insurance claimInsurance exists to help cover claims for accidents and unexpected injuries or property losses. Unfortunately, though, insurance companies exist to make profits. When you file an insurance claim, then, the company is not always looking out for your best interests, whether it is your insurer or that of the person who caused your claim. If you are having trouble with your claim, you need an experienced lawyer in your corner.

Don't Rush to Settle Your Insurance Claim

Which insurance company you deal with depends on the circumstances. If someone else caused your injury or property damage, you will deal with that person's insurer. On the other hand, your insurer could be covering the claim if you injured yourself or need coverage for an accident covered by your policy, you will be working with your own insurance company.

Whoever is helping you, the company will have a built-in incentive to get you to settle quickly. Don't blindly accept what they offer! If you receive an offer from the insurance company, take the time to think, to gather information, and to make the best choice you can.

Look Out for Bad Faith by the Insurer

In some cases, the insurer goes too far in pushing its own interests. An insurance company has a duty to act to resolve claims quickly and appropriately. If an insurance company does not treat your insurance claim fairly, you can sue for bad faith to recover damages. 

In New Jersey, you can get help with insurance complaints through the Insurance Ombudsman. This office helps you resolve claims and complaints against the insurer, whether it is your insurance company or that of the person who caused your accident. But it does not handle claims for Personal Injury Protection (your auto health insurance) car accident claims.

Getting Legal Help

If you suffer an injury or property loss and feel you are not being treated fairly on your insurance claim, contact Stern and Stern LLP. We will listen you do and work to protect your rights during your insurance claim.

shutterstock_554565883.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.


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_6251629.jpgWhen you first learn to drive, you learn not only how to drive safely, but what to do after a car accident as well. One critical lesson is never to leave the scene of an accident until after the police arrive. Not only do you face serious consequences for doing so, but you actually lose your first opportunity to protect yourself and your rights. It becomes harder for your attorney to help you recover damages for your own injuries.

Leaving Property Damage Behind

If you leave the scene of an accident where there is damage to property, you are subject to two points against your license and a fine between $200 and $400. Beyond this, you face up to 30 days in jail. If it happens more than once, the penalties grow. 

This can be any kind of damage: someone's yard, the curb, another vehicle, or even your own car. The threshold is only $250 in damage, which takes very little to reach. As much as a minor scrape or bump to your vehicle or someone else's can trigger penalties.

Personal Injuries

For even the most minor fender-bender, what to do after a car accident is wait for the police. If someone is injured, the penalties for leaving increase dramatically. If someone is injured or killed, the fine jumps to between $2,500 and $5,000. You also face up to six months in jail and a year of license suspension.

The Police Report

Finally, even apart from the penalties, what to do after a car accident is wait for the opportunity to tell your story. The police report serves as an official record of what happened. You are legally required to report your accident, and it lets you get your account of what happened in writing. You will never know what happened as clearly as right after the accident, so it is your chance to record all the details.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need to start preparing right away. Contact Stern and Stern to help get the recovery you deserve.

In 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

shutterstock_173305826.jpgThe 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 calculate a more complete recovery 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_114456130.jpgIn New Jersey, as in other states, property owners have a duty to keep the property safe for the people who use it. But if you are injured in a slip and fall accident, what does that mean for your right to recover? If you are injured, and the owner's failure to properly maintain the property caused the injury, you have a right to compensation. Your personal injury attorney can help you understand and prepare your slip and fall claim.

Is the Building Up to Code?

New Jersey has established a set of building codes that outline the minimum standards a business has to meet. These cover everything from the electrical systems to the plumbing, from the roof to the floor. And if a business does not maintain its property as required, this serves as clear evidence that it has not fulfilled its duty to you. This creates a strong case for liability, and a right to recover for your injuries and other economic losses.

Sources of Liability

For a business to be liable for your slip and fall, it has to fail to meet a duty to you as someone on the property. Part of this is that the injury has to be a result of its failure. Faulty electrical circuits that do not impact the area where you fall will not help your case. But if those same circuits create lighting problems that keep you from seeing a potential hazard, the business will be liable for resulting injuries.

Next, the business has to either be aware of the problem or be in a position that it should have known. Here again, the property owner has a duty to maintain according to building codes, so any failings in that regard are problems the owner should have known about. Understanding building codes gives you insight into when the owner fails to repair conditions it has a legal duty to know.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Stern and Stern today. We have the experience and expertise to get you the settlement you deserve.

shutterstock_495533635.jpgDistracted driving creates problems for everyone. From 2010-2014, it contributed to over 817,000 accidents in New Jersey. If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else driving while distracted, your lawyer can help you properly introduce that into evidence to show the driver was at fault.

