Category Archives: Personal Injury

Electrocuted Sandy Cleanup Worker Gets $1.9M Settlement in Ocean County – New Jersey Law Journal

Photo Credit: NOAA/NASA

A Hurricane Sandy cleanup worker who was electrocuted on the job was paid a $1.9 million settlement on Nov. 14 in his Ocean County suit, Diem v. AshBritt Inc.

In December 2012, Bradley Diem was working on the 300 block of West 14th Street in Ship Bottom, as part of a boom truck crew. As he was standing on the ground, in contact with the truck, the boom came into contact with live overhead power lines, sending a charge through the truck and through Diem, according to his lawyer, Evan Mason Harris of Aiello Harris Marth Tunnero & Schiffman in Watchung.

Diem, whose body was left smoking, had to be resuscitated by emergency responders and sustained first- and third-degree burns, Harris said. He underwent surgeries, including fasciotomy and skin grafts, and has been cared for since his release by a burn specialist, according to Harris.

Diem developed an open wound on the top of his head—requiring him to wear a vacuum device—and requires a home health aide and daily pain medication, he claimed. He also has significant scarring and is under psychological care, according to Harris.

Several defendants were named, including: AshBritt Inc., the general contractor at the site; County Waste Inc., which was contracted to provide debris cleanup services; and Clay Mohon Mowing, which owned the boom truck and leased it to AshBritt.

Diem was employed by M&J Landscape Products, and his co-worker was operating the boom truck, Harris said.

Diem’s medical bills were paid by M&J Landscaping’s workers compensation carrier, according to Harris.

The personal injury lawsuit claimed AshBritt and the subcontractors were responsible for overall site safety, and wrongly allowed operation of the trucks in close proximity to power lines—which the suit contended amounted to a violation of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

The parties reached a settlement in July, and it was executed in October, according to documents.

The documents indicate that 11 defendants paid into the settlement. The largest sums were: $945,000, paid by Clay Mohon Mowing; and $817,500, by AshBritt and County Waste, combined. The remaining defendants, including several government entities, paid sums ranging from $5,000 to $35,000.

Timothy P. Smith of Kinney Lisovicz Reilly & Wolff in Parsippany, counsel to AshBritt, declined to comment on the settlement.

Clay Mohon Mowing was represented by Francis McDevitt of Naulty, Scaricamazza & McDevitt in Marlton; County Waste Inc., by Walter Swayze III of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney in Jersey City. Neither returned a call seeking comment.

Harris was assisted on the case by Christopher Aiello of the same firm.

Published in The New Jersey Law Journal

January, 23rd. 2017


What Factors Are Used to Determine Negligence in a Negligence Liability Case?

In legal terms, negligence can be defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary caution would have exercised under the same circumstances. Proving liability for negligence in a court of law can require through investigation and preparation. Contacting a New Jersey negligence liability lawyer is very important if you think your injury might have been caused by someone else’s negligence.

Typically, a handful of factors must be considered when determining if someone can be held liable for negligence:

• Duty: Under the circumstances of the case, does the relationship between the two parties obligate the defendant to act in a certain way toward the plaintiff?
• Breach: If there was a duty between the two parties, did the one responsible for exercising it fail to do so?
• Cause: The person claiming harm must prove that the actions of the defendant actually caused injury.
• Proximate Cause: This is slightly more complicated, but basically, a defendant can only be held responsible for harm they reasonably could have foreseen had they done what they were expected to do.
• Harm: Were there actual damages suffered by the person making the claim?

Here’s an example to help you better understand negligence:

Say you were involved in a rear-end car accident – a drunk driver behind you crashed into your vehicle. Firstly, that driver had the duty to exercise caution on the road and ensure other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers don’t get harmed. He has the duty to obey all New Jersey traffic laws. He breached that duty by driving while intoxicated and then causing harm to you and your vehicle.

Your lawyer can prove cause by showing evidence of the accident, including police reports, your medical bills, your insurance claims, an arrest record, and more. Finally, your attorney will add up the total damages to you and your property to show actual harm was done.

A statute of limitations, or time limit, can apply to negligence liability claims. If you believe you might have suffered an injury because of the negligence of someone else, you have a limited amount of time in which to file a case and seek damages.

