Archive for November, 2012

Personal injuries: Suing State and Local Government

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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”- Thomas Jefferson

Personal injuries are a fact of life. The entire system of personal injury law is in place for the purpose of compensating individuals for the damage they suffer because of someone else’s negligence. Injured parties should not have to bear the burden of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering because of the lack of care of others.

Generally, when you suffer a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. However, if the negligent actor is the government or one of its employees, special restrictions apply.

Under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, public entities and their employees must be put on formal notice of a potential personal injury claim within 90 days of the accident. The notice allows the government entity to have six months to investigate the accident before a lawsuit can be filed.

The notice must include the name and address of the injured part as well as the date, place and circumstances of the accident. The injured party must describe the injury and the name of the public entities or employees causing the injury. Finally, the notice has to state the amount of damages suffered.

Failing to adhere to the 90-day requirement results in an absolute bar to bringing a lawsuit. This means that you may not be compensated for the injuries that you suffered because of the negligence of the government or one of its employees. As a result, your rights will not be properly asserted.

Deciding to sue a state or local government is a decision that your attorney will make following your initial consultation. But it is critical for anyone who suffers an injury on government property or because of a government employee’s action to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. When it comes to state and local government, timing is critical. Time is money.

The personal injury attorneys at Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman have handled cases against state and local governments since 1929. Following your injury, the first step in asserting your rights is sitting down with one of our experienced attorneys. The rest is up to us.

Head Injuries: Winning at All Costs

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Thursday, November 15th, 2012

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”- Vince Lombardi

Today’s athletes are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. High school athletes are no different. Nowhere is the evolution of the high school athlete more evident than the great state of New Jersey. And no sport showcases the physical nature of high school sports more than football.

In New Jersey, powerhouse football programs like Don Bosco and Bergen Catholic continue to send dozens of athletes to big time college football programs every year. Some of these athletes even make it to the National Football League. Every weekend in the fall, thousands of fans flock to high school football games to watch these student athletes battle. And battle they do. But at what cost?

High school sports injuries are on the rise. Injuries like broken bones, torn ligaments, and most commonly, head injuries. Head injuries are accounting for a majority of the injuries on the high school, college and professional levels. Many critics will point to the size of athletes and increasing game speed. Some will emphasize the inherent danger that comes with playing the sport. But others will place blame for injuries on the shoulders of the coaches, athletic departments and school districts where these injuries occur.

Most recently, a New Jersey high school football player passed away four days after collapsing at practice. The player’s parents filed a lawsuit against the coach, athletic director, principal and the school district. In addition, they sued the company that sold the football equipment to the school. The suit alleged that the defendants were negligent by failing to supervise the athlete, protecting him from an unreasonable risk of harm and failing to recognize the signs of a head injury. The parties recently settled the lawsuit before trial.

When it comes to sports injuries, especially head injuries, there are ways to prevent permanent damage. If high school athletic departments and their employees are negligent in their treatment of injuries, lives can be changed. If this happens to you or one of your loved ones, you need a law firm who is going to fight to compensate you for your loss. You need a law firm who is going to go all the way for you. You need Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman, where winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Statute of Limitations for Minors

By admin

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Generally, when someone is physically injured, that person would have two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the person or people responsible for the injury (the Statute of Limitations). However, when an injured person is under eighteen (18) years old at the time of the injury, it changes the calculus a little. In New Jersey, the Statute of Limitations does not start to run until an injured person turns eighteen (18) years old. That means that an injured minor would have until her/his twentieth (20th) birthday to file a lawsuit for most personal injury claims. (There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, so you should consult an attorney to determine whether your child’s injury falls into one of these exceptions.)

You should remember though, it is not necessary to wait until the minor is eighteen (18) years old to file the lawsuit in her/his own name. While the extra time can certainly relieve some of the pressure in deciding whether to file a lawsuit, it is not necessary to wait that long, and there are strong incentives to file a lawsuit sooner rather than later. Often, witnesses’ memories deteriorate and evidence is destroyed as time marches on. A minor’s parent or legal guardian can bring a lawsuit on the minor’s behalf any time up to the minor’s eighteenth (18th) birthday, after which time, the minor (now an adult) can bring the lawsuit in her/his own name. If a parent or legal guardian does bring a lawsuit on the minor’s behalf, there can be significant advantages: evidence hasn’t spoiled, witnesses’ memories haven’t faded, the insurance company hasn’t gone out of business, etc.

One thing to keep in mind is that once a lawsuit is filed on behalf of a minor, the conclusion of that action (whether settlement or a jury verdict) will forever end anyone else’s right to bring a lawsuit for that injury on behalf of the minor, including the minor’s right to bring a lawsuit in her/his own name once s/he turns eighteen (18) years old. Once an action is concluded, it is concluded forever. While the extra time on the Statute of Limitations for a minor does give a parent or guardian more options and more time, it also requires more consideration and more important decisions. If your child has been injured, you should consult an attorney to make sure you understand your and your child’s rights. A skilled personal injury attorney can not only protect your rights before, during, and after a case goes to court, s/he can also help you make the tough decisions of whether or when to file a lawsuit on behalf of your child. Call 1-800-432-LAWS to speak with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney, who can answers all your questions about your and your child’s rights.

Facebook Follies: The Dangers of Social Media

By admin

Friday, November 9th, 2012

“For the times they are a-changin”- Bob Dylan

Facebook me. These two words have become as much a part of our culture as “call me” or “text me”. In a little over 8 years, Facebook has become one of the most used social media websites in the entire world with over 1 billion users. Signing up requires only an email address and as a result, everyone’s using it, from your middle school student to your grandmother. Times have changed and Facebook has changed the way information is shared.

Facebook can be a great tool. The site allows people to keep in touch even if they are on different parts of the globe. Facebook acts as a high school reunion, an event planner, an advertising tool, and even a political forum. Grandparents can see pictures and video of their grandchildren’s first steps. Military personnel can connect with their loved ones, even if they are stationed abroad.

But with Facebook’s positive features, there are also many dangers. Cyber bullying, invasions of privacy, sexual predators and damaging information have all become areas to watch out for. These abuses occur because Facebook is a public forum. Facebook users can see mostly anything that is shared on Facebook by one of its users. Even with increased privacy settings, the public forum of Facebook can lead to unexpected consequences.

If you are going to use Facebook & other social media, it is wise to live by one simple rule. If you have to think twice before posting information on Facebook, don’t. Facebook users such as employers have continued to use Facebook as a tool when interviewing potential employees. If you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see your Saturday night activities, leave it off Facebook.

This golden rule also applies to your personal injury case. When someone suffers a personal injury, it is likely that there are activities that you can no longer do because of that injury. When attempting to escape liability, defendants will often scour your Facebook page to find inconsistencies. This is why many personal injury firms will ask their clients to deactivate their Facebook accounts or restrict the information that they share with others. It can be the difference in your case.

Remember, if you have to think twice before posting information on Facebook, don’t.