• December 06, 2019
  • DWI
Do you have to lose your license under new NJ DUI law?

Recent changes to New Jersey’s DWI laws have eliminated driver’s license suspensions for many first offense drunk-driving convictions.  New Jersey has also reduced the driver’s license suspension period for second, third and subsequent convictions.  The new law, and update to NJSA 39:4-50, which took effect on December 1, 2019, and expires on January 1, 2024, dramatically changes the way New Jersey treats DWI convictions. While controversial in that critics argue the law reduces the deterrent effect of a prospective DUI, the law has the support of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”), the state legislature, and was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy without significant opposition. Many legal observers and attorneys were surprised by this development, but the trend now is to enforce drunk driving mostly by the installation of ignition interlock devices instead of driver’s license suspensions. New DUI Penalties First Offense If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI under NJSA 39:4-50 and your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is .08 to .10%, you only be subject to a driver’s license suspension until you prove that you have installed an ignition interlock device on the vehicle that you principally operate, own, or lease. The interlock must remain installed on your car for three (3) months. There still exists the $250 to $400 fine and the $1,000 a year MVC surcharge for three (3) years.  You still must attend and complete the intoxicated driver’s resource center (“IDRC”) for twelve (12) hours served on two (2) consecutive days.   For a first-offense NJ DWI conviction with a BAC of .10% or above, the fine is increased from the above to $300 to $500 and the interlock period to seven (7) to twelve (12) months.  For a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC of .15% or above, there will still be a mandatory license suspension of four (4) to six (6) months and still install the ignition interlock device. Indeed, interlock installation is now mandatory for all NJ driving while impaired or DWI convictions.  You can still be sentenced to 30 days in jail for any first offense DWI conviction regardless of your BAC. The new law does not change the penalties for an NJ DUI conviction from drugs. A drug-based DUI conviction still carries a seven (7) to twelve (12) month driver’s license suspension.  This applies to both prescribed drugs such as Xanax and painkillers and non-prescribed drugs such as heroin or even marijuana. Second Offense The new NJ law reduces the driver’s license suspension for second-offense DUI convictions from two (2) years, to now one (1) to two (2) years.  The fine remains $500 to $1,000 and the mandatory two (2) to ninety (90) day jail sentence still applies.  In some cases, it may be possible to serve the jail sentence for a second-offense DWI conviction in the IDRC rather than county jail.  The mandatory thirty (30) day term of community service and 48 hour IDRC also still applies, along with the MVC monetary surcharge. Third or Subsequent Offense The penalties for a third, fourth, or even tenth DUI conviction are the same as before. These penalties apply to anyone convicted of a third or subsequent DWI and include a mandatory fine of $1,000; six (6 months) mandatory jail, and a now “reduced” term of license suspension of eight (8) years, down from what was previously ten (10) years.  Not more than half of this sentence may be served in an NJ IDRC approved inpatient rehabilitation facility.  This option is only available if made a part of your negotiated or judge determined sentence. Changes to NJ Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing Penalties under NJSA 39:4-50.2 and NJSA 39:4-50.4 The new DUI law also eliminates the driver’s license suspension for a first-offense conviction of refusing to provide breath samples. Instead, like a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC under .15%, the new law provides for mandatory installation of the interlock device in lieu of a driver’s license suspension. For a second-offense DUI conviction, the penalties are the same as for a second-offense DUI under the new laws, expect that the jail and community service do not apply.  The fines imposed for a first-offense refusal conviction are $300 to $500 (first offense), $500 to $1,000 (second-offense) and $1,000 (third or subsequent offense). Other Issues School-Zone DUI penalties under the new NJ DUI laws The new DUI law eliminates the enhanced penalties, and in fact the entire law against specifically driving while under influence of drugs or alcohol in a school zone under the old NJSA 39:50(g), which was repealed. The reasons behind this are unclear, but it is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of  “school-zone” DUI charges occurred after school hours when schools were not in session and no children were present.  The practical effect of the old school-zone DWI law in most cases merely enhanced the legal exposure of an individual accused of driving under the influence in urban, rather than suburban or rural areas. NJ Interlock installation, costs, and maintenance Interlock sales and installation are now big business thanks to the new DUI laws, which makes the installation of such devices now mandatory for all NJ DUI convictions.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (“MVC”) overseas the interlock program within the state.  The interlock is a device that is installed into the vehicle’s ignition system that prevents the operator of the vehicle from starting the car until they blow into a tube connected to the device to establish that their BAC is under .05%.  It is a criminal, disorderly persons offense to blow into another individual’s interlock device in order to allow them to operate the vehicle.  The person convicted of the DUI is responsible for the costs of installing, maintaining, and calibrating the interlock device.  The device can cost around $200 to install and must be “leased” from the interlock company. The monthly cost can run up to $100 a month to lease. Every two months, the device must be calibrated for an additional cost.

