Personal Injury Lawsuits

Injured in Bergen County or Rockland County? Learn more about filing personal injury lawsuits in New York and New Jersey from the attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman.

In-Flight Injuries on Airplanes: Who Is Responsible?

Interior of airplane with passengers on seats waiting to taik offPeople are injured every year due to events that happen during their flight. One of the most common causes of injury, for example, is a passenger being hurt by an overhead bin opening and the contents falling out. As airline travelers know, the contents of bins can be heavy luggage. Another frequent cause of injury is caused by food carts. Turbulence also causes injuries every year.

Who is responsible for these injuries? The answer can be complex.

Airlines Have a Duty of Care

Airlines are called “common carriers,” which means they have a duty to carry the public. They are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Aviation Act, which requires airlines to have a very high standard of care toward their passengers. They need to ensure that all aspects of air travel under their care is safe, including maintenance, inspection, operation, loading, and boarding of an airplane.

In practice, this means that the airline boarding and exit procedures must be safe for passengers. It means that all facilities, from restrooms to coffee cups, should be safe to use.

Airline employees should be well-trained and able to fulfill their duties.

Given their duty of care, it is possible to conclude that an airline could be responsible for an injury sustained in the middle of a flight. If an attendant does not fasten a bin properly, for example, and it springs open, the airline could be responsible if inadequate training could be proven.

But Manufacturers and Other Parties Can Also Be Responsible

However, it is also possible that manufacturers are to blame. If an airline’s toilet malfunctions and causes injury, for example, an investigation may be necessary to determine whether the toilet itself was faulty, or whether inadequate maintenance was to blame.

If defects in the airplane itself cause an accident, the manufacturer or the sales agent may be held responsible, unless the defect should have been discovered by routine airline maintenance. If an airplane has been repaired in such a way that didn’t cure defects or introduced defects, the repair company can be responsible.

Acts of God

Finally, passengers can sustain injuries due to what insurance companies call “Acts of God.” The term generally applies to an act that couldn’t have been anticipated or planned for. Unexpected turbulence from say, geese running into a plane may fall under the “Act of God” definition, because the pilots could not reasonably have forecast such an event.

Turbulence caused by weather may also be an Act of God if it’s unexpected. But most weather is forecast, and the airline can be responsible if they didn’t plan for the forecast and urge people to stay in their seats.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney in New York or New Jersey?

If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in an in-flight accident, please contact our law firm to discuss your case. The causes of an in-flight injury can be complex, and an experienced personal injury lawyer can be of invaluable assistance in determining whether you have a case, and against whom.

The NY & NJ personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have years of experience fighting for the rights of victims of negligence. Call us at (800) 711-5258 or fill out the form on our website. We will be happy to meet you at our Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ offices. The personal injury consultation is free, and there is never any obligation.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Aviation Administration. A Brief History of the FAA.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Aviation Administration. Safety: The Foundation of Everything We Do.
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Can You Sue Your Spouse for Personal Injury?

Can spouses sue each other for personal injury? After all, one spouse may do things that are unsafe to the other, either intentionally or unwittingly.

At one point in history, spouses were not legally allowed to sue each other for personal injury, due to a general principle called “interspousal immunity.” Why? Well, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a married couple was legally considered one entity. A wife was not legally separate from a husband. Interspousal immunity essentially meant that one part of a legal entity could not sue another part.

In addition, courts felt that spouses suing each other destroyed the harmony of a family.

What Constitutes “Personal Injury”?

Personal injury, under the law, is an injury to someone caused by another party’s negligence. To be negligent, the party must have had a duty of care (a responsibility to make something safe), to have known that something was not safe, have had sufficient time to rectify the situation, and have not rectified it or acted recklessly. Personal injuries can be caused by situations as disparate as the purchase of unsafe holiday toys, improper maintenance of chemicals in the home, and car accidents, to name just three examples.

Spouses Can Sue Each Other for Personal Injury, With Some Exceptions

However, beginning with women’s right to vote in the early twentieth century and progressing through the feminist movement that began in the 1970s, this concept was increasingly struck down. Women were increasingly given rights and legal standing. As a result, a married couple is now increasingly considered two separate people with rights for many legal purposes.

The laws on interspousal immunity evolved accordingly. Spouses won the right to sue each other for intentionally inflicting damage first, in general, and then won the right to sue for negligent action. In most jurisdictions, they now have both.

