On April 5th, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee pushed forward Senate Bill S-1766, legislation which would expand the state’s wrongful death statute to allow for recovery of damages from “mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society and loss of companionship.” Currently, the survivors who lost a loved one cannot be compensated for such emotional loss.

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I received a call from a mother of a child who has been bullied. She was unaware of the school’s obligations in dealing with such behavior. New Jersey was a national leader in 2002 by being one of the first states to enact anti-bullying legislation. On January 5, 2011, Governor Christie signed the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act which strengthened New Jersey’s original anti-bullying law. Besides expanding the definition of bullying, the Act also put more responsibility on the schools in dealing with such incidents and reporting information on school websites. In fact, each school is required to designate an anti-bullying specialist to deal with all bullying incidents.
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I am often asked by the victims of negligent drivers whether they need to show up in municipal court for the ticket issued to the negligent driver. The answer to this question is “yes”. Even though the police officer issues the ticket, the officer arrived on the scene after the incident occurred so the other driver, who was not negligent, is the sole witness to the facts of the accident.
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We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t fight City Hall”. Truth be told, you can fight city hall if you have enough documentation. In New Jersey, public entities have extensive immunity from being sued for dangerous conditions to public property. Not only does the claimed injury have to meet certain criteria, but the negligence of the public entity also has to meet certain criteria.
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Purchasing mobility equipment requires some research. I represent a client who has been wheelchair bound for many years. He is extremely independent and, as such, was looking to purchase a new motor vehicle. Obviously, he needed the vehicle to accommodate his wheelchair. He made a purchase based on the recommendation of a salesperson at a local mobility equipment dealer. The purchase included the mechanism necessary to lock in his wheelchair to the inside of the vehicle. When he received the wheelchair back from the dealer, the locking mechanism was installed.
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Letting your automobile insurance lapse has significant consequences. Of course, there are fines to pay, but few know about the other consequences associated with letting your insurance lapse. What I recently had to explain to a client is that if you are driving an uninsured vehicle and you are involved in an accident, you are not permitted the file a lawsuit against the negligent person for any damages.
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I recently read a court’s decision interpreting a step-down provision of an insurance policy and realized that most consumers have no idea what a step-down provision is and how it impacts their family. A step-down provision limits claims under the uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits. The language of a step-down provision usually limits coverage to those who don’t have their own separate policy. It most often comes into play when there are multiple car insurance policies in the same household.
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When involved in a car crash, it is often difficult to remember what happened to your body during the impact. However, what part of your body hits what part of the interior should be documented as soon as possible. For example, I represent a driver who banged her knee on the dashboard after getting rear-ended. She didn’t think it was a big deal and felt significantly more discomfort to her neck which was whipped back and forth as a result of the impact. She went to the emergency room but did not mention that she hit her knee on the dashboard. She assumed it was just a bruise or contusion and not worth mentioning.
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An Appellate Court Panel recently ruled that a church van is not considered an “automobile” for purposes of the New Jersey Law governing PIP (Personal Injury Protection). PIP benefits include payment of medical bills related to injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The PIP statute requires every standard automobile policy to carry such benefits for the named insured and family household members as well as passengers of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Commercial vehicles do not have to carry PIP benefits.
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