or she should not turn your vehicle over to anyone else.

Although these things may seem logical, if you are proactive and do not assume the answers you are limiting your potential liability. Responsibility for someone else’s negligence may pass to you if you allow a person to operate your vehicle that you knew or should have known would pose a danger to others on the roadway.

Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.

Accidental or unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 65 percent of all deaths. The other 35 percent are intentional injuries, occurring as a result of fights, assaults, suicide, homicide, and other crimes. Many of these intentional injuries occur at bars, inns, taverns or clubs, after an evening of recreational drinking.

A bar’s liability extends not only to injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident, but also to injuries resulting from known dangers in the face of inadequate warnings or protections. For example, a bar may be liable for injuries sustained by a person legally on the property by way of an assault, if it is shown that the assault was a known danger and the bar provided inadequate security despite the danger.

If you sustained an injury from an assault at a bar, please contact us immediately.

Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.

During the course of the year, we see dozens of people who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. People who wear personal protective gear when they ride fare far better than people who do not wear protective gear. Protective gear should provide comfort, increase visibility, and offer protection. Protective gear should not only be comfortable, it should be brightly colored and reflective to provide improved visibility. Protective gear that meets these standards will not only decrease the likelihood of a crash, but in the event of a crash it will prevent or reduce injuries.

Most recreational activities and sports have their own protective clothing and equipment. Motorcycle riding is no different. Every rider and passenger should wear sturdy over the ankle footwear with non-slip soles, long pants, a good jacket, full fingered gloves and, above all, a helmet manufactured to meet Department of Transportation (DOT) standards with proper eye protection.

Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.

Obscured traffic signs are an example of an obvious dangerous road condition.  This is another example of a hazard that more often goes unnoticed until it is too late.  If a sign posting a traffic command is not in 100% plain view, then motorists are not being provided every available chance to be safe. Under ideal conditions, a motorist needs only to adhere to the rules of the road, and hope that all other motorists do the same. However, improper signage puts everyone on the road at risk. For instance, if a stop sign is covered up by a nearby shrub, then the motorist who must come to a stop cannot follow the rule. Consequently, the motorist who is intersecting with the stop sign driver, a motorist who is simply minding his or her own business and following his or her own set of traffic laws, is now exposed to the risk of becoming part of a traffic collision. Similarly, signs that are placed in a location that obstructs a motorists view of oncoming traffic also exposes drivers to unnecessary risk.

If you feel as though you have been injured as the result of a dangerous road condition, including an obscured traffic sign or a roadway that has been obscured by a sign, then please contact us immediately.

Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.

More people are injured in motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey than any other type of accident.  Motor vehicle accidents are not all caused by the negligence of other drivers, but are often caused by dangerous road conditions. No matter how responsible or cautious a driver is, when a dangerous condition creeps up on an unknowing victim, unnecessary harm and trauma is often the result.  A motor vehicle is, after all, a deadly weapon and conditions that hinder its safe operation lead to dangerous situations, which very often could have been avoided.    

Dangerous road conditions are the responsibility of property owners, construction crews and the governing officials who have hired those crews.  There are a variety of dangerous road conditions that amount to negligence when they are permitted to exist.  For example, potholes, unevenly paved roads, obstructed traffic signs, obstructed roadways, poorly or unsafely planned construction areas, construction refuse, unsigned curves, overgrown trees/plants and any other condition that is permitted to exist in an area of travel that could impede the sight or affect the travel of a driver may be considered negligence.  Such conditions are the responsibility of the person or entity charged with creating or permitting the condition to exist.

Some of these conditions are more obvious than others and can therefore be more easily avoided.  However, other conditions, such as those created by improperly repaired roads, are hazards that often go unnoticed until too late. All it takes is for one person to be affected by a dangerous road condition, and that one person may end up injuring numerous people in a multi-car crash.  If you feel as though you have been injured as the result of a dangerous road condition, a condition that could have very well been corrected by the governing body in your town or city, then please contact us immediately.

Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.

There is a common misconception among motorcycle riders that if they are injured in a motorcycle accident, their car insurance or the insurance of the car that is responsible for the accident will be responsible to pay their medical bills.  That is not the case.  In New Jersey, as in many other states, car insurance companies are required by law to include minimum coverage for medical expenses associated with an auto accident in every policy they sell (this insurance is known as Personal Injury Protection or PIP).  Insurance companies are not required to provide the same coverage for medical expenses on motorcycle policies.  

