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7 Tips You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in Holiday Traffic

By Richard Console on December 2, 2016

The increase in traffic around Christmas can be deadly – but our top 7 safety tips can help you survive the dangers.

 If it seems like your commute has become more congested, it’s not your imagination. The bustle of the holiday traffic increase is real. And so is the risk increase that results from this phenomenon.

Christmas trafficHoliday Traffic Statistics

It’s a holiday tradition no one wants to observe – the one that claims hundreds of lives in a matter of just a few days. The holiday season – including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve – is among the most dangerous times of year in terms of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Often, the number of fatal accidents over the holidays is in the thousands.

The lowest number of Christmas Day traffic fatalities in recent years was still 88, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported – a shockingly high number of deaths. But that pales in comparison to the 355 Christmas Day traffic deaths that the NSC reported for the following year.

And accidents, particularly those involving drunk drivers, are even more common on nights like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It’s on these days that the parties that involve copious amounts of alcohol most commonly take place.

The 2016 holiday season isn’t likely to be any better – and research suggests that it could be worse than usual. In 2015, the United States saw the largest increase in annual traffic deaths that it’s seen in 50 years, Forbes reported. That doesn’t bode well for a safe holiday season this year, either.

What Makes the Holiday Season So Dangerous?

There are a number of reasons why so many fatalities occur on our nation’s roadways during the holiday season. For one thing, more people are on the roads for longer distances. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that the number of long-distance trips rises by 23 percent during the holidays – and more than 90 percent of those trips is a road trip.

The sheer number of extra cars on the road, driving extra miles, can increase the traffic, raising the risk of a crash. But there are other factors at play, too. Motorists are more likely to drive under the influence, often under the mistaken impression that they “didn’t drink that much.” With their minds on the festivities – shopping, gift-giving, favorite holiday treats – drivers may not be paying as much attention to the road as they need to be. In addition to dunk driving and distracted driving, drivers also need to worry about sleep-deprived motorists engaging in drowsy driving – which can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.

7 Essential Tips for Surviving Holiday Traffic

It’s always a good idea to drive defensively. But making safe and smart decisions behind the wheel is particularly important at dangerous times of the year, including Christmas.

With more than 20 years of experience handling motor vehicle accident claims, we know what kinds of actions can lead to an accident – and what steps cautious drivers can take to minimize their risk. These top 7 driving safety tips can make your holiday season a lot more peaceful.Holiday traffic tips

  1. Don’t speed. The faster you’re going, the more difficult it will be to avoid an obstacle in your path – and the harder the impact will be if there is a collision. Always follow posted speed limit signs, but also use your best judgment and slow down in congested situations or dangerous road conditions.
  2. Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you, and don’t tailgate. Ask yourself, if the person in front of you braked suddenly (even for no obvious reason), would you be able to stop in time? If not, back off and put some more distance between your car and theirs.
  3. Adjust your speed and following distance if you’re dealing with snow, rain, or other potentially dangerous road conditions. Remember, you can’t stop as quickly on slippery roadways – and it’s your responsibility as the driver to account for that.
  4. Never drive while intoxicated – it’s never worth the risk. Plan in advance so that you have a (sober) designated driver, or use a taxi or ridesharing service to make sure you get home safely without putting your life – and others’ lives – at risk.
  5. Put down the cell phone. Texting while behind the wheel claims thousands of lives every year. Like drunk driving, texting and driving is simply not worth it. If you must send a text, pull over, or have a passenger send the message for you. Similarly, be careful when it comes to making phone calls while driving. Even though many states allow the use of hands-free phones behind the wheel, research has shown that taking a phone call distracts motorists from the only thing they should be focusing on – the road.
  6. Wear a seat belt every time you get in the vehicle. During the holiday season – and especially on Christmas and New Year’s – experts estimate that seat belts prevent dozens of deaths on a single day. If you have children, make sure they’re protected by buckling them into the appropriate car seat or booster seat for their age and size.
  7. Take your time. Of course you’re eager to get where you’re going. But getting frustrated in traffic jams, engaging in road rage behaviors with other drivers, and making risky maneuvers won’t get you home for the holidays any faster. In fact, getting into an accident or altercation could not just derail your holiday plans but also lead to some serious long-term consequences.

    You know there’s going to be traffic, so plan ahead and leave for your destination early. Don’t try to stick to an unrealistically tight schedule, and give yourself some breathing room in case you do get delayed. Remember, it’s not getting to your destination quickly that really matters – it’s getting to your destination safely.

It’s tragic how many people lose their lives in traffic accidents during the holidays. Following these 7 safety tips can go a long way toward reducing the chances that you will be involved in a crash. Unfortunately, nothing you do can control the actions of a less careful driver behind the wheel. If you do encounter a dangerous driver on the road, please know that you have legal rights – and that with the right help, you can get your life back on track.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: The 4 Best and Worst Black Friday Retailers

By Richard Console on November 23, 2016

In honor of what’s left of Black Friday and the retail employees forced to work this Thanksgiving, we’re rounding up the best and worst retailers. Consider it your list of the most ethical places to shop for the holiday season – and the stores that might not really deserve your business.

4 Best and Worst Thanksgiving Retailers

Black Friday is creeping ever earlier, and to many would-be shoppers, it’s a sign that retailers’ behavior is getting out of hand. Gone are the days of waking up at midnight after your turkey dinner and lining up outside major retail stores in the dark in anticipation of a 3 a.m. “doorbuster.” Now we do our shopping before the turkey. Or instead of the turkey. You’ll have to at least skip dessert if you want to make that 5 or 6 p.m. sale. If you happen to work in retail – not a small possibility, since more than 4,668,000 people do – chances are that this year, you’ll spend your Thanksgiving on the clock. Once upon a time, employees who were about to be swamped for the duration of the holiday season could at least count on this one day to spend with their families.

