Learn how to get your accident report sooner – and what we can do to help.
When you’re in an accident, documenting what happened is one of the most important steps you can take. But what happens after you file a report with the police or a property owner? How do you get a copy of that report and the crucial information it contains?
Getting Your Car Accident Report
The process of getting your car accident report depends on where the crash occurred.
If the accident took place on a toll highways like the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, or the Atlantic City Expressway, then you may need to contact the relevant highway authority.
If your crash happened on city or county roadways, it was likely a local police department that responded. Find your municipal or county police department in New Jerseyhere or in Pennsylvaniahere.
You’ll need to get your car accident report from the police department that responded to the collision, even if it’s far from where you live. Fortunately, many police departments now allow you to download the police report online or request a copy by mail.
In some jurisdictions, the responding police officer will give you a card with information, including their municipality, name, and perhaps a crash identification number. Otherwise, the officer might provide this information orally. If you can, write these details down – it could help you locate your police report later.
Things to Know About Getting a Police Report
Preparing your report can take some time – and how much time depends on who is in responsible for the report and how busy that police department is.The New Jersey State Police advised that you should wait at least 24 hours before attempting to obtain your crash report online, but it may take up to a week for that document to become available.The Pennsylvania State Police ask crash victims to wait 15 days after the accident before they submit a request for the report.Often, the responding officer can give you an estimate about when to expect your report to be available, if you ask.
You may have to pay. Many police departments charge a fee for attaining a copy of the police report – yes, even when the other person is at fault. Be prepared to make this payment. The fee is usually small, though it can be as high as $25.00 or more. Police departments typically charge a flat rate for a copy of an accident report, though some charge per page.
Your time with an online police report may be limited. If you get your police report online, be aware that your access to these documents may expire. The New Jersey State Police crash report service, for example, allows you access to the report for only 14 days from the date it is delivered to you via email. Make sure you save a copy in a safe place – otherwise, you could end up having to order another copy (and pay a second time).
The more you know, the easier it is to find your accident report.
Different crash report request systems work in different ways, but it’s always easier to find the report when you have all of the information available. Sometimes it’s a lot faster, too.For example, the New Jersey State Police crash report request service allows you to conduct a real-time search by case number or by last name, driver’s license number, or license plate number. However, the service warns that “requests based on crash details may take up to three months to be delivered.”
Getting an Incident Report
Not every accident involves a motor vehicle, or a police response. If you reported your slip and fall or other accident to the property owner or manager, that party likely wrote out an incident report detailing what happened.
Unlike the police, however, the property owner or manager isn’t a neutral party. The person who prepared the incident report may have twisted your statements, left out important details, or added in information that isn’t accurate in an attempt to minimize the responsible party’s negligence.
It’s a good idea to refuse to sign an incident report prepared by a commercial property owner – you have no obligation to sign the document, although the company won’t tell you so. However, it’s also a good idea to get a copy of the report so you know what the other side is saying about how the accident occurred.
You should be able to simply ask management for a copy of the incident report. But if the property owner refuses to comply, you might need to call in a professional.
We Can Help With Getting Your Accident Report
You don’t have to wait until you have a copy of the accident report in hand to get legal help. Every day, our personal injury attorneys talk to victims who haven’t gotten their reports yet – and we’re able to help.
So if you feel confident that the accident wasn’t your fault but don’t yet have the accident report to show it, that’s okay. We’ll listen to the details of what happened to you and figure out if we’re the right firm to pursue your case. If so, we can get the ball rolling early and even handle the process of getting your accident report for you – and we’ll never charge you extra for the time and effort it takes us to get that report.
If you’re having difficulty locating your accident report, or if you have your accident report but aren’t sure how to interpret the codes used on it, give us a call. We’re happy to help!
Do you know the 5 things you must do after a collision with an Uber car?
If you don’t take the right steps after a car accident – any car accident – you could hurt your chances of getting life back to normal. A misstep could prevent you from ever getting what you deserve in a personal injury claim or even making the best possible physical recovery. In a crash with an Uber vehicle, the situation is much more complicated – and the stakes can be much higher.
Here are the 5 steps you need to take right away after an Uber car accident.
1. Document the collision with the police.
A crash that seems minor at first can still cause serious injuries. But if you don’t call the police and document the accident with an official report when the collision happens, you might later have a hard time proving that the accident happened the way you said it did – or at all.
Even if the property damage seems minor, even if you think you’re only suffering a couple of mild aches and pains, call 911 after an accident. If you’re the passenger, insist that the driver stop and call, or make the call yourself.
When the police arrive, be sure that you’re providing accurate information. Don’t be afraid to pause for a minute if necessary to get your thoughts together – the shock of an accident can make it difficult to communicate what you really mean.
Make sure you mention any pain or discomfort you’re feeling, no matter how minor it may seem, to the police so it can be documented in the accident report. You would be surprised how many car accident injuries take hours, days, or even weeks to present the full extent of their symptoms.
2. Get the right medical care right away.
Your health is, without question, the most important thing after an accident. It’s important that you see a doctor right away – whether at the emergency room or your physician’s office. If your injuries seem at all serious, don’t take any chances – get medical attention immediately.
