All posts by David Kaplan

Personal Injury Cases

Personal Injury Cases Against a Business

Unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere. If you slip and fall on a business’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. The compensation that may be won in a personal injury case can help you pay for unforeseen medical bills and complications due to the fall. It is important to know your rights when it comes to a business’s liability to keep you safe and unharmed. Follow along and we will discuss the key elements of successful personal injury cases against a business and what your next step should be if you have a case. 

 

The Three Basic Elements

In a personal injury lawsuit against a business, you must be able to prove negligence on behalf of the employers. A typical negligence claim has three main elements: a duty of care owed by the business to the customer, a breach of the duty of care, and harm caused by the breach. 

Proving Duty of Care

A business that welcomes customers to its premises has a duty to act reasonably to provide for the safety of its customers. However, courts understand that businesses cannot prevent all injuries from happening, thus businesses are not liable for just any injury suffered by a customer. To protect businesses from being overburdened by safety standards, courts impose a reasonableness standard. The requirements of this standard can vary given the context of a case and also may vary state to state. 

For example, a reasonableness standard may require a business to create and follow a procedure to regularly inspect the premises for defects that could harm a customer. Another example is businesses may be required to provide a mat or rug at the front door to avoid accumulation of water on the floor, thus avoiding slippery conditions. If slippery conditions or wet floors occur, it is likely the reasonableness standard requires the business to place warning signs near the dangerous area. Businesses must also look for and immediately clean up hazardous conditions, such as wet floors, snowy sidewalks, snowy parking lots, parking lots in need of repair due to potholes and cracks, loose cords, sharp edges, improperly stacked merchandise, etc. 

In many situations, you may need to find an expert testimony to determine the proper standard in a particular case. This expert should have extensive knowledge of the safety standards in the industry in question and will testify the safety standards expected in particular contexts. 

 

Proving Breach of Duty

If a business has failed to fulfill its duty of care, it is said to have “breached” their duty. The key to proving a breach of duty is to first prove the proper duty of care given the circumstances. For example, if a customer at a grocery store slips and falls because of a spilled product in one of the aisles, they would need to prove that the business failed to create a cleaning schedule that would regularly remove spills from the floor. Or, if the business does have a cleaning schedule created, perhaps they failed to adhere to the schedule on the day of the accident. Either one of these failures to fulfill the duty of care could be considered a breach of duty. 

 

Proving Harm Caused by the Breach

The critical issue is proving the breach actually caused the harm. The harm can take many forms, including: pain, suffering, cost of medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and/or the loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures in the same way as prior to injury. Even if there is a breach of duty and a customer got hurt, if the two are not directly related the business is not liable for the injury. Meaning, if you tripped in a store on a rainy day and there was no rug at the front door, but the real reason you tripped was because your shoelace is untied, the breach did not actually cause the harm. In other words, even though there was no rug at the front of the store, and as a result the floor may have been slippery and wet, you tripped on your shoelace so you probably would not win in a lawsuit against the business. 

 

Who to Sue?

Knowing who exactly to sue in a personal injury claim against a business is key to the success of a case. Who you sue generally depends on the nature of the claimed negligence. If the business owner owns the property you were injured on, then, in general, the only potential defendant would be the store owner themselves. However, often store owners lease their property, so you may also have a claim against the landlord or property owner. 

If you injure yourself because of a structural issue with the building, you would likely file a claim against the landlord or property owner. For example, if there was a crack on the sidewalk out front causing you to trip and fall, that is the landlord’s fault. Another example would be, if there is a leak in the ceiling causing slippery wet floors, it would be the landlord’s responsibility if you were to slip and fall. For more information about accidents on dangerous or defective property, click here

On the other hand, if you slip because of something the tenant or business owner did, or failed to do, then your claim would be against the store owner. An example of a claim against a store owner would be slipping because water was tracked into the store and the owner neglected to clean it up or notify customers of the danger with a wet floor sign or cones. 

 

Legal Representation

Because of the varying complexities of a personal injury case, it is helpful to have the guidance of a legal professional. David Kaplan, attorney at law, offers free case evaluations to give you a better understanding of who you should sue, the details of your case, and if your claim is likely to result in a desirable verdict. With 30+ years of experience, David has the expertise and knowledge to help you build your strongest case. Furthermore, he is passionate about helping those who have had their rights infringed upon and personally handles every case with care. For more information, or to schedule your free case evaluation, visit David Kaplan’s website

 

Share

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer

Has something happened to you recently that has made you question if you should hire a lawyer? You may think with all the legal information and tools on the internet, you can handle your case independently. Moreover, some legal issues do not require an attorney, such as fighting a speeding ticket or going to small claims court. However, in the case of other legal disputes, there are many reasons to hire a lawyer, especially to maximize the effectiveness of your case. For more information on the benefits and reasons to hire a lawyer, continue reading. 

