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How Does a Car Accident Affect Your Life?

By Richard Console on May 26, 2016

Car accident FAQsFind out how your car crash will affect you – and what you can do to minimize the impact of this accident on your life.

If you have just been in a car accident, it might be too soon yet to know exactly how this collision will affect your life. As you’re beginning to see how frustrating – even devastating – a car crash can be, you might wonder what other consequences to expect.

Life after a car accident can be tough. But you’re not powerless. By making the right choices and getting the right help at the right time, you can minimize the ways and the extent to which this car accident will impact your life.

Property Damage

One of the first concerns car accident victims have – often, even above their concerns about their own health – is getting their car fixed. After all, you need that car – your family needs that car – to get around. Without it, how can you get to work, take the kids to school, or even make it to your doctors’ appointments?

It’s understandable that you’re worried about the property damage. Who wouldn’t be?

Our car accident lawyers may be able to help you find out what options you have to get your car fixed, set up your property damage claim, and even arrange transportation services to get you to your medical appointments in the meantime. When we handle the personal injury portion of your car accident case, we’ll assist as necessary with the property damage claim as a courtesy to you.

Pain and Limitations

Sometimes, it’s immediately clear how serious your injuries from a car crash are. You may have visible damage, like severe cuts. You might feel pain right away. It might not take long to realize your limitations, like your inability to walk, stand, or stretch without pain.

But other times, that pain might be minor at first. When you’re still in shock, you might not notice it at all. Only once the pain gets worse and begins to interfere with your daily life will you realize how significantly this injury could affect you.

When you get hurt in a car accident, it’s always important that you get medical care. If your doctor won’t see you, or if you’re confused about who is supposed to pay your medical bills, we can help.

Missing Work

When an injury keeps you out of work, it can put your financial wellbeing at risk. Your family depends on your income, and this accident certainly wasn’t something you could have predicted and budgeted for. The longer you’re out of work, the more your injury threatens your financial stability. When you require months of rehabilitation to learn to walk again or you need a difficult surgery followed by a long recovery, you could be out of work for months or even a year – like some of our past clients have been.Stressed about the hassle of a car accident

We know that you can’t afford to miss a year of work. That’s why we pursue maximum compensation for all of our clients, including compensation for the wages they lose because of the accident and any future loss of earning potential. We have even helped clients get money damages that cover their missed overtime pay and gain sharing or profit-sharing benefits.

Healthcare Questions and Medical Bills

After an accident, it’s difficult to figure out how the process of getting the medical care you need will work.

  • Who pays for the bills?
  • What claim numbers and other information do you need to provide to your doctors’ offices?
  • What kind of specialists do you need to see, and how will you find doctors that treat accident victims when so many physicians don’t want to deal with the hassle of billing auto insurance companies?
  • What tests or procedures will you need to get pre-approval for? What doctors will your insurance company allow you to see? And what happens if your insurer denies you medical treatment?
  • What payments are you personally responsible for – and how will you afford them?

Then there are the medical bills themselves – piles of them, often with language that makes it unclear who owes, how much is owed, and why. Even with auto and health insurance, your portion of those bills can quickly climb to unaffordable amounts of money.

When you haven’t been hurt in an accident before, the whole process is confusing. But when you deal with car accident claims every single day, like our attorneys have for decades, you become familiar with the ins and outs of the claims process.

We’ll help you understand the basic process, any exceptions that could apply to your claim, and what your responsibilities are. We will make sure you’re able to get treatment and help you overcome obstacles like claim denials or unaffordable copays. We will keep track of your medical bills and ensure that they’re getting paid by the right parties – a task that’s harder than it sounds, but one that our in-house Personal Injury Protection (PIP) department is perfectly capable of handling for you.

The Hassle of Dealing with an Accident

One thing is for sure – even if you’re not seriously injured, dealing with a car accident is frustrating. There are insurance companies to contact, paperwork to keep track of, and requests for official statements. All you want right now is to be left alone to focus on getting better and getting your life back on track. The phone calls and paperwork become distractions – stressful and often time-consuming ones, at that.

