New Jersey, like all other states, requires drivers to carry liability insurance coverage. But for a variety of reasons, not everyone does. And for those that carry the minimum coverage, there may not be enough to pay all of the damages you suffer in an accident. A good accident lawyer can help you find ways to recover damages, but carrying the right uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can help you protect yourself.

Uninsured Drivers

Insurance coverage works as a contract. For coverage to apply, the insured has to pay premiums on time and otherwise fill his or her end of the bargain. Unfortunately, this means that other drivers on the road may let their coverage lapse, through non-payment or failure to meet other conditions of the contract. If this occurs, that driver's insurer has no duty to make payments on your policy. 

If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist who causes your accident, your insurer will only pay if you have uninsured coverage. To protect yourself and avoid out of pocket costs, you need to include it in your policy and file an uninsured claim.

Underinsured Drivers

Even if the other driver carries insurance, the minimum coverage may not cover all your damages. Damage to your vehicle and your personal injury claim are often more extensive than the other policy covers. And almost always, the other driver cannot afford to pay a judgment beyond his or her insurance coverage.

Underinsured coverage gives you a buffer to cover costs that are outside the limits of the other driver's liability policy. Your insurer then subrogates and pursues the other driver for the remaining damages, but it prevents you from being personally liable for another driver's mistake.

Protect Yourself

Auto insurance is there to protect you against liability, and if you carry additional underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, it can pay out even when the other driver's liability coverage will not. If you have been in an accident and need help filing an uninsured or underinsured claim, contact Stern & Stern LLP today.

When you have a personal injury claim, you need to prove damages before you can recover any money. This is true whether you go to trial or gain an insurance settlement. And while reports and testimony form a critical part of your proof, pictures of the scene provide both critical evidence and immediate impact. The more clearly you can document your accident, the more your attorney will be able to help you.

How Pictures Help

In New Jersey, and in most states, you have a duty to move your car to the side of the road if possible after an accident. Right away, then, you are changing something about the scene. Similarly, if you are injured in a slip and fall or other accident, it may not take long for the scene where you are injured to change. If you take pictures, you can show the conditions that led to your injury. In addition, you can get immediate visual evidence of your condition, and your vehicle's damage in a car accident, that otherwise would depend on testimony and police reports after the fact.

What Pictures to Take

When you take pictures, more is better. You want to take pictures of the over-all and specific area where the accident occurred, as well as any physical damage to the area and, in an auto accident, to your vehicle. You should also take pictures if you can of any injuries. You should capture as many angles as you can, and note any signs or other guides that someone may have ignored or missed. The better you can do at documenting the scene and aftermath of the accident, the more effectively you can demonstrate both what happened and the damages you have suffered.

Anytime you are taking pictures of other people, you of course need permission. But the damage, the area, and anything else you can document will help you when you go to prove your case. After your accident, get all the pictures you can, and then contact Stern & Stern LLP to get the experienced representation you need.

Social media today is more prevalent than ever. Facebook has over two billion active users, with over 800 million on Instagram and 300 million on Twitter. This helps connect you to your friends and family. But it may also complicate a personal injury case. While you are proving your damages, the defense can use public posts on social media to undermine your case. Social media usage should become part of the strategy you discuss with a personal injury attorney.

Proving Your Personal Injury Case

A key part of your personal injury case is demonstrating how you were injured. Until you can show that someone else caused the incident, you cannot show that someone owes you damages. But causation isn't enough; you must also show the effect the injury has on you. Damages depend on your out of pocket costs and other costs that the injury imposes on your life. If you cannot work, you are entitled to lost wages. If you suffer losses to your ability to enjoy your personal life and relationships, that too entitles you to damages.

How the Defense Can Use Social Media

When you are working to prove your claims, the defense attorney looks for ways to undermine them. Social media can give fertile ground for the defense. Pictures and posts of you enjoying days out, celebrating special occasions, and enjoying an active life can push against your claims. Even innocuous posts can work against you. And in New Jersey, as in most states, any public post on social media is a public record. The defense is entitled to find your posts and use them against you.

Protect Your Privacy and Your Case

To protect yourself, you should make sure your social media settings maximize privacy. But even when you share only with friends and family, what you post can get out. Approach everything you post as something that could show up in your case.

If you have a personal injury claim in New Jersey, contact the lawyers at Stern & Stern LLP. We can help you protect your claim and get the recovery you deserve.

