Personal Injury Claims

It has been a very busy past two and a half weeks as I have given presentations on both coasts of the United States as well as Nova Scotia, Canada.  In late October,  I was invited by the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group to speak at their yearly convention in Santa Barbara, California.  There, along with my colleague Gordon Johnson, we gave a mock demonstration of a direct examination of a neurologist in a traumatic brain injury. A week later, I flew back to California to give a presentation entitled “Admissibility of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)” for the Brain Injury Association of California.

Back in New Jersey, I co-chaired a program entitled “Cross Examination College” at the New Jersey Association for Justice’s mid‑year convention at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Besides co-chairing the college, I also gave a presentation on cross examination of the expert in a traumatic brain injury case. Finally, I was invited to speak at the Atlantic Province Trial Lawyers Association’s seminar in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  There, I gave two presentations , one entitled “The Effect of Disability on Earning Capacity for Canadians”  as well as a presentation on “The Use of Demonstrative Evidence.

While travelling can be quite tiring and travelling back and forth to the west coast is exhausting, I believe it is important to help educate other trial attorneys so they can better be able to represent their clients who sustained injury as a result of the fault of others.

A Burlington County jury recently returned a verdict in favor of my client, finding that the Florence Township Board of Education and its school bus driver were partially responsible for an incident that occurred at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Railroad Avenue in Florence Township, New Jersey.  Back on February 23, 2009, my client Swaran Singh had brought his bicycle to a stop at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Railroad Avenue.  At the same time, Sherrie Berry, the Florence Township Board of Education bus driver, was driving her school bus southbound on Delaware Avenue.  She made a right turn onto Railroad Avenue and kept going, unaware that the right rear tire of her school bus had run over the left foot of my client. 

According to the police investigation, the Florence Township Police investigating police officers determined that Mr. Singh had been riding his bike on the sidewalk and that he lost control of his bicycle, rolled into the street and was run over by the back tire of the school bus.

Before going to trial, I retained an accident reconstruction expert as well as an orthopedic surgeon to look at the physical facts and determine, based on science and medicine, whether the police version was accurate.  Both my accident reconstruction expert and orthopedic surgeon opined that the police version was in error.  My accident reconstruction expert determined that at the time of the incident, Mr. Singh was stopped on his bike, straddling his bike with his left foot in the crosswalk.  He determined that my client was injured when the right rear tire of the school bus ran over my client’s planted foot.  My orthopedic expert also opined that based on the nature of the injuries, the accident reconstruction expert’s opinion was accurate.

There was no question that my client was partially responsible.  However, in New Jersey, an injured individual can still recover damages if the defendant was at least 50% at fault.  It was our position that the defendant school bus driver was negligent in failing to make observations as she traveled south bound on Delaware Avenue and as she made her right turn onto Railroad Avenue. 

The jury agreed that the plaintiff and the defendant school bus driver were both equally at fault.  As a result, plaintiff was entitled to recover half of his damages. 

I read a very interesting article published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine (September 24, 2009) which contained a research article studying the adult motorcycle crashes and the effect and comparing helmeted to unhelmeted motorcyclists.  The study conducted by researchers at the Department of Surgery and Trauma Services in the University Medical Center at Brackenridge, Austin, Texas compared the outcomes of helmeted versus unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in motorcycle crashes.  This retrospective study (1994 – 2006) of adult motorcycle crashes found that unhelmeted riders had a higher Injury Severity Score, lower Glasgow Coma Scale score and more hypotension.  The study found that unhelmeted riders had worse outcomes including higher rate of severe disability, more days in the hospital and intensive care unit, incurred higher hospital charges and had higher mortality rates. 

This study is further proof of the need for all states to require helmets for motorcycle operators.

I wanted to let readers of my blog know that the injury lawyers of my firm are now investigating potential Heparin injury claims on behalf of those hurt by the administration of contaminated batches of the drug.  The government issued a Heparin recall earlier this year after more than 80 people died and hundreds more suffered sever allergic reactions to the tainted blood thinning drug.

If you or a loved one were victim of a severe allergic reaction or death after being administered Heparin you can have an experienced attorney from my firm investigate your potential case.

Osborne v. Budd

This week’s New Jersey Law Journal’s Suits & Deals section mentions a case which I recently settled for a client.

On April 30, 1998 defendant Brenda Budd was traveling on Route 206 when she suddenly crossed lanes striking my client Gail Osborne’s vehicle. Ms. Osborne was taken to the emergency room, complaining of neck pain and released shortly that day. Over the next week, she began to experience problems with attention and concentration as well as balance. A CT scan taken shortly after the collision was normal. She was ultimately referred to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation where she underwent neuropsychological testing and was diagnosed as having sustained a mild traumatic brain injury.

Following her discharge from the Kessler program, Ms. Osborne remained under the care of various specialists including a neuro-optometrist, neuro-otologist and neuropsychiatrist. The Social Security Administration found her to be totally disabled as a result of her injuries.

The defendant, Brenda Budd, and her attorney initially asserted that the collision occurred due to a defect in her vehicle’s axle. However, her insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual, got rid of the car prior to litigation so no testing could be done. Our lawsuit was instituted against Ms. Budd and a count for spoliation and punitive damages were asserted.

Trial was first commenced in the summer 2003. However, a mistrial was declared after plaintiff’s opening statement due to references to my client’s Social Security award. The case was next scheduled for trial in October 2003. After a three-week trial with the jury apparently hung, a second mistrial was declared when one of the deliberating jurors advised that she could not return for further deliberations.

The case was called for trial again on June 1, 2005 and after two days of negotiations I was able to settle the matter for $975,000.00.

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that a non-physician expert was qualified to testify regarding medical cause of a worker’s injury. In Clark v. Safety-Kleen Corp., 179 N.J. 318, 845 A.2d 578 (2004), the Court held that a non-physician research chemist was qualified to testify regarding the medical cause of a workers injury. The Plaintiff in Clark developed an infection after a cut on his finger was exposed to a certain chemical. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that it was an error to permit the chemist to testify regarding medical causation, since this opinion was beyond the scope of the expert’s qualifications. Continue Reading Non-physician expert qualified to testify

I was recently contacted to review a file on behalf of a woman injured in a bus incident. The accident had occurred a number of years ago and suit had already been filed in the United States District Court. In order to learn a little about the case before conducting an in-depth interview, I asked the individual to please send me copies of whatever medical records and legal pleadings she had in her possession. Unfortunately, the medical reports which were sent for review were on their face insufficient to meet the legal requirements necessary to succeed.

While the physician was able to document an impairment, he was unable to causally relate that impairment to the specific traumatic incident, simply stating “it is possible that the incident was the cause.”

Under our legal standards, an expert’s opinion must be based on a reasonable degree of medical probability or certainty (the case of a medical expert) or to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty. The use of the term possible was fatal.

In any personal injury case, it is essential that the plaintiff have an expert causally relate the injury to the specific traumatic event. In other words, in bringing a personal injury case, a plaintiff must have a doctor, not necessarily a physician, state to a reasonable degree of medical, psychological or scientific certainty that the plaintiff suffered an injury that was causally related to the specific incident.

As a result of our experience and through careful assessment and preparation, Stark & Stark’s personal injury lawyers have been able to help victims and their families obtain cash settlements for lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Our personal injury practice is one of the largest in Central New Jersey. As many as 2,000 clients per year are assisted by our lawyers in personal injury matters and every case is supervised by a certified trial lawyer.

Our areas of practice include automobile accidents, birth injuries, construction accidents, traumatic brain injury, product liability, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, nursing home negligence, on the job injuries, slip and fall accidents and many more.