Not anymore.

 Kohl's Black Friday sign 2011Starting Black Friday when it’s actually Friday? That’s so 2011. There’s even a term for the new phenomenon of Thanksgiving sales – Gray Thursday. Photo Credit: Clare Lovell, Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons license).

 The 4 Worst Thanksgiving Retailers

4th Worst: Macy’s

 Macy's Black FridayPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

Mall anchor stores have a lot of influence – and Macy’s stores seem to have decided to use theirs to make employee exploitation mainstream.

It’s not just that the company decided to open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day – even earlier than freestanding and strip-mall stores Walmart and Target, which in recent years have become notorious for cutting Thanksgiving short. In 2014, headlines were made when Macy’s announced its early (then 6 p.m.) opening, prompting a mall manager near Buffalo, New York, to mandate 6 p.m. Thanksgiving openings mall-wide, The Huffington Post reported.

Stores that refused to open were faced fines of $200 or more an hour – a steep price for even big businesses that want to give their employees the holiday off. For smaller retailers, especially, the $1,200 it would cost them just to open at midnight rather than six could stand in the way of sticking by their convictions – if only to make sure they were able to make payroll.

Dishonorable mentions: J.C. Penney plans to open at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving, even earlier than similar mall anchor stores like Macy’s. In the past, J.C. Penney has planned giveaways and activities – including meals – for employees working Thursday into Friday, but whatever happened to the retailer’s conviction, announced in 2012, that “spending Thanksgiving with family is one of America’s greatest traditions”? Then there’s Kohl’s, opening at 6 along with Macy’s, Target, and Walmart in its quest to become “the most compelling shopping destination for the entire family.”

3rd Worst: Toys ‘R’ Us

Thanksgiving Black Friday Toys 'R' UsPhoto Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons license).

Major toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is facing backlash this year for its plans to remain open for a 30-hour shopping marathon over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, Parade reported. The retailer will open its doors at 5 p.m. on Thursday and keep them open until 11 p.m. Friday evening – because who wants to spend the holiday with the children, anyway?

Dishonorable mention: Electronics store Best Buy plans to open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving – definitely early enough to cut short the turkey dinner.

2nd Worst: Walmart

Walmart Black FridayPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

Of all major retailers, Walmart has possibly the worst Black Friday reputation. The Valley Stream, New York, store was the site of a deadly 2008 trampling. Since then, Walmart shoppers have physically fought over $1.28 towels, pepper-sprayed each other to seize sought-after video games, and shot each other in parking lots. Besides being notorious year-round for the company’s low wages for workers, many Walmart locations will be open all day on Thanksgiving, according to the International Business Times, and will start the first wave of staggered sales at 6 p.m. Despite criticism – and the fact that the company’s Sam’s Club stores chose to close because of “member feedback” – Walmart has in the past called the move “absolutely appropriate.” Even worse, the store stopped paying employees time-and-a-half for holidays like Thanksgiving years ago. Instead it uses its own special “holiday pay” rate, which could easily be manipulated, Daily Tech reported. With Walmart stretching its Black Friday sale over five days, it’s a safe bet that employees won’t get a break anytime soon.

Dishonorable mention: Target, too, is opening at 6 p.m. this year. These stores are depriving their employees of the opportunity to salvage much of Thanksgiving – remember, these workers are in for long, hectic shifts, many of them overnight. Just because they’re working Thanksgiving doesn’t mean they won’t be back in the store when it officially becomes Black Friday. They’re missing out on family trips, cutting visits short, or spending what precious little time they have off sleeping.

Worst: Kmart

 KmartPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

There’s no way around it – Kmart is the worst offender this Black Friday. The retailer is, once again, opening at 6 a.m. Kmart’s plans this year are better than previous years – in 2014, for example, the store drew harsh criticism for its plans to remain open for 42 hours. But though the store “closes” at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, it starts its “Black Friday” sales just two hours later. Kmart workers everywhere will have to wait until the doors finally close Friday night to enjoy their turkey dinner – and I’m sure they’ll be thankful for the well-deserved break. Then again, Kmart has a long history of opening on Thanksgiving Day (though not for a 42-hour shopping marathon), so at least it’s not a complete shock. The company is following a 25-year tradition of its own – that of ruining workers’ holidays.

Dishonorable mentions: Until a few years ago, Kmart’s sister store, Sears, has traditionally been closed on Thanksgiving Day. This year, the store will open from 6 p.m. to mindnight on Thanksgiving and reopen at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.  Big Lots! is another store that has a tradition of opening on Thanksgiving and taking workers away from their families.

It’s a shame how many retailers are opening its doors before many families have even finished putting the leftover pie away.

The good news? Not every retail chain is depriving their employees of a happy holiday. Read on for the biggest companies taking a stand for workers’ and families’ rights by staying closed this Thanksgiving.

The 4 Best Thanksgiving Retailers

4th Best: DSW

When retailers began the race to be the earliest to open, DSW has historically been one of the first to take a stand against Thanksgiving shopping. For years now, the Designer Shoe Warehouse has stood its ground and remained closed on Thanksgiving Day even as more and more retail chains announce that they’re opening early.

Honorable mentions: Most of the big-box and department stores seem to be opening on Thanksgiving, but a lot of specialty stores are choosing to close for the holiday, such as video game store GameStop, bookstore Barnes & Noble, craft stores Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics, home improvement stores Lowe’s and Home Depot, recreational equipment store REI, home décor stores Pier 1 Imports and Crate & Barrel, and outdoor clothing store Patagonia.

