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January 16, 2018

What’s a Realistic Settlement Amount for My Traffic Accident?

Traffic accident lawyer in oa

Lawsuits are often time-consuming and emotionally draining, so it’s little surprise that many people want to settle their claims outside of court. A settlement allows you to avoid going to trial and possibly losing, and it lets you get money fast. If you’re struggling to pay mounting medical bills, then you should talk to your car accident lawyer about what kind of compensation you can expect to receive in a settlement.


Ignore the Insurer’s Initial Lowball Offer

In many traffic accident disputes, you won’t be negotiating with the other driver, but with their insurer. If you are injured by a transportation vehicle, then you might be negotiating with the company’s business insurer. In any event, you shouldn’t be surprised if they give you an initial lowball offer. The initial offer is just like the sticker price on a car you see at the dealership. It’s a starting point for negotiations, nothing more.

Your traffic accident lawyer will be focused on getting a higher amount of compensation than what is initially offered, and they’ll use evidence that the other driver is at fault as leverage. To help things, you should work with your car accident lawyer to get the evidence you need to sue. For example, write down your own memories after the accident and let your attorney know the identity of any witnesses to the crash.

How Much Are My Injuries Worth?

This is a complicated question and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. A lot depends on the injuries you suffer and how much it costs to treat them. For example, if you need surgery to manage a traumatic brain injury, then your medical expenses will be a lot higher than if you only suffered whiplash. Your total compensation also depends on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • How much income you make
  • Whether you can return to your old job or to any job at all
  • Whether you will you need continuing medical treatment or rehabilitation
  • Your pain and suffering
  • How much damage was done to your car in the wreck
  • Whether your injuries have affected your marriage

Sometimes, you can easily apply a dollar amount to your injury. For example, if you’ve received medical treatment, you can add up the medical bills and arrive at a number. But other injuries, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to determine. Your personal injury attorney should fully evaluate the evidence to determine how much you are likely to recover for these non-economic damages.

How Motivated is the Other Side to Settle?

You also will need to consider how much money the other side is willing to pay. If your case drew a lot of media attention, then the insurer might be highly motivated to settle your dispute. When comedian Tracy Morgan was injured by a Walmart truck, Walmart actually reached a settlement with Morgan directly instead of having their insurers negotiate with him. Unsurprisingly, Walmart probably wanted to get a settlement out of the way so that they could get out of the news cycle and make the case disappear.

Conversely, some insurers might like to play hardball. If you hire an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney, then they can anticipate what tactics the other side will use. For example, you might need to wait out an insurer that plays hardball and not settle until your trial date begins to approach.

Were You Partially at Fault?

Sometimes, more than one person is partially to blame for the accident. For example, both cars might have run red lights and crashed into each other at the intersection. In this situation, it’s wrong to say that only one side is to blame for the accident when both drivers were careless. Furthermore, some drivers might only be partially at fault—but they aren’t 100% blameless.

In some states, if the victim is even a little bit to blame, they can’t receive any compensation for their injuries. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has taken a different approach. In Pennsylvania, the amount of money you receive will be reduced by your percent of liability.

For example, let’s say your injuries are worth $100,000. If you’re 50% to blame for the accident, you can only get $50,000. However, Pennsylvania also requires that you not be more to blame than the other side. This means that if you were 51% responsible for the accident, then you can’t recover anything.

Only a jury can assign blame, but during the negotiation process, each side will have a good idea of the circumstance surrounding the accident. For this reason, they can reasonably anticipate if you were partially responsible for your injuries. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a settlement—you very well might. Instead, it means you might get a smaller amount than you would if you were 100% blameless.

Settlement Is Voluntary

You should never be afraid to enter settlement negotiations with an insurer since you always have the power to walk away. A settlement is entirely voluntary, and if you aren’t pleased with an offer, you don’t have to accept it. Instead, you can go to court and try your chances in front of a jury.

Of course, if you try to negotiate without the help of a lawyer, then you might quickly accept a lowball offer, simply because you are feeling overwhelmed or in dire need of money. To get the compensation you deserve, you should never sign anything an insurance company gives you without running it by your lawyer at first. In fact, you should tell the insurer to only talk with your lawyer.

Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Lawyer Today

Traffic accidents often leave their victims in a state of fear, depression, and physical pain. You are not alone. At The Levin Firm, we help accident victims and their loved ones get the compensation they deserve. We’ve worked tirelessly to help victims begin to rebuild their lives by holding the parties at fault legally responsible. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183, or fill out our online contact form.