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How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge

Have you been charged with a simple assault in New Jersey? When emotions heat up, simple assault can follow. Simple assault often occurs in episodes of domestic violence, when arguing with neighbors, or in instances of public intoxication.  If you have been charged with simple assault, you know that there’s nothing simple about beating this charge. You need to understand New Jersey criminal law and develop a legal strategy to defend against a simple assault charge. An experienced simple assault NJ criminal lawyer can help with your defense strategy. Here are a few things you should know about how to beat a simple assault charge in New Jersey: What is a simple assault in New Jersey? What is the punishment for simple assault in NJ? What are the defenses to simple assault? What is a Simple Assault in New Jersey? Simple assault in NJ occurs when a person (N.J.S.A . 2C:12‑1): Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;  or Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;  or Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This law means that you don’t even have to touch a person to get into legal trouble. If you threaten someone or cause them to fear serious bodily injury, you can be charged with assault.  Note that simple assault involves threatening serious bodily injury or attempting/causing bodily injury. So what’s the difference between serious bodily injury and bodily injury? The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice ( Definitions, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1) defines the two categories: Bodily injury means “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.” Serious bodily injury is “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” There’s another assault category, aggravated assault, that applies to behavior that escalates past simple assault.  What Type of Charge is Simple Assault? New Jersey law classifies crimes as indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses. Simple assault is usually a disorderly persons offense. If both parties agreed to fight, the charge could be downgraded to a petty disorderly persons offense. A petty disorderly persons offense is the least serious New Jersey offense that carries a jail sentence.  A disorderly persons offense penalty is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. A petty disorderly persons offense is up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.  Even though simple assault charges do not carry lengthy jail time, they become part of your criminal record. Having a criminal record can affect housing and employment options, so it’s important to beat your simple assault charge. What are the Defenses to Simple Assault? A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you beat your simple assault charge. Defenses against a simple assault charge include: Dismiss as de minimus assault. Your attorney may argue that your simple assault was de minimis in nature. This legal term means trivial or lacking significance. The argument asserts that the assault was so inconsequential that the court should dismiss your case. Suppress the evidence. If the judge grants a motion to suppress evidence of your simple assault, this may eliminate proof that you are guilty. A judge may suppress evidence on grounds such as relevance and unfair prejudice. Reduce to a lesser charge. Your attorney might request a judge reduce your simple assault to a lesser charge, such as harassment. Downgrading to a municipal ordinance violation may reduce the penalties involved with your charge. Even if your simple assault defense attorney cannot beat your simple assault charge, your attorney can request a reduced penalty. For instance, your attorney may convince the judge to give you probation and a suspended sentence. Along with sentencing, the judge might impose a restraining order between the parties involved in the simple assault. Get Legal Advice on Your Simple Assault Charge A simple assault charge brings serious consequences. You could wind up in jail, pay a hefty fine, and carry a criminal record. You need expert legal advice to help you beat your simple assault charge. To learn how to beat a simple assault charge, call New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Anthony Vecchio. Anthony has defended thousands of New Jersey clients and offers expert legal strategy for your simple assault. Call Anthony for a free consultation and start building your defense against simple assault.

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What is the NJ Expungement Law?

