Resources

Mar 22, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Seatbelt Use and Car Accident Liability

Allentown Car Accident Lawyer There is little debate about the effectiveness of seatbelts for preventing injury or death in the car accident context.  According to data reported by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, seatbelt use reduced serious crash-related injuries and death by roughly 50 percent, with proper seatbelt use having prevented about 15,000 motor vehicle deaths in 2016 alone.  The CDC noted that while airbags were beneficial as added protection, they were not enough on their own — the combined protection of an airbag and seatbelt worked to significantly improve safety outcomes. If you’ve been seriously harmed in a car accident due to the fault of another, then you may be entitled to compensation under Pennsylvania law.  Car accident litigation is not always straightforward, however, particularly if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Let’s brief explore some of the liability issues associated with a failure to wear a seatbelt. Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Could Create Barriers to Complete Damage Recovery Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state.  In accordance with section 7102 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, injured plaintiffs — in car accident lawsuits and otherwise — may only recover damages if they are not more than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries.  If the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages (i.e., they are 50 percent or less at-fault for their own injuries), then their contribution of fault will reduce their damage recovery accordingly. For example, suppose that you are injured […]

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Mar 15, 2019 - Personal Injury

What is the Difference Between Economic and Noneconomic Damages?

Bethlehem Personal Injury Lawyers If you’ve been harmed in an accident that was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another individual or entity in Pennsylvania, then the law may give you a right of action for damages. When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, however, there is a significant difference between merely winning a case and winning a case while securing full and adequate damages to cover your losses.  For example, it’s possible for the court to agree with your arguments and impose liability on the defendant, but for the jury to award limited damages.  The jury may not believe that you have done enough to establish the “certainty” of your various losses or may believe that you are exaggerating your losses. Understanding personal injury damages is therefore critical to ensuring that you are able to achieve your litigation goals.  Let’s take a closer look. Two Primary Categories: Economic and Noneconomic Damages Damages are meant to “compensate” the injured plaintiff for their losses, and as such, the standard damages available to an injured plaintiff are termed compensatory damages.  Their purpose is compensatory in nature — they are intended to position the plaintiff (recipient of the damages) in a manner that most accurately projects their status had the accident not occurred in the first place. Compensatory damages can be further subdivided into two categories: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages describe losses that are purely pecuniary in nature.  These damages may include compensation that covers losses such as: […]

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Mar 11, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

The Most Dangerous Week of the Year

With the loss of an hour due to daylight savings time, during the week of March 10th through the 16th, we can expect an increase in everything from car accidents to heart attacks. With regard to safe driving, according to a 2014 study by the University of Colorado, auto accidents increase, due to the fact that it takes about 6-7 days to adjust to the darker morning commutes, coupled with the fact that the loss of an hour of sleep causes drivers to be less alert. According to the study, there is a 6.3% increase in traffic fatalities in over the six days following the March time change. Additionally, in 2009 a Journal of Applied Psychology study concluded that mine workers experience 5.7 percent more workplace injuries in the week daylight savings time was implemented, than in any other week of the year. The researchers attribute this increase in injuries to a lack of sleep. For those workers with less strenuous jobs, in 2012 the same journal found that “cyberloafing” significantly increased on the first Monday after daylight savings time. This was attributed to both a lack of sleep and a lack of workday focus and motivation. Finally, a 2016 study by the American Academy of Neurology found that the overall rate for a stroke was 85 higher on average in the two days after daylight savings time started. And a 2012 study at the University of Alabama found that in the first days after daylight savings time begins, there […]

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Mar 8, 2019 - Truck Accidents

