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Gathering Evidence in a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuit

How Your Lawyer Finds Evidence to Support Your Claim

Motorcycle and helmet on the street after dangerous traffic inciWhen you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. If your case goes to trial, your attorney will need to introduce evidence to support your claims. Ultimately, if a jury finds your evidence more compelling and believable than the defendant’s evidence, they will likely rule in your favor.

How do attorneys gather evidence in a personal injury case? Let’s look at some of the tools for learning more about how your accident occurred.

Basic Methods for Gathering Evidence

Initially, your attorney will carefully walk through the facts with you, gathering information about your observations, as well as whether there were any witnesses to the accident. Your attorney may contact a witness directly, provided he or she is not a party to the litigation. However, before you go to trial, you will have to disclose any potential witnesses at trial. When you do, opposing counsel ha the right to schedule depositions of those witnesses.
In many accident claims, an attorney will bring in an expert witness, who may travel to the scene of the accident to gather evidence. If that expert will be called at trial, his or her name must be made available to all other parties.
It’s also fairly common for your lawyer to hire a private investigator. Remember, though, that if the investigator locates a witness who will support your claims and you intend to call that witness at trial, you will have to disclose that person’s name to all other parties in the litigation.

Tools Available through the Court

There are three common tools available through the courts to help your lawyer gather evidence:

  • Depositions—A deposition is the examination of a witness outside of court, but with a court reporter present to record all questions and answers. A witness may be compelled (by subpoena) to appear at a deposition. All parties to the litigation will have the opportunity to question any witness at a deposition.
  • Interrogatories—These are written questions submitted by one party to another party. The court can typically compel a party to answer interrogatories, but will also commonly place a limit on the number of questions allowed.
  • Requests for production—A party to a lawsuit may ask the court to require that another party produce physical evidence, typically documents. However, a request for production may also apply to other 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.

The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury in New Jersey

What Is the Statute of Limitations? What Is Its Purpose?

the-statute-of-limitations-on-personal-injury-in-new-jerseyWhen you have been injured in New Jersey because of the wrongful, careless or negligent acts of another person or entity, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for a wide range of losses, including:

  • Lost income or wages
  • Any medical expenses not covered by insurance or otherwise paid Any pain and suffering you experience as a result of your injuries
  • The loss of enjoyment of life—the ability to engage in normal activities of daily life or to do things that brought you joy or fulfillment before your injuries
  • The loss of companionship or consortium caused by your injuries

It’s important to understand, though, that you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to bring a legal claim. Your right to file a lawsuit is governed by a written law, known as the “statute of limitations,” which requires that your complaint be filed within a certain amount of time. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations requires that you initiate your lawsuit within two years of the date you sustained those injuries. However, if you could not reasonably “discover” your injuries until sometime after the accident, the period of time within which you can file the lawsuit may be extended or “tolled” until you reasonably discover them.

What Is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations serves a number of purposes:

  • It ensures that evidence is gathered while memories are still fresh
  • It minimizes the risk of loss of evidence due to the death or relocation of witnesses or the destruction of physical evidence
  • It ensures that a defendant will not have to spend an unreasonable amount of time in fear of a potential lawsuit

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.

Common Defenses in a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuit

The Tactics a Defendant May Use to Deny or Diminish Your Claim

Common Defenses in a New Jersey Personal Injury LawsuitOften, when you’ve been injured because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, your legal claim can seem like an open and shut case. There are, however, a number of defenses that the at-fault party and his/her legal counsel may raise to try to minimize your claim.

Contributory or Comparative Negligence

In essence, this defense argues that you had some liability—that your actions contributed to or caused the accident in some way. Under the old legal concept of contributory negligence, if you were found liable to any degree, you could not recover anything for your losses. New Jersey now follows the “modified comparative negligence” rule, which allows you to recover something unless your liability was greater than 50%.

Your Injuries Were Pre-Existing

This argument contends that the defendant did not cause your injuries—they were sustained in some earlier incident. If you’ve had a similar injury in the past, you can expect defense attorneys to exhaustively review your medical records and look for evidence of other events or factors at or around the time of the accident that can be alleged to have caused your injuries. Be aware that you can recover compensation if the defendant’s negligence aggravated or worsened a pre-existing condition.

