The Pascack Valley Train Crash

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

The Pascack Valley Line commuter train that crashed in Hoboken caused the tragic death of a young lady, Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, leaving behind a husband and toddler.

So far, no other fatalities are reported to have resulted from the crash, much to the relief of our community here in the Pascack Valley.

I am a regular commuter on that train, using it to travel to Court when I have a 9:30 am Court appearance in New York City. I know how the train rolls slowly into Hoboken; how we stand up and make our way to the exits before it comes to a stop so that we can grab the PATH train or ferry that will bring us to Manhattan.

A photo by Matthew Wiebe. unsplash.com/photos/IisDI6liZEM

On September 29, 2016, something very different happened. Why? We don’t know yet.

What we do know is that New Jersey Transit is one of the entities responsible for the crash and the death and injuries that resulted.

Most people who are injured are thankful to be alive and focused on healing. Some people might be talking about back or neck pain that they expect to go away soon. Other people, thankfully, have no injury or pain.

At this time, most people on the train or platform are not thinking about lawsuits or lawyers.

However, it is important for the persons who were injured— and their families— to understand that when New Jersey Transit is responsible for an injury, they cannot sit and wait before deciding to bring a lawsuit for injuries.

New Jersey Transit Rail Operations is part of New Jersey Transit, a government entity. Therefore, if the injured commuter is 18 or older, within 90 days of the accident, the injured person must serve a “Notice of Claim” on New Jersey Transit to preserve his or her right to bring a lawsuit against New Jersey Transit.

If the “Notice of Claim” is not served in time, the injured person will most likely be barred from ever bringing the lawsuit against NJ Transit. In very limited circumstances, a person who missed the 90 day deadline can ask a court for permission to file a late “Notice of Claim” within 1 year. (And different rules apply for minors).

NJ Transit reviews the “Notice of Claim” and determines whether to compensate. It has 6 months to review and decide whether or not to compensate. It often sends a request for additional information. A lawsuit cannot be filed until the 6 months are over.

“Notice of Claim” information can be found on the internet; however, it is an area of the law that is set up with traps for people who are not familiar with it. It is best for people to find a lawyer who has experience handling injury cases against New Jersey government agencies.

For you with clear injuries, e.g. a fracture or scarring, you will know that you need to file the “Notice of Claim”.

For you folks with aches and pains, you might be reluctant to do anything, hoping it will all go away. This is something I have seen before – you wait a few months, then make an appointment with an orthopedist to understand why you are still hurting, and then learn that you herniated a disc in your neck as a result of the crash. And then you worry whether you have time to meet with a lawyer and file a “Notice of Claim”. You don’t want to find yourself in that situation.

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Please follow Domhnall on Twitter: @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Unsplash. For Domhnall’s original post on this accident, please click here

NJ Transit Commuter Train Crash

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

A photo by Robin Röcker. unsplash.com/photos/qUToqliACNA

We are deeply saddened by the news this morning that a New Jersey Transit commuter train crashed into the Hoboken Terminal at 8:45 AM, killing at least one person and injuring a minimum of 100 people.

The train was on the Pascack Valley line. Many of our friends and families commute on that line.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to the families of those killed and injured. We thank the police, first responders, emergency service personnel, paramedics, New Jersey Transit employees and all those on the scene working to alleviate the effects of this deadly accident.

Photo via Unsplash

 

 

Who Should Examine Clinton & Trump?

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

This squabbling over the medical health of the two leading presidential candidates got me thinking about being a personal injury lawyer.

Sound like a stretch? Give me two minutes and read on…

In the personal injury lawsuit, the victim (who this office represents) alleges that he/she was injured because of the negligence of the defendant, e.g. the defendant ran a red light and hit our client’s car and our client has been having back pain ever since.

During the lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company will hire a doctor to examine our client. The insurance company likes to call it an IME – “independent” medical exam.

The insurance company is against our client. It has one job: to pay our client nothing or as little as possible.

How does it do this?

It hires a doctor from its list to examine our client. The doctor will usually pick one or all of the following options:

  • The victim was already injured before the accident.
  • The victim’s injuries are all better now.
  • The victim is exaggerating the injuries.

These doctors come across very well in court. That is why the insurance companies go back to them time and again.

Now, we have one leading presidential candidate who won’t release medical records, and another leading presidential candidate who is suffering from a medical condition.

What if Mr. Trump hired a doctor to examine Secretary Clinton, and Secretary Clinton hired a doctor to examine Mr. Trump? And let’s agree that the examinations are called an IME– independent medical exam.

Would we expect that doctor to perform an “independent” medical examination? What are their motivations? Who is paying them? Should the doctors have to disclose their voting records?

In other words, would you really believe what the doctor says if he/she was hired by the other candidate?

That is a taste of the world of personal injury litigation!

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Please follow Domhnall on Twitter @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Wikipedia and Flickr-er Daniel Grant

 

The Greatest Of All Time

By Walt Lesnevich, Esq.

I had the excitement of meeting Muhammed Ali when he was still Cassius Clay. My Uncle Gus had him to his house for dinner. They, and several other boxing champions, had filmed the opening scene of the TV program Requiem for a Heavyweight. Clay was, as my Aunt Inga said, “gorgeous.” I shook hands with him.

