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What Is Loss of Companionship or Consortium in New Jersey?

What Do These Damages Cover? How Are They Calculated?

What Is Loss of Companionship or Consortium in New Jersey?When you’ve suffered any type of personal injury, some of your losses will be easy to identify and calculate—lost wages and unreimbursed medical expenses are typically pretty clear cut. You have a right, though, to full and fair compensation of other types of loss, including damages of loss of consortium. How is loss of consortium defined in New Jersey and how are the losses associated with it calculated?

What Is Loss of Consortium in a Personal Injury Claim?

Loss of consortium is not, in and of itself, a definable physical injury. Instead, it is characterized by a loss of the ability to maintain common physical relations with a spouse because of an injury. For example, if a spouse suffers some level of paralysis as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall and is no longer able to engage in physical or sexual intimacy, that would be the basis for loss of consortium claim.

Is Loss of Consortium the Same Thing as “Loss of Companionship”?

Not exactly. The loss of companionship is a broader claim, which can include loss of comfort, camaraderie, emotional or psychological support or even household services. While a spouse may seek compensation for loss of companionship, other family members may as well. Loss of consortium refers very specifically to the loss of sexual intimacy. A claim for loss of consortium may only be filed by a spouse, though either spouse may claim loss of consortium in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, a surviving spouse may claim loss of consortium as part of a wrongful death action.

How Are Damages Calculated for Loss of Consortium?

Loss of consortium is considered to be a form of “non-economic” damages, which are typically subjective and difficult to determine with any precision. The jury will ultimately calculate the full amount of damages, usually by looking at the severity of the injury, the nature of the injured party’s marital sexual relationship before the accident, and the impact the injury will have on continued physical intimacy.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send as an e-mail today or call as at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal accident injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Who Determines the Amount of Your Recovery? How Are Damages Calculated?

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury LawsuitWhen you’ve been hurt in any type of an accident, as a result of someone else’s careless or negligent act, you have a right to seek full and fair compensation for all your losses. That typically includes what are commonly referred to as “economic losses,” such as lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, and damaged or destroyed personal property. These types of losses are, for the most part, easy to calculate, typically based on wage statements, repair estimates or medical bills. There are, however, other damages potentially available in a personal injury claim, losses that are significantly more uncertain and more difficult to calculate. Known as “non-economic” damages, these losses include pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a legal term used to describe any type of mental, emotional or physical discomfort experienced as a consequence of another person’s wrongful act. Pain and suffering includes any immediate trauma, soreness, aching, spasms, itching, twitching, throbbing or other physical manifestations of discomfort. It can also include fear, anxiety, stress, depression, anger and a host of other psychological, mental or emotional responses.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

While pain and suffering has tangible consequences, it is often difficult to treat with procedures or medications whose costs can easily be established. In addition, damages for pain and suffering also typically include compensation for the inability to engage in certain activities because of the pain. Accordingly, pain and suffering can rarely, if ever, be calculated by any tangible means. As a consequence, courts have taken a couple of different approaches to the calculation of compensation for pain and suffering:

  • The use of a multiplier—Many courts will ask the jury to first determine the economic, or tangible, losses and then apply a “multiplier” to calculate non-economic damages. For example, the jury may determine that the injured party had $500,000 in lost wages and another $500,000 in unpaid medical expenses. Using a factor of 1.5, the jury would multiply the total economic damage award ($1,000,000) by the factor and assess non-economic damages at $1,500,000.
  • The calculation of a “reasonable amount” for pain and suffering—Other courts instruct jurors to calculate a reasonable amount for non-economic damages, based on the severity of the injuries and the culpability of the defendant.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Motorcycle Safety in New Jersey Winters

Staying Safe While Staying on Your Bike in Snowy and Icy Weather

Motorcycle Safety in New Jersey WintersIt takes a hardy soul to travel by motorcycle in New Jersey in the winter. But that comes natural for most people who love to ride a motorcycle. You’re not about to let a cold wind keep you off the roads. You do, however, want to take some extra precautions to minimize the risk of injury when motoring on snow and/or ice.

