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Pottsville PA Personal Injury Law Blog

What is negligence in Pennsylvania?

When discussing a personal injury accident case in Pennsylvania, one may hear the person who allegedly caused the accident or injury referred to as "negligent." It's one thing to be negligent in a day-to-day sense, like forgetting to stop at the store for milk. But demonstrating negligence in a legal sense - with respect to a car accident, for example - requires much more than proof of absent-mindedness.

A plaintiff - the injured party - must demonstrate five things before a defendant (the alleged wrong-doer) will be considered negligent. First of all, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty. Using the car accident example, the defendant may have a duty to obey traffic laws and drive safely in light of current road conditions. Secondly, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted in a way that breached that duty, say by driving drunk.

Autonomous cars on ice in Pennsylvania after accidents

In Pennsylvania, as well as other states, Uber has pulled its autonomous cars and SUVs off the roads and suspended its testing program. Although one day, such technology may result in safer roads, a pair of highly-publicized car accidents has shown that the technology may not be ready for use on public streets. Until the technology has improved and better regulation is in place, state governments may be reluctant to allow such testing to continue.

In March, two people were killed in two separate accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles. In Tempe Arizona, on March 18, a woman was walking her bike across a street when she was struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle that Uber was testing in the city. Although the vehicle was on autonomous mode, a safety operator was in the driver's seat of the vehicle. The safety operator had the ability to override autonomous operation but failed to do so in time to prevent the accident. Uber has already settled the case.

Jury verdict sets record in Pennsylvania medical negligence case

When a patient seeks the advice or care of a health professional in Pennsylvania, they are trusting the professional to use the utmost care and skill - particularly where children and infants are concerned. If a medical provider fails to meet the standards expected of them by their profession, the consequences can be devastating for a patient and their family members. And in cases where a health care provider's act or omission has life-long effects, the provider may be on the wrong end of a hefty medical malpractice verdict.

This recently occurred in a case that was tried in Pennsylvania federal court. In an incident that involved an infant, a neonatal doctor, who had considerable experience in his field, wrapped the swollen head of the newborn in a bandage just moments after she was born. This resulted in a breakdown of the skin tissue on the infant's scalp, leaving scars. The scars resulted in partial baldness. At the time of the verdict, the child was five years old and had suffered through years of skin treatments in an attempt to diminish the scars and improve her scalp's appearance.

Tractor trailer hit-and-run reveals peril to motorists

One of the dangers that Pennsylvania motorists may not consider when sharing the road with tractor trailers is the big rigs are so large, their drivers may not realize that they've been in an accident. There is also the more sinister possibility that a driver involved in a truck accident did not stop out of fear of losing their commercial license or job. The latter can be a real possibility for certain drivers, depending on the nature of the accident and/or their employer.

A recent crash in Schuylkill County demonstrates just what kind of peril local motorists may face when a careless or negligent driver gets behind the wheel of a semi truck. A man, who was driving his small SUV in the southbound lanes of Interstate 81, overtook a tractor trailer that appeared to be emblazoned with the logos of a major delivery service. The SUV changed lanes to pass the big rig and continue southward.

St. Patrick's Day means spike in Pennsylvania DUI crashes

Holidays like St. Patrick's Day appear to be dangerous times for Pennsylvania motorists to be on the state's roads, streets and highways. Revelers tend to have one (or more) too many and then, rather than calling a taxi or an app-based driving service, they get behind the wheel of a car, risking their own lives, as well as those of other drivers. Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents increasingly claim the lives of drivers and passengers in the Keystone State.

From 2012 to 2016, 182 crashes that involved alcohol occurred on St. Patrick's Day in Pennsylvania. Six of the crashes were fatal. In 2016, however, as St. Patrick's Day was on a Thursday and closer to the weekend, drunk driving accidents spiked. From the evening of March 16, 2016 to the early morning of March 18, 2016, drunk drivers caused 60 deaths across the state. These tragic numbers have resulted in extra enforcement in subsequent years.

A $3.4 million award in Pennsylvania medical malpractice case

When a medical professional is presented with the evidence they need to make a diagnosis and yet fails to do so, such a failure may rise to the level of medical malpractice. In some cases, the failure to diagnose results in the worsening of a patient's condition, requiring in turn even more medical intervention. Such negligence can also result in the health care provider and its insurer taking a significant financial hit when forced to compensate a victim for their injuries.

A recent Pennsylvania jury verdict underscored the dangers of such medical malpractice to both the patient and the health care providers who are financially exposed because of employee or staff negligence. A man was awarded $3.4 million dollars when a doctor who was on staff at a hospital misread the results of a test and failed to diagnose a dangerous heart condition in a patient. Two years later, with worsening health, the patient's condition was finally diagnosed.

Winter's second nor'easter wreaks havoc in Schuylkill County

Explosive cyclogenesis transformed the winter's second nor'easter into a deadly bomb cyclone. The dangerous storm caused several major car accidents and road closures across the state of Pennsylvania. While it is natural to attribute such crashes to the weather - and absent such conditions they may not have happened - the root cause is often motorists who fail to adjust their driving to the dangerous conditions.

