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What You Need to Know about New Jersey’s Dog Bite Law

about-new-jerseys-dog-bite-lawFor most people, most of the time, a dog is man’s best friend. Unfortunately, a dog can still be a dangerous animal, often because of the way it’s raised or treated. National statistics indicate that more than four million people seek treatment every year because of attacks by dogs, whether they’ve been bitten, mauled or otherwise injured. In New Jersey, the law governing liability for dog bites imposes what is known as “strict liability,” making the process easier for those who have been victims of an aggressive canine.

What Is Strict Liability?

In most personal injury claims, as we discussed in an earlier blog series, the injured party must prove that the defendant was negligent—i.e., that there was a duty to use reasonable care and that duty was breached. Under the principles of strict liability, there’s no requirement that you prove negligence. As applied to the New Jersey dog bite law, that means that you don’t have to show that the owner of the dog acted unreasonably or carelessly. Instead, if you can show that you were either on public property or on the dog owner’s property with permission, the only two things you will need to prove to recover for your losses are:

  • You were bitten by the dog
  • The defendant owned the dog

It won’t matter if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior. You can recover even if you are the first person the dog ever attacked.

It’s important to understand, though, that the concept of strict liability only applies to bites and maulings. If a dog chases you and you are hit by a bicyclist or hit by another car, you may still have to prove 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.

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

Slip and Fall Injury Claims in New Jersey

Slip-and-Fall-Injury-Claims

Your Rights When a Property Owner is Negligent

In New Jersey, as in other states, the owner or any person who exercises control over residential or commercial property has a duty to monitor and maintain the premises so as to minimize the risk of injury to legal visitors to the property—this is referred to under the law as “premises liability.”

The actual duty owed by an owner/controller of property depends to some extent on the nature and purpose of the visit. As a general rule, there is no duty owed to trespassers—persons on the property without permission, either express or implied. In limited circumstances, though, such as where the property contains an “attractive nuisance” that may garner the attention of children and essentially lure them onto the property, there may be liability. In all other instances of trespass, the injured party typically has no form of redress.

Legal visitors to the property are generally categorized as invitees or licensees. An invitee is defined as someone who comes onto land that is either open to the public at large, or who enters land to provide a financial benefit to the owner or controller. The duty to invitees is to use reasonable care to maintain the premises—it’s an affirmative mandate to ensure that the property is safe.

A licensee, on the other hand, is generally someone who has been invited onto the premises with the implied or express permission of the owner or controller. The most common example of a licensee is a social guest in a private home. An owner or controller has a duty to licensees to either repair any dangerous situations or reasonably notify potential visitors of conditions of which they are unaware.

It’s important to understand that the duty owed, in all circumstances, is a reasonable one and not an absolute one. The owner/controller does not have to guarantee that the property is safe, but must only take reasonable measures to monitor for problems and fix them when discovered.

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.

What to Do When There Are Defects in Your New Home in New Jersey

Home in New Jersey

When you’ve built or bought a new home, you expect that everything will function the way it’s supposed to, that there won’t be defects caused by builder error or oversight. Unfortunately, the construction industry is one that rewards builders for the speed with which they finish a new home. That approach can often result in substandard performance.

Under New Jersey law, the owner of a new home has certain protections under the state’s New Home Warranty and Builders’ Registration Act. Pursuant to that statute, the builder of a new home makes certain warranties about the quality and functionality of the home and its component parts:

  • There’s a one year general warranty against defects, covering workmanship, materials, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, as well as appliances, fixtures and equipment
  • There’s a two year warranty on certain mechanical, electrical, plumbing and major structural defects, such as septic tanks and HVAC systems
  • Starting in year three and continuing for the first ten years of the life of the home, there’s a warranty against major structural defects. That includes framing or structural elements, such as studs, roofing, rafters, beams and load-bearing walls.

The warranty does not apply to anything considered to be normal wear and tear and may also exclude any changes to the home resulting from carelessness or improper maintenance by the homeowner.

If you have a claim under the statute, you can file a lawsuit in court or you can file a claim under your warranty. Warranty claims are typically resolved through arbitration. The builder is customarily given the opportunity to fix the problem, but may choose to pay for the repair or replacement.

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.

Mortgage Fraud Is Still Alive and Kicking

Fraud-Is-Still-Alive-and-Kicking

Fraudsters Continue to Find New Ways to Scam Banks and Homeowners

If you think that most mortgage fraud is a thing of the past, that the scams within the home lending industry have mostly been brought under control in the last decade, think again. Here are some sobering statistics:

  • In 2016, more than $5 billion of mortgage funds were targeted by individuals engaged in some fraudulent activity (according to the FBI)
  • From 2015 to 2016, wire fraud scams involving title companies went up six-fold (a sobering number when you consider that experts estimate that about one in every six cases of mortgage fraud is reported
  • The FBIZ reported fraudulent wire transfers of mortgage dollars to 103 different countries in 2016

Here’s what the latest scam looks like—it’s a combination of identity fraud, computer hacking and wire fraud. The scammer typically hacks an e-mail or online account that has information about an impending closing. The scammer then “steals” the identity of a party involved in the transaction (typically the seller, but maybe a title or real estate agent) and contacts the buyer with fraudulent directions to wire the down payment. The down payment is then wired directly to the fraudster’s account.

