Car Insurance? Don’t Expect the Other Guy to Have Enough. Insure Yourself!

We budget everything from rent to mortgage, gas, groceries-you name it.  Given the fact that our taxes and insurance are so high people in New Jersey need to be better at budgeting than do citizens elsewhere.  Unfortunately,  when it comes to car insurance too many people are “penny wise & pound foolish”.  So many clients, family and friends by the cheapest car insurance that, in actuality, provides them with no real protection.  They want to satisfy the requirement of having insurance without considering the protection that they are buying.  Low premiums do not equal good coverage.

Car insurance has roughly 3 basic components.  LIABILITY coverage is when you cause the accident and someone is making a claim against you.  PIP coverage is your coverage for medical bills that you incur under the NJ “no fault” scheme.  UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured) coverage is what you rely upon if you are injured and the other guy doesn’t have coverage or enough coverage.  All too often people cheat themselves by selecting car insurance coverage that doesn’t provide them with enough insurance for MEDICAL BILLS and UM/UIM coverage.

Two weeks ago the NJ Supreme Court ruled in a case known as HAINES v. TAFT an injured motorist could NOT purse unpaid medical bills from the person who caused the accident if the injured person didn’t have enough PIP coverage (no fault medical bills coverage).  For example, if you had a policy with only $15,000 in PIP (medical  bill) coverage, which is one of the cheapest, and you incurred $40,000 in medical bills, the injured person was stuck with the other $25,000 in bills!  You must, in this day and age have sufficient PIP (medical bill) coverage.  Choose the $250,000 PIP coverage.

UM/UIM coverage works the same.  If the other guy who caused the accident that injures you only has a policy limit with $50,000 that may be all you can get.  What if your injuries are 5x that amount?  Where will it come from?  Nowhere, unless you have sufficient UM/UIM coverage.  For example, if you have UM/UIM coverage of $50,000 and the other guy as the same-yours is worthless because you are not uninsured.  If you have $100,000 and the other guy has $50,000 you could qualify for $100,000 ($50,000 from his policy and $50,000 from your own UM/UIM).


The moral of the story is that in matters of car insurance-you have to protect yourself.  Do not look to the other guy.  In my firm we get every visitor a pamphlet that describes these important legal issues.  We are so strong on this point that ANYONE can receive a FREE appointment to see  how important these features really are and to take one of our brochures.  Protect yourself!

Don’t Assume BPH Laser Surgery is Routine. Know the Facts!

Imagine the discomfort of not being able to void all of your urine.  Despite your best effort to urinate nothing more comes out and yet you still feel like your bladder is full.  That’s because it is.  This is what happens to many men that are suffering from BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).  This is generally described as a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.  The enlarged prostate may compress the urinary tract preventing or impeding the flow of urine from the bladder.  When medications don’t work urologists often turn to other procedures and surgeries to reduce the size of the prostate gland thereby relieving the compression and restoring full flow.  One such procedure  is a laser PVP (photoselective vaporization of the prostate) with the use of a Green light laser.

What happens when all does not go as planned, however, and the urologist commits medical negligence?  SLAVIN & MORSE successfully handled such a personal injury medical malpractice case which resulted in a significant confidential settlement.  The injured plaintiff came through the surgery, but instead of having full flow restored, the gentlemen was left with a condition known as urinary stress incontinence.  Essentially, he could not predict or control the frequency or volume of his full flow urination.  The condition was devastating for this fine man.

The case was carefully investigated, researched and prepared for trial out of our Woodbridge, NJ location.  It was alleged that the urologist made a surgical error and too aggressively lased the prostate causing unintended damage to the internal sphincter muscle that helps the starting and stopping of the urination process.  The lawsuit also alleged that the patient was not adequately screened for the procedure with adequate pre-surgical testing and was not fully informed of the potential outcomes prior to the surgery.  Fortunately for all parties the lawsuit was resolved with a significant confidential settlement prior to trial.  Don’t let anyone tell you that procedures and surgery are routine.  Ask the right questions and get all the facts.  Sometimes the cure can be worse than the cause.

An LLC Member Can Not Sue a Check Cashing Business or its Banks for a Member’s Embezzlement

While SLAVIN & MORSE is pleased to be a premier personal injury & injured workers trial law firm we are often called upon to do other things that involve trial.  We are pleased to announce the successful handling of a case at the trial level and subsequently in the NJ Appellate court involving corporate commercial transactions and our client; a well known check cashing company of our Woodbridge office.

In the case of KUHN v. TUMMINELLI, 361 N.J. Super. 431 (App. Div. 2004),  a check cashing business cashed checks made payable to a two-member limited liability company which was endorsed by one member of the limited liability company.  The individual member was authorized to cash the checks but was not authorized to embezzle and convert the funds for his own use.  The other member of the LLC could not successfully sue the checking cashing business or the banks involved.

While prudence and common sense are important in all business transactions the court was not willing to make a check cashing business a “guarantor” of the business relationships involving two members of a limited liability company.

NJ Estate Tax Law- a New Era for 2017

Generally speaking, a New Jersey resident who passed away prior to December 31, 2016 is subject to NJ estate tax if their estate exceeds $675,000.