January 15, 2018

Traffic Accidents Can Cause Serious Burn Injuries

 

Burn Injury Lawyers in PA

Many people are burned by defective products or overly hot food or beverages, but traffic accidents also cause their fair share of burns. The effects of burns can be devastating, causing serious pain and injuries that require a long rehabilitation period. In particularly serious situations, burns can even lead to death. If you or a loved one has been burned in a traffic accident, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia traffic accident lawyer today.


What Causes Burn Injuries in Accidents

Almost any vehicle that runs on fuel could potentially burst into flames if it is hit in the right way. After the fuel tank ruptures, gas spills out and can ignite whenever it hits something hot. The resulting fire can trap victims in their cars or burn them as they flee to safety.

Burn injuries can also occur when large trucks are carrying toxic or flammable material in its cargo. For example, a truck could be carrying corrosive chemicals, which leak after a bad crash, burning victims. Large trucks can also cause fires when their fuel tanks rupture, just as smaller vehicles can.

Types of Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can range from minor to severe, and each requires different levels of treatment. If you’ve been burned in an accident, you should seek medical treatment right away. Your attending physician will study the burn to determine its severity and order an appropriate course of treatment. Typically, burns fall into one of three categories:

  • First-degree burns only cause damage to the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). You’ll typically experience swelling and redness, along with pain.
  • Second-degree burns damage the epidermis as well as the layer underneath (the dermis). Second-degree burns cause redness and swelling but also result in blisters.
  • Third-degree burns damage both layers of skin as well as bones, nerves, muscles, and the tissue underneath the skin. Third-degree burns often appear black or white.

Furthermore, burn injuries aren’t only physical. Victims can suffer a variety of mental health problems including depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, and fear of driving. Burns are also particularly traumatic when a visible part of the body is burned, such as a person’s face. Because our faces are tied to our sense of selves, burn victims can lose their sense of identity and begin to withdraw from society.

Treating a Burn

After an accident, attempt to apply copious amounts of water to the burn but don’t aggravate the skin or try to pull off foreign objects, such as melted plastic. If you do, you might end up making things worse by tearing away skin or tissue. Instead, call emergency services as soon as possible. The doctor at the hospital will assess the burn and order an appropriate course of treatment.

First-degree burns often require running under cold water for 10-15 minutes. To help with healing, you might apply aloe vera gel, and you can use over-the-counter medication to manage your pain.

Second-degree burns should be covered with a cool, moist cloth or bandage. The injured area should be elevated above the heart while you ride to the hospital. Second-degree burns that cover a large area of the body are quite serious and will need to be looked at by a doctor.

Third-degree burns might need a skin graft. With this procedure, the burned and deadened skin is removed from the wound and skin is taken from elsewhere on the victim’s body. This skin is then grafted to cover the wound. If you’ve suffered muscle, bone, or nerve damage, you might need additional surgery or rehabilitation (or both).

All burn injuries also create a risk of infection, which must be treated before the infection spreads or enters the bloodstream. In particular, look for oozing from a wound as well as any increase in swelling or pain or redness. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to take.

Holding Someone Responsible

The fact that you were injured in an accident doesn’t automatically mean someone is legally to blame. Instead, you’ll probably need to show that someone was negligent (careless) and that this negligence caused your burn injuries.

Most accident victims probably have no idea who is to blame, so your personal injury attorney will analyze the surrounding circumstances by reading the police report, interviewing witnesses, and visiting the scene of the accident. As soon as possible, you should write down your own memories while they are fresh because that is helpful information as well.

Typically, your lawyer will be looking for a traffic violation that another driver committed, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield. These violations will help convince a jury that the other driver was driving negligently and must be held responsible.

Getting Compensation for Your Injuries

If someone else is at fault for the accident, you can hold them legally responsible for your injuries. Burn victims typically receive compensation for the following:

  • The costs of medical care and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering, which includes mental anguish

Many factors go into determining how much your injuries at worth. After receiving medical treatment, make sure to hold onto all paperwork, including medical bills and prescription drug expenses. Keep copies of your medical records, which will give your lawyers some sense of the severity of your injury. Also, find proof of income if the burn has caused you to stop working. Wage earners should find a recent pay stub or W-2 form, while self-employed victims can use a recent profit-and-loss statement.

To prove pain and suffering, you should hold onto all prescription drug bottles and also keep a diary of the pain you feel each day. Also, describe how your burns have disrupted your daily life. For example, many people can no longer enjoy hobbies or time with family, particularly if their burns are severe. The more proof you have, the more likely you are to be compensated for pain and suffering.

