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Fatal Crash During Coronavirus Kills Three, Including Infant

Perth Amboy, NJ: It is often during times of crisis that the worst of people becomes evident—this incident is no exception.

On March 28, 2020, Patrick Monahan, 38, of Staten Island, was driving a 2018 Ram 1500 pick-up and was driving aggressively, cutting in and out of traffic, said police. He was also recorded driving 40 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit just seconds before striking a Ford minivan on Convery Boulevard, said Perth Amboy police.

The minivan’s passengers, Maria De Lourdes Aguerra, 47, and Maria Garcia, 44, both of Elizabeth, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. An 8-month-old infant in the minivan was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, but died Saturday.

The Staten Island man who told police he was “out visiting friends” killed three people Friday night. A search of his pick-up truck also revealed suspected controlled dangerous substances, said police, who did not specify what the drugs were.

Monahan was charged with aggravated manslaughter in the first degree, three counts of vehicular homicide in the second degree and one count of aggravated assault in the third degree. In addition, after he told police he was out visiting friends, he was also charged with three counts of Violation of Law Intended to Protect Public Health and Safety and Recklessly Causing Death in the second degree, one count of Violation of Law Intended to Protect Public Health and Safety and Recklessly Causing Bodily Injury in the fourth degree, and one count of Violation of an Emergency Order.

Monahan violated Governor Murphy’s March 21 order that restricts non-essential activities in the state of New Jersey, said police.

He is currently being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center.

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COVID-19 OFFICE UPDATE FROM THE LAW OFFICES OF GREGG A. WILLIAMS

ON Saturday March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy ordered all “non-essential” retail businesses to close. In compliance, we have closed our offices to the public.

Regardless we are doing our best to be here for the citizens of New Jersey.

The lawyers and staff at The Law Offices of Gregg A. Williams are still here to serve you. We are available by email, phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or other means to answer your personal injury questions, needs and protect your rights.

We will continue to be available for your needs both in the office and remotely as best as we are able.

As to cases that we already represent you, your calls, emails and correspondence will be answered in a timely and professional manner as much as possible. We want to continue to deliver the same quality of service our clients have come to expect from our office.

Should you have any issue or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email us. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy as we navigate this new normal together.

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New Truck Accident Study by FMCSA—Hopefully Reducing Crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced plans to conduct a new truck crash causation study for the first time in over 15 years. The study is designed to provide new information about the causes of truck accidents, taking into account shifts in technology and driver behavior. In particular, the FMCSA wants to see how cell phone use has impacted truck crashes.

The FMCSA is currently “seeking information on how best to design and conduct a study to identify factors contributing to all FMCSA-reportable crashes involved in tow-away, injury, and fatal accidents.” FMCSA plans to employ a methodology that addresses “the use of on-board electronic systems which can generate information about speeding, lane departure, and hard braking,” but it will also seek to identify other behaviors, activities, and conditions that play a role in truck accidents.

In recent years, large truck accident rates have risen. Between 2009 and 2018, deadly trucking collisions rose by 52.6%. Back in 2003 when the FMCSA completed its initial truck crash causation study, it determined that driver error was the major cause of collisions. It will be looking to see whether that fact remains true in recent years and, in particular, whether a truck driver’s negligence is the primary reason for crashes in an era of increased technology.

The following facts and figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) help to show the severity of truck accidents:

  • 4,136 people were killed in truck accidents in 2018;
  • 67% of those killed in trucking collisions are occupants of passenger vehicles;
  • 16% of people who suffer fatal injuries in large truck collisions are large truck occupants;
  • 15% of people killed in large truck crashes are pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists;
  • Truck accident deaths have risen significantly between 2009-2018 (truck accident rates were at their lowest in 2009); and
  • Rate of truck occupant deaths has increased particularly significantly since 2009.

If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries in a truck crash, contact the Law Offices of Gregg A. Williams today!

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NJ MVA: Diminished Value Fact vs. Fiction