 

Maximum Efficiency 

We will start by saying, the law is complicated and changes regularly. In fact, most lawyers specialize in specific areas of law because it would be impossible to learn, remember, and understand all of the laws and legal procedures in existence. A solid case can quickly unravel without the quick thinking and problem-solving expertise of a trained attorney. Furthermore, without a lawyer guiding you through endeavors with potential legal ramifications, you may run into otherwise avoidable issues. As a rule of thumb, it is always better to avoid legal problems rather than fix them later. 

Cost Concerns

A frequent concern when thinking about hiring a lawyer is the cost. Needless to say, the services lawyers provide are often costly. However, lawyers have the experience, resources, and knowledge to fight for the best outcome for their clients. Ultimately, not having a lawyer could cost you more in the long run. If the stakes of your case are high, hiring a good lawyer will be worth the money. 

Unbeatable Expertise

Next, a lawyer knows how to take care of all the technicalities of a case. For example, they know how to challenge evidence, negotiate settlements, negotiate plea bargains, properly fill out legal documents, follow the correct procedures, and they have access to witnesses and experts you may need for a successful case. Without proper legal training, you may not be able to tell if a key piece of evidence was improperly obtained or that the testimony of a witness contradicts a previous statement. Your attorney will be specifically looking for these things and may even be able to suppress flawed evidence. 

Also, if you are not an attorney, it can be hard to understand the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. Filing the wrong document or following the wrong procedure could derail your case, or have it thrown out completely. An experienced lawyer has probably seen a case similar to yours or at least knows enough to make an educated guess on how it might get resolved at trial. Sometimes, a settlement is the best option, while other times it is important to see your case through to trial. A lawyer will be able to calculate the best option given your case, and then begin preparing your strongest case for that option immediately. An attorney can also help negotiate a fair settlement with the other party, probably more effectively than you.

Lastly, attorneys depend on an extended network of professionals to help their clients win their cases. They spend their entire career building and refining their professional network. As an individual, it is likely you don’t have the same network connections that can help with discovery or can challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing party. The network surrounding an attorney is one of their greatest assets and could be the deciding factor between you winning or losing the case.

 

Presenting Your Strongest Case

It is important when you are presenting a case to present the strongest case possible. Pleading guilty or admitting fault are not the only options, even if there is direct evidence pointing against you. A lawyer can thoroughly explain all your options and help you avoid potentially severe penalties. A lawyer can also recommend the best course of action for the most desirable result. 

Also worth noting, it is likely the opposing party in your case has legal representation. If they have legal representation and you do not, you are signing up for an unfair fight. As we mentioned earlier, the law is complicated and if you do not have legal representation, the attorney representing the opposing party would take advantage of this inequity. 

 

Immediate Investigation

Surveying the Scene and Securing Witnesses 

If you suffer an injury, you must seek an attorney immediately because there may be a need to urgently investigate. Conducting a thorough investigation in the aftermath of an accident is extremely important in determining who is legally liable for the damages you have suffered. The accident scene may need to be photographed before it changes or is cleaned up. Also, your attorney may need to secure a statement from a witness while the witness is still around. Both these steps are important in building your strongest case and are extremely time-sensitive. Thus, you should contact an attorney immediately if you are injured. 

 

Maintaining Case Legitimacy

Furthermore, for a case to be successful and valid an attorney may need to obtain a police report or file statutorily required forms to preserve a claim. If you wait too long to secure legal help, you may jeopardize the legitimacy of your case. In the event that you fail to contact an attorney immediately, still try to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. Most attorneys will have a team of accident reconstruction specialists, doctors, and other professionals who will do their best to analyze the incident and your injuries to determine what happened and who is at fault. 

 

Bottom line, it is best to contact an attorney right away if you have suffered an injury. If you neglected to do so at the time of your injury, don’t give up hope yet. An attorney may still be able to help you build a solid case as long as you contact them as soon as possible. 

Free Consultation

Luckily, many attorneys provide a free case consultation. During this first meeting with an attorney, you will get a better understanding of the type of case you have and its likely outcome. There is ultimately no reason for you to not speak with a lawyer and get a better idea of the legal journey ahead of you. A free consultation will also clear up any uncertainty you may have about needing or not needing legal representation for your specific case. Furthermore, a free consultation can give you a good feel for the lawyer and if they seem like a good match for you. It is important to get a lawyer you can connect with and who you feel genuinely cares about your case. 

 

Talk to a Lawyer Today

If you are searching for legal representation in the state of New Jersey, look no further than David Kaplan. With 30+ years of experience, David Kaplan, attorney at law, has dedicated his career to helping those who have had their rights infringed upon in a variety of situations. David handles each case personally and with his wealth of legal knowledge and expertise, he has won multiple million-dollar verdicts and other large awards. His successful results paired with his passion for justice will help you find the legal representation you deserve. For more information, or to book a free consultation, visit David Kaplan’s website

 

Share

Residential Evictions During the Pandemic

Residential Evictions During the Pandemic

Many people are struggling financially due to the extra pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is difficult not knowing if you will be able to afford rent and the repercussions that could come from that. Now more than ever, it is important that you know your rights versus your landlord’s rights in order to be prepared. Below, we will discuss what there is to know about residential evictions during the pandemic and when it is time to get a lawyer involved. 

