Archives for May 2014

Proving that you have serious injuries

A plaintiff in a personal injury case has the burden of proving his or her case. It’s our job to put the best personal injury case possible together for our clients. One of the elements that needs to be proven is that an injury occurred. Generally, the more serious the injury, the higher the settlement or verdict will likely be.

There are several ways the extent of an injury can be established during a trial.

1. Personal testimony

You can testify as to your physical capabilities before and after the injury. You can discuss how the injury has impacted your life, the degree to which your activities have been limited, the amount of pain you’re in and how often, and the amount of times your activities have been curtailed. You could also talk about the emotional and psychological impact the injury has had and its impact on your relationships and ability to work.

2. Video evidence

Often, personal injury plaintiffs will have a “day in the life” video produced. In addition to your testimony, a video can show a judge or jury an average day in your life, making it clear what you can and cannot do.

3. Testimony of fact witnesses

People who knew you before your injury and who know how it has limited you can testify as to the injury’s impact of your life based on what they have personally witnessed (such as the facts that you rarely get out of bed, need a cane to walk, no longer engage in hobbies, etc.).

4. Testimony of a treating physician

Your treating physician can testify as to his or her observations of you, tests and results, the diagnosis made, treatments and chances of a recovery.

5. Testimony of expert witness

A doctor who is a specialist and expert in your type of injury may examine you and your medical records and testify about your condition, its causes, its impact on your functioning, how much pain you’re experiencing, your treatment and your prognosis for a recovery. This expert may have reviewed x-rays, CT or MRI scans, or blood tests and could testify as to what they show and that expert’s opinion as to what they mean.

6. Medical records

Medical records, x-rays and scan results can document the facts of your injury when you first obtained medical treatment and your condition as you’ve continued to get medical help. They can also spell out your diagnosis, how often you received care, what’s been done to treat you and the effects of treatment.

7. Medical bills

Serious injuries often result in multiple treatments, which create very expensive medical bills. A plaintiff claiming to be seriously injured and facing long-term impairments may have a difficult time proving it without a showing of extensive medical bills.

If you or a loved one has any questions or concerns about an injury and your possible legal rights for recovery, contact our office for a free consultation.

I’ve Inherited Money during Our Marriage. Do I Have to Split That If I Divorce?

Generally, no. But since this is the law we’re talking about, it’s not that simple.

Unless the parties can come to an agreement, a judge will divide marital property in a fair and “equitable” way during the divorce proceedings. The issue then becomes whether this inheritance, or part of it, is marital property. Money or property inherited by one spouse isn’t normally considered marital property, so it isn’t divided at divorce, depending on how it was handled during the marriage.

Everything divorcing spouses own must be classified as either marital or separate property. Marital property includes assets (and debts) that were acquired during the marriage by either spouse or by both of them together, with exceptions.

Separate property includes assets that either spouse acquired before the marriage and during the marriage when assets are:

  • Inherited by just one spouse
  • Received by one spouse as a gift from a third party

Separate property can become marital property

An asset may begin as separate property but change (“transmute”) into marital property:

  • Adding a spouse to the title: If a spouse inherits real property and later adds the other spouse’s name to the title, it becomes marital property.
  • Contributing marital assets: If the title to an asset stays in one spouse’s name and it increases in value, that increase might be marital property. If a spouse helps make mortgage payments or helps pay for remodeling costs for a house that the other spouse inherited and is in that spouse’s name only, any increase in value in the house would probably be considered a marital asset.
  • Mixing (or “commingling”) assets: If an inherited sum of money is deposited into a joint account, it may be impossible to determine, if deposits and withdrawals are constantly made, what portion remains separate property.
  • Using separate funds to buy marital assets: If a spouse uses an inherited sum of money to buy a house that is in both spouse’s names, this separate asset becomes a marital asset.

Keeping separate property separate and proving it

As long as separate property is carefully kept separate, it and any increased value of it belongs only to the spouse who originally owned it. A prenuptial agreement created before the marriage can also spell out which property is separate.

A spouse claiming to own inherited, separate property at divorce will have to prove it.

  • That’s easier when the property was never mixed with marital property and meticulous records were kept to establish that.
  • If your inheritance was mixed with joint funds, proving it is separate property is not impossible, but it can be very difficult.

If you have any questions about property division during divorce, contact our office for a free consultation.

How can an attorney help me with workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation laws protect workers who are hurt on the job. An injury occurring on the job “out of and in the course of employment” is covered by workers’ compensation laws. Many work-related injuries are minor and most employees recover quickly and are able to return to work. When things go smoothly, there is not much need to hire an attorney.

However, when a workers’ compensation claim is rejected, we can help. We can also help if your claim is accepted but the amount offered doesn’t cover your medical needs, or if appropriate medical care is denied. We can also help if your employer retaliates against you because of your compensation claim.

We do the work so you won’t have to.

  • We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the workers’ compensation process.
  • We can help you get the medical treatment you need and the maximum financial recovery permitted by law.
  • We will file the necessary Claim Petition and guide you through the system, protecting your rights every step of the way.

Under the state’s workers’ compensation law, workers with work-related injuries or occupational diseases are entitled to a variety of benefits from their employers, including:

  • Medical treatment
  • Temporary disability benefits payments while you receive treatment and are unable to work
  • A monetary award for permanent injuries
  • Dependents, typically spouses and minor children of workers who die from work-related injuries or diseases, are also entitled to benefits

Your employer has insurance to cover work-related injuries and occupational diseases.

  • That insurance company has an entire staff and has retained lawyers to make sure workers get as few benefits as possible.
  • Employers or their insurance companies may refuse to provide injured workers with the medical treatment and temporary disability benefits mandated by law.
  • If compensation to injured workers for their permanent injuries and disability are not voluntarily paid, the only way to protect the rights of an injured worker is to file a workers’ compensation case.

We not only file the case, but zealously protect your rights to get you the best treatment and most compensation possible.

New Jersey law prohibits employers from retaliating or threatening to retaliate against employees who file a workers’ compensation case. If that law is broken, we can help you protect your rights.
Retaliation in response to a workers’ compensation claim can take many forms, including:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in pay or in work hours
  • Loss of benefits
  • Denial of any other employment opportunity

If you have any questions about workers’ compensation or concerns about a work-related injury, contact our office for a free consultation.