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Category: Car Accidents

Aug 30, 2019 - Car Accidents

Uniquely Vulnerable Plaintiffs Entitled to Full Damages

In Pennsylvania (and throughout the country), injured plaintiffs often worry about whether they are entitled to the compensation they seek.  This is particularly applicable to plaintiffs who have sustained “excessive” losses due to their unique vulnerabilities and fragilities. For example, suppose that you have a condition that makes your spinal column somewhat less rigid, exposing you to a greater risk of paralysis in the event that a significant impact force collides with the spinal column.  You are subsequently paralyzed in a low speed rear-end car accident that causes your weak spinal column to collapse and your spine to be severed. Now, the defendant might feel that it is unfair to impose such significant damages (long-term medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, etc.) on them when the accident was only minor. Fortunately for you (and perhaps unfortunately for the defendant), the law entitles plaintiffs to be compensated for their losses in full, even if they are suffering from a unique vulnerability that enhances their losses. How does this work?  Let’s take a closer look. Understanding the Fundamentals of Loss and Recovery in the Context of Personal Injury In personal injury law, the defendant may be held liable for the losses suffered for the plaintiff no matter the unique vulnerabilities of that plaintiff — this concept is known as the eggshell skull rule (referencing Humpty Dumpty, naturally!).  Simply put, it is the defendant’s responsibility to shoulder the cost burden of encountering a uniquely vulnerable plaintiff. If this seems unfair, […]

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Mar 11, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

The Most Dangerous Week of the Year

With the loss of an hour due to daylight savings time, during the week of March 10th through the 16th, we can expect an increase in everything from car accidents to heart attacks. With regard to safe driving, according to a 2014 study by the University of Colorado, auto accidents increase, due to the fact that it takes about 6-7 days to adjust to the darker morning commutes, coupled with the fact that the loss of an hour of sleep causes drivers to be less alert. According to the study, there is a 6.3% increase in traffic fatalities in over the six days following the March time change. Additionally, in 2009 a Journal of Applied Psychology study concluded that mine workers experience 5.7 percent more workplace injuries in the week daylight savings time was implemented, than in any other week of the year. The researchers attribute this increase in injuries to a lack of sleep. For those workers with less strenuous jobs, in 2012 the same journal found that “cyberloafing” significantly increased on the first Monday after daylight savings time. This was attributed to both a lack of sleep and a lack of workday focus and motivation. Finally, a 2016 study by the American Academy of Neurology found that the overall rate for a stroke was 85 higher on average in the two days after daylight savings time started. And a 2012 study at the University of Alabama found that in the first days after daylight savings time begins, there […]

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Feb 18, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Several Reminders From Highway Safety Law Awareness Week

Did you know that this week (February 18- 25) is “Highway Safety Law Awareness Week?” By raising awareness regarding certain traffic laws, with which you may not be too familiar, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police hope to make everyone safer on our roadways. This year’s focus is on a variety of lesser know traffic laws, as well as some changes to our existing laws. These include, Pennsylvania’s Blind Pedestrian Law; the Use of Headphones While Driving; the Ride-on-Red law; the Unattended Motor Vehicle law (those with remote car starters should especially read this); the Clear Snow and Ice from your Vehicle Law (see our previous article here); the Steer Clear Law; the Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law; as well as penalty changes to our existing DUI laws. In addition to the “Clear the Snow from Your Vehicle Law,” we previously wrote about, we think that it is important to be reminded, about two additional laws that are the focus of this year’s Awareness Week. The first law we would like to look at in more detail is the “Unattended Motor Vehicle Law” and the second is the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law.” On a cold winter morning, who doesn’t want to wait in the house while your car is getting warmed-up before heading out on the road? But do you know what the laws are in Pennsylvania regarding leaving a vehicle running that is unattended? 75 Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 3701, prohibits anyone who is “in charge” of a motor […]

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Feb 14, 2019 - Car Accidents