Contact a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Lawyer Today

Traffic accidents can seriously disrupt your life, and burn injuries can be particularly painful. At The Levin Firm, we help burn victims and their families get the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.

January 10, 2018

How Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit

How Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit

 

To hold someone accountable for your traffic accident, you need to present evidence. Quality evidence will include eyewitness testimony, including your own testimony, about what happened. Even though you don’t have to prove the other driver is at fault “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you do have to show that it is more likely than not that they are responsible. This is called “proof by a preponderance of evidence,” and sometimes you need expert witnesses to meet your burden.

What Are Expert Witnesses?

Most witnesses are only able to testify as to what they have personally experienced, such as what they saw or heard. For example, the passenger in your car can testify that he saw a car come tearing through the intersection and plow into your vehicle. However, if the witness goes further and offers an opinion about what happened, the judge should exclude the testimony.

Expert witnesses are different. An expert doesn’t need to personally see the car accident but can instead offer an opinion about who is responsible. Expert witnesses typically have information that the jury needs to render a verdict, and can explain complicated concepts that help the jury do its job of finding the truth. Depending on your circumstances, you might need any of the following expert witnesses to win your traffic accident lawsuit.

Accident Reconstructionists Bring the Accident Alive

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious what caused a crash. For example, all witnesses might agree that Car A hit Car B, and even the driver of Car B doesn’t dispute the fact. However, other accidents are not clear cut, and both drivers will deny any responsibility for causing the crash. In this situation, you might need to hire an accident reconstructionist.

Using their training in physics and math, accident reconstructionists will analyze the evidence to find out what actually happened. For example, a good reconstructionist will assess the following:

  • The final resting place of all vehicles involved in the crash
  • The damage to the vehicles
  • Other accident scene evidence, such as tire marks
  • Witness statements
  • Police reports

After analyzing the evidence, a reconstructionist will usually create a 3-D presentation to show the jury, typically using computer graphics or 3-D models. This recreation helps to bring the accident to life for the jury so that they can “see” what happened. Based on their analysis, an accident reconstructionist can offer expert testimony about:

  • The speed each vehicle was traveling
  • The angle of impact
  • The severity of impact
  • Whether the accident was avoidable
  • What actions each driver took right before impact

Medical Experts Explain Injuries

To get compensation, you’ll need to show that you are injured and that the other driver’s negligence caused the injury. Also, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries. Because of this, you’ll probably need to have a doctor testify as an expert witness. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be the doctor who treated you at the hospital. Instead, you can hire someone else who will review all of the medical records and test results and base their testimony on that information.

You can also expect the defendant in the lawsuit to have a doctor testify on their behalf as well. This doctor might try to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you claim, or that you have a good chance at recovery. If you don’t have a witness in your own corner, you’ll be at a disadvantage come trial.

Engineers Show How Products are Defective

If you’re claiming to have been injured by a defective product (such as an air bag, car seat, or seat belt), then you will probably need an expert witness to testify. Jurors don’t know how these products should be designed or manufactured, so the expert witness will supply this necessary information.

For example, you might claim that a seat belt was designed improperly. An expert will rely on her experience and training to show what was wrong with the design and explain how the seatbelt should have been designed instead.

Sometimes a product design is sound but the product itself was manufactured in a defective way. An expert witness can help here, too, pointing out to the jury what was wrong with the specific product that was sold to you.

Vocational Experts Prove Lost Earning Capacity

Many accidents will cause you to miss work, but bad accidents could keep you out of work permanently. You might become disabled and not be able to return to your old occupation, or you might not be able to work at all in the future. You can receive compensation for your lost future wages, which is called your “lost earning capacity.”

Proving how much you’ll lose in wages is complicated, and vocational experts step in to help. They will analyze your current medical condition and see what jobs you can do in the future—and which ones you can’t do. They will also calculate how much you could have earned had you not been injured.

Finding Qualified Witnesses

If you’re going to use an expert witness, then you should find the best—someone who can speak to the jury in a way that is easy to understand. Also, every expert must be qualified as an expert with the judge, so you need someone with impeccable experience and education. Although you can certainly look for experts on your own, a traffic accident attorney is a big help.

At The Levin Firm, we regularly work with expert witnesses to help our clients get the compensation they need. We’re skilled at finding the right expert for your case and making sure they are available to testify on your behalf in court, if necessary.

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today

It takes time and effort to build a strong lawsuit, and you shouldn’t just hire the first name you see in the phone book. At The Levin Firm, we’ll do everything we can to convince the jury that you deserve every penny you are asking for. Call us today for your free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.