Unique Injury Risks Posed by 18-Wheelers

Bethlehem Truck Accident Attorney If you’ve been harmed in a Pennsylvania truck accident due to another party’s fault — such as a trucker’s reckless driving — then you may have a right to bring a lawsuit against the defendant and secure significant compensation for your losses. Effective strategies for litigating a claim vary depending on the details of the case itself.  In a case where the defendant’s vehicle was an 18-wheeler (otherwise known as a “big rig,” trailer truck, or semi-truck), there are a number of unique injury risks that may be useful to consider when moving forward with litigation.  Drivers and trucking companies have a responsibility not to expose others to an unreasonable risk of harm, and in doing so, they must be considerate of the inherent injury risks posed by their fleet of 18-wheelers. Let’s take a closer look. Large Blind Spots 18-wheelers have significant blind spots, making it more difficult for their drivers to identify whether they are going to cause a collision with a simple lane-change or other basic traffic maneuver.  Many people understand that 18-wheelers (and other large trucks) suffer from blind spot issues and make efforts to either fall back to a reasonable distance or overtake the 18-wheeler truck so as to avoid remaining in the blind spot. Maneuverability Challenges 18-wheelers can weigh up to 40 tons, making it nearly 15 to 16 times the weight of the average motor vehicle.  The significant weight of an 18-wheeler, in conjunction with its unique structural profile […]

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Feb 28, 2019 - Slip and Fall

Slip and Falls: Understanding the Non-Obviousness Requirement

Bethlehem Slip and Fall Lawyers If you’ve slipped, tripped, or otherwise lost your balance on another’s property due to the existence of a dangerous condition of property (in other words, a “hazard”), then Pennsylvania law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries. Though your prospective lawsuit may seem rather simple in the initial stages, there are a number of ways in which the defendant may attempt to avoid or minimize liability.  Quite commonly, defendants in slip and fall cases argue that the injured plaintiff is precluded from recovery because the dangerous condition of property — the hazard — was known or obvious to the plaintiff. This defense can pose a real challenge when it comes to securing compensation, so let’s examine it in brief to understand how it works.  By learning about the basics, you’ll get a sense for how an attorney can overcome the defense. Existence of a Known or Obvious Hazard is a Complete Defense to Liability Slip and fall liability is a subcategory of premises liability — stated simply, the defendant property owner (or possessor) can be held liable for failing to exercise due care, and thereby exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  For example, if you’re eating at a restaurant, and you slip and fall on the way to the bathroom due to a large spill on the floor, then you could potentially sue and recover damages.  The defendant’s failure to inspect the floors and clean the spill would likely constitute negligence. It’s […]

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Feb 18, 2019 - Allentown Car Accident Lawyer

Several Reminders From Highway Safety Law Awareness Week

Did you know that this week (February 18- 25) is “Highway Safety Law Awareness Week?” By raising awareness regarding certain traffic laws, with which you may not be too familiar, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police hope to make everyone safer on our roadways. This year’s focus is on a variety of lesser know traffic laws, as well as some changes to our existing laws. These include, Pennsylvania’s Blind Pedestrian Law; the Use of Headphones While Driving; the Ride-on-Red law; the Unattended Motor Vehicle law (those with remote car starters should especially read this); the Clear Snow and Ice from your Vehicle Law (see our previous article here); the Steer Clear Law; the Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law; as well as penalty changes to our existing DUI laws. In addition to the “Clear the Snow from Your Vehicle Law,” we previously wrote about, we think that it is important to be reminded, about two additional laws that are the focus of this year’s Awareness Week. The first law we would like to look at in more detail is the “Unattended Motor Vehicle Law” and the second is the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown Law.” On a cold winter morning, who doesn’t want to wait in the house while your car is getting warmed-up before heading out on the road? But do you know what the laws are in Pennsylvania regarding leaving a vehicle running that is unattended? 75 Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 3701, prohibits anyone who is “in charge” of a motor […]

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Feb 14, 2019 - Car Accidents