A criminal record can impact your life long after you serve time or pay fines. In fact, a criminal record follows you wherever you go, affecting employment and housing opportunities. Because of the consequences of a criminal record, courts allow expungement in NJ of your records relating to an offense. Following NJ expungement law, the court seals your criminal record for an offense. This erases the offense from your record. Once you have an expunged offense, you no longer have to disclose that offense on employment or housing applications. Only certain crimes are eligible for expungement, and each state differs in how they apply expungements. So, how does New Jersey expungement law work? Qualifying for expungement in NJ depends on these factors: Were you convicted of a felony crime, misdemeanor, or municipal ordinance violation? What offenses have you been convicted of before? When did you complete your sentence? Have you been previously granted an expungement in NJ? Were You Convicted of a Felony Crime, Misdemeanor, or Municipal Ordinance Violation? In New Jersey expungement law, convictions of serious crimes cannot be expunged. These crimes include homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, arson, sexual assault, terrorism, robbery, and false imprisonment. Convictions of a DUI or DWI also cannot be expunged. Other crimes, including misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations, can be expunged. Whether a violation is expunged depends on factors like the number of crimes committed or previously expunged. Even if a judge dismisses your charges, your arrest record still exists. This record can cause problems with future employment. Anyone who runs a background check on you will see this arrest record. In order to clear your record, you must request an expungement of all records related to the dismissed charge.  If your charges are dismissed, you should make an application to the court for automatic expungement. Once you request this expungement in NJ, the court must order automatic expungement of all records for that offense. If your attorney does not request expungement when your case is dismissed, you can file a later petition for expungement. What Offenses Have You Been Convicted of Before? When considering your New Jersey expungement, a judge will evaluate your entire criminal record, including previous expungements. A judge may factor in the type of crimes committed or expunged as well. You may not know how many times you have been arrested or convicted. If you are confused about these facts, an attorney can perform a criminal record search for you. Contact a New Jersey expungement attorney for help searching your criminal record. When Did You Complete Your Sentence? The waiting period for NJ expungement does not begin until you complete your sentence, including probation or payment of fines. This means that you don’t start counting the time period until expungement eligibility from the date of your conviction. You start counting when you complete all sentencing requirements for your case. You must wait a certain amount of time after completing your sentence before you can receive a New Jersey expungement. The waiting time required depends on the seriousness of your conviction. Dismissals require no waiting period. Dismissals, after completing a diversion program, require 6 months. Drug offenders under the age of 21 require 1 year. A municipal ordinance violation requires 2 years. A juvenile adjudication requires the shorter of 3 years or waiting period required for the offense if committed by an adult. A disorderly persons offense requires 5 years or 3 years “early pathway” expungement.  A felony requires 6 years or 5 years “early pathway” expungement. Early pathway expungement refers to a law that allows earlier expungement if the expungement serves the public interest. In other words, the offender must demonstrate good character and a desire to participate in the community. In addition to early pathway expungement, Drug Court offers another expedited route to expungement. Offenders who complete Drug Court may have their entire criminal record expunged without waiting on the above time periods. Have You Been Previously Granted an Expungement?  New Jersey offenders are eligible for more than one expungement, depending on the type of offense committed. New Jersey allows the following expungement maximums:  Four petty/disorderly persons expungements if not convicted of a felony  Three petty/disorderly persons expungements if convicted of a felony Unlimited number of disorderly persons convictions expunged if the applicant has no other disorderly persons convictions and all disorderly persons convictions were entered on the same day. Only one criminal offense can be expunged. There is an exception if all closely related criminal convictions are listed in a single judgment, and the applicant has no convictions for any other crime or offense.  Even if you have been previously granted an expungement, you should ask the court to consider another expungement.  Start Your New Jersey Expungement Today A criminal record is too damaging to your reputation to ignore. If you would like your criminal record erased, NJ expungement law may help. Once you have your record expunged, you can secure better housing and employment options.  A New Jersey expungement attorney can help you formulate your best argument for expungement. Contact NJ expungement law expert Anthony Vecchio, an attorney who has defended thousands of clients, for a free consultation.

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how to get a possession charge dismissed

