How Long Do I Have To File A Personal Injury Claim In New Jersey? With over 130 miles of Atlantic coastline and a rich and impressive history, New Jersey is a wonderful place to live. That’s why more than 9 million people call the Garden State home. But with so many people living in such a densely populated area, accidents are bound to happen. Luckily, New Jersey has a well-established legal system that allows anyone to bring a personal injury claim following an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. However, the right to commence a claim for compensation following an accident doesn’t last forever. Read on to find out how long you have to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, as well as important exceptions that you need to know about. Example Of Personal Injury Claims That Can Occur In NJ Personal injury is an overarching term that includes a wide number of accidents and injuries. Adults and children alike can suffer personal injuries and become entitled to bring a personal injury claim in a New Jersey court. Common forms of personal injury include the following: Car accidents are a leading cause of injury for adults and children alike. Small children are particularly at risk of injury in a car accident, especially if they are not using an age- and size-appropriate child restraint. Dog bites are a common occurrence in New Jersey and can cause significant emotional trauma, in addition to physical injuries. Workplace accidents remain relatively common even today, despite recent pushes for stricter regulations in the workplace to protect workers. Product liability can cause personal injury to adults and children alike, with people needing to be increasingly vigilant about the products they choose to bring into their home. Sports and recreation incidents can unfortunately occur, putting a dampener on what would otherwise be wholesome and enjoyable pastimes like sports, swimming, and even just enjoying time outside. The Statute Of Limitations For A Personal Injury Claim In New Jersey While everyone has the right to file a personal injury claim following an accident, that right doesn’t last forever. All American jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations on claims for personal injury in New Jersey, which can be thought of like a deadline for commencing a civil claim in court. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that the injury or incident occurred. This simply means that you must commence your proceedings within two years the incident, not that the entire matter must be resolved within two years. The idea behind imposing a statute of limitations is to preserve the evidence available in the matter, including physical evidence and evidence from witnesses in the form of oral testimony. Claims commenced after the two-year New Jersey statute of limitations physical evidence are very likely to be dismissed, making it vitally important that you act without delay and get advice on the New Jersey personal injury matter as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Exceptions To Statute Of Limitations Rules While the statute of limitations for personal injury in New Jersey is two years, there are some exceptions that can apply. It can be difficult to understand if one or more of these exceptions apply to your circumstances, making it important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to give you specific advice. Exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations in personal injury matters can include: If the injured person was mentally incompetent at the time of the incident, the statute of limitations may be paused to allow additional time for a claim to be filed. If the injured party was a child at the time of the incident, the two-year countdown doesn’t begin until the child’s 18th birthday. However, any associated claims relating to adults, such as lost income or other injuries suffered by a parent, will still be subject to the usual two-year limitation. Birth injuries are a special of personal injury claim and carry their own time-limit. Children born before July 2004 have until their 20th birthday to file a claim, while children born after July 2004 must file a birth injury claim before their 13th birthday. If the injury or damage is not discovered immediately, such as some cases environmental pollution or medical malpractice, the two-year clock won’t begin running until after the injury is discovered. This is known as the discovery rule. If your claim involves a government employee undertaking their normal duties or a government agency, other time limits apply. A Notice of Claim form must be filed within 90 days of the accident. This additional deadline can be extended to up to one year, but only in extraordinary circumstances. Case Study Gina was on her way to work when she was sideswiped by another vehicle. In the moments before the accident, Gina could see that the other driver was using their cell phone. Feeling dazed and confused, Gina asked a bystander to call the authorities, aware that all automotive accidents in New Jersey must be reported to the police by the quickest means available. Gina suffered a head injury from the collision and missed several weeks of work, before returning to work part-time for a number of months. She knew that she was not in the right frame of mind to take the matter further on her own, but also knew that she could be entitled to compensation for her injuries. Gina contacted a personal injury attorney in New Jersey who took full carriage of the matter, doing their best to help Gina get the compensation she deserved while giving her the opportunity to recover and rebuild her life. The attorney filed a written report on the correct paperwork provided by New Jersey’s Department of Transportation within the 10-day window and opened a claim with Gina’s car insurance provider since New Jersey is a no-fault jurisdiction. Next, the attorney took the appropriate steps to file a personal injury claim on Gina’s behalf. With a strict two-year statute of...

