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. 

Cinco de Mayo

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the famous victory of Mexican forces on May 5, 1862, over the French at the Battle of Puebla, a day that makes Mexicans justly proud of their country.

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Here in America, we embrace Cinco de Mayo by making some of our favorite Mexican dishes: guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, burritos, tortillas… delicious!

And what goes with those foods?! Sangria, margaritas, Tecate, Coronas…

The food goes down quickly and its salty flavor makes us wash it down with drinks.

This is fun, but also a lethal cocktail if someone gets behind the wheel after too many of those alcoholic drinks.

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Do we know how much tequila went into that cocktail?

Like all holidays that are commonly associated with drinking (4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween) we ask that you plan your trip home if you expect to have a few drinks.

Thinking ahead will keep you safe, your community safe, and will keep you out of the courtroom.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Please follow Domhnall on Twitter @DomhnallOCathin. Photo hat-tip to Pixabay. Courtesy of Bon Appetit, here are recipes for tacos and margaritas. Please imbibe responsibly.  

It’s Tax Day.

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

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A question that is often asked by our clients is: “Do I have to pay taxes on this recovery for my injury?”

The answer? Get a tax lawyer.

However, there is some basic tax law that most personal injuries are familiar with.

As most of our clients know, their cases are mostly about seeking compensation for the injuries that the received and continue to suffer.

IRS rule §1.104-1 (Compensation for Injuries or Sickness) deals with the pain and suffering portion of the compensation. It states that, in general, income from a lawsuit for personal injuries or physical sickness as a result of negligence will not be taxed. In other words, the compensation for your physical injury will probably not be taxed.

If the compensation is because of “punitive damages” it might be taxed.

In addition, the lawsuit might ask for compensation for economic loss such as medical bills, cost of home care, future lost income etc. This is usually treated differently from “pain and suffering.

And remember: today is the day to file those taxes!

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Please follow our Lawyer In Your Corner on Twitter: @DomhnallOCathin. Photos via Flickr.  

 

 

Why We Turn Down A Medical Malpractice Case

By Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq.

The car crash happened five weeks ago. The first four weeks were filled up with doctors’ appointments and dealing with the bills that came in the door.

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You knew that it would be good to see a lawyer at some point. Your sister recommended a lawyer with a reputation for winning big. So yesterday you took a half-day from work and went to the lawyer’s office with the police report, your medical records, and other paperwork. The office staff was very pleasant. The reception area had lots of plaques. And they offered you coffee or tea while you filled out an information sheet.

Then you sat with the lawyer. He was very nice: understood how the accident happened, and was familiar with the areas of your body that hurt.  He even spoke about your sister, nieces, and nephews.

Then he said something you didn’t expect: “Unfortunately, we cannot help you.” ‘Can’t help me, why? My car was rear ended and I have a stack of bills on the desk here, right in front of me!’ Get a second opinion? ‘Damn right: I’m going to go find a real lawyer, a
bulldog… wasting a half day on you!’

One of the hardest things for a personal injury attorney to do is to turn down a case. We see people who are hurt and turn to a lawyer for help. If we tell them we cannot help, their emotions can vary from being thankful for our honesty to feeling insulted.

So why do we turn down cases? The first thing to understand is that personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, i.e. if the lawsuit is not successful, you don’t recover monies and we don’t get paid. We need to consider your chances of recovering, if the defendants have insurance, whether there are other things that might have caused the injury… like all businesses, we have staff and bills to pay.

Give me an example, you might say? Okay. Let’s look at a potential medical malpractice case: The patient went to his primary care doctor with complaints of pain in his chest, a possible indication of a heart attack. The doctor sent him home telling him to call if anything went wrong. Later that night, he was sweating heavily and the chest pain was severe. His wife called the ambulance and he was rushed to hospital where they stabilized him and saved his life. The following day, the cardiologist at the hospital turned to him and said, “You should talk to a lawyer about that doctor of yours”. Slam-dunk, right?! Not always.

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Here is how an experienced medical malpractice lawyer will look at those facts. The primary care doctor was probably negligent; however, the patient is still alive and got the treatment he would have received anyway, despite a 12-hour delay. That means that the ‘damages’ (12 hours of chest pain) is not worth the $25,000.00 that would have to be invested by the lawyer in a medical malpractice case like this. And that does not include the hundreds of hours of work. The cost of bringing medical malpractice cases and the tendency of jurors to favor doctors means that lawyers have to be very selective.

And what if you think the lawyer is wrong? Find out how much time you have to sue… and get a second opinion.

Please follow our Lawyer In Your Corner Domhnall on Twitter: @DomhnallOCathin. Photo hat tips to Flickr

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