After he left I asked my Uncle about a fight being put together between Clay and my Uncle’s good friend, champion Floyd Patterson. I asserted, “Floyd will beat him easily, right?” Gus replied, “Sorry, but no. This kid has the fastest hands I’ve ever seen. He’s gonna beat everybody.”

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Photo via Flickr. 

Memorial Day 2016

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

It wasn’t a hard winter, but a cool and damp month of May has us wondering if this spring weather will ever end.

We are nearly there— just a few more days and the summer will begin.

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Memorial Day weekend is coming, and a front of warm weather is coming to the North East. BBQs, the pool, the shore, ice cream, and school winding down…

We are also going to see a lot more motorcycles on the road and boats on the water. Last year’s Memorial Day saw a jump on motorcycle and motorboat accidents.

To stay safe on your motorboat, consider the following:

  • No Alcohol
  • Life Jacket
  • Fuel
  • Weather Forecast
  • Sunscreen

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To stay safe on your motorcycle consider the following:

  • No Alcohol
  • Helmet
  • Service
  • Weather
  • Speed

This year, we again urge you to download Red Cross apps to have important information on hand for different types of weather disasters and how to handle first aid emergencies.

The personal injury department at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich & Trigg, LLC wishes you a happy and safe Memorial Day, and asks that you please take a moment to remember the people who died while serving in the armed forces.

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Please follow Domhnall on Twitter @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Flickr. Please check out our Let’s Talk About Divorce’s Memorial Day blog post

Social Media and Personal Injury

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

Social media can make and break your personal injury case.

Think of the 25 year old girl whose knee smacked against the dashboard when another car crashed into her car.

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A few days after the accident and the pain in her knee still didn’t go away. Her doctor sent her for a MRI that showed a tear in her knee. The doctor recommended surgery. The surgery was done and her knee is better, but her knee is still not the same as before. She explains this in her deposition.

The deposition continues and the other lawyer pulls out a Facebook post that shows her at a wedding with the comment, “five hours of dancing, never felt better”. The lawyer doesn’t care that it was her sister’s wedding, she had been drinking, and had to go back to physical therapy the following week because the pain in the knee was so terrible.

Think of the man in Georgia who was injured by the girl where it is claimed that she was driving at a speed of 107 mph, causing injury to the driver of another car that crashed with her.

Where did they get that speed from? Snapchat lens, a feature that will track your speed while driving! Apparently, Snapchat technology is making the speedometer a part of history.

She argues that the other driver is at fault, saying that he came into her lane. Did she post that on social media? I don’t know.

What did she post on Snapchat? A picture of herself with blood streaming down her face with the comment “Lucky to be alive”. The picture is powerful and could make you feel sympathy for her even though she was driving recklessly.

There was a time when these posts had a shock value.

Today, we are surprised if there is nothing on social media about an accident.

What do we suggest?

First, make you social media settings private.

Second, if you are going to post something that will impact your lawsuit, do it in a way that cannot be misinterpreted.

Don’t give the insurance companies any ammunition to damage your case.

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Please follow Domhnall on Twitter @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Flickr. 

Children In Personal Injury Lawsuits

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

The personal injury team at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich & Trigg, LLC focuses on representing the victims of personal injury.

However, in our personal lives, our friends often ask us questions about what happens if our children end up causing an accident.

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Here are some of your questions with our responses:

  • Can I be sued in New Jersey if my child is negligent and injures someone else?

This is a question that is probably entering your head if your teenage kid is getting ready to drive. You will update your insurance policy and add your kid’s name to make sure your family is covered. You trust your kid to drive safely, but we never know.

If your child is involved in a car crash while driving your car and is responsible for injuring another person, there is a good chance that you and your child will be sued. The lawsuit will probably allege that you were negligent in entrusting the car to your child and that you are automatically negligent as the car owner who gave the car to your child.

You will notify your insurance company and an attorney will be hired to represent you. Hopefully, your insurance limit will have enough money to cover the injuries to the victim and leave your assets safe.

  • Will my car insurance cover my child and me if he took the car without my permission when the crash happened?

In New Jersey, the courts will try to make sure that you and your child is covered by your car insurance.

This will apply even if the child goes off on a trip your child never told you about.

In French v Hernandez, the Court ruled “… once the owner gives his vehicle’s keys to another person for a drive, the courts ordinarily find coverage … unless … conduct amounts to theft or the like …”

  • Can my child sue me in New Jersey if I was responsible for injuring them in a car crash?

New Jersey law makes parents immune from liability for some injuries that they cause to their children if the injuries happened as a result of normal parenting. It must relate to child rearing.

For example, your kids can sue you if you mistakenly drive through a red light and cause an accident that injures your kids in the back seat.

Why? Because the dangerous driving had nothing to do with parenting and child rearing.

  • But my child is only a child— how can she be sued in New Jersey?

If your child is under 7 years of age, it is presumed that she was not negligent unless the other side shows that she had the experience and capacity to know that what she did was dangerous.

If your child is 7 or older, she is expected to act with the same care as other children of her age, judgment, and experience. If not, she might be negligent.

And remember, even if the child is not negligent, the parent (or whoever was responsible to supervise the child) might be sued for negligent supervision.

  • What do I do when the lawsuit is served on me?

Notify your insurance company immediately.

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Please follow Domhnall on Twitter @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Flickr.