Resources

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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Aug 23, 2019 - Personal Injury

Train, Bus, and Plane Accidents — Common Carrier Liability

Trains, buses, and planes all fit into the category of common carriers (under Pennsylvania law, a common carrier is essentially any person or entity that accepts money to transport passengers).  If you’ve been injured while traveling with a common carrier, or in the course of waiting/boarding/etc., then you could be entitled to compensation.  Common carrier regulations require that they provide a safe environment for passengers, and that they exert significant efforts in doing so. Curious about your claims?  Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.  We will evaluate your claims and work with you to identify a winning strategy for securing the compensation you deserve. The Standard of Care for Common Carriers Common carriers are held to the “highest possible” standard of care, though it’s important to note that they are not guarantors of safety.  Put simply, common carriers are expected to take significant precautions to ensure that they do not expose passengers to an unreasonable risk of harm. Importantly, the duty of care for common carriers not only applies to situations centering around the transportation of passengers (i.e., operating the vehicle), but also to the facilities in which passengers are picked up and dropped off as part of their journey. Confused?  Let’s clarify with a brief example. Suppose that you are assaulted at a bus station while waiting for a private coach to pick you up.  You suffer serious injuries as a result and bring an action against the coach […]

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Aug 16, 2019 - Personal Injury

Recreational Waivers of Liability Are Enforceable in Pennsylvania

Liability waivers are common in the recreational context and the sporting world, as a means of limiting the financial exposure of those who operate such enterprises.  These waivers often intimidating prospective injury plaintiffs, and for good reason — in Pennsylvania, liability waivers are generally enforceable. If you’ve signed a liability waiver and have been injured, it’s important that you evaluate the situation at-hand more closely.  The circumstances may be such that the waiver will not actually be enforced, so don’t resign yourself to a “lost” case from the beginning. Liability Waivers Must Be Clear and Unambiguous If you signed a liability waivers before engaging in the recreational or sporting activity that ultimately led to your injuries, then Pennsylvania law may prevent you from litigating the claims at-issue — the court may deem the liability waiver valid and enforceable and dismiss your claims on that basis. Fortunately, you may be able to show that the liability waiver — despite the fact that you signed it — is not actually enforceable.  In Pennsylvania, valid and enforceable liability waivers must: Be clearly-written and unambiguous with respect to its function and intent; and Be sufficiently obvious (visually) in the context of the signed contract. So, how might this affect your claims? Suppose that you are injured while attending a horse-riding class.  Before class began, you signed a liability waiver as part of the attendance contract.  The liability waiver language was not clearly-written, however, and used confusing and non-standard language.  Further, the liability waiver language […]

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Aug 9, 2019 - Slip and Fall

Assumption of Risk in Pennsylvania

Assumption of risk is a common defense utilized by defendants in the slip and fall injury context, and in many other personal injury disputes.  Essentially, the defendant is arguing that the plaintiff cannot hold them liable due to having knowingly and willfully accepted the risk of harm associated with an activity. Let’s take a closer look. Understanding the General Principles In Pennsylvania, a case can be dismissed entirely if the court finds that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury.  Whether the plaintiff assumed the risk is ultimately a question of whether the plaintiff knew about the risk (and chose to accept that risk). Without evidence of actual knowledge, the court may evaluate the obviousness of the dangerous condition or activity involved.  In doing so, the court will compare your actions to that of a reasonable person who is similarly situated to you.  For example, if you choose to jump off a cliff into murky water below, then that is a fundamentally dangerous situation (you don’t know if your trajectory will put you far enough away from the cliff, and there may be rocks hidden in the water) — it’s fair to say that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would not jump off the cliff.  Thus, the court would find that the dangerous condition was obvious and that you willfully assumed the risk of injury by jumping. Assumption of Risk as it Pertains to Slip and Fall Cases Slip and fall cases frequently involve a specific expression of […]

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Jul 31, 2019 - Personal Injury

Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Settlement

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another’s fault, then you may be interested in securing a settlement from the responsible defendant — after all, litigation can be quite a burden.  Obtaining comprehensive legal representation is a crucial first step in moving forward with your claims. We encourage prospective plaintiffs to contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC to learn more about how a personal injury settlement lawyer at our firm can provide the guidance necessary to maximize their settlement recoveries.  We currently operate five offices in Pennsylvania in order to better serve our clients: in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Stroudsburg, and Easton. Understanding the Reasoning Behind a Settlement In civil disputes, parties may choose to avoid litigation and resolve the underlying conflict through settlement negotiation.  In fact, the large majority of cases — personal injury and otherwise — are resolved through the settlement process, as opposed to litigation. How does a settlement work, exactly? Suppose that you are injured in a trip and fall case while shopping at the defendant’s retail store.  You sustain roughly $100,000 in damages, and the facts indicate that the defendant did not properly inspect and maintain their store, giving rise to numerous defects that contributed to your injuries.  The defendant may want to avoid extensive litigation, however, and may therefore make a reasonable settlement offer to avoid going through litigation — perhaps $70,000 here.  As the plaintiff, you would be entitled to either accept that settlement offer, put forth a counter-offer, or completely reject […]

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Apr 30, 2019 - Premises Liability

What Qualifies as a Dangerous Condition of Property?

Slip and Fall Lawyer in Allentown, PA If you have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident, then you may be entitled to compensation under Pennsylvania law (through litigation against the at-fault property owner or possessor).  Though slip and fall accidents come under the larger umbrella of personal injury litigation, they involve unique elements and challenges that are worth consideration, particularly as you begin the claims evaluation process. Let’s take a closer look. Slip and Fall Basics In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, slip and fall liability is imposed when a property owner or possessor creates a dangerous condition (i.e., a hazard), or negligently fails to correct a known dangerous condition, and thereby exposes the premises entrant to an unreasonable risk of harm. It’s worth noting that the defendant is not always liable for damages caused by a dangerous condition — if the owner did not know about the existence of the dangerous condition, and could not reasonably have known about it, then they cannot be held liable for damages.  Further, if the premises entrant (the injured plaintiff) knew about the dangerous condition, or if the condition was obvious, then they are not entitled to compensation for their injuries. Critically, success in a slip and fall lawsuit often turns on whether the condition at-issue was actually “dangerous.” Understanding “Dangerous” Conditions A dangerous condition of property — in other words, a hazard — is that which exposes others to an unreasonable risk of harm given the circumstances.  The risk must be excessive […]

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Apr 23, 2019 - Personal Injury

How a Catastrophic Back Injury Can Lead to Significant Damages

Back Injury Lawyers Serving Clients in Bethlehem and Throughout Pennsylvania Catastrophic injuries — including those that affect the back, spine, brain, and other critical bodily systems — can give rise to complex litigation, as the injured plaintiff’s claim is likely to be substantial given their various impairments and losses. For example, if you are rendered paraplegic in a car accident, then your damages are likely to be significantly more (all else being equal) than if you had only fractured your leg.  An injury that causes you to become paraplegic will have a long-term impact on your physical, psychological, and social health, and may severely undermine your ability to work. Given the high-stakes nature of catastrophic injury litigation, it’s important that you consult with a team of attorneys who have extensive experience handling personal injury claims that involve significant damage claims.  We encourage you to contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC for more information about how we can help you move forward with your catastrophic injury claims. Back Injuries Can Cause Pain and Functional Impairment The back is particularly vulnerable to damage in an accident and can lead to significant and long-term functional impairments.  Regardless of the individual, the back is central to many intertwined systems in the body — it houses the spinal cord, and its musculature provides necessary support for most full-body movement. Injuries to the back can give rise to: Severe pain and suffering Limited mobility Difficulty making accurate movements Burning sensations Stabbing sensations Strength deficits Paralysis And […]

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Apr 16, 2019 - Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle Lane Sharing and Liability