Contact a New Jersey negligence liability lawyer at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online at any of our North and Central New Jersey law offices for a free consultation.


What are Typical Premises Liability Claims?

It is first important to understand what we mean when we discuss “premises liability.” When you suffer an accident either on public or private property that might have been caused by its owner’s failure to keep it in proper condition, this is a premises liability situation. You have a reasonable expectation not to be injured while on someone’s property and you might be entitled to compensation if an accident occurs.

Typical premises liability claims can include:

  • Accidents including trips, slips, and falls. This includes accidents occurring because of defective pavement in shopping centers, retail outlets, footpaths and supermarkets.
  • Accidents at private residences, including swimming pools
  • Accidents at schools, or in amusement parks or playgrounds
  • Food Poisoning/Bacteria/E-Coli
  • Escalator and elevator injuries
  • Snow and ice accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Inadequate building security
  • Water leaks and flooding
  • Toxic fumes or chemicals

Some examples include:

  • You slipped on icy pavement outside of a supermarket
  • You were robbed in an apartment building because of poor security
  • You fell down a flight of stairs due to bad lighting
  • You were injured on a rollercoaster at a theme park
  • You became ill after breathing in toxic fumes at your workplace
  • You trip on a fallen object at a shopping mall

You need to understand that in most cases, only someone who is invited or licensed (like a salesman) to be on the property will be able to seek compensation.  A person who is trespassing does not receive similar consideration in most situations. These situations can become complicated and do vary from state to state, so seeking out a qualified New Jersey premises liability lawyer is very important.

In a typical premises liability claim, your lawyer first determines who is at fault, who damages and injuries you incurred, and whether you were legally allowed to be on the property. Your attorney reviews medical records, the place where the accident occurred, interviews witness, and gathers all necessary proof to build a strong case. In a typical premises liability case at our firm, your attorney operates on a contingency fee basis – meaning you owe no upfront legal fees and your lawyer only gets paid if he or she recovers money on your behalf.

Contact a New Jersey premises liability lawyer at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online at any of our North and Central New Jersey law offices for a free consultation.


What are Common Hospital Medical Malpractice Errors?

Our health care system requires us to place our faith in doctors and nurses, often during the most challenging times in our lives. Their training and experience guide hundreds of decisions every day. While many of those help us, some mistakes happen. When they do, hiring a medical malpractice lawyer might be an option to hold negligent providers accountable.

Some common hospital medical malpractice errors include:

  • Failure to diagnose or to properly diagnose an illness, heart attack, or stroke
  • Failure to treat an illness
  • Incorrect treatment of a diagnosed illness
  • Improper use of anesthesia
  • Improper administration of drugs
  • Failure to order proper tests
  • Failure to consult with a specialist
  • Failure to monitor a patient
  • Failure to stabilize a patient
  • Improper use of a medical device
  • Surgical errors and anesthesia errors
  • Failure to obtain the informed consent of a patient
  • Birth injury or birth trauma due to obstetrical physician, nursing, or hospital negligence
  • Injury to mother or child during a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-Section)
  • Failure of hospital staff to properly interpret doctors’ orders on patient charts, resulting in incorrect administration of medications or treatments
  • Unnecessary surgical procedures
  • Hospital malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse

The most common of these errors are misdiagnosis, failure to accurately diagnose, and delayed diagnosis. Many of these cases involve cancer and heart attacks. For example, a doctor may diagnose a patient with a less serious condition and by the time the real condition is realized, the patient’s condition has worsened. When looking for a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer to handle these situations that often are difficult to prove, it is important to look into how much experience the attorney has with similar cases.

In some cases, a doctor or medical specialist may be at fault while in others, a nurse, midwife, or other medical assistant may bear responsibility. You may also be able to pursue legal action against a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility. In any event, medical malpractice claims can be difficult to prove, as you must show that an error occurred and you suffered damages because of that error.

Contact a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online at any of our North and Central New Jersey law offices for a free consultation.