3rd Best: Nordstrom

NordstromPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

In case you thought every mall anchor store had to open on Thanksgiving, Nordstrom has set itself apart from the likes of Macy’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney in recent years by waiting until Friday for its Black Friday sale. The company’s rationale is two-fold, and you’ve got to admire both reasons: not only does closing for Thanksgiving allow employees to spend time with their families on the holiday, but also, “we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time,” Nordstrom said. No argument there.

Honorable mentions: Another major department store, Dillard’s, is also closing for Thanksgiving, proving that retailers don’t have to ruin the holiday just to make a profit.

2nd Best: TJX Stores

TJX StoresPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

Discount chains TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and HomeGoods – all owned by TJX – are a triple threat on the workers’ side of the War on Thanksgiving. Even when the stores’ after Thanksgiving sales start – on Friday – most stores won’t open until 7 a.m., pretty reasonable for Black Friday. Some stores will open at 5 on Friday, but that’s still better than opening 12 hours earlier.

Honorable mentions: Burlington Coat Factory, based here in New Jersey, has announced that it will close Thanksgiving for the good of its workers and open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday. Bed, Bath & Beyond will open at 6 Friday morning. 

Best: Costco

CostcoPhoto Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).

Costco has a reputation for being one of the best retailers to work for, sort of the anti-Walmart. The retail chain pays employees unusually high wages for the industry and even offers health insurance benefits to some of its part-time workers. While Costco is among the best employers in the retail industry year-round, the retailer has also led this year’s fight against Thanksgiving shopping.

Honorable mentions: Other membership stores, like BJ’s Wholesale Club, will also close for Thanksgiving. So will Sam’s Club, but don’t give that one too much credit – it’s owned by Walmart, which won’t be closing the rest of its stores for the holiday.

Retailers are trying awfully hard to lure shoppers into their stores on Thanksgiving, so much so that many Black Friday sales are barely recognizable compared to the major shopping events they once were. But critics say that the Gray Thursday phenomenon isn’t even profitable. In fact, more retailers are starting to reverse their decisions to open on Thanksgiving Day, shortening hours or closing entirely for the holiday, The New York Times reported.

If Thanksgiving Day sales are merely robbing Friday’s profits, why bother ruining workers’ holidays at all? Maybe the retail chains who are continuing to open on Thanskgiving despite evidence that the practice isn’t profitable see it as just one more way to exploit employees, along with tactics like promoting workers to exempt positions to avoid paying them overtime.

My hope is that this Thanksgiving, would-be shoppers stay home and enjoy the holiday with their families and wait until Friday to shop. The only way to drive home the point that our nation isn’t okay with taking Thanksgiving away from workers is to hit these companies where it hurts: their profits. Ethical shopping means shopping at a time that’s fair to workers and supporting companies that treat workers right.

Breaking News: NJ Train Accident Leaves 1 Dead, 100+ Wounded

By Richard Console on September 29, 2016

Our thoughts today are with the victims of this morning’s Hoboken, NJ, train accident.

Already, three fatalities and more than 75 injuries have been confirmed, NBC News reported. We’re hoping and praying that there aren’t even more injuries or deaths yet to be confirmed.

Update: Later Thursday morning, NBC News revised its report, stating that Governor Chris Christie’s office had confirmed just one death that resulted from the train accident. New reports suggest more than 100 people suffered injuries.

The investigation into why the commuter train collided with the platform, damaging the station so severely that part of the roof collapsed, is ongoing. What’s certain is that those affected by the crash will need help to get through this tragedy.train accident

The injured will need the best care available to get better. The families of the deceased deserve answers and compensation for their losses.

This deadly train accident comes less than a year and a half after the fatal train derailment in Philadelphia. That May 2015 crash claimed seven lives and left hundreds injured.

If you or a family member suffered injuries in this crisis, knowing what to expect and what your rights are can make a difficult situation a little easier. Learn more about New Jersey train accidents – and how you can get help.

While the nation awaits updates on this breaking news story, we’re wishing the best for all affected by this terrible accident. 

What Are Childhood Accidents?

By Richard Console on September 20, 2016

Learn about the types of accidents that most commonly injure children – and how you can protect your child’s health and legal rights.

Childhood is a time of wonder, of curiosity, of exploring and learning about the world. But the world can be a dangerous place, especially when individuals act carelessly.Accident FAQs

The most common accidents that harm children include:

  • Dog bites
  • Defective products
  • Dangerous premises
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Doctor’s errors

Dog Bites

Serious injuries from dog bites don’t happen a lot. But when they do happen, they typically affect children.

Do you know what to do if a dog bites your child?

In fact, children between the ages of five and nine are the most at risk and have the highest rate of dog bite injuries, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported.

Dog bites to children can cause disfiguring wounds, debilitating nerve damage, and permanent scarring. Infections from dog bites are common, and the spread of diseases like rabies is also possible.

If your child suffers injuries from an aggressive dog, you need to seek medical treatment right away. Then you’ll need to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer.

Our firm, for example, has won $125,000 in compensation for a child who lost her lip in a dog bite. So we know what it takes to make a dog bite case a success.

Children's dog bites

Defective Products

Every year, thousands of defective products are recalled, often because they present a very real danger. Unfortunately, many of these are children’s products, including:

  • Toys
  • Car seats
  • Cribs
  • High chairs
  • Other children’s furniture

Do you know about these deadly hazards in your home – and in your child’s toy box?

 Some of the most disturbing defective children’s products our firm has encountered include:

  • Magnetic toys strong enough to cause fatal internal damage if swallowed
  • Biting baby dolls
  • Kids’ craft materials that contain gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) – the date rape drug – and can cause children to slip into a coma

Safety Hazards on Dangerous Properties

In their eagerness to explore the world around them, children are naturals at getting themselves mildly hurt. But when you combine children with a dangerous premises, it’s not just minor bumps and bruises that result. Serious accidents involving children can occur in a variety of places, including private residences, business properties, poorly maintained playgrounds, schools, and daycare centers.

