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Jul 31, 2018 - Dog Bite Injuries

Pennsylvania Has Additional Requirements for Dangerous Dogs

The state of Pennsylvania implements a hybrid liability system for dog bite injuries — strict liability that covers medical expenses for most dog bites, and dangerous dog liability that covers a much broader range of damages for bites by dogs that are defined as “dangerous” or deemed to have “vicious propensities” pursuant to statutory law. If you have been injured in a dog bite attack, then you may have the right to sue and recover substantial damages as compensation — particularly if the dog qualifies as “dangerous” under Pennsylvania law.  It’s important to note that the owners of dangerous dogs have additional duties so as to minimize the risk of injury posed by their dog.  Their failure to meet these duties will almost certainly improve your chance of success in litigation. What is a Dangerous Dog? Section 502-A of the Pennsylvania Statutes elaborates on those qualities that make for a dangerous dog. A dog will be deemed “dangerous” if it has: Injured or attacked a human without provocation; Injured a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property; Been used in the commission of a crime; A history of attacking people or domestic animals without provocation; or A propensity to attack people or domestic animals without provocation. For example, if the defendant’s dog has attacked people at a public park over the years, then a Pennsylvania court will almost certainly adjudge that dog as dangerous. Once the dog qualifies as “dangerous,” owners are subject to several new requirements. Additional […]

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Jul 24, 2018 - Personal Injury

Why Do Many Injured Plaintiffs Settle?

Negotiated settlement compromises are extremely common in the personal injury context, in both Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the country.  Though traditional wisdom once pegged the amount of settled cases at 95 percent of the total, data-driven studies have noted that the settlement rate most likely hovers between 66.9 and 87.2 percent, depending on the disputed claims at issue. Settlement may seem an odd choice to those injury plaintiffs who are unfamiliar with the litigation process.  After all, they are agreeing to abandon the claims at-issue and accept a negotiated deal — typically less than the amount that they could have potentially secured had they succeeded at trial. So, why is settlement such a popular choice?  There are a number of great reasons.  Let’s break them down. Trial Litigation is Not Ideal for Many Plaintiffs Even if you have a strong, actionable claim for damages, trial litigation may not actually be the ideal choice.  Litigation can be quite costly from a time/effort, emotional, and financial perspective.  It can also cause problems with your work or business schedule.  It’s not easy to balance your legal duties with the normalcy of your everyday life (family, friends, work, etc.). Further, trial litigation is not private.  In fact, if you bring a claim against the defendant for damages, your trial will be open to the public — you may be subject to media scrutiny, and your reputation could be damaged, depending on the circumstances of your case.  Settlement allows you to avoid the “hassle” and […]

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Jul 17, 2018 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

You May Be Entitled to Sue the Car Owner in an Accident

Car accident litigation can vary quite a bit from case-to-case, particularly if the owner of the vehicle is not the same as the negligent driver that caused your injuries — in Pennsylvania, this gives you a potential right of action against the car owner for damages pursuant to negligent entrustment. Injured in a car accident due to another’s fault?  Pennsylvania law may entitle you to significant damages.  Speak to an experienced Allentown car accident lawyer for further guidance. Negligent entrustment is plaintiff-friendly in the sense that it gives the injured plaintiff access to another defendant’s pockets, so to speak — for example, if you are suing the defendant-driver, but the driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage to account for your losses, then having access to the “pockets” of the vehicle owner will ensure that you can obtain some additional compensation. What is Negligent Entrustment? Negligent entrustment is not the same as the claim you would otherwise bring against the negligent driver — it is a separate and independent claim brought against the owner of the vehicle for negligently permitting the driver to operate the vehicle, thus exposing others to an unreasonable risk of injury. For example, if you are injured by a drunk driver, then you may want to investigate the ownership of the car involved.  If the car was owned by their sibling, who — after further investigation — is found to have permitted the driver to operate the vehicle despite knowing that the driver was intoxicated, then […]