Keep in mind that your primary physician might not be willing or able to treat you after a car accident. The sooner you begin seeking medical treatment, the better you will be able to deal with any problems that arise.
Finding medical care after an accident isn’t always as easy as it should be. If you need help locating a qualified doctor in your area who has experience treating injuries that arise from accidents, let us know. We can do the legwork to find a physician for you.
Medical billing after an accident is complicated. Who is responsible for the medical expenses depends on a lot of factors, like whether or not you have auto insurance of your own and what choices you (or another party involved) made when setting up that policy.
Don’t let the billing questions stand in the way of getting necessary medical treatment. See a doctor now – then we’ll figure out and explain the insurance coverage for your specific situation.
3. Gather as much evidence as you can.
When you’re hurt and in shock, collecting evidence might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s important to document the facts of the accident as thoroughly as possible.
Take photos of the crash scene, including the damage to the cars and the placement of the vehicles after the impact. If you have visible injuries, photograph those, too. Be sure to get the other driver’s contact and insurance information, and make a note – mental or on paper – of the make and model of the car.
4. Let your own auto insurance company know about the accident, if you have one – but be careful.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are no-fault states, which means it’s your own auto insurance carrier who pays for the medical bills that arise from a car accident. Yes, even when the accident isn’t your fault. Even when you weren’t the one driving. Even if your car wasn’t involved in the collision at all.
Since paying for the medical expenses is legally your own insurer’s responsibility – and to get that process started – you need to notify your auto insurance company about the collision.
What you don’t need to do, though, is go into detail about matters like fault, your injuries, or your medical care. You don’t need to give a recorded statement. All the insurance company needs to know at this time is that you were in an accident and that you need to open your medical claim. Once you have an experienced Uber car accident lawyer on your side, he or she will handle the rest.
Be especially careful about giving information to the other insurance companies involved in the claim – Uber’s or a driver’s personal auto insurer. You don’t have a contract or agreement with this company, and you’re not obligated to give them information.
Past victims of Uber accidents have reported that the ridesharing company’s insurer reached out to them upon learning of the accident to ask for a statement – one that you don’t have to give. Your best bet is to get an Uber auto accident lawyer involved in your case early on and let him or her worry about dealing with these other insurers.
5. Hire an experienced Uber accident attorney.
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are still fairly new – so much so that many states are still trying to figure out how (and even whether) to regulate them. So you may not find a lawyer who has already handled hundreds of claims involving Uber car accidents.
But what you should look for is an attorney with decades of experience handling car accident claims, from the most general to the most complicated.
A lawyer who has won high-value cases involving commercial vehicle crashes will already have insight into the challenges that can creep up in a case with multiple defendants and insurers – and how to solve those challenges so you still get the most money possible for your claim.
Ideally, you want a lawyer who works on motor vehicle accident cases every single day – someone who has thousands of successful cases under their belt, who can reliably tell you what to expect. Our attorneys, for example, handle personal injury cases exclusively, and motor vehicle accidents make up the majority of what we do.
If your attorney knows enough about the difficulties victims face after car accidents that he or she is willing to help you with getting your car fixed, getting your medical bills paid, and getting your outstanding medical debts reduced, even better.
Finding the right lawyer to handle your Uber accident claim doesn’t have to be a hassle – and it doesn’t have to cost you anything upfront. Call (856) 778-5500 today for your free case review.
Figure out who is really at fault for your accident and learn how award-winning lawyers prove fault in high-value personal injury claims.
Being involved in an accident can certainly seem random, but it’s not chance that causes a motor vehicle collision or a slip and fall. Someone chose to act in a way that put others in danger – whether through reckless driving behaviors or sloppy property maintenance practices.
That someone is at fault for the accident and legally on the hook for paying for all of the damages that resulted from it. And if you want to pursue an accident claim, you need to find out who that person is.
Maybe you’re in the early stages of an accident and trying to prepare yourself for what happens next. Or maybe the other person, company, or insurer is blaming you for the accident, but you believe it’s that party’s fault. Whatever the situation, you need to know how fault can affect your claim, how to determine who is at fault, and how to prove it.
Why Fault Matters in an Accident
Liability, or legal fault, is a cornerstone of a successful personal injury case.
The Role of Liability in a Personal Injury Claim
You can only pursue a claim against someone who is actually at fault for the accident.
If you’re the one who broke traffic safety laws, then you don’t have a viable case against a driver who didn’t break any laws just because you got hurt, too.
And if you were injured in a slip and fall but there was no safety hazard – no slippery or uneven walking surface – that caused it, you don’t have a claim against the property owner simply because you happened to fall on the premises.
Blaming the Victim
Of course, defendants and their insurance companies know how important liability is in an accident claim. So they sometimes use this fact to their advantage. They may try to convince victims that they’re at fault for the accident, even when the insurer knows it isn’t true.
I vividly remember one truck accident case my law firm handled in which the reversing truck driver struck a (safely and legally) parked vehicle with the driver still inside it. The truck driver’s insurance company actually tried to blame the woman in the parked car for the collision. Apparently, it was her fault for not beeping her horn.
If an insurer would stoop to blaming the victim in such a clear case of liability as this, you can bet that it’s a possibility in your case, too.
