Glenn Slavin

Protecting Your Personal Injury Claims During the Pandemic

WOODBRIDGE, NJ- I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by preeminent NYC attorney JOHN HOWLEY who featured me in his most recent law firm newsletter.  That interview is contained below as is the link to Mr. Howley’s newsletter and law firm website.

 

An interview with New Jersey trial lawyer Glenn Slavin

I’m here today with Glenn Slavin, one of the best trial lawyers I know in the State of New Jersey.  Glenn represents individuals in serious personal injury, workers’ compensation, and premises liability cases.

I asked Glenn to help us understand how an injured person who has a claim for damages should handle themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is the text of our interview.


 John Howley:  Thank you for talking to us today, Glenn.  As you’ve said, we’re in uncharted waters with the current situation.  Most of us don’t want to go to a doctor’s office or anywhere else where sick people have been.  But people who have been injured don’t have that luxury.  They may need treatment and they may need to create a record of treatment to prove their injuries.  So what do they do?

Glenn Slavin:  I think it’s an important topic, John.  First and foremost, you have to balance safety versus the need to document and be fastidious in the treatment that you need to receive.  We’ve, frankly, been faced with this even before sheltering at home was required.

People were speaking up and speaking out and saying, listen, I’m age protected or I live with age protected people.  Or I live with people that have co-morbidities and I’m really frightened about going to see Dr. Smith for a workers’ compensation evaluation, or for a need for treatment exam or for physical therapy for my lumbar spine, which was injured in the accident.

And I think that’s all good common sense.  Frankly, I’d like to see clients defer to that common sense, especially at this time.  I don’t expect that this dynamic is going to change quickly.  We’ll see a lifting of some of these social restrictions, but we’re never going to return, I don’t think, to that which was done before.  There’s going to be a lot of caution in society and that’s probably a good thing.

John Howley:  How should clients think about what must be done now and what can be deferred?

Glenn Slavin:  So I think for clients, what we need to do, is we need to always be thinking in terms of what is essential versus nonessential.  They’re doing that with surgery now.  Essential surgeries are those that are life threatening or deemed to be life threatening.  Non-essential surgeries are put on hold.  That’s a good working definition for today’s client and the appointments that they need to see.

John Howley:  My niece is a physical therapist manager and they’ve basically shut down.  Because while you can deteriorate if you don’t get physical therapy on a regular basis, putting it off usually is not life threatening.  Whereas Covid-19 is potentially deadly, especially for the older population.

So what does a client do if they’ve been in an accident or had an injury on the job, and ordinarily they would go to physical therapy?  What do they do and how do you think it’ll impact their case later on?

Glenn Slavin:  If it’s done right, it will not have an adverse impact down the road.  But the emphasis is on doing it right.  What’s right is probably different for each client, but several ideas come to mind.

For example, I recently had a conversation with an insurance adjuster and a defense attorney.  We talked about the concept of telemedicine in a workers’ compensation setting where you have injured workers who have to check in with authorized treating doctors.

John Howley:  How does that work?

Glenn Slavin:  Sometimes a telemedicine conference by phone or FaceTime or Zoom is a very valuable asset.  The doctor doesn’t need to do range of motion examinations, face-to-face, live.  That can be done over video conferencing.  And I’ve seen great reception to this because, let’s face it, doctors want to keep going.  And they can’t necessarily keep going without staff, without people to transcribe their notes, without billing people to process what’s going on in their office.

John Howley:  What about the actual therapy itself?

Glenn Slavin:  Home physical therapy is absolutely critical.  It is often very effective when someone either can’t go to physical therapy because they’re not open, or it’s just not a good idea to be doing exercises or rehabilitation in an environment which could lend itself to contracting the Covid-19 virus.

Physical therapists can give, either by video or in written form or verbally over the phone, basic exercises and basic modalities that can make someone feel good and help them progress as they battle their injuries in the short run.  Now while these are not substitutes for actually laying on of hands that a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist would do, they certainly get someone through the short run.

John Howley:  Are these things that have actually been done?

