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Your Remedies in New Jersey after Home Improvement Fraud

The Protections Provided by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

Improvement FraudIt seems there are few things in life more challenging, frustrating and often unsatisfactory than home improvement projects. It doesn’t seem like it should be that complicated, but home remodeling and improvement efforts are frequently rife with delays, shoddy work, mistakes and outright fraud.

In New Jersey, there’s good news—there’s a law that specifically applies to home improvement agreements. It can give you the legal tools you need to combat unnecessary delays, construction defects, disputes over performance, and overcharging.

What Is the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act?

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA) is a written law, applicable to the sale of goods, services and real estate, that bans “unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the knowing concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact.” The courts in New Jersey have held that home improvement contracts are particularly prone to instances of consumer fraud. Accordingly, extensive regulations have been adopted governing home improvement contracts. For example, the NJCFA requires that all home improvement agreements and any change orders be in writing and signed by both parties. Contractors must also provide detailed information, including, among other things:

  • A contractor registration number
  • A telephone number for the contractor’s insurer
  • A description of work to be done and materials to be used
  • The total purchase price, including any finance charges
  • The date the project will begin and the date it is expected to be completed
  • A written copy of any warranty or guarantee offered
  • Notification of the customer’s three-day right to cancel

The Requirements for a Legal Claim under the NJCFA

To prevail on a claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, you must show three things:

  • The contractor engaged in an illegal or prohibited practice
  • The engagement in that act caused you to suffer losses
  • Your losses can be ascertained

The act may involve affirmative conduct, a known omission or failure to act, or a violation of an administrative regulation.

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.

Proving that a Death Was Wrongful

The Requirements for Recovering Compensation after the Death of Another Person

Recovering Compensation When your family member dies because of the wrongful act of another person, you have the right to seek damages for all your losses. You can seek compensation for the intentional killing of a loved one, but, as a practical matter, most wrongful death actions are based on allegations of negligence.

As the party initiating a legal claim, you will have the “burden of proof.” Under the laws of New Jersey, that means that you must produce evidence that would lead a jury to rule in your favor. With any personal injury claim, including wrongful death lawsuits, the burden of proof is established as “a mere preponderance of the evidence.” In essence, that means that you must demonstrate to the finder of fact (usually the jury) that your presentation of the facts has more credibility and weight than the defendant’s version of what happened. It’s a considerably lower burden of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard in criminal proceedings.

A wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury claim. When brought under a theory of negligence, it requires a showing that:

  • The at-fault party did not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances (in legal terminology, the defendant breached the duty of care)
  • The breach of the duty of care was both the actual and the proximate cause of an accident—the accident would not have happened “but for” the defendant’s conduct; and the accident was reasonably foreseeable as a result of the breach of the duty of care
  • You suffered actual losses—Your losses were not covered by insurance or were not to items that had no value.

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.

Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?

Determining Potentially Liable Parties after an Accidental Death

an Accidental DeathIn the aftermath of an accidental death, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. You know that no amount of money can bring your loved one back, or can fully compensate you for all that you’ve lost. Nonetheless, you have a right to hold a careless or negligent person responsible for the devastating impact a wrongful death can have on your life.

Because wrongful death claims are typically based on negligence, one of the first steps in pursuing damages for the accidental death of a loved one is to determine who caused the accident. Because many factors can contribute to the circumstances that lead to an accident, it’s not uncommon to discover that more than one person had some degree of liability. In New Jersey, as in other states, you can bring a lawsuit against any and all parties who contributed to causing the accident that claimed the life of your loved one.

In addition, there are also a number of situations where you may be able to bring a lawsuit against a person or entity not directly involved in the accident that caused the death of your loved one:

  • Under the legal theory of product liability, any entity within the chain of distribution of a product may have liability for injuries caused by a dangerous or defective item. That includes the designer, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer.
  • If your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault party was working at the time of the accident, that person’s employer may potentially have liability for your losses.
  • Under dram shop and social host liability laws, a person or business that serves or sells alcohol to someone who subsequently causes injury to others can have legal responsibility.

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.

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.

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