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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!

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part One

Injury-Work-Related

Injuries Suffered on a Work Break | Injuries Suffered While Traveling

In New Jersey, when you have been injured on the job, you have a right to seek disability payments for any time lost from work, as well as reimbursement or payment of medical expenses resulting from the injury. The New Jersey workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” based system. That means that you don’t have to show that your employer was negligent (see our earlier series on proving negligence). Instead, there are just two requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey—that you were hurt and that the injury occurred while you were working.

In most instances, it’s pretty clear that you meet the tests. If you fell off a ladder or were hurt when a machine, tool or piece of equipment broke down, there’s little question that you were in the performance of your duties. But there are circumstances where that determination may not be as clear. In this three-part series of blogs, we will look at some of those gray areas.

Injuries Suffered While On a Break

Under state and federal labor laws, employees are generally entitled to periodic breaks, including some type of meal break. While you are on such a break, you’re not actually at your desk or machine. Does that mean that you’re not working?

As a general rule, the answer is no. If your injury occurs during the course of a regularly scheduled break, you typically don’t lose eligibility. For example, if you slip on a wet floor in the break room or are injured when a chair or table collapses, you’ll usually be covered. Exceptions may include when you are engaged in unauthorized horseplay or conduct that’s in violation of established company rules.

With a lunch break, the determining factor is typically whether or not you leave company premises. If you are injured in the company cafeteria or on company property while on a meal break, you are customarily still able to recover workers’ compensation. If you leave company property, though, you lose the right to file a workers’ compensation for any injury suffered once you leave the premises and until you re-enter company property. If, however, you are on company business while on a lunch break—getting food for others or performing some work-related function—you can still claim workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained.

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 Halloween!

Happy Halloween! 2018

What Is Negligence?—Part Three

Demonstrating Actual Loss

As we discussed in the first and second parts of this series, the initial requirements in a lawsuit alleging negligence are:

  • Evidence that would lead the jury to conclude that the defendant did not act reasonably under the circumstances (the conduct breached the duty of care)
  • The failure to act reasonably caused an accident

However, you can demonstrate conclusively that the at-fault party behaved unreasonably and that his or her actions caused an accident, but still be precluded from recovering any compensation in a personal injury lawsuit—you must also show that you suffered some actual loss.

Actual Loss in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

As a general rule, most damages paid in a personal injury suit are “compensatory,” i.e., intended to compensate the injured party for losses suffered. If, however, you haven’t suffered any loss, there’s nothing for which you need to be compensated. For example, assume that you were a motor vehicle accident and suffered bodily injury, incurring significant medical expenses. If those expenses are covered by your health or auto insurance policy, you won’t be able to recover any damages for medical expenses, as you haven’t had any out-of-pocket expense for medical care.

That’s not to say that the defendant won’t be responsible to someone for his or her negligence. In most instances, when an insurance company covers losses that you’ve suffered because of someone else’s carelessness, they have a right to seek reimbursement from the defendant for any amounts they’ve paid on your behalf.

It’s also important to understand that there’s another category of damages that are available in a personal injury action. These so-called “non-compensatory” or “non-economic” damages include payment for pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship and loss of enjoyment of life. Accordingly, you may not be able to recover damages for injuries covered by insurance, but you can still seek compensation for those non-economic 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 meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

What Is Negligence—Part Two

Establishing Who Caused the Accident

As we explained in part one of this series, when you’ve been injured in any type of accident and have filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, the first element you’ll have to prove is that the wrongdoer (known as the “defendant”) failed to meet the recognized standard of care—that he or she acted unreasonably under the circumstances. But it’s not enough to show that the defendant breached the duty of care—you must then show a causal link between the breach of the duty of care and an accident.

The Different Types of Cause in a Personal Injury Claim

In any lawsuit alleging negligence, you must prove two different types of cause: actual cause and proximate cause.

Actual cause, also known as “but for” cause, is typically pretty straightforward. It simply asks whether the accident would have happened “but for” or in the absence of the wrongful conduct. Actual cause can become an issue when there are two or more parties who acted wrongfully. For example, if you are rear-ended at a stop sign and it pushes you out into an intersection, where you are t-boned by another driver who has just run a stop sign, there are two ways to look at actual cause:

  • Would you have been t-boned if you hadn’t been rear-ended first?
  • Would you have been t-boned if the second driver hadn’t run the stop sign?

It’s not enough, though, to demonstrate actual cause—you must also show proximate cause. Proximate cause asks whether the accident and its consequences were reasonably foreseeable, based on the careless act. For example, if you run a red light, it may be reasonably foreseeable that you will collide with another driver. However, if that driver loses control of his vehicle, careens into a gas station, hits a pump and causes a fire that burns an entire city block, you may not be liable for damages caused by the fire, as a jury may not consider that to be reasonably foreseeable.

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.

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