Resources

Category: Articles

Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

DRIVER FATIGUE AMONG LEADING CAUSES OF TRUCKING ACCIDENTS

Truck accidents are often devastating and can be caused by a number of factors, including fatigue, intoxication and illness. Getting into an accident involving a large commercial truck is probably one of the most terrifying types of automobile accidents someone would ever face. Because of the size and speed of semi-trucks, they can cause devastating injuries and worse. Usually, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are the ones bearing the brunt of the injuries in a crash like this. Trucking accidents are also not rare: There were 166 fatalities related to large truck accidents in Pennsylvania in 2012, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Today’s many commercial industries mean that a large number of trucks can be sharing the state’s roadways at any time. According to Insurance News Net, each year about 100,000 people are seriously injured and more than 4,000 killed across the country in truck crashes. These accidents have markedly increased since 2009. Common reasons for truck accidents State Farm reports driver fatigue as one of the most common ways for a truck driver to cause a crash, and it’s no surprise: The trucking industry is known for its long hours, with truck drivers driving as many as 82 hours in a week. There are, of course, other factors that can contribute to an accident. These include: Driving under the influence of alcohol, medications or illegal substances. Improper load distribution or vehicle problems. Poor weather or road conditions. Speeding or careless driving. Distracted driving, including texting or […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

COMMERCIAL DRIVER DISTRACTION CAUGHT ON VIDEO, REVEALING A COMMON THREAT

Commercial truck drivers are tasked with a difficult job that requires experience, attention and good judgment to avoid catastrophic accidents. While most drivers do their best to focus on the road and prevent truck accidents, unfortunately, some drivers take their duties less seriously. A recent investigation caught commercial truck drivers engaging in a multitude of dangerous behaviors. Below is a summary of that investigation, which should serve to underscore the necessity of proper training for commercial truck drivers, and to remind others throughout Pennsylvania to always be diligent on the road. In particular, roads such as Route 22, in Lehigh County; Route 78 in Northampton County; Route 33 and Route 80 in Monroe County; Route 76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) in Philadelphia County; Route 309 in Bucks County; and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Blue Route) in Montgomery Counties, can be particularly dangerous. Driver distraction documented During the investigation, cameras were positioned along highways. The footage captured truck drivers engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving these massive trucks, including manually dialing cellphones, talking on handheld cellphones and even texting. All of these behaviors are against federal regulations, and they also violate state laws, but that was not enough to deter the drivers. Sadly, when these drivers are negligent, the consequences for other motorists can be steep. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the following troubling facts on large truck accidents: Trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. Trucks require a far greater distance to […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

DOYLESTOWN ALLENTOWN BETHLEHEM EASTON MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWYERS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS SUIT

I AM A VICTIM OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – DO I HAVE A GOOD PERSONAL INJURY CASE? By: Peter M. Hileman, Esq. If you or a family member were injured due to medical malpractice, are you entitled to receive compensation for your injuries? Many patients believe that they have received improper medical care from their doctor, hospital, nursing home, or other health care provider. However, to have a valid medical malpractice claim you need to be able to prove the following three elements: First, negligence. Your health care provider must have deviated from the accepted medical standard of care while treating or caring for you. The medical mistake must be clear and verified by another medical expert. Second, causation. The negligence must have caused your injury or harm. Causation may be hard to prove, because a patient’s existing medical condition cannot be the sole basis for a malpractice claim. Rather, the medical provider must cause injury to the patient through actions or inaction that increase the risk of harm to the patient, independent of the normal progression of the existing medical condition. Third, damages. You must have suffered substantial damages, typically involving a permanent injury of some kind, in order for your case to be viable. In addition to your physical injury, you need to have incurred economic losses, such as large medical bills, loss of employment, or the need for substantial future medical care, due to the malpractice. Medical malpractice cases, even where the negligence seems obvious, are very difficult […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