You carry auto insurance to protect yourself and other drivers after an accident. But what if, after an accident, your company denies your insurance claim? This unfortunately happens far too often, and leaves drivers confused about their options. If your claim has been denied for any of the reasons below, working with an experienced attorney can help.

1. The Policy Wasn't In Force

If you let a policy lapse, or switched insurance companies, your former insurer can deny your insurance claim. You have to file with a company that was covering you at the time of the accident.

2. You Only Carry Liability

New Jersey law requires a minimum coverage level that you can obtain with a basic insurance policy. This gives you liability coverage, meaning it pays out for damage you cause to another driver. If you get into an accident without collision coverage, the company may not pay for the damage to your own vehicle.

3. Your Information Changed

If you have moved or gotten a new vehicle without telling your insurer, it may deny a claim based on not having your current information. Insurers base premiums on risk that they assign, and may deny your insurance claim if they do not have the right information.

4. You Reported Late

Insurance policies demand that you report accidents in a specified time frame. If you fail to do so, the insurer can deny your insurance claim--even if the accident should be covered.

5. Your Policy Excludes the Claim

Insurance policies contain conditions and exclusions that affect coverage. The person driving may not be included in the policy, or you could be driving under the influence or doing something else that keeps the company from covering the claim based on the specific policy language.

Sometimes insurance companies deny claims that they should cover. If your insurer has wrongly denied your insurance claim, you don't have to just accept the decision. Contact Stern and Stern LLP to let us fight the insurance company and get the compensation you deserve.

insurance claimInsurance exists to help cover claims for accidents and unexpected injuries or property losses. Unfortunately, though, insurance companies exist to make profits. When you file an insurance claim, then, the company is not always looking out for your best interests, whether it is your insurer or that of the person who caused your claim. If you are having trouble with your claim, you need an experienced lawyer in your corner.

Don't Rush to Settle Your Insurance Claim

Which insurance company you deal with depends on the circumstances. If someone else caused your injury or property damage, you will deal with that person's insurer. On the other hand, your insurer could be covering the claim if you injured yourself or need coverage for an accident covered by your policy, you will be working with your own insurance company.

Whoever is helping you, the company will have a built-in incentive to get you to settle quickly. Don't blindly accept what they offer! If you receive an offer from the insurance company, take the time to think, to gather information, and to make the best choice you can.

Look Out for Bad Faith by the Insurer

In some cases, the insurer goes too far in pushing its own interests. An insurance company has a duty to act to resolve claims quickly and appropriately. If an insurance company does not treat your insurance claim fairly, you can sue for bad faith to recover damages. 

In New Jersey, you can get help with insurance complaints through the Insurance Ombudsman. This office helps you resolve claims and complaints against the insurer, whether it is your insurance company or that of the person who caused your accident. But it does not handle claims for Personal Injury Protection (your auto health insurance) car accident claims.

Getting Legal Help

If you suffer an injury or property loss and feel you are not being treated fairly on your insurance claim, contact Stern and Stern LLP. We will listen you do and work to protect your rights during your insurance claim.

shutterstock_554565883.jpgIf you get pulled over for a driving violation in New Jersey, you should think about more than the ticket or fine. The state assigns most moving violations a number of points, depending on the type and severity of your violation. And when you collect enough points, you become subject to surcharges, license suspension, license revocation, or even imprisonment. When personal injuries result, points accumulate very quickly. In these cases, you should find a good personal injury law attorney to assess your case and defend you.

The Points System

New Jersey provides a list of the points it applies for each moving violation. Many common violations carry a penalty of two points, including:

  • Speeding between 1 and 14 miles per hour above the speed limit
  • Failure to observe a stop or yield sign
  • Failure to signal a turn properly
  • Careless driving
  • Any moving violation out of state

Many other violations cost you more; for example, a single violation for leaving the scene of an accident when someone is injured will cost you eight points, in addition to trouble you may experience under general personal injury law.


The points you accumulate for multiple violations add up and lead to penalties against you. Your insurance rates will likely increase, and when you reach twelve points, your license will be suspended. Offenses that include a DUI leads to additional fines and jail time.

As points accumulate, you have the opportunity to remove them. Every time you go more than a year without a new violation, three points are eligible to be deducted. Points could be removed for taking some general driving courses. Beyond this, your attorney can often help you limit your points exposure when you contest a ticket or appeal the penalties to be imposed.

