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January 2014 Archives

Study: Drivers don't need to be drunk to be dangerous

Getting behind the wheel of an automobile drunk is dangerous. That's why it's illegal in New Jersey and the rest of the United States to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08. However, a new study points out that .08 isn't a "magic" number, and even "buzzed" drivers pose a threat.

Workers Over 65 More Likely to be Killed in Workplace Accidents

According to recently-released preliminary figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey workplace fatalities fell from 99 in 2009 to 78 in 2010, even while total work hours increased slightly nationwide. Transportation accidents and falls were the most common causes of fatal workplace injuries in the state.

Fatal Accidents on the Rise in New Jersey

Serious accidents happen every day in New Jersey. A car overturns in Toms River. A bicyclist is struck by a car in Bridgewater. A Woodbridge man is killed in a crash on the Garden State Parkway. A man dies in a head-on collision on Route 130 in North Brunswick.
In the past year, fatal accidents in New Jersey have increased by more than 18 percent and police are at a loss to explain why.

Brain Injuries Can Cause Long-Lasting Effects

Canadian researchers have found that even one major concussion can have long-term effects, leading to a decline in memory, poorer motor skills, and slower reaction time later in life. Other studies have suggested that brain injuries can lead to the early onset of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases.

Divorced Man Accused of Illegally Moving His Children to Gaza Strip

US authorities have accused a divorced Palestinian man of illegally moving his three children from their Kansas home to the Gaza Strip.Two of the children were born in the US, and one was born in Gaza.Their US-born mother, Bethany Gonzales, wants them back in the US, but faces a difficult challenge in enforcing her rights in Gaza, which is ruled by the militant group Hamas under sharia law.

New Jersey Family Sues Army After Shrapnel Kills Cat

A New Jersey family has sued after a two-pound fragment of an artillery shell crashed through the roof of their daughter's bedroom and killed the family's cat, which was sleeping on their daughter's bed.Four years later, they say their daughter is afraid to sleep in her room. The girl's mother is allegedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and is also afraid to live in the house.The two-pound fragment filled with explosive material was fired from Picatinny Arsenal in April, 2008. The arsenal stopped outdoor munitions testing after the accident.The family had ongoing discussions with Brigadier General William Phillips of Picatinny after the incident. They attempted to settle the claim with the Army for several years, and were eventually offered $7,400, which they rejected.Animals are considered the personal property of the owner and cannot be a party to a lawsuit. When a pet is injured or killed, their owners may sue to recover damages. Traditionally, damages for the loss of a pet were based on a pet's market value. Thus, a rare purebred would be "worth more" than a mixed-breed mutt.However, the law now focuses more on the effect on the human owners. Courts now consider whether pet owners can be compensated for the loss of companionship and emotional distress caused by the loss of the pet.New Jersey is among the states in which courts have expressed a willingness to accept claims for the loss of a pet that go beyond market value.In the 1998 New Jersey case of Hyland v. Borras, the plaintiff brought an action for damages after defendant's bulldog trespassed onto plaintiff's property and attacked the plaintiff's 10-year-old shih tzu, causing serious injuries. The court awarded "repair costs" of $2,500 - in excess of the dog's "replacement value" of $500.If your family pet has been killed or injured due to the wrongful actions of others in New Jersey, or if you've suffered other property damage, contact the attorneys at the new Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC. 

Texting while Driving Increases Crash Risk

After 28-year-old Toni Bolis of Washington Township, and her unborn son Ryan Jeffrey, were killed in June of last year by a 21-year-old driver who was looking down at his GPS on his phone, Bolis's sisters, Angela and Annette Donato, started a crusade against texting while driving. Angela recently spent the day at Washington Township High School talking to 800 sophomores about the issue.A 2010 poll by Farleigh Dickinson University found that 25% of New Jersey voters admitted to sending texts while driving. This was an increase from 15% in 2008. Younger drivers are especially prone to sending texts, with more than 35% of New Jersey drivers age 30-45 admitting to sending them while in motion, compared to 17% of drivers over 45.

Costa Concordia Disaster Focuses Attention on Cruise Ship Injuries

When the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy in January, it tilted over and started taking on water. The 3,200 passengers struggled to escape, trying to make their way to the lifeboats, half of which were inaccessible due to the angle of the ship.