A person charged with possession usually finds themselves in a serious situation—one that can result in jail time, fines, or suspension of their driver’s license. If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance, it’s important to know how you might be able to get those charged dismissed.  Do you need to know how to get a drug possession charge dismissed? The most common ways to beat a drug possession charge in New Jersey involve denial, insufficient evidence, and statutory defenses. Keep reading to find out more about which defenses might apply to your case, or contact a drug charges defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio. Defense #1: You Didn’t Commit the Crime This type of defense applies when you’re charged with any crime. If you didn’t commit the crime, you should not be convicted. The prosecution has the burden of proving that you committed the crime, so this defense might come up under various circumstances. The following examples show how to beat a drug possession charge:   The drugs weren’t yours. This defense is relatively simple. If the drugs weren’t yours, you didn’t commit the crime.   The drugs were planted.  This defense is difficult to raise because police testimony is highly trusted. Your attorney may be able to file a motion to release police files. These files may have information that would be useful in arguing that the drugs were planted.   You didn’t have constructive possession.  If the police didn’t find the drugs on your person, the prosecutor must show that you had actual control over the drugs.  Any evidence that the drugs may belong to someone else is helpful to argue against constructive possession.  For example, prosecutors might have a harder time proving constructive possession when multiple people live in the same house, or when police discover drugs in a car with multiple passengers.  Defense #2: Insufficient Evidence  The prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed illegal drugs. The prosecution’s evidence can fall short of this requirement. These examples show how to get a possession charge dismissed in a few different ways:   The substance wasn’t an illegal drug.  The prosecution needs to show that the substance they found is actually an illegal drug. For example, a bag of white powder might look like cocaine when, in reality, it’s only flour.  A crime lab analyst needs to verify that the substance is actually an illegal drug to satisfy this requirement.    The evidence has gone missing.  The prosecution will be hard-pressed to show that the substance found is an illegal drug if it is nowhere to be found.  Evidence is often transferred multiple times before it makes its way to a locker, and sometimes it goes missing.   The search was unlawful.  The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In many cases, police need a warrant to conduct a lawful search.  A warrant isn’t always needed, though. Police can search for items and areas where a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if the drugs are in plain view, or a suspect gives police permission to search their car, the police can proceed without a warrant.  Entrapment Entrapment is when a police officer pressures or induces someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t otherwise commit.  While entrapment isn’t exactly a “bad evidence” concern, it is one of bad police conduct.   In drug enforcement actions, police will set up undercover operations. Entrapment often occurs when the state provides the drugs in question.   Defense #3: Statutory Defenses  Another possible defense is that you are legally allowed to possess the controlled substance, or you fall under a legal exception.  You have a valid prescription If you carry a valid prescription for a controlled substance, then your possession of that substance isn’t illegal.  Medical Marijuana In New Jersey, patients who carry a medical marijuana ID card are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana per month.  This defense is never available on federal drug charges. However, if you’re being charged under state law, this defense might be available.  Good Samaritan Law In 2013, New Jersey adopted the Overdose Prevention Act to help reduce overdoses and fatalities.  The law gives immunity to people who seek medical attention for themselves or on behalf of someone else in connection with a drug overdose. The immunity protects them from being arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for a drug offense.  Defend Yourself Against Drug Possession Charges with a Criminal Defense Attorney Do you need to know more about how to get a possession charge dismissed? Beating a drug possession charge is no easy task. The best way to make sure you’re aware of every defense that might apply to your case is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Criminal defense attorneys use the defenses above and more to potentially reduce penalties or eliminate the charge altogether. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio to schedule your free consultation.

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How to Get Points Off Your License in NJ