  • Winterize your bike—Just a few minor modifications can greatly improve your safety. Make certain you have a good-sized windscreen, something that will keep the snow out of your eyes. Good hand guards can also keep the polar winds off your hands. The hoses on your bike can take a beating in cold weather, so check them before you head out. Always check your tires—the rubber can get really hard in cold temps, providing less traction. In addition, the cold weather will lead to a loss of tire pressure.
  • Wear the proper gear—Remember the rhyme—ears, nose, fingers, and toes. Those are the body parts most susceptible to cold (and potentially to frostbite). Make certain you have good gloves and boots, and that your helmet protects your nose and ears. Layering is the best way to stay warm, and make certain your gear is waterproof.
  • Give yourself more room—You’ll typically need more distance to come to a complete stop. In addition, when you’re turning a corner, don’t take it as tightly as you would at other times of the year.
  • Pay closer attention—Some of the hazards in the winter can be virtually invisible—take black ice, for example. It’s commonly caused when the exhaust from other vehicles freezes upon contact with cold pavement. It’s microscopically thin, but can take you down in an instant.
  • Stay home if conditions warrant—There are times when even the most intrepid soul should stay home. Heavy snow or freezing rain/sleet will almost always be dangerous when you’re on a motorcycle.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your motor vehicle accident injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

What Types of Evidence Are Commonly Used in Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits?

How Is Fault Typically Established in a Car Accident Claim?

What Types of Evidence Are Commonly Used in Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits?When you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have a right to seek full and fair compensation for all your losses. To successfully recover damages, you must introduce evidence to convince the jury that the defendant’s carelessness or negligence caused your injury. What are the common types of evidence used to prove such an allegation?

The Different Types of Evidence in Auto Accident Cases

There are generally four important types of evidence commonly introduced in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit:

  • Evidence gathered at the scene and time of the accident, primarily related to the cause of the accident
  • Evidence gathered at the scene, but after the accident,
  • Evidence of physical injuries sustained, typically gathered in the days, weeks, months and even years following the accident
  • Evidence of any other losses, from property damage to loss of enjoyment of life or loss of companionship or consortium

The Types of Evidence Obtained at the Scene of the Accident

The evidence collected at the scene and in the immediate aftermath of the crash can include such basic things as name and contact information for all parties to the accident, as well as any eyewitnesses. You can also get pictures of your injuries, damage to vehicles, weather conditions or roadway defects.

Evidence can still be gathered after the accident is cleaned up, though. Experts may come in and measure skid marks as a part of accident reconstruction. Roadway defects, such as broken signs or negligent roadway design, can also be determined after the accident.

Evidence about Your Physical Injuries

Most evidence related to your physical injuries will come from medical professionals. You will likely introduce evidence from your doctors, but the defendant may also ask that you submit to a physical examination. Medical experts may be called upon to testify regarding the long-term prospects for care and recovery.

Evidence about Other Types of Losses

Property damage is typically established through pictures, repair bills or costs of replacement of lost items. Loss of enjoyment of life or loss of companionship/consortium may come through your own personal testimony or from the testimony of others.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in New Jersey?

Can You Still Get Compensation If You Don’t Report the Accident?

Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in New Jersey?It used to be a given…when you were in a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you did was call the police, who would come and file a report. That doesn’t happen as much anymore. Drivers may not want to spend the time it takes to wait of law enforcement officers to arrive, so they’ll exchange contact information and notify their own insurance companies. Are you required to report a car, truck or motorcycle accident in New Jersey? If so, when?

The New Jersey Laws Regarding Reporting Car Accidents

New Jersey law does not mandate that every motor vehicle accident be reported. Instead, there are specific instances where notifying law enforcement agencies is required:

  • Where the accident causes the death of any person
  • Where the accident causes injury to a driver, passenger or pedestrian
  • Where the property damage caused by the accident exceeds $500

Under the law, when you are required to notify the police, you must do so by the “quickest means available.” The accident must be reported to one of the following agencies:

  • The New Jersey State Police
  • The nearest county law enforcement offices
  • The appropriate municipal police department

What Happens If You Fail to Report the Accident?

There are criminal sanctions for wrongfully failing to report an accident, including fines (generally not exceeding $100) and potential suspension or revocation of driving privileges or vehicle registration.

Failing to report the accident will not, however, prevent you from seeking compensation in a personal injury claim arising out of the accident. While a police report may be persuasive evidence in a personal injury lawsuit, it is not required. Liability can be established by eyewitness testimony or by other evidence.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your motor vehicle accident injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

An Auto Owner’s Duties in Winter Weather in New Jersey

What Must a Vehicle Owner Do to Avoid Liability for Negligence?

