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New York City Personal Injury Lawyers

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New York City Personal Injury Lawyers

New Jersey’s Vicarious Liability for Texting a Driver

In New Jersey, you can be liable for not only texting while driving, but texting a driver.  After an avoidable tragedy left a couple without their legs, a New Jersey Court of Appeals held that if a person knowingly text messages someone who is driving, they can be held responsible for causing distraction if that person causes injury to another person or vehicle.

The case from which the ruling arose concerned two teenagers who had sent over sixty text messages to each other while one of them was driving.  The driver ultimately crossed the road markings and crashed into a couple’s vehicle.  The couple attempted to sue both the driver and his girlfriend for damages on the grounds that she distracted him by texting him while he was driving.  The couple came to a settlement with the driver, and the judge held that the driver’s girlfriend was not at fault because she was not aware that her boyfriend was driving at the time.  However, the court held that had she known he was driving, she could be held liable for causing him the distraction of texting.

Distracted driving is a serious issue that causes many accidents.  Distracted driving is defined as anything that could take your focus off the road, and in addition to operating a cell phone it includes:

  • Eating/drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Shaving
  • Interacting with children or pets
  • Daydreaming
  • Adjusting the radio, air conditioning, or a GPS
  • Reading
  • Rubbernecking or sightseeing from the window
  • Smoking

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that 80% of car accidents result from driving while distracted.  In addition, dialing a number on a cell phone increases the odds of crashing by two to five times.

If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver and have suffered injuries, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can get you the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Office of Ernest Holzberg & Associates today at (212) 391-1139 to schedule your free consultation.


Implied Consent and The Family Car

Many people don’t think twice when it comes to lending their car to a family member or friend.  However, based on the doctrine of respondeat superior, even if you are not behind the wheel, you can still be held vicariously liable if the driver to whom you loaned your vehicle gets into an accident.  The legal reasoning is that the person driving the vehicle is acting as an agent of the owner  if the use of the car is authorized.  The owner is legally “vicariously liable” for the actions of the driver. This doctrine also serves the important purpose of ensuring that the owner’s insurance policy provides coverage for the vehicle no matter who is at the wheel.

Even if the owner of the vehicle did not expressly consent to use of the vehicle, implied consent can be inferred in a number of ways.  Implied consent may arise if a reasonable person believed that consent had been given due to the surrounding circumstances.  Words, actions, inactions, or facts may give rise to implied consent.  Even if the use of the vehicle is not authorized, the car owner may be held liable if the driver had a reasonable belief the use would be permitted.  For example, if a parent leaves the keys to the family car on the table, and has not forbidden their teenager from driving the car, the teenager could reasonably assume their parent had consented to their driving the vehicle.  Consent may also be implied if the person had previous permission to use the vehicle or by leaving keys in the ignition of the vehicle.

The owner of a vehicle may be held vicariously liable for another’s negligence when:

  • The vehicle owner either expressly or impliedly consented to another using their vehicle
  • The vehicle owner had the duty or ability to control the use of their vehicle
  • The driver’s negligence caused damage or injury to another person or vehicle

If you have been in an accident with a person who did not own the vehicle they were driving, you may have a claim for negligence against both the owner and the driver of the involved vehicle.  Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights and will fight for the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Office of Ernest Holzberg & Associates today at (212) 391-1139 to schedule your free consultation.           


Filing a Lawsuit for False Arrest

The police have both a privilege and a duty to protect the public.  Most police officers take their oath to serve and protect very seriously, risking their lives day in and day out to keep citizens safe.  However, sometimes an officer can either make a mistake or abuse their authority intentionally.  The news has been abuzz recently with disturbing instances of police misconduct.  False arrest, a violation of the protection granted by the 4th Amendment, is one of the most common types of police misconduct.

What Makes an Arrest Legal?

Generally, in order for an arrest to be legal, first, the police must have reasonable grounds for making the arrest.  This is known as probable cause.  Probable cause can be based on information the police obtained by observation, from witnesses, his own expertise, or other evidence.  In addition, the police need to inform the individual that they are being arrested and the reason for the arrest.  A person may be able to prove the false arrest was a violation of their constitutional rights if:

  • No crime was committed
  • You were placed under arrest
  • The officer did not have probable cause

Who Do I Sue?                                                                                                                  

An individual who has been falsely arrested may sue the arresting officer as well as the municipality by which they are employed (for example, one would sue “The City of New York,” not the “NYPD.”).  The city can be held vicariously liable for the actions of the officer based on the doctrine of respondeat superior because they are an employee of the city.  Under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a person cannot be deprived of their rights by a state government employee.  In some cases, a plaintiff may also assert claims against other officers who were on the scene who did not intervene if unreasonable use of force was involved.  Depending on the offense, an officer may be also be criminally prosecuted.  In addition, the claim may be brought in either state or federal court.

What Can I Sue For?                                                                                                                                                                 

A person who has been falsely arrested may have a claim for damages that include:

  • Lost wages
  • Damage to reputation
  • Physical injuries that occurred during the arrest
  • Emotional distress

A plaintiff may be awarded both compensatory damages for the time spent in custody, and sometimes punitive damages.  Additionally, a prevailing plaintiff who has sued in federal court will be awarded attorney’s fees.

It is critically important for someone who has been falsely arrested to know that the statute of limitations is quite short under New York State law.  A plaintiff only has 90 days from the time of the occurrence to assert a claim.  Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney immediately or you may not be able to assert your claim.  If you have not committed a crime but have been detained by the police, contact the experienced police misconduct and false arrest attorneys at Ernest Holzberg & Associates.  Call (212)391-1139 today.


Amusement Park Safety

With summertime just around the corner, many families are in the middle of planning a vacation.  Often, families choose to go to carnivals or amusement parks for the fun and adventure of going on dare-devil rides like rollercoasters, upside down swings, and other gravity defying rides.  However, even though many adventure seekers enjoy the thrill of having a faux brush with death, in some scary scenarios, serious injury or death actually occurs as a result of these rides.

Sometimes the bars or seat belts on rides may not lock, leaving the rider exposed to the possibility of falling out of the ride.  In other cases, the employee operating the ride may not have warned riders to fasten their seat belts before the ride began, or allowed a young child on the ride even if they did not fit in the seat properly.  Injuries such as slip and falls are common on or near water rides.  Animal bites may occur if the theme park has a petting zoo.  An amusement park may be responsible for your injury if it arose as a result of faulty equipment, failure to warn, or employee negligence.

Recent injuries at theme parks reported in the news have ranged from nausea to heart attacks; seizures; broken bones; brain injuries; loss of consciousness; concussions; collapsed lungs; and spinal damage.

It is important to take safety precautions before enjoying a theme park ride.

  • Do not ride if you are aware that you have a pre-existing medical condition that will be affected.
  • Make sure your seat belt fits properly and any bars are secure before the ride takes off.
  • If you are at a water park, follow the life guard’s instructions.
  • Comply with the age and height requirements of each ride.
  • If you are going to be in the sun for a long time, make sure to wear sun block and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Keep your limbs inside the ride and do not attempt to exit until the ride comes to a full stop.

If you or your loved one has suffered from an injury or death as a result of an amusement park ride, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who will get you the compensation you deserve.  Call the Law Office of Ernest Holzberg and Associates at (212)391-1139.