What Is Distracted Driving?

You probably picture distracted driving as someone texting while driving. While texting represents a current common and dangerous example, the state of New Jersey defines many other kinds of behavior that can distract a driver from their primary task of driving. Here are some additional driving while distracted examples:

  • talking on the phone
  • applying makeup
  • tuning a radio
  • talking to others in the car
  • taking care of children or pets
  • eating and drinking

Any of these behaviors can lead to substantial fines, as well as points and license suspension.

Penalties Imposed

A driver cited for using a handheld device while driving is subject to particular penalties:

  • a first offense receives a fine of $200-$400
  • a second offense receives a fine of $400-600
  • a third offense receives a fine of $600-800, 3 points on the license and license suspension for up to 90 days

These penalties stem from the seriousness with which New Jersey treats the problem of driving while distracted. If the other driver is convicted, this should serve as evidence in your favor.

Evidence in Your Accident Case

New Jersey has placed a limit on evidentiary use of convictions. A driver who pleads guilty to a traffic offense can apply for a civil reservation, which prevents you from using the guilty plea as evidence of fault in your accident. A skilled attorney will help you establish the fact of the distraction, even if you cannot use the conviction itself as evidence. If you know the other driver was distracted, you can establish that in court to help show fault.

Distracted driving creates unnecessary dangers in New Jersey and everywhere in the country. If another driver's distraction caused you a serious injury, contact Stern & Stern LLP so we can help you get the recovery you deserve.  

shutterstock_301329230.jpgNo matter how careful you are on the road, you cannot control other drivers. You may face people who drive too fast, text and drive, or--even with all we know today--drive while intoxicated. Just last year, an average of 28 people were killed every day in drunk driving accidents, with many more injured. If a drunk driver causes you serious injuries, you have the right to recover damages. Your attorney will help you take the steps you need to get the compensation you deserve.

Facts from the Accident

Your starting place for recovery after a drunk driving accident is the police report. Here you will get an official record of what happened in the accident and the condition of the other driver. If he or she has a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, that information will be there. This indicates clearly that the other driver was acting recklessly.  You should also gather your own notes about what happened, and information about your medical diagnosis and the damage to your vehicle. All of this will play into establishing liability and damages against the driver.

Dram Shop Liability

In New Jersey, like in many states, a person or establishment that serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is liable when that person goes on to cause a drunk driving accident. This liability comes through New Jersey's dram shop law. For this kind of accident, the key facts do not begin when the other driver gets behind the wheel. You will want to find out where the person was before he or she hit the road, and find out whether someone else contributed to the intoxication that caused the accident. Besides the driver, you can collect from others who created the situation in which your injury occurred.

Have you been injured in a drunk driving accident? You don't have to settle for watching the criminal justice work. Contact Stern and Stern today, and we will help you get the compensation you deserve.

shutterstock_525047125.jpgIf you suffer a personal injury, you undoubtedly have a number of questions. You want to focus on your recovery, but you worry about taking care of your family, paying for your care, and a million things you take for granted before you get hurt. This is where you need a good personal injury attorney to help with your claim. But you should prepare to give your attorney the information he or she needs to help. Taking essential documentation to your consultation will help you succeed in your personal injury claim.

Understanding Your Injuries

First, you need to be able to demonstrate your injuries. When you see a doctor, you should receive a wealth of information about the injuries you suffer and the path to your recovery. The diagnosis you receive, and the prognosis for time and treatment you need, form the basis of your personal injury claim. Your attorney will review the doctor's notes and treatment plan, and use that to help you prepare your case. Further, showing that you have received treatment and are following through will help demonstrate that you are not making your injuries worse by failing to follow through.

Liability and Damages

Beyond the injuries themselves, though, you need to show that someone else was responsible for what happened. Any notes you have taken about what happened will help your attorney identify the evidence needed to prove liability. There may be police reports or accident reports as well; if you can take those to your consultation, that will help as well.

Finally, any information you have about different kinds of damages you have incurred will help. How has your daily routine changed? What new limitations do you face, whether from work or home life? The more you are ready to discuss and show, the more effectively your attorney can help you recover for all the losses you have suffered.

If someone has caused you injuries through negligent or reckless behavior, you have a right to recover damages. Contact Stern and Stern today for help with your personal injury claim.

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.


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.