Bill Would Automatically Expunge Criminal Record of those who Successfully Complete New Jersey’s Drug Court Program
Pending legislation, Bill A-2829, would create a mechanism for the automatic expungement of criminal records to certain individuals that have completed a sentence to a term of special probation, otherwise known as the drug court program. Bill A-2829 was introduced on May 10, 2012. On May 14, 2012, the bill was reported and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it has remained since. Read more
Contributory Negligence in New Jersey
In many personal injury cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant may be, to some degree, at fault for an accident. For example:
- A driver slams on the brakes and stops abruptly behind another stopped vehicle. A distraction with the radio prevented the driver from noticing the car earlier. Technically, a driver who cannot stop in time behind the distracted driver will be responsible for the accident but the distracted driver can share some of the negligence for this type of accident as well.
- A doctor fails to diagnose a condition accurately. The patient, however, did not disclose vital information to the doctor. In this type of case the patient may share liability or even be identified as the at fault party.
- A homeowner buys a new power tool and sustains injuries after failing to follow safety precautions. If the instructions were clear and safety warning labels were prominent, the victim will likely share liability or again may be identified at the at fault party for this accident.
Where an injury victim shares negligence with the other parties, they can still recover so long as their negligence does not exceed that of all the other parties involved. Pursuant to New Jersey contributory negligence law, however, the damages the plaintiff is entitled to will be reduced proportionately to their degree of fault. So, for example, if the jury finds that the plaintiff was 20 percent negligent in an action that results in $10,000.00 in damages, the plaintiff would only be permitted to recover $8,000.00 from the defendants. If, however, the jury determines that the plaintiff’s negligence is 50 percent or more, they would be completely barred from recovering damages against the other parties.
If you were injured in an accident and have questions about liability, contact Randolph Wolf today to discuss your case.
Punitive damages are those damages that are meant to punish the defendant. They are given in addition to damages that compensate the plaintiff for medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering. There is no limit on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. For example, a jury recently awarded the family of a paralyzed seven-year-old girl $75 million from a beer vending company at Giants Stadium for over serving a customer whose drunk driving caused the girl’s injuries.
While such high punitive damages awards are highly publicized, they are rarely awarded in the average personal injury case. This is because there are difficult requirements for an entitlement of a punitive damage award. The plaintiff must prove each of the following three requirements:
- The injury was caused by the defendant’s action or failure to act. The evidence must clearly establish that the defendant was responsible for the adverse event.
- The adverse event caused the plaintiff’s actual injuries. The plaintiff must have incurred medical expenses and other costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
- The defendant acted with wanton disregard or malice towards the injured party.
The third requirement is where most personal injury cases, which typically involve simple negligence, fail. While, as seen in the above example, it is sometimes possible to prove wanton disregard or recklessness, it is extremely difficult to prove that a business acted with malice or intentionally caused injury to a consumer.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact Randolph H. Wolf today.
If you are injured on the job, the first question to be answered is whether or not you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. All employers in New Jersey, with the exception of specific governmental entities, are required to insure their employees. Pursuant to New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law, the definition of employee is broad. The statute defines an employees as;
“synonymous with servant and includes all natural persons including officers of a corporation who perform service for an employer for financial consideration.”
Although the intent of the law is to include as many people as possible within the definition of employee, there are exceptions. Independent contractors, for example, are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. An example of an independent contractor would be a landscaper hired by a homeowner. Sometimes the line between being considered an independent contractor as opposed to an employee is blurry. In determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor, courts generally look at the amount of control the employer has over the individual, among other factors. Read more
Pursuant to the N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) (also known as the “Graves Act”), there are mandatory terms of incarceration and ineligibility for parole for those convicted of specific firearms-related crimes. Prior to 2008, the act applied only to individual convicted of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose or to an individual convicted of possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes. The statute was broadened, however, effective January 13, 2008. The following offenses committed on or after that date are also included in the Graves Act: Read more
If you are a previously disabled person who has suffered permanent and total disability as a result of a work-related injury, you are entitled to additional protections under New Jersey’s Second Injury Fund. This fund provides workers compensation benefits to employees after their insurance carrier covered benefits expire.
New Jersey’s Second Injury Fund, which was created in 1923, was meant to encourage the hiring of partially disabled persons, such as veterans. Because some employers viewed these individuals as creating the risk of future medical and benefits costs, the fund was intended to shield employers from incurring costs related to preexisting injuries.
If you qualify for the fund, payment will continue until your death, so long as you remain permanently and totally disabled and unemployed. If you are receiving Social Security or disability pensions, however, the rate you receive pursuant to this fund will be reduced. After 450 weeks of receiving benefits pursuant to the New Jersey Second Injury Fund, you may have to undergo rehabilitation, if required by the New Jersey Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services. Additionally, you must also prove that you remain unable to earn the same wages you earned at the time you received your permanent disability.
While New Jersey does have a second injury fund, these funds are becoming scare in other states. Over the last 20 years, roughly 20 states, including New York, have eliminated or phased-out these funds, in an effort to reduce costs. For questions concerning your specific situation, contact Randolph H. Wolf, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today at (732) 741-4448.
In response to reports revealing a high incident of alcohol and drug abuse by New Jersey high school students, numerous high schools in the state have already put into place or are in the process of putting into place random drug testing protocols for students. Many school districts endorse these policies to screen students for alcohol use, especially as a condition of participating in events such as prom or extracurricular activities, such as sports or choir.
Pursuant to these protocols, students are randomly chosen for testing, which usually requires that they submit to a urine sample. If the testing comes back positive, the consequences vary by school district, but the student is usually referred for counseling and extracurricular activities are revoked. Students that repeatedly test positive for drugs may be suspended, required to enter into drug abuse treatment, and prove that they are clean before returning to school. Read more
Unfortunately, there have been many situations involving young people who died as a result of a drug overdose. Persons with the victim feared the consequences of reporting the overdose, such as being prosecuted on drug charges, and, as a result, proper medical attention was not rendered in time to save the individual. A new law, entitled the Overdose Protection Act, was enacted to change this. Read more
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Constitutionality of Car Stop Based off of Anonymous 911 Tip
State and federal courts have been split over the issue of whether or not police officers can pull over a car based solely off of an anonymous 911 call reporting a potential drunk or reckless driver, without any corroboration by police of the driver’s actions. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that it will hear such a case this January.
The case involves two men who were pulled over in California after police received an anonymous tip that a silver Ford F150 truck was driving erratically, and had run another driver off the road. Upon locating a vehicle that matched the tipster’s description of the model, color, and license plate of the vehicle, police officers stopped it. The officers did not actually observe the vehicle being driven recklessly before stopping it. The officers alleged that, upon approaching the vehicle, they smelled marijuana, which gave rise to probable cause to search the truck. They found several bags of marijuana and arrested the driver and his passenger on suspicion of drug possession. The two men pled guilty and then appealed, arguing that the stop and subsequent arrest violated their Fourth Amendment rights because the officers did not observe the alleged violations firsthand, and because anonymous tips are usually insufficient to search or detain someone.
The Court’s ruling will have national effects and may result in many more people being pulled on suspicion of DWI over based solely on an anonymous informant’s tip. The case may have additional implications for police observations such as seatbelt violations, cell phone infractions and red light violations. It is worth noting that the Court previously declined to hear a similar case from Virginia after the state supreme court reversed a conviction where an anonymous tip alerted police to a drunk driver.