Monthly Archives: May 2018

May 25, 2018 - Personal Injury

What Can You Do if a Defendant Does Not Respond to a Legal Complaint or Summons?

In Pennsylvania, if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident that was caused due to another person’s fault, you may be entitled to damages.  In some cases, however, the potentially liable defendant may attempt to avoid civil liability by remaining unresponsive to your legal complaint against them, or by failing to appear for a court hearing. For example, you might file a legitimate lawsuit against the defendant for injuries suffered in a car accident, and serve proper notice upon them (in accordance with Pennsylvania law), but the defendant does not respond to your complaint within the applicable deadline period. Fortunately, plaintiffs have the right to obtain a default judgment in circumstances where the defendant is unavailable or is otherwise attempting to avoid the dispute altogether.  Assuming that service was properly made, you may request that the court enter a default judgment in your favor. Default judgments are actually quite beneficial for injured plaintiffs.  In fact, default judgments are “automatic wins,” so to speak.  As the defendant has not responded to the complaint or summons, they cannot dispute your arguments. Requesting Entry of Default In Pennsylvania, if you have effected proper service of a complaint or summons upon the defendant at-issue, and the defendant fails to answer within the applicable deadline, then you may request an entry of default.  Pennsylvania courts will not grant you an award of damages without proof, however.  You will have to present evidence that supports your claim for damages, and the evidence must be sufficiently specific and […]

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May 18, 2018 - Personal Injury

Catastrophic Injuries and Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages

In Pennsylvania, if you have been injured in an accident (due to another’s fault) and those injuries are sufficiently severe that your ability to enjoy life has been affected, then you may be entitled to recover “loss of enjoyment of life” (LEL) damages.  Unfortunately, many injured plaintiffs are not aware of LEL damages, and do not realize that they can recover for such losses. What are LEL Damages? LEL damages are sometimes referred to as “hedonic damages,” and they are rather suitably named — LEL damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the limitations imposed on their normal enjoyment of life as a result of their injuries.  In other words, if the ability of the plaintiff to engage in pleasurable activities has been negatively affected by their injuries, they may be entitled to LEL damages under Pennsylvania law. It’s worth noting that LEL damages in Pennsylvania are not considered a separate and independent element of damages — instead, they fall under the broader category of pain and suffering damages.  Given that LEL damages are already noneconomic in nature, and are therefore inherently subjective, the fact that they must be claimed as a component of pain and suffering can make LEL damages appear even cloudier and more easily disputable than it would otherwise be. Applicability of LEL Damages LEL damages are generally applicable in situations involving a subsequent inability to engage in recreational, social, and other pleasurable activities, such as hobbies.  The degree of loss is highly dependent on the […]

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May 11, 2018 - Personal Injury

Can You Recover Damages if There Was an Intervening Cause?

Causation is a critical element in every personal injury lawsuit, from motor vehicle accidents to slip-and-fall accidents — if you cannot show that the defendant’s conduct caused your injuries, then you cannot recover damages pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  In some situations, the defendant may be clearly negligent, but their negligent conduct may not actually lead step-by-step to the suffered injuries.  Instead, an intervening cause (i.e., some unforeseeable event) may break the “chain of causation” and absolve the defendant of liability. Fortunately, the bar that Pennsylvania defendants must reach in order to avoid liability (by establishing that there was an intervening cause) is rather high.  If you can show that the chain of causation did not “break,” then you can still sue and recover damages from the negligent defendant at-issue. The Chain of Causation in the Personal Injury Cases In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, courts evaluate the chain of causation that connects a defendant’s negligent conduct with the particular harm at-issue.  The chain of causation is essentially a sequence of events — if the sequence is unbroken, then liability may attach to the defendant. This can be rather confusing for the layperson, so let’s clarify the “chain of causation” concept with a quick example. Suppose that you are injured in a trip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk.  You tripped on a kid’s toy that a child was playing with nearby.  At the time, you were being hassled by a street salesman to purchase various knick-knacks.  Your argument may be that the defendant salesman […]

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May 4, 2018 - Truck Accidents

5 Common Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents

Truck accidents involving commercial truckers are unfortunately common, despite the fact that drivers are professionally licensed, though it should come as no surprise to those familiar with the trucking industry — companies often impose significant pressures on drivers, which can lead to heightened risk of an accident. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident involving a commercial trucking company, then you may be entitled to sue the driver and/or the company pursuant to Pennsylvania law, depending on the circumstances of your injury. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common factors contributing to commercial truck accidents.  Consider the following. Improper Loading Commercial trucks are at serious risk of “rollover accidents” due to improper loading of cargo at the warehouse.  If the truck rolls over and causes an accident, liability may fall on both the driver and the company. The company must train their employees properly and supervise loading to ensure that all cargo is being safely packed on company trucks.  Drivers with loaded cargo have a responsibility to avoid making sudden, sharp turns at high speeds.  Further, drivers should check their cargo prior to departure, to ensure that it has been loaded correctly. Failure to Conduct a Thorough Background Check Trucking companies must conduct a thorough background check of the defendant-driver to ensure that they can safely operate a commercial trucking vehicle.  Failure to conduct a thorough background check could expose the company to significant liability in the event of an accident. For example, suppose that […]

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