You don’t expect children to suffer injuries at a worksite, but it happens when they wind up in potentially dangerous locations. When a young girl ended up on a countertop construction business property, a forklift ran over her foot and left her with permanent ankle injuries. We got her a settlement of $900,000.

Not all accidents happen on business premises. Our firm recently handled the case of a young boy who lost an eye when an airborne stick struck him in the face. The homeowner who had disobeyed a town ordinance by leaving the stick and a pile of other yard debris along the curb for more than a month was one of a number of people responsible for the injury. We fought to get this child a combined settlement of $600,000.

Auto Accidents

Car accidents are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, according to the CDC. Hundreds of young children die each year in a motor vehicle collision. The total number of children injured in crashes is more than 120,000 annually.

Childhood car accidents

You might not realize the danger you’re in – the danger your child is in – every time you get behind the wheel.That’s why it’s so important to carefully and completely buckle your kids into age-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts every time.

You can’t always control what others on the road are doing. If you find yourself in the path of a reckless driver, it’s essential that your child is safely secured in the vehicle. That car seat could be the only thing protecting your child in the event of a crash.

Medical Mistakes

Doctors’ errors aren’t as common as patients – particularly parents – would like to think. When they affect children, they are particularly tragic. Medical malpractice affecting children can begin even before the child is born, if doctors make mistakes during the mother’s pregnancy or during childbirth.

One of the most well-known – and severe – types of birth injuries is cerebral palsy.

Birth injuries aren’t the only type of medical malpractice children can fall victim to. Our attorneys once handled a tragic case in which a home health aide caring for a sick child made matters much worse.

This aide disregarded protocols while cleaning ventilator tubes – unintentionally depriving the child of oxygen. The severe brain injury that resulted ultimately led to the child’s death.

We fought to get her family $1,500,000 in compensation.

Birth injuries

What to Do If Your Child Suffers Accident Injuries

Get Medical Care NOW

The very first thing you must do if your child has been hurt in an accident is get him or her to the doctor right away. It’s hard to tell the extent of the injuries right now – but they could be life-changing, or even life-threatening. Never delay getting medical care for your injured child.

Start Your Search for an Accident Attorney

Hopefully, it turns out that your kid’s injuries are minor, short-term, and easily treated. But if the injuries are more serious, then it’s essential that you protect your child’s rights by speaking with an accident lawyer.

Generally, the statute of limitations – that is, the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit – is two years from the date of the accident. For minors, this statute typically doesn’t begin until the individual turns 18 years old.

However, there are exceptions that could reduce the time your family has to take action – and there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t wait years before you speak with an attorney.

Compensation for an accident isn’t automatic. Over the course of your child’s claim, you’ll need to prove that the person or company responsible for the accident was negligent. But if you wait five, 10, even 17 years, you might have a hard time proving any such thing. The evidence that could have supported your case is lost. The witnesses who glimpsed the accident have long forgotten exactly what they saw.

There are few things harder on a parent than seeing your child in pain and being unable to do anything to stop it. But you’re not helpless.

You may not be able to undo what’s happened to your child, but you can make sure your kid is getting the best medical care – so he or she can make the best recovery.

You can also make sure that your child’s legal claim is in the hands of an experienced lawyer from the start – because your kid deserves every dollar of compensation available.

If you need more information on getting help after your child’s accident, give us a call anytime.

What Is an Accidental Death?

By Richard Console on September 14, 2016

Find out what you need to know about your legal rights after losing a loved one in a fatal accident – including how to pursue a wrongful death case.

Accident FAQsAccidents can be devastating. For some unfortunate victims, there is no recovery. There is only loss and – for their surviving loved ones – grief.

Unintentional injury is the fourth leading cause of death in the nation, claiming 130,557 lives every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. Motor vehicle accidents alone kill 33,804. Some 30,208 Americans die from accidental falls annually. And another 38,851 lose their lives to unintentional poisoning.

When it’s your loved one who died accidentally, you know from experience that these statistics don’t tell the whole story. Behind every accident fatality, there are grieving families whose lives have changed forever because of a death that didn’t have to happen.

As you begin the difficult process of picking up the pieces after a sudden and shattering loss, you’re looking for closure, for answers. Sometimes the accident presents the grounds for a wrongful death claim. This legal action that can help your family find out the truth about the death and recover money damages.

What Makes a Death a “Wrongful Death”?

A wrongful death claim is a case against someone else whose actions caused or contributed to a death.

This someone can be an individual or a company. Often, the defendant caused the death through negligence – behavior that is careless or reckless.

A death is wrongful when it was avoidable and caused by another person’s actions.

The law requires all of us to act with reasonable caution. No one is allowed to carelessly put the lives of others at risk. When someone is negligent and another individual pays the ultimate cost for that carelessness, the law holds that person accountable for the consequences.

Accidental death

Are All Accidental Deaths “Wrongful Deaths”?

An accidental death isn’t always a wrongful death, and vice versa.

Often, wrongful deaths are accidental deaths. They are a tragic but unintended result of another person’s negligence. However, if an accidental death can’t be traced to another person’s or party’s careless behavior, then there’s no one to pursue a claim against.

Sometimes a wrongful death claim involves a death that wasn’t an accident at all, but an act of intentional violence. You see this occur on occasion in high-profile murder cases. This sort of wrongful death claim is less common, in part because there’s often no insurance coverage to seek compensation from. Typically, the surviving family in a case like this must seek money damages directly from the person who intentionally caused the death – and there’s no guarantee this person even has the assets to pay a claim against them.

However, some wrongful death claims involve an intentional act, but also a negligent one. If a person is killed by intentional violence in a place they could reasonably have expected to be protected by security, the loved ones of the deceased may have a claim against this property owner. This can be the case in situations like mass shootings at malls and schools or vicious attacks at bars and concert venues.