If you are at risk for license suspension or other penalties, you will want an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the legal help you need. 

shutterstock_6251629.jpgWhen you first learn to drive, you learn not only how to drive safely, but what to do after a car accident as well. One critical lesson is never to leave the scene of an accident until after the police arrive. Not only do you face serious consequences for doing so, but you actually lose your first opportunity to protect yourself and your rights. It becomes harder for your attorney to help you recover damages for your own injuries.

Leaving Property Damage Behind

If you leave the scene of an accident where there is damage to property, you are subject to two points against your license and a fine between $200 and $400. Beyond this, you face up to 30 days in jail. If it happens more than once, the penalties grow. 

This can be any kind of damage: someone's yard, the curb, another vehicle, or even your own car. The threshold is only $250 in damage, which takes very little to reach. As much as a minor scrape or bump to your vehicle or someone else's can trigger penalties.

Personal Injuries

For even the most minor fender-bender, what to do after a car accident is wait for the police. If someone is injured, the penalties for leaving increase dramatically. If someone is injured or killed, the fine jumps to between $2,500 and $5,000. You also face up to six months in jail and a year of license suspension.

The Police Report

Finally, even apart from the penalties, what to do after a car accident is wait for the opportunity to tell your story. The police report serves as an official record of what happened. You are legally required to report your accident, and it lets you get your account of what happened in writing. You will never know what happened as clearly as right after the accident, so it is your chance to record all the details.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need to start preparing right away. Contact Stern and Stern to help get the recovery you deserve.

In New Jersey, damages in a personal injury lawsuit are meant to help you recover for economic losses you suffer as a result of the injury. But when you suffer a serious injury, you lose more than the cost of your medical bills. In fact, you often have damages that will continue to cost you money well into the future. These future losses form a significant part of your personal injury recovery.

Lost Income

shutterstock_173305826.jpgThe most obvious example of future loss is the income you would have made if not for sustaining your injury. This is based on what you were earning after taxes at the time of the injury. But you also need to determine how long you will lose those wages based on your life expectancy before the injury, whether you will be able to work again, and what the difference is between what you will earn and could have earned. Your lawyer will help you gather the documentation you need to demonstrate the full loss you would expect to suffer.

Cost of Care

Will you require ongoing medical care for your injuries? Often a serious injury means medical costs will continue well after your initial hospital stay. Getting a complete diagnosis of your injuries and treatment plan for recovery is critical to your case because it allows you to calculate costs and factor them into your personal injury damages claim. 

Lost Value

Finally, some injuries render you unable to perform basic duties around the house. If you need assistance doing everyday tasks around the house, this will cost you money over time that you need to factor into the total loss amount. If you lose your ability to care for your loved ones, that has a monetary value as well. Gathering evidence of what you did and what you need will help you calculate a more complete recovery of your damages.

If you have been seriously injured, your losses don't stop at the time of the injury. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the full recovery you deserve.

shutterstock_114456130.jpgIn New Jersey, as in other states, property owners have a duty to keep the property safe for the people who use it. But if you are injured in a slip and fall accident, what does that mean for your right to recover? If you are injured, and the owner's failure to properly maintain the property caused the injury, you have a right to compensation. Your personal injury attorney can help you understand and prepare your slip and fall claim.

Is the Building Up to Code?

New Jersey has established a set of building codes that outline the minimum standards a business has to meet. These cover everything from the electrical systems to the plumbing, from the roof to the floor. And if a business does not maintain its property as required, this serves as clear evidence that it has not fulfilled its duty to you. This creates a strong case for liability, and a right to recover for your injuries and other economic losses.

Sources of Liability

For a business to be liable for your slip and fall, it has to fail to meet a duty to you as someone on the property. Part of this is that the injury has to be a result of its failure. Faulty electrical circuits that do not impact the area where you fall will not help your case. But if those same circuits create lighting problems that keep you from seeing a potential hazard, the business will be liable for resulting injuries.

Next, the business has to either be aware of the problem or be in a position that it should have known. Here again, the property owner has a duty to maintain according to building codes, so any failings in that regard are problems the owner should have known about. Understanding building codes gives you insight into when the owner fails to repair conditions it has a legal duty to know.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Stern and Stern today. We have the experience and expertise to get you the settlement you deserve.

shutterstock_495533635.jpgDistracted driving creates problems for everyone. From 2010-2014, it contributed to over 817,000 accidents in New Jersey. If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else driving while distracted, your lawyer can help you properly introduce that into evidence to show the driver was at fault.

