Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit after a Workplace Injury

Personal Injury Lawsuit after a Workplace InjuryWhen you’ve suffered an injury on the job, your first course of action is often to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. There are good reasons to do so—if your claim is approved, you’ll likely start receiving benefits within weeks. But there can be other reasons to consider filing a lawsuit in addition to your workers’ compensation claim, provided you are eligible to do so. Though the legal process may take longer, you won’t typically face the limits on damages that are part of the workers’ compensation system.

So how can you file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit? Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws are designed to compensate you for the negligence or carelessness of your employer or a co-employee. If your injuries are caused by an unrelated third party, you aren’t limited to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim as your exclusive remedy. Accordingly, you must be able to show that your injuries were caused to some extent by the wrongful act of someone other than your employer or a co-employee in order to file the lawsuit, known as a “third party action.”

Some examples of situations where there might be a third party claim include:

  • Injuries caused by the malfunction or breakdown or a dangerous or defective product, such as a tool, machine or piece of equipment, that was manufactured or designed by a third party
  • Injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident while on the job, where the at-fault driver was not your employer or a co-employee
  • Injuries caused by workers not hired by or subcontracted to your employer.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been injured in the workplace, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

The Different Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Action

Damages in a Personal Injury ActionWhen you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, some of your losses may be obvious while others are not as apparent. As a general rule, you’ll be able to file a personal injury action seeking two potential types of damages, or compensation for your losses—compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only available if you can show a high level of negligence, such as gross negligence or indifference to the value of human life. Accordingly, punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury actions.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are designed to do exactly as the name suggests—compensate you for some type of loss cause by the accident. Compensatory damages are generally further subdivided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages:

  • Economic damages: Economic damages are monetary losses that are easy to ascertain, such as loss of income or wages, the cost of medical expenses, costs of retrofitting a home or vehicle to accommodate your loss or any other expense incurred directly or indirectly as a result of the accident. Any property loss would also be considered an economic loss.
  • Non-economic damages: Also known as “general compensatory damages,” non-economic losses cover such things as physical and emotional pain and suffering, mental stress or anguish, and loss of companionship or consortium

Wrongful Death Claims

In addition to collecting the damages set forth above, wrongful death claimants can also recover funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support/contribution, and loss of services/support.

Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has suffered a needless injury. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Understanding the Differences between a Criminal and a Civil Proceeding

Criminal and a Civil ProceedingIn the American judicial system, there are essentially two different procedures: criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. Though the same court may hear both civil and criminal matters, they are very distinct, with different rules and features. Here’s a brief overlook at some of the key differences between a criminal matter and a civil matter.

The Parties

In a civil proceeding, the person bringing the legal action is referred to as the plaintiff, and is most often a private individual or entity, though the government can file a civil lawsuit. In a criminal matter, however, the legal action is always brought by a governmental entity (the state or the federal government, customarily) on behalf of its citizens. The governmental entity is never referred to as the plaintiff, but typically as the prosecution. In both criminal and civil matters, the party against who the action is brought is referred to as the “defendant.”

The Source of the Law

In all criminal actions, the defendant is charged with violating a written law, also known as a “statute.” To the contrary, most civil law is what is known as “common law,” or judge-made law, derived from opinions of judges in similar cases in the past. In most instances, courts follow the concept of “stare decisis,” giving weight and authority to prior decisions. There are, however, some civil matters that may be established by statute.

The Burden of Proof

The “burden of proof” refers to the degree to which the evidence must support one side or the other in the case. In both criminal and civil matters, the party bringing the legal action (the plaintiff or the prosecution) has the burden of proof.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor must establish guilt “beyond reasonable doubt.” Note that the prosecutor doesn’t have to eliminate all doubt, only reasonable doubt—the jury ultimately decides whether the doubt established is reasonable. In a civil matter, however, the burden of proof is typically much lower, usually what is known as “a mere preponderance of the evidence,” or, essentially, more likely than not. So, in a civil matter, the jury must only establish whose version of the facts has greater weight.

The Penalties or Sanctions

In a criminal prosecution, there are a number of potential sanctions—fines, incarceration, restitution, community service and even, in some jurisdictions, the death penalty. In a civil matter, however, there are only two types of penalties—monetary damages and specific performance. An award of monetary damages requires one party pay a specific amount to the other party. An award of specific performance requires that the defendant engage in (or refrain from engaging in) a certain act. Specific performance is typically only available in very limited circumstances, such as the sale of land or the performance of unique services.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been injured, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

What Can You Expect to Recover after a Burn Injury?