Experts say that the wire transfer fraud can be highly sophisticated, with some perpetrators using technology that makes it appear that the phone call is coming from a legitimate number. There’s even technology that allows fraudsters to intercept “call and verify” efforts.

The best way to protect yourself from mortgage scams? Know the people with whom you are working. Be willing to ask questions about the process and have someone you know you can call to give you accurate information about your transaction.

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.

The Benefits of Expert Testimony in a Truck Accident Claim

Truck-Accident-Claim

To successfully litigate a personal injury claim, you need to present clear and compelling evidence that the defendant acted carelessly or negligently, causing actual losses. In a truck accident claim, that can often be a challenge, given the varied potential causes of such a crash, as well as the complex regulations governing trucking operations. As a result, it’s often essential to bring in expert witnesses to help juries understand both the cause of the accident and its consequences.

Here are the experts who are often called on in a truck accident injury claim:

  • Accident reconstruction specialists—These experts, usually engineers, customarily look at damage to vehicles, as well as evidence from the scene of the crash, so that they can identify exactly what happened. They’ll use all relevant data to recreate the accident, including skid marks, road gouges and information from the truck’s on-board data collection systems.
  • Human factors experts—One of the common causes of major truck accidents is truck driver fatigue, caused by drivers failing to take required breaks. A human factors expert will explain to a jury exactly what happens physically and mentally to a driver who does not get adequate sleep or rest.
  • Medical experts—Medical professionals will review all treatment and medical records and testify regarding both short-term and long-term injuries, as well as the care an injured person will require.
  • Economics experts—This expert will calculate the total monetary losses sustained by an injured person, both actual and projected, including lost income, unreimbursed medical expenses and property damage.
  • Mechanical expert—A mechanical expert will carefully examine the truck involved in the accident, looking to see if there are mechanical problems that should have been fixed or that directly or indirectly contributed to the accident. The mechanical expert will also confirm that the actual maintenance done to the truck conforms with what was reported in the vehicle maintenance log.

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 handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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

What to Do after a Truck Accident

The Steps You Take Immediately after the Crash Can Be Critical

Truck-Accident

When you are hurt in a collision involving a big rig, semi, tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler or other commercial truck, your life can change in an instant. Even if neither vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, the sheer size of an over-the-road carrier often leads to serious and catastrophic injury. The steps you take in the immediate aftermath of the wreck can have a significant impact on your ability to fully recover for all your losses.

Your First Concern—Your Health

Before you consider anything else, you need to take all necessary steps to address any injuries you may have sustained. If you are uncertain about your ability to get out of your car and move about, stay where you are until emergency medical professionals arrive. This isn’t the time to be strong or heroic—it’s the time to acknowledge that you may have suffered serious injury and to defer to the expertise of medical professionals. Even if you can walk away, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you get medical care, the better your chances that your condition won’t deteriorate. In addition, the longer you wait to get medical care, the greater the risk that defense attorneys will attribute your injuries to an intervening cause.

Gather Information, If Possible

If you can do so without risk to your health, you’ll want to do what you can to obtain evidence to support a potential legal claim. Get contact information from anyone involved in the accident, as well as witnesses. Take pictures of everything, from the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you have sustained to road conditions, skid marks, weather conditions or any roadway defect.

Retain Experienced Legal Counsel

A truck accident injury claim is substantially different from a car accident claim, so you’ll want to hire a lawyer with experience handling these types of cases. Your attorney should be familiar with state and federal regulations governing trucking operations, driver and maintenance logs, on-board data recorders and weight restrictions.

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.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce the Risk of Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage-Fraud

When you’re buying a house or refinancing, you want to get the best deal possible, but you also need to be careful to avoid fraudulent mortgage lending practices. Here are some basic guidelines to reduce the risk that you’ll be taken in by a mortgage lending scam.

Work with Someone You Know or Trust

The best way to steer around potential mortgage fraud is to do business with someone that you know, who you’ve worked with before. If this is the first time you’ve used a mortgage banker, get referrals from people you trust, including family, friends and professional advisors.

Only Work with Someone You Can Meet in Person

It’s been possible to apply for and obtain a mortgage loan online for years, but you always want to know that the mortgage lender has a bricks and mortar office somewhere. If it’s just an e-mail address and a cell phone number, there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate.