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Jun 29, 2018 - Dog Bite Injuries

Defenses in Dog Bite Lawsuits

In Pennsylvania, dog bite injuries are governed by a unique series of regulations that provide a basic level of compensation to most injured plaintiffs, but that only allows for a significant award of compensatory damages to those plaintiffs who can prove additional negligence on the part of the dog owner.  Recovery may be complicated by various factors — a qualified Allentown dog bite attorney can provide assistance with your injury claims. If you have suffered a dog bite injury, then it’s important that you consider the wide range of defenses that will be used by the defendant dog owner to minimize or possibly even avoid liability altogether.  Understanding these defense arguments will give you a competitive advantage during negotiations and in the litigation process. Dog Not “Dangerous” Under Statutory Law In the state of Pennsylvania, dog bite injuries fall under the strict liability umbrella.  What this means is that you will always be entitled to recover at least “some” damages as a result of having suffered a dog bite injury — generally speaking, however, this is limited to compensatory damages that covers your medical expenses.  Strict liability in the dog bite context does not give you access to damages for wage loss, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other significant losses. If you intend to recover a broader range of damages, you’ll have to assert and prove that the defendant’s dog was “dangerous” and that the defendant acted negligently, which led to the injuries at-issue. Thus, defendant dog owners may […]

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Jun 27, 2018 - Personal Injury

Intentional Injuries Can Give Rise to Civil Liability

Personal injury claims are often associated with negligence claims, not with intentional injury claims — and perhaps for good reason.  After all, it’s more common for a defendant to fail to adhere to a legal duty (i.e., to act in an unreasonable manner that exposes others to a risk of injury) than to outright intentionally or maliciously cause another person injuries.  In fact, intentional injuries are more often associated with criminal prosecution as opposed to civil liability. Still, despite these perceptions, intentional injury claims are actionable, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  If you have been injured due to the intentional acts of the defendant, then you have a right to sue and recover damages. Intentional injury claims are unique, however, and deserve special consideration.  Let’s cover some of the basic issues. Civil and Criminal Litigation When defendants act intentionally to cause injury (i.e., physical battery), they may not only be civilly liability for damages, but may also be exposed to significant criminal liability for their wrongful actions. The prospect of criminal litigation can give injured plaintiffs pause.  It’s important to note, however, that there is no reason to avoid pursuing civil litigation simply because of an ongoing criminal litigation.  You are entitled to pursue a civil remedy in court whether or not the defendant is criminally liable.  Further, it’s worth pointing out that criminal litigation will not have a negative influence on your civil case. Intentional Misconduct May Be Plead in the Alternative If you’ve been injured due to the defendant’s […]

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Jun 25, 2018 - Articles

HOT CARS AND KIDS: FIVE SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT A TRAGEDY

In 2017, forty-two (42) children died after being left in a hot vehicle. Unfortunately, while one death is too many, this number of deaths is up from the annual average of 37. Sadly, ten (10) minutes is how long it takes in a closed vehicle for the temperature to rise twenty (20) degrees. And a twenty degree increase in an interior car’s temperature, especially for children, is enough to result in death. To avoid these preventable deaths, some newer cars are now equipped with a “rear seat reminder” if a rear car door is opened and closed before the vehicle is started or while the vehicle is running. In such a situation, when the car is turned off, alarm chimes will sound and a message will be displayed on the instrument panel reminding the driver to check the rear seat. Additionally, some newer car seats are equipped with a computer chip placed in the child restraint straps, which transmits a signal to the driver, within seconds of the vehicle’s ignition being turned off. If your vehicle or car seat is not equipped with such safety features, below are five safety tips to prevent a tragedy. Never leave a child alone in a car. Even if the windows are cracked, the temperature can simply rise too high and too quickly to avoid injury. Keep your car locked when you are not in it, in order to prevent a child from trying to play in the vehicle and inadvertently lock themselves in. […]

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Jun 22, 2018 - Premises Liability

Property Owners Must Fix Tripping Hazards As Soon As Possible

If you have been injured in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to damages pursuant to a premises liability claim.  Premises liability claims are not as straightforward as they might initially appear, however.  Even in cases where the court may agree that there was a hazard on the property, and that the defendant had a duty to correct the hazard, there may be issues involving “timeliness” that could influence liability (and thus, your recovery). Let’s begin with some of the basics. Basic Elements of Premises Liability In Pennsylvania, and throughout the country, those who possess property have a duty to ensure that the property is maintained in a reasonably safe condition.  This requires that: The defendant (possessor of property) know about hazards on the property; and The defendant failed to repair the hazard, or warn visitors about its existence (i.e., through signs or other warnings). In many premises liability cases, the issue of what constitutes a “hazard” lies at the heart of litigation.  Generally speaking, anything which exposes visitors to an unreasonable risk of harm will be considered a hazard. It’s also worth noting that not all hazards will be known to the defendant.  Lack of knowledge does not shield the defendant from liability, however.  If the defendant “should have known” about the existence of the hazard at-issue, then they could still be found liable for failing to correct the hazard (or warn others about it). Timeliness Timeliness is a challenging concept in premises liability, […]

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Jun 20, 2018 - Medical Malpractice

Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

If you have suffered injuries due to the negligence of a healthcare professional — or if you have had existing injuries significantly exacerbated by such negligence — then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages pursuant to a medical malpractice claim.  In fact, Pennsylvania is particularly friendly to medical malpractice plaintiffs, as the law does not impose limits on compensatory damages (in the medical malpractice context). Many plaintiffs with potentially actionable medical malpractice claims don’t quite know how medical malpractice liability actually works, nor do they fully understand who they are entitled to sue.  It’s not at all uncommon for plaintiffs to mistakenly believe that they can only sue negligent doctors. Let’s clear up this confusion.  We’ll consider the basics, first. What is Medical Malpractice? When a healthcare professional commits medical negligence, and in doing so, causes you to suffer injuries, that is defined. as medical malpractice.  Medical negligence requires that the healthcare professional violate the standard of care. Common examples of medical malpractice include: Failure to properly consider patient’s medical history Failure to clean medical tools and other instruments Failure to correctly diagnose condition Failure to order necessary tests And more In the medical malpractice context, the standard of care is dynamic, and is governed by the circumstances.  For example, the standard of care for a nurse treating a rare and complicated disease will be generally lower than the standard of care for a specialized epidemiologist. Liability May Attach to Different Healthcare Professionals Though physicians are often […]

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May 25, 2018 - Personal Injury

What Can You Do if a Defendant Does Not Respond to a Legal Complaint or Summons?

In Pennsylvania, if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident that was caused due to another person’s fault, you may be entitled to damages.  In some cases, however, the potentially liable defendant may attempt to avoid civil liability by remaining unresponsive to your legal complaint against them, or by failing to appear for a court hearing. For example, you might file a legitimate lawsuit against the defendant for injuries suffered in a car accident, and serve proper notice upon them (in accordance with Pennsylvania law), but the defendant does not respond to your complaint within the applicable deadline period. Fortunately, plaintiffs have the right to obtain a default judgment in circumstances where the defendant is unavailable or is otherwise attempting to avoid the dispute altogether.  Assuming that service was properly made, you may request that the court enter a default judgment in your favor. Default judgments are actually quite beneficial for injured plaintiffs.  In fact, default judgments are “automatic wins,” so to speak.  As the defendant has not responded to the complaint or summons, they cannot dispute your arguments. Requesting Entry of Default In Pennsylvania, if you have effected proper service of a complaint or summons upon the defendant at-issue, and the defendant fails to answer within the applicable deadline, then you may request an entry of default.  Pennsylvania courts will not grant you an award of damages without proof, however.  You will have to present evidence that supports your claim for damages, and the evidence must be sufficiently specific and […]

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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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