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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

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

No matter what type of injury, if it has been at the hands of another person's negligence, you are legally entitled to compensation. These types of injuries unfortunately are common as a result of automobile crashes, but also occur when people slip and fall in unsafe conditions or 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 fight to make sure that your losses are expressed within your legal rights.

Real People Dealing With Real Problems

When someone is hurt or injured as a result of the negligence of another person, they have a legal right to seek medical care. It may not be your fault a distracted driver missed a stop sign or a property owner left dangerous conditions that caused an injury, but the pain the victim will undoubtedly experience can be difficult to quantify. A simple injury can cause one to miss significant time from work, causing lost wages.

And injuries that need to be cared for 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 will be able to make legal claims for medical care, lost wages and loss of daily functions. They can also pursue monetary compensation for the victim through personal injury protection (PIP). Nothing can ever make your life whole again in the case of a devastating incident, but using an attorney is the best possible recourse available.

What Is A Personal Injury Claim?

American personal injury law is based upon the basic 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. It is this fundamental concept that 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 product liability action.

The purpose of personal injury litigation is to compensate a person for what that person has lost. As the law recognizes that an injured victim has suffered an injury because of the negligence of another, the person physically cannot be made the same person as he or she was before the injury.

Recovering Compensation For Your Injuries

The only way to compensate a person for their loss is trying to arrive at a monetary figure that, as best as possible, compensates the injured victim for the losses suffered. The purpose of compensation is not to make a person rich, but simply to compensate an injured victim for the loss suffered. As the purpose is to compensate that particular injured victim for his or her loss, no two injuries are exactly alike. The impact an injury has had on each individual person will vary with that particular person. Thus, in properly evaluating a claim, it is important to know the nature and extent that the injury has affected the particular injured 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 hospital, medical, chiropractic, prescriptions and other out-of-pocket expenses
  2. Past wage or earnings loss
  3. Past pain and suffering
  4. Future hospital, medical, chiropractic, prescriptions and other out-of-pocket expenses
  5. Future loss of earning capacity
  6. 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. Some of the items for which injured parties are legally entitled to compensation include past and future lost wages; past and future medical expenses; damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, again both past and present; and damages for disfigurement.

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 that may be awarded, depending on the laws of the state in which the lawsuit is brought and the facts of the particular case, 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, such as the inability of a person injured in a car accident to continue playing softball on a recreation league that was a big part of his or her life.

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. Awards will also serve 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. The law in New Jersey allows for those who have selected the verbal or limited threshold and who have been permanently injured as a result of someone else's negligence to file a claim against those who have caused the injury. What constitutes a permanent injury can be broadly interpreted. Typically, damage incurred to areas of the body such as ligaments, bones, and muscle tissue is all considered permanent if the area will not heal to function normally.

A victim or their family has the right to pursue a recovery and there are several areas upon which it is determined. These include lost wages, lost earning capacity, and medical expenses. Should the victim pass away, their family is entitled to pursue a wrongful death suit. Spouses are also entitled to file what is called a loss of consortium claim. What loss of consortium claims specifically address is how an injured loved one might negatively impact those in their family. Claims can be made on the basis of lost affection and comfort, including sexual relations, as a result of the injury.

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, who is handling the case 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 need to go to trial, the attorney will have to argue on behalf of his client in front of a judge and jury. But, personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if there is no recovery then there is no fee. If there is no recovery, it is the attorney who 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 it is a possibility that the case could end up in trial. Reaching a settlement figure does not mean that the sum would be lower than if it had been reached in front of a jury at trial. The settlement that is agreed upon 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, for 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 in 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 are able to 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 form 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 $1950, 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 in an accident and were seriously injured, 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 own personal experience in 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 the state of 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 as the main focus of our practice. It is important to find a well-respected firm that has had experience in 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 in the past and knows how to aggressively represent injured persons.

Obtain Experienced Legal Representation

When a personal injury attorney first undertakes to represent a client relative to a potential personal injury claim where the client or a family member has been injured or killed 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 regarding all of the events that were related to the accident, including what happened, the names and addresses of witnesses, photographs and the like. It is important to know that personal injury claims can be handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that if there is no recovery, no fee is due.

If you or a family member has been injured and 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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