January 9, 2018

Defective Car Seats Can Cause Serious Injuries

Car Accident Lawyers in PA

You buy a car seat so that your children will be safe. But sometimes a car seat is defective, and it fails to do the job you bought it for—during a traffic accident no less. When products like car seats don’t work the way you expected, then you’re probably frustrated and angry. Fortunately, you might be able to sue the manufacturer for the injuries your child has suffered. Contact a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney today for a free consultation.


Common Child Seat Defects

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are a leading cause of death for children 13 and under. For this reason, Pennsylvania law requires that parents use a child safety seat for children under 4 and a booster seat for children ages 4-8, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.

But a defective child or booster seat will fail you and your child in an accident. Common defects include the following:

  • A defective plastic shell. A weakened shell will crack under pressure and not provide the expected support to your child. A shell can be weak because the manufacturer used inadequate materials or because it constructed the shell improperly.
  • Flammable materials. A manufacturer might use low-quality materials that will catch on fire during an accident.
  • Improperly labeled shoulder harness slots. You might not know to properly secure the car seat through the harness slots if there isn’t an adequate label.
  • Faulty adjusters. The straps need to be adjusted properly so your child is secured. When the adjusters are faulty, your child might be injured by the straps.
  • Defective buckles or latches. When buckles and latches fail, your child won’t be secured properly in a crash. They may be ejected from the seat or become trapped in the seat, suffering injuries.
  • Improperly located chest clip. If the chest clip is too low on the body, then your child can be ejected from the car seat during an accident.

Determining Who to Sue

If your child is injured through someone else’s fault, then they should certainly pay compensation. But you and your personal injury lawyer need to identify the correct parties to sue for the injury. Generally, you can sue the manufacturer as well as anyone else down the supply line who is responsible for the defect in the child seat. Obviously, this depends on the circumstances, but you can often sue the manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or retailer.

Each of these parties owes you, the consumer, different legal duties, and you can sue them when they fail to fulfill their duty. For example, you might be able to sue for the following:

  • Providing inadequate warnings explaining the risks associated with the child seat
  • Failure to discover defects in the seat
  • Failure to properly disclose to you the vulnerabilities in the car seat
  • Designing a defective child seat
  • Manufacturing a child seat with defects
  • Failing to properly test a product before placing it on the market
  • Failing to properly inspect the car seats that it manufactures or distributes

When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, they will need to interview you about the circumstances surrounding your purchase and use of the car seat. They will also probably need to inspect the car seat as well. Only an expert witness can testify as to whether a car seat was designed or manufactured improperly, and a good personal injury attorney should be able to find expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf.

What If I’m to Blame?

Many parents feel guilty whenever their child is injured, so what you are feeling is normal. However, it’s highly unlikely that you are to blame for the child seat being defective. Unless you’re a product engineer, you wouldn’t even know what to look for to determine if the car seat was manufactured properly or whether it had any hidden vulnerabilities.

Also, the law imposes duties on manufacturers and others to warn consumers of hazards. You are not legally responsible for anticipating that the child car seat is dangerous. It’s up to the manufacturer and others down the supply chain to provide this information to you, and when they fail they are legally responsible.

Of course, you might be responsible for the car accident that led to your child’s injury. For example, you might have rear-ended another car, and your child was injured as a result. These facts won’t necessarily prevent you from getting compensation, so you should still schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney as soon as possible.

What Compensation Can I Get?

The purpose of the civil legal system is to allow accident victims to be put in the position they would be in had the accident had never happened. This means you can receive financial compensation for economic and non-economic harms, such as the following:

  • Reimbursing you for medical treatment, such as doctor or hospital visits, as well as prescription drugs
  • Paying for any physical therapy your child will need as a result of the injury
  • Compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the accident

Determining how much compensation you are entitled to is an individualized process, which a qualified attorney can only make after meeting with you and analyzing your situation. If necessary, your lawyer might recommend that you take your child to a doctor or other medical specialist to assess the full extent of their injuries. Injuries to the head, for example, might take years to fully develop, so you want to know the severity of any injury before considering how much to sue for.

Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Attorney Today

Parents should feel confident that the car and booster seats they purchase will work as expected. When children are injured unnecessarily because of defective products, you might be entitled to compensation. At The Levin Firm, we help traffic accident victims hold parties at fault accountable for manufacturing and selling defective car and booster seats. Call us today at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form. Consultations are free.

January 8, 2018

Can I Sue the Government When One of Its Vehicles Causes My Accident?

