Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I'm On The Air In New Jersey!
I am joining WCTC-AM 1450 host Judith Leblein's Wake Up Central Jersey morning show as legal commentator. Join us between 6 and 10am on the News Source for Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties to talk about Kobe Bryant, Scott Peterson, Martha Stewart...or your own case. Let's talk at 732-249-2600.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

GAO Report On Medical Malpractice Excludes New Jersey
The New Jersey Law Journal reports this week that the federal General Accounting Office's (GAO) July 2003 report on the nation's medical malpractice insurance crisis failed to include any analysis of New Jersey insurance carriers, healthcare providers and laws. The report analyzed seven large states, but noticeably excluded New Jersey despite several one-day strikes here and a committed lobbying effort in Trenton to cap non-economic damages at $250,000 in med mal cases. Maybe the GAO's exclusion of New Jersey points to the inadequacy of the report itself? The findings are pretty much as expected, on the one hand pointing the finger at verdict sizes and on the other pointing to unanticipated premium adjustments. Maybe the state Insurance Commission's upcoming hearings on Princeton Insurance Co. decision to stop writing new policies on physicians by the end of August will shed some more light on this issue.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

No New Jersey PI Firms On National Law Journal's Hot List
Last week's National Law Journal profiled a so-called "Hot 50" of plaintiff's law firms located around the country. Law firms? Not really, since the list excluded solo and small firms of two-five lawyers. Around the country? Not really, since the list basically covered only LA, NY and DC. Apparently, the National Law Journal missed the nearly 500,000 solo and small practitioners around the country who practice PI work. And I understand that there are New Jersey PI lawyers who have hot practices.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Legal Writing Update
My "Write Now" column on lexisONE this month concerns proofreading for solo and small firm lawyers. Check out how PI lawyers can make writing and editing easier and more efficient.
Something To Chew On
A sidebar to the proposed "Big Mac" class actions that get so much attention in the media. Today's New York Times reports on the growing number of fast food workers who are getting fired for being overweight. Ironic? The article profiles a New Jersey worker who successfully sued her employer under the ADA arguing that, at least on her facts, being overweight was a disability.
Roundup Of July Cases

New Jersey Supreme Court, Equity and Law Reports
GUICHARDO v. RUBINFELD, A-112-01 (N.J. 7-16-2003)
A-112 September Term 2001
Decided July 16, 2003
Application of the discovery rule to toll the running of the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice action.

New Jersey Superior Court Reports
KINSELLA v. WELCH, A-2985-02T2 (N.J. Super. 7-15-2003)
No. A-2985-02T2
Decided July 15, 2003
Defendants NYT Television and the New York Times Company appeal order which determined that a videotape of plaintiff's treatment at Jersey Shore Medical Center is not protected by the Newsperson's Privilege, N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21 to 21.8, and therefore must be produced for examination by plaintiff.

New Jersey Superior Court Reports
ADAMS v. NEW YORK GIANTS, A-3120-01T3 (N.J. Super. 7-3-2003)
No. A-3120-01T3
Decided July 3, 2003
Appellant George Adams appeals from a final order of the Division of Workers' Compensation dismissing his employee claim petition for failure to file a claim within the two year statutory limitation period of N.J.S.A. 34:15-51. Adams filed his petition on July 25, 1996. The respondent, New York Giants, filed an answer along with a motion to dismiss the petition as time barred. Thereafter, Adams filed for medical and temporary benefits seeking payment of past medical expenses for hip replacement surgery as well as future expenses for a second hip replacement. An evidentiary hearing was held on both Adams' application and the Giants' motion to dismiss on varying dates between January 21, 1999 and June 21, 2001. On January 29, 2002, the judge of compensation issued an order and written opinion dismissing the claim for lack of jurisdiction due to Adams' failure to file the petition within the time limitation of N.J.S.A. 34:15-51. Adams appeals from that order.

New Jersey Supreme Court, Equity and Law Reports
TISCHLER v. WATTS, A-77-01 (N.J. 7-24-2003)
A-77 September Term 2001
Decided July 24, 2003
In November 1995, David C. Watts, M.D., performed a surgical procedure known as reduction mammoplasty on plaintiff who was fifteen years old at the time. More than three years later, plaintiff returned to Dr. Watts with ailments resulting from the reduction surgery, including permanent loss of the ability to breastfeed, loss of tactile sensation, scarring, and disfigurement. Subsequently, on November 24, 1999, plaintiff hired an attorney and brought suit against Dr. Watts. The complaint alleged that Dr. Watts's deviation from the standard of care in performing the reduction mammoplasty caused plaintiff's complications.

New Jersey Superior Court Reports
CZEPAS v. SCHENK, A-3583-01T5 (N.J. Super. 7-3-2003)
No. A-3583-01T5
Decided July 3, 2003
In September 1997, plaintiff was injured as he tried to jump into a rolling car which was about to strike his wife. He was treated for his injuries by defendant medical providers. Believing he received inadequate medical care, in the spring of 1999 plaintiff contacted counsel who had an orthopedic specialist review plaintiff's medical records. Although the specialist suggested that one or more of the healthcare providers may have deviated from the standard of care, he was unable to specify any particular deviation or attribute responsibility to any particular provider.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Carriers Take A Bite Out Of NJ Dog-Bite Coverage
The New Jersey Law Journal reports this week that several carriers are limiting or excluding coverage for dog-bites. Dog-bites account for roughly one-third of homeowners insurance claims nationally, notes the article. The growing popularity of breeds capable of attacking humans (e.g., pitbulls) is changing what had previously been viewed as nuisance litigation.

Under New Jersey law, dog owners are liable for damages regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. N.J.S.A. 4:19-16. Accordingly, dog owners are held strictly liable rather than enjoy "one free bite". That, and jury sympathy aroused by a child scarred from a bite, have made dog-bite litigation relatively straightforward, if not particularly lucrative.

The article reports that carriers are becoming increasingly selective over what breeds they will insure, despite the fact that --with the exception of a few notorious cases -- dog-bite verdicts are relatively small. To educate victims of their rights, Red Bank lawyer Bruce Regenstreich has created a new web site bitbydog.com.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I’ve created the New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers Blog as a means for lawyers and consumers to obtain news, general information, links and commentaries relating to tort law in New Jersey and around the country.

I am a New Jersey lawyer. My practice primarily involves personal injury and consumer protection. Before opening my own firm, I practiced with some of the country's best known and successful class action and catastrophic loss firms. I have tried cases in state and federal courts, argued numerous appeals, and am admitted to several courts, including the United States Supreme Court. I have prepared briefs that have been filed in courts throughout the country.

In addition to my law practice, for over ten years I have taught at South Jersey-area law schools. Many of my legal writing students have become creative, responsible and hardworking personal injury attorneys. And sometimes they even call...

I frequently lecture on legal writing to lawyers and bar associations, and am on the faculty of the country's largest CLE provider. I am also a law columnist for lexisONE and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Much of my writing involves the day-to-day concerns of personal injury attorneys.

And one more thing. I am the founder and president of Legal Writing Success (LWS), a company that provides legal research, writing and consulting to lawyers around the country. Through my work with LWS, I have met hundreds of solo and small firm personal injury lawyers, many of whom regularly communicate with me about developments in law, particularly tort law.

There’s a lot that I’ve learned about New Jersey personal injury law over the past 15 years. This blog is as good a place as any to keep my thoughts in order and, maybe, educate lawyers and consumers about resources. Thanks for visiting.

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