Check Out the Lender

There are organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, who track companies and can tell you if they’ve had complaints filed against them. Don’t be surprised, though, if there’s been at least one complaint filed against the lender—that’s not unusual. But if there are dozens or more, look elsewhere. Furthermore, find out how long the mortgage lender has been in business. If the company is relatively new, find out where their owners were previously, and what they were doing professionally. As a general rule, there’s greater risk in a newer company, but there are always exceptions.

Don’t Sign Anything Unless You Know What It Is

The lender may put a stack of documents in front of you and tell you they’re a “formality.” Take the time to carefully review every document. If you don’t know what it is or what it means, don’t sign it. If necessary, contact an attorney to explain the document to you.

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 handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Don’t Be a Victim of Appraisal Fraud

Appraisal-Fraud

Your House May Be Overvalued and You Might Pay for It

Whether you’re looking to buy a house or refinance, at some point you’ll need to have the property appraised, so that you know how much can be financed using the property as collateral. There can be a tendency, when the appraisal comes in higher than you expected, to decide to finance more, so that you can do some remodeling or pay off some other bills. You need to be careful, though, that the appraisal doesn’t misstate the value of your property, putting you underwater when it comes time to sell.

Appraisal fraud is not uncommon in the mortgage industry. Unfortunately, because of the way the mortgage business works, there’s an incentive for appraisers to “tweak” the numbers, almost always up. Here’s how it works:

  • When you contact a lender to finance or refinance your home, you’ll typically get a “good faith” estimate for the amount of the loan, based on purchase price or what you plan to do with the refinance proceeds
  • Your lender will hire an appraiser to estimate a fair market value for the property
  • Because there are many appraisers competing for work with lenders, there’s an incentive for the appraiser to find a way to meet or exceed the good faith estimate.

Of course, there is a down side for lenders as well. If the appraisal overstates the value of the property and the lender makes a larger loan, the lender could end up on the short side of the deal if the property goes into foreclosure. However, most mortgage lenders sell their mortgages, so they don’t end up facing those types of problems.

As a practical matter, it may be in your best interests to get an independent appraisal, so that you have a realistic sense of what the property is worth.

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.

Truck Driver Log Violations

Truck Driver Log Violations

According to statistics gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were more than 325,000 reported instances in 2015 where truck drivers had failed to log, update or provide correct information in their log books. In addition, roadside inspections led to more than 136,000 documented violations for hours-of-service regulations.

Under federal law, over-the-road truckers and trucking companies are required to maintain log books to ensure that maintenance is properly conducted and the drivers are not on the road without adequate rest. Under those rules, a truck driver may not be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours after any 10 hour period off duty. In addition, the driver cannot be on the road beyond the 14th consecutive hour after a 10-hour rest. There’s also a limit of 60 hours on the road over a given 7 consecutive day period and 70 hours over a given 8 day consecutive period.

Unfortunately, with the pressure to maximize profits, many drivers find ways to circumvent these rules, either failing to log information or, on some occasions, maintaining two sets of log books. Fortunately, for accident victims, the FMSCA has regulations that require all commercial trucks and buses to have an electronic logging dev ice (ELD) installed. The ELD logs the number of hour a driver is operating the vehicle.

In addition, most semis and big rigs have what is known as an Event Data Recorder, similar to the black boxes installed in commercial airliners. The EDR gathers a wide array of information, from the number of hours on the road to average speed, use of cruise control, seatbelt usage, whether the driver exceeded speed limits and instances of hard braking or sudden stops.

Contact Our Office Today

Don’t wait another day—evidence may be lost! Your first consultation is free of charge. Contact us by e-mail 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.

We handle all truck accident injury claims on a contingency basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Third Party Actions for Construction Site Injuries

Construction Site Injuries

When you’ve been hurt on a construction site, your first course of action will often be to file a workers’ compensation claim. In many instances, that will be your “exclusive remedy,” which means that your only recourse to recover monetary damages for your losses is through the New Jersey workers’ compensation system.

There are, however, situations where you are not limited by the workers’ compensation laws, where you may file what is known as a “third party claim” in a civil court. Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws are in place to cover situations where there was negligence or carelessness by your employer or a fellow employee. If your injuries were caused entirely by wrongful acts by your employer or a co-worker, then you may only seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim. However, if any unrelated party contributed to or caused your injuries, you may bring a legal action against that unrelated party in a court of law. Some examples of third party liability include:

  • Injuries caused by the careless design or manufacture of tools or equipment on the jobsite
  • Injuries caused in a motor vehicle accident involving a person who is not your employer or a co-employee
  • Injuries caused by workers or vendors at an adjoining work site

There are circumstances, where the injury was caused in part by your employer or a co-employee and in part by a third party, where you can file a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously with a civil suit. However, you cannot recover twice for the same loss—if you recover for medical expenses in a workers’ compensation claim, you can’t recover for those same expenses in a court of law.

Contact Us Now

Don’t run the risk that evidence will be lost— contact us online or call our office today at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We are available evenings and weekends upon request. We’ll also travel to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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