So the answer to the question “can you sue your spouse for personal injury?” is yes in many states, with some exceptions.

Possible Exceptions

One exception in some states is the right to sue a spouse who has caused the other spouse an injury in an automobile accident. Insurance companies are concerned about the possibility of collusion, where spouses may plan together to submit a false accident claim to an insurance company.

Some states, though, will allow spouses to purchase supplemental insurance that allows for the future possibility of bringing a personal injury lawsuit in the case of a car accident, provided that the accident was caused by a spouse’s negligence.

Some home insurance policies also do not allow one spouse to sue another, for similar reasons.

Because the law on whether one spouse can sue another is somewhat complex, it is prudent to consult an attorney about the laws and ramifications in your state. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on laws concerning spousal immunity and on any supplements allowed in your state of residence.

If You Need a New York or New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer

The seasoned personal injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been handling all matters pertaining to personal injury in New York and New Jersey, including car accidents, for more than four decades.

We will explain your rights and possible scenarios thoroughly. We are committed to long-lasting, fair, and reliable solutions that benefit you. All initial personal injury law consultations are complimentary. Call us today toll free at (800) 711-5258.

Additional resources:

  1. Property Casualty 360, 10 red flags that could signal a fraudulent Auto claim,
  2. Cornell Law School, Spousal Immunity,
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Emerging Medical Tech for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Doctor analyzing human skull x-ray screening image in hospital office during medical exam

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) refers to the type of brain degeneration caused by multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Sports fans will recognize CTE as being the central focus of the movie Concussion, which was based on the true story of a doctor’s exploration of the link between CTE and football injuries. Although the focus of CTE research, at least in the public eye, has been on TBIs caused by contact sports, CTE can also result from head traumas caused by motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, and construction site accidents.

Quest to diagnose CTE more effectively gets a boost

A new study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease detailing ongoing efforts to improve the ability of doctors to diagnose CTE in living patients. Currently, the only definitive way to diagnose CTE is after a patient’s death. An autopsy is required to carefully examine the brain tissue for signs of the abnormal changes that indicate CTE. Of course, the problem with diagnosing brain degeneration after death is that it’s harder to help people who are living with CTE.

But with the publication of this new study, researchers are one step closer to making an accurate diagnosis a possibility during the patient’s life. It was a small study, involving only seven participants. They were five veterans and two active duty military servicemembers who reported sustaining brain injuries and CTE-like symptoms.

How the diagnostic scan works

The study participants were each injected with a radioactive molecular tracer. This particular tracer is called FDDNP. FDDNP works by adhering to abnormal proteins in the brain—the same proteins that develop in patients with CTE. Once the tracer had time to circulate in the body, the study participant was given a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The PET scan picked up the tracer’s signature, allowing the researchers to confirm the presence of the abnormal proteins in the brain tissue.

Then, the researchers compared these seven scans to the scans of two dozen people with Alzheimer’s disease and 15 retired football players who had a history of brain trauma and exhibited signs of CTE. The scans were also compared to 28 healthy control subjects. The researchers discovered that their scans were similar to those of the football players, but different from the scans of the other two groups.

More research is needed before the test can be considered clinically reliable, but this small study is encouraging for families affected by CTE-like symptoms.

Consult a personal injury specialist serving New York and New Jersey

As public awareness of CTE grows and medical technology continues to improve, it’s only to be expected that more cases of CTE will be diagnosed prior to death. But even if a loved one was only diagnosed with CTE after his or her death, the family members may still bring a civil claim against any negligent parties. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if a TBI occurred as a result of a slip and fall injury, construction site accident, or a truck, car, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident.

Talk to the traumatic brain injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Our personal injury team is proud to provide effective legal advocacy services to families in Bergen County, NJ, and throughout the NJ and NY area. Call us toll-free at 888.624.4916 today to request a case review.

Additional resources about traumatic brain injuries

  1. NPR, Scientists Hunt For A Test To Diagnose Chronic Brain Injury In Living People,
  2. Mayo Clinic, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy,
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Child Drownings Tragically on the Increase

As summer approaches, so does swimming season. Seventy percent of drowning incidents take place between May and August, so that also means the risk of water accidents is at a peak. The child safety advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide recently released its 2018 water safety study, drawing attention to the risks of water to children and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of a tragedy.