An Auto Owner’s Duties in Winter Weather in New JerseyIt’s November and that means that, any day now, there could be snow on the ground in New Jersey…and on the windshields and hoods of cars. The roads will be more treacherous, with accumulations of snow and ice making it more difficult to stop and turn. What are the responsibilities of motor vehicle owners in New Jersey’s winter weather? When can a driver be liable for injuries caused in an accident?

The Standard of Care in New Jersey’s Winter Weather

It’s important to understand that, while the standard of care doesn’t actually change during the winter, the exercise of the standard of care does. At any time and in any weather, a driver must act as a reasonable person would “under the circumstances.” Because the circumstances change in New Jersey when it snows…roads become slippery, vision may be impaired by falling snow, or windshields by accumulate condensation or ice…a driver has to respond differently than during the rest of year. That typically means reducing speed, increasing distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and paying closer attention when turning or changing lanes.

There are no specific rules in New Jersey governing the conduct of drivers in snowy or icy winter weather. Instead, a jury will typically look at the evidence and make a determination whether the actions of a driver were reasonable.

Must a Driver Keep His or Her Car Free of Snow and Ice?

When determining whether a defendant caused an accident, a jury may consider the failure to remove snow or ice from a windshield or hood as evidence of negligence. However, the State of New Jersey has also enacted a written law requiring that all motorists take the time to remove snow and ice from the hood, roof and windows of a car, both before getting behind the wheel and while driving, if the accumulation interferes with the driver’s vision of the road. Violation of this law can result in fines of anywhere from $25 to $1,000.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

What Is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in New Jersey?

Can You Recover Compensation for Fear, Stress, Anxiety or Anguish Caused by an Accident?

What Is Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in New JerseyIf you have been involved in any type of accident, you know that the injuries are often more than physical. You may have witnessed horrific injury to others, including those you love. You may have scars or disfigurement that carry significant emotional pain. You may relive the accident and have fears of getting in a motor vehicle or passing by a neighbor’s dog. Can you recover compensation in New Jersey for your emotional trauma, particularly when it was a result of someone else’s careless or negligent act?

What Is Emotional Distress in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, any mental suffering that arises as a consequence of an accident may be considered “emotional distress.” Such a response may be characterized by a wide range of behaviors, including fear, anger, nervousness and anxiety. It’s typically not the same thing as depression, though depression can be a symptom of emotional distress.

What Makes the Infliction of Emotional Distress Negligent?

In New Jersey, infliction of emotional distress may be intentional or it may be negligent. To establish negligent infliction of emotional distress, an injured person must show that:

  • The defendant (person from whom compensation is sought) had a duty not to engage in behavior that posed an unreasonable risk of emotional harm to another person (you, in this case)
  • The defendant failed to meet that standard, doing things that a reasonable person would expect to cause severe emotional distress
  • Because of the defendant’s failure to act reasonably, you suffered emotional distress

In New Jersey, a person may recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress either as the victim or as a bystander who witnessed events that led to emotional distress. To be eligible for compensation as a bystander, you must prove that:

  • The defendant acted negligently, causing serious injury or death to another person
  • The victim was either your spouse or a close family member
  • You personally witnessed the serious bodily injury or death of the spouse or close family member
  • Witnessing the event has caused you severe emotional distress

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

What Happens in New Jersey if You Cause Some of Your Own Injuries?

The Comparative Negligence Approach in New Jersey

What Happens in New Jersey if You Cause Some of Your Own Injuries?You’re running late for an appointment and driving faster than you should be. Another motorist, perhaps misjudging your speed, fails to yield to your right of way and collides with you. The accident would not have occurred if the other motorist had obeyed the law, but it also would not have occurred if you weren’t speeding. Can you still seek compensation for your losses?

How New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Laws Work

Before 1970, New Jersey (like many other states) applied the principle of contributory negligence when both parties had some responsibility for causing an accident. Under that approach, a person who contributed in any way to causing an accident could not recover compensation of any kind. Because of the often unfair results that this brought, New Jersey replaced contributory negligence with comparative negligence.