When weather makes driving perilous, speed is often the culprit in motor vehicle accidents. Drivers of heavy trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles, which usually have better road traction in dicey conditions, sometimes fail to realize that their ability to stop is not any better than the cars that they are passing or tailgating. While law enforcement does what it can to make driving safer by issuing travel advisories or reducing speed limits - during the nor'easter, speed limits in some parts of the state were reduced to 45 miles per hour - there is not much they can do when folks willfully ignore the conditions in which they are driving.

Not all medical malpractice is accidental

An oft-heard maxim of health care is "first, do no harm." Medical malpractice may arise when this maxim is violated. Most typically, when the topic of medical malpractice comes up, it involves tales of bungled surgeries, misdiagnoses or even the failure to diagnose an illness. What these types of cases have in common is that they involve negligent acts: the health care professional did not use the level of care that is expected of them by legal, professional or societal standards. A less common, but more insidious type, of medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional's deliberate acts result in personal injury to a patient.

When a patient visits a doctor, dentist, psychologist or other health care professional, they are entrusting a great deal of privacy and, in some cases, their lives, to a third party. It for this reason that health professionals are held to such high standards of care. However, there have been a few bad seeds in the health professions who have warped the trust placed in them by patients and caused the very harm they are bound to prevent.

Injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania? We can help

Being injured in a car accident can be life changing. You may spend time in a hospital, lose wages from being out of work, have to go through physical therapy or some other rehabilitative process. Meanwhile medical bills and expenses will pile up while your ability to pay them is hindered. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, victims of accidents caused by the negligence of others may be entitled to compensation that will help to offset the financial and property damage incurred as a result of the accident.

Car accidents are simply far too common in the Keystone State. Drunk and distracted driving both pose a tremendous risk to other drivers, and even the best defensive drivers cannot always avoid an accident. Truck accidents that involve smaller vehicles can be particularly devastating, causing serious damage to people and property.

Big rigs can be big trouble on icy highways

It is an unfortunate familiar winter story in Pennsylvania: Multi-vehicle accidents, closed highways and tractor trailers. Tractor trailers are not an inherent danger in and of themselves. But, because of their size and weight, big rigs require considerably more time and distance to stop. If a semi-truck is unable to stop due to road or weather conditions -- or fails to stop due to driver fatigue, distraction or equipment failure -- its size makes the truck fair deadlier than other vehicles on the road.

Since the beginning of the year, big rigs have been involved in several deadly highway accidents in the Keystone State. Recently, two were killed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when a tractor trailer stopped due to an accident. The family's car slid sideways into the stopped truck, killing the parents. Two children were injured but survived the accident.

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Contractor Subcontractor Cases

  • $1 million Board of Claims verdict for a New York pipeline contractor against the DEP for a mine reclamation project outside Tamaqua.
  • $1 million recovery for a local general contractor against Blue Mountain School District involving the construction of a new elementary school.
  • $185,000 American Arbitration Association verdict for a Hazleton sitework contractor against a Montgomery County real estate developer.
  • $65,000 Schuylkill County verdict for a Luzerne County contractor against a Schuylkill County businessman, which included interest, costs and attorney's fees under the Prompt Pay Act.
  • Millions of dollars in settlements of numerous other construction claims throughout eastern Pennsylvania against private owners, school districts, municipalities and other governmental bodies.

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Criminal Defense

  • Acquittal on all felony charges against the target defendant in the internationally covered Shenandoah Hate Crime case.
  • Acquittal of a local police officer charged with multiple felonies arising out of a traffic stop involving illegal ATV riders.
  • Acquittal of a local contractor charged with rape. This case was one of the first challenges to DNA evidence in Schuylkill County.
  • Acquittal of a man charged with DUI by a State Trooper who boasted the highest DUI arrest and conviction rate in Schuylkill County.
  • Acquittal of a prominent local businessman charged with duct taping his ex-girlfriend following a domestic dispute.
  • Acquittal of a local tax collector charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in tax revenues from a local municipality.
  • Successful plea bargain which involved dismissal of first degree murder charges for a Shenandoah woman charged with killing her husband with a knife during a domestic dispute.
  • Acquittal of a Schuylkill County woman charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI. The client was initially found guilty when represented by a prior lawyer. She then came to our Firm, and we proceeded to get her a new trial on appeal and successfully defend her in the second trial.
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Medical Malpractice

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Personal Injury

  • $2.5 million settlement for a woman killed in a Lebanon County car crash.
  • $1.6 million New Jersey settlement for a New Jersey woman permanently injured by a speeding tractor trailer.
  • $950,000 mid-trial settlement for a Schuylkill County man who suffered a severe leg fracture after a crash on Route 901.
  • $750,000 settlement for a Schuylkill County man injured in a motorcycle crash.
  • $690,000 Schuylkill County jury verdict for a motorcyclist who lost a leg after a driver ran a red light and pulled out in front of him.
  • $650,000 New Jersey state court settlement against national garment manufacturers and retailers after an infant suffered third degree burns over most of his body because his pajamas did not meet minimum federal requirements for flame resistance.
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Workplace Incidents

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  • $3 million settlement for a Schuylkill County man who was permanently injured by a defective piece of heavy construction equipment.
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  • $550,000.00 settlement for an Allegheny County man who fell through a hatch on a roof.
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Wrongful Death

  • $2.3 million Philadelphia County verdict for the parents of a son who was fatally assaulted leaving a bar by patrons who continued to be served alcohol after they were visibly intoxicated.
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