motor vehicle accident

Motor Vehicle Accident Settled For $1.6 Million by Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf

The Honorable Thomas E. O’Brien, P.J. Cv. (ret.) of Ocean County settled a motor vehicle accident case for the sum of $1.6 million.  The plaintiff, now 65 years of age, was operating a motor vehicle, in her lane of travel, when the defendant, employee and son of a luxury car dealer took a high powered Dodge Viper on the roadway for a test ride. Defendant driver traveled recklessly and at an excessive rate of speed causing his “Viper” to spin out and enter the plaintiff’s lane of travel.  Both plaintiff’s Hyundai and defendant’s Viper were totally destroyed. Both drivers were transported to the emergency room with loss of consciousness.  Plaintiff remained in the hospital for three (3) days and experienced loss of consciousness for that period of time.

The accident was caught on a local business video camera so at mediation liability was not contested.

Plaintiff suffered neck, back, left hand and elbow and head injuries that were treated at the emergency room.  Plaintiff had a pre-existing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion in 2020 involving C4 through C7.  Post-accident MRI on 4/17/19 revealed a new HD at C3-4, and an EMG on 8/3/20 affirmed a left C5-6 radiculopathy.

Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon opined that a future C3-4 discectomy and fusion would be needed above the pre-existing fusion.

On 7/14/21 plaintiff received an anterior and posterior lumbar discectomy and fusion with cages and screws at L2-3,3-4.  Plaintiff had lumbar epidurals, facet injections and wore a brace for 10 months.  Plaintiff also suffered a transverse process fracture at L1-2.

Plaintiff had pre-existing migraine headaches from 50 years ago.  She has been diagnosed with concussion and post- concussion syndrome with reduced concentration and memory anxiety, depression and adjustment disorder.  While the defendant claimed plaintiff’s head injuries were pre-existing, the defense IME neurologist admitted plaintiff suffered a concussion and post traumatic anxiety and needs future counseling.

The plaintiff presented no wage loss claim and assumed a medical lien in the approximate amount of $70,000.00.  The plaintiff husband’s per quod claim was included in the settlement.

For guidance on your specific legal issue, please contact Judge O’Brien’s assistant, Donna Oliger, at 732-363-0666 Ext 223, or send him an email at

NJ Motor Vehicle Accident Settlement

The Honorable Thomas E. O’Brien, P.J. Cv. (ret.) of Ocean County settled a sideswipe motor vehicle accident claim for a 64-year old plaintiff for the sum of $300,000.00.  The collision involved a dump truck and plaintiff’s BMW Sedan.   The liability and damages aspects of this case were highly contested. 

The accident occurred when the vehicles were attempting to merge and exit from a main highway.   Plaintiff contended she was rear-ended by the dump truck and defendant driver asserted that the plaintiff changed lanes, passed him on the right and that the rear driver’s side behind the wheel well was side-swiped by the front passenger side of the truck.   The investigating trooper did not see the motor vehicle accident, heard the parties’ respective descriptions of how the accident happened, and did not issue any tickets. 

Plaintiff insisted and answered in her interrogatories that she suffered a rear-end hit.  The photos of the vehicles revealed that the Point of Impact was on the rear-side of plaintiff’s car and the front bumper of defendant’s truck.  The accident could not be considered a “Big Hit”. All in all, comparative negligence was a big issue and at mediations the parties were conceding that this could be a 50/50 comparative negligence case.

As to the damage issue, this case involved the usual battle of the orthopedic experts.  Plaintiff claims that her lumbar surgery involving a foraminotomy, laminectomy and discectomy, without hardware was caused by the motor vehicle accident.  In addition, she claims to have suffered cervical herniated discs that will require future fusion surgery.  Plaintiff’s surgeon also suggested she may need a second lumbar revision surgery at another segment.  The defense IME ortho insisted degeneration existed and that the lumbar surgery was performed on the wrong side and unnecessary.   He further opined that any future cervical or lumbar surgery was not needed.  Plaintiff had no pre-existing injuries accept a T-12 thoracic fracture as a result of a 25-year old motor vehicle accident.  Plaintiff had no viable wage loss or per quod claims.

Since this motor vehicle accident involved a truck, this mediation also involved resolution of PIP and property damage subrogation actions. 

For guidance on your specific legal issue, please contact Judge O’Brien’s assistant, Donna Oliger, at 732-363-0666 Ext 223, or send him an email at

slip and fall attorney

NJ Slip & Fall Case Settled For $400,000

The Honorable Thomas E. O’Brien, P.J. Cv. (ret.) of Ocean County settled a trip/fall case today for the sum of $400,000.00. The plaintiff, an apartment complex tenant while parking her car in the lot servicing the demised premises, stepped off a curb adjoining the lot pavement into a “mini” pothole approximately 6” long and 3/4’” deep causing her to sustain a trimalleolar fracture of her left tibia, fibula and medial malleous.  Plaintiff was 54 years old at the time of the fall on October 5, 2018.