 

Eviction Moratoriums: State and Federal

In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy issued an executive order that has suspended evictions throughout the state. This is called an eviction moratorium. Essentially, except for under rare circumstances, no one can be removed from their home as a result of an eviction proceeding while this executive order is in effect. Furthermore, the moratorium applies to all pre-existing eviction orders. All previously issued eviction orders are suspended and you cannot be removed from your home under the state eviction moratorium. 

The eviction moratorium in New Jersey will last until two months after Governor Murphy declares an end to the current public health crisis. So far, the Governor has extended the official public health emergency order multiple times since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. The most recent extension of the public health emergency will last until December 22, 2020, meaning the eviction moratorium will last until February 22, 2021. However, if Governor Murphy were to extend the state of emergency again, the eviction moratorium could last longer for New Jersey residents. 

You may have heard that the CDC also issued a federal order in September that prevents residential lockouts through December 31, 2020. New Jersey residents can ignore the CDC order for now because it is less protective than the state issued eviction moratorium. 

 

Court and Eviction Trials

The courts are currently only holding eviction trials in emergency cases. The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered in July that most landlord-tenant trials be suspended until further notice. Under the order, missed rent payments do not constitute an emergency case unless there was a tenant death involved. Landlords can still file eviction complaints against tenants even though most trials are suspended at this time. Therefore, you may still receive an eviction complaint in the mail or posted at your residence. If you are in the middle of an eviction proceeding and have an upcoming court date, you should not go to court. You will not be penalized for missing your court date.

Moreover, the order instructs landlord-tenant courts to schedule remote intake and pretrial / settlement conferences. You may receive a notice from the court directing you to appear at a pretrial / settlement conference via telephone or video. If you get such a notice, contact a legal services organization, share the complaint you received with an organization or lawyer who has agreed to help you, and remember you do not have to settle. If you did not receive a complaint prior to being called for a pretrial / settlement conference, share that information with your lawyer and the court. If you choose not to settle, your case will be scheduled for trial once the courts resume eviction trials. Again, you cannot be locked out or removed from your home until two months after Governor Murphy ends the public health emergency, regardless of pending complaints or trials. 

 

Rent is Still Due

Unfortunately, rent is still due on scheduled rent payment days per your lease agreement. If you are struggling to make rent payments and need some guidance on how to address your rent situation with your landlord, call the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for free counseling over the phone. Any rent payments you miss will become back-rent that you owe. One way or another, you will probably have to pay all the rent money you owe per your lease agreement to avoid future eviction. 

 

Security Deposits

Governor Murphy has also passed an executive order that allows New Jersey residents to direct their landlords to use their security deposit to pay rent. Your security deposit funds can be used to either pay your rent in full, or to make up the shortfall amount. Tenants will not be obligated to pay any further security deposit in relation to their current lease agreement. Tenants will, however, still be responsible for any money landlords expend that would have been reimbursable via the security deposit, for example, damages to the property. If you are planning on renewing your lease, you will be required to replenish the security deposit in full either six months after the public health state of emergency is lifted or the day the lease agreement is renewed, whichever date is later. 

 

Utilities

Like rent, utility payments are also due as normal. If you cannot pay your utility bills now, you will owe the money later. Fortunately, Executive Order 190 suspends residential utility and water shutoffs until March 15, 2021. The order also requires resumption of services that have been discontinued and forbids the imposition of late fees during the public health emergency period. As far as cable and telecommunication providers go, they must first check with the tenant to see if any school-aged children are using the internet services for educational purposes. If so, the provider may not terminate service until March 15, 2021. If not, the provider must offer an interest-free payment plan and may not disconnect services if the customer agrees to the plan. For low-income households, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) may be able to provide some assistance with utility bills. You can also check the website of the Board of Public Utilities for a list of agencies that offer assistance. 

 

Additional Housing Assistance

For any additional assistance regarding rent, the DCA posts summaries of different rental assistance programs. You can use the DCAid portal to see if you are eligible for any of the programs listed. You may also consider reaching out to your landlord and explaining your situation in order to work out a payment plan. 

 

What if Your Landlord Has Locked You Out?

If your landlord has locked you out, know this is an illegal crime. Call your local police department, they are required to help you get back into your home. If the police refuse to help, or state this is a “civil” matter that doesn’t involve them, ask them to look at the N.J.S.A. 2C:33-11.1 statue. 

 

When to Seek a Lawyer’s Help

If your landlord is blatantly ignoring any of the official executive orders discussed above, it may be time to contact a professional lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. Additionally, if you have received an eviction complaint or a notice to attend a virtual pretrial / settlement conference, contact a lawyer for legal assistance. David Kaplan, attorney at law, believes everyone deserves quality legal representation. He has dedicated his 30 year career to helping those that have had their rights infringed upon and handles every case personally. If you want to book a free case consultation, visit New Jersey Lawyer David H. Kaplan’s website

 

Share

Employee’s Sick Leave and Family Leave Rights

Employee’s Sick Leave and Family Leave Rights

New Jersey has some of the most comprehensive earned sick leave, temporary disability, and family leave laws in the country. Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, employees are in need of extensive sick leave and family leave rights now more than ever. More specifically, parents are in need of extra support where they have childcare issues due to unavailability of caregivers or school closures. Because of this, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide extended emergency sick leave and emergency family leave to all states. Below, we will discuss New Jersey employee’s earned sick leave and family leave rights in addition to the extra protections provided by the FFCRA for those struggling with childcare. 

