Photo of Joel R. Rosenberg

As most riders know, wearing a helmet is mandatory in New Jersey. Not so in Pennsylvania where anyone 21 years of age or older and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years OR has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation can ride without one. Beyond the arguments for or against mandatory helmet laws is the reality of the dangers associated with riding without one.  A few years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on the Pennsylvania law that permits riders to forgo a helmet and State Representative Dan Frankel’s effort to reinstate a mandatory helmet law.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, in New Jersey for the year 2007, there were 85 motorcycle related fatalities of which 82 % were wearing helmets. The National Highway Safety Institute estimated that 42 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets and that 6 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets. In 2008, 82 fatalities with 87% wearing helmets and NHTSA estimates another 42 lives saved because of helmets and 4 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets.
In Pennsylvania in 2007 there were 225 motorcycle related fatalities. 46 % were wearing helmets and another 61 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets. In 2008, 239 fatalities with 49% wearing helmets and another 70 lives saved because of helmets. The NHTSA also estimated that in 2007 45 lives would have been saved and in 2008 45 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets.

Across the US there were over 5000 fatalities in both 2007 and 2008 from motorcycle accidents with only 58% wearing helmets.  NHTSA estimated that in those two years there were 3615 lives saved by the use of a helmet and another 1627 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets. More recently, in 2012, NHTSA  estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists and that an additional 781 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. In states without universal helmet laws, 62% of the motorcyclists  killed in 2012 were not wearing helmets compared to 9% in the states with universal helmet laws. Think about that for a minute.

In addition, NHTSA sponsored a study in 1996 to assess the effect of wearing a helmet upon the ability of motorcycle riders to: (1) visually detect the presence of vehicles in adjacent lanes before changing lanes and (2) to detect traffic sounds when operating at normal speed.  The results indicate that wearing helmets does not restrict the ability to hear auditory signals or the likelihood of seeing a vehicle in an adjacent lane prior to changing lanes.

I have no reason to doubt these figures.  A few years ago while traveling to Court in rush hour traffic on I 95 towards Philadelphia I saw a rider go flying over his handle bars onto the roadway. It was shocking to say the least.  I thought he was unconscious. I pulled over the side of the road and watched as he got up. Another motorist an I assisted the rider to the side of the road. He had a full face helmet and a motorcycle leather jacket and blue jeans. He was disoriented and almost lost consciousness a few times.  His knees were scraped through his jeans and bleeding. His jacket showed the signs of a serious incident. His helmet showed damage that would have caused a serious injury to a rider without one. Despite his protective gear, I was sure that he had suffered serious injuries.  I am happy to report that he called me the next day to tell me that but for his bruised/scraped knees, he was fine. It is clear to me that his helmet and jacket had adequately protected him from more serious harm.  As a rider I routinely see other riders in Pennsylvania riding without helmets. In both states it is common to see riders in shorts, sneakers and T shirts. I rode for many years in jeans and a T shirt but always with a helmet. It is great to ride on a warm summer day without the bulk of protective clothing. It’s also dangerous.  At many of the rally’s I attend I am often engaged by visitors about their right to ride without a helmet. It’s a debate worth having. What is often overlooked are the true consequences of that action. As indicated above, helmets save lives. That’s indisputable.

What is missing from those statistics are the consequences of sustaining an injury as a result of not wearing a helmet and surviving.  NHTSA estimates on a national level we would have saved 2.7 billion dollars in 2007 and 2.9 billion dollars in 2008 if there was 100% helmet use. This of course fails to consider the impact to the rider and their families. Many head injuries are quite serious and have long term consequences, job loss, medical bills and other financial strains. Many of the more serious head injuries lead to long term disability and regular care. We see this regularly when representing injured riders.  As many of us in the motorcycle community know, motorcycle insurance provides in most cases no medical benefit and in others, very little coverage. Riders without insurance who suffer serious head injuries become dependent on Federal programs such as SSI and Medicaid. Even people with insurance don’t have enough coverage for a lifetime of care.