First-Party Insurance Claims and Uninsured Defendants

If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the fault of another driver, then you may have a right of action against the defendant-driver for damages.  Unfortunately, many drivers in Pennsylvania do not have insurance coverage to pay for the damages suffered by the victims of their negligence, and even if they do have insurance coverage, if may be insufficient. Moving Forward With a UM/UIM Claim Uninsured and underinsured drivers are a serious problem for car accident plaintiffs.  If the defendant cannot cover your losses, then you may have to seek out alternative avenues for recovery.  One strategy is to identify other possible defendants — for example, if the driver was operating their vehicle in the course and scope of their employment, then you might be able to seek recompense from their employer. In cases where there are no other defendants, however, you might be forced to pursue recovery through your own insurance coverage.  If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage), then you may be able to secure compensation by filing a claim with your insurer. Possible Issues There are a number of problems that tend to crop-up when plaintiffs file a first-party claim with their insurer. Insurers Are Not on Your Side The insurer’s goal is to pay out the least amount possible.  As such, it’s important that you consult an attorney so that they can guide you and serve as your “point of contact” in all communications with the insurer.  Without an attorney guiding […]

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Nov 15, 2018 - Articles

Car Accident FAQs

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and can demonstrate that the defendant caused you to suffer harm due to his or her negligent, reckless, or wrongful conduct, you may be entitled to recover significant damages as compensation. Car accident litigation can involve many variables, depending on the circumstances.  Though some lawsuits can be resolved in a straightforward manner, others may involve complicated issues of liability, such as splitting fault between multiple co-defendants and establishing potential employer liability or manufacturer liability (for product defects). Given the fact that car accident litigation — and personal injury disputes in general — can be inherently unpredictable, it’s important that you work with a team of attorneys who are capable of dynamically responding and adapting to changing circumstances over the course of a lawsuit.  We encourage you to contact an experienced attorney or assistance with your car accident claims. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Q: Is there a deadline for pursuing a car accident lawsuit? A: Yes, there is, though it may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some states, the statute of limitations deadline for personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury, whereas in others, the deadline may be three years.  Regardless of the specific length of the deadline, however, if you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline passes, then your case will no longer be actionable in a court of law. It’s worth noting that if the defendant is a public entity or employee, then your […]

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Oct 10, 2018 - Car Accidents

Car Accident Lawsuits: A Brief Look at Negligence Per Se

If you’ve sustained injuries in a car accident that was caused due to the negligence of another individual (or entity), then Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action against the defendant for damages as compensation for your losses. Litigating negligence claims — in a car accident scenario or otherwise — can be rather complicated, however.  Depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult to prove that the defendant was actually negligent (i.e., violated the applicable standard of care).  In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the doctrine of “negligence per se” enables injured plaintiffs to automatically establish negligence and thereby avoid the conflicts associated with such proof. Let’s take a brief look at the basics. What is Negligence Per Se? Negligence per se is presumed negligence associated with the violation of statutory law or some other codified ordinance or rule.  In other words, if you can show that the defendant-driver violated some law (and in doing so, caused you to suffer injuries), then you may not have to prove that they acted negligently — the court will presume negligence. Courts in Pennsylvania have long clarified the requirements necessary for application of negligence per se.  Simply put, negligence per se requires the following: That the defendant violated a statute or other regulation; That the purpose of the statute is (at least in part) to protect the interest of a particular group of individuals, as opposed to the general public; That the statute or regulation must apply to the conduct of […]

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Sep 28, 2018 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: Hydroplaning and How to Avoid It

  Given the almost daily deluge of rain we have been experiencing, hydroplaning is a very real problem for which all drivers must be prepared. Hydroplaning occurs when the vehicle’s tire-to-road traction becomes separated by water. This grip separation results in a loss of control (braking and steering), which can result in a violent accident. While hydroplaning can happen on any wet road surface, tire tread, tire inflation and speed are the key factors in causing hydroplaning to occur. According to the American Automobile Association, “when driving through just one-twelfth of an inch of water, each of your tires has to displace one gallon of water per second.” So, when the road surface is wet, you need to choose an appropriate speed that will displace enough road surface water, that allows your vehicle to maintain proper traction.  “At 30 mph or less, properly inflated tires with good tread will maintain contact.” While low tire pressure causes the tread to “squeeze together, narrowing the tread channels and reduces the tire’s ability to wipe or channel away water,” even with good tread and properly inflated tires, a vehicle can begin to hydroplane at speeds above 35 mph.   Below are six tips every driver should remember when driving on a wet surface. Avoid driving in the outer edges of a roadway. Most roadways have a slight “crown” in the middle of the road which causes water to accumulate on the edge of the roadway. Try to stay more toward the middle of […]