 

New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law

The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law requires employers of all sizes to provide most employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year. You are not covered under this law if you are employed in the construction industry under a union contract or if you are a per diem health care worker. Public employees provided sick leave at full pay under any other NJ law and independent contractors who do not meet the definition of an employee under NJ law are also not covered. 

The earned sick leave hours can be used to care for yourself or a loved one in need. Employees often use their earned sick leave to: attend a child’s school related event, or to take care of children when school or childcare is closed due to an epidemic or public health emergency. You may be required to provide reasonable documentation if you use earned sick leave three or more consecutive workdays. 

 

Accrual of Earned Sick Leave

You accrue 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours of work. Again, you can earn up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per benefit year. Alternatively, your employer may award you 40 hours of earned sick leave upfront. A “benefit year” refers to any regular and consecutive 12-month period determined by your employer. When you are hired, you must receive a written notice of your right to earned sick leave which will state the benefit year period. 

 

Payment and Unused Earned Sick Leave

Your rate of pay while using earned sick leave days must be your regular hourly rate, but no less than the state minimum wage. If you are not paid hourly, visit the “Payment of Earned Sick Leave” tab here to learn more. 

If you did not use all of your earned sick leave, you can carry over up to 40 hours of unused earned sick leave into the next benefit year. However, your employer is required to only allow you to use up to 40 hours of leave per year. Instead, your employer may offer to pay you for your unused earned sick leave at the end of the benefit year. 

 

Retaliation

Your employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting or using earned sick leave. In fact, most acts of retaliation against an employee are illegal. Retaliation includes any adverse action against you for exercising or attempting to exercise any right guaranteed under the law. Additionally, your employer cannot require you to search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which you used your earned sick leave. 

 

New Jersey Family Leave Act

The New Jersey Family Leave Act provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave during any 24 month period. To receive the NJFLA benefits, you must work for a state or local government agency, or for a company with 30 or more employees worldwide. Also, you must have been employed by the company for at least 1 year and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the past 12 months. Once you have earned the 12 weeks of family leave, you can take a consecutive block of up to 12 weeks of leave, or you can take leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule. Once you return to work, you are generally entitled to return to the same position you held before you left. Your employer may not retaliate against you because you took or attempted to take leave under the NJFLA. 

What NJFLA Leave Can Be Used For

Leave under the NJFLA can be used to: care for or bond with a child, as long as they are within 1 year of being birthed or placed for adoption or foster care. Any parent is allowed to take leave under NJFLA to bond with a newborn or care for a child just placed for adoption or foster care. 

The leave can also be used to care for a family member (including children), with a serious health condition, or who has been isolated or quarantined due to a suspected exposure to a communicable disease during a state of emergency. For reference, Covid-19 is considered both a serious health condition and is classified as a communicable disease. Lastly, the leave can be used, specifically, to provide required care or treatment for a child during a state of emergency if their school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to an epidemic or other public health emergency, including Covid-19. 

 

NJFLA is Not the Same as FMLA

NJFLA is not the same as the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You will not use up your NJFLA leave if you are taking leave to care for your own serious medical condition. Therefore, in some situations, you may be able to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for your own condition and then an additional 12 weeks of NJFLA leave to care for a family member all within the same 12 month period. If you are pregnant, or just had a baby, you can take up to 12 weeks for pregnancy and recovery under the FMLA. Then, you can take an additional 12 weeks of NJFLA leave to bond with and care for your newborn after your doctor certifies you are fit to return to work, or after you have exhausted your FMLA leave, whichever is earlier. 

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was set forth by the federal government to expand on employee’s rights to emergency sick and family leave related to Covid-19. Currently, this act is only applicable until December 30, 2020. Generally, if you work for a company with fewer than 500 employees, your employer must provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave through the FFCRA. For more information about the 500 employee threshold, visit this link. For more information regarding small business exemption from FFCRA, click here

For those struggling to find care for your child due to school closures or lack of available childcare because of Covid-19, FFCRA would provide you with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave. In addition to extra paid sick leave for your own health conditions, the FFCRA mandates employers provide all employees with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, at two-thirds your regular rate of pay, if you are unable to work because of a bonafide need to care for a child under 18 years of age whose school or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19. Furthermore, you may be eligible for an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave, at two-thirds your regular rate of pay. To qualify for the additional 10 weeks, you must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. You can use the 10 weeks to, again, care for a child whose school or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19. 

 

Have Your Rights Been Violated?

