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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sue my employer?

Whenever an employee has suffered a personal injury while working that employee may not sue his or her employer: compensation for on-the-job personal injury is handled through the workers’ compensation law, which pays for medical treatment stemming from the injury and provides the injured employee with a portion of his or her wages while he or she is not working. The only extremely limited exception to this would be if an employer is proven to have intentionally placed the employee in harm’s way or has exhibited such conduct to render it substantially certain that an employee will suffer injury due to an employer’s conduct.

Setting aside personal injury cases, there are other grounds for suing an employer, including cases of harassment or discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, sex, atypical heredity, cellular or blood trait, military service, physical handicap and sexual orientation. In addition, although they do not enjoy the same protections from job dismissal as contract or union employees, an at-will employee may have grounds for pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit if his or her employer terminated employment for an unlawful reason.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How much am I going to get?

Unfortunately, there is no pat answer to this question, notwithstanding the “experts” declarations that they have one. There are so many factors that will come into play in a personal injury case that help determine what it is worth, including to what extent any of the various forms of compensatory damages — medical treatment, property loss, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium — receive a dollar value and are awarded in order to help make the plaintiff “whole” again.

In the final analysis, if the attorneys, adjustors, arbitrator, mediators or even the judge can’t agree with you as to the value of your claim, it is the majority of a panel composed of your peers from your community — the jury — who will decide what you will receive to compensate you for your injury.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What are my rights when I am hurt at work?

If you are injured while at work you are entitled to certain basic rights under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law. Included among them are the right to medical treatment, the right to obtain payment, i.e., temporary disability, for lost time, and the right to obtain payment for any subsequent ill effects of the injury if those ill effects are determined to be permanent, which would be partial permanent disability. Temporary disability benefits are equivalent to 70 percent of wages up to an amount that has been set by the state.

Upon sustaining an on-the-job injury, it is incumbent upon the employee to report that injury to his or her supervisor or employer as soon as possible, as well as seek medical attention for the injury. Regardless of who is at fault for the injury, the employer’s insurance company will be required to pay for medical treatment from a doctor who has been authorized by that insurance company. Employees have two years from the date of an on-the-job injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, sometimes an injury or illness is not immediately apparent, e.g., damage to the lungs from inhaling harmful fumes, in which case the two-year statute of limitations begins once a doctor diagnoses the condition.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What is the verbal threshold?

The verbal threshold stems from the New Jersey law establishing a no-fault insurance system, passed in 1988 and since amended, that restricts a motorist’s right to sue for injuries sustained in an accident in exchange for a lower insurance premium. When obtaining insurance, a motorist who selects the zero threshold option faces no limitation on seeking recovery for noneconomic damages — such as pain and suffering — from an auto accident. The premium for such coverage will be more expensive, though, which leads many people to opt for the less expensive, but more restrictive, verbal threshold option.

The consequences of selecting the verbal threshold option, however, can be costly should the insured become a victim in an auto accident. In that case, under the most recent amended law passed in 1998, as a plaintiff, the injured party would have to prove that a “verbal threshold” was reached through one of the following six circumstances in order to seek compensation for noneconomic damages:

  • 1) death;
  • 2) dismemberment;
  • 3) significant disfigurement or significant scarring;
  • 4) displaced fractures;
  • 5) loss of a fetus; or
  • 6) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and how can I protect my family?

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Uninsured motorist coverage is a provision within a motorist’s insurance policy that comes into play whenever that motorist has been hit by another driver who does not have auto insurance. It is coupled with underinsured motorist coverage, which is relevant whenever a motorist is struck by another driver who does not have a maximum liability insurance that is adequate to cover the full amount of damage or injury that he or she has sustained.

In New Jersey, the law requires motorists to carry, in addition to basic auto policies, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with the minimum amounts of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. However, in many cases involving serious injury, those minimums are not enough to cover damages that an injured party sustains in an auto accident, especially when the injured party includes family members who were passengers. In order to protect your family from the chance that a motorist who has hit your vehicle did not carry adequate insurance, it behooves you to maintain a level of underinsured motorist coverage that is much higher than the state-mandated minimum. Maintaining extra coverage, e.g., up to the amount of $500,000, will provide a cushion to protect your family should the need arise.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

When will my case settle?

This is one of the most common questions that clients ask of their attorneys, but it is one whose answer will vary from case to case, depending on the specific factors that are unique to a given case. In general, most personal injury cases last anywhere from a year to a several years or, in rare circumstances, even longer, but cases that are very short or very long in duration are quite rare. Those cases that fall on the short end of the time spectrum are usually those in which liability is clear and available insurance is limited. Most personal injury cases involving clear liability settle before going to trial.

In cases where liability is less than clear or the defendant’s insurance company has decided to take its chances in court, the timeline for a potential settlement grows. Regardless of the circumstances, while you are obtaining medical treatment for your injury your attorney must collect, document and provide all relevant information to the defendant’s counsel through a process known as discovery, which is a time-consuming process.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

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Meet our Attorneys

The highly competent lawyers at Petrillo and Goldberg represent clients with personal injury claims, workers compensation claims, slip-and-fall cases and automobile accident victims. We work for you, and take our job of getting the best possible results for you seriously.

Scott M. Goldberg

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Steven Petrillo

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Scott D. Schulman

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Jeff Thiel

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