An attorney can help you determine if your loved one’s accidental death could offer the grounds for a wrongful death claim.

Types of Accidental Deaths

No matter how your loved one’s deadly accident occurred, surviving family members have legal rights.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Tens of thousands of Americans lose their lives every year in collisions involving:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Buses

Those killed are drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Some are at fault for the deadly crash. But many are innocent victims, caught helplessly in the path of a dangerous motorist.

Some of the most common causes of motor vehicle deaths include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Drowsy driving
  • Failing to maintain a safe following distance

Deaths in motor vehicle collisions often lead to wrongful death claims. The requirement that all New Jersey and Pennsylvania drivers have auto insurance means there is coverage available to seek compensation from. Some wrongful death claims against negligent drivers also provide answers – like whether the driver was using a cell phone at the time of the crash.

Car accident wrongful death

Fatal Dog Bites

Dog bites aren’t common, but they can be deadly, especially to children. A dog mauling can leave victims with injuries so serious that they don’t survive.

Wrongful death claims involving dog bites name the dog’s owner in the lawsuit. Often, a homeowner’s insurance policy covers deaths and injuries caused by dog bites.

Lethal Workplace Accidents

Every year, thousands of workers die on the job, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.

Workplace accidents are a different situation from other types of accidents caused by negligence. Depending on the circumstances, a family might have a worker’s compensation case and an additional claim against a third party who contributed to the death.

Accidents on Unsafe Premises

Falls are the most common accidents on unsafe properties, but other accidents involve falling objects or malfunctioning machinery.

Commercial and residential property owners and even government entities in charge of maintaining property can become the target of wrongful death lawsuits. What you need is proof of the owner’s negligence – and to act quickly, before important deadlines pass.

Deadly Medical Mistakes

Every year, hundreds of thousands of patients die at the hands of negligent medical providers.

A doctor’s error might not immediately come to mind when you think of accidents. But if one such mistake killed your family member, you deserve answers.

You have the right to hold a careless doctor accountable, especially when the negligent actions cost someone’s life.

What to Do If You Lost Someone to an Accidental Death

If you believe the accident that stole your loved one from you may be the grounds for a wrongful death claim, there are certain actions you need to take – and a limited amount of time you have to take them.

You need to investigate the accident and gather the evidence that proves that the other party’s actions led to your loved one’s death. This is no easy task, especially when you’re still trying to cope with your grief. To really succeed in this endeavor, you’re going to need a wrongful death lawyer on your side. An experienced attorney knows where to look for the evidence that will support your case as well as what sorts of industry experts can help bolster your claim.

Grief wrongful death

The sooner you speak with an attorney about a possible wrongful death claim, the better. In most cases, families have just two years from the date of the deadly accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit (and in some situations, you may have just a few months). While two years may seem far away now, it will take time to investigate the accident and to build your family’s case.

Nothing can erase the accident or take away the pain you feel from this terrible loss. But often, a wrongful death claim can help you get some closure. You will finally understand what happened. You will have the opportunity to hold the person who caused this unnecessary death responsible. And your family will receive the compensation to prevent a financial hardship from this sudden and unexpected loss.

If you want to speak with someone about your legal options after a family member’s fatal accident, you can reach out to us at any time. We’re here to help you through this tragedy.

What Do Accident Lawyers Charge?

By Richard Console on September 8, 2016

Here’s what you need to know before you decide you can’t afford an attorney.

Accident FAQsIt’s no secret that an accident takes a toll on your finances. But if you’re letting your financial situation stop you from hiring a lawyer, you could be making a big mistake.

Not only will an accident lawyer help you get more money for your claim, but hiring an attorney won’t add to your financial troubles.

No-Win, No-Fee Attorneys

What if you could get a lawyer on your side without spending any money upfront?

Not an inexperienced attorney who’s just starting out. Not even a general practice lawyer who’s been doing this for a few years. But a team of attorneys who handle personal injury claims exclusively – and have practiced law for more than 20 years.

I know – it might sound too good to be true. You might wonder what the catch is. But it’s actually a common practice among accident lawyers to work on what’s called a “contingency fee” basis.

A contingency is an event that might happen in the future. When an attorney accepts your case on contingency, it means you only pay for the legal representation you receive when and if your case is a success.

If your case takes years – as some complex accident cases do – then you pay nothing until you get money from it.

If your lawyer fails to get you compensation at all, then you pay nothing, period, for the attorney’s services.

What do you pay, exactly? It depends on state regulations and practices, but what’s certain is that you’ll never have to pay more than you win. The attorney will get paid a percentage of what he or she is able to get for you. You’ll discuss and agree upon this percentage at the start of your case, so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises.

Most attorneys who practice in a given state charge a pretty standard percentage. If an attorney advertises an unusually low fee, be cautious. Remember, sometimes you really do get what you pay for – and you only have one chance to pursue your claim. This isn’t a situation where you want to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks.

What’s Included in No-Win, No-Fee Representation?

You may be wondering what sort of service you can expect from an attorney who works on contingency.

While I can’t speak for other firms, I can tell you that Console & Hollawell goes beyond a simple contingency fee arrangement and makes every client our No Fee Promise.

cost of an attorney

Some of the features you’ll find in our No Fee Promise include:

  • A 100 percent free consultation in person or by phone – whatever is more convenient for you.
  • All costs associated with your claim covered. We’ll front the costs for expert witnesses, filing legal documents, and whatever else your claim needs. If we don’t get money for you, then you don’t have to pay us back.
  • No charge for our time – no matter how much of it you need. We’ll never charge you hourly fees for meeting with us or talking about your case by phone or email. (In fact, we’ll never charge you hourly fees for anything.)
  • Extra assistance, free of charge. We’re here for you. Whether you need help getting your car fixed, getting to doctors’ appointments, or affording your medical bills, let us know. As a courtesy to our clients, we’ve helped them overcome all of these problems – and more.

