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shutterstock_554368996.jpgNew Jersey's legislature frequently re-examines the personal injury law statutes that affect your rights and ability to recover damages for your injuries. Most of these have minimal impact on your case; they adjust already-established time frames and deal with formatting that your attorney needs to consider more than you do. Still, knowing what the legislature is working on can help you prepare for what lies ahead in your case.

Personal Injury Trust Fund Transparency Act

New Jersey's legislature wants to prevent situations in which personal injury plaintiffs double up on damages awards. The personal injury trust fund transparency act requires plaintiffs, within thirty days of filing suit, to identify any funds that might be expected to contribute toward a potential judgment. You may be able to avoid a trial by using the service or mitigate the amount the plaintiff has to pay out in defense.

Increased Penalties for Certain Categories

The legislature is also working on several bills that increase the potential liability of driver for categories of illegal behavior:

  • driving under the influence;
  • leaving the scene of an accident;
  • vehicular homicide;
  • tampering with evidence.

In all of these, potential criminal liability increases, and the potential for criminal charges that help you prove liability for your personal injury law case improves as well. With this legislative movement, number of cases filed--and the time to get to trial--will likely increase.

Claims Against Public Entities

If you are injured on public property, changes to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act provide notice requirements that will affect your ability to recover. From the time you are injured, you have 90 days in which to give notice to the entity (the city, school, or department overseeing the property). After that, you have to wait six months before you file a lawsuit. Failure to comply with either requirement will cost you the ability to bring in the public entity.

If you are injured, keeping up with changes to the law can make all the difference in your recovery. Contact Stern & Stern LLP for the experienced representation you need.


shutterstock_340122083.jpgIn New Jersey, public school districts have immunity against some lawsuits. However, the New Jersey Tort Claims Act allows lawsuits against public entities under certain circumstances, so long as you follow the requirements of the Act. If you have a claim against your child's school district, it is important to see an experienced lawyer quickly for help recovering damages. 

Negligence by a School Employee

At first glance, the Tort Claims Act seems generous: a school district or other public entity is liable if an act or omission of its employee in the course of his or her employment proximately causes an injury. But proximate cause can be difficult to demonstrate; you have to show not only that the employee did something wrong, but also that it was the main reason that the injury occurred. 

If you do prove proximate cause, the Act also limits your recovering damages for pain and suffering unless the injury falls under the Act's strict definition of the injury, which is permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment. The extent to which you can recover damages depends on the extent of injuries as well as your ability to demonstrate causation.

Notice Within 90 Days

Under the Tort Claims Act, before you can sue a school district, you must give notice to the district of your claims within 90 days of the injury. After this, the district has six months to review the claim. You cannot file a lawsuit until the six months have passed.

Private Schools Are Different

New Jersey has a vested interest in avoiding lawsuits against school districts and other public entities. The law does not apply to private school districts, so recovering damages against a private school follows the usual rules of suing an organization.

Suing a school district of any kind requires not only legal skill but careful attention to the rules the law creates. If your child has been injured due to the neglect of his or her school district, contact Stern & Stern LLP today to get the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_383826784.jpgIf you lose a loved one due to someone else's negligence, a wrongful death claim can help you get the compensation you deserve. But no legal recovery will ever make up for your loss. Before, during and after the legal process, you face grief, anger, and a multitude of additional emotions of which no one should ever have to struggle with during a lifetime. As you work through your legal claims, make sure you take some time to deal with the emotions you are enduring.

Mourn in Your Own Way

People who experience loss never lack for people to tell them how they should respond or what they should do to cope, but there is no correct way to mourn someone's death. Your relationship with a spouse, parent, or child is unique; no cookie-cutter path to moving forward after they are gone exists. Whether you have family or religious traditions on which you rely or other approaches, in the midst of the business and legal issues, don't neglect your own emotional needs.

Accept Help from Others

Your wrongful death claim serves in part to compensate you for the value of what the person did for you and your household. Others will offer help to you along the way. Don't be ashamed to accept it! Your willingness to accept assistance from friends and family is a sign of strength, not of weakness. It can be very easy to retreat from the world, but that could make it harder when you are ready to face everything again. 

This holds true for the details of your wrongful death claim as well. Your lawyer will take care of the legal issues, and work with you to make sure you are prepared to try your case. Hire someone you trust with your case, and then focus on your day-to-day needs as best you can.

