Automobile Accidents: What to do and what to not … do …

So, with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it seems that most drivers are in a rush to get wherever they are heading. Problem is, these same drivers are also highly distracted with holiday stress, cell phones, holiday lights, and an early dusk and nightfall. When one of these distracted drivers (hopefully not you) causes an accident, that holiday stress quickly becomes a whole new stress headache to deal with. Not to mention the physical and psychological injuries caused by the impact of vehicles crashing. Let’s face it, people are injured when they are occupying large metal containers on wheels that collide.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation such as this, here are some DOs:

  • DO: Remain calm. Everyone has video recording equipment available to them. If you are hurt in the accident, and eventually bring a claim against the other driver, no one (that is, a jury) wants to see you ranting and raving and cursing out the other driver. However, if the other driver is belligerent, well … camera on …
  • DO: Use your smartphone camera to take photos and video of the accident scene. Be sure to show the vehicles involved (including the position of the vehicles relative to each other), the damage caused, and any other important information at the scene. Also take photos of the other driver’s credentials, including their insurance card and drivers license.
  • DO: Call the police. The police will document the event in a police accident report, as well as interview any witnesses to the event. Also advise the police that you are injured if you feel any pain. This way they can make note of your injury in the police report. Be sure to tell the police officer(s) your version of what happened.
  • DO: Ask for an ambulance if you think your are injured. If you later bring a claim for injuries, your adversaries love to point out that you didn’t ask for medical attention at the scene of the accident.
  • DO: Seek medical attention after the accident if you are feeling any pain. If you are hurt and later bring a claim, any delay in medical treatment causes question as to the veracity of your claim.

Here are some DO NOTs:

  • DO NOT: Do not rant and rave and curse out the other driver. (See above)
  • DO NOT: Do not forget to ask the other driver for their credentials, including drivers license and insurance information.
  • DO NOT: Do not fail to call the police. Not only will your automobile insurance company request this in order to process any claims, you will likely need a police report to bring any claim against the other driver. Although it is possible to still bring a claim without the report, it is extremely difficult to prove your claim without a police report.
  • DO NOT: Do not ignore your injuries. If you are injured, be sure to seek medical treatment. This will provide you with the medical treatment you need, plus it will document your injuries if you later bring a claim for personal injury.
  • DO NOT: Do not fail to review the police report when it is ready. Everyone is human, and sometimes there are mistakes made on the police report. If the description of the accident is wrong, or there is something wrong with your statement in the police report, advise the police and request that the report be revised. At the very least, you will be provided the chance to add an addendum to the report with your statement as to why the report is inaccurate. This addendum will be attached to the police report for future use.

When you are involved in an automobile collision, your stress levels skyrocket and adrenaline pumps. However, be sure to protect your rights if you are injured.

If you are in an accident and need more information, please contact the Law Offices of William S. Peck to discuss your options and to protect your rights.

If something makes you fall down, take photos!

I’m sure the last thing you are thinking of when you fall down is “hey, let me take out my phone and take some pictures of this [whatever] that made me fall down and injure myself. Usually the first thought that comes to mind is “oh damn, that was embarrassing, I hope no one saw that …”. You might not even realize at first that you are seriously hurt, aside from your ego.

BUT, photos of the dangerous condition that caused you to fall down are one of the most important tools that attorneys use to prove your injury claim. In today’s day and age, mostly everyone carries a mobile phone that has a camera. And if something caused you to fall down, such as liquid on the floor, a cracked or uneven sidewalk, uneven step, or any other dangerous condition, you will improve your chances of being a successful claimant if you have photographic proof to show the property owner the dangerous condition that they allowed to exist.

Take good photos too – ones that show different angles, and that show the depth (i.e. height) of any defect. Maybe put something next to the defect to show the size. Since most people don’t carry rulers with them, perhaps put a very common object in the photo next to the defect to show its size, such as a pen or coin. Also, take some wide angle shots of the defect, so that you can show exactly where this defect existed. So if you’re outside and you trip on an uneven sidewalk slab, take some photos that show the defect AND some distinct features of the property – that is, a house or building near it so that someone can easily figure out exactly where this defect exists (or existed at the time of the fall down).

Too many times do new clients come consult with us and unfortunately do not have any photos of the dangerous condition. The issue really is compounded when the fall down occurred many days or weeks or months after the incident. When an investigator goes to the scene of the fall down the conditions oftentimes have changed or been repaired. This leads to problems proving that the condition was indeed dangerous in the first place, since we cannot show how the condition existed at the time of the injury.

So, put those smartphone cameras to good use and take photos of what caused your fall down right after it happens. This will help you way more than the selfie video you take afterward giving your audience a chuckle about your misfortune. Remember, your personal injury case is YOUR case, and the more proofs you can provide the better your chances at winning.

If you need more information about trip and falls, fall downs, or slip and falls, please contact the Law Offices of William S. Peck to discuss your options and to protect your rights.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Imagine that you are coming home from a holiday party, or a fun night at the Jersey shore, and you don’t make the best judgment call. You get behind the wheel even though you had a drink (or two or three …). Those drinks you ordered were so weak, there’s no way they are affecting your ability to function, right? You only had a few, so you must be fine. You think you are okay and not at all impacted by what you drank. Or at the very least your driving won’t be affected, right?

We all know that the consumption of alcohol lends itself to not making the best choices, whether it be the way you behave or your ability to safely operate a vehicle. New Jersey is one of the strictest states in the nation when it comes to penalties and fines for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In fact, New Jersey does not allow plea bargaining to lower charges when it comes toe DWI / DUI violations. The penalties and fines get exponentially harsher for subsequent DWI / DUI violations. Violators are subject to jail time, heavy monetary fines, and worst of all, loss of driving privileges. Accordingly, you should consult with an attorney at the Law Offices of William S. Peck to discuss your options if you are ever faced with a DWI / DUI violation.

Think that one drink wasn’t enough to cause any problems while driving? The amount of drinking or narcotics that go into your system have varying affects on your body. Even a small amount of drinking or drug use can negatively impact your ability to drive. If the police observe you driving in a way that gives them a reason to pull you over, that one drink may be enough to ruin your year. Everyone is affected differently based on many factors, including body weight, ability to metabolize, the amount of food you eat, and other physical factors. Once you are pulled over by the police, and they suspect impairment, there are different levels of DWI / DUI violations the can hit you with based on your level of intoxication. New Jersey law holds that any blood alcohol content (“BAC”) at or above 0.08% is sufficient to find a driver guilty of DWI / DUI. Commercial drivers with CDLs are held to an even higher standard, being in violation if their BAC is at or above 0.04%. However, even if your BAC is lower than the legal limits, the police can still charge you for DWI/ DUI based on their observations of your driving if they think your driving is impaired. If you consumed any narcotics, you can be charged with DUI if your driving is negatively affected.

So, although you think that the one or two drinks you had means you’re fine, and you think you aren’t “drunk”, the way you are driving may still cause big headaches for you (besides the hangover) if you’re charged with DWI.

Attorneys that handle these types of violations will be able to help. An attorney will know which defenses should be presented on your behalf, as well as whether or not the Municipal Prosecutor can prove the charges. They will argue these defenses and seek to disprove the violations. The attorney will also look into whether any testing performed by law enforcement was faulty or not up to legal standard, thereby causing issues for the prosecution of the offense. They will also ensure that you receive the minimal amount of fines and penalties afforded under law.

If you need more information, please contact the Law Offices of William S. Peck to discuss your options and to protect your rights.