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Monthly Archives: January 2018


Legal Duty to Render First Aid

Hosting a Super Bowl Party? You may have a Legal Duty to Render First Aid

What is your legal duty to render first aid? When you invite your friends for a social gathering, you may be inviting more than just camaraderie – you may have invited an unwelcomed tag-along known as a legal duty. Unless you are well-versed in law, you have likely overlooked this legal duty when entertaining friends and family.

Imagine this scenario, while hosting this year’s Super Bowl Party, your neighbor chokes on a chicken wing and collapses to the floor. What is your duty to render first aid?

The answer is that you, as the party host, may be required by law, to render first aid to your choking neighbor.

As we will explain in the following paragraphs, this is not a bright-line rule and not necessarily determinative of how a court would hold, given the unique circumstances inherent in every case. This is a merely an instructive and general guideline.

The Laws Regarding Your Legal Duty to Render First Aid

Generally, the law imposes no duty to render aid to another who is in peril, even when it is easy to provide assistance. Meaning, you can walk by a drowning stranger in the lake and the law cannot impose any liability on you for your decision to continue walking.

However, there can be exceptions when a “special relationship” exists between the parties. For instance, the law determines that the owner or tenant of real property is deemed to have a “special relationship” with certain persons on his or her property, i.e., social guests.

The general scope of duty owed to social guests is quite limited, as stated in the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 314A:

The defendant is not required to take any action until he knows or has reason to know that the plaintiff is endangered, or is ill or injured. He is not required to take any action beyond that which is reasonable under the circumstances. In the case of an ill or injured person, he will seldom be required to do more than give such first aid as he reasonably can, and take reasonable steps to turn the sick man over to a physician, or to those who will look after him and see that medical assistance is obtained…

You Have I Legal Duty to Render First Aid but What Type of Aid?

Courts outside of New Jersey have determined that first aid requires no more assistance than that which can be provided by an untrained person. Accordingly, if you are hosting a party or event, first aid treatments, include, but are not limited to, (a) calling for help; (b) positioning an injured person; (c) controlling an injured person’s bleeding by applying pressure; (d) applying cold packs to an injury; (e) warming a victim of hypothermia; and (f) removing a drowning person from water.

To reiterate, a social guest may have a legal duty to render first aid, as many courts across our country have held. At the very least, we should all be cognizant of our legal duties and while we believe you would act out of human compassion and morality, it is important to understand the legal duties that may impose liability upon us, our friends and family.

As always, if you have any legal questions or would like to speak with an attorney, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Puff & Cockerill. Puff & Cockerill is a full-service law firm, with offices in Gloucester County and Camden County.

Insurance Policy Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Your Auto Insurance Policy Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Let’s look at how your auto insurance policy can affect your personal injury claim. If you have been injured in a car accident, your ability to recover monetary compensation for the injuries caused by this accident can depend on your automobile insurance policy.

If you live in New Jersey or are a non-resident injured in a car accident that occurred in New Jersey, you are subject to one of two thresholds: (1) “Zero/No Threshold,” or (2) “Limited Right to Sue/Verbal Threshold/Lawsuit Threshold.”

The first policy, the “Zero/No Threshold” policy, allows any person who is injured in a car accident to make a personal injury claim, no matter the extent of the injury. As the policy title implies, there is no threshold, meaning there is no minimum injury requirement in order to receive compensation for your injury. The only dispute will concern the value of your injury. Thus, the dispute with the insurance carrier will concern how much your injury is worth. In these cases, the defending insurance company will take the position, regardless of how injured you may be, that the injury has “little or no value.” Thereafter, the insurance company will make a monetary offer of settlement reflecting their devalued settlement price in hopes that you accept their offer. The attorneys at Puff & Cockerill will defend your injury and fight against the insurance company’s tactics to reach a fair and equitable settlement on your behalf.

The second policy, the “Limited Right to Sue/Verbal Threshold/Lawsuit Threshold” policy, acts as a potential bar to certain types of injuries. In other words, this threshold policy can prevent you (the injured party) from bringing a lawsuit in a personal injury claim, unless the car accident results in the following injuries:

  • Death;
  • Dismemberment;
  • Significant disfigurement or significant scarring;
  • Displaced fractures;
  • Loss of a fetus; or
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.

As a result, the defending insurance company will use the “thresholds” as a defense to your personal injury claim. The insurance company may take a “no-pay” position on the claims it believes do not surpass the above mentioned thresholds, which to no surprise is a vast majority of the claims for injuries. Consequently, the insurance company will not offer any compensation for those personal injury claims. Even when your injuries surpass the threshold, the insurance company will still argue that your injuries have little or no value and it will make a small monetary settlement offer reflecting its position in hope that you accept the offer.

During the past thirty plus years of handling automobile accidents, our attorney’s have observed that most residents in New Jersey are subject to the “Limited Right to Sue/Verbal Threshold/Lawsuit Threshold” policy, largely because the policy is cheaper. Unfortunately, this cheaper threshold policy may (and often does) affect your ability to recover for your injuries. Additionally, this policy may affect your ability to find an attorney willing to take your case.

South Jersey personal injury claim representation

Puff & Cockerill LLC is devoted to aggressively representing people in a personal injury claim, no matter what automobile insurance policy section you selected. We represent people who have been injured in car accidents, regardless of the choice of policy, so long as your case warrants moving forward.
If you have been injured in a car accident or would like to speak with an attorney regarding your car accident, please contact the experienced attorneys at Puff & Cockerill LLC. The attorneys at Puff & Cockerill LLC have handled hundreds of car accident cases and have obtained favorable results on behalf of our clients for their injuries through aggressive representation of our clients no matter what the policy selection is.