If you feel your rights have been violated under any of three laws discussed above, contact David Kaplan for a free legal consultation. With 30+ years of experience, David Kaplan, attorney at law, is dedicated to providing you with the compassionate legal care you deserve. He handles each case personally and will be able to provide you with legal insight specific to your case. For more information, or to book your free consultation, visit David’s website

 

Share

Dangers of an Employment Arbitration Agreement

The Dangers of Signing an Employment Arbitration Agreement

Since the 1980’s there has been a significant shift in the balance of power within the workplace. As employees lose power, their employers gain more power. This power shift is all due to the Supreme Court’s reinterpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The FAA, when it was originally enacted in 1925, only applied to a narrow range of commercial disputes. In the 1980’s, however, the Supreme Court radically expanded the scope of the statue, applying it to all types of disputes. Now, it is common for employers to require employees to sign arbitration agreements in order to receive the job at hand, or to remain employed. Although the trend towards arbitration agreements is great for the employer, the same cannot be said for employees. Follow along to see the true dangers of signing an employment arbitration agreement. 

 

Stripping Your Rights to Sue in a Court of Law

Essentially, when you sign an employment arbitration agreement, you are signing away your rights to sue your employer in a court of law. Instead, if you have an issue of any kind within the workplace, you must settle the dispute in arbitration. Arbitration is a private process in which the disputing parties agree that a neutral third party can make a final decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing both sides of the argument. 

While it may seem nice and cordial to avoid courts, it actually benefits the employer much more often than it benefits the employee. The rate at which employees win arbitration cases (21.4%) is lower than the rate at which they win federal (36.4%) and state (51%) court cases. In addition, the differences in damages awarded is even greater. The median award in an employee’s arbitration case is only 21% of the median award in federal court cases and 43% of the median award in state courts. Thus, even if you happen to win your arbitration case as an employee, you will win much less than if you were to file a winning lawsuit against your employer. 

Furthermore, some arbitration agreements may include that if the employee loses the case they will have to pay for arbitration fees out of pocket. A clause such as this can serve as a strong deterrent to employees who may be considering bringing up cases against their employer, for fear of the potential costs. Ultimately, deterring employees from speaking out is bad for everyone because it allows businesses to continue operating without having to face the consequences of misconduct. 

 

Arbitration is an Unfair Forum

Moreover, arbitration is an unfair forum because of the lack of regulation. Though arbitrators claim to be unbiased third parties, the employer is in charge of picking the arbitrator and arbitration forum if an employee files a case. Therefore, arbitrators often have incentive for siding with the employer to gain the employers loyalty and repeat business. Additionally, arbitrators do not have to necessarily follow the law or issue written explanations of how they interpreted the law in relation to the case. Further, arbitration is a secretive forum, not open to the public, thus, results can be kept confidential allowing for potential collusion between the arbitrator and employer. Lastly, there is limited discovery in arbitration which can ultimately deny the employee the means to gather enough evidence to fully support their claim, putting them at a disadvantage. Overall, the structure and rules of arbitration clearly lean towards the benefit of the employer. 

 

Contacting an Attorney

Before signing an employment arbitration agreement, it may benefit you to see an attorney to help you understand exactly the terms you are agreeing to. Also, an attorney may be able to give you suggestions for negotiating the agreement to better benefit you as an employee. Likewise, if you already have signed an arbitration agreement or have refused to sign an arbitration agreement and have faced discrimination, contact a qualified attorney for the next steps. In New Jersey, there have been multiple attempts to bar employers from using agreements that waive rights and remedies for employees facing discrimination. For more information on the specifics of New Jersey law in relation to arbitration agreements and discrimination, contact David Kaplan. David Kaplan and his team are dedicated to helping citizens who have had their rights infringed upon. Plus, with 30 years of experience and numerous winning verdicts, you can expect nothing but quality legal representation. 

 

Share

NJLAD and Employer’s Mistaken Perceptions

How the NJLAD Protects You Against Employer’s Mistaken Perceptions

Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), plaintiffs no longer need to prove they are actually members of a protected class to pursue a discrimination case, being perceived as a member of a protected class is sufficient. Now, what exactly is a “protected class”? A protected class refers to your race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status, age, etc. For an employer to discriminate based upon any of the things listed above is illegal. Additionally, if an employer assumes that you fit under a specific protected class, and then discriminates against you based on this mistaken perception, you still have grounds to file a discrimination claim. Below we will dive into exactly how the NJLAD protects you against employer’s mistaken perceptions, and what it means to file a mistaken perception claim.

Federal Discrimination Loophole

Luckily, New Jersey is one of the few states that have amended state laws to provide ample protection for those facing discrimination based upon mistaken perceptions. Again, under the NJLAD, it is sufficient enough to be perceived as a member of a protected class in order to file a successful discrimination claim.

Discrimination is Harmful Regardless of Factuality

When employees are dismissed by courts for experiencing misperception discrimination, it is assumed that the employee was not harmed by the discrimination because they are not actually a member of the protected class. Regardless of truth, harassment and discrimination is harmful and taxing to those enduring it. No one wants to go to a workplace where they are uncomfortable because of constant harassment. Furthermore, an employee could lose their job due to mistaken perception discrimination and receive no justice. The goal of anti-discrimination laws is to condemn discrimination, declaring it wrong at its very core. However, the loopholes for misperception discrimination greatly undermine this goal, making it seemingly okay to discriminate as long as it’s not based upon actual characteristics. To protect everyone from the harm of discrimination, theres must be explicit language condemning misperception discrimination as much as discrimination against actual characteristics.