Vehicle Accident Lawyer in PA

 

Suing a driver for causing a traffic accident is usually straightforward in Pennsylvania. You find out where the defendant lives, file a complaint in court, and serve a summons and copy of the complaint on the other driver, usually at the driver’s home. But what happens if you’ve been injured by someone driving a government vehicle? With so many government vehicles on the road, this isn’t a remote possibility; government employees are as capable of causing a wreck as any other citizen. Read on to find out when and how you can sue a driver of a government vehicle to recover compensation for damages.

Government Vehicles on the Road

There are many state and local agencies that have employees out on the road as part of their daily jobs. Consider some of the following vehicles you’re likely to see every day:

  • School buses
  • Police cars
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks
  • Department of Transportation vehicles
  • City vehicles

The drivers of all of these vehicles owe the other drivers on the road a duty of driving with reasonable care. Unfortunately, government employees sometimes make mistakes, just like other drivers on the road. They may become distracted or careless and cause an accident.

Injuries Caused by Government Drivers

Negligent government employees can cause catastrophic injuries to unsuspecting drivers on the road. If you’re hit by a government vehicle, you might suffer from any of the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Eye injuries
  • Spinal injuries, such as a herniated disk or fractured vertebrae
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Thermal or chemical burns

Recovery time can be extensive, with many victims suffering from intense pain that keeps them out of work. All the while, medical and other bills continue to pile up, putting further emotional strain on victims and their families. Depending on the severity of the injury, victims sometimes suffer a loss of companionship with their spouse and withdraw from family and friends. They may sink into a deep depression that requires therapy and psychiatric drugs.

Immunity Law in Pennsylvania

This might surprise you, but state and local governments are generally immune from lawsuits brought by their citizens. For example, the state’s Sovereign Immunity Act, 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8521, limits the state’s legal liability for any injuries that government agencies and their employees cause. Likewise, the state’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8541, limits legal liability for local agencies like the city. This means the government can hurt you through no fault of your own and escape all legal responsibility for your injuries.

Fortunately, each law contains an exception for automobile accidents caused by government employees. The state law allows you to sue for the operation “of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of a Commonwealth party.” And the political subdivision law permits you to sue for the operation “of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of the local agency,” provided you aren’t suing because you are a criminal who was injured when fleeing arrest.

According to each law, you must show that the vehicle was in the “possession and control” of the state or local government. Essentially, this means you can’t sue the government if someone steals the vehicle and then injures you with it. But, if a government employee is driving the vehicle as part of her normal job duties, then you should be able to sue.

What You Must Prove

As in most other traffic accidents, you’ll only get compensated for your injuries if you can show that the government driver was sufficiently careless (negligent). Moreover, the driver’s negligence must have caused your injuries. Common examples of negligence include the following:

  • Not looking before changing lanes
  • Not looking ahead
  • Blowing through an intersection
  • Speeding
  • Swerving
  • Ignoring traffic signs
  • Failing to yield
  • Texting or talking on the phone while driving
  • Not maintaining the vehicle properly, such as not repairing worn out brakes

Furthermore, you must show that you have a recognizable legal injury. For example, a city vehicle might have raced through an intersection and almost hit you. Although you’re probably very scared, you haven’t suffered an injury that the government needs to compensate you for. Instead, you’ll most likely only get compensation if you can show that you suffered a serious bodily injury. In those situations, you can recover the costs of medical treatment and pain and suffering.

Providing Mandatory Notice

Lawsuits against the government are a little different from other lawsuits in one important respect: you must provide the government written notice that you intend to sue it. In particular, you must provide notice to the government agency that controls the vehicle, and you need to provide notice to the state’s Attorney General.

Furthermore, you are only permitted six months from the date of your injury to provide this notice, so you can’t delay. The notice gives the government time to investigate so that it can decide whether to settle with you or to fight in court.

Your notice must contain specific information to be effective, so it’s a good idea to employ an experienced personal injury attorney before sending it. At a minimum, your notice must contain the following:

  • The victim’s name and residence
  • The name and residence of the person who is bringing the lawsuit (if different from the victim)
  • When the accident occurred (date and hour)
  • The location of the accident
  • The name and office address of your attending physician

If you fail to provide this written notice to the appropriate government offices, then your lawsuit will be dismissed. This means no money for your injuries, no ability to hold the government agency responsible for its actions, and no lawsuit.

Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Today

Accident victims deserve compensation, whether they are injured by a private citizen or a government employee. At The Levin Firm, we help accident victims and their families get the compensation they need to start rebuilding their lives. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.