Determining Fault for Your Accident
Accidents can be complicated. It’s not uncommon, as you’re trying to pinpoint exactly what happened and who caused the situation, to wonder if your own actions contributed to the event.
Trust me, the defendant’s insurance company will ponder this question, too. Maybe they can argue that you should have watched where you were walking, or that you should have yielded to the other driver even when road signs clearly showed that you had the right-of-way – or one of dozens of other imagined rationales for why you could be at fault.
Remember that an insurer can be biased toward its own self-interest – namely, holding onto its money. Don’t believe everything you hear, especially if it contradicts your own recollection of the accident.
Here are three tips to figure out who is really at fault for your injuries:
Try to remember all of the details about your accident – I know it can be tough sometimes.
If you took pictures of the accident scene – which is always a smart decision – look back through them. Your photos might hold the key to proving fault on the part of the other party.
You might see the spill on the floor, the ice in the parking lot, or the cracked sidewalk. Consult any other evidence available, too – like witness accounts or video surveillance footage.
Look at any reports of the event. This could mean an accident report written by a police officer or an incident report prepared by a commercial property owner.
While these reports might not determine fault, they can give you a good idea of what an insurer or defendant might say about liability – and what evidence, if any, they have to back up their claims.
For example, if the police report shows that the other driver – and only that driver – got a ticket, the insurer will have a hard time proving its theories about your liability.
Unfortunately, in the case of an incident report prepared by employees of the property owner, it’s unlikely that the document will cast much blame on the owner.
Get help attaining any additional evidence in your claim.
Make sure you have as much of your own evidence as possible – especially in a situation where the defendant is also the one preparing the report.
Get a personal injury lawyer involved early on to help you collect any additional evidence before it vanishes.
How Experienced Attorneys Prove Liability
When you want the most money for your claim, you want a lawyer with decades of experience handling it – period.
If you try to handle the claim on your own, you’ll find yourself floundering through a complex process. With an attorney on your side, you’ll have someone to painstakingly investigate your accident, gather evidence from sources you might not have even known existed, and present that evidence in a convincing demand for compensation.
When you’ve handled as many personal injury claims as my firm has, you learn the most effective ways to prove liability. You find out the importance of beginning your investigation right away. You figure out which questions to ask and what information to demand access to. You even develop ways to handle challenges, like accidents of which a seriously injured victim has no memory.
Did you know there are experts who specialize in accident reconstruction and other very specific, and important, fields? They can recreate the accident to uncover hidden clues about who is truly at fault. We have an entire network of professional resources we can tap into if necessary to learn more about your accident.
Part of proving fault is knowing how the legal system works. We don’t only know what evidence is important and how to get it – we also know when an insurer’s assertion that the other party is at fault really is just another instance of blaming the victim.
What If I Really Am Partly at Fault?
Sometimes the cause of an accident is complex. Maybe the other party’s actions played a big role in the event, but yours played a small part, too. If so, you may still be able to pursue a claim.
State laws in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania recognize comparative negligence. This concept means that being partially at fault for the accident can’t prevent you from seeking compensation from someone who is more at fault than you are.
Your compensation can be reduced by the percentage you are considered at fault, but you’re still legally entitled to something.
Taking the Next Step: From Exploring Fault to Pursuing a Claim
In my experience, instances of insurers trying to blame victims who were clearly not at fault happen all too often. And if those victims believe these deceptive arguments, they may give up pursuing a claim – which means they never get the justice or the compensation they really deserve.
Don’t become one of these victims. If you think you’re not at fault for the accident, even if the other party is telling you otherwise, it’s worth a call to an experienced personal injury lawyer. You won’t have to pay anything for the consultation, so you really do have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Find out how long your personal injury claim could take – and what you can do to get your money sooner.
When a serious injury affects you all day, every day, time doesn’t exactly fly. It’s not only your journey to recovery that can seem painfully slow, either. The personal injury claims process isn’t designed to get you the compensation you deserve quickly and easily. It’s full of obstacles and opportunities for the other side to hold up the process and delay your payout.
Whether it seems like your personal injury case is dragging on or you’re just trying to get an idea how long the process will take, read on. We break down how deadlines affect your case, what factors can make your case take longer, and how Console & Hollawell works to get you the most money in the least amount of time possible.
Deadlines in a Personal Injury Case
Personal injury cases take time, but there are, at least, deadlines that affect certain phases of the claim. In some instances, you have to notify defendants in writing that you’re pursuing a claim within a certain number of months. In most cases, you have to actually file a lawsuit within two years of the date your accident occurred. Different parts of the process, like the discovery phase, may also be subject to time limits, though those limits can be extended.
These deadlines don’t limit how long the case as a whole can go on, and most of them help the defendant more than they help you.
Are you surprised to hear that these deadlines are measured in months and years? Many accident victims are. The media and the popular misconception of “jackpot justice” makes many people think an accident translates to a quick (and high) payout. But when you’re actually in a personal injury situation, you realize that couldn’t be further from the truth.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?
The first thing you need to know about the timeline of a personal injury case is that there’s no set amount of time that a case should take. It depends on a lot of factors, some of which might surprise you.
