Archives for April 2014

Injuries that take a long time to heal

The fact that an injury isn’t healing well, in and of itself, has no bearing on your personal injury case. The issue would be why it’s taking a long time to heal. Depending on that answer, there could be an impact on a personal injury case.

The need to mitigate damages

As a plaintiff, you have an obligation to mitigate (or limit) your damages. You need to act as an ordinary, reasonable person would act in a similar situation. You need to act in good faith and with due diligence in the exercise of ordinary care and reasonable judgment when choosing a doctor or treatment for your injuries.

If you are following the directions of your treating physician and trying to recover in good faith, the fact that recovery is taking a long time should not be an issue. If you had surgery and recovery is delayed due to an infection or complication, though, the defendant may blame your surgeon or hospital and not want to pay for time you’re laid up due to medical complications.

If, on the other hand, you’re not following instructions by not taking medications as prescribed, not going to physical therapy or doing things above and beyond what your physician says you should be doing and you worsen or prolong the injury, that will be a problem. The defendant will try to reduce the amount of damages you may recover by showing you weren’t taking reasonable steps to reduce your loss following your injury.

Refusing surgery or a recommended course of treatment

You cannot claim damages for a permanent injury if your doctor recommends surgery or some other course of treatment that could avoid or reduce the permanency of the injury and you refuse that treatment, if a reasonable person would have followed the suggested course under the same circumstances.

Whether refusal to have surgery or a course of treatment is reasonable depends on a number of factors:

  • The degree to which the proposed surgery involves risk of death or further injury
  • Whether the surgery is relatively simple with a good record of success
  • Whether the surgery is more than routine, involves some hazard, poses serious risks or is considered major and serious surgery
  • The probability that the surgery would have resulted in a cure or alleviated the injury

Personal injury cases normally are filed because a serious injury has taken place and so the fact that a long recovery is needed is not unusual. If that recovery is taking a long time because the plaintiff is not acting reasonably in getting treatment, not following medical directions or otherwise not taking care of him or herself, then it becomes a problem.

If you have any questions about personal injury cases, contact our office for a free consultation.

Do I have a right to workers’ compensation if I injured myself on the job?

Getting worker’s compensation benefits generally does not require a showing of fault by one party or another. If the injury took place in the course of your employment, you should be covered. But all cases are unique and very fact-specific.

Unlike with personal injury law, workers’ compensation does not normally involve fault issues. If the employer caused the accident, you won’t collect more money and if you caused the accident, you normally won’t be denied benefits.

Self-injury and intent

A self-inflicted injury may be intentional or unintentional. If a self-inflicted injury is intentional, it means the worker deliberately did harm to him or herself. If it is unintentional, it was the result of a mistake and there was no intent to self-harm. That unintentional type of injury would be covered by workers’ compensation.

If the injury was intentional, however, and the worker did something in order to harm him or herself, the injury would not be covered. But the burden would be on the employer to show that the self-injury was intentional. Another possible route for the employee in this case could be to show a mental illness was caused or worsened by work to the point where the worker was a danger to him or herself (which may be a difficult case to prove).

In very unusual cases, it could be found that the sole cause of the injury was the employee’s fault because the worker ignored a well-known safety rule or policy. In that case, a workers’ compensation claim could be denied. Normally, though, when an employee makes a mistake or doesn’t pay attention in the course of doing a job, there’s a work component, like a tool or piece of equipment that hits you.

Workers’ compensation benefits

As a practical matter, if you find yourself injured at work, don’t spend time wondering about legal issues. Report your injury to your employer. Your medical treatment will be chosen and paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance company. You may qualify for temporary disability benefits (70 percent of your gross weekly salary) if you are unable to work for at least seven days. You would return to work, and your benefits would end, when you are medically cleared to come back to work. If you suffer a permanent disability, you are entitled to a monetary award.

If you have any questions about workers’ compensation laws and how they may apply to your situation, contact our office for a free consultation.

Can Child Support Be Used to Pay for College?

Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

It’s not uncommon for a certain amount of confusion to arise around the issue of whether or not child support can be used to pay for college. Technically speaking, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines apply to the cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18. Consequently, New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines do not apply to children over the age of 18 unless they are still in high school or attending a similar secondary educational institution.

However, in certain situations, the court may decide to extend child support beyond the age of 18. In general, the court will act in what it believes to be a child’s best interests. In what way, then, could extending child support to pay for college be considered “in a child’s best interests”?

Child Support and College Expenses: Understanding When It May Not Apply

In general, when a child reaches the age of 18 or is considered “emancipated,” child support payments stop. Most custodial parents are puzzled by this and often ask why, when college costs continue to rise, child support isn’t extended to pay for college.

Part of the reason child support may not be ordered in relation to college costs is the amount paid toward child support in the first place. Secondly, many college students work to help pay for their own education, or else they take out loans. Here, if a student can bear some of the costs of his or her education, child support is deemed unnecessary by the court.

Lastly, if a student is in need of financial help to defray the costs of college, it may make more sense for the noncustodial parent to give money directly to his or her child rather than doing so indirectly through the custodial parent.

Case Law: Child Support and College Expenses in New Jersey

In Newburgh v. Arrigo, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that, given the egalitarian nature of society and the increasing number of families interested in sending their children to college, the following 12 factors should be used to determine if child support should be used to pay for college:

  1. Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education
  2. The effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the child’s expectation for higher education
  3. The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education
  4. The ability of the parent to pay that cost
  5. The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the chil
  6. The financial resources of both parents
  7. The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education
  8. The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust
  9. The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or vacations
  10. The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans
  11. The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals, as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance
  12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child

Contact Mount Laurel Child Custody Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski

If you’re unsure whether or not the Newburgh ruling applies to your situation, contact Mount Laurel child support attorneys at Taylor & Boguski. We can review your situation and determine the best legal options available to you for determining if you have a case for extending child support to help pay for your child’s college education.