Archives for March 2014

Documenting your medical condition after an auto accident

Being injured in an auto accident can be very traumatic. It’s usually something that happens completely out of the blue and that you never think will happen to you (auto accidents only happen to others, right?). What you do and don’t do after an auto accident could have a substantial impact on any potential legal claims.

Obviously, if you’ve been knocked unconscious due to the accident, how and where you go for treatment is out of your hands and in the hands of the ambulance driver. However, if you are conscious after the accident, take steps to protect your rights.

Get medical attention

Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, go straight to the ER or your doctor’s office. You may be injured and not even know it. Having an independent medical professional document your condition as soon as possible after the accident should help your legal claims. You may be in such shock that you can’t feel injuries that have occurred, but a doctor may be able to diagnose them.

This exam can also serve as a baseline for your health as time passes. Without immediate medical attention, there is no way to prove your condition at the time of the accident.

Create a medical file

Get copies of records created by these post-accident visits. Though you may not need every record, the initial treatment report may become extremely useful to you in the future.

Create a file for your medical records and keep it up to date. It creates the story line of your injury and treatment. It also tracks your spending on your medical treatment. Since medical expenses are potentially reimbursable as economic damages, keeping accurate records could help you collect money from the person at fault.

Take pictures

In addition to taking pictures of the accident, take pictures of your injuries. Keep those pictures up to date as time passes. Time stamp the photos and back them up onto a computer. If your situation needs to be explained to a jury, each picture may speak a thousand words.

Keep a journal

Record your thoughts and impressions throughout your treatment and recovery. If you’re more focused on the situation, you may be better able to bring up issues with and respond to questions from your doctor. A journal should also contain the thoughts and feelings you’re dealing with. If you’re going through serious stress, sleepless nights, confusion and other mental trauma, this may help lead to an actual medical diagnosis and treatment, which could help your damages claims, including for pain and suffering due to your injuries.

Contact us

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact our office so we can talk about your situation and your legal options.

Can I Get Child Support If My Ex Is in Another Country?

Depending on the situation, yes. We represent clients seeking child support from the other parent, whether that parent is across the street or across the globe.

Agreements with other countries

The federal government has negotiated reciprocity agreements with several countries and is negotiating declarations with others on behalf of all U.S. jurisdictions. The following countries are foreign reciprocating countries for child support purposes.

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

These agreements spell out procedures for establishing and enforcing child support orders across borders. Requirements may vary, but a parent will be asked to provide the same kind of information as in a domestic case. Including as much specific information, such as the address and employer of the noncustodial parent, as possible is a good idea.

Possible steps when there is no agreement with the other country

If the other parent works for an American company or for a foreign company with offices in the United States, income withholding might be possible even if the country he or she lives is not one of the reciprocating countries. Approaching a foreign employer doing business in the United States directly for help might prove successful. If the other parent is employed by the Department of Defense or another federal agency and living overseas, the agency employing the parent could be contacted to arrange payment.

The state Office of Child Support could get involved and criminal charges could be filed if the other parent is not paying support. That could lead to an arrest and extradition from the other country. One instance of this took place in 1997, when the state of Massachusetts, working with Interpol, had a parent who was the subject of an outstanding warrant deported from the Dominican Republic and arrested on arrival in the United States.

If there is no reciprocal agreement with the country where the other parent lives, a child support enforcement action could be filed in the appropriate court in the foreign country. This normally requires hiring a local an attorney. The Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services may have information on foreign child support laws and a list of English-speaking attorneys. That foreign attorney will probably want any documents concerning child support proceedings and decisions from New Jersey.

Child support issues can be complex, and we work with our clients to get the best possible outcome for them and the children involved. If you have questions or concerns about child custody, contact our office.

How do injuries get valued in workers’ compensation payouts?

We work with our workers’ compensation clients to get them the maximum recovery for their work-related injuries. Some of the values of those injuries are clearer cut than others.

If we and the compensation carrier can’t work out a settlement agreement, the value of your case will be decided by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation, an administrative court that determines the value of an injured New Jersey worker’s claim.

Partial permanent disability

When a job-related injury or illness results in a partial permanent disability, benefits are based upon a percentage of certain “scheduled” or “nonscheduled” losses.

  • A “scheduled” loss is one involving arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, ears or teeth. The schedule lists the body parts, the percentage of loss and value of each.
  • A “nonscheduled” loss is one involving any area or system of the body not specifically identified in the schedule, such as the back, heart or lungs.

These benefits are paid weekly and are due after the date temporary disability ends.

Temporary total disability

If an injured worker is disabled for more than seven days, he or she will be eligible to receive temporary total benefits at a rate of 70 percent of their average weekly wage, with a maximum and minimum rate set by the State based on the year of the accident. For example, for an accident occurring in the year 2013 the maximum rate is $843.00 and the minimum is $225.00. These benefits are provided during the period when a worker is unable to work and is under active medical care.

Benefits usually end when the worker is released to return to work in some capacity or if the worker has reached maximum medical improvement, when additional treatment will no longer improve their medical condition.

Permanent total disability

If a work-related injury or illness prevents a worker from returning to any type of gainful employment, that person may receive permanent total disability benefits. Permanent total disability is presumed when the worker has lost two major body parts or a combination of parts of the body, such as eyes, arms, hands, legs or feet. However, permanent total disability can also result from a combination of other injuries that render the worker unemployable.

These weekly benefits are provided initially for 450 weeks. These benefits may continue if the injured worker can show that he or she remains unable to earn wages.

Contact us

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job and want to get answers to questions about workers’ compensation, contact our office.