Archives for June 2014

Michael Taylor & Lucas Webster Admitted as Members of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States

Congratulations to Michael Taylor and Lucas Webster on their recent admission as members of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. Gary Boguski, previously admitted as a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, served as their sponsor.

Gary W. Boguski, Michael A. Taylor and Lucas K. Webster in front of U.S. Supreme Court Building

Gary Boguski on choosing the right attorney for your business

Check out Gary Boguski’s article on choosing the right attorney in South Jersey Biz magazine:

Understanding What Insurance Companies Pay for in a Personal Injury Claim

Physical TherapyDetermining the value of a personal injury claim is critical for both you and insurance companies. This amount varies based on the facts of your situation and the applicable law. With our experience representing accident victims, we make these determinations all the time. The following is generally how these determinations are made.

Issues to consider

Normally, a party liable for an accident — and the party’s insurance company if there’s a policy covering the situation — pays an injured person for:

  • Medical care and expenses
  • Income lost due to the accident, because of lost work time caused by the injury or getting treated for it
  • Permanent physical disability or disfigurement
  • Loss of family, social and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event
  • Emotional damages due to stress, depression or strains on family relationships caused by the accident and resulting physical injuries
  • Damaged or destroyed property

The Insurance Company’s Damages Formula

The insurance company adds up the total medical expenses related to the injury (referred to as “medical special damages” or simply “specials”). That is the base figure the insurance company uses to calculate how much to pay for pain, suffering and other nonmonetary losses (called “general” damages).

  • If injuries are relatively minor, the adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by 1.5 or two.
  • When injuries are particularly painful, serious or long lasting, the special damages may be multiplied by a factor up to five (possibly a factor as high as 10 in extreme cases).
  • The adjuster adds on lost income due to the injuries.

This figure is not a final amount. It’s only the number from which negotiations begin.

Percentage of Fault

The most important factor affecting how much the insurance company is likely to pay is the extent to which each party is at fault. The damages formula provides a range of how much your injuries might be worth, but only after the issue of fault is considered can you get a good grasp of the actual compensation value of your claim.

This is not an exact science, but both you and the insurance company, objectively looking at the facts with unbiased eyes, should have a good idea of the degree of fault for both sides. The more at fault you were, the less the value of the claim, and vice versa for the insured.

New Jersey is considered a modified comparative negligence state. This is also known as the 51 percent rule. You may be eligible for compensation if you are less than 51 percent responsible for your injuries. If an agreement can’t be reached about who is at fault and to what extent, a civil court will examine the accident and come to that decision.

Once the damages are calculated and the degree of fault factored in, you have the financial value of your case.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact our office for a free consultation.

Negotiating a Custody Arrangement That Actually Works for Your Children’s Well-Being

Mother, father and childDivorcing parents have to focus on protecting their own interests as far as assets, debts and income. They must also factor in the interests of their children, and it’s normally in a child’s best interests to be part of the lives of both parents. We help parents put together custody agreements.

If children are involved, some divorces can degenerate to the point where children become pawns in the power game between divorcing spouses. If one spouse wants custody, then the other doesn’t want that to happen just as form of punishment for some real or imagined past deed. Just because a person was a bad spouse doesn’t mean he or she is a bad parent.

Though there are cases in which a child’s time with a parent genuinely needs to be limited, that’s not normally in the child’s best interests. Custody agreements should be worked out between the parents, which requires them to act like adults if they want to act in their children’s best interests.

How to make the best of the situation

The key elements of a successful custody agreement that serves a child’s interests are:

  1. A focus on meeting a child’s needs: What are those needs? How can each parent meet those needs? What are the child’s personality, interests and activities? How can these needs be met without one or both of the parents overextending themselves?
  2. Enough detail so that both parents and the children know what to expect: There needs to be some predictability, and each parent needs to know what’s expected of them so they can live up to their end of the bargain.
  3. Regular reviews to determine whether changes should be made in the agreement: Children grow older and their needs change over time. One or both parents’ situations may also change.
  4. A way for the parents to make decisions and resolve conflicts regarding parenting issues: As much as you need enough details in the agreement, not all issues can be resolved on paper. As time passes and issues arise, how will the parents make decisions? What’s the best way for the parents to communicate? What role, if any, will the child’s input play? Should some form of third-party mediation take place in case the parents are deadlocked over an important issue?

Working out a functional custody agreement can take flexibility and imagination, but mostly a desire to serve the best interests of the children. If you have any questions about child custody agreements, contact our office for a free consultation.

Is depression covered in workers’ compensation cases?

Warehouse workerDepression, anxiety and feeling stressed can be caused by one’s job and work environment. Work-related depression is a disorder that is often overlooked in the workplace and may be mistaken for ordinary stress. It may become serious enough to impact your ability to work and you may qualify for workers’ compensation as a result.
A person with symptoms of work-related depression can possess any of the following:

  • Depression — You may feel worthless and have uncontrollable crying spells. You may start having suicidal thoughts, and suicide may seem a way out of your situation. You may lose interest in personal hygiene and physical appearance.
  • The inability to focus on tasks — You may be unable to concentrate on your job because that is what’s causing your problems and your mood disorder. Unless you can find a solution, your mind will remain in this slump, impacting your performance, which could make the situation worse.
  • Time missed from work — If you can’t sleep and want to avoid issues at work, you may call in sick more often.
  • Feeling overwhelmed — You may feel as if the weight of the world is upon your shoulders. Not only has your job performance dropped, but you may have also lost control of your finances and personal life.

Workers’ compensation for depression

New Jersey workers’ compensation law was originally created to compensate workers for physical injuries. Over time, psychiatric disabilities were recognized as potential work-related injuries or occupational illnesses as well.

To have a successful claim for depression, the injured worker needs to show:

  • The work exposure or incident at issue was objectively stressful,
  • The incident and/or exposure was peculiar to the workplace (i.e., not common to everyone or caused outside work), and
  • There must be medical evidence showing the work exposure or incident was a material cause of the psychiatric disability.

It may be difficulty to show your mental condition is the clear result of your work environment and not your private life. What might clearly show a connection to work would be if an employee was involved in or a witness to a very traumatic or stressful event or series of events.

Easier cases to prove involve both physical injuries and a psychological condition. This might happen if an employee contracts a severe occupational illness or a serious injury that causes a permanent partial or total disability.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a serious case of work-related depression, get professional help and contact our office to discuss whether workers’ compensation may be an option for you.