What does that mean?  If you are injured as a passenger or driver of a motorcycle and you have standard motorcycle insurance, you will have no medical coverage unless your private health insurance carrier pays your bills.  

It may not make sense that medical expenses associated with a motorcycle accident are not covered by motorcycle insurance, since injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents are often much greater than those suffered in auto accidents.  However, riding a motorcycle is considered a “voluntary risk”.  Therefore, even though medical bills can be catastrophic, laws are not written to protect riders the same way they are written to protect drivers or passengers in cars.  Riders choose to accept the risk of injury for the love of riding.  However, that choice is often based on the general misconception that motorcycle coverage is similar to automobile coverage and as long as insurance is in place, injury to the rider is “covered”.  

Most riders are not aware that most motorcycle policies expose riders to various risks over and above the risk of injury.  An injured rider who paid for motorcycle insurance can end up without appropriate medical care and with enormous debt.  In addition, medical bills from a motorcycle collision often eat into and can easily exceed the other driver’s insurance limits, leaving minimal or no compensation for a rider even for injuries caused by someone else’s wrong doing.  

Some insurance companies offer optional Medical Payments Coverage for motorcycle policies, which is additional coverage that provides some minimal medical coverage to injured riders.  Riders should also check the amount of coverage available to them for collisions involving drivers without insurance or without enough insurance (known as Under Insured Motorist/ Uninsured Motorist or UIM/UM coverage).  In some instances, UIM/UM coverage can mean the difference between an accident and a tragedy.

Without the right protection, on top of physical impairment a motorcycle accident could result in enormous financial hardship.  Riders should manage that risk, by protecting themselves and making informed choices about insurance, before an injury occurs.  Feel free to call for a free insurance review now, before you need it.
                                                                                                                                    
Don’t let someone else’s mistake become your nightmare.

I have come across a number of bikers who were injured because another driver said he or she did not see the motorcycle, even though the biker said the car driver looked right at him or her just before pulling out in front of the motorcycle.  This is so common that studies estimate 43% of all motorcycle accidents occur as a result of an oncoming vehicle turning across the path of a rider.  Although car and motorcycle drivers often place blame on each other, citing lack of driver etiquette or recklessness as the cause, I recently ran across an article that suggests that this may actually have more to do with the human brain’s failure to recognize a motorcycle as a “threat”. Regardless of “why”, it is safest to assume that motorcycles are “invisible” to car drivers that share the road.  Safety organizations including the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Hurt Study support a high level of conspicuity as the best way to stay safe on a motorcycle.  Conspicuity is anything you can do to make sure you are seen while riding both during the day and at night. To achieve conspicuity, experts suggest that bikers take every opportunity to “be seen” by changing lanes, using the horn, wearing reflective clothing, using headlights at all times, using turn signals and flicking high beams – all to communicate position and intended position whenever possible.
 
Although there is always risk involved when riding a motorcycle, most bikers agree that their love for riding outweighs the risks involved.  Riding is a lifestyle.  Be careful not to allow someone else’s mistake ruin your lifestyle.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death from accidental injuries in the United States and the greatest single cause of all deaths between the ages of 1 and 34. Approximately one third of all traffic related deaths in the last two years were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. While many survive alcohol related traffic accidents, they can cause catastrophic, life altering injuries and survival does not ensure a return to pre-accident health. Recovery for injuries can be crucial to the survivor’s future and can contribute to his or her overall ability to return to a pre-accident level of functioning. The early identification of all parties exposed to liability, as well as the identification of all potential defenses is essential to the ultimate recovery in any case.

In certain circumstances, liability for injuries caused by an intoxicated driver can extend beyond the intoxicated driver, to the establishment(s) that served him or her alcohol.  In New Jersey, it is illegal for a licensed beverage server to serve alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated persons.  Like many states, New Jersey imposes liability on bars for serving minors who subsequently injure themselves or others.  This allows minors to sue a drinking establishment for their own injuries sustained while intoxicated.  It also allows others that were injured by the intoxicated minor to sue the drinking establishment that served the minor.  
 
In contrast to an injured minor, an injured adult is not permitted to sue for injuries sustained while operating a motor vehicle if his or her blood alcohol level is found to be above the legal limit, regardless of fault.  For example, if an intoxicated person is stopped at a red light and is rear ended by a distracted driver, the intoxicated person cannot sue the distracted driver for his injuries even though the intoxicated driver did not contribute to the collision.
                                        
If you or a family member is injured in an alcohol related traffic accident, early identification of all culpable parties is essential. Contact us to determine how to maximize your potential recovery.