What Is Distracted Driving?

You probably picture distracted driving as someone texting while driving. While texting represents a current common and dangerous example, the state of New Jersey defines many other kinds of behavior that can distract a driver from their primary task of driving. Here are some additional driving while distracted examples:

  • talking on the phone
  • applying makeup
  • tuning a radio
  • talking to others in the car
  • taking care of children or pets
  • eating and drinking

Any of these behaviors can lead to substantial fines, as well as points and license suspension.

Penalties Imposed

A driver cited for using a handheld device while driving is subject to particular penalties:

  • a first offense receives a fine of $200-$400
  • a second offense receives a fine of $400-600
  • a third offense receives a fine of $600-800, 3 points on the license and license suspension for up to 90 days

These penalties stem from the seriousness with which New Jersey treats the problem of driving while distracted. If the other driver is convicted, this should serve as evidence in your favor.

Evidence in Your Accident Case

New Jersey has placed a limit on evidentiary use of convictions. A driver who pleads guilty to a traffic offense can apply for a civil reservation, which prevents you from using the guilty plea as evidence of fault in your accident. A skilled attorney will help you establish the fact of the distraction, even if you cannot use the conviction itself as evidence. If you know the other driver was distracted, you can establish that in court to help show fault.

Distracted driving creates unnecessary dangers in New Jersey and everywhere in the country. If another driver's distraction caused you a serious injury, contact Stern & Stern LLP so we can help you get the recovery you deserve.  

shutterstock_301329230.jpgNo matter how careful you are on the road, you cannot control other drivers. You may face people who drive too fast, text and drive, or--even with all we know today--drive while intoxicated. Just last year, an average of 28 people were killed every day in drunk driving accidents, with many more injured. If a drunk driver causes you serious injuries, you have the right to recover damages. Your attorney will help you take the steps you need to get the compensation you deserve.

Facts from the Accident

Your starting place for recovery after a drunk driving accident is the police report. Here you will get an official record of what happened in the accident and the condition of the other driver. If he or she has a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, that information will be there. This indicates clearly that the other driver was acting recklessly.  You should also gather your own notes about what happened, and information about your medical diagnosis and the damage to your vehicle. All of this will play into establishing liability and damages against the driver.

Dram Shop Liability

In New Jersey, like in many states, a person or establishment that serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is liable when that person goes on to cause a drunk driving accident. This liability comes through New Jersey's dram shop law. For this kind of accident, the key facts do not begin when the other driver gets behind the wheel. You will want to find out where the person was before he or she hit the road, and find out whether someone else contributed to the intoxication that caused the accident. Besides the driver, you can collect from others who created the situation in which your injury occurred.

Have you been injured in a drunk driving accident? You don't have to settle for watching the criminal justice work. Contact Stern and Stern today, and we will help you get the compensation you deserve.

shutterstock_525047125.jpgIf you suffer a personal injury, you undoubtedly have a number of questions. You want to focus on your recovery, but you worry about taking care of your family, paying for your care, and a million things you take for granted before you get hurt. This is where you need a good personal injury attorney to help with your claim. But you should prepare to give your attorney the information he or she needs to help. Taking essential documentation to your consultation will help you succeed in your personal injury claim.

Understanding Your Injuries

First, you need to be able to demonstrate your injuries. When you see a doctor, you should receive a wealth of information about the injuries you suffer and the path to your recovery. The diagnosis you receive, and the prognosis for time and treatment you need, form the basis of your personal injury claim. Your attorney will review the doctor's notes and treatment plan, and use that to help you prepare your case. Further, showing that you have received treatment and are following through will help demonstrate that you are not making your injuries worse by failing to follow through.

Liability and Damages

Beyond the injuries themselves, though, you need to show that someone else was responsible for what happened. Any notes you have taken about what happened will help your attorney identify the evidence needed to prove liability. There may be police reports or accident reports as well; if you can take those to your consultation, that will help as well.

Finally, any information you have about different kinds of damages you have incurred will help. How has your daily routine changed? What new limitations do you face, whether from work or home life? The more you are ready to discuss and show, the more effectively your attorney can help you recover for all the losses you have suffered.

If someone has caused you injuries through negligent or reckless behavior, you have a right to recover damages. Contact Stern and Stern today for help with your personal injury claim.