You Assumed the Risk of Injury

This defense is customarily raised when you are injured while engaging in an “inherently dangerous” activity. To succeed with such an argument, the defense must typically prove that you had actual knowledge of the risks involved and you voluntarily assumed them.

You Waived Your Right to Recover for Your Losses

If you were required to sign a release form before participating in the activity that caused your injury, the defense may waive that paper in front of the jury. As a general rule, the courts are reluctant to enforce these waivers if they are overbroad or will bring about an unfair result.

Your Claim Was Barred by the Statute of Limitations

In New Jersey, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of your injury or it may be barred. However, the time period may be extended if your injury was not reasonably discoverable.

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.

The Different Types of Damages Available in a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuit

What Losses Can You Recover after Someone Else’s Negligence?

The Different Types of Damages Available in a New Jersey Personal Injury LawsuitSomeone else acts carelessly, causing an accident and you are involved. You have a right to file a legal claim to recover for any actual losses resulting from the other person’s wrongful acts. What specific losses can you ask for in a personal injury lawsuit?

The Damages Available in a Personal Injury Case

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have a right to ask the court to award “damages,” a legal term that refers to monetary compensation. As a general rule, there are two broad categories of damages—compensatory damages and punitive damages. Punitive damages, designed to punish the at-fault party and to serve as a disincentive to others who might engage in similar behavior, are rarely awarded in personal injury lawsuits.

Compensatory damages, however, are common in personal injury claims. These damages are intended to reimburse an injured party for any actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the accident, or to confer a monetary value for other types of losses that may not be as easy to calculate.

Compensatory damages are generally identified as either “economic” damages or “non-economic” damages.

Economic damages are those that are tangible and relatively easy to calculate. In a personal injury lawsuit, they include compensation for lost wages or income caused by the accident, for unreimbursed medical expenses (not covered by insurance) resulting from the accident, and for any property loss or damage sustained.

Non-economic damages are generally less tangible and more difficult to calculate precisely. They include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering—Physical and emotional discomfort or distress caused by an accident or by injuries suffered
  • Loss of companionship or consortium—The inability to be physically close or intimate with family members or loved ones
  • Loss of enjoyment of life—Loss of the ability to enjoy the ordinary activities of daily life or to participate in activities that formerly gave the injured party joy, fulfillment or happiness

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.

Injuries to Motorcycle Passengers in New Jersey

Your Right to Recover Compensation for Your Losses

Injuries to Motorcycle Passengers in New JerseyThere’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting on a motorcycle on a warm summer day, out on the open road with the wind in your face. It’s a feeling of freedom you won’t find through any other experience. There are inherent risks to riding a bike, whether you’re operating it or along as a passenger, but that’s a part of the allure. When you’re a passenger, though, and the person you’re riding is involved in an accident, the consequences can be serious. What are your options as a passenger in the aftermath of a motorcycle wreck? Where can you turn for compensation for your losses?

The Legal Concept of Negligence

With a motorcycle accident claim, as with almost all personal injury claims, the legal theory supporting your right to damages (compensation for your losses) is negligence. You can typically bring legal action against anyone whose negligence led to your injuries. To prove negligence, you must show that:

  • The defendant (person from whom you seek compensation) did not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. In a motorcycle accident, that may involve speeding, failing to stop at a stop light or stop sign, lane swapping or making an illegal lane change, failing to take weather or road conditions into consideration or failing to properly maintain or operate a bike (among other things)
  • The failure to act reasonably caused an accident
  • You suffered actual losses as a result of the accident

Potential Defendants When You Have Been Injured as a Passenger on a Motorcycle

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can seek damages from anyone with potential liability, including:

  • The operator of another motor vehicle who engaged in negligence (failed to stop, turned into the path of the motorcycle, hit you from behind, etc.)
  • The operator of the bike you were on (if he or she failed to act reasonably)
  • The manufacturer of the bike or of any component part, if the accident was caused by a dangerous or defective product
  • The municipality, if the road was not properly maintained, causing the accident
  • The person or establishment providing alcohol or drugs, if you were injured by an impaired driver

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 Strict Liability in a Personal Injury Claim?