Contact an Attorney

If you have faced misperception discrimination at your workplace, you are protected under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and should take action as soon as possible. The statute of limitations on discrimination claims is two years. In other words, you must file your discrimination claim within two years of the date you were discriminated against. For guidance through the process of filing a lawsuit and for better results, contact an attorney. David H. Kaplan, attorney at law, has dedicated his 30 year career to helping those who have had their rights infringed upon in a variety of ways. He is passionate about personally crafting winning cases and getting you the justice you deserve. For a free consultation, or to learn more, visit his website.

Share

New Jersey Car Crash Steps

Steps to Take Following a Car Crash in New Jersey

As the country’s most densely populated state, car accidents are practically unavoidable in New Jersey due to the rate of congested roadways. With that being said, it is important to know the legal requirements and limitations, specific to New Jersey, to be the most prepared while seeking compensation after a car accident. Below we will discuss insurance requirements, no-fault auto insurance laws, modified comparative negligence standards, and statutes of limitation all to give you a good idea of New Jersey car crash steps. Furthermore, we will explain when it is most advantageous for you to sue, limitations on suing, and the alternative options to receive compensation. If you have been in a car crash and are looking for guidance in the next steps, reading this is a good place to start. 

Important Things to Know About Auto Insurance in NJ

In regards to car insurance, New Jersey drivers are required, by law, to carry at least a “Basic Policy”. The Basic policy includes money towards Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, in case you ever find yourself with an injury and you need help paying for medical care. The Basic policy also includes property damage liability coverage. This coverage applies if you cause damage to someone else’s property, such as a vehicle. The property damage liability coverage does not apply to damage to your own vehicle. For more extensive coverage, you must pay for the upgraded “Standard Policy”. The Standard policy, in addition to PIP and property damage liability, includes bodily injury liability. Thus, if you cause an accident where other drivers or passengers are injured, you will not be financially responsible for the losses uncovered by their own PIP insurance. 

No-Fault Auto Insurance State

Now that you have a better idea of the auto insurance requirements, you typically must contact your own insurance company to pay for medical expenses or other losses that arise from a car accident before you can pursue compensation from another party. This is because New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state. One of the benefits to utilizing this system is that medical expenses are paid quickly. Essentially, this system eliminates the extensive period of waiting for reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical bills and other expenses. 

On the other hand, however, the no-fault auto insurance system limits rights to sue for pain and suffering, unless you are suffering from major injuries. This will be touched on further under the “Rights to Sue an At-Fault Party” section. 

 

Modified Comparative Negligence Standards

If you choose to pursue further compensation, more than your insurance policy has allotted you, you will run into the modified comparative negligence standard that New Jersey applies to all personal injury cases. Under the modified comparative negligence standard, each party involved in a car accident will be given a percentage of fault. 

Generally, the jury is asked to calculate two things: total dollar amount of damages and percentage of fault based on the evidence they are given. If the jury concludes the plaintiff (person suing) should be awarded $10,000 in damages, but also that the plaintiff was 20% at fault, the plaintiff will then receive 80% of the damages amount. In other words, the plaintiff would receive only $8,000 of the calculated $10,000 in damages. The “modified” portion of these comparative negligence standards refers to the rule that if you are more than 50% at-fault you cannot receive any compensation from any other at-fault party. 

 

Rights to Sue an At-Fault Party?

With all the limitations and insurance requirements it can be confusing to decifier if you do, in fact, have the right to sue following a car crash in New Jersey. First and foremost, we want to reiterate that typically you must report the accident to your own insurance company for relief before you can pursue a lawsuit. Moreover, if you are over 50% at-fault for the accident, you will not be awarded any compensation for damages by another at-fault party. In this case, capitalizing on your no-fault insurance money is your best bet. Lastly, it is important to note the statute of limitation in New Jersey requires that any lawsuit regarding a car accident is filed within two years of the accident happening. 

So, assuming you are less than 50% at fault, within the statute of limitations, and have already reported the accident to your insurance, do you have the right to sue? Yet again, this mostly depends on your insurance policy. With the Basic policy you automatically commit to “limited rights to sue”. If you purchased the Standard policy, you choose between the cheaper “limited rights to sue” option or the more expensive “unlimited rights to sue” option. 

Limited Rights to Sue

Under the “limited rights to sue” options, you can only sue if the accident caused you, the injured person, to suffer loss of a body part, significant disfigurement, significant scarring, a displaced fracture, loss of a fetus, permanent injury, or death. 

Unlimited Rights to Sue

Paying for the “unlimited rights to sue” option puts all options on the table post car accidents. Meaning, no matter the extent of the resulting injuries, you can sue the other at-fault driver. Additionally, the limits on suing for pain and suffering are nonexistent. Therefore, with the “unlimited rights to sue” option you have the potential to recover compensation for all economic and non-economic losses resulting from the accident. 

 

Need Legal Representation?

