Resources

Category: Personal Injury

Jan 29, 2020 - Personal Injury

Damages for the Aggravation of an Existing Injury

Seasoned Allentown Personal Injury Lawyer If you’ve been seriously harmed in an accident due to the fault of another party, then Pennsylvania law may entitle you to compensation.  Personal injury litigation is not always as straightforward as one might initially expect — quite often, litigation can be complicated by circumstances that are beyond your control, such as the presence of a pre-existing injury or condition. The Thin-Skull Doctrine In Pennsylvania, and other jurisdictions, an injured plaintiff is only entitled to compensation if they can prove that the defendant’s misconduct (whether due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm) caused them to sustain losses.  The defendant can avoid liability entirely by introducing evidence that shows that the plaintiff’s supposed injuries actually predated the accident.  For example, the defendant might show that the neck stiffness symptoms suffered by the plaintiff are actually due to a pre-existing spinal condition that have nothing to do with the case-relevant accident. Fortunately, the thin-skull doctrine (also known as the eggshell plaintiff doctrine) provides for recovery in situations where the plaintiff did, in fact, suffer from a pre-existing injury or condition, but that was aggravated by the defendant’s misconduct.  Under the thin-skull doctrine, the defendant cannot avoid liability simply because the defendant is uniquely weak or fragile. If the defendant suffers from pre-existing nerve damage, for example, and the symptoms are substantially aggravated in a car accident caused by the defendant, then the defendant cannot avoid liability simply because the seriousness of the plaintiff’s injuries were enhanced by […]

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Jan 15, 2020 - Personal Injury

The Standard of Care is Variable Depending on the Circumstances

If you’ve been harmed due to the negligence of another individual or entity, then you may be entitled to bring a right of action against the liable defendant to secure damages as compensation.  In the wake of an accident, it’s important to consult a qualified Allentown personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that your legal claims can be filed and your rights properly advanced under the law. Personal injury litigation is quite a bit more nuanced than many people expect, however — the defendant may attempt to minimize (or altogether avoid) liability by arguing that they did not violate the standard of care applicable to the circumstances.  Simply put, the success of many negligence-based injury lawsuits turns on the standard of care, which itself can vary substantially from case-to-case. Let’s take a closer look at the standard of care and how it works in a negligence-based injury lawsuit. Understanding the Reasonable Person Standard Whether a defendant is found liable for negligence depends on the standard of care.  If the defendant violated the standard of care (applicable to the circumstances), then they will be deemed to have acted negligently, and could be held responsible for the damages arising out of their negligent conduct. So, what is the standard of care? It is perhaps best explained through the fiction that is the “reasonable person.”  Essentially, the standard of care is whatever conduct a reasonable person — with ordinary prudence — would have engaged in under the same or similar circumstances.  […]

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Dec 17, 2019 - Personal Injury

Understanding Contingency Fees in Personal Injury Cases

If you’ve been injured in an accident — whether a motor vehicle accident, slip-and-fall, or some other scenario involving the fault of another party — then you may have a right of action against the defendant for damages.  Despite the fact that an injured plaintiff may be entitled to compensation under the law, however, they sometimes choose to avoid legal action on account of cost concerns. This concern is not borne out in reality, however. Personal injury litigation services rarely require any up-front fees.  Our Bethlehem personal injury lawyers provide litigation services on contingency.  This is a very good thing for prospective plaintiffs, as the use of contingency fees creates an attorney-client dynamic that is favorable to them. How does it all work?  Let’s examine the basics. Contingency Fees Are Not Owed Unless You Win Contingency fees are quite simple.  When you enter into a contingency fee arrangement with a personal injury firm, the firm is offering to represent you and cover all the out-of-pocket costs associated with litigating the claim (i.e., retaining experts, conducting an investigation of the facts, securing evidence, courtroom appearances, time spent on negotiating with the opposing side, etc.).  You pay nothing, and the firm advocates on your behalf throughout the dispute process. Now, if you do not obtain compensation for your injuries, the firm will absorb those costs and you will not have to pay anything. However, if you do “win” by successfully obtaining compensation for your injuries (whether through a negotiated settlement or in […]

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Nov 25, 2019 - Car Accidents