New Jersey Woman Hurt in Bus Accident Wins $7.85 Million Settlement

A New Jersey woman who was seriously injured in a 2008 bus accident in Patterson, New Jersey has received a $7.85 million settlement.Mercedes Perez, age 59, suffered from brain damage and had her left leg and right foot amputated after she was run over by a New Jersey Transit bus. A newly hired bus driver hit Ms. Perez while she was in the middle of a crosswalk. The bus ran over her legs and her head hit the ground, knocking her unconscious and fracturing her cheekbone. She was in intensive care for several weeks, on a ventilator for 18 days, and contracted sepsis (blood poisoning). She is now bedridden and unable to talk, and is being fed via a tube. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/01/woman_badly_hurt_by_nj_transit.htmlSeveral other New Jersey bus accidents made headlines in 2011. In August, a packed tour bus collided with two trucks that had slowed down for traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. Three people were critically injured and fourteen others suffered broken bones, bumps, and cuts and bruises. The accident caused a seven-mile backup on the Turnpike.In March, a privately owned tour bus traveling from New York's Chinatown to Philadelphia collided with a guardrail and concrete embankment on the Turnpike. Two people died, including the driver, and 40 others were injured. That crash happened just days after another private tour bus, on its way back to Chinatown from a Connecticut casino, crashed on Interstate 95 in New York, killing 15 people.Bus accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including mechanical failures, poor driver training, hazardous weather and road conditions, and driver fatigue. Even bus drivers and bus lines with good safety records can have accidents, but traveling on buses with poor safety records can be especially hazardous.Passengers can check a bus line's safety record on a website maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx If you or a family member were involved in a bus accident, contact a New Jersey bus accident attorney at the Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

Critics Charge New Jersey Surrogacy Law Will Make Women Baby Factories

Opponents of New Jersey Bill S1599, which recently passed the State Senate, charge that it could turn some desperate women into "baby factories."The "New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act" would change New Jersey surrogacy laws. Under the "Rights of Parentage" section of the new Act:

New Jersey Court Awards Ten Years of Alimony after Nine Years of Marriage

The New Jersey Appellate Division has upheld an award of ten years of alimony payments following nine years or marriage, reaffirming established principles governing limited-duration alimony.The decision in the case of J.E.V. v. K.V. was on appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey in Mercer County. The wife argued that the trial judge had erred by awarding her only limited duration alimony rather than permanent alimony.On appeal, the court noted that limited duration alimony is based on the length of the marriage, the period of economic dependency during the marriage, and the skills and education needed for a spouse to return to the workforce. The marital lifestyle and the ability to replicate it are not overriding factors.The parties were married in 1996. During their nine-year marriage they had two daughters. At the time of trial, the husband was 44 and the wife was 37.When the couple first met, the husband was a medical school resident and the wife was a recent college graduate with a degree in recreation and tourism, earning about $28,000 per year as a sales representative. She continued to work for the same firm and her income later increased to $65,000.The couple moved to New Jersey and the wife stopped working when she became pregnant. The husband opened his own dermatology practice in central New Jersey. The wife went back to work as an office manager and administrator for her husband's practice.Starting in 2002, the wife began to experience mental and emotional problems. She saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with mania and anxiety. She was eventually hospitalized three times for her condition and diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.The wife's psychiatrist testified that she might be able to get a job but expressed reservations about her ability to keep one due to her mood swings. He also testified that 80 to 85% of his patents with bipolar disorder were able to work.The wife's vocational expert concluded that she was unemployable. The husband's expert testified that the wife's past employment history and demonstrated success showed that she was able to obtain employment.The trial court judge awarded the wife limited duration alimony of $25,527 per month for the first two years and $24,403 per month for the next eight years, with alimony to stop when the couple's youngest child turned 18.The trial court judge considered the thirteen alimony factors set forth in New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)) and found that permanent alimony wasn't justified in light of the term of the marriage, the wife's age, her failure to show a permanent disability, her ability to earn income in the future, and her success in past employment. The judge found that the wife could earn about $35,000 per year and also would have unearned income from the cash she would receive as an equitable distribution award of $650,000.The wife didn't challenge the amount of the alimony, but said that it should have been permanent in light of her mental health problems.The Appellate Division disagreed and upheld the trial court's award.If you have questions about alimony or other family law or divorce issues in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey family law attorney at the Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC. 

