Category: Personal Injury

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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Apr 20, 2018 - Personal Injury

Personal Injury Liability: It Only Attaches if the Defendant Caused Your Injuries

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, personal injury claims may be defeated in a number of different ways — oftentimes, the defendant will attempt to undermine and potentially overcome the plaintiff’s claims by arguing that their actions (even if negligent, reckless, or intentional in nature) did not actually “cause” the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Causation is a fundamental element of all personal injury claims.  If you cannot link the defendant’s wrongful acts to your injuries, then you are not entitled to compensation under Pennsylvania law.  As such, it’s critical that you understand how causation works, and how you can effectively counter the defendant’s arguments. Let’s start with the basics. Causation is Required for Successful Recovery Personal injury claims require that you — the plaintiff — prove that the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct proximately caused your injuries.  Establishing proximate causation requires proof that an unbroken sequence of reasonably foreseeable events resulted from the defendant’s conduct, and led to your injuries.  Further, you must be able to show that you would not have suffered injuries were it not for the defendant’s negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct. Suppose, for example, that you are driving on the highway and lose control, crashing your vehicle and suffering injuries as a result.  You sue another driver on the basis that they were speeding, and were therefore operating their vehicle negligently.  The court is likely to dismiss your case because — despite the fact that the defendant may have been negligently operating their vehicle — […]

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Apr 13, 2018 - Articles

Seeing, But Not Perceiving: Why Other Drivers Don’t See Motorcycles- an Injury Lawyer Perspective

As a personal injury lawyer serving residents in and around Allentown, Doylestown, Bethlehem, Easton and Stroudsburg, with warmer weather upon us, we see motorcyclists getting back out on the road again. Unfortunately, with this increase, comes an increase in calls from motorcycle riders who were seriously injured; or from family members who have suffered the devastating loss of a loved one — all due to another motor vehicle operator’s negligence. As a motorcycle accident lawyer, when we review police reports, we frequently read that the other driver told the investigating police officer, “I never saw him.” Sometimes, the insinuation is that because the other driver never observed the motorcycle, the motorcyclist “must” have been speeding. The reality is that the operator of the car or truck “saw” the motorcycle and its operator, but the human eye failed to “perceive” the motorcyclist. In his interesting article in Road and Track magazine entitled, “Why You Don’t ‘See’ Motorcycles on the Road”, cyclist and author, Jack Baruth, explores the biological workings of the human eye, relative to the phenomena of failing to observe motorcycles and their riders. Baruth asserts that when things are small enough and move quickly enough, our mind does not always “perceive” them, even though our eyes “see” them. In particular, since our eyes are only looking at a relatively small area, a motorcycle approaching head-on from a distance, occupies a very small part of a driver’s vision. If you don’t expect to see a motorcycle and you are only “looking” for cars, your […]

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Mar 30, 2018 - Personal Injury

Defenses Frequently Used in Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you have never been involved in litigation before, then you may not be aware of the various arguments that can be put forth by defendants to avoid (or otherwise minimize) liability.  There are a number of defenses that you may encounter in personal injury litigation, though not all will be applicable to your case.  Whether a defense is used to avoid liability will largely depend on the particular circumstances of the case. For example, if you are bringing an action against a negligent defendant, and the defendant finds out that you suffered from a pre-existing physical condition before the accident, then they will almost certainly attempt to argue that you have no claim due to “no new injuries.” Defenses are frequently plead in the alternative.  Pleading in the alternative follows a fairly predictable format: “My client is not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because A.  Even if A is true, then my client is not liable for plaintiff’s injuries because B.  Even if B is true, then my client is not liable for plaintiff’s injuries because C,” and so forth.  Thus, defendants may chain together a variety of arguments to avoid liability.  Each of these will have to be overcome in order to successfully recover damages. Defendants are therefore incentivized to plead as many defenses as reasonably possible. Defenses Commonly Seen in Personal Injury Litigation The Statute of Limitations Deadline Has Passed In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, there is a statute of limitations that applies to personal injury claims.  The […]

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Mar 28, 2018 - Easton Car Accident Lawyer

Securing Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against Multiple Defendants

Popular media has created a perception of civil litigation as a one-on-one game, of sorts, in which you aggressively and exclusively pursue a single defendant.  This does not reflect the reality of litigation, however.  In many personal injury cases, there is more than one defendant who is responsible for your injuries (and who is therefore liable for damages). Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle collision.  Upon first impression, you may believe that the defendant-driver is the “lone defendant,” and is solely responsible for your injuries.  After the case has been more thoroughly investigated, however, you may discover that your own car was defectively designed and therefore contributed substantially to your injuries.  You would be entitled to sue both the manufacturer and the driver for damages. Multiple defendants necessarily complicate a lawsuit, but it’s worth noting that suing multiple defendants can be advantageous, too — not every defendant has sufficient assets or liability insurance coverage to pay your damages in full.  By introducing additional parties into the lawsuit, you might gain access to defendants who have the means to pay your damages, at least partially. Pennsylvania law on shared liability (and compensation) between defendants has changed dramatically in recent years.  If you’re bringing a lawsuit against multiple defendants in Pennsylvania, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the rules and how it may affect your recovery. The Old Compensation Rules in Pennsylvania In the past, Pennsylvania implemented pure “joint and several liability,” which heavily favored injured plaintiffs.  […]