January 5, 2018

Can I Get Compensation if I’m Partly to Blame for a Traffic Accident?

Can I Get Compensation if I’m Partly to Blame for a Traffic Accident

The short answer to this question is “yes.” The longer and more accurate answer is “sometimes.” When it comes to receiving compensation for a traffic accident, everything will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, which your personal injury lawyer can analyze for you. If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, don’t put off calling a personal injury lawyer because you know you are partially responsible for the accident. You can still work to get the compensation you and your family need.

History of Negligence Actions

When someone injures you in a traffic accident, you will probably sue for “negligence.” Basically, this is when you allege that the driver owed you a duty to drive with reasonable care and he fell short of that duty by speeding, swerving, or committing some other traffic violation. If the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you can typically recover compensation.

Pennsylvania law used to be fairly unforgiving if the injured driver was in any way negligent herself. In that situation, a person couldn’t sue at all—even if the other driver’s negligence caused catastrophic damage. This type of pure contributory negligence system prohibited plaintiffs from suing for negligence if their own negligence was even 1% responsible for the accident.

Comparative Fault Today

Fortunately, Pennsylvania has followed the lead of other states and realized the unfairness of a pure contributory negligence system. Now, you can recover compensation even if you are negligent—so long as you are not more negligent than the other party.

For example, a mother might sue a driver who rear-ends her, causing injuries to her child. However, it is discovered that the mother had failed to properly secure her child’s safety seat, so the child was thrown free and fell on the car floor. A jury finds that the mother is 50% responsible for her child’s injuries, and that the driver who rear-ended her is also 50% responsible. In this situation, the mother can receive compensation because she isn’t more responsible than the other driver.

Conversely, imagine if the mother had stepped on the brakes to make a left-hand turn without ever using her turn signal. After a driver rear-ends her, her child is thrown from the child seat that she had failed to properly secure. In this example, a jury might find that the mother is 75% responsible for her child’s injuries and the other driver is only 25% responsible. Because she is more responsible than the other driver, she cannot receive any compensation for her child’s injuries.

In short, Pennsylvania’s comparative fault system allows you to receive compensation if you were less than 51% responsible for the accident. Any percentage of fault over that amount will prohibit you from suing.

Evidence to Show Your Lawyer

It isn’t always easy to determine who is responsible for a traffic accident. Both sides will probably deny any responsibility, so the issue will be disputed if you go to trial. Your lawyer will need to fully assess the facts of your situation, including the following:

  • The police report. The police report should apportion responsibility for the accident. Of course, the police officer’s opinion isn’t a fact that the jury must accept, but it is important evidence to know.
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident. These can show where the vehicles ended up and if any obstructions (such as tree branches in front of stop signs) contributed to the accident.
  • Photographs of the vehicles involved. Use your smartphone or ask someone else to take pictures.
  • Witness testimony. Try to identify witnesses to the accident. The police report should name some, but you should also get names and contact information as well.
  • Your own testimony about what you remember happening. Sit down as soon as possible after the accident and write down what you remember, if anything.
  • Any surveillance or camera footage in the area. If the accident happened in a parking lot, then there should be surveillance footage.
  • Cell phone records, which might show which drivers were texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident.
  • Medical records, which show your injury. Your injuries can sometimes reveal the angle of impact.

It is important to collect as much of this evidence as you can to show your personal injury lawyer at your initial consultation. If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will also be able to help you find some of this information. For example, your attorney may subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records and visit the scene of the accident.

Estimating the Compensation You Can Receive

If you were less than 51% at fault, the good news is that you can still receive compensation for your injuries, which means money to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. The bad news is that the amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Return to the example above. If a mother is 50% at fault for her child’s injury and a jury determines her losses to be worth $40,000, then she will only be able to get half of that amount, or $20,000. Her amount is reduced by her proportion of fault. By contrast, if the jury found she was 20% responsible for the injury, then she would get 80% of the verdict amount, or $32,000.

If you hope to settle your lawsuit, you should expect to settle for less if the evidence shows you were at least partially responsible for the crash. Any insurance adjuster will reduce the amount they offer you; however, you can still receive a meaningful settlement to help pay for your injuries and pain and suffering.

Talk to a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today

Being partially at fault for an accident doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve. At The Levin Firm, we have helped countless victims hold drivers responsible for their actions, even if our clients made some mistakes as well. Call us today for a free consultation and case evaluation at 215-825-5183, or fill out our contact form.