OH, DEER, IT’S THAT SEASON AGAIN

  With hunting season upon us, I am reminded that I have killed more deer with a car than I have with a rifle. Today there are an estimated 1.5 million deer in Pennsylvania and November is the month most likely to have a deer-related collision. Last year in Pennsylvania alone there were 141,000 deer/vehicle crashes, which represented almost 10 percent of all deer related claims in the entire country. Only in West Virginia and Montana do you have a greater chance of striking a deer with your vehicle. So what can you do to be safer on the road during this season? Here are six tips. 1) Remember that deer travel in groups. If one deer successfully crosses the road in front of you, be sure to be looking for others that are soon to follow. Most people miss the first deer they see and hit the second one. 2) Travel with a heightened state of awareness during this season. While deer cross roads at all hours of the day, they are more active at dusk and at dawn. If you are traveling when it is dark, use your high-beams as much as possible in order to see as much of the sides of the roadway as possible. Be aware of areas where you have seen deer before, as deer often travel the same pathways. 3) If you see a deer crossing sign, know that the sign was installed by PennDOT because of prior reported collisions with deer on […]

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Nov 15, 2019 - Doylestown Personal Injury Attorney

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in Pennsylvania

Negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claims are often asserted as supplementary claims in the personal injury context, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  For example, if you are injured in a car accident and your relative is killed in the seat next to you, then you could bring a number of different claims against the defendant-driver, including a standard injury cause of action as well as one that is tied to the emotional distress you suffered as a result of the accident. Many first-time plaintiffs are not fully aware of how NIED claims work, however.  Let’s explore some of the basics for clarity. Basics of an NIED Claim In Pennsylvania, plaintiffs may be entitled to damages if they suffer severe emotional distress due to an accident that was caused by the defendant’s negligent acts.  There are a number of specific rules and exceptions that define NIED liability.  Consider the following. Physical Impact Rule Traditionally, Pennsylvania law required (by default) that the NIED plaintiff also been physically impacted in some way by the defendant.  If the plaintiff only suffered emotional distress, then that would not be enough.  As the law progressed, however, several exceptions were carved out. Zone of Danger Liability Zone of danger liability allows an NIED plaintiff to recover damages if they could reasonably argue that they felt a fear of injury due to being in the “zone of danger” near the point of impact.  For example, if a construction team negligently secured a concrete block and it fell on […]

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Nov 1, 2019 - Articles

TURNING OUR CLOCKS BACK INCREASES THE RISKS OF DRIVING AT NIGHT– Here Are Ten Tips to Stay Alive

  This Sunday morning, at 2 AM, Daylight Savings Time will end. We will move our clocks back one hour. While many will welcome the extra hour of sleep we gain, when Daylight Saving Time ends, many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark. According to the National Safety Council, traffic fatalities are 3 times greater at night than during the day. Fatigue, compromised night vision, and impaired drivers are some of the risks we face when driving at night. These risks become especially pronounced moving into the weekend, with fatal crashes peaking on Saturday nights, according to NSC analysis of NHTSA data. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for normal headlights) creating less time to react, especially when driving at higher speeds. Ninety percent of your reaction time depends on your ability to see what’s around you. Since your depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision decrease after sundown, your chances for a car accident tend to increase. According to the American Optometric Association, as we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older, driving can become even more difficult due to compromised vision as a result of cataracts […]

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Oct 10, 2019 - Personal Injury

The Burden of Proof in Civil Litigation

If you have sustained injuries in an accident by the negligent or wrongful misconduct of another party, then you may be entitled to compensation pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  It’s worth noting, however, in order to successfully litigate your claim and recover the damages that you’re owed by the defendant, you’ll have to satisfy the “burden of proof” standard applicable to your case. You may have heard of the “burden of proof” concept, but what does it really mean?  Let’s explore some of the basics. What is Burden of Proof as a Concept? In civil or criminal litigation, the burden of proof describes a legal standard necessary to prove the claims being asserted.  As the plaintiff, you are entering the litigation process with the intention of introducing evidence that will prove the truth of your claims — for example, if you were injured in a car accident, you’ll want to introduce evidence that the defendant was texting and driving simultaneously (thus exposing you to an unreasonable risk of injury). The burden of proof is indicative of the dispositive value of the evidence being introduced.  In civil lawsuits, the burden of proof requires that the overall evidence you introduce prove that you are more likely right than wrong.  Evidence must therefore be considered in the context of the applicable burden of proof standard. Understanding the Different Burden of Proof Standards Criminal and civil litigation involve fundamentally different burden of proof standards. In criminal trials, the prosecution must prove that the defendant is […]