The factors that might affect the timeline of your case include:
How long your medical treatment lasts. To make sure you’re getting all the money you deserve, your attorney doesn’t want to settle your case – or even begin negotiating a payout amount – until it’s clear what your damages are. This includes your physical injuries, but also aspects like your medical expenses, the pain and suffering you go through, and the permanent effects on your life.
This means that in most cases, your lawyer will need to wait until you are finished your medical treatment – that is, you have made the most complete physical recovery you’re going to make – to take certain actions, like sending a demand letter to the insurance company.
If your injuries don’t take long to treat, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations sooner. But if your medical care goes on for months or even years, which can sometimes happen to accident victims, it could delay the next step in your claim.
How much the defendant is cooperating. If you thought the defendant in your case would just own up to the mistake that caused your accident and give you what you deserve, think again. Unfortunately, insurers and other defendants often try to get out of paying – ever, if possible. At the very least, they want to delay paying you the money you deserve so they can hang onto it longer.
If the defendant is playing hardball in negotiations, intentionally concealing documents and other evidence concerning your accident, or trying to deny fault or coverage, your case could take longer.
Don’t worry too much about this possibility. Our attorneys have been practicing personal injury law for more than 20 years and have even worked on the defense side, so we see this situation all the time. In fact, we’ve taken cases all the way to the New Jersey State Supreme Court when that was what it took to get the defendant insurance company to cooperate.
We know that if we pursue the case relentlessly, present our facts convincingly, and refuse to give up, we can past these obstacles. It may take some more time and patience – but in the end, it will be worth it, because we’ll get you the full amount of money you deserve instead of settling for less.
Trials create a lot of expense and hassle. You need a judge to hear the case, a jury to deliberate and make a decision, and a courtroom in which the trial will unfold. Taking a case to trial can require additional legal filings and in-person testimony from your expert witnesses.A trial is also a gamble. If the jury decides in the defendant’s favor, you could walk away with nothing. Even if the jury awards you a very high settlement, a judge can sometimes decrease your compensation. And, since the defendant can appeal the jury’s decision on certain grounds, it’s possible that at the end of the day, the trial won’t resolve anything – at least, not right away.
Trials create all this hassle not just for you, but for the legal system as a whole. So it’s common practice to try all other avenues – settlement negotiations, mediations, arbitrations – to resolve a case before it goes to trial.
If that can’t happen, you may be in this for the long haul. It can take one to two years from the time an attorney files a lawsuit just to get an initial trial date, especially in areas where the legal system is already overburdened with too many court cases. And, because scheduling conflicts aren’t unusual in the legal industry, your trial could be rescheduled – delayed by days, months, or even years.
Getting the Most Money in the Shortest Time with Console & Hollawell
On the surface, there’s not much you personally can do to speed up the case. You can’t just decide that you’ll get better faster. You can’t force a defendant to cooperate. And you can’t just settle a case that’s bound for the courtroom, at least not for the amount of money you deserve.
But when you choose Console & Hollawell to handle your case, we will work tirelessly get you maximum value in the least amount of time possible. This commitment is one of the features that sets our firm apart, and it’s not just empty words.
At our firm, we can get your money faster because we start working sooner. Some attorneys wait until that two-year deadline is almost up to finally file your lawsuit, even if you finished treating months earlier. They could get working on your case sooner, but they choose not to.
At our firm, there’s a real sense of urgency. We know that you need compensation sooner rather than later. That’s why we begin working on your case from the moment you hire us. We investigate it from the start, gather evidence and information, and build your case as though it’s going to trial.
When you’re done treating, we make a point to send out a demand letter and start negotiating a settlement right away. If we know what your damages are and that litigation is inevitable, we file your lawsuit early to get the case moving. Taking this initiative has allowed us to resolve a number of cases in as little as three to four months – sometimes even after other attorneys spent years supposedly working on them.
Not every case can be resolved in a few months. Some will take years, no matter who is representing you. But don’t you want to know that your attorney is proactive in getting you everything you deserve?
It’s one of the most common questions personal injury lawyers hear: how much is my case worth?
Unfortunately, this question is also one of the most difficult to answer. That’s because there’s no simple formula to decide, no automatic value that even the most experienced attorney can apply to your circumstances.
In every personal injury claim, there are countless details at play – things like what kind of accident happened, what injuries you suffered, and what the at-fault person or organization did to cause the injury. These details mean that no other case is exactly the same as yours, and they affect how much money your case will ultimately be worth.
Among the most important factors that determine how much your case will be worth are your injuries, your medical treatment, fault, and insurance coverage.
What injuries you suffered in the accident can play an important role in how much money you will receive. Generally speaking, the more serious your injuries, the more money your case is worth. But not always.
A visible, easily recognized injury may be worth more than the kind of injury onlookers can’t see and aren’t very familiar with. An insurance company (or, if your case goes to trial, a jury) may be likely to give you more money for a broken bone than for a herniated disc in your neck or back. And that may be true even if the broken bone heals with little more than a cast and the disc injury requires surgery and months of physical therapy.
Is this fair? No. Unfortunately, though, what insurance adjusters and jurors (real or imagined) think about how severe your injury is has a lot of influence on your case value.
Your Medical Treatment
Even two people with the same injuries might have cases of different value. Two victims might suffer a herniated disc in the same region of their spines. But if one can be treated effectively without surgery and the other requires a discectomy or spinal fusion surgery, the second case will have a higher value for a number of reasons.