HOW PRODUCT LIABILITY SUITS HAVE MADE OUR LIVES SAFER

By: Peter M. Hileman, Esq. Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. Did you know that product liability suits have made all of our lives safer by forcing companies to make safer products? Out of hundreds of examples we could cite, here are nine high-profile cases involving products that harmed children, women, and consumers generally. Products that Harmed Children : Crib deaths – Bassett Furniture stopped making cribs once it learned babies were dying due to accidental hanging on the headboard. Only after the company lost a lawsuit did it notify owners of the hazard and begin a recall. Children‘s pajamas – Dayton Hudson was aware that children could be severely burned by their pajamas, but chose not to treat them with flame-retardant chemicals. A jury’ verdict forced their product off the market. Football helmets – manufacturers knew for years that inadequate padding led to numerous spinal injuries and deaths to children using their helmets. Improved design spurred by liability claims eliminated deaths for the first time in 60 years. Products that Endangered Women: Tampons – Playtex disregarded studies and medical reports showing that its super-absorbent tampons could cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. Women who died from the condition were awarded damages, and the product was taken off the market. IUD – Dalkon Shield’s intrauterine device was known to cause pelvic disease and septic abortions. Only after a lawsuit and a large damage award did the manufacturer pull the product from the shelves. Products Unsafe for All Consumers : Asbestos – manufacturers knew […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

THREE THINGS EVERY JUROR SHOULD KNOW (WHEN DECIDING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE)

By: Jonathan J. Russell, Esquire Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. Some day you may serve as a juror in a personal injury case. You may be shocked to learn that, if you do, certain key information about the case will be withheld from you by law. As a plaintiffs lawyer, there are three things I wish I could tell every juror during trial. But I can’t. Instead, I will share these secrets with you now, before you step into the jury box: Insurance. You will probably never hear the word “insurance” during the trial. That is because lawyers aren‘t allowed to mention “insurance,” and thus the jurors are left to assume that there is none. But in most personal injury cases an invisible insurance company is paying for the defendants legal representation, and will pay any money awarded to the plaintiff.In a car accident case, there is likely insurance because all drivers are legally required to have it. In a “slip and fall” or “dog bite” case, an individual defendant likely has homeowners insurance, and a business defendant likely has general liability insurance.Of course, insurance companies don’t want you to know that they are involved in the case. They fear that, if you knew, you might grant a fair award fully compensating the plaintiff for his or her injury, without regard to the defendants perceived ability to pay. Legitimacy of the Claim. By the time a personal injury case gets to the jury, the case has already cleared three difficult […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

THE TRUTH ABOUT TORT REFORM

It bothers us sometimes when we hear advertisements in the media which are designed to scare people about our legal system. These advertisements are paid for by those who are trying to influence public opinion against accident victims, usually the insurance industry. The problem with this is that accident victims have no voice and in most cases their accidents haven’t even happened yet. The truth is that you may be the next accident victim. The truth is that you may need our legal system to work for you. You may be one of those jurors the ads claim are giving ridiculously high awards. The truth is it is not in your interest for there to be any change in the legal system. The jury system has worked in America since our country was founded. It is one of the pillars upon which our democracy is based. Twelve people from all walks of life, without any knowledge or interest in the case, hear the evidence presented by both sides and reach a fair verdict. It is a rare case where justice is not done. Media reports tend to focus on those rare cases, such as the McDonald’s coffee case, and make it seem that all cases are like that. The truth is that there is no litigation explosion. From 1995 to 1999, the number of civil cases filed in Pennsylvania dropped substantially from 31,582 to 23,965. Of those, personal injury suits are the third leading type of suit. First (one-third) of […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

THE TRUTH ABOUT MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

No issue in recent years has created as much controversy as much as the so called “medical malpractice crisis”. As you can imagine, we follow the issue with interest, and are particularly concerned about what we see as the unfair vilification of trial attorneys, even by our own President. Although the issue has been cast as doctors vs. trial attorneys, we see it more as doctors vs. their own insurance companies. The marked increase in many physician’s malpractice insurance premiums has rightfully upset physicians, particularly those who have never had a malpractice claim, and caused many to speak out in the public forum as they never have before. We feel their angry outbursts against trial attorneys should be directed instead to the insurance industry which has their practices caught in an economic vise. The increase in medical malpractice insurance is due to a number of factors having nothing to do with jury verdicts in malpractice cases. The truth is that the liability insurance industry as a whole has been hit hard by two factors affecting their underwriting of liability insurance: the declines in the stock market which have caused tremendous losses for everyone, and the payout of claims following the terrorist attack on September 11th. Professional liability rates for attorneys are expected to increase between 35% and 75%. If you check your own liability insurance, you will likely find similar increases. That is because insurance companies have the ability to pass their losses onto their insureds by way of higher […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