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Mar 16, 2018 - Personal Injury

The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule in Pennsylvania Injury Lawsuits

If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another person, you may be entitled to compensation, pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  Your ability to recover damages can be somewhat complicated, however, by the particular circumstances of your injury. In Pennsylvania, and in other jurisdictions throughout the country, those who suffer from preexisting conditions that make them more “fragile” and likely to suffer severe injury are commonly referred to as eggshell plaintiffs.  For example, if you suffer from very high blood pressure, you may be more likely to sustain a serious heart attack in the event of a stressful accident scenario.  Depending on the circumstances, you would therefore be considered an eggshell plaintiff. Despite suffering substantial losses as a consequence of their accident, many eggshell plaintiffs avoid litigating their claims, as they may not be familiar with the particularities of the law and their right to recover damages.  These plaintiffs may incorrectly believe that — because their injuries are “disproportionate” — they may not be entitled to a remedy for such injuries.  In reality, however, eggshell plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for their injuries, even if those injuries would not have occurred in a healthier person. Causation Can Be a “Fuzzy” Issue For an injured plaintiff to succeed in their lawsuit, they must show that the defendant not only acted negligently, recklessly, or intentionally, but that the conduct of the defendant was the substantial and proximate cause of their injuries.  Causation can be a fuzzy matter, in some […]

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Feb 28, 2018 - Personal Injury

Employer Liability for Injuries: A Look at Vicarious Liability

In Pennsylvania, employers may be held liable for the injuries — and subsequent damages and other losses — inflicted by their employees, though only under specific circumstances.  This is a long-established legal principle known as respondeat superior, or more commonly in modern parlance: vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is an extremely pro-plaintiff principle that entails the attachment of liability to an employer, even when the employer did not actually encourage or otherwise play a role in the negligent conduct perpetrated by their employee.  Why?  The purpose of vicarious liability is to force employers (who have the resources to effectuate change) to take a proactive approach to safety.  By shifting the burden of liability to employers, the State is essentially forcing employers to invest in proper training programs for their employees, to hire managers to properly supervise their employees, and to discourage “bad behavior” overall. It’s also worth noting that the injured plaintiff has a higher chance of recovering fully from an employer-defendant.  Employers are more likely to have adequate insurance coverage and/or the financial assets necessary to cover the damages at-issue in the case. Vicarious liability is an excellent tool for injured plaintiffs in Pennsylvania, but it’s not always available.  Further, employers will fight tooth-and-nail to distance themselves from the situation at-hand and avoid the application of vicarious liability.  As such, it’s important that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can effectively navigate the roadblocks put up by defendants in such lawsuits. Basics of Vicarious Liability in Pennsylvania […]

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Feb 26, 2018 - Personal Injury

Punitive Damages in Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawsuits

In Pennsylvania, and in fact, throughout the United States, punitive damages awards are frequently misunderstood in the context of personal injury lawsuits, though this general misunderstanding is reasonably justified.  Oftentimes, those unfamiliar with the process of litigation are under the impression that they will secure a financial windfall as a consequence of successful litigation — personal injury lawsuits involving an award of punitive damages can lead to verdicts (or settlements) worth millions of dollars, thus attracting a great deal of media attention.  Thus, the general populace tend to be exposed to news about personal injury lawsuits with substantial punitive damage elements, even if it is quite rare for injured plaintiffs to qualify for punitive damages. Despite the fact that punitive damages are rather uncommon, both in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, they are occasionally awarded when circumstances justify it.  If the particular circumstances of your case point to the possibility of punitive damages, your attorney will want to aggressively advocate for punitive damages to be awarded. But what are punitive damages, exactly? What is the Purpose of Punitive Damages? There are essentially two main categories of damages in civil litigation: compensatory damages and punitive damages.  Compensatory damages are — as the name implies — meant to compensate the injured party for the losses they sustained due to the negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct of the defendant(s).  In a sense, compensatory damages are meant to place the injured party in a position that is close to where they would have been had the […]

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Feb 21, 2018 - Personal Injury

Maximizing a Personal Injury Settlement

Even those who are relatively unfamiliar with the process of civil litigation are likely to have about the concept of “settlement,” though experiences and perceptions can vary quite significantly depending on the context.  For example, some people associate settlements with negative press and an implication of wrongdoing, such as when a prominent celebrity or politician settles a claim with a victim of abuse.  This negative perception is rather displaced from reality, however. In real-world terms, settlement is extremely common.  In fact, legal industry observers estimate that roughly ninety to ninety-five percent of lawsuits are resolved through a negotiated settlement, before trial litigation even begins.  Why are settlements so common in personal injury litigation?  Quite simply, there are significant benefits to a settlement for the parties involved in a dispute, particularly in a dispute that involves a personal injury claim. Settlement is Usually Beneficial Forms of alternative dispute resolution — such as negotiated settlement — are popular because they allow the parties to circumvent the expense and bureaucracy associated with the trial litigation process.  Trial litigation can be expense, emotionally challenging, and costly from a time perspective.  Trial litigation is also risky.  Even if you have a strong case, there is always the risk of “losing” a case.  In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the country, there is an adversarial court system where you either win or you lose.  If you lose, there is no damage recovery. Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and you have suffered significant […]

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