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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.


shutterstock_605473166.jpgWhen you lose a loved one, your emotional needs move to the fore. Still, you need to take the time to consider your other needs too. If someone else caused the death of someone on whom you depend, you have the legal right to recover damages through a wrongful death claim. Damage recovery gives you the ability to be compensated for the financial losses that someone else's intentional, reckless, or negligent act took from you. You need an experienced attorney to help you protect your rights.

Your Rights

In New Jersey, your right to recover from someone who causes your loved one's death comes from the wrongful death statute. The text of the statute both provides and limits your right of recovery. In particular, you can recover for any financial losses the defendant causes. The suit is usually brought on your behalf by a representative of your loved one's estate.

Your recovery does not include any damages for emotional distress or punitive damages. The law is designed specifically to make you whole for the losses you have suffered. You depended on the deceased for support that has been taken from you, and you have a right to recover those losses.

Direct and Future Damages

Some of the losses you suffer when you lose a loved one are easy to define. You have hospital bills and funeral expenses that you had to pay. In an auto accident, you have lost the value of the car. Damages in a wrongful death action include all of this.

But the damages don't end with your bills. You depended on your loved one's income for years to come. Further, you lose the value of work he or she did at home, including childcare, home care, and everything else that person did for you. When you lose that, the person who caused the death has taken that financial support from you, and your damages are meant to compensate you.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's actions, contact Stern and Stern. We will get you the recovery you deserve.


If you have been injured in an accident, the right legal representation provides the critical difference in your ability to recover on your personal injury claim. But many people worry whether they can afford a good attorney. Fortunately, most personal injury cases operate not on traditional hourly billing rates, but rather on contingency fee agreements. When you understand how these agreements work, they can provide access to recovery that you may otherwise not have gained.

shutterstock_583927828.jpgHow They Work

A contingency fee agreement provides that if you win or gain a settlement on your personal injury claim, your attorney collects a pre-established percentage of your recovery as his or her fee. In New Jersey, these contingency fees are capped at 33 1/3 percent of a legal recovery, or 25% of recovery for an injured minor. The amount depends on the agreement you sign with an attorney; if you agree to a 30% fee, for example, and recover $100,000 in damages, you will receive $70,000 of that recovery, and the attorney would be entitled to the other $30,000.

The contingency in the agreement is that, if you lose your case, you will not owe a fee. The attorney who takes on your case evaluates the likelihood of winning and takes on the risk of losing. 

Costs vs. Fees

You do need to read your agreement carefully before signing. You may still need to pay after a case for court costs, copying, investigatory costs, and other costs the attorney incurs when pursuing your personal injury claim. Those costs can be contingent as well, depending on the terms of your agreement. Further, under New Jersey law, the contingency fee must be reasonable. Your attorney owes you a duty not to diminish the value of your claim, and to provide the best representation on your behalf.

It is also important to understand that the fee is based upon a percentage of the recovery after all the costs have been deducted.  This serves as an incentive for the attorney to keep the expenses down.

If you have a personal injury claim, a contingency agreement can help you gain access to the justice system. Contact Stern and Stern today, and we will give you the representation you need to get the recovery you deserve.


shutterstock_585304817.jpgAnyone who drives a vehicle is required to purchase auto insurance in New Jersey. But when you look at coverage options, it can get confusing. Comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, full coverage, basic coverage, and liability coverage represent different levels of insurance, and what you have can significantly affect what an insurer will pay in an injury claim after an accident. A personal injury attorney can help you exercise your rights and recover the damages you deserve.

What Liability Insurance Covers

In New Jersey, the standard insurance policy covers the following damages

  • personal injuries to you
  • injury to others in your vehicle
  • liability for injuries to other drivers
  • liability to other drivers' property.

On the other hand, the basic required insurance does not cover liability for others' medical costs unless personal injury liability coverage is purchased as an option. This liability coverage is written to protect other drivers and pedestrians. When you injure another person, the policy pays for that person's property damage and medical damages.

What Full Coverage Adds

Full coverage also brings collision and comprehensive insurance. Collision covers accidents in which a car collides with another car or an object. It is designed to pay for damages to your own vehicle, whereas the liability policy pays for the other vehicle when you are at fault.