Child drowning statistics

Tragically, there were 1,000 children who drowned nationwide in 2016. But that is not the end of the story; there were an additional 7,000 children who went to the ER in near-drowning incidents. This means that 150 families each week were impacted by drowning, not counting the near-drownings that are never taken to hospitals. The number of drownings has dropped by 28% since 2000 but has taken a recent turn with a 14% increase in 2015 and 2016.

Drowning is a leading cause of death by unintentional injury among children. It is the number one cause for children ages 1-4, the second leading cause for children 5-14, and the third leading cause for children 15-19. Additionally, the numbers show that there are certain demographics at greatest risk:

  • Boys were involved in 80% of drownings
  • White children were far less likely to be involved in a drowning, while African American children were almost twice as likely and American Indian and Alaskan Native children about 2.5 times as likely

So where do fatal drowning accident occur?

  • 43% in open water
  • 38% in pools
  • 9% in bathtubs
  • 10% in unspecified locations

Drowning accidents in New York and New Jersey

It should be no surprise that the waterways and other aquatic attractions of the East Coast are associated with drowning risks. In New York State, there are an average of 7 fatal drownings per year in public pools and beaches alone. Like the national statistics indicate, the risks are greater in the summer months, when there is also greater exposure to risks.

In New Jersey, drowning death have been on the rise in recent years. In a typical summer, the state sees approximately 8-10 drowning deaths but in 2017, there were more than 27. State law does not require hotels and motels to provide lifeguards, presenting a risk for guests.

Preventing child drowning deaths

The American Red Cross urges pool owners to put safety first by following precautions including:

  • Enclosing the pool with a 4-foot-high fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate
  • Covering pool or hot tub between uses and removing means of access like ladders or steps
  • Actively supervise children and never let anyone swim alone
  • Requiring young or less experienced swimmers to wear a life jacket meeting U.S. Coast Guard standards
  • Keeping water clean and clear
  • Enforcing safety rules
  • Ensuring those on site are trained in first aid and CPR and know how to respond to an aquatic emergency

Speak with a lawyer

Words cannot capture what families go through when a child or another loved one is killed or permanently disabled due to a drowning – especially when it was caused by someone else’s negligence. The New York and New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are committed to providing high-quality representation when you need it most. We understand the impact these accidents can have and are willing to fight for maximum compensation. Call today to speak with an attorney in Bergen County, NJ.

Additional child drowning resources

  1., Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children May 2018,
  2. New York State Department of Health, Drowning Statistics: Historical Drowning Data,
  3. Patch, 34 Die In New Jersey Water Deaths Since May As Trend Continues,
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What Are PTSD Personal Injury Claims?

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept, blue tonePTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that sometimes affects people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. When a personal injury victim suffers from PTSD as the result of an accident, it can interfere with daily functioning in ways that make physical and mental recovery even tougher. As a personal injury lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. can tell you, this type of impairment is compensable under the law but it is not as straightforward as a clearly physical injury.

PTSD as a result of personal injury

When most people think of PTSD, they probably think of affected soldiers returning from war. In reality, there are many other causes as well, including natural disasters, sexual assault, car accidents, and other types of personal injury.

PTSD as a result of a traffic accident, for example, is far more common than most people realize. In studies examining people seeking treatment for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, between 25% and 33% of the accident victims suffer from PTSD. Conservative estimates based on these studies put the number of Americans afflicted by car accident-related PTSD between 2.5 million and 7 million. Logic would put the total number of personal injury-related PTSD cases even higher.

Symptoms of PTSD

It is natural to experience some emotional effects after a serious accident. In some cases, though, the emotional impact interferes with everyday functioning or does not improve over time and it may actually be signs of PTSD.

The overlap between typical emotional recovery and a more serious problem can make it difficult to spot PTSD right away. It can also prevent a victim from seeking medical help for it and the delay in treatment can make a claim even harder to prove.

Some of the problems to pay attention to include:

  • Flashbacks, nightmares, or other types of “re-living” the event
  • Avoiding similar situations
  • Having a more negative outlook or attitude
  • Feeling overly alert, jittery, or hyperaware of surroundings

Also be on the lookout for problems like chronic pain, depression, and substance abuse, which often accompany PTSD.

Winning a PTSD claim

A personal injury plaintiff must prove that the PTSD was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The first step is proving that the plaintiff is indeed suffering from PTSD. A skilled personal injury lawyer will take a multi-step approach to this, including:

  • Helping the jury understand what PTSD is and how it affects victims
  • Establishing that the plaintiff is suffering from PTSD and the effect that it has on daily living

Since these topics are well outside the knowledge and understanding of the typical juror, expert testimony is usually needed to make these points.

