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Somerville Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Is your contractor classification keeping you from workers' comp?

The modern workforce in New Jersey is different than it was decades ago. Companies are more likely than ever to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Businesses do this for a variety of reasons.

First of all, there are tax implications. An employer does not have to pay any employment tax on independent contractors. Additionally, independent contractors have to pay certain taxes on their own behalf that, otherwise, employers contribute for them. Finally, it can help employers avoid expenses related to workers' compensation insurance.

Recent crashes raise safety concerns at New Jersey gas stations

In the early days of the automobile age, urban planners without an understanding of how much room a vehicle needs to stop, turn and accelerate built gas stations extremely close to the road. Many of those stations, some that predate World War II, are still in operation in New Jersey. The law does not require owners of old gas stations to comply with modern zoning standards, requiring only that they must follow the law if they choose to renovate. Furthermore, zoning rules vary by municipality, with no statewide standard for safety. 

It all results in a hazardous situation in which some gas station workers report seeing accidents on or near the property on a daily basis. Severe accidents, involving fire, explosions and death are extremely rare, however; a fact that is somewhat surprising to the executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline and C-Store Association. Nevertheless, customers and gas station attendants alike at older New Jersey gas stations next to the road are under a constant threat, one that is higher than in other areas of the country because of the high population density. 

How common are elevator accidents?

If you are like most New Jersey residents, you have had that morbid thought once or twice when in a shopping mall, apartment or high-rise building elevator: the elevator cord just snapped? What if the power went out in the middle of your ride? What if the door closed on you when you were halfway out the door? For the most part, these fears have no bearing, as elevator and escalator accidents are rare. However, they do happen. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elevator and escalators kill about 30 individuals each year. They injure an additional 17,000 people. These numbers come from United States reports alone. Elevator accidents are the cause of nearly 90 percent of deaths and nearly 60 percent of injuries, making them the more dangerous of the two modes of transportation. 

Understanding New Jersey’s storm in progress doctrine

At Lieberman Ryan & Forrest, LLC, in New Jersey, we represent many people who suffer slip-and-fall injuries. Since Old Man Winter seemingly refuses to release his grip on New Jersey this year, your risk of falling on icy or snow-packed sidewalks and parking lots will remain high well into what used to be spring. Should your slip and fall result in injuries, you have the right to sue the negligent property owner whose lack of snow and ice removal caused them.

It may surprise you to learn, however, that just because property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in safely maintaining their sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, this does not mean that they must remove snow and/or ice under all circumstances. Why? Because as FindLaw explains, New Jersey has a storm in progress doctrine

Snow removal and accidents on the road

In many parts of the country, this has been an especially difficult winter with unusually cold temperatures and significant snowfall. This can increase the chances of crashes in different ways, whether ice covers the road or a driver’s visibility is adversely affected by heavy snowfall. Moreover, this may also necessitate snow removal, which could lead to a collision for a number of different reasons. During the winter, people who live in areas that see dangerous road conditions should be especially vigilant and mindful of some of the other risk factors that are associated with this weather.

In many parts of the U.S., the county tries to tackle winter weather by plowing the road and covering roadways in salt. This can be very helpful, but a collision involving a snow plow can be especially dangerous due to the massive size of the truck. Whether an inexperienced snow plow driver loses control or a vehicle slams into a snow plow after heading over a patch of ice, this is very dangerous.

Is your employer responsible for your workplace injury?

Anyone can get hurt at work. Although people associate workplace injuries with particularly dangerous career paths, such as construction, even office workers or those delivering pizza for a living can get hurt on the job. Anyone hurt at work likely has the right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits in New Jersey.

However, there are circumstances in which a secondary claim against an employer is also possible. If your employer failed to provide adequate training or safety equipment for a safe working environment, those could be grounds for a lawsuit against your employer. This can help you recoup your losses and protect other people from suffering a similar injury in the future.

How can I keep my sidewalks safe in a snow storm?

Winter can hit New Jersey pretty hard sometimes, and when it does, you have to be alert and ready to keep the sidewalks in front of your home clear and safe. Whether it is a huge storm or just a few flurries, snow can create a slippery mess on sidewalks. If someone falls and suffers an injury, you could face liability issues, so you want to be sure you keep your sidewalk clear of snow and ice.

According to Consumer Reports, how often you shovel the sidewalk depends on how much it snows. If it is just a short snow fall, you can usually wait until it is done snowing to start shoveling. However, if this is an all day storm that is dumping a lot of snow, you should go out every couple of hours to shovel. Keep in mind that if people walk over the snow, it compacts it down. This not only makes it more difficult to shovel but also makes it more slippery. So, staying on top of snow removal is important.

What are the hidden costs of dog bite injuries?

New Jersey residents just like you interact with dogs on a daily basis. Any dog from the neighborhood's friendly pup to a stranger's pooch on a leash could possibly end up being a danger to you, however. Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C., are here to help you through the aftermath of a bite attack.

When a person thinks of dog bite injuries, they are usually going to consider matters like immediate or short-term medical attention. This can include highly pricey things like:

  • Rabies vaccinations
  • Ambulance costs
  • Emergency operations
  • Overnight hospital stays
  • Reconstructive surgeries

Do insurance companies deny coverage because of a dangerous pet?

You already know that some dog attacks can be tragic. Many residents of New Jersey and elsewhere have been mauled by other people’s family pets. Homeowners’ insurance is meant to cover injuries that happen in someone else’s home, but ownership of certain kinds of dogs may mean that the homeowner can’t be insured.

Denying coverage based on man’s best friend may seem petty, but Psychology Today points out that insurance companies have a valid financial reason not to insure the owners of certain dog breeds. In 2013, personal injury claims related to dog bites made up more than a third of all homeowners’ insurance claims across the country. You may find it interesting to learn that many insurance companies have lists prohibiting coverage for numerous breeds deemed too dangerous and risky. The most commonly blacklisted dog breeds include pit bull terriers, rottweilers, German shepherds, Staffordshire terriers, chow chows, Doberman pinschers, akitas, mastiffs, great Danes, Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, cane corsos, presa canarios and wolf hybrids.

Stay safe on a motorcycle in the winter

New Jersey motorcyclists may want to ride their bikes year round. However, winter poses unique hazards to a biker and it is important for motorcyclists to know how they can be safe during this season.

It is important to remember that the road may not be in good condition during the winter. According to Ultimate Motorcycling, the road may have cracks after a plow comes through to remove snow. These cracks may sometimes do damage to a motorcycle's rims. Additionally, a biker might get less traction after the road has been salted, and he or she usually needs to watch out for black ice. Bikers may also need to pay more attention to their tires in the winter. Cold temperatures generally mean that tires have less traction. Tire pressure may also be lower in the winter. It is a good idea for bikers to monitor their tire pressure and check their tire tread before they start riding.

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