Comprehensive coverage includes physical damage from anything other than a collision. Flying rocks, animals that you hit, theft, and vandalism all fall within this kind of coverage.

Protecting Your Rights

All of this matters when it comes time to protect your rights. If another driver causes your injury with only a basic policy in place, that driver's insurance will not pay for your medical costs. Similarly, if you are in an accident and do not carry full coverage, the only way to recover the damages for your vehicle is to make a claim with the other driver's insurer.

If you have been in an accident, don't count on insurance companies to work your claims out for you. Contact Stern and Stern for help with your personal injury claims.


shutterstock_585896474.jpgWhen you suffer a serious personal injury, everything you have to do disrupts your life much more than the injury itself. You must figure out how to take care of your family, handle any time away from work, deal with insurers and lawyers--each of which creates stress that makes it more difficult to manage your physical recovery. With all of this impacting you, you need an experienced lawyer on your side to help with your personal injury claim. 

Financial Stress

When you file a personal injury claim, you have many financial considerations impacting your life. Are you able to work at your job? You work every day to support your family, so if you lose the ability to do so, you may wonder how you are going to pay your bills or feed your loved ones. Meanwhile, you have insurers to cover some of your medical and personal property costs, but paying them out in front can cost you money you can't afford to wait on.

Your personal injury claim settlement can help you manage this, so long as it covers what you need. This goes beyond your medical costs into lost wages and other costs you incur. Your recovery should be calculated to help you.

Psychological Costs

You have other costs that take their toll on you, physically and mentally. Your settlement can help you move past the worry about the money you lose in income and medical costs. Your stress levels increase dramatically as you deal with the process of settling your claim, and the uncertainty of what comes next. This takes its toll on you physically and emotionally. It can create significant issues for you. Getting your injury settlement provides relief that helps you focus on your recovery.

If you are working through a personal injury claim, you have many hurdles to jump to get where you need to be. Don't let the stress and the process overwhelm you. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the settlement you deserve.


shutterstock_574122487.jpgDifferent kinds of insurance coverage for drivers can be confusing to anyone not in the insurance industry. One area in particular that creates confusion is personal injury protection or PIP. This no-fault coverage protects you by paying for medical expenses and other costs, regardless of who caused the accident. But there are limits and conditions to the coverage. An experienced accident attorney can help you through the ins and outs of the policy and get the recovery you need after an accident.

Not Just Medical

PIP coverage pays for medical expenses, no matter who was at fault in an accident. It is the opposite of personal injury liability coverage; PIP covers you, while liability coverage pays for those in the other vehicle if you are at fault in the accident. 

Further, PIP comes with an option of purchasing coverage for additional losses. If you buy the optional rider, the policy will also pay for lost wages and the cost of caregivers required while you recover. You can buy coverage for up to $250,000 in these expenses.

Stacking Coverage

PIP coverage by its nature overlaps with a major medical policy. You can purchase it at a lower rate by making it secondary to any medical policy you have.  However, it is not a good idea because in some cases your medical insurance company will have to be repaid out of your personal injury recovery while that never happens with PIP coverage. Furthermore, if you make PIP secondary, you may end up subject to large deductibles under the primary policy.

Right to Sue

While PIP coverage is no-fault, there are still times you can recover damages from the other driver rather than only relying on your insurer. PIP coverage generally only covers 80% of your medical costs. If the other driver acts intentionally or is clearly at fault, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, you can recover for particular levels of damage the other driver caused.

If you have been injured in a car accident, don't leave your recovery to the discretion of an insurance company. Contact Stern and Stern to get the compensation you deserve.


shutterstock_471119147.jpgMany injuries after a car accident are obvious. Broken bones and bruises appear right away, and represent easy diagnoses even before you see the doctor. More insidious, though, are brain injuries. These injuries are less obvious when you incur them, but they create more long-term danger for you. If you have been in an accident, be on the lookout for signs of concussions or other traumatic brain injuries, and make an appointment to see an experienced car accident attorney

1. Loss of Consciousness

If you lose time after a car accident, that likely means you have suffered a brain injury. This can fall anywhere from a few seconds to a matter of hours or days, with longer bouts of unconsciousness usually reflecting more severe injuries.

