The New Jersey Department of Transportation publishes annual statistics that show automobile crashes by county. The most current data are from 2018. Although the numbers vary each year, the total number of crashes rose from 271,809 in 2017 to 278,413 in 2018. Out of these, 15,755 were in Camden County alone in 2018; this was up from 12,238 the previous year, more than a 25 percent increase.
These alarming numbers are the result of hit and runs, driving under the influence, distracted drivers, bad weather, illegal passing and turns, multi-vehicle crashes, pedestrian and cyclist knockdowns, intersection collisions, and more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over three million people in the United States are injured every year from motor vehicle accidents. The following are common types of car accidents:
Driver Error: Twenty-five percent of all car crashes are due to cell phone use. When drivers take their eyes off the road, are only using one hand on the steering wheel, or are unfocused while having conversations, it leads to accidents. Other distractions come from driving under the influence, eating, drinking, grooming, talking to other passengers, and fatigue.
Speeding, tailgating, running through red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, and cutting off other drivers are signs of aggressive driving that lead to accidental crashes. One study even found that almost 80 percent of drivers exhibited significant aggression, anger, and road rage while driving this past year.
Non-Driver-Related Crashes: Accidents also result from poor maintenance of vehicles, defective parts, hazardous road conditions, and impaired visibility or slippery road conditions from snow, ice, rain, or fog.
Common Car Crash Injuries
Different factors can lead to a wide range of injuries. Variables such as vehicle size, road hazards, and weather can make collisions life-threatening. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises are common in car collisions, because loose items inside vehicles turn into projectiles that can injure those inside. Purses, coffee mugs, and cell phones can hit passengers and cause damage; heavy and sharp objects can also cause significant injuries.
Soft tissue injuries, such as “whiplash,” damaged tendons, ligaments, and muscles can also occur, and back strains are commonplace in car crashes. Whiplash occurs when an individual’s upper back and neck are suddenly forced into an abnormal motion. Victims can also end up with broken bones and/or internal injuries.
Some of the most serious injuries are caused by impact with steering wheels and car windows. Impact to the head can cause damaged tissue and leaking fluid inside the skull. This may be precursor to brain damage. If a passenger suffers an injury to his or her spinal cord, a short or long-term paralysis may result.
Aftermath of Car Accidents
Car accident aftermaths can be traumatic and chaotic, and those involved may feel disoriented and highly emotional. The priority is to call 911 for proper medical attention and the police. It is essential to cooperate with emergency personnel and law enforcement once they arrive, since not doing so can hamper their effectiveness and make injuries worse.
Moving a vehicle after an accident is not recommended, unless it is a safety hazard. Victims should be alert about putting themselves at additional risk, so they should avoid more injuries by waiting somewhere safe that is away from traffic and hazards. Leaving the scene without police permission is never a good idea. It is also better to avoid lengthy discussions with other drivers, since they could be under the influence or agitated. Some drivers talk too much and end up providing information that can be used against them. Gather the following information pertaining to the scene as soon as possible:
- Names, addresses, insurance information, and phone numbers of all those involved.
- The license plate numbers of the other vehicles.
- Identities of any witnesses and their contact information.
- Pictures of all vehicles involved, with closeups of property damage. Also snap photos of the accident scene from different angles and the surrounding area.
- Detailed photographs of all personal injuries.
It is important to keep accurate records of medical appointments and expenses, and any time missed from work.
What Else Needs to Be Done?
Once information is secured at the scene, it is time to make an initial call to the auto insurance agency and a car accident attorney. Any potential evidence, such as damaged car parts, bloodstained clothing, and broken eyeglasses should not be thrown out. As for the property damage, obtaining estimates from the insurance company plus one or two other body shops can also help with your claim.
Many accident victims make the mistake of talking about the accident in detail with their insurance companies and others. Again, this can be later used as evidence against plaintiffs during lawsuits. It is also not a good time to post on social media; for example, if a victim posts a picture of themselves bicycling when they should be recovering, this could be detrimental to their case.
Dealing with Auto Insurance Companies
Dealing with the auto insurance companies can be frustrating, since their main goals center around preserving their profits. In many cases, they attempt to have victims settle claims too fast, and for less than they are entitled to. Therefore, it is important to wait to sign any documents until speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Signing papers or giving recorded statements about the accident, especially when recovering from injuries, can jeopardize a victim’s rights to pursue damages later or limit the amount of compensation they receive. The real scope of damages after a car accident takes time to play out; an initial medical diagnosis may be wrong, or a mechanic may not realize that the vehicle had defective parts.
New Jersey Personal Injury Statues
Every state has certain laws that come into play in personal injury lawsuits, including the following:
Comparative Negligence. Not all car accidents are caused by only one person. When more than one party is at-fault, it may affect the award that the victim receives in court. This New Jersey rule is based on modified comparative negligence, where the compensation can be reduced if the plaintiff was found to be partially responsible for the crash. If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at-fault, he or she cannot collect any damages from the defendant.
New Jersey’s no-fault system applies to car accidents, with exceptions only for significant scarring or disfigurement; loss of a fetus; certain permanent injuries; loss of a body part; and displaced fractures. Standard policies dictate that car accident injury claims must be submitted through the injured driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, no matter who caused the crash. PIP is for out-of-pocket losses but does not cover pain and suffering.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Victims who choose to pursue personal injury claims must adhere to personal injury statutes of limitations. In New Jersey, injured parties have up to two years to file lawsuits against those they deem responsible for causing the accident. This time period begins on the day of the crash.
The Case for Legal Representation
In addition to serious personal injuries and property damage, car accidents can leave victims and their families feeling confused, depressed, and angry. Most are not prepared or equipped to handle personal injury claims, especially when there is significant pain and suffering. Questions about reimbursement for lost wages, how to pay mounting medical bills, and who is at-fault can be overwhelming.
An experienced personal injury attorney will play a vital part in preparing the case and minimizing any defenses raised by the defendant. Lawsuits are not always needed, but when they are, a trusted attorney’s knowledge and experience can prove invaluable to the case. Discovering who was at-fault for causing a car crash can be complex. At Williams Cedar, our top priority is to protect clients’ rights and to recover the compensation they deserve.
Haddonfield Car Accident Lawyers at Williams Cedar Fight for the Compensation Clients Deserve
The Haddonfield car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar bring years of experience and skill to every personal injury case they handle. We will protect your rights and provide trusted legal guidance. For a free case evaluation, complete our online form or call us at 856-470-9777. With offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.