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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.

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.

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.

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.

Recovering Compensation When You Were Partially at Fault

You May Be Able to Get Damages under New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Rules

Recovering Compensation When You Were Partially at FaultYou’ve been in a motor vehicle accident or you were hurt in a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk or driveway. Maybe you didn’t come to a complete stop, partially causing the accident. Perhaps you saw the buildup of ice and snow and ignored it. Can you still seek compensation for your losses, if the accident wouldn’t have happened without your negligence? Maybe…

Contributory and Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

Before 1973, if you were injured in an accident, but the defendant could show that you contributed in any way to causing the accident, there was a good chance you wouldn’t recover anything. That’s because New Jersey used to follow the legal principle of contributory negligence. Under that approach, any wrongdoing by the injured party could prevent financial recovery. Not surprisingly, defense attorneys abused the principle, seeking dismissal of a personal injury claim if there was even the slightest indication of minimal carelessness or negligence. As a consequence, many individuals who committed acts of extreme negligence avoided responsibility for their actions.

In 1973, New Jersey legally adopted the principle of comparative negligence. With comparative negligence, the jury first determines the full extent of the plaintiff’s (person who filed the lawsuit) injuries. Next, the jury establishes the degree to which the plaintiff’s actions caused the accident, expressed as a percentage of liability. Then, the jury reduces the damage award, based on the percentage of liability.

For example, suppose you were injured in a car accident and your total losses were $500,000. The jury rules that you were 20% responsible for causing the accident and reduces the total damage award by $100,000 (20% of $500,000), awarding you $400,000.

New Jersey follows the principle of modified comparative negligence (as opposed to pure comparative negligence). That means that you can only recover a damage award if your liability for the accident is less than 50%.

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.

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.

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