Clearly, your rights post car accidents are complex and reliant on a multitude of factors. If you are looking for more guidance specific to your case, it may be time to contact an attorney. David Kaplan, a New Jersey attorney at law, has dedicated his 30+ year career to crafting successful personal injury cases. He has won over $10 million in verdicts and truly cares about bringing you the justice you deserve. Visit his website for more information, or to schedule a free case evaluation. 

 

Share

Pain and Suffering in New Jersey

Can I sue for pain and suffering in New Jersey?

The short answer to the question, “can I sue for pain and suffering in New Jersey,” is yes! The rules regarding pain and suffering in New Jersey fall under personal injury law, therefore a lawyer that specializes in personal injury would be the best person to contact with specific questions regarding your case for pain and suffering damages. With that being said, let us dive into the basics regarding pain and suffering damages in New Jersey. To begin, we must first define pain and suffering in regards to legal matters. Pain and suffering refers to the physical pains and emotional anguish a person deals with following an accident or intentional harm by another person. 

As you can imagine, it is hard to calculate and place monetary value on pain and suffering because it differs from person to person. Below, we will discuss the main factors considered when trying to define the dollar value of pain and suffering, limits on damages, and comparative fault rules in New Jersey. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be able to better understand if suing for pain and suffering is your best option moving forward. 

 

Physical Pain vs. Emotional Anguish

Physical pain refers to actual bodily injuries and sustained pain from those injuries. For example, if you were in a car accident and broke your femur, the pain from that injury in addition to the pain of healing and all other lasting pains will be considered as physical pain. Emotional pain and anguish is, arguably, harder to define. Depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, and other mental symptoms that have been triggered by an accident are factored into emotional anguish. Emotional pain can, often, impact our lives more long-term than physical pain. While physical injuries usually heal, emotional tolls and trauma can last a lifetime. 

 

Defining Monetary Value

There are a few things that are generally considered when trying to define the monetary value of one’s pain: the extent to which the injured party’s daily routine is limited or altered, how much the injury impacts relationships at home and work, how much the injury impacts sleep or other lifestyle factors, and to what extent the injury will impact the party long-term. 

Medical bills and surgery costs are frequently used as bench-marks for the monetary value of a physical injury. Again, emotional damages can be harder to calculate. However, as long as you have some evidence that the emotional pain you are experiencing was triggered by the event at hand and is thoroughly affecting your life, you should be able to negotiate a reasonable dollar value. 

 

Comparative Fault and Damage Limits

Because pain and suffering is hard to define, there is potential for people to abuse their ability to obtain pain and suffering damages. To limit these abuses, comparative fault rules and damage limits have been enacted in many states. While damage limits do prevent scammers from wrongfully winning large award sums, they also limit the recovery available for people who are legitimately injured and suffering immensely. Luckily, most attempts to place limits on pain and suffering damages in New Jersey have been denied. New Jersey has, however, adopted the modified comparative fault rules. This means your degree of fault in the accident proportionately limits the amount of recovery money you can recieve. For example, if you are 45% at fault, you will receive much less recovery money than if you are 15% at fault. Furthermore, if you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot receive any recovery money. It is best to discuss your accident with a lawyer to come to an accurate degree of fault. 

 

What’s the First Step?

If you have read this article and still believe you have a solid case, suing for pain and suffering damages may be the right next move for you. To begin this process, contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury matters. An attorney will help guide you through the complexities of a legal battle and assure you will receive the best possible outcome. David Kaplan, attorney at law, has the expertise and dedication to help you build a winning case. Throughout his 30+ year career, he has won over $10 million in verdicts for his clients. His passion for helping the everyday individual get the legal justice they deserve is unparalleled. For a free case evaluation, or to learn more, visit his website

 

Share

Employer Has Retaliated Against You

Title: What to Do If Your Employer Has Retaliated Against You

            In the state of New Jersey it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee. For example, employees are protected from employer retaliation when filing a complaint, reporting workplace safety violations, refusing to commit an illegal act, or reporting illegal activity to an outside authority. If you have been retaliated against by an employer, it is important to know your legal rights under New Jersey labor laws. Here’s a deeper look into exactly what to do if your employer has retaliated against you and what activities are protected from retaliation under New Jersey law.

 

Protected Activities

            When bringing a retaliation claim to court, you must be able to prove you were engaging in a protected activity that then caused your employer to retaliate. There are quite a few protected activities under New Jersey law, here are the main ones:

 

            Common Law Protections

To begin, are those activities protected under public policy. These include reporting workplace safety violations, refusing to commit an illegal act, or reporting illegal activity to an outside authority. It is important to note, to be protected under public policy a report of wrongdoing cannot be done internally within the company. Rather, the report of wrongdoing must be brought to the attention of a public official. An internal report may, however, be protected under the general whistleblower protection statue called the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

 

            General Whistleblower Protections

The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees from retaliation if they have been a whistleblower. A whistleblower is someone who exposes private or classified information about an organization that is generally illegal or unethical. Thus, an employee may not be retaliated against for disclosing, or threatening to disclose, an activity, policy, or practice of an employer that is reasonably believed to be illegal, fraudulent, or criminal. To be protected under CEPA, the employee must first disclose the information to a supervisor. If the violation is not corrected by the supervisor, the information can be taken to a public body. Furthermore, under CEPA an employee is protected against retaliation when providing testimony to a public body conducting an investigation. Lastly, employees are protected against retaliation under CEPA when objecting or refusing to participate in illegal, fraudulent, or criminal activities, policies, or practices. There are also some additional protections under CEPA for certified or licensed health care professionals.

