New Jersey’s Dog Bite Law—Liability and Defenses

Dog Bite Law

A dog is man’s best friend—most of the time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than four million Americans are bitten by domesticated canines every year, and almost a million of those bites develop some type of infection. New Jersey law imposes what is known as “strict liability” on dog owners, making it easier for victims to recover for their injuries. But there are also specific defenses dog owners may raise.

The Concept of Strict Liability

Under the legal theory of strict liability, the customary requirement in a personal injury lawsuit—that you prove negligence by the defendant—does not apply. Instead, New Jersey law holds that, if the dog bite victim was on public property or was legally on the dog owner’s property at the time of the attack, you only need to show that you were bitten and demonstrate who owned the dog, and that person will be responsible. Accordingly, the courts don’t care if the dog had previously attacked others or if you had any knowledge that the dog was vicious.

Once you establish who owned the dog, that the dog bit you, and that you were either on public property or legally on the owner’s property, you have a right to recover damages for all injuries and property damage.

The concept of strict liability, though, generally applies only to bites, maulings or other attacks by a dog. If a dog chases you into the street and you are hit by a car, the strict liability statute probably won’t apply. In such a circumstance, you would need to file a lawsuit based on negligence.

Defenses to a Dog Bite Lawsuit

There are a number of instances where a dog owner may escape liability:

  • Where the victim was not legally on the property—As a general rule, a trespasser cannot recover damages for injuries caused by a dog attack.
  • Provocation—The New Jersey courts will look at the degree to which the injured person was responsible for the attack. For example, if the victim intentionally provoked or taunted the dog, and the court determines that was the primary cause of the injury, the plaintiff may be prevented from recovering damages.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 8773200692). There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

What to Do When You’ve Suffered a Brain Injury

Suffered a Brain Injury

The human brain is an amazing organism, but it’s also pretty delicate—there’s a good reason it’s encased in the hard shell of the human skull. Often, even a minor jolt to the brain can cause cognitive dysfunction—more than a million people seek medical treatment every year for brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When you’ve sustained a brain injury, there are specific steps you need to take to protect your legal interest.

Get the Medical Care You Need

This is always your first priority. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better your chances of recovery. Furthermore, you minimize the risk of an intervening accident, which might give defense counsel a basis for denying liability.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Brain injury claims are among the most complex cases to litigate, with highly specialized legal and medical issues. You need a lawyer who understands the causes of brain injury as well as all the potential medical consequences. Your attorney will help you determine whether you have a claim and the legal basis for a lawsuit. In most instances, that claim will be based on allegations of negligence. You’ll need to show that the defendant (the party being sued) had a legal obligation to use a certain level of care and failed to do so; that the accident was a result of that failure; and that you suffered injury as a result of the accident.

Gather and Preserve Evidence

As soon as possible, you want to start compiling evidence to support your claim. When your head is clear, you should write down as much as you can recall about what happened. If there were witnesses, get their contact information—name, phone number, e-mail address, street address—so that your attorney can easily contact them. If possible, take pictures of the scene of the accident, of any injuries you suffered, and of any damage to your personal property.

Contact Mallon & Tranger

Don’t ignore a personal injury, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. 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.

Protecting Your Recollection of What Happened in an Accident

Woman neck hurt after car crash

When you are involved in an accident, chances are good that you’ll replay the events over and over in your mind, like a video that keeps looping. You may think you’ll never forget exactly what happened. You may be surprised then, when you’re in a deposition a year later, that everything seems less than clear. It happens to all of us—that’s why it’s a good idea to sit down in the immediate aftermath of events and take notes about what you recall. But you don’t want to just sit down one time and try to remember everything—our brains don’t function very well that way. The better strategy—keep a journal and make notes any time you remember something from the accident. Here are the important things to write down:

  • What happened—This is something that you’ll want to do as soon as possible, perhaps even on the scene, provided you have received all the medical attention you need. Don’t limit yourself to the accident and ensuing events. Note where you were going, why you were going there, who was with you, what time it was and what you did immediately before the accident—this can be an effective way to trigger clear memories in the future.

    Include notes about anything you saw or heard in the moments before the accident, and exactly what you felt at the time of the accident. Also include any comments you heard others make about the accident and get names and contact information for those people, if possible.

  • Your injuries—Keep a journal of everything you see and feel physically in the days, weeks and months following your accident. Make certain to note anything that seems different or out of the ordinary. Don’t focus on the obvious injuries—broken bones or lacerations—and ignore or forget about the seemingly minor injuries. A soft tissue injury can have more long term consequences that a fracture.
  • Economic or other types of losses—Keep receipts for any expenditures related to your injury, from doctor’s bills to repair bills for your car. Keep track of any time lost at work, any changes you had to make on the job to accommodate injuries, or any personal activities you’ve had to forgo because of your injuries.

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 732-780-0230 for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

Uber Struggling to Address Sexual Harassment Reputation

Sexual-Harassment-Reputation

On February 19, 2017, Susan Fowler, a 26-year-old woman who had worked as a reliability engineer at Uber, then industry leader in ride-sharing, published a blog entitled “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber,” documenting a culture of sexual harassment, coarse language and aggressive sexual predation by men at the company. In her essay, she provided details of a string of messages her manager sent her the first day on the job, including one telling her he was “looking for a woman to have sex with.”

Fowler, who, after one year, quit what she thought would be a dream job at the tech company, says that she took screen shots of the messages and reported her manager to human resources, expecting that they would take action against him. Instead, she was told (falsely, it turns out) that because it was his first offense and he was a high performer, nothing would be done. She was then told that she could either ask for a transfer to another team or expect a bad performance review. She says the rampant sexist behavior decimated the female ranks in the engineering department at Uber, leaving just 6% of the staff female.

In the months following Fowler’s blog post, then CEO Travis Kalanick came under significant scrutiny for his role in fostering the sexually hostile environment. For example, in an interview with GQ, Kalanick famously talked about the company this way “Yeah, we call that Boob-er.” Kalanick initial went on indefinite leave, but subsequently resigned after shareholders demanded he leave. He remains on the company’s board of directors.

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.

What Is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Emotional-Distress

Under the law, you can seek damages for an injury that is intentionally caused, or one that results from carelessness or negligence. As a practical matter, nearly all personal injury claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. In addition, it’s generally easier to recover for tangible losses, such as wages and income or medical expenses. The law does, however, allow you to pursue compensation for less tangible injury, such as emotional distress. One of the more prevalent claim involves an allegation of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

What Is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

To constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress, the defendant’s actions must meet the following tests:

  • There was extreme or outrageous conduct
  • Intentionally or recklessly taken
  • That caused severe emotional distress

If the severe emotional distress leads to bodily harm, the defendant will also be liable for damages related to that injury.

Extreme or Outrageous Conduct

As a general rule, the conduct necessary to constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress must be more than merely offensive—it must exceed all reasonable concepts of decency or civility. While ordinary insults typically don’t rise to the level of outrageous conduct, they might when the perpetrator knows that the victim has a unique susceptibility to emotional distress. For example, if the defendant knows that the victim’s child was killed in a car accident, repeated statements about children dying in motor vehicle accidents may be considered outrageous conduct.

Intent or Recklessness

The person causing the emotional distress must act with knowledge or purpose, or with what is considered a deliberate disregard for the consequences of his or her actions.

Severe Emotional Distress

Typically, to successfully prosecute a personal injury claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff must show that no reasonable person should have to endure the outrageous conduct. Whether or not that has been proven is up to the jury.

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.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress—Bystander Claims

Infliction-of-Emotional-Distress

If you’ve ever witnessed a serious accident, seen someone hurt in a car accident or a work-related accident, you know that the emotional impact can be devastating. You can relive the event for months or years, and experience significant emotional trauma, particularly if the person who was injured or killed was a close friend or family member. Do you have any recourse against the defendant for your emotional distress?

The laws governing the right to seek damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress vary from state to state. In New Jersey, a person may bring a lawsuit for emotional losses under a number of circumstances:

  • Where the defendant’s carelessness put the victim in reasonable apprehension of immediate and serious personal injury—For example, if a motor vehicle operator negligently runs a stop sign and nearly hits a pedestrian, that person may have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, provided a jury finds that he or she reasonably feared being hit by the car
  • Even if a person does not have reasonable fear of injury and wasn’t in the “zone of danger” caused by the accident, a person who observes an accident as a bystander may seek damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress, provided the following four requirements can be shown:
    • The defendant caused the death or serious injury of another person
    • That person was married to or had an intimate family relationship with the person seeking damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress-engaged couples living together are considered to have such a relationship
    • The plaintiff witnessed the event that caused death or serious injury
    • That observation caused severe emotional distress

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.

What You Must Show to Proceed with a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical-Malpractice-Claim

If you’ve been injured or contracted an illness, and sought medical attention, you expect that, at a minimum, your condition won’t worsen because of the care you receive. If that happens, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses in a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are, however, basic requirements that must be met before you can win a damage award for a doctor’s negligence.

You Must Have Been under the Doctor’s Care

Before you can bring legal action for negligence, you must demonstrate a doctor-patient relationship. If you have seen the doctor, either in his or her office or at a hospital and you have been or will be billed for that visit, that shouldn’t be too difficult to prove. However, if you attend a lecture by a doctor who recommends a course of treatment, you may not be able to bring a lawsuit for malpractice if you try that treatment and it does not work.

You Must Show that the Doctor Did Not Meet the Required Standard of Care

In all personal injury claims based on negligence, you must show that the actions of the defendant fell below those reasonably expected. For a doctor, the standard is a little different—the care provided must be at the same or a higher level than that given by a reasonably competent and skilled doctor with the same training in the same medical community.

