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Berlin New Jersey Legal Blog

Statistics indicate the cars responsible for most crash injuries

With more cars and trucks on the road, vehicle crash fatality rates have been increasing in New Jersey and throughout the country. As a general rule, smaller cars and trucks tend to fare worse as it relates to vehicle safety scores while heavier trucks and SUVs tend to do better. The Highway Loss Data Institute compiled data from vehicles that were made in model years 2014 to 2016.

An average relative claim frequency score was 100, and there were many factors that contributed to a vehicle's score other than size. For instance, sports cars were more likely to have lower scores because they were driven less often. The Mitsubishi Lancer had a score of 216, and this was partially because it was a popular choice among younger drivers. On average, micro cars had an average score of 215 while miniature cars had an average score of 174.

How dangerous are hip replacements?

If you underwent hip replacement surgery in New Jersey prior to 2014, your artificial hip may be one of the metal-on-metal models Johnson & Johnson manufactured at that time. Should you continue to experience pain in that hip today, be aware that it could be because your metal hip is destroying your surrounding tissues

A recent New York Times article reported the horrific story of a doctor who received a Johnson & Johnson’s ASR XL metal-on-metal hip in 2006. By 2011, his hip pain was so severe that he underwent a second surgery to remove it. That was when his surgeon discovered that the artificial hip had leaked cobalt into the patient’s hip area resulting in metallosis, a condition in which the build-up of metal debris destroys a person’s muscles, ligaments and tendons. In this case, the metallosis had likewise damaged the patient’s heart and brain.

Travelers notes rise in distracted driving in summer

New Jersey residents who are planning to take a road trip this summer should be aware of one particular danger: distracted driving. Back in June, the Travelers Institute hosted its Every Second Matters™ symposium on Capitol Hill as a way to raise awareness of distracted driving, pointing to recent research to show how it increases during the summer.

That research was conducted by TrueMotion, a smartphone telematics platform. Using sensor data from its TrueMotion Family mobile app, it was able to analyze 8.4 million trips taken by over 20,000 drivers from January 2017 to May 2018. Researchers found that drivers looked less at the road during the months of June, July and August. On average, summertime drivers were distracted for 15 minutes out of every hour behind the wheel.

Pedestrian crashes linked to distracted driving

New Jersey pedestrians may face increased dangers on the roadways, especially as distracted driving becomes even more common. Engineers have pointed out that a number of safety features have been introduced into vehicles over the years that should make pedestrians safer as well as drivers. These include lowering car bumpers and adding space under vehicle hoods to provide greater cushion around the engine. However, despite these changes to car engineering, pedestrians are increasingly dying due to severe motor vehicle crashes. Since 2009, fatalities in pedestrian accidents have risen by 46 percent.

This statistic towers above the overall rise in traffic deaths since that time, which sits at 11 percent. Many experts have noted that distracted driving could be a major contributor to these serious car crashes, especially as smartphones have become ubiquitous. While distracted driving due to texts, emails and even browsing social media is quite common, few people are willing to admit it. Even if they know that distraction can pose a danger, it is easy and tempting for drivers to respond to incoming notifications.

If my child is injured in a neighbor’s yard, who is responsible?

It is summer in New Jersey, and rather than have your kids cooped up in the house all day playing online games, you send them outside to get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Soon, one of your neighbors lets you know that she saw your kids and their friends exploring another neighbor’s property, which is unkempt and full of interesting but potentially dangerous items. If your child suffered an injury in that neighbor’s yard, would the neighbor be liable or would you be responsible, since your kids were trespassing?

Ordinarily, trespassing laws would side with the property owner if the trespasser was old enough to know better because people cannot legally be on private property without the owner’s permission. However, you know that children do not always follow the rules, and their curiosity may get the better of them. Therefore, attractive nuisance laws serve to protect children from a serious or fatal injury on someone else’s property caused by a preventable hazard. To put it simply, a homeowner who knows there is a dangerous feature on his property that may attract children must take reasonable measures to keep children off the property or eliminate the hazard. This may include the following:

  • Putting up warning signs about an aggressive watchdog or only letting the dog in the yard when the owner is outside to supervise
  • Locking dangerous power tools and equipment in the garage or a secure shed
  • Demolishing decrepit outbuildings on the property
  • Covering wells and fencing off irrigation ditches
  • Installing a locked fence around a swimming pool
  • Building a high fence around the backyard and keeping it locked

Heat stress at work raises risks of illness and injury

Many New Jersey residents work in hot environments that place stress on their bodies. Construction workers, farmers, bakery employees and firefighters need to monitor themselves for symptoms and take breaks to prevent their bodies from overheating. Heat stress can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and in some cases it can be fatal.

Hot conditions also trigger problems like sweaty hands, fogged safety glasses and dizziness that could cause a worker to have an accident. Overheated people sometimes experience reduced brain function that impedes reasoning abilities, which could also lead to a workplace accident.

'Dirty Dozen' list of safety offenders shows a troubling trend

Both employers and employees in New Jersey will want to know about the "Dirty Dozen" list of workplace safety offenders assembled by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. While the list does not give very specific details, it still reveals a troubling tendency found among so many employers today.

Among the more well-known names, National COSH singles out Tesla and Amazon. The former has misidentified worker injuries as personal medical cases, apparently to reduce its incident rate. For this reason, the automaker is being investigated by the California division of OSHA. Tesla already has an incident rate that's 31 percent higher than the industry average. Amazon is being blamed for indifference to the seven worker deaths that have occurred in its warehouses since 2013.

Will AVTs replace portable voltmeters?

For more than 10 years, electrical workers in New Jersey have relied on portable voltmeters to help them to identify hot wires so that they can minimize their risks of being injured while they are working. These devices meet the minimum requirements that are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and have helped save many lives.

A new, permanently mounted solution is available. Called Absence of Voltage Testers (ATV), the devices automate the process of checking for live wires during lockout and tagout procedures. It is unclear how soon these systems may be broadly adopted, however. If they are accepted, many electrical workers may no longer need to carry their portable voltmeters around their workplaces.

Why seniors are more prone to falling

While certain risk factors, such as wet floors, icy sidewalks and cluttered staircases, can cause anyone to take a tumble, your odds of falling and injuring yourself as a result increase considerably as you age. Falls among seniors have become so common, in fact, that reports that one in every four seniors suffers a fall every year, and that fall-related injuries are the top cause of hospital visits, injuries and fatalities among the elderly.

In other words, seemingly minor obstructions or hazards, such as inadequate lighting or supply carts clogging store aisles, might pose only minor threats to the average American. However, they can prove tremendously threatening for seniors, many of whom have other fall risk factors already in play. More specifically, many people within your age group are more prone to falling due to:

Insect-borne illnesses put workers at risk

Reports of insect-borne illnesses have tripled over the last 12 years according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outdoor workers in New Jersey and across the U.S. are among those most at risk.

The CDC says that more than 640,000 cases of dengue, Lyme, Zika and plague were reported between 2004 and 2016. One of the ways these diseases spread is through the bites of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Typically, state and local health departments work with vector control companies to reduce insect populations, but around 84 percent of these organizations fail to provide at least one of the core competencies needed to protect the public. These core competencies include routine mosquito monitoring, killing insects at an early life stage, consistent source reduction and pesticide resistance testing.