If you have lost someone and need to file a wrongful death claim, you need a lawyer who will take care of your case. Contact Stern & Stern LLP to help you get the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_530654572.jpgIf you are in an auto accident, getting the right medical diagnosis and treatment is critical. Not only do you need to take care of yourself, but your recovery and payment for your medical bills depend on getting the right treatment. This is important whether you seek these payments through the insurance claims process or a lawsuit. You have the right to see a doctor of your choosing, so you should carefully consider who the right physician may be.

Referrals

You will find many referrals available for you. Legal referral services, your primary physician or your insurance company, offer referrals to specialists. You should consider all of these, but ultimately, remember that insurance claims do not require you to use a particular doctor. Some doctors do not take patients paying through a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, so you should take this into account. Do your research on any referrals so you can select the right doctor for your injuries.

PIP vs. Health Insurance

You can use your health insurance instead of your PIP policy. If you choose this route, you will need to pay attention to whom your network includes. Either way, you should look for a specialist who will focus on your injuries and give a complete diagnosis. Seek out references and ask questions; you need to be comfortable that your diagnosis and treatment plan will allow you to recover fully.

Follow Through

Once you choose a physician, you must seek treatment right away, and follow through on the recovery plan. If you have gaps in treatment or fail to seek and receive care quickly, the insurance claims process can deny payments for you. Additionally, if you file a legal claim, the opposing attorney will argue that you failed to mitigate your damages, potentially leading to a lower recovery. Take care of yourself completely to get full payment for your damages.

If you have been injured in a car accident, Stern and Stern can help you through the insurance claims process and bring suit to recover damages. Contact us today to get started.


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Many people who file personal injury lawsuits think only of an eventual trial. You envision a television lawyer pacing and firing questions to break down a witness for a dramatic revelation. But most of the work comes before the trial, in the discovery phase. This is when each side learns what the other side knows, and it often leads to a settlement when information emerges. For personal injury cases, you usually have 300 days to complete the process. An experienced attorney will work with you to help you prepare the most effective discovery process and responses.

Documents

Requests for documents represent a key element of the discovery process. Each side requests and exchanges documents like medical reports, property damage estimates and bills, and accident reports. They also include work records so you can demonstrate lost time and wages. You will need to make sure you keep any paperwork that helps determine damages.

Written Questions

Written discovery also plays a part in the discovery process. Your attorney will draft interrogatories and requests for admission to the other party that can help narrow down which facts are in dispute and which facts may need to be determined at trial. He or she will also help you respond to such requests from the other party and avoid traps the opposing attorney will set for you.

Depositions

Finally, the attorneys may take depositions from you and other key witnesses, especially experts who plan to testify at trial. This is a formal interview under oath and gives the attorney a chance both to learn information and get a sense of how witnesses will respond to questioning. In a personal injury trial, how witnesses appear to a jury matters as much as what they say; depositions give the lawyers a chance to see whether witnesses will appear honest and credible to a jury.

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, presenting evidence well before the trial can make all the difference. If you have been injured through someone else's negligence, contact Stern and Stern today. We will give you the guidance and representation you need.


shutterstock_523848466.jpgIn New Jersey, damages in a personal injury lawsuit are meant to help you recover for economic losses you suffer as a result of the injury. But when you suffer a serious injury, you lose more than the cost of your medical bills. In fact, you often have damages that will continue to cost you money well into the future. These future losses form a significant part of your personal injury recovery.

Lost Income

The most obvious example of future loss is the income you would have made if not for sustaining your injury. This is based on what you were earning after taxes at the time of the injury. But you also need to determine how long you will lose those wages based on your life expectancy before the injury, whether you will be able to work again, and what the difference is between what you will earn and could have earned. Your lawyer will help you gather the documentation you need to demonstrate the full loss you would expect to suffer.

Cost of Care

Will you require ongoing medical care for your injuries? Often a serious injury means medical costs will continue well after your initial hospital stay. Getting a complete diagnosis of your injuries and treatment plan for recovery is critical to your case because it allows you to calculate costs and factor them into your personal injury damages claim. 

Lost Value

Finally, some injuries render you unable to perform basic duties around the house. If you need assistance doing everyday tasks around the house, this will cost you money over time that you need to factor into the total loss amount. If you lose your ability to care for your loved ones, that has a monetary value as well. Gathering evidence of what you did and what you need will help you calculatea more completerecovery of your damages.