I urge anyone reading this to reconsider riding without a helmet. I’m sure the families of those who lost loved ones or who are now watching someone suffer because they were not wearing a helmet would join in my request. Every motorcycle rider understands that there is some danger associate with riding but that doesn’t mean that you should not be prudent and take precautions to minimize your risk.

Another brutal winter has resulted in minefields of potholes on our roadways. As the weather warms and we unplug our battery tenders to take to the highways, there are serious dangers lurking for the unwary. Riders always ride with a level of concentration greater than those operating cars – and we must. One of the challenges with potholes is that they can be difficult to spot until it’s too late. Obviously the greatest danger is at night when they are the most difficult to see. Even when using the utmost caution during the daytime, sunlight, shading and traffic can obscure the danger.

Pothole accidents can and do cause serious injury. What makes those accidents even worse is the difficulty riders have in getting fairly compensated for their property damage and bodily injury. As motorcycle attorneys, we have in the past and currently have these types of cases in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Both states have Tort Claim immunities that effect a riders right of recovery against the State to be compensated. One of the most urgent issues involved in these cases is proper notice to the state after an accident known as a Tort Claim Notice. If these notices are not timely filed, a rider can lose all rights to make a claim. In addition, early investigation to document the condition of the roadway that caused the accident is vitally important in protecting the rights of an injured rider. If you or someone you know was injured in an accident caused by a defective roadway, don’t hesitate to call us at 855-BIKELAW for a free consultation.

Now that school is back in session and children and parents alike have become accustomed to the daily routine of school, it’s no time to let down your guard for school bus safety.   Over 50% of the injuries that occur while getting on and off the school bus are to children 5 to 7 years old. According to the School Transportation News, about 16 children are fatally injured as pedestrians in the loading and unloading zone around school buses annually.  Although that is an improvement from the 75 fatalities in 1975, the only acceptable number is zero

In order to accomplish this goal it is incumbent upon school districts and school bus transportation providers to have an overall comprehensive approach to pupil transportation safety.  School administrators, transportation supervisors, teachers and bus drivers must be properly informed and trained to practice all bus safety procedures.  Students must be trained in all aspects of bus transportation safety. It’s so important that New Jersey law requires that District Boards of Education provide public school students with safety education programs.

Fortunately there are many great sources of information on student transportation that are easily accessible on the internet to all of us.  Some, to name a few are:

  1. The National Highway Safety Administration
  2. The National Safety Council
  3. The National Association For Pupil Transportation

As National School Bus Safety Week has come to an end, we need to make sure our children are safe throughout the year.  Learn and make sure that your district is following all the bus safety rules.

As most riders know, wearing a helmet is mandatory in New Jersey.  Not so in Pennsylvania where anyone 21 years of age or older and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years OR has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation can ride without one. Beyond the arguments for or against mandatory helmet laws is the reality of the dangers associated with riding.  In June, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on the Pennsylvania law that permits riders to forgo a helmet and State Representative Dan Frankel’s effort to reinstate a mandatory helmet law.
 
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, in New Jersey for the year 2007, there were 85 motorcycle related fatalities of which 82 % were wearing helmets. The National Highway Safety Institute estimated that  42 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets and that 6 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets. In 2008, 82 fatalities with 87% wearing helmets and NHTSA estimates another 42 lives saved because of helmets and 4 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets.
 
In Pennsylvania in 2007 there were 225 motorcycle related fatalities.  46 % were wearing helmets and another 61 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets. In 2008, 239 fatalities with 49% wearing helmets and another 70 lives saved because of helmets. The NHSTA also estimated that in 2007 45 lives would have been saved and in 2008 45 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets. Across the US there were over 5000 fatalities in both 2007 and 2008 from motorcycle accidents with only %8% wearing helmets.  NHSTA estimated that in those two years there were 3615 lives saved by the use of a helmet and another 1627 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets. Think about that for a minute.
 