How a personal injury lawyer can help

The Rockland and Bergen County personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. in Rockland County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey understand the extreme impact that a serious accident can have on a victim and their family. Our dedicated attorneys and staff are committed to seeing each case through to maximizing compensation.

If you have experienced physical or emotional pain because of someone else’s carelessness, put your trust in tireless advocates. Call us today for a no-obligation consultation.

Additional PTSD lawsuit resources:

  1. NCBI, Assesment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations,
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD: What Is PTSD?,
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How is Loss of Wages Determined in a Personal Injury Case ?

judge gavel settlementA personal injury may result in long-term disability that makes resuming prior employment or earning pre-accident income levels an impossibility. When this occurs, the law affords aggrieved parties the opportunity to pursue compensation for those losses. But how can lost wages, reduced earning potential and related damages be accurately assessed?

Lost wage calculations

Accident victims who enjoyed regular employment by a company, individual or other such entity will have a rather straightforward task ahead in establishing exactly how much income they have lost. By submitting employer-provided and other documentation concerning their typical work schedule, rate of pay and days missed due to injuries sustained, a plaintiff or claimant can quickly prove the income of which they have been deprived by the defendant’s negligence. Those who work on a seasonal or irregular work schedule may find this part of the process a bit more challenging, but could utilize pre-accident bank deposit records, tax returns, client correspondence and calendar data to show what has been lost in terms of anticipated income.

Sick time and vacation pay

So that family income does not decrease during an extended period of convalescence and recovery, it is not uncommon for accident victims to utilize accrued vacation and sick days. While this does not represent a direct loss of income, a monetary benefit has in fact been forfeited for which the employee is entitled to be compensated. But for the accident at issue, the victim could have used his or her vacation and sick days for any other permissible purpose, and thus they represent a loss that needs to be repaid.

Loss of benefits, pension contributions and more

Expected bonus payments, sales commission payments, pension contributions and scheduled pay raises that would likely have taken effect had the employee been present may well be among the classifications of compensation obtainable by a skilled personal injury attorney.

Diminished earning potential

While not as easily calculable, another critical realm of lost income potentially recoverable by a personal injury plaintiff is that of diminished future earning capacity. Sadly, it is often the case that an injured party is rendered incapable of returning to their previous line of work or level of employment, regardless of the medical care or treatment they receive. As a result, their future ability to provide for themselves and their families can be profoundly limited when compared to what it would otherwise have been. Testimony from employment and economic loss experts combined with detailed financial data can be utilized to establish the effect of the plaintiff’s injury on any future earning potential and help ensure that proper compensation is provided. Key factors in this type of analysis could include a review of:

  • The type of injuries sustained and estimated recovery times
  • Victim’s educational history, employment background and skill level
  • Chances of full or partial rehabilitation
  • Income effects of a limited, but not total return to work
  • Forfeited advancement opportunities within the relevant field of employment

Lost opportunities for career advancement

Another related, yet distinct classification of lost income which may be recoverable in a personal injury matter has to do with imminent advancement opportunities which can be shown to have been forfeited due to the accident event. Evidence used to establish scenarios of this type might include correspondence in which a job promotion was discussed, interview schedules, information about the impending commencement of a business venture, and the like. Though these types of losses are not as easily demonstrated as some of the others outlined above, if good quality documentation exists, it is certainly possible for a plaintiff to succeed in such a claim.

Dedicated advocacy in Rockland County and Bergen County injury cases

Whether caused by an auto accident, a dog attack, a dangerous consumer product or any other type of negligence attributable to another party, the attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman understand precisely how devastating a personal injury can be. Our NY & NJ personal injury attorneys are committed to providing clients in Rockland County and Bergen County with the type of individualized service necessary to get to the factual heart of each case we accept and to aggressively pursue fair compensation.

If you have been harmed because of the negligent acts or omissions of others, please know that zealous advocates for your rights are close at hand. For a no-cost initial consultation, contact us today by phone or online.

Additional “lost wages calculator” resources

  1. Workers’ Compensation Board NY, Guidelines for Determining Permanent Impairment and Loss of Wage Earning Capacity,
  2. Sapling, How to Write a Lost Wage & Income Demand Letter,
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What Are the Different Types of Bone Fractures?