What Types of Injuries Are Common For Accidents Due To Improperly Maintained Roads

Steering clear of potholes in New Jersey after this past winter is like dodging land mines on a battlefield – and with potentially the same risk of injury or death.  In fact, driving on deficient roads costs New Jersey motorists nearly $12 billion annually.  But the biggest cost by far is the potential for injuries that can change your life, or cause the death of a loved one.  If you are the victim in a car accident on an ill-maintained road, a New Jersey personal injury lawyer can find the responsible party and get the compensation you deserve.

Thirty-five percent of New Jersey’s major roads are in poor condition, providing motorists with a bumpy ride. Improper maintenance can include conditions such as:

  • Missing guardrails
  • Pot holes
  • Uncovered man holes
  • Road erosion wheel ruts
  • Shoulder drop-offs
  • Steep “berm” drops
  • Blind curves
  • Poorly painted road lines
  • Missing, damaged or confusing road signs
  • Obstructive landscaping
  • Problematic road lighting
  • Debris or dead animals on the road

Car accident injuries stemming from the above conditions are wide ranging and can be as treatable as whiplash and other soft tissue injuries, or as catastrophic as a spine injury, or even death.  Here are the some common car accident injuries:

Because poorly maintained road and defective highway design lawsuits may involve city, county, and state governmental agencies as well as engineering firms and construction contractors, these claims are more complex than conventional traffic accident cases. Your case may not even involve another vehicle, so you might not even know you have the right to file a lawsuit.

When you retain a lawyer, your attorney explains what damages you might be entitled to and launches a full investigation to prove who was at fault for your injuries. Don’t try to take on such a complex legal endeavor on your own – get knowledgeable counsel on your side to ensure you obtain maximum recovery.

The New Jersey car accident lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. have experience representing clients with the above injuries and more. Call us today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online to secure the skilled representation and fair compensation you deserve.


What Types of Birth Injuries are Most Common?

Joy, excitement, and elation are emotions you should feel when you or your partner gives birth. You should not have to fear for your child’s health or well-being. When a doctor, midwife, or nurse makes an error, a serious birth injury might incur. One seemingly minor injury could lead to a lifetime of health complications. Nothing is more important than the welfare of your child — if something went wrong during labor, contact a New Jersey birth injury lawyer for help filing a legal claim.

Common birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral palsy A non- progressive brain disorder, cerebral palsy is generally a lifetime disability. It may be caused by an infection during pregnancy, lack of oxygen during birth, severe jaundice, Rh incompatibility, or a traumatic brain injury during birth.
  • Brachial plexus injury / Erb’s palsy – Brachial plexus injuries are caused by nerve damage, which could be caused by an improper deliver.
  • Spina Bifida. When tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, it can cause spina bifida, which can lead to a series of physical disabilities. It is detectable via ultrasound.
  • Brain damage. A variety of issues can arise if the brain is damaged during birth due to lack of oxygen, traumatic brain injury, or a reduced blood flow.
  • Caput succedaneum. Babies subjected to a vacuum birth are at risk for caput succedaneum, a swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp.
  • Fractures. Improper birthing methods could lead to broken bones.
  • Cephalohematoma. Cephalohematoma is an area of bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones. In some cases, a fracture or other injury causes this bleeding in newborns.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage. When a small blood vessel breaks just under the surface of your eye, it is known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This can occur due to a birth injury.

Mothers giving birth are also at risk of injury or death if not properly cared for. Medical professionals have the duty to provide a high standard of care. They are expected to warn you of risks associated with you and your baby’s treatment. If you can prove medical malpractice in a court of law, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, emotional distress, and more.

Our personal injury lawyers keep flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.


Steps to Take After a Mass Transit Accident

Unfortunately, many people in New Jersey have become injured as a result of a mass transit accident. Some of the common accidents that can occur on mass transit include:

  • Slipping and falling on train platform
  • Being a passenger on a bus involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • Getting injured due to a bus or train stopping short
  • Tripping while getting on or off a bus
  • Being in car struck by a bus or train

If you have been involved in a mass transit accident, the first things you should do, if medically able, is file a report with the bus driver, conductor or other employee of transit line. After filing the report, and then seek medical attention.

After you had sought medical attention for your immediate needs, you should contact a competent attorney because there are many special rules that apply with regard to mass transit accidents and you need an experienced attorney to properly evaluate the claim and follow the correct procedure. The procedure that needs to be followed depends on whether the accident occurred on private company transit line, on a public carrier or a PATH train.