  • FICTION: If your car is expertly repaired there will be no diminished value of your vehicle.
  • FACT: This is what the insurance companies would like you to believe. Even if your car has been expertly repaired, it can and will never be considered “original” or “undamaged” again and this will certainly have an impact on its resale value. A nationwide MMI survey confirmed that an accident repair history would prevent the majority (65%) of our respondents from purchasing that vehicle. This means that if you are selling a car privately, many consumers will no longer be interested upon learning your car has an accident history. Many dealers will either not want a car with an accident history on trade-in or will provide a very low offer, as most of these cars cannot be re-sold as a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, but rather would need to be wholesaled for auction. For the small majority of consumers that would consider the purchase of a vehicle with an accident history, a large discount off of the sale price would be expected.
  • FICTION: If in an accident, you are only entitled to recover the cost of repairs for your vehicle, not for its diminished value.
  • FACT: If you are not at fault, you have the right to make a diminished value claim and recover your vehicle’s loss in value in addition to the full cost of repairs from the at fault party’s insurer. Insurance companies are very reluctant to pay settlements related to diminished value, but NJ court cases have successfully lead to 3rd party diminished value settlements.
  • FICTION: The at fault party’s insurance company will assist you with a diminished value claim.
  • FACT: Again, no insurance company will approach you about the possibility of a diminished value claim. As diminished value is a secret all insurance companies want to keep under wraps, neither your insurance company nor the at fault party’s insurer will assist you in filing a diminished value claim. You must take the initiative to file this claim with the at fault’s insurance company to obtain a settlement. As the insurance company will want to minimize loses, having an expert such as MMI on your side to provide a diminished value appraisal will level the playing field.
  • FICTION: There is a standard formula for determining diminished value.
  • FACT: While insurance companies may try and provide an unacceptable low assessment of your vehicle’s diminished value, and possibly tell you there is a standard formula that is approved for use called 17C or a derivative of this, do not accept it. As every vehicle loses value differently there is no accepted formula. The vehicle’s age, make, model, mileage and condition as well as the extent of damage suffered all play a part in determining the diminished value of a damaged vehicle. Having an evaluation by an independent, unbiased expert such as MMI is strongly recommended to determine and document the extent of your loss to the insurer.
  • FICTION: Your car had an accident history and was traded-in or sold privately, so you can no longer make a claim for diminished value.
  • FACT: Statute of limitation varies by state. In the State of New Jersey, the statute of limitations for lawsuit filing related to property damage is 6 years from the date your claim arises (date of loss), which means any legal action must be taken within that time period. Even if your car was traded-in or sold privately you can still file a claim/take legal action for diminished value in NJ within the statute of limitations. The repair records as well as documentation of the resale price of the vehicle will be needed to properly assess the diminished value. It is recommended though that a DV claim be filed as soon as possible after your accident.
  • FICTION: My vehicle must be repaired in order for me to file a diminished value claim.
  • FACT: MMI customers have been successful in recovering diminished value on vehicles that have been sold prior to being repaired. We are willing to think “outside of the box”, always looking for ways to assist our customers.
  • FICTION: My insurance rates will go up if I file a diminished value claim
  • FACT: Your insurance rates will not be affected if you file a diminished value claim as you will be filing this claim with the at fault party’s insurance company.
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Teens & Car Accidents: Recent Study Discusses the Risks

If you have a teenager at home who recently got a driver’s license, or even if you have a teen driver who has a year or two of experience behind the wheel, it is important to know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. each year.

According to a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported by ABC News, “car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens.”

What are the two most common reasons that teen car crashes happen? According to the report, inexperience behind the wheel and willingness to engage in risk-taking behaviors are the two most prominent causes of teen motor vehicle collisions. Even when teens understand the rules of the road and agree to follow them, certain driving tendencies tend to show up when a driver is inexperienced. For example, teen drivers frequently follow too closely behind other cars, or do not brake quickly enough. Inexperienced drivers also have more difficulty anticipating behaviors of other drivers on the road, which can result in collisions that a more experienced driver might have avoided.

Yet inexperience is not the only reason that teen drivers are at high risk for a crash. Teenagers who are behind the wheel are also more likely to engage in risky and dangerous driving behaviors. For instance, texting while driving, or using a smartphone to talk or surf the internet, are common behaviors among teens. Any distractions behind the wheel can be dangerous, and smartphone usage can be particularly hazardous. As NHTSA emphasizes, sending a single text message takes an average of five seconds, and taking your eyes off the road for five seconds to send a text is the equivalent of “driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

How can we take steps to prevent teen accidents? Parents and guardians should understand the risks and should encourage safe driving behaviors.

Tips for Safer Teen Driving

Teen car accidents do not have to happen, and many collisions are preventable.

The following are safety tips for teenage drivers from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles: 

•           Always go the speed limit so that you will have time to react in an unexpected event;

•           Do not follow others too closely in case they come to a sudden stop;

•           Do not use your cell phone while driving;

•           Avoid eating or drinking while driving;

•           Never drink alcohol and then drive;

•           Plan ahead: look up directions before you start driving and familiarize yourself with your route ahead of time;

•           Leave early so you will have plenty of time to get to your destination and will not be tempted to speed; and

•           Use turn signals so that other drivers know what your next course of action is while driving