I have no reason to doubt these figures.  A few months ago while traveling to Court in rush hour traffic on I 95 towards Philadelphia I saw a rider go flying over his handle bars onto the roadway. It was shocking to say the least.  I thought he was unconscious. I pulled over the side of the road and watched as he got up. Another motorist an I assisted the rider to the side of the road. He had a full face helmet and a motorcycle leather jacket and blue jeans. He was disoriented and almost lost consciousness a few times.  His knees were scraped through his jeans and bleeding. His jacket showed the signs of a serious incident. His helmet showed damage that would have caused a serious injury to a rider without one. Despite his protective gear, I was sure that he had suffered serious injuries.  I am happy to report that he called me the next day to tell me that but for his bruised/scraped knees, he was fine. It is clear to me that his helmet and jacket had adequately protected him from more serious harm.  As a rider I routinely see other riders in Pennsylvania riding without helmets. In both states it is common to see riders in shorts, sneakers and T shirts. I rode for many years in jeans and a T shirt but always with a helmet. It is great to ride on a warm summer day without the bulk of protective clothing. It’s also dangerous.  
At many of the rally’s I attend I am often engaged by visitors about their right to ride without a helmet. It’s a debate worth having. What is often overlooked are the true consequences of that action. As indicated above, helmets save lives. That’s indisputable.
 
What is missing from those statistics are the consequences of sustaining an injury as a result of not wearing a helmet and surviving.  NHTSA estimates on a national level we would have saved 2.7 billon dollars in 2007 and 2.9 billion dollars in 2008 if there was 100% helmet use. This of course fails to consider the impact to the rider and their families. Many head injuries are quite serious and have long term consequences, job loss, medical bills and other financial strains. Many of the more serious head injuries lead to long term disability and regular care.  We see this regularly when representing injured riders.  As many of us in the motorcycle community know, motorcycle insurance provides in most cases no medical benefit and in others, very little coverage. Riders without insurance who suffer serious head injuries become dependent on Federal programs such as SSI and Medicaid. Even people with insurance don’t have enough coverage for a lifetime of care.
 
I urge anyone reading this to reconsider riding without a helmet. I’m sure the families of those who lost loved ones or who are now watching someone suffer because they were not wearing a helmet would join in my request. Every motorcycle rider understands that there is some danger associate with riding but that doesn’t mean that you should not be prudent and take precaution to minimize your risk.

Joel Rosenberg is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group. For questions, or additional information, please contact Mr. Rosenberg.

Each day in the United States, approximately 26 million elementary and secondary school children ride buses to school. On average, there are between 8,000 and 12,000 school bus related injuries annually. Although the vast majority of these accidents are minor, each year students suffer serious injury and even death in the course of being transported to school.

Each day every school age parent relinquishes the safety and control of their child to the school district, and in the case of those children riding busses, to the school bus driver. They trust that the driver of the school bus will act as though they were transporting their own child.

In Frugis v. Braciagliano, 177 N.J. 250, 268 (2003), the Court commented on the responsibility imposed upon a school for the care of its students:

The law imposes a duty on children to attend school and on parents to relinquish their supervisory role over their children to teachers and administrators during school hours. While their children are educated during the day, parents transfer to school officials the power to act as guardians of those young wards. No greater obligation is placed on school officials than to protect the children in their charge from foreseeable dangers, whether those dangers arise from the careless acts or intentional transgressions of others. Although the overarching mission of a board of education is to educate, its first imperative must be to do no harm to the children in its care.

Unfortunately, school districts don’t always devote the time and attention to student transportation that it requires. Form the planning of the bus route, the bus stops to driver training and bus maintenance, they often times come up short. While there are State administrative regulations that impose training and education to both drivers and the students they transport. Many of the people charged with these responsibilities are unfamiliar with not only state regulations but also basic principles of student transportation safety.

