Kessler, DiGiovanni & Jesuele

Injury attorneys in Westfield, New Jersey

What Is My Workers' Compensation Case Worth? (Updated for 2017)

It's the question that every injured worker wants answered: "What is my workers' compensation case worth?"

In New Jersey, there are three kinds of payments in a workers' compensation case:

  1. Payment of medical bills necessary to "cure and relieve" you of the effects of your injury. However, your employer or its workers' compensation insurer controls the choice of physician.
  2. Temporary disability, paid while you cannot work because of your injury. It is paid at 70% of your weekly wage before taxes, and tops out at $896 a week.
  3. Permanency awards are paid for lasting disability due to work injury. They depend on the part of the body that is disabled, the level of disability, the medical treatment required, and other factors.

There are lots of factors which can affect the amount of a permanency award, but here is a rough guide with some ranges of values for 2017:

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Legal Malpractice Part 1: What is Legal Malpractice?

Over the next few articles, we'll be exploring the subject of legal malpractice. We'll look at some examples of legal malpractice cases, discuss what is needed to prove a legal malpractice case, and examine some issues particular to legal malpractice cases. But first, what is legal malpractice?

Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer harms their client, either deliberately or by making errors that no reasonable attorney would make. In legal-speak, malpractice is a deviation from standards of practice of the legal profession, when an attorney fails to demonstrate the level of care and skill of an ordinary practitioner.

Legal malpractice doesn't just mean that your lawyer lost your case or didn't get you as much money as you think you deserved. Even if your lawyer made a mistake in handling your case, they may not have committed malpractice if they were acting in good faith. You must prove that your attorney made a serious error in judgment, was negligent, or intended to harm you.

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When A Loved One Is Killed In An Accident

The unexpected death of a family member as a result of an accident can present one with most difficult times. A family is left not only to mourn the loss of a spouse, parent, or child, but to bear the financial burden of the funeral costs and burial. If a loved one was killed in an automobile accident, a fall accident, or while on the job, you and your family may be eligible for compensation. Here is what you need to know:

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Hurt On The Job? These Are Your Rights.

Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” insurance program that provides, medical treatment, wage replacement, and permanent disability compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. In New Jersey, virtually every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Your boss should have supplied you with an information pamphlet on workers’ compensation when you began work. Also, the law requires that information on workers’ compensation must be posted in a place visible to all employees.

If you are hurt while at work, it is your responsibility to inform your boss or manager as soon as possible. Once your boss is notified of your injury, the law requires them to fill out an injury report to be submitted to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. An injury report should include as many details as possible about the injury and what caused it.

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The Verbal Threshold: What Is It? Why Do I Have It? How Do I Change It?

The verbal threshold, also known as the limited tort, the lawsuit threshold or the tort limitation, is a product of one of the biggest hoodwinking scams in New Jersey history.

A brief history is necessary. About two decades ago, automobile insurers were threatening to leave the State of New Jersey claiming that it was too costly to do business here. In response, they lobbied our Legislators in New Jersey to make it more difficult for those injured in automobile accidents to obtain fair compensation for their injuries.

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What Is My Workers' Compensation Case Worth?

It's the question that every injured worker wants answered: "What is my workers' compensation case worth?"

In New Jersey, there are two kinds of payments in a workers' compensation case:

  1. Temporary disability, paid while you cannot work because of your injury. It is paid at 70% of your weekly wage before taxes, and tops out at bit more than $810 a week.
  2. Permanency awards are paid for lasting disability due to work injury. They depend on the part of the body that is disabled, the level of disability, the medical treatment required, and other factors.

There are lots of factors which can affect the amount of a permanency award, but here is a rough guide with some ranges of values for 2012:

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Medical Malpractice Cases

When you or a loved one comes under the care of a medical professional, you trust that they will be treated with the utmost care. Unfortunately, medical professionals sometimes fall short of this ideal and make mistakes which harm their patients. Medical malpractice refers to when a health care provider provides treatment which falls below the accepted standards of practice in the medical community and leads to injury or death of a patient.

If you believe that medical malpractice has occurred, you will want to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The unfortunate reality, however, is that medical malpractice cases are costly and time-consuming to pursue and most attorneys will not accept cases where there is clear malpractice but no substantial damage. You should not take it personally if an attorney refuses to accept your case; you may need to speak to several attorneys before finding one who will accept your case. If several lawyers have refused to accept your case, you may have to simply give up and move on with your life.