New Jersey Mother Loses Parental Rights for Failing to Protect Children

The Supreme Court of New Jersey has declared that an otherwise-worthy mother can lose her parental rights for failing to protect her children from their abusive father. In the case of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. F.M., the high court affirmed a ruling by a Passaic County judge. The mother, Fernanda, was 17 when she gave birth to Quinn in 2007. The boy's father, Troy, had an extensive criminal record. He also had a history of both drug addiction and mental illness. Troy assaulted Fernanda when their son was about five months old. Although Fernanda refused to seek a domestic restraining order, Troy was charged with assault. Fernanda told the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) caseworker that Troy had assaulted her after taking Ecstasy and that his mental illness had worsened. Soon afterward, Troy told Fernanda and a caseworker that he was God and that his kingdom was coming. The DYFS decided that Troy should not have access to his infant son. The agency warned Fernanda and her family that allowing Troy to return to Fernanda's home would cause Quinn to be removed from the home and placed in foster care. Despite this warning, Fernanda allowed Troy to have access to the home, and he was found alone with his son during a surprise visit by the DYFS. The boy was removed from the home and placed in foster care. Less than two weeks later, Fernanda gave birth to Troy, Jr., and he was also removed from her custody. The DYFS sought to terminate Fernanda's parental rights, on the grounds that she minimized Troy's drug and violence issues and was not in a position to parent their children because of her poor judgment with respect to Troy, even though she wasn't otherwise unfit as a parent. The state Supreme Court held that the record supported the DYFS's decision to terminate Fernanda's parental rights. If you have questions about parental rights or other family law issues in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey family law attorney at the Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC. 

New Jersey Judge Emancipates 18-Year-Old Despite Father's Opposition

An Ocean County, New Jersey judge has held that an 18-year-old who plans to put herself through college is entitled to court-ordered emancipation despite her father's objection.Sharon Ort's parents divorced several years ago but remained in post-judgment litigation over issues such as child support. Sharon lives with her mother and turned 18 shortly before the court issued the emancipation order.Sharon sought emancipation because she said her father was using his status as a joint legal custodian to exert his authority over her choice of college. She obtained granted to pay for her own college education, and plans to become a doctor.Her father contended that she was too inexperienced and still within the "sphere of parental influence" -- the standard that governs whether a child should be considered un-emancipated for child support and college contribution purposes.The Superior Court judge said that the father's resistance suggested that he felt Sharon was "simply too young at eighteen for entrustment with governing her own life."Instead, the judge found that Sharon was "an intelligent adult with an unalienable right to pursue her own independent path to happiness in this world."More commonly, emancipation cases arise when a parent petitions for the child's emancipation in order to be freed from the obligation to pay college expenses or child support.New Jersey law generally sets the age of majority at 18. In an earlier case, the New Jersey Supreme Court had held that, although there is "no fixed age" for emancipation, 18 year olds must be deemed adults.Sharon's attorney noted that it didn't make sense for his client to have fewer rights than a child in an intact family.If you have questions about the emancipation of a child or other family law issues in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey family law attorney at the Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC

New Jersey Takes Steps to Reform Alimony Law

In June, 2012, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill creating a study commission to look at all aspects of alimony law in New Jersey and provide a report back to the legislators and the governor. The bill is not yet law, as the New Jersey Senate has yet to approve their version of the bill.

Unhappiness over New Jersey Divorce Decree Leads to Murder

In Freehold, New Jersey, a former third-grade teacher and her parents have pleaded guilty to their roles in the murder of the teacher''''s ex-husband and the attempted contract killing of the teacher''''s former mother-in-law.The teacher, Kathleen Dorsett, was planning to move to Florida with her 20-month-old daughter and parents. She didn''''t want her ex-husband to come with them.She and her parents were unhappy about the terms of a 2010 New Jersey divorce decree, in which they were ordered to find Stephen Moore, the teacher''''s ex-husband, a home within 25 miles of their own in Florida, subsidize his rent, help him find a job, and waive child support until he found one.Thomas Dorsett had been providing for his daughter''''s family and caring for his granddaughter, who lived two houses away.

New Jersey Jury Can't Be Instructed about What "Missing" Expert Would Say

A recent decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division affirmed the principle that the defendant in a personal injury case can pick and choose whatever experts it wants, and the jury can't be led to assume that experts not called would have supported the plaintiff's case.

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