If you have been seriously injured, your losses don't stop at the time of the injury. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the full recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_182061395.jpgIf you get pulled over for a driving violation in New Jersey, you should think about more than the ticket or fine. The state assigns most moving violations a number of points, depending on the type and severity of your violation. And when you collect enough points, you become subject to surcharges, license suspension, license revocation, or even imprisonment. When personal injuries result, points accumulate very quickly. In these cases, you should find a good personal injury law attorney to assess your case and defend you.

The Points System

New Jersey provides a list of the points it applies for each moving violation. Many common violations carry a penalty of two points, including:

  • Speeding between 1 and 14 miles per hour above the speed limit
  • Failure to observe a stop or yield sign
  • Failure to signal a turn properly
  • Careless driving
  • Any moving violation out of state

Many other violations cost you more; for example, a single violation for leaving the scene of an accident when someone is injured will cost you eight points, in addition to trouble you may experience under general personal injury law.

Penalties

The points you accumulate for multiple violations add up and lead to penalties against you. Your insurance rates will likely increase, and when you reach twelve points, your license will be suspended. Offenses that include a DUI leads to additional fines and jail time.

As points accumulate, you have the opportunity to remove them. Every time you go more than a year without a new violation, three points are eligible to be deducted. Points could be removed for taking some general driving courses. Beyond this, your attorney can often help you limit your points exposure when you contest a ticket or appeal the penalties to be imposed.

If you are at risk for license suspension or other penalties, you will want an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the legal help you need. 


shutterstock_508560925.jpgDo you know what to do after a car accident? Getting into a car accident is frightening. You would rather be safe and sound at home. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, leaving a car accident scene before the police arrive is the worst possible thing you could do. Leaving the scene early subjects you to potential fines or even jail time. Take the time to wait for the police to arrive before you go home or even contact an attorney while you wait.

When Only Vehicles Are Damaged

If the only damage caused in an accident is damage to the vehicles involved, your penalties for leaving the scene will not be as severe. You will be subject to a fine and two points on your license. This leads to higher insurance rates. Also, for your first offense, you will be charged a fine between $200 and $400, and/or go to jail for up to 30 days.

Injuries and Deaths

When a driver or passenger is seriously injured or dies, the penalties increase substantially. Leaving the scene subjects you to eight points on your license. Your fine increases to an amount between $2500 and $5000, and you may go to jail for up to five years. To the law, it does not matter whether you were at fault in the accident or whether you even knew the accident injured or killed someone. If you didn't wait to find out, you would face serious consequences.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Once you have been in a car accident, you need to wait for the police to arrive. If they ask you questions regarding the accident, answer them to the best of your ability. Let them know of any injuries or discomfort you feel. Afterward, be sure you report what happened to your insurer so the claims process can begin.

Staying at the scene of an accident is only the beginning of the process of recovery for your injuries. If you have been in an accident, contact Stern and Stern so we can help you get the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_618720050_1.jpgMany people have a rough idea of what to do in a car accident. In the moment, though, composing yourself and responding appropriately presents a challenge. Your adrenaline flows and your mind races. But your duties after an accident don't depend on how you are feeling. Before you talk to your lawyer, or before you even leave the scene of an accident, make sure you collect the information you need.

Details of What Happened

In most cases, your insurance policy serves as the starting point for your accident claims process. If you suffer a serious injury, though, you have a right to sue for damages. To prove liability, you must be able to describe what happened. The time of day or night, the road and weather conditions, and what you experience all factor into this. Write down as much information as you can, and be sure to include all of this information when you file a police report. The greater the level of detail you can record at the scent, the better the proof of liability you can provide later.

Damage and Injuries

Even if you know what to do in a car accident, injuries can complicate your ability to do it. To the best of your ability, make a note at the time of any injuries you may have suffered, as well as the damage to your vehicle. If you are able, take pictures of the vehicles, the scene of the crash and your injuries.  All of this will become important; your claim for damages ties directly to the cost of repair for your vehicle and the extent of the injuries you suffer.

The rush of energy your body gives you after an accident complicates this. You might feel unaffected for a few days before the adrenaline wears off. Before you make a statement about injuries, make sure you visit a doctor. A physical examination helps ensure that you can recover for any injuries you suffer.