She underwent a “closed reduction” first surgery at the ER.  However, seven (7) days later she had a second open reduction internal fixation surgery.  The medial malleolar fragment was reduced and fastened with a 4.5 lag screw and washer and the left distal fibula was stabilized with a plate and eight (8) screws.  Plaintiff was placed in a short leg cast.  Nine months later the plaintiff was still wearing an ankle brace and contemplating the removal of her ankle hardware in September 2019.

Plaintiff was a student of dance and was taking one lesson per week at the time of the accident.  She had medical expenses of approximately $58,000.00.  Thankfully, there was only a lien of  $3,700.00 in letters of protection.  Plaintiff was unmarried with no per quod claim. She also suffered a minor loss wage claim.  She had no pre-existing injuries to her left ankle. She had significant scarring on both the inside and outside of her left ankle.  Plaintiff’s life expectancy is 29 years and a work-life expectancy of 8 years.  The apartment complex and management company are paying the settlement.

Now that the courts are open, Judge O’Brien is most interested in helping litigants resolve their cases pre-trial. 

For guidance on your specific legal issue, please contact Judge O’Brien’s assistant, Donna Oliger, at 732-363-0666 Ext 223, or send him an email at

medical malpractice settlement

Ocean County Medical Malpractice Attorney Wins Settlement

The Honorable Thomas E. O’Brien, P.J.Cv. (ret) of Ocean County, settled a medical malpractice case on February 2, 2022 for the sum of $350,000.00.  A doctor specializing in pediatric medicine while working at a hospital emergency room treated a 10-year old plaintiff for severe pain he was experiencing in his left hip as a result of being involved in a competitive wrestling match.

On the day of his injury, he arrived at the ER at approximately 5:00 p.m.  The defendant doctor examined him, took a history, and read a regular x-ray as “normal” and then discharged him at approximately 7:00 p.m. with a diagnosis “groin pain”.  The next day plaintiff’s pain was so bad that he consulted with his primary care doctor who immediately directed him to a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon.  The Ortho immediately diagnosed plaintiff with a “dislocated left help”.  The Ortho then reduced the dislocation after ordering and reading a more appropriate “frog leg” x-ray that led to him making the quick and correct diagnosis of “hip dislocation”. 

The plaintiff claimed that the improper diagnosis by the defendant and a 24 hour delay in receiving proper treatment caused him to suffer avascular necrosis in the left hip joint. The plaintiff endured several months of pain, PT, and wheelchair use before and enduring a second open surgery involving decompression of the left hip necrosis. A further consequence of the delay in treatment makes plaintiff, now 14, more subject to further necrosis for which he must be checked every 6 months and a possible candidate in the future for a “total hip replacement”.

The plaintiff’s medical expert opined that the defendant ER doctor deviated from the accepted standards of medical care imposed on an ER doctor.  It is interesting that even the defense expert ER doctor opined that the defendant misdiagnosed the injury, that the 24 hour delay caused plaintiff additional injury, a second surgery and future medical complications.  The defense expert only asserted that the plaintiff’s recovery was “good”.  There were no liens affecting this settlement.  The settlement now only needs to be approved at a “Friendly Hearing” by the court.

Judge O’Brien mediates all types of cases and would be most happy to help all litigants resolve their cases.

For guidance on your specific legal issue, contact Thomas E. O’Brien at 732-363-0666 Ext 223, or send him an email at

motorcycle accident attorney

Motorcycle Accident in NJ Settled For $1,250,000

The Honorable Thomas E. O’Brien, P.J. Cv. (ret.) of Ocean County settled a motorcycle accident case on January 26, 2022 for $1.250,000.00.  Plaintiff suffered a left mid tibia displaced fracture of his left leg that was repaired with an open reduction internal fixation surgery. He also had four (4) toes on his left foot repaired with pins.  Repair of his left ankle open wound was partially effectuated after four (4) plastic surgeries. The ankle wound remains unhealed to this date since plaintiff is a diabetic. He also suffered a mildly displaced left clavicle fracture.  The 60-year old plaintiff handyman is now unable to work.

The liability portion of the case was originally in dispute, but a thorough review of the police report and traffic light sequencing revealed that while the defendant/operator did see two (2) green lights thinking he had the right-of-way, there was a controlling green left-turn arrow that had not activated hence giving the motorcycle operator the right-of-way.  So, when the defendant proceeded to make the left-hand turn through the intersection the motorcycle was unable to stop and crashed into defendant’s car with the plaintiff being thrown ten (10) feet into the air and on to the roadway.  Thankfully, plaintiff only suffered lower extremity injuries because he was wearing a helmet.