Photo of surgeryThere are 206 bones in the human body, and together they provide many functions that are critical to our health and wellbeing. When bones are fractured, the recovery process can be lengthy and expensive, especially in more severe cases entailing surgery and traction. Motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports injuries are the leading causes of broken bones, which are considered a medical emergency.

Even minor hairline fractures should be evaluated and treated promptly to prevent further complications. Improper or delayed treatment of fractures can result in incapacitating changes to your mobility, ongoing pain and loss of bone integrity. X-rays must be taken to diagnosis the injury and provide a clear idea about the type of fracture and the degree of bone displacement. When such personal injury is caused by another party’s negligence, victims may be eligible to seek monetary damages through the courts.

The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has a long history of success litigating claims involving bone fractures and other traumatic injuries.  The following is a brief outline of the different types of bone fractures and their characteristics.

Types of bone fractures

There are two basic categories of bone fractures: simple and compound fractures. Simple fractures, also known as closed fractures, are broken bones that do not pierce or puncture through the skin.

Compound fractures, also called open fractures, are broken bones that puncture the skin, exposing the bone and deep tissues. These fractures are much more serious because pathogens are able to enter the body, causing life-threatening infection. Broad spectrum antibiotics are administered to help prevent infection within the bone, blood and surrounding tissue.

Within the framework of compound and simple fractures, there are additional types of fracture injury:

  • Comminuted fractures are one of the most crippling of injuries, when the bone breaks into multiple, small fragments. Often seen in crush injuries.
  • Greenstick fractures are typically only seen in young children whose bones are still developing.  Greenstick fractures are incomplete, meaning the bone doesn’t fully break.
  • Avulsion fractures occur when a small portion of bone is ripped away, usually due to sudden traumatic pulling forces during an accident.
  • Transverse fractures form horizontal to the long axis of a bone and are the result of a force applied at a right angle to the bone.
  • Oblique fractures occur when the bone is fractured from a force that is applied in a direction other than a right angle.
  • Spiral fractures can happen when the bone is actually twisted due to extreme external forces.
  • Linear Fracture when the bone is fractured in a parallel manner along the long axis

Common bone fractures seen in accidents

Bones that are often fractured in car, truck and construction accidents include:

  • Wrist/hand
  • Pelvis
  • Clavicle
  • Humerus
  • Scapula
  • Radius
  • Femur
  • Spine
  • Tibia/Fibula

Arm bones may heal within 4-5 weeks, whereas a leg fracture could take up to 8 months. Age also plays a crucial role in the body’s ability to heal. Younger children will recover faster, while the elderly may never fully recover from a broken leg, hip or other traumatic bone fracture.

Schedule a free case review in New York or New Jersey

A favorable verdict or settlement can make a world of difference for those who have suffered debilitating bone fractures in preventable accidents. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman attorneys are dedicated to fighting for your rights. To learn more about your options for legal recourse, we encourage you to reach out for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at our firm. All cases are handled on a contingency basis.

Additional Bone Fracture Resources:

  1. OrthoInfo, Fractures (Broken Bones)
  2. WebMD, Understanding Bone Fractures — the Basics
  3. InnerBody, Types of Bone Fractures
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Your Personal Injury Consultation Checklist

Decorative Scales of Justice in the CourtroomBefore meeting a personal injury attorney to discuss your accident and potential claim for damages, it’s important to ensure you’re prepared with the proper documents, reports and relevant information surrounding your injury.

Documentation, including police reports, medical receipts,  and witness statements, lend credibility to your case, while providing your lawyer with key information to help determine whether litigation is warranted.  An experienced lawyer can then review this information to offer a realistic projection on the value of your claim.

Make sure you’ve assembled everything from this personal injury checklist before scheduling your first legal consultation. If you are unable to locate some of the information, don’t worry. Your attorney can help you track down exactly what is needed to achieve the best possible outcome.

Personal Injury Information Checklist

  • Accident information: Your legal counsel needs to have the full names, addresses and contact information of any people who were involved in the injury accident. This includes the name of the police officer (s) who responded to the scene, the names and contact info of any witnesses to the accident, and the names and addresses of people who you have talked to about your injuries. Also make note of the dates you missed work because of the accident.
  • Medical & hospital information: Your attorney also needs to know the date that the accident happened, and the name and address of the ambulance service if you used one. Be ready to provide the names, addresses and contact information of any health care practitioners, doctors or specialists who saw adnd treated you after the accident.  You also need to furnish the dates of each medical visit, doctor’s appointment or ER visit.
  • Insurance information: If you or the defendant has insurance, please provide the insurance adjustor’s name, address and contact information.

