Archives for February 2014

Multidistrict Litigation and Personal Injury Cases

Mount Laurel Personal Injury Attorneys • New Jersey

Certain kinds of personal injury cases involve complex issues affecting a large number of injury victims — for example, cases involving airplane accidents, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs or exposure to toxic materials. As a result, a large number of related personal injury cases may be filed in different jurisdictions. In order to ease the burden placed on the court system and to better manage the common issues involved, the federal court system has instituted a special legal procedure intended to better facilitate the handling of such cases.

Multidistrict Litigation and the Initial Stages Involved

Referred to as multidistrict litigation (MDL), this procedure allows several civil cases that involve common issues to be transferred to a single district court. These kinds of cases often involve related civil actions from around the country and almost always have the same question (or questions) of fact. A single judge is appointed to handle the litigation during the pretrial and discovery phases. If a case does not settle or is dismissed during MDL, it is sent back to the original court where it was scheduled to be heard.

How Multidistrict Litigation Functions

The decision to bundle cases for MDL is decided by the seven-member United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. This panel is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. If the panel decides to consolidate several cases from around the country, it transfers them to a single federal district court.

The appointed MDL judge who presides over the pretrial motions and discovery portions of the case also presides over the settlement conferences. He or she may dismiss some cases or claims. If a trial is deemed necessary for dismissed cases, they will be tried in the venue from which they originated.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MDL

One obvious advantage of MDL for corporations facing litigation on a single issue throughout the country is the cost encountered as a result. When these cases are consolidated and transferred to a single federal district court, the cost of litigation is less and working with eyewitnesses or experts is easier as well. Experts and witnesses aren’t required to testify multiple times and defendants needn’t be deposed multiple times.

MDL also makes it easier for attorneys representing injury victims to combine resources, share information and coordinate investigative efforts in preparing their clients’ cases against a defendant.

Questions Regarding MDL? Contact Injury Attorneys Taylor & Boguski

If you’ve been injured due to a defective medical device, dangerous drug, airliner crash or exposure to toxic materials, contact Mount Laurel personal injury attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today to learn how we can help you.

Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit against the Government?

Mount Laurel Personal Injury Attorneys

Municipalities, state-run governmental entities and federal agencies can be held financially responsible for injuries that occur on their property or as a result of the actions of their employees. Consequently, local, state and federal entities can be sued when negligence on the part of government workers or government agencies causes injuries or fatalities. However, it is important to keep in mind that municipalities and government agencies are typically held to a different standard of liability than individuals, corporations or small businesses.

Additionally, in personal injury claims involving New Jersey public entities, an injured party must file a claim within 90 days of an accident.

Public Entities — Different Rules, Different Issues

In general, state-owned facilities and agencies may have certain restrictions in place that govern who is allowed in certain areas of buildings or what codes and regulations apply to a facility or employee, or they may be responsible for investigating themselves in cases involving personal injuries. Public transportation authorities in particular typically have an investigative arm responsible for determining what happened in bus, train and subway accidents.

For instance, New Jersey Transit (NJT) uses its own investigative team to investigate the causes of bus or train accidents. As such, it’s important to work with a personal injury attorney who can conduct an independent investigation and take steps to ensure that NJT investigators don’t cut corners or reach a conclusion that is overly sympathetic to NJT employees.

Additionally, there may be a statute of limitations that governs how long an injured person has to bring a lawsuit against a government entity. For example, people injured on a public bus or train in New Jersey have six months to bring a lawsuit against the NJT.

What Can Government Entities Be Held Liable For?

For the most part, a government entity can be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of negligence on its part. For example, municipalities, local and state governments, and federal agencies can be held financially accountable for injuries that result from:

  • Car accidents involving a government vehicle
  • Crumbling sidewalks
  • Potholes, obscured traffic signs and improperly graded roads and highways
  • Collapsed roofs or exposure to toxic materials involving government structures
  • Malfunctioning elevators or escalators
  • Slips and falls in government buildings
  • Fires in government buildings
  • Public transportation accidents
  • Negligence on the part of doctors or nurses in state-run hospitals

Protect Your Rights — Contact Mount Laurel Personal Injury Attorneys

After an injury, dealing with government agencies and investigators can be confusing and frustrating. Given the resources available to government entities, it’s essential to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to investigate accidents on government property while protecting your rights should government investigators want to talk to you.

To learn how we can protect your rights and hold the government financially accountable for your injuries, contact Mount Laurel personal injury attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today.

Retirement Plans: Is It Better Financially to Stay Married?

Mount Laurel Divorce Attorneys • Marital Asset Division

It’s not unusual for someone to wonder whether or not they can afford divorce — after all, divorce will impact your monthly income, health benefits, credit score and taxes. Additionally, if you get a divorce you’ll need to divide your marital assets. Since New Jersey is an “equitable division” state, the court will determine what it believes to be a fair and equitable division of marital property. Practically speaking, this means the court may divide your savings accounts, investments or business assets it considers marital property.

For these reasons, couples that have been married longer and have older children in school may decide divorce isn’t in their best financial interests at this time. However, if you are in debt and considering bankruptcy, divorce may be in your best financial interests.

Retirement Plans and Divorce

An important consideration in determining if divorce makes financial sense for you at this time is how any savings or retirement plan assets will be divided. In cases in which only one spouse has a 401(k) or a retirement plan in place, a divorce may substantially change the amount of savings you had initially planned for. New Jersey state law considers retirement accounts to be marital property. Consequently, any retirement plan is subject to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

In essence, a QDRO ensures that the nonparticipating spouse in a retirement plan will receive a portion of the assets contained in the plan. The plan’s administrator must be notified — usually through paperwork prepared by an attorney — indicating the amount the nonparticipant spouse is entitled to receive.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and the Finances of Divorce

If you don’t work or have very little money in your 401(k), you need to consider what makes financial sense if your spouse has a retirement plan or substantial savings in his or her 401(k). While you are entitled to receive a portion of your spouse’s retirement plan benefits, you cannot simply take the money owed you without incurring a substantial financial penalty.

Secondly, the value of a QDRO will grow as the plan benefit grows over time. In this way, a divorce and QDRO will provide you with some measure of financial security in your later years, but your quality of life may suffer now if you live alone and must support yourself as a result.

If you are the working spouse and stand to lose some of your pension plan assets through a QDRO, staying married may, in the end, make more financial sense. Combined earnings and Social Security benefits may mean the difference between a fairly comfortable retirement and one in which you face a certain amount of financial stress from having to live alone.

Contact Mount Laurel Divorce Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski

There are a number of financial issues to take into consideration when considering divorce. How your retirement plan will be affected is only one consideration. In order to properly weigh the relevant factors involved, it’s important to talk to an experienced divorce attorney who can explain the division of marital assets, the division of marital debt and how your business or taxes will be affected as well.

If you are considering divorce but are facing serious financial problems, contact Mount Laurel divorce attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today to learn how we can help you.