How Is It Different from Negligence?

What Is Strict Liability in a Personal Injury Claim?In most personal injury claims in New Jersey, the legal theory supporting your right to recover compensation is negligence. There are, however, certain circumstances where a different standard, known as “strict liability,” applies. What is strict liability and how is it distinguished from negligence.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is a legal principle that has developed over hundreds of years. To establish negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove three things:

  • That the person from whom you seek compensation did not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances (in legal terms, this is referred to as a “breach of the duty of care)
  • That the failure to act reasonably caused an event or accident
  • That, as a result of the event or accident, you suffered actual losses

The rules governing negligence are generally found in the “common law,” in opinions written by judges.

What Is Strict Liability?

Unlike the laws of negligence, the laws governing and establishing strict liability are generally found in statutes, written laws enacted by legislative bodies. The principle of strict liability evolved as lawmakers identified certain types of activities, which, by their inherently dangerous nature, created a greater risk of injury to innocent bystanders and thereby imposed a greater duty on those who engaged in them. Common examples include manufacturing and selling fireworks, transporting hazardous materials, and harboring or owning wild or dangerous animals. In fact, the state of New Jersey imposes strict liability on dog owners.

Why Is Strict Liability Important?

With cases governed by strict liability, there’s generally no requirement that the injured party show carelessness or negligence. Typically, you must only show that the defendant (person from whom you seek compensation) met the requirements of the statute. For example, in New Jersey, to recover damages after a dog bite, you need only show that the defendant owned or controlled the dog that bit you. You don’t need to prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the dog would act aggressively toward a human. You don’t have to show any history of aggressive behavior. You need only show that you were on public property (or legally on private property) and that you did not provoke the dog.

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.

Proving Medical Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Recovering for Past and Future Medical Treatment after an Accident

Proving Medical Damages in a Personal Injury LawsuitWhen you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have a right to seek reimbursement for any medical expenses not covered by insurance or otherwise paid, including both those already incurred and any you may need in the future as a result of your injuries. How do you prove to a judge and jury exactly what your unreimbursed medical bills have been and, more importantly, what projected medical expenses you can anticipate in the weeks, months and years ahead?

Establishing Past Medical Expenses

Proving past medical expenses is a pretty straightforward process. These types of damages, known as “economic” damages, are typically established through documentary evidence, such as medical bills or receipts for medication or other products needed to treat your injuries. Of course, you’ll have to introduce evidence demonstrating that the expenses were incurred because of the accident caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Establishing Projected Future Medical Costs

This is a far more complicated process, as you won’t have any documentary evidence at the time of trial (or settlement). Perhaps the most common way of introducing and establishing potential medical expenses is through medical testimony. That testimony may come from your primary care or personal physician, if the injuries you have suffered are the kind that he or she commonly treats.

If they are outside of your doctor’s area of specialty or practice, your attorney will often bring in an expert witness, someone with extensive knowledge of the long-term consequences of your injuries. As a general rule, your attorney will need to introduce evidence of the witness’s expertise, so that the court can qualify him or her as an expert.

There are two important things you need to remember about future medical expenses:

  • If you receive a lump sum settlement or verdict, the total amount will typically be discounted to the “present value” of all potential costs, assuming a certain interest rate
  • You won’t have to prove future medical expenses beyond a reasonable doubt—In a civil lawsuit, you only need to show that the losses you project are more likely than not to occur.

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.

The Calculation of Damages for Pain and Suffering

How a Jury Determines the Monetary Value of Physical and Emotional Distress

The Calculation of Damages for Pain and SufferingWhen you have been involved in any type of accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have a right to seek monetary compensation for any loss of injury resulting from the wrongful actions. Some of those losses are easy to calculate, such as lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses and property damages—those losses are commonly referred to as “economic losses.” You also have a right to recover damages for less tangible losses, including loss of companionship/consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a legal term used to describe physical and/or emotional stress resulting from an accident/injury. The types of discomfort that are compensable include aches, temporary or chronic physical irritation or soreness, temporary or permanent limitations on physical or mental abilities, limitations on length of life, depression or permanent scarring.