The Payoff of Hiring an Accident Lawyer

How much more money can you get when you hire a lawyer? Far more than you’ll pay in attorneys’ fees. But don’t take my word for it.

Facts about attorneys' fees

Research has shown that lawyers get their clients, on average, 3.5 times what claimants get for themselves.

A lawyer who can more than triple your compensation will bring so much value to your claim that it more than covers the cost of attorneys’ fees. We’re talking thousands – maybe tens or hundreds of thousands – of dollars in your pocket.

So what do accident lawyers charge? 

  • Upfront, nothing.
  • After the work is complete, just a fraction of what the attorney gets for you.

Still have questions about affording a lawyer or pursuing a claim? Contact us today for your free consultation.

How Are Accidents and Injuries Prevented?

By Richard Console on August 31, 2016

In our 20+ years of practicing personal injury law, we’ve seen a lot of accidents that didn’t have to happen – and ways they could’ve been prevented.

People sometimes use the word accident to mean an unavoidable mishap. Something no one could have foreseen or prevented.

Accident FAQsBut the truth is that many – if not most – accidents are avoidable. They didn’t have to happen. There was a clear cause for why things went wrong, why someone got hurt – and that cause, often, is negligence.

Accidents and Negligence

When our New Jersey and Pennsylvania accident injury lawyers take on a case, we’re looking for evidence of negligence.

You see, every one of us has an obligation to act with reasonable caution to protect others around us.

  • When we get behind the wheel of a car, we must follow traffic safety laws – for our own well-being as well as that of others sharing the road with us.
  • When we own a property, we need to keep it clear of safety hazards that could hurt a guest on the premises.
  • If we invite customers or clients to visit a commercial property for business purposes, we need to make sure that property is safe for them to visit.

Not meeting this obligation – by taking actions that are careless or even reckless – makes us negligent. And when these actions cause an accident, we are liable – legally at fault – for what’s happened.

Why Do Accidents Happen?

Few accidents just happen. Most occur because someone was negligent – and negligence can take many forms.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Typically, a collision involving a car, truck, bus, or other type of motor vehicle occurs because of a mistake one or more drivers made. Often, these mistakes include breaking traffic laws.

Some accidents result from speeding or tailgating. Sometimes a driver fails to observe the right of way, blowing through a stop sign or a red traffic light or turning in front of an oncoming vehicle. Motorists who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol are too impaired to judge things like the space between vehicles, the placement of lanes of travel, and their own reaction time.
Truck safety first

Road and weather conditions, like ice and snow, can contribute to accidents. But drivers have a legal responsibility to observe the dangers these conditions pose and take actions to keep the vehicle under control. Motorists driving on wet or icy roads should slow down to compensate for the road conditions – and those who don’t may be liable for any accidents they cause.

At times, a motor vehicle accident isn’t the driver’s fault. Instead, it may be the fault of the vehicle’s manufacturer. In recent years, high-profile recalls like GM’s faulty ignition switch recall have proven that a defective part in a car can actually cause an accident.

These cases are known as products liability claims – claims against the product’s manufacturer, rather than a driver. And while they’re difficult cases, they’re not impossible to win, if you have the right help on your side.

Slip and Falls

A number of different conditions can cause slip and falls, from wet floors and icy sidewalks to crumbling staircases and broken curbs. What these safety hazards have in common is that preventing or eliminating them is the property owner’s responsibility.

If you fell, particularly on a commercial property, the owner might try to blame you. But saying you “should’ve watched where you were going” doesn’t excuse the business from its legal obligations to keep the premises safe for its patrons. Allowing a safety hazard like this to exist on the property is negligence.

Dog Bites

Dogs don’t have legal responsibilities themselves, but their human owners do. A person who chooses to own a dog is also accepting legal responsibility for any harm that dog causes. If the dog has the potential to bite – which even dogs without a history of aggression do – then this person is responsible for keeping the dog out of situations where it could bite an unsuspecting victim.

Often, dog bites happen because a negligent owner allowed the animal to roam freely in an area where there were people the dog could hurt.

Workplace Accidents

Your employer has an obligation to make sure your work environment is safe. Even in potentially dangerous settings, like construction sites, your employer must take steps to minimize the risk to you and your fellow employees.

A workplace accident is unique in that New Jersey workers’ compensation insurance covers damages no matter who is at fault. Even if your employer wasn’t negligent, you can still pursue a claim for compensation. You might also have a claim against someone other than your direct employer, like a third-party vendor, if they acted negligently.

Medical Mistakes

Accidents involving medical care are different than your typical accident case – but the factor of negligence remains the same.

Doctors who don’t do the things they should, or who take actions that other doctors would find outrageous for the situation, commit malpractice. Sometimes the victims of these mistakes are badly hurt. Following safety protocols in hospitals and medical facilities can prevent medical mistakes, which are already far too common.

Accident investigation

What’s the best way to avoid an accident? Avoid being negligent. 

Could Your Accident Have Been Prevented?

What if the driver who hit you had been following traffic laws to the letter? What if the owner of a property had proactively blocked off or repaired a safety hazard, instead of allowing it to linger out in the open where you stumbled upon it?

Could you have avoided ever getting hurt in the first place?

If you think your accident resulted from someone else’s negligent behavior, you have the right to pursue a claim for money damages. The negligent property owner, doctor, or driver chose to put you at risk through their careless actions. Now, they need to face the consequences.

For help finding out whether your accident was avoidable – and what you can do about it – speak with an accident injury attorney.

Posted in: Personal Injury

When in an Accident, Who Pays?