The injury itself seems more severe because it requires surgical treatment.
The procedure – not to mention its follow-up care – increases medical expenses a great deal.
Having to undergo surgery and recovery adds to the patient’s pain and suffering.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should undergo extra treatments and procedures just to try to boost the value of your claim. For one thing, insurance companies aren’t going to pay for a procedure you don’t need, and they won’t be tricked into paying you more for undergoing unnecessary treatments. And, of course, every procedure – and particularly, every surgery – presents some element of risk. But it does mean that if your doctor recommends surgery, getting that procedure can benefit your case as well as your physical recovery.
It’s not all about what kind of treatment you get, either. Sometimes when you got your medical treatment matters, too.
If you saw a doctor immediately after the accident and got all of your treatment on time and consistently, your case value will be better than if you waited a long time to get treatment. If you were inconsistent in getting medical care and your treatment history is full of gaps, an insurance company may claim that your injuries must not have been that serious, and the compensation you get might be less.
It’s not enough for you to say the other person – driver, property owner, doctor – caused your accident. Your lawyer must be able to prove it through evidence, such as:
Photographs of the safety hazard, accident scene, and damage
Witness accounts of the accident
Statements contained in accident or incident reports
Video surveillance footage that shows the accident happening
If there’s little evidence that the other party caused your accident, your case might be worth less – or you might not have a case at all. On the other hand, if you have plenty of documentation that shows that, for example, the driver was reckless or the business allowed a safety hazard on the property, your case value might be higher.
Exactly what the other party did to cause your accident can also affect your case value. You might get more money if the at-fault person’s behavior was particularly shocking – like driving with a BAC of four times the legal limit – compared to an action that seems less serious, like following the car in front a little too close. In certain cases, juries may even award punitive damages, additional monetary compensation intended as punishment for the defendant.
The amount of evidence and the heinousness of the other person’s actions don’t correspond to how much you’re suffering or even how much the accident costs you financially. But these factors can still impact the value of your case.
One aspect that affects how much your case is worth might be established months before your accident actually happened. The choices made in purchasing insurance coverage can limit how much money you get for your claim – and that goes for your insurance and the other party’s insurance.
How much coverage the at-fault party purchased determines the maximum amount of money you can get from the insurance company. But your own choices matter, too. If you agreed to limit your right to sue by purchasing insurance coverage with the verbal threshold (in New Jersey) or limited tort (in Pennsylvania) option, you will only be able to get compensation for pain and suffering if your injuries meet specific requirements. You could have serious injuries but still be unable to recover any money for your pain and suffering if you don’t have the “right kind” of injuries.
This is no exhaustive list. Everything from where your case would go to trial to how sympathetic a jury would be to your problems can alter the value of your case.
Learn What Your Case Is Worth – Talk to an Attorney Today
With so many different factors to consider, how can you possibly figure out what your case is worth and how to get the full amount of compensation you deserve? By talking to a lawyer.
Just because there’s no formula where you can easily plug in numbers doesn’t mean there’s no way to figure out your case value. It just means that it’s more nuanced, as much of an art as it is a science.
An experienced attorney can weigh the different factors involved in your case and determine how much each is likely to affect you. As your case progresses and more details emerge, he or she can get a clearer idea what your case will be worth. Then your lawyer will work to get you the money you deserve.
Many accident victims shy away from talking to a lawyer because they’re afraid of paying more in legal fees than they can afford. But by never even discussing the case with an attorney, they prevent themselves from getting the full amount of money they’re entitled to.
That’s why we offer free consultations for all accident victims and why we take on clients without ever charging any upfront fees. Our No Fee Promise makes the claims process risk-free for you because you pay nothing unless and until we get compensation for you.
When insurance adjusters see that you not only have a lawyer, but that you have a lawyer with a reputation for fighting to get what clients deserve, they realize that we won’t back down. We won’t settle for less than you deserve. And we won’t let them take advantage of you.
If you want the most money for your claim, let an attorney review your case for free today.
The majority of Americans don’t want to ride in a driverless vehicle like the Google car – and accidents like this are precisely why.
You’ve likely heard about the Google Self-Driving Car project. Since 2009, these so-called “autonomous vehicles” – about 55 in all – have been test driving across the nation. Just weeks ago, one collided with a bus – and from facts like the police report, it appears it may have been at least partially at fault.
Google Cars’ Crash Histories
This isn’t the Google car project’s first crash. But in past accidents, the safety of self-driving vehicles has largely been dismissed. The driverless car wasn’t considered at fault, mainly because most of those collisions involved other drivers rear-ending the vehicle.
But this time, even Google itself has acknowledged sharing “some responsibility” for the crash – and MIT Technology Review reported that that autonomous car being found at fault “is looking probable.”
What Does a Google Car Look Like?
What does a self-driving car look like? Some, like the one involved in the bus crash, are Lexus brand SUVs. Others are prototype cars – somewhat strange-looking vehicles with rounded shapes and large, visible sensors on the roof.
Since 2015, Google has been testing prototypes of truly driverless cars – fully-functioning ones that could very well be right beside you on the road – that don’t even have pedals or steering wheels. They’re “designed for riding, not for driving,” Google reported.