Documents to Bring

Your attorney needs all the facts and supporting documentation of the accident in order to make a strong claim for compensation. You should save all receipts for accident-related expenses, check stubs or deposit statements that demonstrate your income before and after the injury, which can help prove your economic losses.

  • Copy of the official police accident report
  • Your medical/health insurance card
  • Relevant insurance documents (car or health) that enumerate your policy coverage and limits
  • All emails or letters with your insurance adjustor/carrier about the accident
  • Homeowners insurance policy if the accident took place at home
  • If you have disability or Veteran’s insurance, bring proof
  • Written statements (or copies) furnished by eyewitnesses
  • Proof of lost wages – with check stubs or bank statements
  • Receipts for all medical expenses, including physician fees, surgeries, tests, assistive devices like wheelchairs or crutches
  • Receipts for prescription medicines, or pain medications
  • Receipts for non-medical but accident-related expenses like car repairs, parking fees or transportation costs to get to and from the doctors

This initial consult also provides a great opportunity to ask your attorney about their prior experience handling cases like yours, their fee schedule, and projected time frame for the entire claims process.

Free case review in New York & New Jersey

If you were seriously injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s in your best interest to speak with a reputable personal injury law firm. Since 1975, the legal team at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has been representing injury victims throughout Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, New Jersey. Put our expertise and resources to work for you; call us today for a complimentary case review.

Additional “personal injury documentation” resources

  1. New York State DMV, Get an Accident Report,
  2. New Jersey State Police, Crash Report Information,
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What are the Statutes of Limitation on Personal Injury Cases?

Photo of clockStatutes of limitations, which can be traced back to Roman times, are an integral part of the legal system in the United States and many other nations.  Every state legislature has passed its own statute of limitations that prescribe the maximum time that you have to initiate litigation from the date of an alleged event. After this specified time period has elapsed, you are no longer able to seek redress through the courts for personal injury or damages.

In other words, if you fail to file a personal injury claim before your state’s statute of limitations expires, you can lose your right to sue for financial compensation.

Statute of Limitations impose deadlines

These laws were passed to encourage resolution of legal proceedings within a reasonable time frame. Some states — such as Missouri — allow up to 5 years to bring a personal injury claim.  Others – like Kentucky and Tennessee – have a one year time limit on pursuing injury actions. Under New Jersey statute § 2A:14-2(a), aggrieved parties have two years from the date of harm to file a personal injury lawsuit. In New York, you have three years after the date of personal injury to take legal action.

If you are ever harmed in any kind of an accident, whether it occurred at work, because of a negligent driver, or on the property of a third party, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In most states, the clock starts ticking the moment the injurious event occurs, or when the victim discovers the harm.

Discovery of Harm Rule

When considering the statute of limitations in New York or New Jersey for legal actions, it’s crucial to understand the “discovery of harm” rule. This often plays a key role in malpractice claims wherein patients discover many months (or years) after surgery that their doctor mistakenly implanted the wrong medical device, or misdiagnosed a disease or illness.  In instances where the patient did not experience any troubling symptoms, he or she would have no “reasonable way” of discovering the harm sustained. In these cases, the date of accrual would not likely begin until the actual day when the patient discovered the doctor’s error.

The discovery of harm rule rarely applies to the most common of personal injury claims arising from car accidents or slip and fall injuries, when there is no underlying harm to “discover.”  However, these deadline for filing litigation may apply to some wrongful death cases, as well as product liability claims stemming from pharmaceuticals or defective products.

Statute of Limitations for Minors

Most states have special considerations for minors who suffer injury. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations does not start until the injured party turns 18.  So if a 16-year old resident is injured in a car crash, he or she has until his 20th birthday to sue for damages in NJ. Similarly, New York civil code tolls the statute of limitations for minors until their eighteenth birthday.

It’s worth noting that a minor’s legal guardian or parent can file a personal injury claim on their child’s behalf before they turn 18. There are certain advantages to this strategy, as evidence is still readily accessible and hasn’t spoiled and any witnesses can recall events more easily.

Legal assistance in NJ and New York

If you or someone you love was injured because of another party’s negligence or careless actions, time is of the essence for seeking restitution and justice. As experienced personal injury lawyers serving Rockland County, Bergen County and the greater New York metro area, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. know how to fight for full compensation.