As of January 1, 2017 the threshold for NJ estate tax goes up to $2M for those estates where the decedent passed away in 2017. Effective January 1, 2018 the NJ estate tax will be eliminated in its entirety.

While this does not eliminate NJ’s Transfer Inheritance Tax requirement or federal estate tax obligations this change in the law does signal welcome relief for those individuals with modest estates ($5.45M or less) who want to plan for their families future.

Like all things important please consult your accountant, certified financial planner and attorney for the proper direction.

Limited Liability Companies- Important Changes

On March 1st 2014 the New Jersey Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act was enacted. RULLCA became an important new guidepost for NJ LLCs.

Many of the rules change or clarify issues of duty, voting, resignation & information access by members of the LLC. One of the most important changes is for non-single memeber LLCs and the necessity for a viable shareholder’s agreement.

In the past it was common for LLCs with 2 or more members to form an LLC, in name only, without giving proper consideration to the rights and responsibilities of the members themselves. Often one of the members was not even recognized as a managing member. This was true despite good advice to the contrary from counsel.

Since the adoption of RULLCA in NJ it is recommended, in the strongest possible terms, that any LLC that is not a single member LLC, formally adopt a shareholder’s agreement that specifies respective member interests, investments, duties, other obligations & membership rights. RULLCA seems to default to certain findings absent a specifically prepared shareholders agreement.

Commercial Litigation: On Time & On Budget

As a business owner it is inevitable.  At some point in your corporate existence you will either be sued or need to sue.  Sometimes there are simply no other ways to resolve contractual disagreements.  Make sure that when this unfortuante occurance arises you educate yourself fully as to your rights and responsibilites.

First, sit with trusted counsel and review the agreements that the parties have signed.  This will be a great opportunity to understand  the expectations that the parties had for each other.  You will learn what your rights are and what remedies are available to you.  This is also the chance to insure that you have performed adequately under the contract.

Second, educate yourself as to what the parties contend that each has done wrong.  This will help you focus clearly on what is really at stake between the parties.

Third, find out what your alternatives are.  Trial is not always the best answer.  It may be worth while to pursue binding arbitration, non-binding mediation or even a multi-party negotiation with counsel.  These are excellent opportunites to stream line the disputes.  The process is cheaper, evidence and court rules are more liberally construed and the parties have more control over the process.

Lastly, make sure your counsel knows what’s really important to your business…bringing the litigation to a proper conclusion “on time” and “on budget”.  Establish with your attorney a meaningful measurement of proper time constraints to resolve the dispute and create a budget that meets your expectations.  For some reason lawyers are reluctat to commit themselves to the anticipated costs and fees that will be incurred at each stage of the process.  After 25 years of practicing law I can predict costs and fess on almost every case I’m involved with.  Your attorney should also.  Make sure that your counsel knows what’s important to your business and to you.


Accidents causing serious injuries happen everday.  The proper way to respond can make the difference between those  lives that are restored and those that aren’t.  This is an imortant list of 5 things to do & not do regardless of whether the accident involves a car, motorcycle, pedestrian, unsafe workplace, defective product or a medical mistake.

1.  If you are hurt get proper medical attention IMMEDIATELY.  When you go to a hospital emergency room or medi-merge tell them exactly HOW you were injured and WHAT body parts are causing you pain.  Thereafter follow the instructions given.  (Waiting too long, failing to document how the accident happened or giving incomplete medical information is very damaging to your health & ability to financially recover).

2. Document the happening of the accident properly.  Take the time to call the police and insist upon a POLICE REPORT in a motor vehicle, motorcycle, premises or pedestrian accident.  Fill out a report with an employer, called a FIRST REPORT, as to how you were injured on the job or using workplace tools.  Make sure the information you give is complete and accurate.  Don’t argue with the others involved.  Explain yourself cleraly & accurately to those that are taking the report.  Make sure witnesses are reflected by name, address and phone number. After the report is issued take the time to read it for mistakes and correct them.  (A failure to do these things means that the happening of the accident is now memorialized innacurately.  This will cost you time & money down the road).

3. Understand who has insurance and how the layers of coverage work.  There are varuious types of insurance coverage: automobile insurance, health insurance, workers compensation insurance, med-pay coverage, union coverage, state &/or private disabilty insurance, Medicare, Medicaid &  charity care.  Each of these insurances has different layers, benefits and responsibilites.  The use of some is mandatory while the use of others is prohibited.  Some are wise to use and other unwise.  (Speak to a lawyer versed in personal injury law to guide you in this regard.  Even the doctors themselves don’t know all the ins and outs.)

4. Follow the doctors directives FULLY.  If you don’t quit on them they won’t quit on you.  Don’t stop treating until they discharge you from their care, refer you to someone else or you legitimately feel fully recoverd.  If you’re not feeling better after some time…speak up.  Perhaps a new approach or different doctor or type of doctor is needed.  It is not a lawyer’s job to be your doctor, but your attorney can and should be a good source of advice on the proper path of medical treatment you are receiving. (A failure to complete treatment or follow a doctor’s advice will be held against you should you need to pursue a case for your injuries.)