Getting points on your driver’s license can lead to fines, increased insurance rates, and even suspension of your license. It’s critical that you act quickly and explore all possible solutions for removing points. In these cases, a criminal defense attorney can help. Find someone with experience handling these cases. In the meantime, if you have points on your license, consider the following options to reduce your points in New Jersey.  How can I get points off my license in NJ?  Go one year with no violations or suspensions  Takes three (3) points off your license.   The year starts on the date of your last violation or most recent license restoration.  Complete a Defensive Driving Program Takes up to two (2) points off your license.  Unlike other driving programs, the Defensive Driving Program is entirely voluntary and available to everyone. Courses are either online or in a classroom.  You can only use this program to remove points off your license once every five years.  You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider.  Complete a Driver Improvement Program (DIP) Takes up to three (3) points off your license.  You can only complete this program if the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) sends you a letter giving you the option to take the course.  The MVC sends letters to people who accumulate 12-14 points in over two years. Drivers can take the course instead of receiving a 30-day suspension on their license.  If MVC gives you the option to take the course, keep in mind that it can only be used to subtract points once every two years.   You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider, which include the National Safety Council and Superior Driving School.  Drivers must pay a $75 administrative fee to MVC, plus a training fee to the course provider.  Complete a Probationary Driver Program (PDP) Takes up to three (3) points off your license.  You can only take this course if the MVC sends you a letter ordering you to complete the program.  This program is similar to DIP, except that the Probationary Driver Program is for new drivers convicted of at least two moving violations during the two-year probationary period.  If you’re ordered to take the course, you will only be able to take it once.  You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider, which include the National Safety Council and Superior Driving School. New drivers ordered to complete the program must pay the $75 MVC administrative fee, plus a training fee to the course provider.  What else do I need to know before completing one of these programs?  First, make sure that you’re eligible for the program before signing up.  Second, remember that each program has a timeline noted above. Make sure that you’re taking the program at the right time to reduce points on your license. Finally, keep in mind that once points are on your license, the MVC keeps them on your permanent record. So while you can get points deducted from your license, they never completely “disappear.” This factor is important because your insurance company may not consider your point deductions when it’s calculating your insurance rates. How long do points stay on your license in NJ?  As long as you don’t have any more violations or suspensions, you can get points removed from your license at a rate of 3 points each year.  The best way to keep points off your license is to drive safely and follow the laws of the road. If you do get a new violation or suspension, it will likely add more points to your license. Additionally, it starts the clock over, and you will need to go a whole year without a violation to get 3 points removed.  How does the NJ point system work?  Police add points to your driver’s license when you commit a violation. In NJ, more minor violations are typically 2 points. Severe violations, such as reckless driving, highway racing, and injuring another driver, are 5-8 points. For a complete list of violations, see the NJ Points Schedule.  If a driver gets 6 or more points on their record in 3 years, they are fined a surcharge. The surcharge is $150 for 6 points and an extra $25 for each point after that. MVC does not consider point deductions in assessing your surcharge.  If you accumulate 12 or more points, your license is suspended.  How can I find out how many points are on my license?  You can find out how many points are on your license by requesting your Driver’s History. MVC charges a $15 fee for driver history requests.  Contact a New Jersey Traffic Lawyer If you have questions about how to get points off your driver’s license, a New Jersey traffic attorney from The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio is here for you. Contact us today for help with your case.

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traffic citations

After flashing his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap, the driver was given a “$260 ticket for improperly using his headlights.” Instead of paying the fee outright, the driver fought the ticket in court. The Oregon driver recently learned that he’d won the legal challenge in an unusual way – on the grounds that the citation violated his free speech. Like every alleged violation, New Jersey’s vehicle code and other state law dictates the basis for a dismissal of a traffic ticket. So, while New Jersey drivers cited for a traffic violation may not expect a similar outcome as the one in Oregon, a dismissal on other grounds is still possible. Traffic violations—including driving without a license or with a suspended license, driving without insurance, speeding, failing to stop, or otherwise allegedly violating Title 39 of the code—vary in severity and penalties. Some can—and should—be fought in court. Many New Jersey motorists are under the mistaken impression that fighting a ticket in court is costly and not worth the time and effort. If, however, you’re facing more serious consequences, you should to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Facing a suspended driver’s license, or a revocation of a commercial license, or even jail time, can cost you time and money as you miss work due to an inability to commute. You may not have the luxury of time to debate whether you should contact a knowledgeable traffic citation attorney. Years of defending drivers who have made New Jersey traffic citation attorney one of the most common practice areas at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC. Contact our office to discuss your particular situation.

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how to drop domestic abuse charges in nj