By Richard Console on August 23, 2016

Find out who pays for which costs when an accident occurs.

Accidents are expensive. Every expense, from the price of medical treatments to the cost of missing work, can add up to create a huge financial burden. This is your guide to who pays for what damages in the aftermath of an accident.

Accident FAQsInsurance Coverage for Accident Claims

In most accident cases, it’s an insurance company – not an individual – who pays for the damages.

For a car accident
claim, there’s auto insurance coverage.

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover accidents that happen on residential properties, including dog bites and slip and falls or trip and falls.

Businesses have liability insurance to cover accidents that happen on commercial properties.

Even medical mistakes are covered by an insurer. Doctors and hospitals have malpractice insurance to compensate the victims of any medical errors they commit.

When you want to see the other person pay for what their careless behavior did to you, you may be disappointed to realize it’s the insurance company footing the bill. But ultimately, this system protects you. Most individuals don’t have the money to compensate you for your injuries. When there’s insurance, you know that there is money available – you just need to successfully build a case to attain it.

Suing Individuals

Can you sue an individual for money beyond the insurance coverage that’s available? Of course you can. But in most cases, that’s not a viable option.

Remember, a private citizen probably doesn’t have the kind of money you would win in a personal injury case. Even if the person who caused your accident has some assets, those assets might not be easy for you to access.

For example, the person at fault for the accident might have assets, but they might be in the form of real estate. You can put a lien on a house, so that once the person sells it, they have to pay you what they owe. But you can’t control when they’ll sell the real estate – so you could be waiting decades, if you get money at all.

Is it worth pursuing a case against this individual if you won’t be able to collect? In many cases, no. A better solution is to hire an attorney who can identify all possible parties involved in the case and pursue a claim against every source of insurance available. That way, you’ll walk away with actual compensation, not an impressive-sounding but ultimately meaningless judgment.

How Fault Affects Accident Benefits

Even though the individual who caused your accident isn’t personally responsible for paying the damages, fault still matters. Liability, or legal fault, is one of the first things you must prove to make a personal injury case successful.

Fault for an accident determines which insurance company has to pay for the damages. Sometimes, multiple people are at fault – and that means multiple insurance companies may have to pay some of the costs.

An Example of Fault and Accident Benefits

Take a car accident case, for example. When another driver breaks traffic safety laws and strikes you, it’s that driver’s auto insurance company that will have to pay.

The other driver’s insurer must pay to fix or replace your car or, if you choose to go through your own insurance policy, must repay the cost of repairs – including your deductible.

When you have damages like medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you’ll pursue a claim against this driver’s insurance company.

Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage

There’s one exception to pursuing a claim against the driver who is at fault for the accident. When this driver has little or no auto insurance, you might end up pursuing a claim against your own auto insurance company.

You only have this option if you purchased uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) coverage as a part of your auto insurance policy. In this case, your own auto insurer takes the place of the other driver’s insurance company.

Insurance coverage

In a UM or UIM case, you can pursue compensation up to the policy limits you agreed to when purchasing your coverage.

What You Have to Pay (Even If You’re Not at Fault)

Nothing about an accident is fair – and that, unfortunately, includes paying for it, especially in the cases of car accidents.

Your Responsibilities for Auto Accident Medical Benefits

In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other no-fault states, your own insurance company pays for your medical benefits no matter who caused a crash. Your insurer will minimize its financial burden by making you pay a deductible and copayments.Who pays for a car accident?

Depending on what deductible you selected, you could end up paying thousands of dollars for an accident that isn’t your fault – even with insurance.

Paying for Medical Care in Other Types of Accidents

In cases that don’t involve motor vehicles, you may have to pay for medical care out-of-pocket and then seek compensation afterward. This means many victims of slip and falls, dog bites, and similar accidents often struggle to afford care.

Your health insurer might pay, if you have health insurance – but it might also demand repayment from you later.

So what can you do? Talk to an accident injury attorney.

  • We’ll find out if the homeowner’s or commercial property insurance policy includes medical benefits coverage that you can access now, while you’re still treating.
  • If not, we’ll look for other ways to help – like having your doctors wait to bill you until the end of your claim or helping to negotiate down the costs of your medical care.

Still have questions about who should be paying for your accident? Contact us today for help.

When in an Accident, Whose Insurance Do You Call?

By Richard Console on August 17, 2016

Find out what you have to do – and what you should never do – when it comes to dealing with an insurance company after an accident.

Accident FAQsWhen you’re in a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, dealing with an insurance company becomes a necessary hassle. But how you handle these interactions can have huge consequences. You need to know what rights and legal duties you have after an accident.

Fail to notify the right insurers promptly, and you could have a hard time getting them to pay the benefits they’re supposed to.

But share too much information with the wrong people, and you can end up hurting your claim.

Here’s what you should know about contacting the insurance companies after an accident.

The first thing you need to know is that the insurance company is not your friend. No insurer – not even your own – is on your side. You want the most money for your claim – and insurers want to pay you as little as possible.

Talking to Your Own Insurance Company

If you have an auto insurance policy, you must promptly report your car accident to your insurer.

Why You Need to Notify Your Insurer of an Accident That’s Not Your Fault

If you’ve never been in an accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you might think that this duty doesn’t apply if you weren’t the driver at fault for the crash. After all, the person who caused the accident should be the one to pay, right?

But NJ and PA are both no-fault states. This means that your auto insurance company pays your medical benefits no matter who is at fault. That’s true even if your car wasn’t involved. Even if you weren’t driving.

You could be a passenger in someone else’s vehicle or a pedestrian walking across the street – your auto insurance company is still responsible for the medical bills. And that means that you’re responsible for letting your insurer know about the collision.

What to Say to Your Insurer

Now you know that you need to talk to your insurer. The question is, what are you supposed to say?