Experienced Accident Lawyer in Bethlehem, PA If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused — at least in part — by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party, then you may be entitled to significant compensation under Pennsylvania law.  There a number of regulations that specifically target unsafe motorcycle operation, such as lane sharing regulations, and these have a substantial impact on the litigation of a related accident claim. Let’s take a closer look. Lane Sharing is Legal, But Has Limitations According to section 3523 of the Pennsylvania Code, motorcyclists are allowed to share their lane, but that right is quite limited.  More specifically, motorcyclists may not share the lane with any vehicle except for another motorcycle.  Two motorcycles may ride side-by-side with one another in the same lane — no more.  Further, a motorcycle may not overtake and pass another vehicle in the same lane.  The motorcyclist must first shift lanes, even when attempting to overtake and pass another motorcycle. Lane Splitting is Not Lane Sharing It’s important to note that lane sharing is not the same as lane splitting.  Where lane sharing involves a motorcyclist riding side-by-side within the same lane, lane splitting involves a motorcyclist operating in the space between two lanes.  Pennsylvania law prohibits lane splitting. Liability Issues Related to Lane Sharing Lane sharing liability may seem obvious when an applicable law is broken, but it’s worth noting that the defendant may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that their […]

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Apr 9, 2019 - Dog Bite Injuries

Exotic Animal Bite Injuries and Liability

Dog Bite Attorney in Allentown, PA Have you been injured in an exotic animal attack — at a zoo, garden, circus, or even in a residential area where the animal has a permitted individual owner?  Depending on the circumstances of the injury, Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action against the owner for damages. Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, we have successfully litigated numerous animal bite cases, with significant results obtained through settlement and trial.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you pursue your claims. Exotic Wildlife Ownership is Limited and Strict In Pennsylvania, exotic wildlife possession is extremely limited and highly-regulated.  An exotic animal may only be possessed by public zoological parks/gardens, nationally-recognized circuses, and individuals with the necessary permits. Individual permits are granted for each exotic animal, and the individual must have at least two years of hands-on experience in a licensed facility, as well as house the animal in a safe and sanitary manner that adequately protects the public from the dangers of such wildlife. If an exotic animal owner fails to satisfy the legal requirements, they could be exposed to civil and criminal penalties. Imposing Liability As a foundational matter, it’s important to understand that exotic animal owners must exercise due care in safeguarding the public from attack.  Failure to do so could give you — the injured plaintiff — a right to sue and recover damages for the suffered losses. Whether the owner is liable will […]

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Mar 29, 2019 - Doylestown Car Accident Lawyer

Involuntary Intoxication as a Civil Defense in Pennsylvania

Doylestown Accident Lawyer If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a drunk driver, or by an intoxicated defendant in some other accident scenario, then you may have a right to sue and recover damages under Pennsylvania law.  When pursuing litigation, however, you may come into conflict with the defendant over the issue of “involuntary intoxication.”  Involuntary intoxication is an affirmative defense that may be asserted if the defendant was not actually responsible for their intoxication at the time of the accident, thus shielding them from civil liability. When a defendant asserts the defense of involuntary intoxication, it’s important not to panic or become overwhelmed with the prospect of a more complicated lawsuit.  It is rather difficult for a defendant to successfully avoid liability on the basis of involuntary intoxication, in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. Let’s take a closer look. Involuntary Intoxication is a Complete Defense to Negligence In Pennsylvania, the defendant can make use of the involuntary intoxication defense if they can show by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., that it is more likely than not) that they became intoxicated through no fault of their own.  There are a variety of circumstances that can give rise to involuntary intoxication, including, but not necessarily limited to the following: The defendant was forcibly intoxicated, either physically (by another party), or by duress, undue influence, fraud, or some other misconduct; The defendant made an innocent mistake regarding the intoxicating product; The defendant has a unique medical condition […]

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"Unfortunately, I had a a slip and fall incident and it left me in a situation where I struggled to support my family and I really had no idea what my rights were. Thankfully, someone recommended DHD, specifically Jeremy Puglia, and it was the best decision I could have made. I was able to focus on getting better while he made certain no one took advantage of me or the situation. He listened to what I felt was fair and why, discussed it all with me and fought for me. I would NOT want to be up against him in a court room. Some people were made to defend others and he is one of them for sure!"

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