If you have been injured in a car accident, step back before you risk signing away your rights. Contact Stern and Stern so we can analyze your case and get you started on your recovery.


shutterstock_608885267.jpgIf someone's negligent or reckless actions cause a loved one to die, no legal recovery will replace that person emotionally for you. But you can file a wrongful death action to recover damages for the financial losses you suffer. Because New Jersey limits your recovery to your monetary losses, you need to collect the right evidence to demonstrate both faults for your loved one's death and the source of those damages for a jury. When you visit a wrongful death attorney, be prepared to gather the information you need.

Showing Fault

Before you get to questions of damages, you need to demonstrate fault. If your loved one died in an auto accident, there would be a police report for the accident. Similarly, a workplace accident will usually result in a report, and a criminal act will include a police report and a trial with evidence presented. Any documentation you can provide to show what happened will be critical to your wrongful death case,

Financial Information

To show damages for your case, you need to demonstrate what you have lost. You will start with any evidence of net income. Check stubs, tax returns, W-2 forms, and anything else that provides the take-home pay that your loved one provided for your family helps here. You haven't just lost the next paycheck; you should look to show what he or she would have made over the rest of his or her lifetime.

Also, you likely have direct costs associated with the death. If you paid medical costs for care before he or she passed, you could recover those. Also, any funeral costs are included and recoverable. You can recover the cost of household services he or she performed and will need testimony both confirming what he or she did and the value of those services.

Legal Representation

Demonstrating all of your losses in a wrongful death case can be overwhelming even if you don't factor in your emotional burden. We can help you sort through it all. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_616375916.jpgIf you look at the difference between a wrongful death claim and a personal injury claim, the immediate answer is fairly obvious: in the former, someone has died. But the nature of the claims differs in other ways critical to the way you present your case. The party bringing the case and the damages available differ substantially between the two. Your lawyer will help explain your rights in each situation.

Whose Loss Is It?

In a personal injury lawsuit, the person injured brings a lawsuit. A wrongful death action is different; while the case is brought on behalf of the person who passed, the plaintiff is the estate of that person and is brought on behalf of the person's dependents. In other words, you will seek damages that the family members have suffered due to the loss of a loved one on whom they depended.

Liability

Even so, proving liability in a wrongful death case depends on the duty the person at fault had to the decedent. Your attorney must demonstrate not only that the person acted intentionally, recklessly, or negligently, but also that those actions violated a duty of care and caused the death to occur. This element of duty further separates it from a personal injury action.

Measure of Damages

Finally, damages available differ between the two. It seems counter-intuitive that some damages, such as emotional distress or punitive damages, are available in a personal injury claim but not a wrongful death claim. The latter limits damages to financial damages only. You can recover for loss of services, lost wages, loss of companionship, and direct expenses like hospital and funeral bills, and you should help gather evidence of those costs for your attorney. This will include not only receipts and bills but also testimony about the role the decedent played and those who depended on him or her in your household.

If you have lost a loved one and need to bring a wrongful death action, you need solid, experienced legal representation. Contact Stern and Stern today to get started toward the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_540375082.jpgAlmost all lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations, which defines the time from when an incident occurs to when a lawsuit must be filed. For a car accident, insurance will usually cover a claim based solely on damage to a vehicle. When serious injuries are involved, the statute generally follows personal injury law. How that comes into play depends largely on the circumstances involved surrounding the accident. You will want to meet with a lawyer as soon as you can to ensure you assert your legal rights before time runs out.

The Personal Injury Law Statute of Limitations

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two years. This means you have two years from the date on which an accident occurs that causes a personal injury to file a lawsuit. This is to protect both you and the person or people you sue. Memories tend to fade over time, so you have a better chance of proving your case if you file your suit sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the law treats as unfair a scenario in which a person could be sued long after he or she forgets the event entirely.

Exceptions to the Rule

The statute of limitations is not always only two years from the date of the accident. If someone dies, for example, a wrongful death lawsuit still has a two-year statute of limitations, but the time begins not from the time of the accident, but rather from the time of death. Furthermore, if the person injured is a minor, or is mentally incapacitated, the time does not begin until he or she reaches age 18 or the incapacity is removed. For example, after an accident that leaves a driver comatose, that driver would have two years from the time he or she regains consciousness to file suit.

If you have been in a car accident in New Jersey, do not take chances with the statute of limitations under personal injury law. Contact Stern and Stern right away for help protecting your legal rights.