Defendant was insured with both a primary policy of $300,000.00 and an excess policy in the amount of $1,000,000.00.  The plaintiff’s settlement reflected his recovery for pain and suffering, loss wages of approximately $82,800.00 and medical expenses.  Medical expenses were incurred in the amount of $3,840,451.35.  However, plaintiff’s personal automobile insurer paid $250,000.00 in PIP benefits towards the medical expenses and after fee scheduling the remaining and outstanding medical expenses were reduced to $362,000.00.

For guidance on your specific legal issue, contact Thomas E. O’Brien at 732-363-0666 Ext 223, or send him an email at

Voluntary Mediation: The Key to Successful Dispute Resolution

You should be aware that voluntary mediation is the most successful form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. To say that the process produces results is a major understatement. I have been involved exclusively in this area of Dispute Resolution for the past 5 ½ years. I enjoy settling cases and revel in a success rate of 95 percent.

Most often the case settles on mediation day; however, the key to my success is that I, at no time, give up on the process. In the event the case does not settle after the first attempt at mediation, I obtain the attorneys’ cell phone numbers and as I generate settlement ideas during the progression of the case, I communicate them to the attorneys and eventually everyone sees the wisdom of settlement.In over 18 years on the bench as a Superior Court Judge, I oversaw hundreds of cases.  This experience armed me with the knowledge and experience to quickly and thoroughly evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and settlement values of each case I mediate.  My judicial experience imparted in me the importance of impartiality and cold evaluation of the dispute, which I apply to each mediation.

Many mediators fail in their attempts to “successfully mediate” because they do not have the tenacity to pursue the process to a satisfactory conclusion. In addition to tenacity, a mediator has to be creative and not afraid to express opinions about the strengths, weaknesses and settlement values of each case. The mediator must also have the capacity to show the parties that he understands their case and more importantly, their circumstances. When a party is confident that the mediator is knowledgeable and sincere, he will determine that it is in his best interests to settle at the mediator’s recommended number. While parties can and do seek unique remedies in court, most of the time the parties seek money damages to compensate them. What that means is that most cases cannot settle without a dollar amount and that is where a knowledgeable mediator comes in. A mediation that does not produce a settlement number is destined to fail.

Another key to a successful mediation is the understanding that there are two sides to every story. Lawyers are advocates for their clients, so they often become so entrenched in their own position that they cannot appreciate the other party’s view. So an impartial activist mediator is needed to bring the parties together. I often say a “good settlement” is one where both sides are “unhappy” and a “great settlement” is one where both sides are “extremely unhappy”.

Voluntary mediation requires that the parties pay the mediator. The payment, however, will be less onerous than the time, money and uncertainty in continuing litigation. Done correctly, mediation is positive and best of all if someone does not like how the mediation is progressing, he or she may just leave the table without any repercussions or explanation.

​Voluntary mediation is perfect for both plaintiffs and defendants because it gives the parties a chance to avoid excessive risk, time and litigation expense. If you are not currently mediating, I highly recommend it to you and after your first experience you will become a convert.


  • Voluntary mediation is the most successful form of Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Never give up on the process – most often the case settles on mediation day
  • Generate settlement ideas and share them with judge and attorneys
  • A mediator has to be creative and not afraid to express opinions about the strengths, weaknesses and settlement values of each case
  • An impartial activist mediator is needed to bring the parties together
  • Voluntary mediation is perfect for both plaintiffs and defendants because it gives the parties a chance to avoid excessive risk, time and litigation expense.​

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the mediation process, call Judge O’Brien at (732) 363-0666.

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash


As every litigant and trial attorney knows, litigation can be time consuming and very expensive. Various programs, procedures and techniques have been developed in an effort to reduce those almost inevitable consequences of litigation. Known collectively as alternative dispute resolution “ADR”, those alternatives to litigation encompass various approaches to resolving disputes including arbitration and mediation. Arbitration, although usually quicker than litigation, has many of the shortcomings associated with litigation. Mediation, therefore, often provides a better option because it is quick, less expensive, flexible and, most important, non-binding.​Unlike litigation, mediation involves procedures for resolving a controversy in a less adversarial forum. Mediation provides the parties with an opportunity to work collectively toward a joint resolution of a dispute. During the mediation process a trained and experienced mediator engages each party and their attorneys in a dialogue, usually in a confidential setting, regarding their objectives and aspirations. As part of that dialogue the mediator and the parties, together with their attorneys, discuss various alternative means of reaching a resolution of the dispute.

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash