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 - Medical Malpractice

A Brief Look at Medical Malpractice Damage Caps in Pennsylvania

In many states, medical malpractice damages are statutorily limited so as to discourage injured plaintiffs from pursuing litigation against healthcare professionals — in the state of California, for example, there is a $250,000 cap placed on compensatory damages (the primary form of damages).  Damage cap limitations can have a significant effect on the cost-benefit analysis for an injured plaintiff.  If there is a set maximum on recovery, then the plaintiff might not only be prevented from being adequately compensated for their injuries, but they might also find that it simply isn’t worth going through the process of litigation. Medical malpractice damages have been capped in a very limited manner in Pennsylvania.  The cap is specific enough that it does not generally act as a barrier-to-entry for medical malpractice litigation.  If you have suffered legitimate and provable losses due to the negligence of a healthcare professional, then it is almost certainly worth bringing a lawsuit against the defendant for damages (or at the very least, having your claim evaluated by a qualified medical malpractice attorney). Pennsylvania Does Not Cap Compensatory Damages Compensatory damages account for the economic and non-economic losses sustained by the plaintiff, and are intended to “compensate” them for their various injuries — in other words, compensatory damages are intended to put the plaintiff in a position that approximates their status had they not been injured by the defendant. In a medical malpractice lawsuit (as in other injury-based lawsuits), these damages can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional […]

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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 23, 2018 - Product Defects

How Strict Liability Gives You an Advantage in a Product Defect Lawsuit

Product defect lawsuits can be somewhat mystifying for those who do not have prior experience with such litigation, in part because the standards for establishing liability may be unclear to the average person.  Product defect liability — in Pennsylvania and in other jurisdictions throughout the country — essentially gives the injured party (plaintiff) a right of action against the manufacturer to obtain compensation for the losses they sustained due to the particular defective product at-issue. For example, if you were injured in a motor vehicle collision as the result of defective brakes, you would be entitled you to sue the manufacturer and recover damages pursuant to Pennsylvania product defect law. Simple, right?  Not quite. Product defect liability claims may be brought on the basis of strict liability or negligence, and there are multiple theories for liability, each of which plays out rather differently — for example, if you bring a claim against a manufacturer for a product where the defect is in the design of the product itself, you will have to make different arguments (i.e., that the design was not safe for its foreseeable uses) than if you bring a claim against a manufacturer for a product that was defectively produced. Given the unique challenges presented by product defect litigation, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who has specific experience with such claims. In Pennsylvania, strict liability applies to product defect claims by default.  As a general rule, the application of strict liability favors the injured […]

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Mar 21, 2018 - Wrongful Death

Do You Qualify to Receive Damages for the Wrongful Death of a Loved One?

Have you lost a loved one due to the conduct (negligence, recklessness, intentional acts) of another person or entity?  Pennsylvania law may give you the right to recover damages pursuant to a wrongful death claim, but it’s important to note that you must be a qualified beneficiary — in accordance with Pennsylvania statutory law — to be eligible to receive wrongful death damages. So, do you qualify? Before you can determine your status as a qualified beneficiary, it’s worth considering whether you have a wrongful death claim to begin with.  Let’s take a look at the fundamentals of a wrongful death claim. What is a Wrongful Death Claim? The regulations governing wrongful death claims are enshrined in section 8301 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.  Essentially, a wrongful death claim is an action brought to recover damages for the losses sustained by surviving beneficiaries of the deceased, so long as the death was caused by the wrongful acts or negligence of another. Suppose that someone’s parents die in an unexpected car accident. If the car accident did not involve anyone else (there were poor weather conditions and the car slipped off the rode and collided with a tree), the child of the deceased parents would not be entitled to recover damages for losses stemming from their death. Now, if the car accident was caused by another driver who was operating their vehicle while intoxicated, then the child of the deceased parents would likely have a wrongful death claim against the defendant. […]

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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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Mar 14, 2018 - Wrongful Death

What is the Difference Between a Survival Action and a Wrongful Death Action?

In Pennsylvania, when a person has died due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another, their surviving family members may have the right to recover damages pursuant to a survival action.  Though many people are familiar with wrongful death actions (recovering damages that arise from the loss of a loved one), there tends to be quite a bit of confusion regarding survival actions and what makes them unique. How Survival Actions Differ From Wrongful Death Actions Survival actions are lawsuits brought by qualified family members of the deceased to recover damages that would have been owed to the deceased had they survived.  Survival actions are governed by section 8302 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which states that all causes of action (or proceedings) will continue after the death of the plaintiff. What does this mean, exactly? Suppose that your father has passed away due to fatal injuries that they incurred in a motor vehicle accident.  The defendant was distracted at the time of the accident, and their erratic driving caused the collision and your father’s subsequently fatal injuries.  Your father did not die immediately, however.  In the aftermath of the accident, there were weeks of treatment, which ultimately failed. Now, your father would have had the right to sue and recover damages for the losses he sustained following the accident, and before they died.  He would have been entitled to sue for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.  Section 8302 ensures that your […]

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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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