In New Jersey much of the mass transit is handled by NJ Transit, which is governmental agency. Because NJ Transit is a governmental agency many rules apply to NJ Transit that would not apply to a private carrier such as Greyhound.

Under N.J.S.A. 59:2-1, if you are seeking damages against a governmental agency, you must serve a tort claims notice upon the government entity within 90 days of the date of the alleged incident. This notice must be served correctly to the proper governmental agency or authority. Once the tort claims notice is served, there is a statutory waiting period of six months before a person is permitted to file a lawsuit for damages. The six month period allows is to allow the governmental agency or authority to properly evaluate the claim. An injured person must also file his or her lawsuit within two years of the accident or the claim is forever barred.

Bi-agencies such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the PATH trains, have their own separate rules and regulations such as shorter statutes of limitations of only one year.

Because of the strict notice requirements, it is important that you contact an personal injury attorney as soon as you are medically able. At Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman we have handled thousands of cases resulting from mass transit accidents. Our firm has offices throughout New Jersey. If you have been involved in a mass transit accident, please contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Our personal injury lawyers in New Jersey keep flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.


The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010

New Jersey’s multitude of turnpikes, highways and streets present a host of dangers to motorists. Drunk, distracted or reckless drivers create a constant need for defensive driving and good sense. Blind intersections, perilous curves, poorly maintained road surfaces, inadequate signage and markings, bad weather — all of these conditions pose challenges to even the most diligent drivers.

But those are all factors that drivers can anticipate and understand. When faulty automobile equipment leads to a motor vehicle accident, you are betrayed by the very equipment that you trust to deliver you and your family safely on your daily rounds. There are basically two ways by which our society regulates the safety of motor vehicles: by creating standards for safe manufacture and maintenance, and by empowering citizens to pursue legal action when they have been harmed due to an auto defect. Federal regulation of automobile safety is getting a close look this summer in legislation currently before Congress.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees many aspects of American automobile safety, and it has maintained an Early Warning Reporting (EWR) program to detect emerging vehicle safety issues since 2000. But as this past year’s series of Toyota auto defect reports revealed, a stronger EWR system would put necessary pressure on manufacturers to launch timely recalls when problems become apparent. More information about production irregularities, consumer claims and performance issues serves the public interest. The House version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 (HR 5381), was recently approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and may receive full attention before the end of this year. One important provision would improve the EWR system by making more data public on a quarterly basis. Other provisions involve a host of safety issues, including:

  • Electronic data –  Semis and other commercial vehicles have long been required to preserve data that may provide clues to the cause of a crash. The new law makes progress on requiring vehicles sold in the U.S. to be equipped with a data recorder that allows law enforcement to investigate the cause of accidents, but automakers successfully lobbied against a clear deadline for this improvement.
  • Reducing drunk driving – The bill funds research for the development of on-board sensors that measure the alcohol in a driver’s system and prevent intoxicated drivers from being able to start their cars. Commercial viability of such systems may be more than a decade away, however.
  • Unintended acceleration – The bill would require installation of a brake override in new vehicles that will reduce power in the event that the accelerator sticks. Other technical improvements include new standards for push-button electronic starting systems and improvements to transmission shifting systems.
  • Automaker accountability – Automakers are not currently required to disclose data that they deem a confidential part of business operations. Under the 2010 law, the scope of the EWR system would be expanded in favor of maximum public availability of safety information. Maximum civil penalties would increase over tenfold from the $16.4 million Toyota was required to pay, and federal safety regulators would be granted the authority to order immediate recalls.

Former NHTSA administrators from the Bush, Clinton and Carter administrations have stated their support for the bill, arguing that “additional resources for NHTSA are crucially important because the motor vehicle safety program has been underfunded for years, and indeed is losing ground to additional requirements imposed on it and to inflation.” Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued a statement that the bill “will dramatically improve the safety of motor vehicles.” He defended the compromises from the original version, claiming that “through this process we were able to earn broad support from our membership.” The bill will now go to the full House for debate. A similar bill (S 3302) is under consideration in the Senate, and further compromise of safety measures is likely.

