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Personal Injury Articles for the Injured of NJ

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Tracy Morgan Files NJ Lawsuit for Injuries from Truck Accident

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By Francis M. Smith

When one is fortunate enough never to have been the victim of a serious automotive accident, it's easy to think of car crashes as things that happen to other people. Unfortunately it's not always possible to maintain that illusion of safety; whether you suffer a car accident yourself, know a friend or family member who has been injured in a crash, or hear about a celebrity or public figure who was involved in a serious accident nearby, the reality of these dangers becomes all too apparent. Many people here in New Jersey experienced this realization last June, when actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured in an accident in which a commercial truck allegedly struck his vehicle from the rear. A friend of Morgan's, also a comedian, was killed in the accident, and the driver of the truck involved has been charged with vehicular homicide under New Jersey state law.

Due to its greater size and weight, a commercial truck has the potential to cause much more damage in an accident than a typical passenger vehicle, so there are additional regulations in place intended to reduce the risk of equipment failure and driver error. A specific set of laws aims to prevent drowsiness and fatigue on the part of the truck driver from contributing to serious accidents. The Federal Carrier Safety Administration (FCSA) has a very precise set of regulations governing the "hours of service" that mandates off-duty rest times and limits the number of consecutive driving hours a commercial truck driver can work within set periods of time. These limitations prohibit truck drivers from:

NJ Personal Injury Attorney Explains Life Care Plans

Life Care Plan

By Francis M. Smith

After suffering a serious injury as a result of the negligent or reckless actions of others, many accident victims understandably focus on the present: the pain and limitations caused by their injuries, the demands of their medical treatment, and the immediate financial concerns stemming from lost wages and medical bills. These pressing issues must be addressed in your personal injury claim. It is also important not to lose sight of the long-term repercussions of your injury.

Can My Doctor Prepare the Expert Report for My Serious Injury?

Independent Medical Exam

By Francis M. Smith

During the "discovery" phase of any personal injury lawsuit, it is generally expected that the plaintiff, or claimant, will undergo a medical evaluation by an "independent" medical expert. This report is intended to serve as the basis for the claimant's settlement negotiations with the insurance company, and will be submitted as evidence and that doctor will be an expert witness should the case go all the way to trial. In an ideal world, these medical examinations would be conducted by an honest doctor with no agenda other than accurately determining the severity and scope of the plaintiff's injuries. Unfortunately, when dealing with medical experts hired by insurance companies, this ideal is rarely met, if ever. The insurance industry and their attorneys like to call such an exam an "IME"- independent medical exam- but I call it a "DME"- a defense medical exam, because it is anything but independent.

The testimony of expert witnesses is required in civil legal cases. Whether the testimony is presented in the form of a written report or delivered in person from the witness stand, the expert is typically a credentialed professional with substantial experience in a field relevant to the case. Expert witnesses can come from a number of professional fields, from architect to auto mechanic – but in personal injury suits, the kind of expert you will most commonly find yourself up against is a medical doctor. Depending on the type of injury you have sustained, you may see a general physician or a specialist.

Use of Life Expectancy Tables in Personal Injury Cases

Life Expectancy Table

By Francis M. Smith

Some personal injury cases are straightforward: another car crashes into yours and your leg is broken, requiring immediate treatment and several months of physical therapy in order to enable you to recover fully and resume your customary activities. But sometimes the injuries suffered by an accident victim are of a severity or a nature that he or she is left with a permanent disability, a lifelong condition, or an increased risk of future health problems. Joint damage may render a patient more likely to develop arthritis later in life and at an earlier age, and head trauma can leave a victim more vulnerable to sustaining serious damage from subsequent head injuries. So how are these permanent injuries and increased risks adjudicated when it's time to work out how much you deserve in fair compensation for your injuries?

It may seem a little morbid when lawyers bring out the life expectancy tables, but this statistical data plays a critical role in ensuring that you receive a large enough settlement to cover the life-long costs of your injuries. The simplest example of the use of this actuarial data found in Appendix I of the New Jersey Rules of Court, which every judge may use in her or his instructions to the jury. This table of life expectancy can be used by economists in the case of a permanent disability that restricts your ability to function in such a way that you are no longer able to work. The same life expectancy tables are used to determine how long you are expected to live with a permanent injury, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in NJ?

Time Running Out

By Francis M. Smith

There Is A Time Limit!