Domestic violence is a serious crime in the eyes of New Jersey. When police are called to a domestic dispute, they can arrest an alleged abuser, even if the victim does not want them to. The police can also arrest an alleged abuser if there is no witness to testify against him. Once arrested, the prosecutor must decide whether to bring criminal charges. The victim is not required to take part in the arrest or conviction of an abuser. What happens if you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence? What can you do to help him or her? In this article, we’ll discuss how to drop domestic violence charges in New Jersey. Contact a criminal defense attorney for review of your case. Why Can’t You Just Drop Charges? Oftentimes people are in romantic relationships with their abusers. As a result, many victims try to protect the person who is abusing or terrorizing them. Some abusers bully or scare their victims into getting charges dismissed.   As a result, the prosecutor can bring charges against your partner or spouse even if you don’t agree to it. New Jersey does not need a victim to “file charges” against an abuser, so they do not give victims a right to “drop charges.” What Can You Do? The fact that the prosecutor can bring charges even if you don’t agree doesn’t mean that they will. Prosecutors like to get defendants to take a plea deal; the defendant agrees to plead guilty for a reduced charge or promise of a lighter sentence. But if a defendant rejects a plea deal, prosecutors must present their case to a jury. A prosecutor needs evidence that domestic violence occurred to get a conviction. A criminal defendant can take the Fifth instead of testifying against himself. Often, the only two people who saw the violence were the abuser and his victim, meaning you. So, what happens if you don’t want to testify against a partner or spouse? The state will send you a subpoena to force you to testify. If you refuse, then the judge can hold you in contempt. In other cases, the prosecutor might rely on other evidence, such as a 9-1-1 call. This can be used to prove that an attack occurred. To understand your options, you need to identify the evidence the state has: Request a copy of the police report. This should give you some sense of what evidence the prosecutor has. You’ll also find out if the defendant made any incriminating statements. If so, trying to fight the charges will be an uphill battle. Discuss your case with an attorney. There may be options. For example, you might have been intoxicated the night of the alleged domestic violence. Bringing this fact to trial could help undermine the evidence that violence took place. How Can an Attorney Help? If you were arrested for domestic violence, you need to understand your rights and know if a plea offer is a good deal. Not every domestic violence conviction leads to time in jail. A lawyer can review the evidence and help you decide what steps to take. If you are a victim or witness—say, the defendant’s girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse—you need to understand what will happen to you if the prosecutor brings charges. We cannot tell you to lie on the witness stand, but you might have options for making it hard to use you as a witness. In theory the prosecutor can bring charges without the victim’s cooperation. In practice, however, it can be tough for them to get a conviction when a victim doesn’t cooperate. Call Us to Schedule a Free Consultation Anthony J. Vecchio is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has spent years working as a prosecutor. He now uses his talents to represent those unfairly accused of a crime. To get started, contact one of his offices today to schedule a case evaluation.

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average personla injury settlement amounts

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The details of most settlement agreements are private. Because of this, there is no way to know the average personal injury settlement amount. Every personal injury case is different—different injuries, different defendants, different insurance policies. Hearing that your cousin got $40,000 for a broken bone in a car accident doesn’t tell you much about how much you can get for a concussion you got when you slipped at the grocery store. Instead of talking about “averages,” let’s look at how an insurer will determine a settlement amount. Then we can talk about ways to maximize the amount you receive. As always, meet with an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. How Does an Insurance Company Value Injuries? Big insurance companies have been around for decades. They have settled all kinds of insurance claims and have a good idea of how much an injury is worth. Unfortunately, they don’t share this information, so how an insurer decides a number is a little vague. Once an insurer agrees that their insured caused the accident, they will calculate the amount to offer. This can include: Medical bills. The insurer will analyze all medical care and make sure it isn’t too expensive. Usually, they cover all costs related to surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and prescription drugs. Lost wages. If you needed a break from work because of your injury, the insurer will cover lost wages. Property damage. Your car might be damaged or totaled, so they will calculate how much to offer to repair or replace it. So far, all this is pretty routine. An insurer might argue that you didn’t need a certain test or that your car is only worth so much, but they are usually pretty good about covering these costs. Things get tricky when looking at future losses. You might be so injured that you are permanently disabled. You could need surgery or other medical care for decades to come. An insurer will cover future losses, such as future medical care and lost wages, but they might argue about how much to pay. How Much Does an Insurer Offer for Pain and Suffering? Insurance companies tend to be stingy when it comes to compensation for intangible losses. They only offer a few thousand dollars, even when clients have serious injuries. No one knows how insurance companies arrive at a number for pain and suffering. Some people claim they use a multiplier of your economic losses. For example, if you lost $20,000 in medical bills and lost wages, they might offer 1-4 times that for pain and suffering. Others think they look at how much they paid for similar injuries and then offer that amount. The key is to hire an attorney who can bump up the amount of money for pain and suffering. Your attorney should help you document it and make a compelling case for why you deserve that amount. How Can You Increase Your Settlement? There are many things you can do to increase the amount of money you receive in a settlement. For example, you should: Save all medical bills. This can help establish how much money you are owed. Document your pain and mental suffering. Keep a journal where you note daily where you are feeling pain, its intensity, etc. Explain how your injuries hinder your daily life.  Never discuss your case with an insurance adjuster without having an attorney present. The adjuster might try to get you to downplay your injuries or take responsibility for the accident. Both could limit the amount of compensation you receive. If you hire an attorney, he or she can take concrete steps to build a solid case. For example, we can collect evidence so that it is clear who’s at fault and document your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate a settlement for you. Trust our experience to drive a hard bargain. Contact Us Today The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio represents personal injury victims across New Jersey. If you have been injured, don’t delay. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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attorney for car accident

