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Who Qualifies to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The Requirements for Recovering Compensation after the Death of Another Person

wrongful death lawsuitUnder the laws of New Jersey, when a person dies as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person, that individual may be responsible for losses suffered by others. There are limits, though, on who may obtain damages after a person’s death. It’s generally not enough to allege that you knew the person and have suffered loss.

You Must Qualify as a “Real Party in Interest”

This is not just a requirement in a wrongful death action—all personal injury claims are limited to individuals who are deemed to be real parties in interest. Accordingly, you must have a valid claim for loss, as well as a legal right to pursue a claim.

As a general rule, whether or not a person qualifies as a real party in interest is established by the state wrongful death statutes. In New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by:

  • The surviving spouse
  • A child or grandchild of the deceased
  • A surviving parent of the deceased
  • Surviving siblings, nieces and nephews of the decedent
  • Anyone who can prove “actual dependence” on the deceased in a court of law

Under New Jersey law, there’s a hierarchy for pursuing damages in a wrongful death action. If there is a surviving spouse or children, they are entitled to all the proceeds of a wrongful death action. A parent of the deceased only has a right to compensation when there is no surviving spouse and no children. Siblings, nieces and nephews are only entitled to a damage award if there’s no spouse, child or parent surviving the deceased. Even though the lawsuit will typically be filed by one person as representative of all surviving family members, any proceeds are divided equally among those who qualify as real parties in interest, as set forth above.

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.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Understanding a Wrongful Death Claim

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim and What Is Its Purpose?

wrongful death claimThere’s nothing that can prepare you for the death of a loved one, especially when it’s totally unexpected. After an accidental or wrongful death, you can’t bring your loved one back, but you do have the right to seek compensation for your losses. In this series of blogs, we’ll look at the legal principle of wrongful death, who can file a claim, what types of losses are recoverable and who can be potentially liable.

First, though, let’s identify what a wrongful death claim is.

In essence, what makes a death wrongful is that it was caused by the actions of another person. It may result from an intent to bring about death, but is more often the result of carelessness or negligence.

Under a legal theory of negligence, you must prove three things to recover compensation. First, you must show that the defendant (at-fault party) did not meet the standard of care expected under the circumstances. You must then show that the breach of that standard of care caused an accident and, as a result of the accident, your loved one died.

There is no law that establishes a specific standard of care. Instead, that is determined by the jury in a case-by-case basis. The jury will look at all the circumstances and make a determination as to whether the actions of the defendant were consistent with what a reasonable person would have done. If not, the conduct is considered to be wrongful.

To establish cause, you must show both actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause is relatively straightforward, asking the simple question of whether the accident would have occurred in the absence of the breach of the standard of care. Proximate cause, though, looks at whether the accident was reasonably foreseeable based on the breach of care.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Protecting Yourself after a Work-Related Traffic Accident in New Jersey

traffic accident in new jerseyIt’s not unusual to be involved in a motor vehicle accident while on the job. If you’ve been hurt at work while driving or riding as a passenger in car or truck, your first thought might be to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s important to understand, though, that the workers’ compensation system is designed to help you streamline the process for recovering compensation for the carelessness of your employer. It’s often referred to as your “exclusive remedy” for a work-related injury. But what if the person at fault was neither your boss or a coworker. Are you still limited to the benefits you can get through a workers’ compensation claim? Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to simplify the process for workers and for employers. As an injured worker, you’ll have access to benefits within a few days or weeks, provided your claim is approved. You won’t have to wait on a court docket and you won’t have to spend months going through the discovery process.

As an employer, you’ll benefit under the workers’ compensation because of the limit set on the financial recovery. Typically, the benefits are based on the worker’s recent pay. You won’t have to worry about a sympathetic or potentially punitive jury award.

Filing a Third Party Claim

The workers’ compensation laws provide the exclusive remedy only for injuries caused by the negligence of an employer or a co-worker. If your injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by an unrelated third party, you can file a civil lawsuit against that person seeking damages. In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously. You just can’t recover twice for the same loss. If your medical expenses are covered by workers’ compensation, you won’t be able to recover for the same damages in your civil suit.