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Sep 12, 2018 - Car Accidents

Dram Shop Liability in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law — and in some other state jurisdictions — those who have been injured in a car accident by a drunk driver defendant may also be entitled to bring an action against the business or individual who provided alcohol to the intoxicated driver.  This is known as “dram shop liability” and the contours of such liability can be rather confusing for the plaintiff unaccustomed to or otherwise unfamiliar with the law in this respect. Let’s take a brief look at how it works. Business Liability Commercial and non-commercial parties are subject to different dram shop liability standards under the law.  In Pennsylvania, alcohol vendors — businesses — that furnish alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals may be held liable for the injuries that the intoxicated person subsequently causes. For example, if you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver defendant, and you later discover that the driver was furnished alcohol by a bartender (despite being clearly and visibly intoxicated at the time), then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from the bar itself. Importantly, Pennsylvania law also imposes dram shop liability on businesses that furnish alcohol to individuals in violation of some other liquor regulation.  This is a rather common scenario, in fact, and will give you an opportunity to recover damages from the business defendant even when they did not furnish alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual. For clarity, consider the following. Suppose that a liquor shop furnishes alcohol […]

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Sep 7, 2018 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

DO YOU STOP FOR A SCHOOL BUS ON A DIVIDED HIGHWAY?

With our schools back in session, it is a good time to refresh our understanding as to when motorists must stop for a school bus on a divided highway. We have found that even experienced motorists still have some uncertainty when determining whether they are required to stop for school bus on the other side of a multi-lane roadway. Does it matter if the lanes on the roadway are divided by a turning lane, a jersey barrier, a grassy divide or a median strip? Do you know what the law in Pennsylvania requires? The general rule is that all motorist must stop at least 10 feet away from a school bus that has its red lights flashing and “stop arm” extended, whether if you behind the bus, meeting the bus from the opposite direction, or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. You must remained stopped until the red lights have stopped flashing. If children have exited the bus, you must not move your vehicle until all the children have reached a place of safety off of the roadway. If you observe the amber lights of the school bus flashing, this is an indication that within 150 to 300 feet the school bus will be activating its red flashing lights and stopping. Drivers can proceed past a school bus if only the amber lights are flashing, but drivers must be prepared to stop when the red lights are flashing and “stop arm” has been extended. While these rules seem straight […]

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Aug 17, 2018 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Suing a Vehicle Owner for Damages

In Pennsylvania, if you have suffered injuries in a car accident in which the defendant-driver was operating a vehicle that was not their own, then you may not only have a legitimate claim for damages against the driver, but you may also have a claim against the owner of the vehicle pursuant to the theory of negligent entrustment. Negligent entrustment imposes liability on vehicle owners for permitting a person — who they know (or should know) is unfit to drive — to use their vehicle.  This is separate and independent from vicarious liability, which imposes liability on employers for the negligence committed by their employees. For example, if you are injured in a car accident by an intoxicated pizza delivery driver employee, then you might be entitled to bring a claim against the employer under vicarious liability and separately for negligently entrusting the company vehicle to the driver despite being aware of the intoxicated status of the driver-employee. Same as with vicarious liability claims, legitimate negligent entrustment claims are a strategic boon of sorts in that they enable you — the injured plaintiff — to “spread liability” across multiple parties, particularly those who may have the insurance coverage or personal assets necessary to adequately cover your damages. Negligent entrustment claims are fairly straightforward, though it can be something of a challenge to prove each necessary element to the claim.  For now, let’s explore some of the basics. Elements of a Pennsylvania Negligent Entrustment Claim Negligent entrustment claims in Pennsylvania require […]

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