Unfortunately, often tragically, drivers are paying less and less attention to the road. This continues to result in an alarming increase in car accidents caused by distracted driving, many of them resulting in serious injuries, and even fatalities, especially when bicyclists or pedestrians are involved. If you have been seriously injured in a distracted driving accident in New Jersey, in addition to requiring urgent medical care, you need the assistance of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice LLP to ensure that you receive just compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and other attendant expenses. If someone you love has been killed in a distracted driving accident, we can help you and your family file a wrongful death suit.
At Nagel Rice we are committed to protecting the rights of innocent victims. We believe that no one should have to suffer because a driver felt it was more important to answer a text message than to safely navigate his or her vehicle. When you come to us, you can expect not only effective legal counsel but compassion for what you have endured. It may comfort you to know that we have an outstanding record of success, having won millions of dollars for our clients during our more than 30 years in practice.
Types of Distracted Driving
From the earliest days of motorized vehicles, drivers had to deal with a certain amount of distraction — an argument in the back seat, a wasp on the dashboard, a broken windshield wiper. Today, however, the distractions are far more ubiquitous. Unfortunately, drivers are observed doing one or more of the following while driving on a regular basis:
- Watching a video
- Reading a map or other material on a screen
- Talking with a handheld cell phone or smartphone
- Talking with hand gestures while on Bluetooth
- Adjusting music on the radio, iPod, CD or other musical devices
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for something in the back seat
- Turning around to discipline children in the back seat
- Grooming, including combing hair, applying make-up
Needless to say, the seconds or minutes these actions take, while they may seem inconsequential to the driver, can be the cause of horrifying accidents. As the victim of a distracted driving accident, you have legal recourse. The skilled attorneys at Nagel Rice know precisely how to investigate the accident, identify and interview witnesses, file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and fight vigorously to win you the damages you deserve.
Technological Advances Contribute to Distracted Driving
Technological advances contribute to driver inattention in several ways. For one thing, cars have become increasingly automated (e.g. automatic transmission, power steering, cruise control, even semi-autonomous cars) so drivers don’t have to spend as much time or energy controlling their vehicles. This results in more time for them to talk, eat or drink, or tend to their own needs or desires for warmth or cold, music, etc. Going along with this, technology provides drivers with the capability to adjust their environment in a matter of seconds — positioning seats, changing levels of heating or air-conditioning, opening or closing sunroofs, playing music at varying degrees of loudness, adjusting outside mirrors, getting directions. These are all great conveniences, but they take the attention of too many drivers away from the road.
New Jersey State Law Has Caught Up with Distracted Driving Offenses
Recognizing that distracted driving has become a serious epidemic in this country, injuring nearly half a million people every year, and resulting in the deaths of thousands, laws have been altered so that such reckless behavior can be duly punished. It is now a primary offense for a motorist to talk or text message with a hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication device while driving. All other evidence of distracted drive can be legally punished as well. The only time a driver is legally permitted to use a handheld device while driving with one hand is if that driver fears for his or her safety or is reporting a fire, serious accident, or other catastrophes.
Damages You Are Entitled To Receive if We Win Your Case
In New Jersey, a successful verdict or settlement in a distracted driving accident may provide the plaintiff with two types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are based on actual quantifiable costs you have incurred or will incur, due to your injuries. These include:
- Medical and rehabilitative bills
- Lost wages, current, and future
- Property damage
- Necessary long-term healthcare for disability
- Payment for household services you are no longer able to perform
Non-economic damages are determined by established legal standards and tables and are designed to compensate you for less tangible, but no less significant, losses, including:
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life, including loss of consortium
In cases of distracted driving in which the driver’s behavior is considered particularly egregious by the court, Nagel Rice may also be able to obtain punitive damages for you. Punitive damages are conceived as a means to both punish the distracted driver for extreme negligence and to serve as a warning to others who might consider engaging in similarly dangerous actions.
Nagel Rice attorneys have the experience and know-how to work diligently and energetically to get you all of the damages you and your family need to provide you with safety and comfort in the immediate aftermath of the accident and into the foreseeable future. If you have become permanently disabled because of the actions of a distracted driver, we will fight hard to make sure that you get the ongoing support you need. It is important to remember that we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you do not have to pay any attorneys’ fee until we win your case.
What happens if the accident was partly your fault?
In many accidents, both parties bear partial blame for a collision. If, for example, a distracted driver crashes into your car while you’re 15 miles over the speed limit, both of you bear partial responsibility for the collision. Cases like this are handled differently in different states. In New Jersey, we have a system known as modified comparative negligence.
Modified Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
In our state, the court assesses comparative negligence in terms of percentages of responsibility. Assuming that the court assigns you 30 percent of responsibility for the crash. If you, as the injured party, are awarded $1,000,000 by the court, you will actually receive $700,000, the original award minus your 30 percent of fault.
What complicates things a bit is that New Jersey is one of the states that uses a model of “modified” comparative negligence. This means that you, the plaintiff, can only receive a portion of the awarded damages if you are determined to bear 50 percent or less of the blame for the accident. If the court determines that you bear more responsibility than the defendant (even just 51 percent), you will be unable to claim any damages at all. This is one of the reasons that it pays to have a highly capable personal injury attorney on your side. The savvy lawyers at Nagel Rice know exactly how to convince the court that you deserve fair compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial suffering, even if you have contributed in some measure to the accident.
Distracted Driving Attorney Serving Middlesex County, Bergen County, Monmouth County, and the rest of New Jersey
Whatever the nature of your injury in a distracted driver accident, you can trust Nagel Rice personal injury attorneys to put the pieces of your life back together. We will take care of the all the complex legal and insurance matters while you concentrate on healing from your recent trauma. To get in touch with us please call or fill out a contact form on our website.