Under the comparative negligence approach, the court first ascertains the full amount of the losses suffered by the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit). Once those damages have been calculated, the jury then determines the degree to which the plaintiff was responsible for causing the collision. The full measure of damages is then reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of liability.

For example, suppose you were hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, and the jury calculates your losses at $500,000. The jury also determines that you were 40% responsible for bringing about the accident. Your damage award will then be reduced by $200,000 (40 percent of $500,000).

New Jersey has adopted the form of comparative negligence known as modified comparative negligence. That means that, as the injured party, your liability must have been less than that of the defendant. If your liability is greater than 50%, you cannot recover anything.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Do You Have to Pay Income Taxes on a Personal Injury Award?

Is a Settlement or Verdict Taxable? If So, When?

Do You Have to Pay Income Taxes on a Personal Injury Award?You’ve suffered injuries in a car wreck or tripped on a hazard on residential or commercial property. You’ve been unable to work, you’ve had significant medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance or you’ve had to stop doing some of the things you love because of your injuries. You have a right to full and fair compensation for your losses. If you accept a settlement or win a jury verdict, will any of the money you receive be taxable? Let’s take a look at how the IRS treats personal injury awards.

The Key Issue—What Are the Damages Intended to Cover?

When assessing whether a damage award is taxable, the first question that tax authorities will ask is “what losses is the damage award replacing?” Remember that you have the right to seek full and fair compensation for:

  • Unearned wages or income because of the accident
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses arising out of the incident
  • Any physical and mental pain and suffering related to your injuries or the accident
  • Your loss of companionship or consortium
  • Your inability to do the things that you enjoyed doing before the accident
  • Any property damage or loss

You Don’t Have to Pay Taxes When the Compensation is for Physical Injury

As a general rule, if your settlement or verdict is intended to compensate you for a physical injury or illness, you won’t have to include it in your taxable income. Even those losses which are not, in and of themselves, physical injuries, such as loss of enjoyment of life or loss of companionship, won’t be taxable if they were the result of your physical injuries.

You Will Have to Pay Tax on Any Damage Award for Emotional or Mental Injury or Distress

On the other hand, any part of a settlement or verdict designed to compensate you for anxiety, distress or other mental injury will be taxable, unless you can prove that the emotional injury was directly caused by some physical injury. An award for scarring or disfigurement from an animal attack that causes you emotional distress likely won’t be taxable.

You Must Pay Taxes on Any Punitive Damages Received

Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages, as they are not related to your injuries, but are intended as a form of punishment for the wrongdoer. They are generally taxable.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

How Is Evidence Gathered in a Personal Injury Case?

How Will Your Attorney Find Support for Your Claims?

how-is-evidence-gathered-in-a-personal-injury-case-imgWhen you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s carelessness, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit to recover for all injury and loss you suffered. You may be able to settle your claim without going to court, but if there’s a trial, you’ll need evidence to convince the jury of your arguments. How does your attorney gather that evidence?

Discovery in a Personal Injury Case

As a part of the legal process in a personal injury lawsuit, the parties engage in what the law refers to as “discovery.” The official discovery phase of a lawsuit typically begins shortly after the initial complaint and answer have been filed. The judge will customarily schedule a meeting with all parties and their lawyers, determine whether settlement if a possibility, and set forth the rules and time parameters for discovery.

It’s important to understand that there’s nothing that prevents either party from conducting an investigation or hiring a private detective/investigator to look into the details of the accident. The court will typically not be involved in that type of evidence gathering. Instead, the three common discovery tools that the court uses (and oversees) are:

  • Depositions—A deposition is the examination of a witness or party. Attorneys for both sides will be present for the questioning of the witness and there will customarily be a court reporter present to transcribe all testimony. The proceeding does not, however, take place in court—it’s often in the offices of one of the attorneys. Attorneys for any party to the litigation will have the opportunity to ask questions. Furthermore, while the rules of evidence apply to any questions or statements, any objections typically won’t be ruled on immediately, as there is no judge present. Parties must, however, register their objections and the court will typically rule on those objections before deposition testimony is admitted in court.
  • Interrogatories—These are written questions submitted by one party to another. The court will customarily establish limits on the number of interrogatories, so that one side can’t overburden the other or cause unnecessary expense.
  • Requests for production—Parties to the litigation may ask to see documents or physical evidence

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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