Asserting a Claim of Negligence

Clear evidence of an automobile defect can play a vital role in motor vehicle accident litigation. Airbags that fail to deploy, vehicles that roll during the slightest evasive maneuver, and tires in seemingly good condition that suddenly rupture can all lead to unexpected tragedy. For accident victims and their families who believe that a faulty part or design flaw contributed to a catastrophic injury or highway fatality, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide clear insights about all available legal options and a plaintiff’s prospects for recovery of damages.

Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys keep flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.


What is the Definition of a Domestic Dog?

Were you the victim of a terrifying dog attack? While most domesticated dogs are docile and fairly harmless, when a vicious dog bites, the results can be catastrophic. But how exactly does New Jersey define a “domestic “animal? If you were seriously injured by a dog bite and you want to pursue legal action, it’s helpful to understand legal definitions of related terms. Our NJ dog bite lawyers explain some basic legal terms for you.

NJ dog bite law basics and definitions

Basically, the owner of a dog is to be held accountable if the dog attacks a person. This is true even if the dog has no prior history of attacks, or the owner’s knowledge of such attacks.

Here are some helpful definitions when determining if you have a lawsuit:

  • “Domesticated animal” means a dog, cat, bird, fish or other animal which does not constitute a health or safety hazard.
  • “Domestic animal” means any cat, dog, or livestock other than poultry.
  • “Potentially dangerous dog” means any dog or dog hybrid declared potentially dangerous by a municipal court pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1989, c. 307 (C. 4:19-23).
  • “Vicious dog” means any dog or dog hybrid declared vicious by a municipal court pursuant to ` section 6 of P.L.1989, c. 307 (C. 4:19-22).

New Jersey animal laws do not define what constitutes a “wild” animal. But, one can infer that a “wild” animal is one that is not attached to an owner.

What is an “owner” for purposes of the Dog Bite Statute?

Under N.J.S.A. § 4:19-16, “owner” is not defined. For this reason, courts have developed case law to define who is an owner. Typically, the owner is the person in charge of the dog. This includes the person who bought, adopted, and/or registered the animal, or the person who was charged with caring for the dog. Pippin v. Fink, 350 N.J. Super. 270, 794 A.2d 893 (App. Div. 2002), the court ruled that an “owner” is a person who holds themselves out to the world as such and enjoys the benefits and burdens of having the dog.

Landlords who own property where dogs reside, but are not in charge of the dogs, are generally not held liable under New Jersey case law.

Our personal injury law firm keep flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.


How Do Our Attorneys Collect Evidence of Improperly Maintained Charter Buses?

As common carriers, charter bus companies are legally obligated to employ necessary safety precautions to protect passengers. What happens when your charter bus fails to keep you and the other passengers free from harm? What happens when your bus is not serviced properly and causes an accident? Our NJ bus accidents lawyer assist bus crash victims with filing lawsuits against negligent bus operators to compensate them for medical costs, lost work, and pain and suffering. A common carrier must exercise a high degree of care to protect its passengers from dangers that are known or are reasonably foreseeable. This includes properly maintaining all vehicles in their fleet. Carriers must use the utmost caution to protect their passengers, the kind of caution that is characteristic of a very careful and prudent person.

Types Of  Poor Maintenance Evidence

When investigating poor maintenance in a bus accident case, this is how our attorneys collect evidence:

  • Reviewing servicing and maintenance records – Our lawyers sift through the charter’s service records to see how often service was performed and what problems had been identified prior to the crash.
  • Cross-referencing with service manuals – We look to see if the amount of service performed on the bus matched the recommended serving instructions provided by the bus manufacturer.
  • Examining the bus itself – Our attorneys look at the vehicle, and use expert mechanics to determine if mechanical or electrical problems contributed to the accident.
  • Interviewing witnesses – We collect statements from the driver, passenger, service engineers, bus company employees, and anyone else involved in the crash. We depose those with knowledge of the crash and the events leading up to the accident.

Proper service includes maintaining all aspects of the vehicle and its parts. Our personal injury lawyers see if the bus in question:

  • Had each scheduled maintenance tasks performed on it according to mileage
  • Had regular oil changes
  • Was too old or too unsafe to be on the road
  • Met all industry standard safety requirements, as well as state and federal standards

Our NJ personal injury law firm keeps flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.