The thing is, you don’t have to handle this hassle on your own. When you put your claim in the hands of a car accident attorney, dealing with the insurance company isn’t your problem anymore. It becomes your lawyer’s job.Calling auto insurer after an accident

Don’t worry – with insider experience working for the insurance industry, we know how to deal with your insurer, including what the insurance company is (and is not) allowed to do.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you’re like many car accident victims, you might have the misconception that an attorney is only helpful later on in the process, when they get you a settlement or take your case to court. And while we do fight for results like high-value settlements, that’s not all we do.

We will:

  • Walk you through your insurance coverage so you understand who is responsible for paying what costs
  • Assist with a property damage claim – getting your car fixed or getting compensation for a totaled vehicle
  • Help find doctors with the experience and billing capabilities to treat you
  • Make sure that nothing – like a lack of transportation, language barrier, out-of-pocket cost or claim denial – stands in the way of you getting medical treatment
  • See that your medical bills are getting paid correctly
  • Handle all interactions with the insurance companies
  • Calculate all of your lost earnings and fighting for compensation

A car accident can impact your life in so many ways – but so can hiring the right lawyer. We may not be able to undo the effects the crash has had on your life, but we’ll do everything we can to make life after the accident as easy – and as close to “normal” – as possible.

If you would like to see how we can help you, call (856) 778-5500 today. The consultation is always free.

Does a Car Accident Increase Insurance Rates?

By Richard Console on May 17, 2016

Find out whether a car accident will increase your insurance rates – and why the notion that pursuing a personal injury claim will raise your rates is a myth.

Car accident FAQsNo question about it – you pay a lot of money for auto insurance as it is

New Jersey, in particular, is among the most expensive states in the nation to insure a car in. And the premiums in Pennsylvania aren’t exactly small change, either.

So it’s no surprise that, on top of everything else they have to worry about, many car accident victims worry about an insurance rate hike.

A car accident can increase insurance rates – often, by as much as 41 percent.

But that doesn’t mean your crash will raise your auto insurance rates.

Who Is at Fault?

If you weren’t at fault for the collision, it’s unfair for you to be the one paying for the consequences – and that includes higher insurance rates.

An insurance company can only raise your rates if the crash was what’s called a “chargeable accident.” In other words, the crash must be your fault. You don’t have to take my word for it, either. Objective research has shown that when you’re not at fault for the collision, “your payments shouldn’t be affected,” CBS News reported.

Some auto insurers even offer benefits like “accident forgiveness” when policyholders cause their first collision. But other insurance companies aren’t so lenient.

Your Driving History Under a Microscope

Even if you didn’t cause the crash, an accident can prompt your insurer to scrutinize your driving record more closely.

If you’ve already gotten tickets for speeding or breaking some other traffic safety law but you haven’t yet seen your insurance rates go up, you might now. Yes, even if those tickets have nothing to do with the crash.Car insurance

Insurers price premiums based on the likelihood of having to pay claims. The more tickets and citations you have, the bigger the risk you pose, and the more you’ll have to pay for coverage.

Don’t Be Deterred From Pursuing a Claim

Fear of an auto insurance rate increase is a major reason why many accident victims never pursue a claim. But this fear is based on a misconception.

If the accident itself doesn’t cause your auto insurance rates to increase, pursuing a claim won’t raise your rates, either. And if you did cause the crash, you won’t be able to pursue a personal injury claim, anyway.

But most policyholders don’t know this – and the insurance industry prefers it that way.

Car accident victims who choose not to pursue legitimate claims may think they’re avoiding an insurance rate hike. But all they’re really doing is preventing themselves from getting the compensation they deserve.

Please don’t do this. Even if your rates did increase, making the best possible physical recovery would be worth the cost. After all, your health is priceless.

But when making a claim has no effect on your rates, you’re losing out on the compensation you need to get better for no reason.

The insurance industry benefits from myths and misconceptions like these. That’s one reason it’s often so difficult to get a straight answer when you ask questions like, “Will my insurance rates go up?”

Your lawyer, on the other hand, wants you to understand your rights and the legal process. If you have questions about insurance after a car accident, we can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience working inside the insurance industry as well as in personal injury law, so we’re familiar with how insurers act – and what they don’t want policyholders to know.

Does a Car Accident Have to Be Reported?

By Richard Console on May 10, 2016

Find out what NJ and PA laws say about reporting a car crash and what you should – and shouldn’t – do when you report a collision.

Car accident FAQsWhen an accident seems minor, you might be tempted not to report it.