But to the rest of us, there’s something unnerving – creepy, even – about a car that drives itself, that doesn’t even allow for human intervention if the need arises. Especially when it comes time for the car to make a judgment call – and it makes the wrong choice.
Who’s in Control?
Some of the technology used by the Google self-driving car is already making its way into today’s vehicles as “driver assistance” features. Many cars already on the road have the ability to adapt their cruise control settings, alert you if you drift from your lane, help you park, brake automatically if sensors detect slow traffic ahead, and warn you of cars in your blind spot.
These safety features are wonderful in that they can help prevent accidents from happening and stop innocent people from getting hurt. Buta safety sensor is no substitute for a careful, attentive human driver.
No matter how many sensors the car has, no matter how fine-tuned the software, a computer doesn’t think the way a human does. We’ve all been in situations where, as a driver, you have to make a judgment call.
Making the Tough Driving Decisions
Some of these judgment calls are among the hundreds of small decisions you face every time you get behind the wheel. Is it safe to go? Are you sure there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk? Are you leaving the vehicle in front of you enough space?
But other times, these decisions require intelligence beyond commands you can input into a computer. When a collision is inevitable, will the driverless car take the action that minimizes the damage? Will it notice every risk and potential consequence and make the safest choice? Or will it blindly follow computerized codes that can’t possibly account for every circumstance?
As a driver, I like to know that I’m in control of my vehicle. Sure, I can’t control the actions of everyone else on the road. But at least I know that I can hit the gas, step on the brake, and turn the wheel when I need to. I have control over which direction I’m going, how fast I’m going, and how quickly I can stop the car. That’s true autonomy. And I must not be the only one who thinks so.
Research shows that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of riding in driverless cars. In fact, 75 percent of American drivers surveyed would be “afraid” to ride in a self-driving vehicle, AAA reported.
Already, completely self-driving cars are legal in Nevada, Florida, California, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. Google expects its prototype cars – the ones with no pedals or steering wheels – to be available to the public by 2020.
But is the world really ready for driverless cars to flood our streets, and for computer software to be the ones making the tough decisions behind the wheel?
Once your case is closed, it’s closed for good – so make sure it’s handled correctly from the start!
It happens all the time –accident victims ask if it’s possible to reopen a closed case.
Their injuries are more serious than they thought, or they need to undergo a surgery they hadn’t planned for when they settled the case. They’ve been out of work longer than expected. They need more money to compensate them for losses that they hadn’t realized they had.
Unfortunately, we have to give them a disappointing answer – that once closed, a personal injury claim typically can’t be reopened, even with the help of a lawyer. No matter how good a reason these victims have for wanting the case reopened, it’s just not how the process works.
You only have one opportunity to pursue this case – no do-overs, no second chances. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, because you can’t ask for more money later.
Signing a Release
Release forms are a major reason why you can’t reopen a personal injury claim.
When you agree to a settlement, whether you’re handling the claim on your own or working with an attorney, part of the process includes signing a release. This form basically says that you’re releasing the defendant from any future claims related to this accident.
You’re signing your rights away in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of money.
The problem is that when you do this without a lawyer, you have no way of knowing if you really got all of the money you deserve. You had no one looking out for your best interests, so you don’t know if you’re likely to face future problems because of your injuries. You might not understand exactly what you’re giving up when you sign a release and cash your check, because you don’t have someone who understands the process to explain it to you.
If you already signed a release, the chances that you can reopen your claim are miniscule. If you’re still in negotiations and haven’t signed anything yet, now is the time to get a professional onboard.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Unfortunately, too many accident victims wait too long to get a lawyer involved. They try to handle the claim on their own. They negotiate the best settlement they can get by themselves, and – often because they don’t know yet how serious their injuries really are – they’re settling for less than they deserve. They sign the release form and cash the check.
It’s only much later, when they realize how little that check really covered, that they turn to an attorney. But by then, it’s too late. Signing that release closed their case for good, and even a professional can’t do anything to change it now.
Even if you never sign a release, you can still lose your rights to pursue a claim by waiting too long to act. Personal injury claims are subject to statutes of limitations, or deadlines. If you haven’t resolved your case or filed a lawsuit by those deadlines, then you missed your chance to pursue a claim – even if you never signed a thing.
Your One Shot at Getting What You Deserve
Since you can’t reopen a case you agreed to close or one in which the statute of limitations has passed, you need to get the money you deserve the first time. You only have one chance to get the full amount of compensation, and to hold the careless person who hurt you responsible for what they’ve done.
How do you make sure you get everything you deserve?
Have a lawyer on your side. There’s a reason personal injury attorneys get on average 5 times more money than unrepresented accident victims get for themselves. We have the experience and legal knowledge to know what your case is worth and what evidence you need to win it.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Be conscious of what statutes of limitations and other deadlines apply to your claim, and don’t wait until those deadlines are approaching to start working toward a resolution.If you’re getting a lawyer involved, do so as early as possible so you won’t have to worry about missing any deadlines. If you decide to try to handle the claim yourself, remember that it can take time to negotiate the best possible settlement – the insurance company won’t just offer it to you.
