Personal Injury FAQs
- Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer's help?
- Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
- What is considered "pain and suffering?"
- What determines the amount I might recover?
- What is a typical settlement amount?
- How much is my case worth?
- What are the most common types of brain injury?
- What causes a brain injury?
- Are some injuries milder than others?
- Am I entitled to compensation for my brain injury or one suffered by a family member?
- A dog bit me. Who do I tell?
- Which jurisdiction covers dog bites—state or local?
- What do leash laws cover?
Workers compensation/Social Security disability
- What should I do if I get injured on the job?
- How can I jeopardize my benefits?
- Under what circumstances could I be denied workers compensation benefits as a result of an on-the-job injury?
- Am I barred from recovery if I was at fault?
- Can I sue anyone else for a work-related injury?
- What is no-fault workers compensation?
- What if my workers compensation claim is denied?
- Can I receive Social Security Disability and workers compensation?
- Do I have to be injured at work to receive workers compensation?
- What compensation will I receive?
- Must I see an insurance company doctor, or can I see my own doctor?
- Can I ever sue my employer for a work-related injury?
- Is there more than one definition of "disabled?"
Libel, slander, and defamation
- What is the difference between libel and slander?
- What recourse do I have if someone libels or slanders me?
Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer's help?
It is in your best interests to only provide your contact information to an insurance company until you consult with a lawyer. The more significant your injuries, the more imperative it becomes to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.
Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed settle prior to trial.
What is considered "pain and suffering?"
Pain and suffering includes harm caused by physical injury and mental anguish experienced through avoiding activities you engaged in prior to your accident and the potential of surgery to rectify those injuries.
What determines the amount I might recover?
Every case addresses three issues:
- Liability—establishing someone's negligence
- Damages—the amount that will fairly and adequately compensate you for your injuries
- Source of collection—insurance or other assets from which damages can be recovered
What is a typical settlement amount?
An experienced personal injury lawyer reviews and interprets your case information to determine the appropriate value for your claim:
The goal is fair and adequate compensation for your injury and an experienced attorney will know what a reasonable jury would award. The strength of lay and expert witness testimony will likely influence the amount.
How much is my case worth?
Many factors determine how much compensation you may receive, including the severity of your injuries, your past medical history, and the amount of insurance coverage that the responsible person or company has. An attorney can assess the potential value of your claim.
What are the most common types of brain injury?
Brain injuries fall into two categories—traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain is damaged by an external force, such as an accident or a blow to the head. Acquired brain injuries occur at a cellular level, such as by oxygen deprivation.
What causes a brain injury?
A force or blow can cause traumatic brain injury by causing the brain to move inside the skull or by damaging the skull to the extent that it then damages the brain. Many traumatic brain injuries stem from motor vehicle accidents, a direct blow to the head with a heavy instrument, sports injuries, slip and fall accidents, and physical violence.
Some causes of acquired brain injury include starvation of oxygen to the brain and lack of blood flow to the brain. Other circumstances under which one might suffer an acquired brain injury include near drowning, choking, stroke, disease, and toxic exposure. Hypoxia or anoxia (deprivation of oxygen) to a fetus around the time of birth is often seen in birth injury or cerebral palsy cases.
Are some injuries milder than others?
The level of brain damage can vary with traumatic and acquired brain injuries. A person may suffer a mild brain injury, which impacts the person for a short period and with minor symptoms.
Symptoms of a moderate brain injury can last longer, and the effects can be more profound.
A serious brain injury can lead to life-changing and debilitating problems and can result in such conditions as coma, vegetative state, minimally responsive state, locked-in syndrome, brain death, and many other conditions.
When the brain injury is hypoxic or anoxic in nature it can cause developmental delay in the baby and profound lifelong disability.
Am I entitled to compensation for my brain injury or one suffered by a family member?
A qualified brain injury lawyer can best evaluate your case for possible compensation. He or she must thoroughly review the facts of your case with experts and advise you regarding all options.
A dog bit me. Who do I tell?
Contact your local animal control agency or the police.
Which jurisdiction covers dog bites—state or local?
Both. In addition to New Jersey state laws, your local communities might also have animal laws covering bites, leashing, and vaccinations. Your local laws might ban ownership of certain breeds, too.
What do leash laws cover?
Most communities require dogs to be leashed unless they are confined to a house or fenced yard, even on the owner's property. Failing to adhere to the leash laws combined with dog biting may increase potential penalties.
What should I do if I get injured on the job?
You must notify your employer of the injury. You should also tell your employer if you need medical attention. You may also have to notify New Jersey's industrial commission. Under New Jersey workers compensation law, your employer and/or its insurance carrier can choose the physician to attend to you. An experienced workers compensation lawyer can help you understand the process and your rights in New Jersey and file your claim.