How Does a Jury Calculate Damages for Pain and Suffering?

Damages for pain and suffering are what are referred to as “non-economic” damages. These kinds of damages are intangible and difficult to calculate. Accordingly, judges and juries take different approaches to determine damage awards for pain and suffering:

  • Some use a “multiplier,” where they calculate the amount of economic damages and multiply it by a factor, typically between one and ten. For example, if damages for lost wages, medical expenses and property damage total $50,000, a jury may apply a factor of three (just an example) and multiply 3 x $50,000 and award $150,000 for pain and suffering.
  • Many judges instruct jurors to use their judgment to identify a “reasonable” amount of compensation for pain and suffering, based on the severity of the injury and the type of pain associated with it

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.

The Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

What Losses Can You Recover through Legal Action?

The Damages Available in a Personal Injury LawsuitWhen you have been hurt in any kind of accident, as a result of the wrongful acts of another person, you have a right to seek compensation for injury losses suffered as a consequence. What types of losses can you seek to recover?

In a personal injury lawsuit, there are generally six different types of damages available:

  • Lost wages or income—If your injury prevents you from working, either temporarily or permanently, you have a right to ask the defendant to reimburse you for any lost income. Future losses will typically be calculated based on a reasonable date of retirement.
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses—You cannot recover for any medical bills that are covered by insurance, but you have a right to ask the defendant to pay those costs that are uninsured. That may include retrofitting your home or car to accommodate a permanent injury
  • Physical pain and suffering—You have a right to compensation for any physical pain or discomfort caused by or related to an accident caused by someone else’s wrongful act.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life—If you are unable to engage in certain activities because of your injuries (including situations where the pain associated with those injuries makes if difficult or impossible to do certain things), you can recover compensation. Those activities may be simple functions of daily life, such as walking, sitting, bending, standing or lying down. They can also include activities that you previously engaged in, such as hobbies or recreational activities, that you can no longer enjoy because of your injuries.
  • Loss of companionship or consortium—Loss of consortium is the inability to be in an intimate relationship with a partner. Loss of companionship includes the loss of camaraderie, guidance, love, affection or other close human relationships.
  • Property damage or loss—If you lost or suffered damage to personal property, you have a right to compensation to either repair or replace that property

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.

Liability for “No Contact” Motorcycle Accidents

Can A Motorist Be Found Liable for Injuries if There Was No Collision?

Liability for “No Contact” Motorcycle AccidentsYou’re out riding your motorcycle on a beautiful spring day in New Jersey. Another motorist makes an illegal turn in front of you, veers into your lane, or fails to stop at a light or traffic signal. You take evasive action, avoiding a collision, but you lose control of your bike and crash, suffering significant injury. There was no collision and the other motorist wasn’t hurt at all. Can you still bring a lawsuit to recover for all your losses, even if there wasn’t any contact?

Your Rights in a “No Contact” Crash

There is no requirement that there be any contact between two vehicles for an injured party to recover compensation for any losses. As a general rule, any legal claim you have will be based on a theory of negligence. That requires that you show:

  • The defendant (the person from whom you seek damages) failed to act as a reasonable person would
  • The defendant’s failure to act reasonably (also known as “breach of the duty of reasonable care) caused an accident
  • You suffered actual losses as a result of the accident

To prove that the defendant breached the duty of reasonable care, you must only show that the behavior or actions of the defendant did not rise to the level of care generally expected in society. There’s no specific benchmark to establish this—whether or not the actions were reasonable will be determined by the jury.

The law does not require that the breach of duty cause a collision, but only an accident. To establish cause, you must prove first that the accident (loss of control of the bike) would not have happened if the defendant had acted reasonably. You must also show that your loss of control of the bike (or any accident that occurred) was reasonably foreseeable as a consequence of the failure to exercise reasonable care.

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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