During an accident, everything seems to happen at once – whether it's a car crash, a fall, or other accidental injury, things are moving so quickly that it can be hard to keep track of what's going on or know how to react. The aftermath of an accident is very similar in that regard, so many things need to happen right away, when you're already facing a great deal of stress and pressure from any accident injuries you suffered, and it can feel overwhelming. You may need to see a series of doctors and specialists, arrange to take time off from work while you recover or care for injured family members, figure out how to cope with the financial strains of medical bills and lost wages, and think about seeking legal representation for your injury claim. It's natural to look at all these tasks and try to prioritize, considering which items must be dealt with immediately and which can be set on the back burner for a while until you have more time. However, when you're making that decision, it's important to keep in mind that there is a limited amount of time that you're given in which you can file a personal injury suit before the opportunity is lost.

Why Contact a Lawyer Soon After a Car Accident?

NJ Car Insurance Buyer's Guide

By Francis M. Smith

Under the very best of circumstances, being in a car accident is a scary experience. Because motor vehicles are big, heavy, and fast, they have the potential to do a lot of damage to bodies and property if something goes wrong. In the first moments following the accident, your reactions might include shocked surprise – especially if the other driver came out of nowhere or did something unexpected to cause the accident – fear, anger, and worry. Is anyone hurt? Are you hurt? Is it safe to stay in the car? Is it safe to get out? People who are fortunate enough never to have been in the situation previously are often confused and uncertain of how to proceed when another driver strikes them. This can be a problem, since there are important things people should do to protect themselves when they've been in a car accident, and many of them should be begun as soon after the crash as is practical.

As soon as you can after the accident, on the same day if at all possible, it's a good idea to see a doctor if you believe there's any chance at all you might have sustained an injury. The troubling thing about car accident injuries is that many types of damage, particularly to the neck and back, don't make themselves obvious right away. Maybe the shock and stress of the crash make the body tense up, masking the pain until that tension wears off, or it could be that the distraction and worry of dealing with the accident distract victims enough not to notice the first signs of a larger problem. Some people also might worry about being perceived as weak somehow, for seeking medical care when they don't have an obvious serious injury – but these are dangerous ways to think, not only medically, but financially.

Why Your Insurance Company Won't Pay: A Common Problem After a Motor Vehicle Accident


By Francis M. Smith

Too often when a person becomes the victim of a car or motorcycle accident, they find themselves in the position of needing to fight the insurance company in order to get their medical bills paid. Some injuries, such as broken bones resulting from the impact, have a fairly indisputable cause and there is little the insurer can do to argue against paying for them. Unfortunately, many injuries are not so self-evident, and insurance companies hire lawyers who will search for any justification to avoid compensating for the damage sustained as a result of those injuries. In automotive accidents, neck and back injuries are very common, and can have serious, permanent consequences for the collision victim's quality of life. It's important to have an experienced spine injury attorney on your side after you've sustained such an injury in a vehicle crash, to help you win the causation fight against the insurance company and ensure that the treatment you need is paid for.


Brain Injuries: When Auto Accident Symptoms Do Not Improve

brain injury resulting from car crash

By Francis M. Smith

When most people think about the kinds of serious injuries that can result from an automobile accident, it's the visually obvious physical damage that first comes to mind: wounds, broken bones, and torn muscles and ligaments. These kinds of injury are relatively easy to identify, and the difference between "injured" and "recovered" is fairly obvious. But there is a type of injury that very frequently results from car accidents that is much harder to recognize and understand. In fact, the medical profession is still learning about these injuries.

Brain injuries resulting from head trauma are common in auto accidents, and until recently, they were considered among the less severe types of injury you might sustain in a crash. Common wisdom used to hold that the symptoms of a concussion would fade in a few days or weeks with careful rest. But concussions, or traumatic brain injuries as they are more accurately called, can be much more serious and persistent than once believed. A blow to the head received during an automobile accident - or even severe "whiplash" without striking the head - can produce the same kind of brain injuries that returning soldiers have suffered due to their proximity to an explosion.

Do Bike and Sports Helmets Really Protect Against Head Injuries?

family wearing bike helmets

By Francis M. Smith

You can’t replace your brain.

Naturally, you want to protect yourself if you’re engaged in potentially dangerous sports or other similar activities, which is why wearing helmets is a growing trend across all types of sports. But the truth is, head injury can still occur. No helmet can protect you 100% of the time, in every conceivable circumstance.

4 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites That Lead to Lawsuit

dog bite injury

By Francis M. Smith

Here in New Jersey we have a strict liability statute that says the owner is liable for damages if his or her dog bites you (under most circumstances). That means medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering compensation, and damages based on enduring scars the rest of the victim's life. Even a landlord can be held accountable if he or she knows of the dog's vicious propensities.

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