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Law Offices of John Morelli
A Personal Injury Firm Serving All Of South Jersey

Discovering What A Personal Injury Case Consists Of

The Law Offices of John Morelli is a New Jersey personal injury law firm. We represent individuals who are injured in automobile and workplace accidents, by equipment or machinery, or through the negligent maintenance of property.

No matter what type of injury, if it was caused by another person's negligence, you are legally entitled to compensation. These types of injuries are common as a result of automobile crashes, but also occur when people slip and fall in unsafe conditions and in other types of accidents. If you are hurt, it can affect your job, your family and your ability to go about your daily life. An attorney can help make sure that your losses are expressed within your legal rights.

Real People Dealing With Real Problems

When someone is hurt as a result of another's negligence, they have a legal right to seek medical care. Whether a distracted driver missed a stop sign or a property owner left dangerous conditions that caused an injury, the victim's pain can be difficult to quantify. A simple injury can cause one to miss significant time from work, causing lost wages.

Treating injuries can result in large outstanding medical bills, which could affect one's credit. What is a person to do in such a situation? With a skilled personal injury attorney working for you, you can make legal claims for medical care, lost wages and loss of daily functions. You can also pursue monetary compensation through personal injury protection (PIP). Nothing can ever make your life whole again following a devastating incident, but hiring an attorney to pursue compensation is the best recourse available.

What Is A Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury law is based on the idea that if a person or business is careless or negligent in causing an injury or other damages, the careless person or business entity is responsible for the damages and injuries caused. This fundamental concept is at the heart of all personal injury law whether it is an auto accident case, a slip-and-fall case, a medical malpractice case or a product liability action.

The purpose of personal injury litigation is to compensate a person for their losses.

The only way to do that is to try to arrive at a monetary figure that, as best as possible, compensates the injured victim. Of course, no two injuries are exactly alike, so the impact an injury has on each individual will vary. Thus, in properly evaluating a claim, it is important to know the nature and extent of the injury's effect on that particular victim.

In considering what a person's loss is as a result of an injury and thus what the reasonable compensation would be, the law considers many factors. Among the damages often considered are:

  1. Past and future hospital, medical, chiropractic, prescription and other out-of-pocket expenses
  2. Past and future wage loss
  3. Past and future pain and suffering

What sets us apart from other New Jersey personal injury firms is that we intentionally limit the number of cases we accept, so that every client receives the personal and proper attention he or she deserves.

Claiming Other Types Of Damages

Personal injury lawyers can help ensure that their clients receive the maximum amount of damages recoverable by law. Sometimes, a close family member of the injured person, such as his or her spouse, may also be entitled to damages, often referred to as loss of consortium damages, which are intended to compensate the loved one for the loss of the injured party's services and companionship. Other kinds of damages include hedonic damages, which are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of enjoyment of activities that he or she once valued, but can no longer participate in as a result of the injuries suffered.

Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious and the court or jury determines that the defendant should be punished by paying an amount above and beyond the plaintiff's actual damages. These awards are also meant to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.

How Do I Know If I Can Make An Injury Claim?

In 2010, there were over 3.3 million emergency room visits in New Jersey. Not everyone who has been hurt is entitled to make a claim. Personal injury claims are made on the basis of the effects of the injury itself. What constitutes a permanent injury can be broadly interpreted. Typically, damage to ligaments, bones and muscle tissue is considered permanent if it will not heal enough for the victim to regain normal function.

Should the victim pass away, the family is entitled to pursue a wrongful death suit.

How A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

New Jersey's system for injury compensation is structured under tort law, which attempts to rectify a civil wrong that caused losses or suffering to another individual. Although a criminal act can fall within tort law, personal injury torts usually are focused on the harm done due to the negligence of a person, corporation or any other entity. Tort lawsuits are handled outside the criminal system and thus do not have the same ramifications that a criminal suit would (such as a prison sentence). The attorney handling the case must prove that the action or inaction of one of the parties was the legally recognizable cause of the victim's injury. If successful, the victim has the legal right to attempt to recover their losses and damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

The personal injury attorney, also commonly referred to as a plaintiff lawyer, will have to extensively research every aspect that might have affected the outcome. Sometimes this involves hiring experts and specialists to analyze and give their opinions for the record. Ultimately, it's the lawyer's responsibility to advocate for their clients through oral arguments and provide legal assistance and advice. Should the case go to trial, the attorney will have to argue on behalf of his client in front of a judge and jury. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if there is no recovery, there is no fee. If there is no recovery, the attorney is responsible for the costs of the case.