Many people like to handle their own legal issues, Whether it’s drafting a will using an online program or handling a DUI on their own. However, making a car accident claim is more complex than either of those issues. A lawyer can provide many important services, especially if you have serious physical injuries from the crash.Please contact a personal injury attorney to get started on your case. Your Attorney Gathers Evidence You will only receive compensation if someone else was negligent. Usually, this means that the driver who caused the accident did not operate his motor vehicle with enough care. If another driver wasn’t negligent, his insurance company will deny your claim. In many cases, negligence is not arguable. If a driver ran a red light and slammed into you, then there is no question about liability. However, other cases are not clear cut, so you will need to:  Identify witnesses and interview them about what they saw. Search for dash cam or surveillance video that might have captured the accident. Visit the scene of the accident to reconstruct it. Examine the vehicles involved for clues about how the accident unfolded. This type of work takes time, which you might not have if you are trying to recover from serious injuries. Your attorney can pull together this evidence in a logical and compelling way. A Lawyer Properly Values Your Injuries The weeks following an accident can be scary, and you might be too injured to go to work. With no income, you have giant medical bills and wonder how you will keep a roof over your head. It is very tempting in this situation to agree to the first settlement offer made. Many people immediately agree to too little money because scared and need cash now, so they sign on the dotted line. This is a terrible mistake. By working with a car accident lawyer, you can properly value your injuries. This will give you some idea of how much you should receive. Once you agree to a settlement, you’ll release the defendant from any future liability. You need to get a fair settlement now, and you have one shot to do it. An attorney understands the value of medical care and lost wages. He also knows how much you can receive for things like pain and suffering or mental anguish. Don’t guess; trust a professional. Your Attorney Negotiates with an Insurer Insurers in New Jersey are known for being stingy. They don’t like to pay full and fair compensation, and only do so if the person on the other side holds out. This is where a lawyer can be very helpful. After gathering evidence, your lawyer can draft a demand letter and submit it to the driver’s insurer. This demand letter should state how the driver caused the crash and why you deserve a fair settlement. You can expect the insurance company to reject your request and make a much lower counteroffer. If you don’t know how to bargain, you might never get the insurer to increase their offer. Some insurers hold out, confident that an injured victim will fold. By hiring an attorney for your car accident case, you won’t be misled into accepting a small settlement. An Attorney Can Bring a Lawsuit in Court Negotiations sometimes fail. If they do, your only chance to get compensation is to file a lawsuit. New Jersey’s laws and regulations on lawsuits are complex and can take years to learn. If you try to file your own case, you might make a mistake, like filing in the wrong court or naming the wrong defendant. You might also take too long, since New Jersey’s statute of limitations gives injured motorists only 2 years to file a case in court. If you miss the deadline, a judge will dismiss your case and you’ll get nothing for your injuries. Hire an attorney for your car accident case so you file your case the right way. Your lawyer will collect all evidence so that the jury can understand it. Do you know how to interview witnesses in court? A lawyer does. An Attorney for a Car Accident is Surprisingly Affordable Many people want to handle their own cases because they do not want to pay for an attorney. However, you should understand how car accident attorneys charge before deciding whether their services are worth it. Most car accident lawyers in New Jersey charge on contingency. This means that the client does not pay any lawyer fees upfront. Instead, clients agree that their attorney will take a percentage of any financial recovery, such as a settlement or verdict. The standard percentages are 33-40%. If the lawyer does not get any money for you, then you don’t pay any attorneys’ fees. Legal Representation You Can Trust The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, has represented many injured car accident victims in New Jersey. We have negotiated with several large insurance companies, and we know our way around a courtroom.  If you want to discuss your case, contact our office today for a free consultation.

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how much is my case worth

Have you or a loved one been in an accident? Accidents leave many victims in severe pain and unable to work. Medical bills and other expenses swallow up a victim’s savings and other assets. People who are feeling stressed financially often ask, “How much is my case worth?” The answer to this question is simple: Your case is worth whatever you can get an insurance company to offer you in a settlement or an amount you can get a jury to agree to in court. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the factors that go into valuing injuries in personal injury cases. Medical Bills You can receive compensation in an accident for your medical care to treat your injuries. Medical care can include: Cost of an ambulance to the hospital Diagnostic tests and bloodwork Surgery Overnights in the hospital Anesthesia Prescription drugs Rehabilitation Occupational or other therapy Assistive devices (crutches, bandages, etc.) Follow up doctor visits Minor injuries like a sprain or bruise might only cost a thousand dollars to treat, but more serious injuries that need surgery can cost over a million dollars. You might also qualify for future medical expenses if you are permanently disabled. Someone with a permanent brain injury could need an at-home attendant for the rest of her life. Lost Wages Bad injuries might force you to take time off from work. You can get compensation for this missed work—even if you used sick time or personal days to cover your time away.  Find your most recent pay stub to check how much you make. If you missed a month of work, you can receive a month’s worth of wages. Property Damage If you were injured in a car accident, you could receive compensation to fix your car. It should be put back in the condition it existed in before the crash. You can receive compensation for any damaged property. Intangible Losses This is where things get interesting. With monetary losses, your lawyer can look at your pay stubs, medical bills, and repair estimates to calculate how much you can receive. But New Jersey law also allows victims to get compensation for non-economic losses: Pain and suffering. Did you break a leg? You can receive compensation for the pain you feel as the bone heals. Most physical injuries cause pain or discomfort. Mental anguish or emotional distress. Physical injuries can lead to depression or anxiety. The shock of an accident could cause post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The amount clients get for these kinds of losses will depend on the circumstances. Here, a quality lawyer can make a huge difference.  At our firm, we will do everything possible to document your pain, suffering, and emotional distress so you can receive a fair amount.   Compensation for a Spouse In some situations, your spouse might have a claim for “loss of consortium.” This type of suit recognizes that serious injuries can impair a marital relationship. For example, a spouse who is disabled can no longer be sexually intimate or provide the companionship he used to. Loss of consortium claims are not common, but you can bring one if your spouse suffered permanent disabling injuries. Punitive Damages These are rarely given. NJSA § 2A:15-5.12 allows a victim to seek punitive damages when a defendant recklessly or intentionally injures you. A motorist who drives into a crowd might qualify, since he has no regard for the safety of others. A jury awards punitive damages based on how much money they think would stop the defendant and others from acting this way. Limitations on Your Personal Injury Claim There are certain factors that can reduce the amount you can receive, even if you have very high expenses. We want to give you a heads up so you better understand how much compensation you can take home. The Size of the Defendant’s Insurance Policy  Most people you sue will not have the assets to pay out compensation, but they probably have an insurance policy. If you are injured in a car accident, then the driver should have insurance. If you were injured on someone else’s property, they should have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. You might have $100,000 in medical bills and lost wages, but if the defendant only carries $30,000 in liability insurance, then it will be hard to get the other $70,000. You can sue the defendant personally, but he or she might not have the assets needed to pay up. Businesses usually have larger insurance policy, so adding a business as a defendant is good strategy when possible. Your Own Fault  New Jersey recognizes that sometimes accident victims contributed to their injuries by being negligent themselves. This is called contributory negligence. If you are more than 50% responsible, then you can’t receive money in a lawsuit. Even if you are 50% or less responsible, your compensation will be reduced by your proportion of fault. Imagine you have $100,000 in damages but are 40% responsible; at most, you can receive $60,000. That is how negligence works in New Jersey, so your lawyer will need to understand exactly what happened in the moments leading up to an accident. Damage Caps  New Jersey law limits the amount of compensation you can receive in some cases. For example, there are damage caps for punitive damages and caps for medical malpractice cases. Meet with Us Today As you can see, the answer to “How much is my case worth?” is complicated. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your individual case. Please call The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, today. We have helped many clients get the compensation they need.

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