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In New Jersey, a recent dog bite injury case resulted in a six-figure settlement for the plaintiff; an arbitrator awarded the victim over $560,000 in damages. The settlement may be one of the largest in the state’s history for a personal injury case involving a dog bite. For the 43-year-old victim, what had started as an average night working as a security guard transformed into a nightmare that left him struggling to survive. The night of the attack, two dogs—a pit bull and a Rottweiler—escaped their chain link enclosure and inflicted bites over the majority of the man’s body. The dog bites were so severe that the man was left, according to the article, in a “coma-like state, intubated in a hospital bed, for 10 days… suffer(ing) muscle damage and permanent scarring.” The news article includes a discussion about New Jersey laws specific to dog bite injury lawsuits. Some of the highlights of the statute include: An employer owes a duty to warn employees of a dangerous dog within the premises, and to make conditions safe for the employee. This rule also applies to independent contractors, as stated in a recent court of Appeals case dealing with a part-time dog-sitter who was bitten. Any landlord whose premises is open to the public—or otherwise legally on the property—will be liable for any dog bites on the premises. This is true regardless of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s previous reputation as a non-violent animal. The defendant can rebut the strict liability by showing evidence that the plaintiff provoked the dog, or that the plaintiff was actually trespassing on the property. For anyone interested in reading the statute in its entirerty, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16 says: “The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. For the purpose of this section, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.” Dog bite injuries can leave permanent emotional and physical scars. If you believe that you were legally on the premises where the injury took place, you ought to know your legal rights to compensatory and special damages from the dog owner and the location’s landlord.

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The following criminal case was recently decided on appeal pertaining to the State’s failure to produce an expert witness from a GPS manufacturer. The State sought to introduce evidence from the defendant’s GPS despite the absence of expert testimony. Summary by Mark Friedman. State v. Eric Pittman, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-2569-08T4 (November 4, 2009) – Order denying admission of evidence from Global Positioning System (GPS), State’s motion for reconsideration, and State’s motion to reopen affirmed. “Specifically, the State sought to introduce evidence of the location of defendant’s Yukon motor vehicle, on which a GPS unit had been installed pursuant to court order, to show that the Yukon traveled to the vicinity of an apartment in Edison where guns, drugs, and drug paraphernalia were later seized pursuant to a search warrant. No independent surveillance corroborated defendant’s location and travel on the day in question…. [T]he State [argued] that an expert from Orion was not necessary for admission of the GPS evidence, because the device’s technology has been generally accepted as scientifically reliable…. [The trial court concluded] that while it was satisfied the GPS system was an appropriate technology in general, ‘the question came down to this particular system, the Orion system … that was installed by the county prosecutor’s office in the defendant’s vehicle. Whether or not this system was an appropriate method of calculating one’s position in the world.’… Here, the trial judge decided that expert testimony, beyond that of McDonald, who attested only to the acceptance of GPS technology in general, was essential to determining the accuracy and trustworthiness, and therefore admissibility, of the particular GPS device used in this case. We agree…. The State’s belated effort to reopen the N.J.R.E. 104 hearing nine months after commencement of the proceeding and seventeen months after the issue was raised is simply too little, too late. The State declined many requests and opportunities to present the expert proof deemed necessary by the court to close the gaps identified in McDonald’s and Palfy’s testimonies. Moreover, when the State finally relented after the close of evidence and resolution of the issue, it failed to make an offer of proof to assure the court that its expressed concerns would be satisfied by the proposed testimony.” (Joshua D. Altman; Steven D. Altman, on the brief).

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When it comes to challenging your Breathalyzer /Alcotest results in a New Jersey DWI case, it is vital for your attorney to be proactive. This means attacking the admissibility of the breath test results before they are received by the judge into evidence during your trial. One requirement the prosecutor has to meet before he or she may use your breath test readings against you is to prove that the police officer who operated the machine was a “qualified operator.” In order to be qualified to operate a breath test machine, Police officers in New Jersey must be certified by the New Jersey Attorney General. The certificate is basically a license to conduct breath tests. Like any other license, it may be terminated, suspended, or expired. This last feature – expiration – can sometimes be used to successfully “suppress” the breath test results (get them thrown out). A breathalyzer/alcotests operator’s certificate is good only for the year it was issued, plus 2 more years. So if an officer is certified on April 1, 2009, his or her certificate will expire on December 31, 2011. Before the expiration date, the officer must re-certify, that is, go back for a one-day training session. This training session must include: Statutes and case law; Instruction and training; Lab practice with alcohol exposed air samples; A written exam; and, A competency exam. A recertification is, like the initial certification, valid for the remainder of the year it is issued plus 2 more years. Proof that the officer completed these requirements can be shown by the officers certification card and the officer’s testimony. If your defense attorney can prove that the officer was not a qualified operator, you stand a good chance of beating the breath test and possibly the entire NJ DWI-DUI case.

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