December 29, 2017

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in PA

According to statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, about 858,000 licensed motorcyclists and 400,000 registered motorcycles call this state home. Given the large number of motorcyclists in Pennsylvania, both drivers and cyclists must work to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents, which can result in serious and permanent injuries or even death.

Pennsylvania Does Not Require All Motorcyclists to Wear Helmets

Pennsylvania law does not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. A motorcyclist or passenger “must wear protective headgear unless he or she is over 21 years of age or older and has either two years of riding experience or has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.” Motorcyclists who meet both requirements can zoom around Philadelphia without wearing protective headgear.

Wearing helmets is intuitively safer. Helmets are designed to meet specific safety standards and they protect users from serious head injuries in the event of accidents. Serious head injuries, which can include concussions, fractures, and traumatic brain injuries, can result in victims suffering permanent complications and impairments.

Statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation show that, in 2016, 94 persons who were not wearing helmets died in motorcycle accidents. The same report also shows that 1,245 motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets suffered accident-related injuries.

While helmets may keep riders safer, protecting them from permanent injuries or death, the law doesn’t require everyone to wear one. Therefore, the law may entitle motorcyclists to compensation for damages suffered in accidents—even when they didn’t wear helmets.

Motorcycle Injuries May Be Serious and Permanent

While not all motorcycle accidents result in death, many do cause serious, life-threatening, and even permanent injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (concussions and permanent brain damage)
  • Injuries to the spinal cord, perhaps resulting in paralysis
  • Broken bones

The number of motorcycles on Philadelphia’s roadways does increase the likelihood of an accident. In 2016, nearly 3,500 accidents involved a motorcycle. As more motorcycles make it onto the streets, that number may continue increasing.

Motorcyclists Are More Likely to Suffer Injuries

Motorcycles are sometimes referred to, in jest, as “death traps.” In accidents, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer injuries than other motorists. Motorcyclists do not have any protective enclosures like drivers and passengers in the bodies of automobiles.

Accidents can cause motorcyclists to strike the road or other objects, and they may do so at high speeds. The impacts can, and often do, cause serious traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or broken bones.

A motorcyclist takes a risk to ride a motorcycle, but does not give up the right to recover compensation in the event of an accident. A skilled attorney can help motorcyclists navigate the legal process.

Motorcyclists Are Responsible Drivers

Society unfairly stigmatizes motorcyclists as wild and irresponsible. Instead, most motorcyclists drive quite responsibly, and other parties tend to cause many of the accidents involving motorcycles. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

Cars making left turns in front of motorcycles. Often, drivers fail to look carefully before making left turns. Failure to observe carefully can cause a driver to miss an oncoming motorcycle or misjudge its speed. As a result, drivers may collide with a motorcycle or force the motorcyclist to evade the turning car, causing the motorcyclist to strike another car or fixed object.

A car changing lanes into the motorcycle. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, so they are harder to see—an especially serious problem when cars change lanes.

This does, however, not excuse a driver’s inattentiveness. Drivers should always take care to see any motorcycles before switching lanes.

Rear-end collisions. Inattentive drivers can overtake motorcycles stopped at intersections or stoplights.

Motorcycle Safety Courses Are Available

Pennsylvania does what it can to improve motorcycle safety. One of the state’s efforts includes providing free motorcycle safety programs, available to riders of all experience levels throughout Pennsylvania. The state believes that it can reduce the number of motorcycle accidents through safety education.

Motorcyclists Can Recover Compensation

Motorcyclists can recover compensation for the following expenses and other costs associated with motorcycle accidents:

  • Damages for medical expenses help a victim recover the costs of current and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries. This can also include rehabilitation costs.
  • Pain and suffering damages, designed to compensate a victim’s non-monetary losses. Specifically, these damages provide compensation for both the physical and emotional pain that a victim may suffer as a result of the accident.
  • Lost wages—based on earning capacity—incurred during the period of recovery. Accident injuries may prevent a victim from returning to work, whether temporarily or permanently.

Contact a Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

As the victim of a motorcycle accident, you deserve to recover compensation for your injuries and accident-related expenses. After you recover from your injuries, seek experienced legal counsel to help recover compensation. The skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have experience handling these cases. We will review your case and create and implement a legal strategy designed to help you obtain the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.

December 28, 2017

Why Are Some Car Accident Cases Contested?

car accident lawyer in pa

Car accidents happen—in fact, quite often. Pennsylvania saw nearly 120,817 car accidents throughout the state in 2016.

Car accident cases resolve without issue when one driver admits fault—but not so easily when the parties debate who caused a collision and who should bear liability.