LEHIGH VALLEY MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION ARBITRATION AWARD

This case involved a low speed rear end impact on Route 22 near the Whitehall exit in Lehigh County, with minimal property damage to either vehicle. The defendant claimed that the accident was not his fault, but that he had been hit from behind by another vehicle which fled the scene. Our client did not initially realize that she was injured so did not call the police or go to the hospital. This made it difficult to prove that her severe back pain was caused by the accident. Our client was a 32 year old single mother who did have a history of prior back problems and fibromyalgia. Despite these problems with the case, the client made a compelling witness. Plus, her doctors went to bat for her and felt strongly that her injuries and disability were caused by the accident. She was diagnosed with a herniated disc and ended up needing two back surgeries. Unfortunately, she needed a third surgery, but when she lost her job, she lost her health insurance and had no way to pay for the treatment. Following her surgeries, she had a series of injections, which did not improve her constant back and leg pain. She tried to work, but was unable to do so, due to the severity of her pain. Even though she had a sedentary job, she was not able to sit long enough to accomplish any meaningful tasks. Our vocational expert estimated her wage loss and reduction in earning capacity to […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

CRASH SUIT BRINGS $1.5 MILLION AWARD

This was the headline in the Allentown Morning Call on April 12, 2001. The week before, Pete Hileman, attorney for the Plaintiff, had completed presentation of the case, which involved serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Courthouse observers felt the verdict to be one of the largest in the history of Lehigh County, which is known for its low jury verdicts. According to cases published in Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly, the verdict was one of the 50 largest verdicts in Pennsylvania in 2001. The Plaintiff was a passenger in a Lehigh County van, which was on its way to the prison when it was broadsided by a UGI gas utility van, which had run a red traffic light. The Plaintiff developed chronic back pain and was diagnosed with an internal disc disruption, which eventually required a two level fusion. He remained in chronic pain and unable to work or to engage in any meaningful activity without significant pain. UGI admitted negligence but argued that the Plaintiff had a pre-existing back condition and sustained only minor injuries in the accident and should have been able to work. Mr. Hileman presented the testimony of the orthopedic surgeon who showed the jury how the accident caused the disc disruption and debilitating pain. Vocational experts described why the Plaintiff would never be able to return to work at his previous job and would be forced to work at much lower paying jobs. The jury’s verdict awarded the Plaintiff the exact […]

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Oct 27, 2016 - Articles

DISTRACTED-DRIVING ACCIDENTS ARE PROBABLY MORE NUMEROUS THAN REPORTED

According to The Wireless Association, over 170 billion text messages are in the United States. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how many of those were sent from a cell phone being used while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that, nationally, several thousand people are killed each year due to distracted driving. Moreover, an estimated 421,000 people sustain personal injuries in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. Texting is not the only distracted-driving behavior. Distracted driving is broadly defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as any non-driving activity a person engages in while operating a motor vehicle which has the potential to distract the person from the primary task of driving and which increases the risk of crashing. In fact, because distracted driving has become more and more prevalent with the use of cell phones and GPS systems, the DOT has declared that reducing distracted driving is now a top traffic safety priority, indicating that it is a dangerous behavior that has “no place on our roadways.” In hopes of curbing this dangerous behavior, the DOT has plans to construct and advance programs designed to educate and convince the public that distracted driving is extremely dangerous, and that taking certain steps to ensure you are giving your full attention to the roadway can save lives. Additionally, there will be more vigorous law enforcement efforts geared toward discouraging distracted driving. The DOT observes that, statistically, distracted driving accounts for at least 10 percent of all Pennsylvania […]

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