Contact the Law Office of David J. Karbasian

Contact us online or call our office at 856-667-4666 to arrange a private meeting. Your first consultation is free. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available for a Repetitive Motion or Stress Injury?

motion or stress injuryThere’s a common misperception that you can only recover workers’ compensation benefits if you have been hurt in a traumatic accident in the workplace. The reality is that many of the most devastating and crippling workplace injuries don’t happen in a single event, but are the product of months or years of unnatural stress on your body. Fortunately, the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws allow a worker to collect benefits for repetitive stress disorders (RSDs).

The Types of Occupations Where Workers are More Susceptible to Repetitive Stress Disorder

Statistics consistently show that about one of every two workplace injuries stem from repetitive motion or stress. As more and more manufacturing and industrial concerns have adopted an assembly line approach, the number of RSD-related injuries has gone up significantly. Repetitive stress disorder is a common cause of injury with:

  • Factory workers who perform the same limited function hour after hour, day after day, month after month. It may involve lifting, twisting, pinching, squeezing, turning or even simply standing in the same position. It can also involve squatting, bending over, turning or other lower body movements.
  • Workers who repeatedly turn or grab item, such as librarians, painters, carpenters, mechanics and cashiers, can often develop carpal tunnel syndrome, an inflammation that limits the use of the hands and forearms.
  • Typists, computer operators, graphic artists and others who use keyboards, computers or mice all have a greater risk of carpal tunnel and other RSDs

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Can You Be Liable for a Car Accident When You Weren’t Driving the Car?

Liability for the Driving of Third Parties

Car AccidentIn the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you typically look at is fault. Who caused the accident and how did it happen? Often, it’s exclusively the fault of one of the drivers. But there are situations where third parties can be found responsible for injuries suffered in a car crash. Let’s look at a couple situations:

When Employees Cause Auto Accidents

If a worker or employee causes a motor vehicle accident while performing duties related to his or her job, the employer may have some liability under a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior.” It’s based on the legal principle of agency—the employer is considered a principal and the employee an agent. It’s important, however, to understand that the actions the employee was engaged in must be within the scope of the agency. If, for example, the employee was engaged in a wholly personal activity…on his way to or from lunch or headed out to run some errands, there may not be liability. In addition, if the employee’s behavior is egregious—he was drinking and driving on the job (unbeknownst to the employer), the employer may also escape responsibility.

Allowing a Third Party to Drive Your Car

In some states, merely allowing someone else to drive your car can make you liable for any injuries they cause. There’s no requirement of employment—liability is implied.

Under a legal theory of “negligent entrustment,” if you know that another driver is careless, incompetent or unfit to drive, and you allow that person to take your car, you can be held responsible. The doctrine of negligent entrustment can also be applied if your children cause an accident. However, you must know that your child lacks the requisite skills or care to be on the road.

You can also be held responsible for the negligent driving of your children under the “family purpose” rule. This principle holds that when you send any member out to do something for the family—get groceries, wash the car, etc.—you can be held liable for their negligence.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Happy Holidays from The Law Office of David J. Karbasian

The Law Office of David J KarbasianWhether you celebrate this season with favorite memories, honored traditions, or cherished family and friends, we want you to know that we are grateful for the trust that you have placed in us, and we wish you a joyful holiday and a healthy, prosperous new year.

Is Your Employer Required to Hold Your Job?

Can You Protect Your Job When You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Is Your Employer Required to Hold Your Job?When you’ve been injured on the job, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim to compensate you for your disability and to cover any medical expenses. But your employer will probably need to find someone else to handle your responsibilities while you’re gone. What happens when you are able to return? Must your employer give you your old job back? Is there any way you can protect your job when you suffer a work-related injury?