5.  When  all is said & done if you are not permanently injured, but have made a full and complete recovery…GREAT!  You got good treatment and can move on with your life.  For those that are not so lucky, don’t feel embarrassed by the need to purse a claim.  A formal claim by a good personal injury lawyer may be the only way to get your life resotred. All good personal inury lawyers will always agree to meet you without fee.)

PERSONAL INJURIES: But I’m not the TYPE to sue…

In the 25 years that I have practiced law I have listened to the stories of hundreds of clients.  For most I feel a sense of empathy, and sometimes even sympathy,  for what they have been through prior to meeting me.  Often, the pain of their injuries will go on long after my case with them ends.  For some unknown reason, however, the truly seriously injured always feel the need to tell me that “they are NOT the type of person that sues other people.”  I often ask, in reply, “Who is that person?  What are they like?  What makes them WANT TO SUE anyone?”

The simple fact is that no one WANTS to sue anyone.  I can’t imagine anyone that would derive joy or benefit out of the idea of suing another without proper cause.  Imagine the time commitment, out of pocket costs and inconvenience, just to name a few of the reasons why someone wouldn’t.  Also, believe it or not, good lawyers who are honest and hard-working  are usually pretty good at screening cases.  That means knowing which ones to take and which ones to turn away.  The best lawyers respectfully decline to take as many cases as they accept.  Why?  There are 3 reasons.

First, I have to be certain that my client’s circumstances are the “legal fault of another”.  In my business we call this LIABILITY.  The person(s), company or entity that I’m going to sue, on behalf of my client, has to be RESPONSIBLE for the harm they caused.

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Social Media & Personal Injury Lawsuits…Be Very Careful What You Post!

Imagine this…You’re  badly hurt in a car accident, workplace accident or you suffer personal injuries at an unprotected construction site.  You lose time, and more importantly pay, from your work.  The bills are mounting and you and your young family are hurting as you try to get by.  You’re doing everything the doctors ask, but you’re slow to recover.

Your lawyer is working hard to convince the insurance company of the other parties fault.  Scene investigation photos are enlarged for use at trial.  Countless dollars have been expended for medical records which doctors carefully review for the background testimony that they will give at trial.  Countless hours are spent by legal teams analyzing insurance policies in the hope of a proper and just recovery.  Experts are preparing for the day they will testify.  As the time draws near  you hope for a good settlement and, if not, a successful trial.  You think you see the light at the end of the tunnel…or is it a train coming in the opposite direction!

Beware of SOCIAL MEDIA and what you have posted on the various sites you belong to.  Whether it is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the other sites, remember this…if its posted it is discoverable by anyone at anytime.  It is absolutely something that the defense attorney and their insurance company are checking out in your case.  They want to see what you are saying to your family and friends so that they can compare it to what you’ve said about yourself in your case.  Improper posts may very well be used against you.

Did you testify at a depostion that you can’t dance or wear high heels?  How about those wedding pictures that you posted from your sister’s wedding this past summer!  Do you maintain that your personal injuries are so permanent that you can’t travel?  How about the stories you posted from your vacation in Barbados!  Confined to a bed or to home for a period of time?  Okay, so what do those pictures of you and your friends at the Super Bowl say as you are whooping it up and chugging beer with some girls that you just met on Bourbon Street?

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MUNICIPAL COURTS: It’s More Than Just a Speeding Ticket

For most people exposure to New Jersey’s municipal courts is the first, and sometimes the only, experience with our legal system.  Your understanding and navigation of the process is crtical to how you will view your experience there.

Some states have the misdemanor (less serious) and felony (more serious) system to define criminal offenses.  New Jersey uses different terms with similar meanings: non-indictable and indictable.  If the offense is of the latter (indictable) your matter is handled at the Superior Court level.  Future blogs will talk about these alleged offenses.  Non-indictable matters are handled at the Municipal Court level.  Think of these courts as your “town courts” or “local courts”.

Municipal Courts in New Jersey are empowered to handle all types of alleged offenses.  Some are criminal or quasi-criminal: domestic violence, disorderly person assault cases, drug offenses and driving while intoxicated.  Others are not criminal: speeding, careless or reckless driving, violations of licensing, registration or insurance laws and other motor vehicle moving violations.

There is a tendency to believe that these matters in the municipal courts can be handled without a lawyer in order to save legal fees.  From the outset let me tell you that this is a big MISTAKE.  The legal fees that you certainly will save will be spent, in other ways, as you mishandle your case.  Let me tell you some of the little known truths about municipal courts:

1) Those with attorneys are usually treated better than those without  because attorneys serve as “buffers” between you and the prosecutor and the police.

2) Attorneys can say things to the prosecutor and police in a way that you cannot because you are the accused and shouldn’t be saying anything at all.

3) Attorneys can advance real legal arguments to the prosecutor as oppossed to those who “just wanna break”.

4) Prosecutors and police “lick their chops” when someone tries to handle their own case.  The same is not true when someone is represented by a lawyer.

5) You are entitled to speak with the prosecutor and sometimes the police, but they don’t have to offer you a deal or if they do, it may not be as good as the guy before you who had a lawyer.

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