You Must Prove a Link between the Doctor’s Breach of Care and Your Injury

First, you must show that, had the doctor not breached the duty of care, you would not have suffered your injury. In addition, you must demonstrate that the injury you suffered was reasonably foreseeable based on the negligence alleged.

You Must Have Sustained Actual Losses

If you had medical expenses, but they were all paid by insurance, you don’t have an actual loss, because you did not have to assume the burden of any expense.

Contact the Law Offices of Mallon & Tranger

To learn how we can help you if you have been the victim of medical negligence, 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 Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim?

Calculate-Pain

After an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, you may lose wages or income because you can’t work, and you may have unreimbursed medical expenses. Those damages are easy to determine, though, because they are easily measured. You are also entitled to compensation for physical pain and suffering, a less tangible loss. What exactly is “pain and suffering” and how will the court calculate the total damages for pain and suffering?

The first thing to understand, as we explained in an earlier blog, is that there are two general categories of compensatory damages—economic and non-economic damages. Those losses that are easily measured, such as lost paychecks or medical expenses, are known as economic damages. Those damages that are not readily identifiable, including pain and suffering, are referred to as non-economic damages.

When you have experienced debilitating pain, you can typically seek compensation for the ways it has impacted your life. That may be in the form of physical pain or mental pain/anguish. You can seek damages for pain and suffering that you have already experienced, as well as pain and suffering you expect to experience in the future. Mental pain and suffering can take many different forms, such as anxiety, anger, embarrassment, depression and fear. The courts traditionally consider some amount of mental/emotional pain and suffering as a consequence of any physical injury or loss.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you are in a car accident caused by someone else running a stop sign. You sustain torn ligaments in your left knee and require surgery. After the surgery, while you are healing, you change your gait and develop plantar fasciitis, making it difficult to walk. Because of your physical difficulties, you go out less, but that also makes you depressed. You may be able to recover for the impact the depression has had on your life, as well as any physical injuries caused by the defendant.

Contact Mallon & Tranger

Don’t ignore a personal injury, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. 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.

Putting a Value on Your Personal Injury Claim

Your-Personal-Injury-Claim

In the aftermath of an accident, when you can’t work and you need extensive medical treatment, you can feel a lot of anxiety about financial matters. You may be uncertain what will be included in a personal injury claim, what types of losses you can expect the defendant to cover.

In any legal action to get compensation for losses caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, the financial recovery you are entitled to is customarily referred to as damages. The law generally allows two types of damages-compensatory damages and punitive damages. As a practical matter, most damages are compensatory—designed to compensate or reimburse you for a specific loss or injury. Punitive damages, intended both to punish the wrongdoer and to serve as a disincentive to others, are only awarded when you can prove that the defendant acted intentionally or with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Compensatory damages are further subdivided between economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that are relatively simple to put a value to, typically tied to a tangible or discernible loss, such as wages, medical expenses or the cost of retrofitting your home or auto to accommodate your disability or injury. Non-economic damages are less tangible and more speculative, but nonetheless available. Examples include compensation for physical pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, or loss of enjoyment of life (where your injury prevents you from doing things you used to do).

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.

Common Defenses to a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you’ve been hurt because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, it can seem like an open and shut case. That’s seldom the reality, though, as the defendant will often have some policy of insurance that provides some level of coverage, and will have lawyers retained by the insurance company whose job is to diminish or defeat your claim. Accordingly, you can expect that those attorneys will raise a number of potential defenses to liability. Those defenses generally allege either that you (the plaintiff) caused the accident or that your injuries did not arise from the accident.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence

It’s not uncommon that both parties involved in an accident were negligent in some way—the driver who hit you may have been speeding, but you may have failed to come to a complete stop at a red light. In reality, it’s almost always possible to assert that, had you done something differently, the accident would not have occurred. For centuries, this doctrine, known as contributory negligence, was a complete bar to recovery by an injured person. If the defendant could show that you contributed to the injury in any way, you could recover nothing.

Because of the perceived harshness of such a rule, the doctrine of contributory negligence has generally been replaced by the concept of comparative negligence. There’s some disagreement with respect to the scope of comparative negligence. Some states apply a rule of “pure comparative negligence,” where an injured person may always recover something, even if he or she was primarily at fault. Other states, including New Jersey, have adopted what is known as “modified comparative negligence,” where the plaintiff may only recover if his or her liability was less than that of the defendant(s).

Assumption of Risk

This defense contends that the injured person knew that the activity engaged in was potentially dangerous and voluntarily assumed the risk of injury by participating in the activity or event. This type of defense is common when someone is injured at a spectator event (being hit by a baseball or a hockey puck, for example), or when someone is hurt while engaged in a dangerous activity, such as bungee jumping or skydiving.

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.

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