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.


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.


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.


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.


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.