Recover after a Burn InjuryWhen you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, you have a right to seek compensation for all your losses. Some can be easily established, including lost wages and income, as well as actual medical expenses. Others, such as pain and suffering, may not be so easy to calculate, particularly when you have been the victim of a burn injury. Though you’ll still be able to pursue damages for out-of-pocket or “economic” losses, you should also seek compensation for the less tangible consequences of the accident.

Pain and Suffering

Burn injuries are among the most devastating, causing both physical pain and permanent scarring and disfigurement. With more serious burns, it’s more than just the physical pain associated with the burns. The damage to your skin and other body parts will likely be permanent and severely limit your mobility, as well as your ability to engage in normal activities, such as walking or using your arms/hands. You may experience significant pain simply trying to move about at all.

In addition to the physical pain, there’s also significant emotional pain that can accompany serious burn injuries. Unfortunately, most serious burn victims have extensive scarring or disfigurement, which can make them the object of unwanted attention and embarrassment. It’s not uncommon for burn victims to become depressed because of the nature of permanent injuries. Any damage award or settlement should take the long-term consequences of this into account.

Punitive Damages

Under the law, it is possible to collect “punitive damages,” provided you can show that the defendant was grossly negligent. The objective of punitive damages is to both punish the wrongdoer and to send a message to others in a similar position. The threat of punitive damages can also be an incentive to settle a claim.

Contact Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone in New Jersey who has been a victim of a personal injury. For a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Police Misconduct—Protecting Your Rights

Police MisconductLaw enforcement officers play a critical role in promoting and ensuring safety and security in our society, but they are public servants, and that means they serve all of us. Most police officers see this as a sacred duty, but far too often, law enforcement officers see themselves as above the law, engaging in wrongful behavior for a variety of reasons. That conduct can manifest itself in different ways, from using illegal means to obtain evidence to the use of unnecessary or excessive force or the planting of evidence to support an arrest or mask other illegal behavior.

When police have acted improperly, you are not without recourse. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself:

  • Seek to have evidence thrown out—Under principle known as the “exclusionary rule,” evidence that is obtained improperly may be ruled inadmissible and not subject to review by a judge or jury at trial. This may include evidence obtained through an improper search (without probable cause or a valid warrant) or it may involve evidence planted at the scene of a crime. It can also include evidence obtained from an unnamed or anonymous “witness,” if the police cannot establish the reliability (or existence) of the witness.
  • Lawsuits against law enforcement officers—Based on the facts of your case, you may be able to allege violation of your civil rights in court, as well as violation of state or federal constitutional rights. If you have sustained a physical injury, you may file a personal injury claim.
  • Ask the court for a “consent decree”: If you can show a pattern of wrongful behavior by a police department or officers within a department, you may be able to ask the court for a consent decree, which allows the court to exercise oversight of a police department and inquire about conduct, policies and other actions tied to alleged police misconduct.

Contact the Attorneys at Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has suffered any type of loss or injury as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Bergen County Jury Awards Upheld for Teen Injured in Auto Accident

Bergen-County-Jury-Award-Upheld-for-TeenA Bergen County jury’s $4.1 million verdict in favor of a teenager who suffered permanent spinal cord damage in a motor vehicle accident has been upheld. The girl, who was 14 at the time of the accident—February 23, 2013— was traveling in the back seat of a car operated by her father when he ran a stop sign and crashed into another car. As a result, she suffers from chronic pain and has lost some of the strength and mobility in her back. She also has numbness and weakness because of trauma to her spinal cord.

The girl’s family sought compensation for her injuries, asking their insurer for $250,000 to settle the claim. When the insurer, Allstate, offered $7,500 to cover the girl’s losses, the girl’s mother was forced to bring a lawsuit against her father and his insurance policy. Under New Jersey law, when you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident, the person causing the accident is liable for any damages you suffer. Typically, though, that person has insurance and the insurance company has the obligation, by contract, to cover any losses caused by the insured. That’s what put the young woman in the awkward position of filing a lawsuit against her father for her losses.

The case went to trial in late 2016, and the jury returned the $4.1 million verdict. Allstate appealed the verdict and sought a new trial, contending that the verdict “shocked the judicial conscience of the court.”

Contact Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone in New Jersey who has been a victim of a personal injury. For a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Uber Drivers May Have Insurance Risks

Uber Drivers May Have Insurance RisksRide-sharing has taken the nation by storm, with estimates that more than 200,000 people are earning their primary income, or supplementing other income, by working for such companies as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, among others. It can seem like a pretty easy and relatively safe way to earn a few extra bucks, but individuals who turn their private motor vehicles into taxis should take the time to carefully read their auto insurance policies—they may be engaging in activity that voids the policy.