After 20+ years of experience practicing personal injury law, I always suggest that the safest option is to stick to the basic facts of the accident. Things like:

  • The fact that you were in an accident
  • The location of the accident
  • The date and time of the accident
  • A brief description of what happened – “I was rear-ended” or “I was hit head-on,” for example

Why is it so important that you stick to just the facts? Because giving the insurance company too much information is one of the biggest mistakes you can make after an accident. The information you choose to share, and the way you word it, could detract from your claim and cost you thousands of dollars.

… And What Not to Say

Sometimes the insurance adjuster will try to get you to discuss fault for the crash or talk about your injuries. Don’t do it.

Just say that you’re not ready to talk about that yet. If the insurance company asks if you’re injured, just say that you need to open a claim for medical benefits so you can see a doctor. You don’t want to fall into the trap of trying to describe all of your injuries, especially if the accident just happened and you haven’t even seen a physician yet.

Often, an insurer will ask you for a recorded statement. Sometimes the insurance adjuster won’t politely ask, but instead tell you that he or she “needs” to get a recorded statement from you. This makes it sound like you don’t have an option – but in reality, you do.

You can say “no” to providing a recorded statement. In fact, you should say no. Because a recorded statement will never work in your favor. The insurance company can twist your words to find ways to pay you less. But you can bet that the insurer will never use the recorded statement to help you get more money or more medical benefits.

When it’s a case of you saying one thing and the insurance company saying another, the insurer will only bring up the recorded statement if what you said supports its position – not yours.

Dealing With the Other Insurance Companies

Ultimately, the other insurance companies involved will play a role in your claim. After all, it’s the person at fault for your injuries that you pursue a claim against, and it’s that person’s or company’s insurer who pays those claims.

But you have no contract with an insurance company if you’re not the policyholder. And that means you have no legal obligation to that insurer.

Contact your insurance company after an accident

What’s truly in your best interests is to reach out to a lawyer who can handle your claim for you, and let your attorney deal with the other insurance companies involved in your claim. These other insurance companies are looking for any plausible way to blame you for the accident or your injuries – and even the most seemingly harmless comment could become ammunition for their argument that you don’t deserve compensation.

If you do try to talk to these insurance companies yourself, at least try to avoid saying something damaging by sticking to the basic facts of what happened. Be aware that it’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it and how you present yourself. An insurance adjuster could be sizing you up, trying to determine what kind of plaintiff you would make in court or simply how committed you are to following through with the claim.

Calling the insurance company may be unavoidable after an accident. But it’s always a good idea to also call a lawyer to talk over your claim with you. Keep in mind that most car accident attorneys do offer free consultations – so take advantage of this opportunity to have your case reviewed, and your questions answered, at no charge.

What Are Cerebrovascular Accidents?

By Richard Console on August 12, 2016

What you need to know about cerebral accidents and failure to diagnose stroke cases

Accident FAQsIf a doctor said that you or a loved one experienced a cerebrovascular accident, you might be confused.

It’s very possible that you weren’t in an accident – the kind you usually think of, anyway – at all. No car crash, no workplace injury, no fall. Just sudden and worrying symptoms that had your family rushing to the emergency room.

“Cerebrovascular accident” is a medical term for what’s more commonly called a stroke. And while it may not be the type of accident that first comes to your mind, this serious health condition may have more in common with crashes, falls, and other severe mishaps than you would think.

Preventable Strokes

The vast majority – up to 90 percent – of all strokes are preventable.

Last month, medical journal The Lancet published new research into stroke risk factors. What researchers found is that a group of 10 risk factors that can be changed contributed to 90 percent of strokes studied worldwide.

You can’t change your genetics, your gender, your race, or your age. But you can change the factors that are among the biggest culprits in causing strokes, according to researchers. You can increase your physical activity. You can take steps to manage your blood pressure.

When it comes to stroke prevention, knowledge is power. But what if your doctor is negligently failing to monitor your health conditions, leaving you at risk of an avoidable and devastating medical emergency?

Emergency room sign

Can Accident Injuries Cause Strokes?

For some patients, a collision or other kind of accident caused the cerebrovascular accident. This is particularly common among younger stroke victims, especially those under age 50.

A stroke can happen without a physical trauma triggering it. But sustaining an injury to the head or neck can increase your stroke risk, according to the American Academy of Neurology.

How?

It’s possible, National Public Radio (NPR) reported, that a head injury can damage “blood vessels in the brain, making them more vulnerable” to developing the clots that cause most strokes.

Personal Injury Claims for Cerebrovascular Accidents

Here’s another factor strokes and accidents have in common: if someone else’s negligence caused the event, you have the legal right to holdthat person responsible.

Of course, if your stroke followed a severe head injury that resulted from a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall, you could have a case against the person who caused that incident.

But there’s also a type of medical malpractice claim you should look into when a stroke has affected your family’s life. In the legal world, we call these failure to diagnose stroke claims.

Through these cases, medical malpractice lawyers hold doctors accountable for misdiagnosing or delaying the diagnosis of a stroke.

Often, failure to diagnose stroke cases result from emergency room doctors dismissing patients who have stroke symptoms. They might be negligent by:

  • Failing to perform tests
  • Failing to correctly interpret the results
  • Carelessly sending the patient home without offering help

And, because early treatment is so important for preventing stroke damage, even a minor delay can have devastating consequences.

Whether you were the victim of a cerebrovascular accident yourself or you’re caring for a loved one left disabled by a stroke, the situation can be difficult in many ways. If you’re wondering whether a negligent doctor made the damage from the stroke worse, let us help. We’ll go over your family’s legal options and help you find out the truth about what caused the stroke.

To get help with your personal
injury accident:

Please call us at
(856) 778-5500
for a free consultation

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