 

            Civil Service

An employee cannot be retaliated against for disclosing a violation of law, governmental mismanagement, or abuse of authority.

 

            Discrimination

Retaliation is illegal if an employee has opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice, filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in a proceeding concerning New Jersey’s laws against workplace discrimination.

 

            Family Leave Act

The Family Leave Act allows employees to request time off from work after the birth of a child or to help a family member with a serious health condition. An employee may not be retaliated against for opposing a practice that violates the Family Leave Act.

 

            Minimum Wage / Wage Discrimination

An employee may not be discriminated against in retaliation for serving on the wage board, filing a complaint, or testifying regarding minimum wage violations or wage discrimination laws.

 

            Workers Compensation

Finally, retaliation for claiming worker’s compensation benefits, or testifying in a worker’s compensation proceeding is also prohibited. 

 

You’ve Been Retaliated Against, What Next?

            If you can confirm that your employer has retaliated against you after engaging in one, or more, of the protected activities discussed above, you should contact a lawyer immediately. To remain valid, most retaliation claims must be filed within two years of the retaliatory act. An employee must file a lawsuit in the appropriate court, which may differ depending on the protected activity. Again, a lawyer would help clarify this.

 

Finding a Qualified Lawyer

            Legal matters can be complex and confusing. Having a qualified lawyer, who specializes in employment discrimination, will help you get the justice you deserve. David Kaplan, a New Jersey attorney, has dedicated his career to helping employees build strong legal cases to take to court. He has the expertise and passion to help hold your employer accountable. Visit his website or Instagram for more information or a free case evaluation.

           

Share

Filing Personal Injury Cases in NJ

The Ins and Outs of Filing Personal Injury Cases in NJ

            Personal injury claims can cover a wide range of situations or accidents. Everything from injuries caused by a car accident to a bite from the neighbor’s dog are considered personal injuries. However, to build a successful personal injury claim, there must be valid proof of injury and fault. Before embarking on any legal battle, it is important to first understand the specifics of a certain type of claim, the statute of limitations, and when to contact a lawyer for help. Below, we will explore the ins and outs of filing personal injury claims in NJ.

 

The Role of Negligence

            The basis of most personal injury claims in NJ is negligence. The plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit), most often must be able to prove that the defendant (person being sued) owed them a duty of care, but negligently or intentionally breached that duty, thus causing harm. With New Jersey being a modified comparative negligence state, a plaintiff is required to prove they are less than 50% at fault for their injuries. For clarity, this means the other party, the party being sued, must be over 50% responsible for the injuries caused.

 

What Will You Gain From Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

            Generally, what you are fighting for in a personal injury claim is compensation for damages. Damages refer to both the losses a victim suffered and the means of recovery. Some examples of damages covered by the state of New Jersey include: medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish, household expenses, wrongful death damages, and punitive damages. Again, before deciding if a lawsuit will be worth it, it is important to understand the monetary value of your damages. If your injuries are minor, you might find that a simple insurance claim will provide efficient enough compensation. Furthermore, if your damages are worth more than $3,000, the settlement limit for small claims court in New Jersey, you may want to seek legal assistance.

 

Statute of Limitations

            Every state and every type of claim has different statutes of limitations. In New Jersey, you must file a personal injury claim within two years of sustaining an injury. These time limits help to preserve the integrity of evidence and eliminate the indefinite threat of lawsuits. If you file a personal injury claim outside of the two year window, it is likely the courts will refuse to hear your case. Nonetheless, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations.

Getting the Best Settlement

            Most personal injury claims are settled before they are ever taken to court. In other words, the plaintiff and the defendant usually work together to negotiate a fair settlement amount without the need for a court case. Before entering these negotiations, have a minimum acceptable settlement amount in mind and never settle on the first offer. It is often useful to have a lawyer to help with negotiations when you are asking for compensation greater than a few thousand dollars, you are seeking future damages, or there is a question of fault. A lawyer will work with you to build the best possible case for getting you the settlement amount you deserve.

 

When to Get a Lawyer

            As mentioned above, to get the best settlement amount it may be advantageous to contact a lawyer. In fact, one study showed that legal assistance helped the average person gain 3.5 times more settlement money than those without. Additionally, if you are dealing with major injuries, struggling to prove fault, or believe you may have a case that is an exception to the statute of limitations, contact a legal professional for guidance. David Kaplan, a New Jersey attorney at law, has spent his 30 year legal career specializing in personal injury claims. His expertise paired with his dedication to justice will help you build the best legal case possible. For more information, or a free case evaluation, visit his website or Instagram.

 

Share