Does Filing A Claim Mean I Have To Go To Court?

Personal injury claims are overwhelmingly settled out of court, but the case could end up in trial. Reaching a settlement does not mean that the sum would be lower than if it had been reached in front of a jury at trial. A settlement is typically based on each parties' expectation of what the outcomes would be should the case have gone to trial. On average, outcomes from trial are not any higher than those reached through settlement.

But the time, money and aggravation spent on preparing for a trial are what make it the less desirable outcome for all parties involved. That's why in most personal injury cases, the sides will try to come together and reach a compromise first in the form of a settlement. While we're speaking in generalities, if we feel that going to trial is the best course of action for our clients, we are more than prepared to do so and have had great success pursuing claims in front of a jury. Mr. Morelli is a certified trial lawyer, a designation that less than 2 percent of attorneys in New Jersey achieve.

Claims For Auto Injuries

New Jersey passed the Automobile Insurance Comprehensive Reform Act (AICRA) in 1998, which has been guiding personal injury litigation in the state ever since. AICRA sets out to define the process of compensating those who have been injured due to another's negligence, specifically in the case of automobile accidents.

When someone gets hurt, they can make a claim for compensation based on certain pre- defined criteria as laid out in the act. These include medical expenses, or as defined by the law, "reasonable and necessary expenses for treatment or services as provided by the policy, including medical, surgical, rehabilitative and diagnostic services and hospital expenses."

New Jersey Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Policies

But these claims are limited based on the insurance policies purchased by the drivers involved. When people in New Jersey purchase auto insurance, they choose the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage they want. The most basic PIP option limits coverage to $15,000 per person per accident. This coverage is severely limiting and can be used up by one visit to the emergency room when multiple tests are done. The law provides that the maximum coverage that can be purchased is $250,000 for medical bills. While this may not be enough to cover all expenses from an accident, it is strongly recommended that you purchase the maximum medical coverage.

Another pitfall in dealing with what type of coverage to purchase is the amount of the deductible. The standard policy provides for a deductible of $250 and a co-pay of 20 percent up to the first $5,000 in bills. Yes, that means that you can be completely innocent in an accident and if your bills go over $5,000, you must pay a $250 deductible and $1,950 on the next $4,750 in bills. What some insurance companies push, especially the online companies, is a higher deductible. You can buy a $2,500 or even a $5,000 deductible. Imagine limiting your coverage to $15,000 and then buying a $5,000 deductible! If you were seriously injured in an accident, you would have no coverage beyond $15,000 and be forced to pay the first $5,000 of the bills as well.

How Insurance Companies Handle Claims

AICRA allows an insurance company to precertify any treatment that an injured person may need arising out of an accident. In my experience dealing with these matters for the past 30 years, there has never been a time when auto insurance carriers have challenged so many claims.

Even in the case of incidents where one driver is clearly at fault, an attorney is still necessary to ensure that you receive proper medical care and that the bills are paid.

Finding The Right Personal Injury Lawyer

According to recent estimates, there are 40,997 lawyers practicing in New Jersey. How exactly does one go about choosing the right one? While many attorneys will handle personal injury claims in addition to other areas of law, we make helping injured people the main focus of our practice. It is important to find a well-respected firm that has had experience successfully handling these cases and knows how to properly pursue a claim. Our paralegals have intimate knowledge of these proceedings and are available to answer any questions our clients might have at any time during the day.

It can be a long and confusing legal process following an injury. When you are hurt, you don't want to worry about the law, you want to concentrate solely on recovering and getting your life back together. That's why it's best to find a firm that understands your situation and can let you focus on what's important while we fight for you. You want an attorney who has tried many cases and knows how to aggressively represent injured people.

Obtain Experienced Legal Representation

When a personal injury attorney agrees to represent a client who has been injured or who has lost a family member as the result of the negligence of another, many considerations face that attorney. First, it is critical that the attorney gather as many facts as possible from the victim or the family, including what happened, the names and addresses of witnesses, photographs and the like. Personal injury claims are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if there is no recovery, no fee is due.

If you are seeking legal representation for a personal injury claim, call 856-528-3205 to speak to an experienced attorney today. You can also reach our Cherry Hill office by sending an email.

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