What is even more alarming is that despite the wealth of information readily available to anyone with access to a computer, many districts are deficient in their training, education and knowledge. A simple Google search will provide a wealth of information regarding the safest way to transport a student.

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to receive packets of informative materials, absolutely free. These safety principles are well known and have been well documented for many years. Despite this, many districts are lacking in their knowledge of how to safely transport a student to and from school. Unfortunately each year there is a loss of life because of this neglect.

As parents we need to put pressure on our districts to not only comply with state regulations, but to go further and make sure that every bus driver and child has the training and education to get to and from school safely.

For further information regarding school bus safety feel free to contact me, or read more about one of my previous cases concering school bus accidents online here.  

Joel Rosenberg is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group. For questions, or additional information, please contact Mr. Rosenberg.

No you can’t buy one of these at Wal-Mart or Target, and it won’t keep you dry in the rain. However, it will protect you and your household relatives from claims that exceed the policy limits of your homeowners and auto policies.

Umbrella policies cover you for these excess claims up to the umbrella coverage limit, usually at least $1 million dollars or more. You should consider adding umbrella coverage to your existing coverage. It’s valuable coverage and the cost is reasonable, usually in the couple hundred dollar range. Essentially for the price of a night out on the town you can have the comfort of insurance coverage for that event that we hope never happens. Don’t wait, call your agent today.

It’s not uncommon for us to meet with client’s who were involved in an accident many months before.  They are frequently frustrated about the difficulty they are having with their auto insurance carrier, their health insurance carrier or their access to healthcare from insurance companies. In many instances, they have been given wrong information about their coverage or rights. Many have suffered without treatment because they have been told they have no right to make a claim or the insurance company’s doctor examined them and found them to have improved and not in need of any future care.
 
Immediately: That’s the answer to the question posed in the headline. The correct information from the outset is invaluable. Better yet, there is no upfront cost to have us review your claim. If we handle the case and recover money, we take our fee from the recovery. If you don’t have a case worth pursuing or we don’t have a recovery, you pay nothing. The correct advice is free! Don’t wait. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, call us immediately for a free consultation.

This time of year the personal injury attorneys at Stark & Stark see a lot of clients who slip and fall in parking lots on ice. Commonly referred as “black ice,” it’s difficult to see during the day because it either blends in with the blacktop or appears to be just water. At night it’s impossible to see and is very treacherous.

Unfortunately, the consequences are often serious. Slipping and falling on ice usually happens so quickly people cannot react in time to cushion the fall. As a result, we see many clients on the way to an uneventful shopping trip turn into a visit the ER and sometimes the operating room.

Don’t let this happen to you. Many businesses plow the snow but fail to follow up daily with salt and sand. As long as there are piles of snow in the parking lot, there will be the potential for the dreaded black ice. At night, try to park as close to the front of the store as possible as snow contractors usually push more of the snow towards the back of the parking lot. During the day tread carefully, even when the parking lot appears wet. If you’re unlucky that day, make sure that you report any incident to the store. Hopefully they will put down some salt and sand and protect the next customer.

Clients often ask why it is taking the other person’s insurance company so long to pay for the damage to their car when they know that the other person was at fault. The simple answer is because they can.
 
There is no law that obligates another person’s insurance carrier to promptly pay for your auto damage. On the other hand, if you carry collision insurance and can afford to lay out your deductible, then make your property damage claim through your carrier. Your insurance carrier has a contractual and legal obligation to handle your claim expeditiously and will go after the other person’s insurance company to recover your deductible.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently published their top rated vehicles for 2011. If you are in the market for a new or used vehicle, make sure you check out the safety ratings before you buy.

The Institute rates vehicles on how well they protect its occupants in a crash. The vehicles are given ratings such as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. In order to earn a Top Safety Pick for 2011 a vehicle must have good ratings in all four Institute tests. In addition, the winning vehicles must offer electronic stability control. Remember, the life you save may be your own!