If a lawyer does accept your case and files suit, here's what happens next:

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Am I Eligible For Workers Compensation In New Jersey?

It can happen that a person's employment takes place in more than one state. For example, you might be on the clock working for a company based in New York on a highway in New Jersey headed to a job site in Pennsylvania when you get into a car accident. Generally, if you're involved in an automobile accident while performing your job duties (as opposed to merely commuting to or from work), you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. But where should you file? Are you eligible for workers compensation in New Jersey?

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Doored By A Car? Here Are 5 Steps To Follow

Every cyclist who rides in built-up areas knows the risk posed by parked cars. There are a number of reasons why a cyclist might be compelled to ride alongside parked cars: perhaps that is where the bike lane is, or if there is no bike lane, it might be the only place to ride without blocking automobile traffic and angering drivers.

Regardless, a cyclist riding alongside parked cars runs the risk of smacking into a car door that has been suddenly opened in their path. Cyclists refer to this as being doored by a car, and it can lead to serious injury or death. Data on dooring injuries (and, indeed, cycling injuries in general) can unfortunately be difficult to find, but a study done in Toronto found that about 12% of all collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles occurred as a result of a door being suddenly opened in the cyclist's path.

Here are 5 steps to follow if you've been doored by a car:

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How Does Workers Compensation Work?

When I'm speaking with a new client, they want to know: how does workers compensation work? In this post I'm going to briefly outline the steps a claim follows from injury to compensation and beyond.

Workers' compensation begins when a worker is injured on the job. In New Jersey, where I practice, you can receive compensation no matter how you are hurt at work . The exceptions are for self-inflicted injury, or injury resulting from horseplay or intoxication.

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The Limits of Brooks v. Odom

If you practice Plaintiff’s personal injury law in New Jersey, you are no doubt painfully aware of the practical effect of the 1997 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Brooks v. Odom, 150 N.J. 395 (1997). At first glance, the holding with its mile high standard would appear to sound a death knell to the run-of-the-mill Title 59 case. On closer examination, however, the scope and breadth of Brooks is not all-encompassing.

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Circumventing the Verbal Threshold Limitation of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(A)

In the words of a noted torts professor, "Never drop your briefcase and run". This lesson is no more apt than when faced with a "Verbal Threshold" case. Consider the following scenario:

On August 18, 2011, Plaintiff is operating his motor vehicle and is stopped with his left directional signal activated when he is struck in the rear by a tractor-trailer owned by XYZ Inc. and operated by its employee, John Doe. As a result, plaintiff sustains "soft tissue" injuries, undergoes several months of chiropractic care and is discharged with minor residuals. Plaintiff's personal automobile policy contains the "Verbal Threshold" option which plaintiff had selected at his last policy renewal.

Many practitioners, faced with this situation, and a turn-down by the liability carrier, would counsel their client against instituting a lawsuit since the prospects of recovery are slim and the costs of litigation great. Still others, would settle their client's claims for "nuisance value". A careful examination of the law and facts, however, would lead some practitioners to the realization that plaintiff's claims are not governed by the Verbal Threshold.

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How to Maximize Insurance Coverage by Examining the Facts

In the early morning hours of June 21, 2012, on a dark stretch of the Garden State Parkway, Defendant X, an intoxicated motorist, failed to negotiate an exit ramp curve. As a result, the motorist traversed a forty foot grass berm, re-entered the Parkway, struck another southbound automobile and injured the driver, and finally came to rest across the center southbound lane of the Parkway. The force of the impact rendered Defendant X's automobile disabled and without lights.

Several minutes later, Plaintiff Y, also travelling south on the Parkway, brought his car to a stop on the right side shoulder and exited his vehicle in an attempt to render assistance to the intoxicated motorist. While standing in the center lane, and attempting to divert traffic away from the wreck, Plaintiff Y was struck by a third automobile, and was fatally injured.

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Shoulder Injuries

It’s a typical afternoon at work and you’re busy stocking shelves with merchandise. You strain as you reach overhead to place a particularly heavy item on the shelf. Suddenly a sharp, searing pain cuts through your shoulder, causing you to cry out in agony. After the initial burst of pain subsides, you find that you experience shoulder pain when you reach up to comb your hair, or when you bend your arm back to put on a jacket. It is likely that you have suffered a rotator cuff injury, a common injury among employees whose work involves lifting, pulling, or repetitive overhead arm movement.