How can I jeopardize my benefits?
Your claim may be denied if you fail to report injuries promptly or fail to cooperate with your employer and an authorized treating physician regarding medical evaluations, treatment, rehabilitation services and claim investigation. Your claim can also be denied if you refuse to return to suitable employment. Some other reasons for denial of claims include submittal of fraudulent information, refusal to take a drug test, and refusal to submit to a medical examination by the authorized treating physician, at reasonable times.
Under what circumstances could I be denied workers compensation benefits as a result of an on-the-job injury?
Benefits are not payable if you are injured while engaged in willful misconduct or if your injury is due to the use of alcohol, drugs, or the misuse of controlled substances.
Am I barred from recovery if I was at fault?
Can I sue anyone else for a work-related injury?
This is called a third party suit. If your injury was caused by the negligence of a third party other than another person who is also an employee of the company for which you work, you may have a right to sue that party.
What is no-fault workers compensation?
Some states have no-fault insurance programs that give benefits to employees who suffer job-related injury or illness. In such a program, if you are injured on the job, you receive benefits in exchange for agreeing not to pursue civil action against your employer, unless the injury was intentional.
What if my workers compensation claim is denied?
If your employer and its insurance company deny coverage on the claim, you may file a claim with New Jersey's agency. There is a time limitation—all workers compensation statutes restrict the amount of time you or your dependent have to file a workers compensation claim, usually between one to three years from the date of injury, depending on the state. If your claim is for a job-related disease, the time limitation period begins when you learn you have the disease.
Can I receive Social Security Disability and workers compensation?
Do I have to be injured at work to receive workers compensation?
No. As long as your injury is related to your job, you are covered. If you are injured while traveling on business, running errands for business, or even attending a social function required by your work, your injury is covered.
What compensation will I receive?
In general, benefits include replacement income, medical expenses, and often, job training, schooling, or job placement assistance. Compensation for a temporary injury is usually two-thirds of your average wage up to a limit.
If your injury permanently prevents you from returning to work or unable to work any work, you may be eligible to receive long-term or lump sum benefits. You also may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Must I see an insurance company doctor, or can I see my own doctor?
Since the workers compensation insurer is paying your benefits, you must see a doctor approved by the company. However, you may have the right to ask for another doctor at the insurance company's expense if you clearly state that, you don't like the insurance company's doctor. Often, you also have the right to a second opinion for serious injuries. In some instances, you may automatically be transferred to your own doctor for long-term care.
Can I ever sue my employer in court over a work-related injury?
If your employer's intentional or reckless conduct causes your injury, you can skip the workers compensation system and sue your employer in court for full compensation, punitive damages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
Is there more than one definition of "disabled?"
Yes, and that is why it is possible to receive both Social Security Disability and workers compensation. And, workers compensation could determine you are not disabled and Social Security could determine that you are. Furthermore, insurance companies could define disability in other ways. Attorneys knowledgeable in this complex area of personal injury law, such as the Law Offices of Robert Olkowitz, P.C. can work with you to explain the differences in easy-to-understand language and help you file all appropriate claims to receive the compensation you deserve.
Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?
No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible that the body sustains damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might experience major impact but the people might only suffer minor cuts and bruises.
Libel, slander, and defamation
What is the difference between libel and slander?
The act of communicating a false statement about you to someone else with the intent of damaging your reputation or good name is called defamation. Defamation through the written word is libel. Defamation through the spoken word is slander.
What recourse do I have if someone libels or slanders me?
If you have been defamed by public media—e.g., a newspaper, television station, or magazine—you should demand a retraction first so you can collect damages in court. If the defamation continues, you should write a "cease and desist" letter demanding the immediate cessation of defamation. You may want an attorney well versed in defamation law to write the letter for you.
If you have been slandered, bear in mind that it is more difficult to prove damage through a verbal statement vs. written. Keep a log of the statements, including when, where, what, and who. Also, note any witnesses and their contact information.
The statute of limitations applies to filing a lawsuit and may be less than one year, so immediate action is necessary. An experienced defamation law attorney can help you fully understand the best course of action and likely outcome. Once in court, you may receive punitive damages, that is, money intended to punish the person defaming you.
What if I know that a defective product harmed other people besides me?
When the same defective product injures a large number of people, they may join together in a class action lawsuit to hold manufacturers and sellers liable for the injuries caused by their product.
I fell and was injured. Can I sue someone?
If you fell while working, your injuries may be covered by your employer’s workers compensation insurance.
If your injury occurred in a store or a building, you can sue to recover damages to compensate you for your injuries. Be aware, however, that a building owner is not liable for every injury that occurs on the property. To recover for an injury, the owner or operator of the business must have breached his duty to keep the premises reasonably safe and to warn of known dangers. An attorney can provide you with additional details about premises liability.