Personal Injury Attorneys

Affidavit of Merit

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

In an interesting twist, the Appellate Division has decided that in legal malpractice cases, the person authoring the Affidavit of Merit, stating that the defendant attorney and/or firm has violated the standard of care, does not need to be certified, even if the attorney named is certified. What is most interesting about this decision is how different it is from medical malpractice decisions, which require that the author of the Affidavit of Merit have the same or similar qualifications, including board certifications and/or additional qualifications. In the particular matter, Davis v. Ellis, a certified matrimonial attorney had sued her former client for unpaid legal fees owed to her. The former client counterclaimed (asserted a claim against the attorney) alleging legal malpractice, and submitted an Affidavit of Merit from a general practitioner, rather than a certified matrimonial attorney. The trial court judge found this inadequate and dismissed the litigation. The Appellate Division disagreed, and found that even if the attorney involved is certified, the author of the Affidavit of Merit does not also have to be so certified, but instead will qualify if they have practiced for 5 years and have devoted a majority of their practice to the particular area or specialty involved.

The purpose of the Affidavit of Merit has been to require the Plaintiff to make an initial showing of merit to the claim, by having a person with the same or similar qualifications render an opinion. Failure to provide one within 120 days of the filed Answer (originally 60, and the Plaintiff may request a single 60 day extension) will in most cases, result in the case being dismissed. If you feel as though you have suffered damages as a result of the treatment by a doctor, or handling of a legal matter by an attorney, feel free to contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free initial consultation.

What do all these words mean?

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I have been working on blogs and I find myself using legal terms or “legalese.” In an effort to explain some legal terms I utilize frequently in practice, I will define some of the more common words.

1. Plaintiff: a person bringing a civil suit, making allegations of wrong on the part of the defendant.

2. Defendant: 1. In a criminal matter, a defendant is charged with violation of a statute or ordinance; 2. In a civil matter, a defendant is alleged to have wronged the Plaintiff in some way.

3. Prima facie case: In every case, the Plaintiff must prove the elements of the claim (i.e. a prima facie negligence claim requires 1. Duty, 2. Breach of duty, 3. Proximate cause, and 4. Damages.

4. Negligence: When a Plaintiff alleges that a Defendant(s) owed a duty to the Plaintiff, that the Defendant(s) violated that duty in some way, and that the violation was the cause of the Plaintiffs damages.

5. Duty: What one party owes to another (i.e. a homeowner has a duty to advise guests of any dangerous conditions which are not open and obvious to the guest; drivers on the roadway are to observe the “rules of the road” so as not to cause a collision, etc.)

6. Breach of Duty: When one party fails to uphold the duty they owe to another (i.e. when a driver is following too closely to the vehicle in front of it and rear ends the first vehicle, or when a driver makes a left hand turn across traffic when there is not enough time to safely cross all the lanes of travel, resulting in a collision)

7. Proximate Cause: The relationship between the breach of duty and the claimed damages. Proximate refers to a large extent to timing, in that the breach of duty must occur within a reasonable time of the claimed damages for the person alleged to have breached the duty to be found responsible.

8. Damages:  The injuries, both monetary and otherwise (i.e. pain and suffering, consequential, punitive…) which are claimed to be a result of the breach of duty.

9. Complaint: A complaint is a document filed by a Plaintiff which contains allegations of wrongdoing against a defendant or group of defendants. These allegations of wrongdoing are generally made on a count by count basis, with each count alleging a separate cause of action, or wrongdoing by the defendant(s).

10. Answer: An answer is the Defendants response to a Complaint, and contains on a count by count, and allegation by allegation basis, a response. An answer also contains separately pled defenses to the complaint, and may also contain a 1. Counterclaim, 2. Crossclaim, 3. Third Party Complaint, or some mixture of the three.

11. Counterclaim: A counterclaim is a claim by a defendant against the plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on the part of the Plaintiff.

12. Crossclaim: A crossclaim is a claim by a defendant against another defendant alleging wrongdoing on the part of the other defendant, usually claiming to be the real cause (in part or completely) of the Plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing and damages.

13. Third Party Complaint: A third party complaint is a claim by a defendant against a party not previously named as a defendant or plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on the part of the new party, and alleging the new party is the real cause (in part or completely) of the Plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing and damages.

These are just a small sampling of the words that attorneys use every day which may as well be Greek to the average person. I could go on, but I am sure I have given too much information and the above information is solely to explain some of the terms which pop up at the beginning of every civil matter. If you feel as though someone has wronged you, causing you to suffer damages, or if you have been named as a defendant in a Complaint, feel free to contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free initial consultation.

Weather Related Accidents

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The weather has been poor lately (unless you live on the West Coast) with some significant snowfall dropping in January. This has caused chaos on the roads and a significant number of accidents. In Atlanta, and many southern states, chaos reigned, with many abandoning their vehicles where they sat stopped in traffic and found what shelter they could. In the aftermath of this weather, people are dealing with damage to their vehicles, damage to themselves, and the clean up process. For example, in Alabama, it was being reported that at least 5 people were killed in weather related traffic accidents. But motor vehicle accidents are not the only types of incident that occurs when the weather is bad. After a snowfall, and when melting occurs, frequently there is a re-freeze, which can be even more dangerous than the original snow-fall. Businesses and residents are required to clear the sidewalks and driveways as soon as is practicable. I was watching Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia the Tuesday afternoon on television, and he indicated that this snow removal was to commence within 6 hours of the end of the snowfall in Philadelphia. If a homeowner, landlord, or business fails to clear the sidewalks, walkways and driveways of snow, they are responsible for the slip and fall injuries which occur on their property. Therefore, it behooves a homeowner, landlord and business to take action to clear the hazard for individuals to safely travel. This does not always happen, resulting in injuries for which expensive treatment is necessary.

In a motor vehicle accident case in New Jersey, individuals with auto insurance have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits available, which pay for medical treatment for injuries which resulted from a motor vehicle accident (insert link to previous blog about PIP). In a slip and fall event, the insurance available comes from the individual injured, and depending on the type of property, possibly med-pay from the property’s insurance policy. This is frequently a low amount, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, although the amounts may vary from that range. This unfortunately may leave the injured person with significant medical bills and no way to pay them or with significant out of pocket losses as they pay the medical bills. If you have been injured in a slip and fall event due to weather conditions and poor clearing of the snowfall and/or ice, contact the Law Office of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP for a free consultation.

Facts About Accident Claim Advice

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame, it is a good idea to seek accident claim advice to confirm if you are eligible to receive compensation. In most cases, your eligibility will be determined by who was to blame, how long ago your accident or injury occurred, and whether you needed the attention of a doctor or other medical professional as a result.

Here are some useful facts and hints about accident claim advice to help you to pursue a claim.

Accident claim advice can be free

There are many solicitors and compensation providers who are available to offer their initial advice for free. This means that you can ‘shop around’ if you wish, and gather information to be sure you are able to choose your representation carefully. In many cases, this accident claim advice is given over the phone, meaning you can do this from the comfort of your own home.

An advisor will check your eligibility

In order to make a claim, your accident will need to qualify to receive compensation. An advisor will usually be able to confirm this for you, or alternatively you can use an online tool to double check. Many compensation providers or personal injury lawyers will include an eligibility checker on their website – it is usually a quick and simple process.

 

Advice can come from anyone

 

It is important to check the validity of your source of advice – it is imperative that they have been trained in order to provide you with accident claim advice that you can trust. Compensation providers, for example, train their advisory teams to a high standard, ensuring they are able to offer sound advice as well as act with understanding and sensitivity.

Questions are important

 

Before you speak to an advisor, it is useful to jot down any questions you may have beforehand. Key points for consideration may be:

  • Can they progress your claim on a no win, no fee basis?
  • Will your legal representatives be expert in your particular injury type?
  • What type of communication methods will be involved?
  • How much input will be needed from you as the claimant?
  • How does the claims process work?

All of these are valid questions that can and should be asked at the advice stage. Make sure that you check about anything that may be on your mind, big or small.

Considering the facts about accident claim advice will stand you in good stead should you need to make a claim for compensation? Going through a personal injury is a traumatic enough experience and seeking compensation should not add to already high stress levels. Make sure you get all of the advice you need before proceeding with your claim, ensuring you understand the process and are happy with your selected compensation provider or personal injury lawyer before instructing them to act on your behalf.

 

Top Tips For Choosing A Personal Injury Lawyer

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for medical expenses, lost income and in many areas, intangibles such as pain and suffering. The average person will not be able to successfully go up against massive insurance agencies, so it is a good idea to retain the services of a personal injury attorney. In the US, lack of lawyers is definitely not an issue—rather, your challenge will be picking the right one amongst the many that will happily take your business. Here are some tips to get you started in your search.

Be Wary of Referral Services

Referral services are available for most types of law, with personal injury being a particularly abundant. The problem with referral services is the varying standards employed to get listed; for some, it may be nothing more than paying a fee to get in the directory. Any recommendations that come from these services may have nothing to do with the attorney’s experience, knowledge or competence.

Look for Lawyers that Specialize in Personal Injury Law

There are many lawyers who dabble in various areas of law and for certain legal needs, this type of lawyer may fit the bill just fine. But, personal injury cases can be complex and there is a lot at stake. Going with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury alone is your best bet for getting a more favorable outcome; additionally, you also want to consider a lawyer who is experienced in your type of injury in particular. They will have the specialized knowledge necessary to secure a favorable settlement.

Consider Attorneys with Trial Experience

Even though a majority of personal injury claims are settled before going to trial—even cases that are set to go to trial typically settle at some point before actually reaching the court room—you might consider working with an attorney who has experience fighting cases in court. This can work to your advantage since the threat of going to court by a lawyer who has successfully tried personal injury cases may motivate insurance companies to come to a favorable settlement sooner than later—most want to avoid trials, which can be costly, bring negative publicity and possibly result in having to pay out more money to the plaintiff than a settlement may have. If the attorney has no trial experience, the insurance company may not take threats of a lawsuit very seriously.

Look for a Lawyer Who Can Take Your Case Sooner than Later

Ideally, you want to get moving on your case as soon as possible, especially if those medical bills are piling in and you are not receiving any income. When evaluating lawyers, how soon they can take your case should be an important consideration. The negotiation process can take awhile and the sooner you start it, the sooner you can reach a favorable settlement amount. Of course, you must balance this out with other factors important in selecting the right attorney.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers all things law; she recommends visiting chicagopersonalinjurylawyer.com if you are in need of an attorney in the Chicago area.

Contamination left behind by Super Storm Sandy may Lead to Personal Injury Cases

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The devastation that Super Storm Sandy caused to many homes along the coastline is not the only damage that needs to be addressed. With so much destruction, many contaminants exist and  many workers have already fell ill.

Workers that have been seriously impacted by the contaminants of the storm, may need to be properly represented by a legal of professional so they are appropriately compensated for their injuries. For the sake of the union workers, we hope this does not become the case. However,  if anything happens to workers in regards to their health that is directly correlated with the impact of  Super Storm Sandy, hiring South Jersey personal injury attorneys may be necessary.

If interested in reading more about the contaminants that were left behind by the devastation, Lynne Peeples from the Huffington Post online, has written this informative  article on the topic.

New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Happy to See Efforts to Stop Texting & Driving

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

As a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, I am happy to see that those within the community are giving back. Physicians at Sall Myers Medical Associates treat car accident victims so they see the impact that unsafe driving habits like texting and driving, have on individuals. In an effort to educate the public on the severity of texting & driving, the firm uses social media to reach out to those in the community.

For more information on how these physicians are making a positive impact, click here to read the entire article written by Shama Kabani posted on bizjournals.com.

Personal Injury Lawyer New Jersey – NJ Monitors Cost of Treatments Covered by Personal Injury Protection

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Any personal injury lawyer New Jersey will be interested in this article because it discusses the efforts being made in the state to cap fees for hundreds of medical procedures covered by personal injury protection.

This is being done in effort to hold down auto insurance costs but the greater issue at hand is in regards to pain management treatments, which they will not cap. According to the President of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, that was their largest goal and what they wanted most so with public comment still open, we will have to wait to see what the outcome will be. However, it is doubtful that any changes will be made to the proposal. so it looks as if pain management will continue as is when it comes to personal injury protection.

Click  N.J. must monitor cost of treatments covered by personal injury protection to access the entire article posted on nj.com.

New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Cautions Parents About Stair-Related Injuries

Friday, April 6th, 2012

With a child under the age of five visiting the emergency room every six minutes for an injury related to stairs, it is appropriate that this New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney warns parents of the potential dangers associated with staircases.

For more information and helpful tips on how to avoid potential stair-related injuries, read this article- Hospital Emergency Department Cautions Parents About Stair Related Injury in Children.

New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Wants You to Vote in the Family Dance-off to Help Raise $30,000 for the Children’s Specialized Hospital

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

If you watch and/or read the news, you may have hard of 9-year-old Ariana who was accidentally hit in the head by a neighbor’s hunting arrow. To date, she is making a remarkable recovery while her and her family help to give back to the hospital that saved her life, the Children’s Specialized Hospital. To help raise money ($30,000) the family entered a family dance-off contest and as your local New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney, I am asking for you to vote.

To vote, you simply visit this website http://danceoff.primroseschools.com/videos/were-livin-prayer and vote for the McGuire Family March 26-30. If interested in reading more about Ariana, click here to access the entire article, which speaks of her accident and recovery progress.