After all, you don’t want to make a big deal out of nothing. The person who caused the crash might try to persuade you that you don’t need to involve the police so that he or she can avoid getting a ticket for violating traffic laws. You don’t want to be held up at the accident scene waiting for the police, and you can just get the other driver’s insurance information – right?

In the immediate aftermath of a crash that doesn’t cause life-threatening injuries, this logic may seem to make perfect sense. But when you fail to report an accident, you’re leaving yourself open to significant consequences.

If you notice pain or discomfort in the days that follow – a common situation – or if your car is more badly damaged than you initially realized, you’ll wish that you had reported the accident when it happened.

Accident Reporting Laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, reporting a car accident promptly isn’t just a smart thing to do – it’s the law. And breaking that law can cost you your driving privileges.

New JerseyWhen Does a Car Accident Have to be Reported in New Jersey?

New Jersey state laws require drivers to submit a written accident report to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) within 10 days if that collision resulted in any of thefollowing:

  • A death to any party involved in the accident
  • Any injury, even if it was not life-threatening
  • Damage to any car involved that amounts to more than $500 in repairs

Even a low-impact crash can cause some serious, and long-term, injuries that you might not know about until later. And even relatively minor cosmetic vehicle damage can still cost more than $500. That’s one reason why our car accident lawyers encourage drivers to report every car accident in New Jersey to the police when it happens.

If you don’t call the police at the time of your accident and you fail to file a written accident report after the fact, you could wind up losing not just your driver’s license, but also your vehicle registration privileges. This means not only can’t you drive yourself to work, school, or any of the other places you need to go, but you can’t even legally have someone else drive your car.

When to Report an Accident in Pennsylvania

When it comes to reporting accidents, Pennsylvania’s state laws are similar to PennsylvaniaNew Jersey’s. Drivers are required to “immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest office of a duly authorized police department” if the accident causes an injury, a death, or enough damage that the vehicle must be towed from the scene.

If the police come to the scene of the accident, they will usually prepare a crash report. Otherwise, the driver has five days to submit their own written report.

Fail to report a Pennsylvania collision, and you could lose your driver’s license.

How Reporting the Accident Protects You

Reporting a collision is important, because it protects you in ways that, at the time of the crash, you’re probably not even thinking about yet.

For one thing, you certainly want to make it known that you stopped at the scene of the accident and provided any aid necessary – both of which are actions the law requires you to take, even if you’re not the one at fault for the crash. If the other driver decides to file a police report later, you don’t want to be accused of leaving the scene. A hit-and-run is a serious crime with serious penalties.Police lights

You also want to document the accident – and make sure that what’s documented is accurate. If you later learn that the property damage was more severe than you thought or realize that the pain you’re feeling isn’t just a little temporary soreness, you’ll need to go through your or the other driver’s auto insurance coverage – and the insurer will want to see the crash report.

If there’s no proof that the accident happened at all, don’t expect your or the other driver’s insurance company to shell out the money to pay for your medical treatment, car repairs, or other damages. Insurers are infamous for trying to get out of paying claims – and by not documenting the accident, you’re making their job even easier.

Don’t count on the other driver just paying you cash so you can avoid involving the insurers altogether. You’d be surprised how many accident victims we talk to who thought they could trust the promise of the at-fault driver – only to find that the driver gave them false contact information, or suddenly became unreachable, or even acted hostile when it was time to make good on that promise. Involving the insurance companies can certainly be a hassle, but it’s still a better choice than just hoping the other driver will step up and do the right thing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Reporting a Car Accident

Wondering what you should do when reporting a car accident? These quick tips can help.

Do’s:

  • Do call 911 for help. If someone is hurt, even slightly, having emergency medical personnel on the scene can be important.
  • Do wait at the scene until the authorities arrive – no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re scared, confused, or even at fault for the collision – staying at the scene and facing the consequences there is a far better option than facing criminal penalties for a hit-and-run.
  • Do think carefully about the information you provide the police. An accident can leave you feeling shaken and make it difficult to think and express yourself clearly. It’s okay to take a minute to calm down so you can tell the police what happened in the most accurate way possible.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t discuss fault. When an accident has just occurred, you may not know yet precisely what happened to cause the crash, and you don’t want to volunteer to take the blame for something that’s not even your fault. If something occurred on the roadway that, for instance, forced you to stop short, say so. But don’t apologize or say the crash is your fault for stopping short – it’s most likely the other driver’s fault for not maintaining a safe following distance.
  • Don’t discuss your medical condition. You’re not a doctor and you haven’t seen one yet, so you really don’t know if you’re injured. Instead of saying that you’re “okay” when you’re really not sure, simply say that you’ll see a doctor to get checked out.
  • Don’t forget to gather your own information, too. The police report is important, but it could take several days before it becomes available – and you might need help sooner. Write down the other driver’s contact and insurance information, as well as the information of any witnesses to the crash. Take notes about what you remember. Photograph the accident scene and the damage.

If in doubt, always report a collision to the police. Failing to report a crash is a mistake that you might end up regretting.

C&H Named 2016’s Best Attorney in South Jersey

By Richard Console on May 2, 2016

Our firm is thrilled to announce that the Courier-Post named Console & Hollawell the Best Attorney in South Jersey yesterday.

In its Sunday, May 1st edition, Camden County-based newspaper Courier-Post published the winners of its 29th annual Readers’ Choice Best of South Jersey contest. We’re pleased to reveal that our firm received the Courier-Post’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Best Attorney in South Jersey award this year.

The awards are based on online and mail-in votes from individuals across the South Jersey region. This is our second year being named in the Courier-Post’s Readers’ Choice contest. In 2015, Console & Hollawell received a One of the Best Attorneys in South Jersey award from the publication.2016 Courier-Post Readers' Choice Best of South Jersey award

We’re naturally honored to receive this recognition, but what’s most rewarding is knowing that our clients are the ones who made this happen. Clients and friends throughout the community put in the time and effort to vote for us – and that means a lot to the entire C&H team.

After all, our firm is always trying to make a difference in the lives of our clients, so the fact that so many of them voted for us is proof that we must be succeeding.

To all of our clients and friends who voted for us this year, thank you for thinking of us and taking the time to vote for us.  If at any point you or a loved one needs legal help again in the future, we hope you’ll let us continue serving you.

Where Is My Accident Report?

By Richard Console on April 27, 2016

Learn how to get your accident report sooner – and what we can do to help.

Personal Injury FAQsWhen 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 your collision occurred on a non-toll highway, it may have been the New Jersey State Police or the Pennsylvania State Police who responded.
  • 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 Jersey here or in Pennsylvania here.

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.Accident report

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!

5 Things to Do After a Crash Involving an Uber Car

By Richard Console on April 21, 2016

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.

Police lights
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.

Emergency medical careYour 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.

Take accident photos with a mobile phone 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.

Calling auto insurer after an accident 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.

Uber car accident lawyerRidesharing 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.

Is the Accident My Fault?

By Richard Console on April 5, 2016

Figure out who is really at fault for your accident and learn how award-winning lawyers prove fault in high-value personal injury claims.

Personal Injury FAQsBeing 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.
Fault | Claim denial

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Liability | Accident investigation

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.

Why Is My Personal Injury Case Taking So Long?

By Richard Console on March 16, 2016

Personal Injury FAQsFind 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.The length of medical treatment in a personal injury case

    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.

  • Whether or not your case is going to trial. Most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. But if yours does, it will take longer than a case that settles usually would.

    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.

    Going to court

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?

Posted in: Personal Injury

What Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?

By Richard Console on March 9, 2016

Personal injury FAQHow much will you get for your case? There’s only one way to find out.

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.

There are dozens of factors that alter how much your case is worth, but there’s only one way to know for sure: have an attorney evaluate your case.

What Factors Affect Case Value?

Among the most important factors that determine how much your case will be worth are your injuries, your medical treatment, fault, and insurance coverage.

Your Injuries

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.
personal injury 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.

Fault

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.

Insurance Factors

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 insurance affects the value of a personal injury case

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.

Here’s another secret about case value: the quality of your lawyer, and your lawyer’s reputation, matters. The right lawyer can more than triple the amount of compensation you could get for yourself.

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.

Would You Still Buy a Driverless Car?

By Richard Console on March 3, 2016

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 HistoriesCollision

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.

Car safety features

These safety features are wonderful in that they can help prevent accidents from happening and stop innocent people from getting hurt. But a 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?

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