Be careful what you sign. Never sign a form or cash a check from the insurance company without carefully reading over what you’re agreeing to.If you have a lawyer, you have some protection, since there’s a professional looking over the paperwork you’re asked to sign. If you’re on your own, though, you could end up agreeing to give up all of your rights when you thought you were only settling one part of the claim. Remember, you can’t reopen a case once you’ve signed the release – even if you didn’t realize what you were signing.
When you only have one opportunity to get what you deserve, you realize just how high the stakes really are. Not getting enough compensation could mean that you’re unable to afford the best possible medical care, or that your family faces a major financial hardship because of the accident.
Do yourself a favor and put your case in the hands of experienced personal injury lawyers from the start. We’ll fight to get you the maximum compensation now so you’ll never find yourself wishing you could reopen the claim later.
Have a lawyer evaluate your case for free today – call (856) 778-5500 now!
Wondering when to call a personal injury lawyer? Here’s everything you need to know.
Whether your accident happened a few hours ago or a few weeks ago, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually wonder whether you need to get a personal injury lawyer involved.
If you’re wondering whether it’s time to call a lawyer, the answer is yes. With free consultations and no upfront fees, there’s never a disadvantage to at least talking to an attorney about your situation – the sooner, the better.
When Do Most People Call a Lawyer?
If you’re like many of our clients, you might not think to call a lawyer right away. It often takes one of three situations for accident victims to decide they need help:
Realizing you have serious injuries
Feeling frustrated by all of the time-consuming tasks you now have to do
Seeing the start of a financial hardship
When You Realize You’re Really Hurt
You don’t want to make a bigger deal out of the accident than it needs to be. We get that.
That’s why a lot of accident victims don’t call a lawyer right away. Sometimes they don’t even call a doctor.
But when the pain lingers and worsens, you find out that you’re really hurt – and that this injury isn’t something that will just go away on its own.
Whether your injuries were severe enough to send you to the ER right away or they continued to bother you for hours or days while you tried to “tough it out,” they’re serious enough that you need to do something about them.
Doctors can guide you toward physical recovery, but you’ll need the help of a lawyer to get you the compensation you need to fully be made whole again – especially if your injuries are severe enough that your life will never be the same.
When You Feel Overwhelmed
The paperwork. The phone calls. The hassle. It doesn’t take long for dealing with an accident to become overwhelming.
From the start, you’re confronted with accident and incident reports to fill out and requests – or demands – that you give a statement. But you might not even know yet what happened. You’re still so shaken that you haven’t had the chance to process the accident.
Then there are phone calls with insurance companies – theirs and yours. You have claim numbers to remember and more questions to answer. It won’t be long before the letters and forms begin arriving – envelopes upon envelopes full of them.
Even without serious injuries, the pressure all of these sudden extra tasks quickly becomes annoying. You didn’t ask for this stress, and you don’t have the time or the energy to deal with it all.
When dealing with the aftermath of the accident becomes frustrating, it’s time to get help. Our personal injury lawyers handle all of these burdens so you don’t have to. We handle the responsibility of organizing your bills and paperwork and interacting with the insurance companies involved in your claim.
We can’t change what happened to you, but we can make your life easier by taking over anything that distracts you from getting better.
When Your Family’s Finances Take a Hit
One thing’s for sure – dealing with an accident can get expensive. You might not realize just how expensive at first.
But even if you chose the smallest possible deductibles on your insurance policy, you’re looking at thousands of dollars of expenses you weren’t planning for.
Property damage. Even if the accident was completely the other driver’s fault, you’ll have to shell out money – hundreds to thousands of dollars of it – for your car repairs, if you go through your own insurance company.And if not, you could be stuck waiting for weeks while the insurer drags its feet officially finding its own policyholder at fault.
Medical expenses. Sure, you’ve got insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything.Besides a deductible that could range from a couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand, you’re responsible for 20 percent copays of the first $5,000 of medical bills. When your treatment goes on for weeks and months, those 20 percent copays can really add up.
Lost wages. As if these unexpected costs weren’t bad enough, your injuries might keep you out of work — for how long, it’s impossible to say right now. Your family depends on your income, and now it’s suddenly stopped – but your bills haven’t.
A lot of accident victims only realize they need to call a personal injury lawyer when they begin to see the financial toll the accident is taking on their family. Your life is already unpredictable enough right now – when you can’t afford to sacrifice your financial stability, it’s time to get help.
When Is the Best Time to Call a Lawyer?
As soon as you begin to suspect that you might need a personal injury lawyer’s help with your case, you should act right away. Every day you wait to get an attorney involved in your case puts your claim at risk. Here’s why:
Deadlines. Did you know that your legal rights have an expiration date? In some situations, you only have a few months to notify the entity at fault for your accident that you’re going to pursue a claim. If you wait too long to start your claim, no lawyer will be able to help you.
Evidence. You need to prove that the other person involved is at fault for the accident. You also must prove that your injuries are as serious as you say they are. But the evidence that supports your claim might not last forever. When you wait to get an attorney involved, you’re letting evidence slip away.
Dangerous property conditions get fixed
Video surveillance footage is erased
Witnesses forget the events of an accident that didn’t affect them personally
The sooner you get a lawyer involved, the sooner he or she can begin investigating your accident and gathering the evidence your case needs – before it’s too late.