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Sep 30, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Your Pennsylvania Personal Injury Claim is Subject to a Time Limit

If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may have a legitimate claim for damages. However, it’s worth noting that you do not have an unlimited period of time to sue.  In Pennsylvania — and all throughout the country — the applicable statute of limitations sets a deadline by which you must file your claims against the relevant defendants in your case. Many injury victims do not realize the fundamental importance of the statute of limitations deadline.  In many cases, excessive delays can lead to a dismissal of an otherwise legitimate injury claim.  As such, it’s absolutely critical that you get in touch with a qualified Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who can evaluate your claims and bring an action against the defendants in a timely manner. How the Statute of Limitations Works In Pennsylvania, personal injury claims have a statute of limitations period that is currently two years from the date of injury.  If you do not bring an action against the defendants within such time and the deadline passes, then you are deemed to have “abandoned” your claims.  Following that, you will no longer have the right to sue the defendant(s) and recover damages in a Pennsylvania court of law.  Unfortunately, injury victims often ignore the consequences of a delay, perhaps due to the other challenges posed by their injury. For example, suppose that you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.  You may even have suffered lower-body paralysis.  In the wake […]

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Sep 16, 2019 - Personal Injury

What is Reckless Conduct and What Does It Mean For My Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve been injured due to the fault of another person or entity, you may have a claim for damages pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  Litigating your injury claim may seem like a straightforward matter, but depending on the circumstances, you may have to take additional issues into consideration.  These may include the nature of the defendant’s conduct and whether it constitutes mere negligence or recklessness. Reckless Conduct and Punitive Damages In Pennsylvania, reckless conduct is conduct where the defendant demonstrates a “reckless indifference” to the interests of others.  Recklessness requires a mental state in which the defendant consciously disregards the serious risk of danger that they pose to others. Reckless conduct is more than mere negligence.  Whereas negligence requires only the breach of the duty of care (and thus, a heightened risk of injury), reckless conduct generally involves more egregious or outrageous conduct, as well as a mental state in which the defendant knows of the risks they pose to others but — regardless — choose to continue acting recklessly. For example, imagine that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.  The defendant-driver makes a mistake and enters your lane without signaling, causing a collision.  This is likely to be deemed negligence. Now, imagine another scenario where the defendant-driver is weaving between lanes at a high speed and is also failing to signal.  He or she is well aware of the risk of danger posed to others on the road, but the driver chooses to continue this behavior.  This […]

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Sep 2, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Injured Plaintiffs Must Mitigate Their Damages

In Pennsylvania — and in other jurisdictions throughout the country — injured plaintiffs must act responsibly in the wake of an accident to ensure that their personal injury claims are preserved to the fullest possible extent.  Plaintiffs are not entitled to negligently allow their losses to accumulate without taking action.  There is a broad “duty to mitigate” that requires that plaintiffs exert reasonable efforts to minimize their losses. Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania Pennsylvania applies comparative negligence principles that allow an injured plaintiff to recover damages as compensation for their various losses, but only if the plaintiff is less negligent than the at-fault defendant. How does this work? Suppose, for example, that you have been injured in a car accident, and your damages total to $100,000.  You were also speeding at the time of the accident, however.  The court determines that you were 30 percent at-fault for your injuries.  Despite your own significant contribution of negligence, you would be entitled to recover the remaining 70 percent of the damages ($70,000).  You should also note that even if fault is deemed to be 50/50, you may still recover damages. On the other hand, if you were deemed 51 percent at-fault, then you would not be entitled to recover any damages. In a personal injury lawsuit, the duty to mitigate is fundamentally linked to the application of comparative negligence principles.  Failure to adequately mitigate damages (in the wake of an accident) constitutes negligence, and depending on the extent of such failure, it might […]

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