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Accidental or Wrongful Death in New Jersey

Who Qualifies to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Accidental or Wrongful Death in New JerseyThe accidental or wrongful death of anyone can have a devastating impact on a wide range of people—family, friends, associates, and co-workers, just to name a few. New Jersey law allows certain parties to seek financial compensation after the accidental or wrongful death of another person. What are the restrictions on who can file such a claim? Who qualifies to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Only a “Real Party in Interest” Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action

Before determining who qualifies to file a wrongful death claim in New Jersey, it’s important to first distinguish between a wrongful death claim and a survival action. A survival action is filed on behalf of the estate of the decedent and must be brought by the personal representative of the estate. If the person died without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.

A wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, is intended to compensate certain parties for losses suffered because of a wrongful or accidental death. In New Jersey, to qualify to file a wrongful death action, you must demonstrate to the court that you are a “real party in interest.” The New Jersey wrongful death statute lists all persons who can qualify as real parties in interest:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased
  • A surviving child or grandchild of the person who died
  • A surviving parent of the deceased
  • Any surviving nieces, nephews, or siblings of the deceased
  • Any other person who can demonstrate “actual (financial) dependence” on the decedent
  • The above-listed individuals are eligible to file in certain situations. If there is a surviving spouse or surviving children, they have an exclusive right to any wrongful death award. The parents of the person who died can recover compensation only if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children. Nieces, nephews, and siblings may pursue damages only if no spouse, child, or parent of the deceased is still living.

    Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

    Send us an email today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

New Jersey Motor-Vehicle-Accident-Injury Claims

How Does Your Own Negligence Affect a Claim for Injuries?

New Jersey Motor-Vehicle-Accident-Injury ClaimsIn a personal injury lawsuit, one of the primary things to determine is liability—who caused the accident. It’s not uncommon for a number of parties to be at fault, including the injured party. What happens if you contribute to the chain of events that leads to an accident and causes you injury? Do you still have legal recourse? The answer—maybe.

Contributory vs. Comparative Negligence

For centuries, the principle of contributory negligence determined the rights of injured parties. If you engaged in any action that contributed in any way to the accident and your injuries, you were without legal recourse. Under such a rule, the objective of defense counsel was clear—find any way (even the slightest) that the injured party contributed to causing the accident and get the claim dismissed.

The contributory negligence approach often resulted in great inequity; for example, grossly negligent defendants could escape liability entirely by showing an insignificant careless act by the plaintiff. For that reason, New Jersey abandoned contributory negligence and instituted the concept of comparative negligence in personal injury claims.

Under the theory of comparative negligence, the court first determines the full amount of an injured party’s losses. Next, the court determines the extent to which the injured party caused his or her losses, expressed as a percentage of liability. The court then reduces the damage award by that percentage. For example, if the total damages are $1,000,000 and the plaintiff is was 15% responsible, the total damage award will be $850,000 ($1,000,000 minus $150,000).

Modified vs. Pure Comparative Negligence

The 45 states that have adopted comparative negligence principles take two different approaches:

  • Pure comparative negligence—Under this scheme, an injured party always receives something, even if his or her liability is deemed to be greater than that of other parties.
  • Modified comparative negligence—With this approach, an injured party may only recover compensation if his or her fault falls below a certain threshold, typically 50%.

New Jersey follows the modified comparative negligence approach.

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 consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary..

Happy 4th of July 2021

Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Car AccidentsAfter a motor vehicle accident, your first concern should always be your health. You need to make certain you get the medical attention you need, without unnecessary delays. Doing so will give you a better chance of a full physical recovery, and you’ll have less risk that any legal claims will be compromised.

As soon as you’re on the road to physical recovery, you want to retain an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will move quickly to preserve crucial evidence before memories fade or witnesses become unavailable.

In New Jersey, as in all states, a written law known as the “statute of limitations” sets a specific time limit within which certain types of lawsuits must be filed. The statute of limitations varies based on the type of claim—for example, it may be different for a personal injury case than for a breach of contract matter. It can also vary from state to state.