You Cannot Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that New Jersey law prohibits termination of an employee for filing a valid workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, as a practical matter, that can be difficult to prove. New Jersey, like many states, is an “at will” employment state. That means that an employer or an employee may terminate employment at any time for any reason, provided it’s not contrary to a valid employment contract or to law or public policy. Your employer may allege other reasons for your termination. It will fall on you to prove the termination was because of the workers’ compensation claim.

There Are Limited Options for Protecting Your Job

Apart from the prohibition discussed above, there’s nothing in the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws that requires an employer to hold a job for an injured worker. There are two avenues, however, that you may consider:

  • Protecting your job under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—This federal law allows you to take up to 13 weeks of leave (unpaid, unless you have sick time or vacation to cover it) to attend to certain family or medical matters. If your FMLA request is approved, your employer must keep your job or a similar one available for you.
  • Protecting your job through a collective bargaining agreement—If you belong to a union and work under a union contract, there may be provisions that require your employer to hold your job for a certain amount of time when you have been injured.

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.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Third Party Claims for Workplace Injuries

When Workers’ Compensation May Not Be Your Only Option

Third Party Claims for Workplace InjuriesIn New Jersey, when you have suffered injury or illness caused by an accident or exposure at work, your first recourse will typically be to file a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, your employer may even tell you that workers’ compensation is your “exclusive remedy,” that it replaces your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. In certain situations, that may be true, but there are exceptions. Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws were intended to be the “great bargain,” a program that would benefit both workers and employers. For workers, if your claim is approved, it means more rapid access to compensation. There’s no need to get on the court docket, to spend time gathering evidence, or to take your case to trial. If your application for benefits is approved, you can start receiving payments within a few weeks.

For employers, the primary advantage of the workers’ compensation system is the limit it puts on liability. Under the law, injured workers are paid a fixed benefit, mostly based on prior earnings. Accordingly, an employer doesn’t have to worry about a huge damage award from a sympathetic jury.

However, the workers’ compensation laws are a substitute for the liability of only the employer or a co-employee. If your injuries are caused by an unrelated third party, you can file a lawsuit to recover those damages. For example, if you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving an unrelated third party or because of the malfunction of a product or machine manufactured by an unrelated third party, you can still sue that party for damages.

In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously. The only caveat—you can’t recover twice for the same loss. If your workers’ compensation claim paid your medical expenses, you can’t recover for those losses in a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Is Your Injury Work-Related?—Part Two

Your-Injury-Work-Related

Injuries Suffered at Company Outings | Injuries While Traveling

As we outlined in Part One of this series, the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey are twofold—you must have been injured and the injury must have occurred while you were in the performance of your job. Important questions can arise as to whether or not certain activities are job-related, such as company outings.

Injuries Suffered at Company Events

The company event or outing has become extremely popular and commonplace, whether it’s a firm golf outing, a team-building exercise or a company holiday party. When you are in attendance at such an event, you are typically not engaged in the tasks that make up your job. Does that mean that injuries suffered at a company outing are not covered by workers’ compensation? In most instances, the answer is no.

Company outings of any kind are generally considered to be work-related, whether attendance is mandatory or voluntary. There can, of course, be exceptions. For example, if you are injured at a company golf outing when your golf cart rolls over, you will typically be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, unless it can be shown that you were either engaged in reckless behavior at the time (racing another employee, maybe) or you were inebriated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, if your employer provided the alcohol, you may still be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

Injuries While Traveling

As a general rule, if you are required to travel for work (or have been asked to do so), you can recover workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident or any other type of accident. However, the commute to and from work is not considered to be part of your job. You can only recover workers’ compensation if you deviate from your regular route to engage in work-related activities (stopping at the post office or picking up food, for example).

If you travel to conferences or similar events, whether or not you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits depends on whether the activity you were engaged in at the time was wholly personal or part of your job.

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.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

At this time of year, we stop to give thanks: for our friends and families, for meaningful work, and for valued clients like you. We are truly grateful that you choose to work with us and we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals.

We wish you all the blessings of a peaceful holiday with those you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

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