If you have questions about filing a claim, we invite you to contact our law offices today for a free case evaluation. You can reach out via our online contact form, or call toll-free today.

Additional Personal Injury Time Limits Resources

  1., Statutes of Limitation
  2. Justia, New Jersey Section 2A:14-2 – Actions for injury caused by wrongful act
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What are the Stages of a Personal Injury Case?

Decorative Scales of Justice in the CourtroomHiring a personal injury attorney is the start of a legal process aimed at holding negligent parties liable for wrongdoing and securing compensation for the victims. One of the first questions plaintiffs have for attorneys is, “How long will it take to reach a settlement or verdict?”

The Court Statistics Project found that nearly half of personal injury cases were resolved within a year. By two years, three quarters of cases were resolved. The median case processing time was 13.7 months.

The personal injury attorneys in NY and NJ at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman will communicate with each client every step of the way to be sure you feel valued and never brushed aside. Here are the general steps of litigation you can expect:

Stage 1: Meeting with an Attorney

You have up to 2 years to file a personal injury lawsuit in New York or New Jersey. Keep in mind the clock doesn’t necessarily start ticking on the date an incident occurs. Sometimes the timeline begins the date you discovered you were injured, or the date you discovered some else’s negligence was to blame for your injuries. It’s best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin investigating your case. These calls are confidential and free of charge, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will need to sign a release form to give the lawyers access to your medical records, police reports, and other personal information related to the case.

Stage 2: Initiating Court Papers

If the attorneys are confident they can handle and successfully litigate your case, filing a complaint and a summons will be the next step. In most cases, the defendants have up to 30 days to respond. The defendant’s answer may come in the form of an admittance, a denial, or an argument that there is insufficient knowledge to admit or deny. Defendants may petition a judge to dismiss the motion early. Sometimes a counterclaim is filed against the plaintiff.

Stage 3: Fact-Finding and Discovery

Discovery involves written interrogations, document production, and depositions. Your attorney will assemble facts and documents from all sources possible to build a substantial case. Requests for admission can be a powerful tool in admitting or denying certain facts in the presentation before judge and/or jury. Depositions are sworn statements that are admissible in court. The best attorneys are adept at asking the right questions to get the testimony they need. They know how to poke holes in the opposition’s story, discredit witnesses, and challenge the legal arguments the opposing case hinges on to win.

Stage 4: Motions To Resolve Before Trial

Sometimes lawsuits can be dismissed in the early stages of litigation due to lack of subject matter, lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, insufficient service of process, or failure to state a proper claim. Summary judgement motions can end the case before trial if the facts are not in dispute and both sides accept the judge’s review.

Stage 5: Settlement

Many defendants will opt to settle before enduring the expense, public exposure, and difficulty of a court trial. Of course, what they’re willing to pay is not always favorable to the plaintiffs. Ultimately, you can choose to accept a fair settlement or you may decide to take your case all the way to court.

Stage 6: Trial

If the case is set for trial, a jury will be selected. The case will involve opening statements, witness testimony, cross-examination, closing arguments, jury deliberation, and a verdict. The trial itself typically takes at least three days, and wraps up in five. Trials involving complex evidentiary issues may take longer to complete.

Stage 7: Collecting Money After Judgment

Collecting a judgment can sometimes take extensive work after a successful verdict. Attorneys may need to work out wage garnishment, assets liquidation, bankruptcy proceedings, or collection proceedings.

Stage 8: Appealing a Decision or Judgment

The losing side in he lawsuit has the chance to file an appeal. A panel of judges review the court proceedings to determine if protocol was followed and sufficient justice was served. If the party loses an appeal in state or federal court, they may still appeal to the Supreme Court if a federal or constitutional issue has been raised.

Contact KGG To Get The Ball Rolling on Your Lawsuit

Our Rockland County and Bergen County personal injury attorneys have provided plaintiffs with quality legal services since 1975. We’re big enough to handle the most complex cases, but we’re smart enough to handle your case with care. We’ve covered every type of personal injury claim, from vehicular accidents, slip-and-fall premises liability, and dog bites, to workplace injuries, product liability, and nursing home abuse. Call us toll-free today to start the legal process.

Additional “personal injury lawsuit timeline” resources:

  1. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Tort Cases in Large Counties,
  2. NY Times, The Longest Trial – A Post-Mortem; Collapse of Child-Abuse Case: So Much Agony for So Little,
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