2. Mood Changes

Doctors understand now that mood changes, including increased anger, depression, or anxiety, often stem from physical issues in the brain. See a doctor if you experience these issues after your accident.

3. Aches and Pains

Your brain is command central for everything your body does and feels. If you suffer from headaches, general aches and pains, or increased fatigue after a car accident, you should get checked for potential brain injuries.

4. Sensory Overload

You may not feel the symptoms of a concussion for days or even weeks after your accident. It may creep in over time: you can't handle bright lights, or you suffer from nausea or balance problems. If you feel worse rather than better over time, you may have suffered a brain injury.

The symptoms of brain injury are less obvious and don't always manifest immediately. But these injuries can create damage that affects you for the rest of your life, and you deserve to be compensated when another driver causes your injury. If you have suffered a brain injury due to the recklessness or negligence of another driver, don't just wait and hope it gets better. Contact Stern & Stern LLP today to get the recovery you need and deserve.


shutterstock_167546858.jpgWhen you get into a car accident, you know to call your insurer, to see a doctor, and to contact a personal injury attorney. But what about your own recovery? You may find yourself feeling stiff and sore, and it does not go away on its own. Recovery from auto accident injuries does not happen overnight. If you focus in on your recovery, though, you can improve and return to normalcy.

See a Chiropractor

Back and joint stiffness don't go away by themselves. Besides seeing a medical doctor to check for injuries, you should consider visiting a chiropractor. Chiropractic care has developed substantially in recent decades and works effectively on acute pain like you experience after an auto accident. A good chiropractor will help diagnose and treat spinal injuries you endure in the accident. Beyond that, he or she will identify stretches and exercises you can do to aid your recovery over time.

Ease Your Way Back

Perhaps the most important aspect of your recovery is patience. No one likes to be hurt. When you start to feel better, you want to do more, to make up for the time you've lost. But if you go too hard too soon, you risk the recovery you have made. Getting back to normal takes time. Rather than pushing ahead too quickly, hold back and focus on making slight improvements every day. Do this, and you create the best chance for a strong, stable recovery.

Put in the Work

Even though you don't want to go too hard, too fast, you do need to put in time and effort to improve. If you hold back, you risk letting your muscles atrophy, and you will feel worse instead of better. The slow, steady effort will sometimes feel frustrating or monotonous, but give it time. Your health and comfort are worth whatever time it takes you to get there.

If you have been in an auto accident, you need legal representation that you can count on, so you can focus on recovering. Contact Stern and Stern today to get the legal help you need.


shutterstock_423218617.jpgMost people do not think of a parking lot as a particularly dangerous place. But with all of the cars moving in and out in such close quarters, a significant portion of accidents in New Jersey occur there. People can be distracted or just not paying attention, or other cars and shrubbery might obstruct someone's view while they leave a space. If you have had a car accident in a parking lot, you may need legal help to protect your rights.

Document What Happened

You should never admit any wrongdoing or liability when you get into a car accident in a parking lot. It is easy to fall into a trap of saying something was your fault, but you never want to give what amounts to a legal conclusion against yourself. Instead, focus on the facts. Write down what happened, and take pictures of the area and the damage caused. Find out if cameras are recording the scene, and arrange for a copy of any such recording. Liability will depend on the circumstances and the way events unfolded, as well as the law that will be applied to those facts. You should make sure the facts themselves are as clear as possible.

File a Police Report

When the accident results in any injury or property damage, you need to stay at the scene until you can file a police report. If possible, don't move the vehicles until you have a chance to get pictures and let the police investigate. State law mandates a report, and it also serves as a public record of what the accident involves. Any witnesses you can garner can also help you establish the facts, and avoid potentially having to use your word against the other driver's claims.

Contact an Attorney

If you have serious damage to your car or injury to yourself or others with you, you may be entitled to collect damages from the other driver. If you have endured a parking lot car accident, contact Stern and Stern today; we will help you protect your rights and get the recovery you deserve.