First-Party Insurance Claims and Uninsured Defendants

If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the fault of another driver, then you may have a right of action against the defendant-driver for damages.  Unfortunately, many drivers in Pennsylvania do not have insurance coverage to pay for the damages suffered by the victims of their negligence, and even if they do have insurance coverage, if may be insufficient. Moving Forward With a UM/UIM Claim Uninsured and underinsured drivers are a serious problem for car accident plaintiffs.  If the defendant cannot cover your losses, then you may have to seek out alternative avenues for recovery.  One strategy is to identify other possible defendants — for example, if the driver was operating their vehicle in the course and scope of their employment, then you might be able to seek recompense from their employer. In cases where there are no other defendants, however, you might be forced to pursue recovery through your own insurance coverage.  If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage), then you may be able to secure compensation by filing a claim with your insurer. Possible Issues There are a number of problems that tend to crop-up when plaintiffs file a first-party claim with their insurer. Insurers Are Not on Your Side The insurer’s goal is to pay out the least amount possible.  As such, it’s important that you consult an attorney so that they can guide you and serve as your “point of contact” in all communications with the insurer.  Without an attorney guiding […]

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Feb 7, 2019 - Personal Injury

Extending the Personal Injury Claim Deadline

In the state of Pennsylvania, personal injury plaintiffs are subject to a two-year statute of limitations period.  If the plaintiff does not file their lawsuit before the deadline passes, then they will lose their right to litigate their claim in a court of law, thus relinquishing any real possibility of recovery. Statute of limitations rules are critically important, and as such, we recommend that all prospective plaintiffs seek out legal assistance early (even if uncertain about whether a claim is actionable) so that the case can be properly evaluated before too much time has passed.  If you’ve delayed in filing your lawsuit, however, there may still be hope.  Pennsylvania, same as many other jurisdictions, suspends the statute of limitations in certain circumstances. Consider the following “common exceptions” to the statute of limitations. The Discovery Rule In many cases, one’s injuries are not actually clear on the date of the accident.  For example, if you are hit by a car in a low-speed accident, you might not realize that you were harmed if the injury is asymptomatic until a later date.  The discovery rule allows for the suspension of the statute of limitations until the date of discovery (or at least, until you should have discovered the injury with the exercise of reasonable care). Minor Plaintiff Plaintiffs who were minors at the time of an accident have their statute of limitations period suspended until they become 18 years of age.  How does this work?  Suppose that you are injured in a […]

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Feb 4, 2019 - Custody

REMOVAL OF CHILD FROM ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

By TOM BLACKBURN One issue in family practice that causes substantial alarm, is when one parent threatens to remove one or more children from the area of the original residence to either another state or another distant location, against the will of the other parent. We receive inquiries on both sides of this issue. On one hand, a parent’s desire to remove the child from an area of violence, hardship and distress, is understandable as they may well see greener pastures, physically, emotionally and financially, in another state or jurisdiction. Perhaps a better job is offered or the encouragement of multiple family members await the children in this new location. On the other hand, this threat of removal can be a devastating blow to the other parent. The threat manifests cries of panic and injustice. The ability to see their child and to maintain input in decision making could be drastically reduced because of the distance involved in the relocation. Often a discerning eye can see that this threat of removal is really an escape from responsibility, or a grasp for complete control avoiding the consideration of the other parent. Criminal Offense? It is first necessary to understand that the mere act of removing a child from the jurisdiction against the will of the other parent, without Court approval, is often a criminal act. Pursuant to applicable law, “A person commits an offense if he knowingly or recklessly takes or entices any child under the age of 18 years from […]

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Feb 1, 2019 - Custody

CUSTODY: GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVES

By TOM BLACKBURN Do Grandparents have a right to file a Petition for Custody of their grandchildren? What about Aunts, Uncles, or friends? Is it possible for these concerned parties to request custody when the living situation of these minors is dire? I often get calls asking these very questions. The stories are frequently challenging and they involve issues of drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse and neglect. While these relatives still love and care for the natural parents of these children, they are willing to hire counsel to improve living conditions for these neglected and abused                                children. Grandparents Applicable Pennsylvania law now recognizes the right of a grandparent to file a Petition for Custody. While presumption in these cases favors the natural parent, it may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. 23 Pa. C.S.A. §5327(b). A grandparent’s right to file a Petition for Custody is limited. When the natural parent is not consenting to such custody, the grandparent can request an order approving such custody if the grandparent stands in an “in loco parentis” role with the child, meaning “in place of” or if one of the following conditions are met: a) the child has been determined to be a dependent child; b) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or c) the child has lived with the grandparent for at least twelve […]

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