Building your case. Every accident is different. Having 20+ years of experience handling personal injury claims means we have a lot of knowledge to draw from. But to give your case the individualized attention it deserves, we need time to work on it. The earlier you call a lawyer, the earlier we can begin building your case for success.
Yes, contacting a lawyer is one more phone call you have to make. You’ll have one more batch of paperwork to fill out. But unlike the seemingly endless phone calls and forms from the insurance companies, getting us on your side will finally make your life easier instead of harder – and you deserve that after all you’ve been through.
Everything you need to know about taxes and your personal injury settlement
When you got hurt, it was one of the most difficult times of your life. But you got through it, and you got justice. Maybe you handled a small personal injury claim on your own. If your claim was of a higher value, you hopefully had a lawyer to maximize your compensation. Either way, you ended up with money for the damages you suffered.
Now, though, you may be wondering if the money you receive from a personal injury claim or lawsuit is subject to income tax. It’s a timely topic, as taxpayers across the nation are beginning to see tax documents like W-2s, 1098s and 1099s arrive in anticipation of tax season.
Unlike the money you earn from working a job, much of the money you receive from a personal injury claim or lawsuit isn’t considered wages, salaries or tips, but instead “compensatory” – money meant to compensate the person for a loss.
Compensatory income is somewhat of a gray area.
“Generally speaking, most people view the term ‘compensatory’ to mean ‘nontaxable,’” the IRS noted, but that view isn’t 100 percent accurate – and assuming otherwise could leave you owing a lot of money.
What’s Not Taxable?
To simplify a complicated situation, the IRS spelled out which portions of a personal injury settlement are specifically excluded from income taxation.
You can’t be taxed on money from a personal injury settlement or jury award meant to compensate you for:
Emotional distress caused by physical injuries
Lost wages that result from physical injuries
That means the money you receive for economic damages like medical bills and lost income and for non-economic damages like pain and suffering is generally tax-free.
Think you’re good to go? Not quite.
There are exceptions to these general rules. Depending on what you did with your money and what decisions you made when filing your taxes in the past, you could still owe the IRS.
If you already got any kind of tax benefit in the past that relates to your case, you can’t take advantage of additional benefits.
For example, perhaps you deducted the out-of-pocket cost of your medical care that stemmed from the accident on a previous year’s income tax return. That’s fine and perfectly legal to do.
But double-dipping isn’t. Now that you’ve been compensated for those expenses, you have to pay the IRS back what you deducted in the past. This amount is considered “other income” and belongs on the 1040 tax form, the IRS reported.
If you earned interest on any money recovered from a personal injury case, that interest isn’t tax-exempt. List it as “interest income” on your 1040 form.
What About Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, meant to punish the defendant for negligent behavior, are a different beast. They can be taxed in many situations, including those arising from physical injuries.
Failing to include this compensation on your income tax return can be a big mistake. Include any punitive damages portion of your settlement on your 1040 form as “other income.”
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until tax season to check on this. If you received a lot of money in punitive damages, your tax burden could be high enough that you’ll need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year, the IRS reported. Fail to do that, and you could face a penalty.
You Still Might Not Be in the Clear
Even once you’re sure about how taxes will affect your personal injury settlement, be aware of any other ways you could owe. Make sure any liens against you – like debts to your health insurance company or any funding liens – have been paid.
If you had a lawyer, he or she should have taken care of this for you. If not, you’re on your own!
Remember that not knowing there was a lien doesn’t exempt you from paying it, so it’s in your best interest to find out if you owe anything to anyone sooner rather than later.
If your claim was complicated, with both compensatory and punitive damages, it can be difficult for you to determine what portion of your settlement is subject to tax. Talk to your lawyer and an accountant for help, if necessary. This is one situation where you definitely don’t want to make any mistakes!
On any snowy day, think about your walking route. Can you take an elevator instead of potentially slippery steps? At any point on your path, do you have the option of using a tunnel instead of walking out in the open? If so, do – during winter storms, minimizing the risk of a slip and fall on ice the most important thing you can do.
When walking in icy conditions, you’re at a big disadvantage. Ice doesn’t provide the same traction as pavement, asphalt, or concrete. Piles of snow and slush can make it hard to keep your balance or force you to change your route to avoid them. To stay safe in these potentially dangerous conditions, you have to use any safety feature you’ve got available – even if it means altering your usual route to do it.
A slip and fall down a flight of stairs can be particularly dangerous. When you have the option, use an elevator or ramp instead of steps.
If you must take the stairs, either inside or outside, use the handrail. It could mean the difference between a close call and a devastating fall. Remember that even indoor stairs can become dangerously slippery when people track ice and slush inside buildings.
Ice can only gather easily on exposed surfaces, like sidewalks and parking lots that are out in the open. When possible, choose tunnels and covered walkways over open sidewalks. A roof or awning might not do much to keep out the cold, but if it minimizes the amount of ice that forms or prevents ice from forming entirely, it could make you a lot safer.
It only takes a few small changes to make walking in icy conditions safer. If a simple change could prevent you from breaking an arm or permanently damaging your back, isn’t it worthwhile?