Here’s what you need to know. New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state—if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you look to your own insurer, rather than the at-fault party’s insurer (though your insurer may ultimately seek reimbursement from the other insurance provider). Most insurance companies, though, make a distinction between personal auto insurance policies and commercial auto insurance policies, and typically have different premium structures for what are considered to be commercial vehicles. The long and short of it—your policy may have a provision that allows the insurance company to deny coverage for medical expenses if you were using a personal vehicle for commercial or for-profit purposes at the time of the injury.

The top ridesharing companies—Uber and Lyft—offer insurance coverage to drivers, but you need to carefully read the policy to determine whether the policies cover the costs of medical treatment for injuries suffered while on the job. If not, you’ll have to look to your personal motor vehicle accident policy, which may not apply.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been injured, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Court Rejects Appeal in Medical Malpractice Case

Medical Malpractice Case

The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the decision of a trial court in a medical malpractice claim, finding that any error in instructing the jury had no impact on the result.

In a case involving a lawsuit filed by Sitsofe Awuku against Newark Beth Israel Center, Awuku’s lawyers argued that the jury returned an inconsistent verdict because of errors in the instructions to the jury. In a civil trial, jurors are primarily determiners of fact and are not expected to know the law. For that reason, the court will instruct the jury with respect to the law, telling them that, if they find certain facts to be true, they must make certain conclusions about the law.

In the Awuku case, the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition that was likely to lead to a stroke. The jury found that the doctors had engaged in negligence by failing to adhere to commonly accepted standards of care. They also concluded, though, that there were no recoverable damages, as the jury concluded that the injuries she suffered were the same as they would have been, had there been no negligence.

Under New Jersey law, when a patient has a pre-existing condition, any deviation from the standard of care by a treating physician will only be considered malpractice if the deviation “increased the risk of harm from the pre-existing condition.” In Awuku, the appellate court found that the breach of care by the doctors at Newark Beth Israel did not increase that risk.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been the victim of sexual harassment, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Appeals Court Reinstates Gastric Sleeve Claim

medical malpractice claim

A New Jersey appeals court has reinstated a medical malpractice claim involving allegations of negligence in the performance of “gastric sleeve” surgery. The lawsuit was previously dismissed because the injured party had not filed an affidavit with the court from a licensed and approved specialist stating that the standard of care used in the surgery was substandard. According to the appeals court, the plaintiff had made a good faith effort to comply and should be given the opportunity to meet the standard.

Under New Jersey’s Affidavit of Merit law, a person alleging medical malpractice must submit a sworn statement with the court, from a licensed medical specialist, that alleges that the doctor or hospital failed to meet or follow the proper standard of care. In the case before the court, the plaintiff had secured a person to prepare that affidavit, but the court ruled that the person in question lacked the requisite qualifications to submit the affidavit. The proposed witness had performed more than 75 similar surgeries, but had been an administrator for 10 years and had not performed any surgery during that period. The court then dismissed the complaint.

The appeals court, however, found that the injured party had made a reasonable effort to find a suitable replacement to prepare and submit the affidavit. The court also concluded that justice would better be served if the plaintiff was allowed to submit the affidavit and the court made a ruling on the merits, rather than on a technicality.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been injured in the workplace, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

How a Personal Injury Action Moves Forward – Part One

Personal injury law book on a table.

If you have been hurt in an accident caused by the carelessness, negligence or wrongdoing of another person, you may be considering filing a lawsuit. What will the process look like? What steps will you have to take before you can expect to actually receive compensation for your losses? Here’s an overview of the legal process for personal injury claims.

Hire an Attorney and File Your Claim

The first thing you want to do is hire experienced legal counsel. The sooner you retain legal counsel, the sooner your lawyer can take steps to gather and preserve evidence. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that witnesses will move, disappear, die or forget what they saw. In addition, you must file any legal action within a very specific period of time—generally two years from the date of the accident, but it could be as little as 90 days, depending on who the defendant is.

The Discovery Phase

Once you’ve filed your lawsuit and the defendant has answered the complaint, the court will typically schedule a meeting of the attorneys. It’s not unusual for the judge to try to get a sense of whether the case can settle and the judge may actually request that the parties make a good faith effort to settle the case. At the same time, though, the court usually establishes a “discovery” schedule. Discovery is the legal term for the gathering of evidence, whether through depositions, production of documents, or answers to written questions, known as “interrogatories.” The court will generally set a date by which all discovery must be completed, and will also set forth any necessary rules related to discovery.

Contact Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone in New Jersey who has been a victim of a personal injury. For a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Our Office Locations

Freehold

86 Court Street,
Freehold NJ 07728

Telephone: 732-780-0230
Fax: 732-780-5002

Toms River

250 Washington St
Toms River NJ 08753

Telephone: 732-780-0230
Fax: 732-780-5002

Point Pleasant

3247 Route 88
Point Pleasant NJ 08742

Telephone: 732-780-0230
Fax: 732-780-5002