Glenn Slavin:  Ice or a heat elevation, those things are all good and they’re things that people do all the time.  Getting a TENS unit from Amazon delivered to your doorstep can also provide for electronic stimulation to a body part.  All very, very important.  A lot of the physical therapy modalities are available online or could be scanned and emailed to someone for them to follow and do gentle stretching exercises in the privacy of their own home.

John Howley:  One of the big issues is what will insurance cover? I know that Medicare and Medicaid have come out with a lot of telemedicine changes in response to COVID-19.  Some private insurance companies are encouraging patients to use telemedicine.  Do you see that happening, where clients will be able to get coverage?  And where the practitioner will be able to submit their bills and be paid for telemedicine?

Glenn Slavin:  I see insurance companies doing a lot of things, waiving premiums, waiving copays, providing much more flexibility.  For the simple reason is, I think it’s bad optics not to.  I don’t think there is a judge on planet earth that is going to penalize that injured person because they didn’t want to go down to the doctor’s office in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, especially when our state and local and national officials are telling us not to.  So I think they don’t have any choice but to be more flexible.

John Howley:  How about the courts?  What do you see courts doing with injury cases during this pandemic?

Glenn Slavin:  The paradigm is shifting now where things are being permitted that would not otherwise be permitted previously.  For example, the courts are approving settlements and other things telephonically without the necessity of the client’s signature or the signature being done by facsimile, which was never acceptable in the past.

John Howley:  What else can someone do to help you as their lawyer in their injury case at this time?

Glenn Slavin:  Something I encourage all of my clients to do even in non-global pandemic times is to keep a diary.  I would certainly suggest that they do it now.  The diary is important for a lot of reasons.  It helps remind a person of the things that they’re going through and the things that they’ve done.  And if months from now, they’re asked in a deposition, well, during the pandemic, you certainly didn’t go to physical therapy, the person can say that’s not true.  I did home physical therapy at the direction of my therapist and these are the kinds of exercises I did.  This is how often I did them, this is how long each session was.  A diary provides an excellent way to document the nature and extent of their injuries and the home treatment they did.

John Howley:  That’s a great idea. Do you recommend that they keep that separate from any personal diary they may have?

Glenn Slavin:  I definitely do, John, and that’s a great point.  Because obviously when things are discoverable, all things are discoverable.  You may have some private thoughts and private things in a personal diary that are unrelated to your physical injury and that you would not want shared in a litigation.

I tend to use these diaries as a refreshing tool and a study guide, much like I might have a client review his or her deposition in advance of trial.  And so to that end, I think it is a good tool to orient the person to the pain that they were experiencing, how difficult things were, and the efforts that they made to get themselves better despite a global pandemic.

The other thing that’s very important is, the more a person stays in touch with their attorney and whoever else, the doctor and the insurance company, the better off that they’ll be when the smoke settles and the dust clears on this global pandemic.

John Howley:  Have you changed anything in terms of working with insurance companies and defense lawyers?

Glenn Slavin:  I’ve been very aggressive, I guess is the right word, in sending an email to the insurance people, to the defense people, to the insurance adjusters, to nurse case managers, the doctors.  It always starts off the same.  I hope this email finds you well, safe and healthy.  As you know, I represent a client and this is what we’re faced with given this time.  We seek your guidance and understanding and suggestions as to how to get through it.  It’s affecting all of us.  It’s not just affecting the injured person.  So we all have to kind of get in the boat and row together.  That kind of thing never hurts.  It’s always very positive.

John Howley:  Glenn, these are really helpful tips.  I appreciate you taking the time to give clients comfort that they do have things they can do at this time to protect their health and their legal claims, even though they can’t do everything they want to do.

Glenn Slavin:  My pleasure, John.

John Howley:  A final word to our readers.  If you have been injured and need a lawyer in New Jersey, you can contact attorney Glenn Slavin at (732) 726-3307.  He is working through this crisis to make sure you get the representation you need.  You can also visit his law firm’s web site at http://www.slavin-morse.com/

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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.

INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT? 5 Do’s & Dont’s

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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