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How Much Is Your Car-Accident-Injury Claim Worth?

Determining Compensation in a Motor-Vehicle-Accident Lawsuit

How Much Is Your Car-Accident-Injury Claim Worth?If you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you have a right to pursue legal action to require that that person t0 compensate you for your losses, including wages and income, unreimbursed medical expenses, and physical pain and suffering. Your immediate concern might be how much you can expect to receive from a personal injury lawsuit. How will the court calculate the amount of your losses? What factors will affect the amount you receive?

Establishing Liability for the Accident

Most legal claims are based on allegations of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that the defendant—the person being sued—did not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances, and that their failure to do so caused the accident. In a motor vehicle accident, the failure to act reasonably can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Failing to obey known or posted traffic laws; for example, using excessive speed, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, or making an illegal turn or lane change
  • Failing to pay attention to the roadway while looking at a handheld device, adjusting the radio, looking in the backseat, or looking at the side of the road
  • Failing to maintain a vehicle in safe operating condition
  • Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to adjust driving to account for an adverse weather or road condition

You must also convince the jury that the accident would not have occurred if the defendant had acted reasonably, and that the accident and the injuries you suffered were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s failure to act reasonably.

Damages in a Motor-Vehicle-Accident Claim

You can only recover compensation for actual losses. Losses covered by insurance are typically not available in a personal injury lawsuit. The damages available fall into two general categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that can be precisely calculated, such as lost wages or income, unreimbursed medical expenses, and property damage. Non-economic damages are intangible and include physical pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The amount you recover can be reduced if you are found to be partially liable for the accident. The legal theory of comparative negligence allows the court to determine the percentage of your fault and lower your damage award accordingly.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Police Reports and Motor Vehicle Accidents

Can You Recover Insurance Benefits or File a Personal Injury Lawsuit If Police Don’t Come to the Scene of the Accident?

Police Reports and Motor Vehicle AccidentsIt’s long been assumed that the first thing you do, in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, is call the police, so they can come to the scene of the accident and prepare a report. In fact, it’s a common belief that, without a police report, you can’t file an insurance claim. Is that true? Can you file a personal injury lawsuit after a car wreck if you don’t have a police report?

You Don’t Need a Police Report to Collect Insurance or Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

You should contact the police as you are required to report the accident to them if the accident involves injury, death or property damage in excess of $500. Furthermore, a police report provides evidence to support your claim in either instance. However, there is no legal requirement that the police come to the scene and prepare a report in order for you to qualify for either insurance benefits or compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

Your right to insurance is for a covered loss. If you can prove your loss is covered, your insurer is legally bound to reimburse you, provided your premiums are up-to-date and you haven’t violated any provisions of the insurance policy.

To recover a monetary award in a personal injury lawsuit, you must show that the otherdriver acted intentionally, recklessly, or negligently, thereby causing an accident in which you suffered actual losses. Most motor vehicle accident claims are based on allegations that the other driver engaged in unreasonable behavior and was therefore negligent. While a police report may include information that helps establish negligence or carelessness, such conduct can also be proven through the testimony of eyewitnesses and others.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We can schedule a conference by phone, text message, in person or online videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

An Expired or Suspended Driver’s License

Will It Affect Your Right to Compensation After an Auto Accident?

An Expired or Suspended Driver’s LicenseWe all make mistakes—maybe we forget to renew our driver’s license, or we get too many points and lose our driving privileges. What happens if we decide to drive anyway and are involved in a motor vehicle accident, one where we’re not at fault? Can the person who caused the accident argue that we’re not entitled to any compensation because we weren’t legally on the road at the time? The answer is no.

The Legal Principle of Negligence

Most personal injury lawsuits are based on the legal principle of negligence. To recover compensation under a claim of negligence, you must show three things:

  • That the defendant (the party who allegedly committed a wrongful act) was not acting as a reasonable person would at the time of the accident;
  • That the failure to act reasonably caused the accident; and
  • That you suffered actual losses as a result of the accident.

The Concept of Comparative Negligence

As discussed in previous blogs, New Jersey has adopted the principle of comparative negligence in personal injury claims. With comparative negligence, the judge and jury look at the actions of both parties and can reduce the amount of compensation to an injured person if he or she engaged in conduct that contributed to causing the accident. For example, if one party to a motor vehicle accident runs a stop sign and the other party is speeding, both parties may have some liability.

Courts in New Jersey have never recognized driving on an expired or suspended license to be a form of comparative negligence.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Recovering Damages After a Personal Injury

What Types of Losses Can You Sue For?

Recovering Damages After a Personal InjuryA personal injury suffered in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence can change your life in an instant. You may be unable to work and pay your bills. You may need extensive medical treatment, and some of it might not be covered by insurance. You may be forced to stop doing many of the things you loved to do before the accident simply because the pain is too much. After an accident, what losses can you reasonably expect the at-fault party to pay?

The Two Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

At the most fundamental level, the damages (compensation for losses) available for personal injuries fall into two categories:

  • Compensatory damages—Those damages intended to reimburse or compensate you for an actual loss.
  • Punitive damages—Damages designed to penalize the wrongdoer, generally available only upon a showing of gross negligence or reckless indifference to the value of life. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury lawsuits.

The Different Types of Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are further identified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are those that are tangible and easily calculated in dollars and cents. They include lost wages and income, as well as any medical expenses not covered by insurance.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, involve non-tangible losses that don’t have a readily discernible monetary value. They include:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life—These damages include the loss of the ability to do things that brought you joy or fulfillment before the accident or to engage in the simple activities of daily life, such as walking, sitting, dressing yourself, feeding yourself, driving a car, etc.
  • Compensation for loss of consortium or companionship—These damages are available when your injuries prevent intimate contact with a spouse or the physical company of others.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, and videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Motorcycle Accident Injuries in New Jersey

What Happens When Both Parties Are at Fault?

Motorcycle Accident Injuries in New JerseyMost motorcycle accident claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. In essence, negligence occurs when a person acts carelessly, contrary to the behavior that society expects from a “reasonable person.”

Furthermore, though many accidents are caused entirely by the wrongful acts of one person, it’s frequently the case that both parties share responsibility. For example, a motorcyclist might exceed the speed limit to get through an intersection before the light changes at the same time that another motorist pulls into the path of the bike without looking. How is liability determined when both parties contribute to a wreck?

Contributory and Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

For much of the early history of the state of New Jersey, the legal principle of contributory negligence applied to personal injury claims. Under that legal theory, if a person seeking damages for a personal injury contributed to causing the accident in any way or to any degree, the person had no right to recover for any losses.

As contributory negligence evolved over the years, defense attorneys looked for any evidence to suggest even the slightest degree of carelessness by the injured party. The application of contributory negligence was often perceived to be harsh and unfair, allowing grossly negligent defendants to sometimes escape liability for seriously injuring a person who contributed to causing the accident in an insignificant way.

Around the turn of the 20th century, states started to replace the concept of contributory negligence with comparative negligence. New Jersey now applies that legal principle.

With the comparative negligence approach, the court first determines the full amount of the injured party’s losses, and then allocates to each party a percentage of responsibility for the accident. The damage award is then reduced by the injured party’s percentage of liability. For example, if you’re seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident and suffer $1,000,000 in losses, but the court determines you were 10% responsible, you would recover only $900,000.

There is another wrinkle, though. In states like New Jersey, which take a “modified comparative negligence” approach, a party may only recover damages if his or her responsibility is determined to be less than 50%.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Construction Site Injuries in New Jersey Winters

Common Injuries Suffered in Cold Weather

Construction Site Injuries in New Jersey WintersThough many construction jobs are seasonal, a large number of construction workers in New Jersey work all through the winter, often with protective gear and space heaters. Those workers face increased risk of injury in snowy and icy conditions. Among the most common winter construction site injuries are:

  • Slip-and-falls, including falls from heights—Falls are the most common type of construction site accident year-round. When you add snow and ice into the equation, the risk goes up dramatically, putting workers at significant risk of broken bones, concussion and other traumatic brain injury, and back or spinal cord trauma. The risk can be reduced by ensuring that there are proper safety barriers at elevated construction levels, that workers wear boots with good rubber treads, and that workers slow the pace of movement to account for slippery conditions.
  • Cold stress—According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), exposure to too much cold weather can be fatal, with the average annual number of cold-related deaths exceeding 1,300. Non-fatal conditions that can result from working in sub-freezing weather include trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. Hypothermia, the result of your body temperature going below 95 degrees, is the most dangerous, causing reduced blood flow and breathing, unconsciousness, and even death. Frostbite can lead to the loss of fingers, toes, ear lobes, and even your nose. Trench foot, caused when your feet stay wet and cold for long periods of time, can lead to blisters and loss of skin/tissue on your feet.
  • Injuries caused by accumulated snow or ice—The accumulation of snow and ice can alsopose serious risks. The weight of snow can bring down power lines, putting workers at risk of exposure to live current. Snow also can accumulate on a roof and then fall off and crush workers below.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Slip-and-Falls in New Jersey Winters

The Duties of Property Owners to Respond to Snow and Ice

Slip-and-Falls in New Jersey WintersWith record snowfalls reported in some parts of New Jersey this week, conditions have been treacherous for motorists and pedestrians. Even a small accumulation of snow, if not cleared in a timely manner, can pose a risk of injury, quickly turning to ice as temperatures rise or people pack it down.

If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall on accumulated snow or ice on someone else’s property, you may have questions about your right to recover for your losses. Let’s look at the duties of New Jersey residential and commercial property owners with respect to dangers presented by snowy and icy conditions

New Jersey Premises Liability Law

In New Jersey, as in other states, property owners have a duty to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of anyone legally on the property; however, that duty is not absolute. A property owner need not guarantee the safety of visitors. The law requires only that an owner takes reasonable steps to protect people who come on the property. Such reasonable steps might involve removing the conditions that pose the risk of injury, or it may involve either reasonably warning visitors of potential dangers or preventing visitors from obtaining access to those areas that pose the risk of injury.

The Duties of Property Owners in New Jersey Related to Snow and Ice

The duties of a property owner differ in New Jersey based on whether the property is primarily commercial or residential. Commercial property owners have a higher duty than residential property holders. Owners of commercial property must take reasonable action to remedy the situation—either remove the snow or put down salt or sand to minimize the risk that someone will slip on icy pavement or steps.

In contrast, a residential property owner need not remove the snow and ice. If the residential property owner does attempt to clear sidewalks or other walkways, however, he must not make the condition more dangerous by doing so, or he will incur liability.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, and videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents in New Jersey

Can You Pursue Compensation If There Was No Collision?

No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents in New JerseyWhile a motorcycle brings a great feeling of freedom on the road—one of its major appeals—it’s also easier to have a no-contact accident on a motorcycle, often with serious consequences. These types of crashes stem from a variety of factors:

  • another motorist cuts into your lane, forcing you down or off the road;
  • another motorist suddenly brushes up next to you or fails to obey a traffic sign or signal, forcing evasive action that causes you to lose control;
  • water, loose gravel, uneven lanes or potholes cause you to skid or lose traction; or
  • your bike breaks down, leading to a fall.

In these situations, you may suffer serious and catastrophic injury but without impacting or colliding with another vehicle. Can you seek compensation from another party, even though no one hit you? Fortunately, the answer is yes.

Recovering for Your Losses Based on a Claim of Negligence

In a motorcycle-accident-injury claim, as with most other personal injury claims, your right to recover for your losses is almost always based on a legal theory of negligence. To prove negligence in court, you must demonstrate that:

  • the defendant (the accused wrongdoer) failed to act as a reasonable person would;
  • the failure to act reasonably caused an accident; and
  • you suffered actual losses because of the accident.

The law does not identify specific acts considered unreasonable. Instead, that determination is left for the jury to decide based on the specific facts of the case.

To establish cause, you must show two things:

  • that the accident would not have occurred without the defendant’s wrongful conduct; and
  • that the accident and injuries suffered were “reasonably foreseeable” consequences of defendant’s failure to act reasonably.

Under the law, you may seek damages for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, even though there was no contact or impact. The jury will carefully consider defendant’s actions, determining whether they were reasonable and whether they caused you to lose control or otherwise crash.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Workplace Injury

Can You Get Civil Damages in Addition to Workers’ Comp?

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Workplace InjuryUnder New Jersey law, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. There are only two exceptions—where the employer is covered by a federal program or has been approved to be self-insured (in which case the employer pays benefits directly to the injured worker).

Because of the prevalence of the workers’ compensation system, there’s a misperception that, when you’re hurt on the job, your only recourse to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses is through a workers’ comp claim. In limited circumstances, however, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court seeking damages for an injury sustained on the job. Here’s how it works.

Workers’ Compensation Claims in New Jersey

New Jersey workers’ compensation law was enacted to streamline the claims process for injured workers and help employers more effectively manage the financial consequences of workplace injuries. Workers can start receiving benefits within weeks, and employers don’t have to worry about sympathetic juries returning inflated damage awards.

Workers’ compensation law, however, only covers injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or coworker. In those instances, workers’ comp provides the only source for reimbursement of losses.

Third-Party Claims in Workplace Accidents

When a workplace accident is caused, in whole or in part, by the wrongful actions of someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you are not limited to the benefits provided by a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. In fact, you can file a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim at the same time, though you can’t recover for the same losses in both proceedings. For example, if your medical expenses are paid by workers’ comp, you can’t recover them again in a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, and videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

Remedies Other Than Workers’ Compensation

Third-Party Claims After a Work-Related Injury

Remedies Other Than Workers CompensationIn New Jersey, when you’re hurt or contract an illness on the job, you have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits available through a workers’ comp claim cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses, and can serve to replace lost income. You may, however, have other losses not covered by workers’ compensation. Can you seek compensation for uncovered expenses in other legal proceedings?

Third-Party Claims for Injuries at Work

The workers’ compensation laws are designed to provide a streamlined claims process when losses ae caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or co-worker. If, however, your injuries are also caused in part by the wrongful acts of a third party (unrelated to your employer), you may seek damages in a civil suit filed in court. In fact, you can simultaneously file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. You may not, however, recover twice for the same losses. For example, if medical expenses are paid through your workers’ comp claim, you can’t recover for those same medical costs in a personal injury lawsuit.

There are a number of situations where you may have a valid third-party claim:

  • Motor vehicle accidents that occur during the course of employment—You can seek damages in court from at-fault drivers, provided they are not co-workers or your employer.
  • Injuries caused by a defectively designed or manufactured product—You can sue the company or individuals who designed or built the product.
  • Injuries caused by workers on an adjoining jobsite—This applies most often to situations involving construction-site-injury claims.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request.

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