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for motor vehicle accident claims falls under the broader time frame set for all personal injury claims: a lawsuit must be filed “within two years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.” As a general rule, that means a civil complaint must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. If the motor vehicle accident causes a wrongful death, the statute of limitations (still two years) on the wrongful death claim starts to run on the date of death.

In cases where an injury is not immediately apparent, the “discovery rule” applies to the filing of a claim. The discovery rule holds that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injured person actually discovers the injury or would have discovered the injury through the exercise of reasonable diligence.

Effect of Failing to File Before the Statute of Limitations Expires

If you file a complaint after the statute of limitations has run out, the defendant can make the court aware of that failure and ask that the lawsuit be dismissed.

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 consultations are available upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Accidents Involving Company Cars?

What Are Your Rights If You’re Injured by Someone Driving for Work Purposes?

Accidents Involving Company Cars?Say you’re injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in New Jersey, and the accident was caused by the negligence of another person. What if that person was driving a company car or engaged in some work-related errand or task at the time of the accident? Does that change your rights? If so, how?

Employer Liability for Accidents That Occur During Working Hours

As a general rule, if a person is driving for work and causes an accident through carelessness or negligence, the employer can be held liable. If found to be liable, the employer may be required to pay damages for personal injury and property damage sustained in the crash.

The legal doctrine of “respondeat superior” holds that an employer is responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of an employee that cause injury. This doctrine applies to any type of employer and covers losses suffered by other drivers, their passengers, the at-fault driver’s passengers, and pedestrians.

The critical question, when looking at the potential liability of an employer, is the determination of whether the employee was “on the job” at the time of the accident. If the employee was visiting clients, accounts, or other work-related entities, the doctrine of respondeat superior applies, and an injured person may sue both the at-fault driver and the employer. However, if the employee was conducting personal business during work hours—getting lunch, stopping by the post office, or going to a doctor’s appointment, for example—the employer will not be responsible. If, on the other hand, the employee is mixing work-related and personal business—taking company letters to the post office and mailing a personal letter at the same time—the employer is likely to have some liability.

Often, after a motor vehicle accident, one of the most difficult challenges is recovering full and fair compensation for all your losses. If the at-fault party was engaged in work-related business at the time of the collision, you can seek compensation from the company, as well as the employee. That approach can improve your chances of getting damages for all your losses.

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 consultations are available upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Memorial Day 2021: Remember & Honor

Memorial Day 2021: Remember & Honor

Left-Turn Accidents in New Jersey

Is the Person Turning Left Always at Fault?

Left-Turn Accidents in New JerseyA motorist making a left turn must wait until the traffic is clear, and the turn can be safely completed, before proceeding through an intersection. Unfortunately, many motorists get impatient and pull in front of an oncoming vehicle. Is the driver making the turn always responsible for the accident? If not, under what circumstances might the other driver have some liability?

The Legal Principle of Negligence as Applied to Left-Turn Accidents

Under New Jersey law, the person turning left is not always responsible for the accident. Instead, liability is determined based on the legal principle of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that a person’s behavior or actions were not consistent with what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances. With a left-turn accident, a court determines whether attempting to complete the left turn was reasonable, given the distance between the two cars, the speed they were traveling, weather conditions, and other relevant factors.

In the vast majority of left-turn accidents, the person making the turn is found liable. There are, however, a few limited exceptions:

  • When the oncoming car is speeding—This can be difficult to prove. Furthermore, if the driving making the left turn could tell that the other driver was speeding, a jury may determine that it was unreasonable to make the left turn.
  • When the oncoming car runs a red light or stop sign
  • When it appears the turn can be safely completed at the time the driver begins the left turn—This exception involves an intervening circumstance that forces the driver to stop or slow down, e.g., an animal or pedestrian veers into the path of the car turning left.

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.

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.

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