The rotator cuff consists of the group of muscles and tendons which connect the upper arm to the shoulder. The rotator cuff holds the upper arm bone (humerus) firmly in the shoulder joint, allowing it to rotate. When the rotator cuff is torn, such rotation becomes painful and may be impeded, making many daily tasks painful or impossible.

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Tractor-Trailer Accidents

An automobile accident is always a potential disaster. This is especially true when one of the vehicles involved is a tractor-trailer, also known as a “semi” or “18-wheeler.” Whereas the average car weighs between 2,500 and 4,000 pounds, a fully-loaded tractor trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs – over twenty times as massive! This means that for a given rate of acceleration, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer hits with over twenty times the force of a normal car.

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The Workers' Guide to Workers Compensation in New Jersey

The following summary of workers compensation benefits presents a general outline of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation system. For further details, the worker should consult a licensed attorney in the State of New Jersey with expertise in workers’ compensation cases.

Whenever a worker is injured during the course of his or her employment in New Jersey, no matter how the injury occurs (with three exceptions: self-inflicted injury, intoxication, and horseplay), he or she may be entitled to receive up to three different benefits:

  1. Payment of 100% of the medical expenses necessary to “cure and relieve” the worker of the effects of the injury.
  2. A weekly payment of 70% of the worker’s gross weekly wage for each week that he or she is temporarily totally disabled.
  3. Payment of a monetary award for any permanent disability that results from the injury.

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New Jersey "Dog Bite" Law

In all civil cases in New Jersey, the party bringing the suit (the plaintiff) must prove two elements; liability and damages, against the party that is sued (the defendant).

Typically, liability is shown by proving that the defendant was negligent. Negligence is the failure to adhere to the duty imposed upon that person by law. By way of example, one of the duties of a person driving a car is to maintain a safe distance behind the car ahead of it. If a driver fails to maintain a safe distance and rear ends the car ahead, a jury could easily conclude that the following driver was negligent. Frequently, the defendant will assert that they were not negligent in order to avoid liability. In such a case, the final decision on liability is left to the jury after hearing all of the evidence.

With regard to dog bite cases in New Jersey, the law is different. N.J.S.A. 4:19-19 provides that

“The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness”.
In legal parlance, this is a rule of strict liability - that is, the owner is liable without the necessity of proving fault.

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What is Workers Compensation?

  • Workers compensation is a specialized legal process for handling job-related injuries, and is a compromise between workers and employers.
  • Workers are assured payment of medical bills connected to the treatment of their injury.
  • Workers may also receive temporary disability payments for time missed at work and permanent disability payments for permanent loss of bodily function.
  • In exchange, the worker gives up the right to sue his employer.
  • Awards in workers compensation court are fixed by the Legislature and are quite reasonable. On the other hand, the sky is the limit for damages in civil cases. So employers like workers compensation because it limits their losses.

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Video Explanation of Workers Compensation Law

Over my many years of practice, I've developed an explanation of New Jersey workers compensation law which I typically recite to potential clients the first time they call or visit me. I recently recorded myself giving this talk to a webcam and uploaded it to YouTube. You can watch it here:

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Nursing Home Neglect and Malpractice

Due to advancements in medicine and science, our parents are living increasingly longer than in the past. In 1960, the average life expectancy in the United States was slightly more than 69 years; it is currently 78 years.

In our state, 13.3% of our residents are 65 or older. Since the current New Jersey population is nearly 9 million, this translates to more than 1.2 million seniors over the age of 65.

As our parents age, we, as children, are now taking on the responsibilities of finding suitable long term care facilities. Facilities where our parents can be safe, comfortable and happy as we work long hours to afford the high cost of living in New Jersey while raising our own children.

Nursing homes frequently cost upwards of $10,000 per month for the care we expect, and require, our parents to have. Sadly, in many cases, the care is substandard. When this occurs, our parents suffer and we suffer along with them.

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5 Steps to Follow When Injured at Work

Let’s face it: a lot of us work in dangerous jobs – construction, manufacturing, warehousing. And a lot of us work in not-so-dangerous jobs – offices, schools, medical facilities. The truth is that in almost 30 years of handling workers compensation cases, I have seen very severe injuries in both types of jobs! When an injury occurs on the job, these five things are crucial to ensuring that your claim is set up properly from the start:

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