Why Is Determining Fault Important?

Determining fault assigns liability to one or more drivers involved in an accident. Accidents are, of course, accidental. Still, many times they result from the negligence of one or more drivers.

Negligence is a legal term that is perhaps best understood by first evaluating one’s duty of care. The law expects every driver to maintain a duty of care toward the other drivers on our highways and city roads. The driver must drive in a safe manner and avoid causing harm to others. A negligent driver breaches that duty of care to other drivers.

What Causes Accidents?

Common causes of car accidents include:

  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving—when a driver diverts attention from the road by looking at a phone, eating, changing the music, or paying attention to anything other than driving—is a leading cause of today’s car accidents. (Nationwide, distracted driving killed almost 3,500 persons in 2015.)
  • Speeding. Drivers who speed, traveling well over the posted speed limit, tend to give themselves less time and space to react—which can make the difference between avoiding an accident or causing one.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers can cause accidents by driving recklessly—including by driving while under the influence, failing to observe traffic signs, making improper turns, or failing to account for weather conditions.

How Is Fault Determined?

To determine which driver acted negligently, insurance agencies and their attorneys will look at various documents, including:

  • Police reports. Police are required to prepare accident reports whenever they are called to accident scenes. A report will often include accounts of the accident as given by drivers, passengers, and other witnesses. It will also include a report as to what the police officer observed at the scene of the accident.
  • Photos of the accident scene.Drivers should take pictures of the accident, both cars, and the surrounding area. Pictures can prove important in determining fault.
  • Vehicle damage. Reports and photos help paint a picture of the accident. Looking at a damaged vehicle does provide a better opportunity for insurance companies and experts to determine fault. Assessing vehicle damage can either corroborate or counter accident accounts.
  • Witness testimony. Witness testimony can play a pivotal role in determining fault. Witnesses, especially uninterested observers, can provide an unbiased account of the events that caused the accident. Witness can help determine whether a driver acted in a manner that caused the crash—for example, by speeding or weaving through traffic.
  • Surveillance or camera footage. Sometimes, the best sources of information for determining fault can come from video recordings. Buildings with surveillance cameras may capture events that caused the accident, thus providing unbiased perspectives.

Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law provides another reason for parties to contest Philadelphia automobile accident cases. Pennsylvania law recognizes comparative negligence, a legal defense in which a plaintiff who drove negligently at the time of the accident can still recover compensation. However, comparative negligence is not a total defense. Under Pennsylvania law, negligent plaintiffs can recover damages only if they were less negligent than the defendants.

Insurance companies will want to contest liability to avoid having to pay compensation unless required. They will conduct careful and detailed reviews of the facts about the accident. If an insurance company concludes that a client was less negligent than the other driver, the insurance company may not feel obligated to pay damages. Thus, comparative negligence provides insurance companies with lifelines as they contest automobile cases.

Available Compensation in Automobile Accident Cases

Medical expense damages help a victim recover the costs of current and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries. This can also include the costs of rehabilitation.

Pain and suffering damages compensate a victim for non-monetary losses. Specifically, these damages provide compensation for both the physical and emotional pain that a victim may suffer as a result of an accident.

An accident may render a victim unable to return to work, whether temporarily or permanently. The victim may recover damages for lost wages based on earning capacity

Contact A Philadelphia Automobile Accident Attorney Today

If an automobile accident injured you or a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is a contested case. Rather, you deserve to recover from your injuries without further headaches. You deserve the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you.

After you recover from your injuries, seek experienced legal counsel to help recover compensation. The skilled automobile accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have experience handling these cases. We will review your case and help create and implement a legal strategy designed to help you obtain the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or visit our website.

December 21, 2017

Hit by a Delivery Driver? You Might Hold the Employer Liable

Truck Accident attorney in pa

When accidents take place between two or more people, the parties can, more often than not, resolve the matters among themselves and their insurance companies. In the event that accident expenses exceed what an insurance company is willing to pay, victims can sue the at-fault drivers to recover further compensation. And accidents involving delivery vehicles may provide victims with additional alternatives for compensation.

When Are Delivery Drivers Liable?

The driver of a delivery vehicle who causes an accident remains liable. However, other parties may also face liability.

Pennsylvania law may permit a car accident victim to bring forth a claim against a delivery driver’s employer under the theory of vicarious liability. To recover compensation under this theory, the victim must demonstrate that the driver acted within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.

An employee acts within the scope of employment whenever meeting the following conditions:

  • The employer hired the employee to perform a specific task
  • Within authorized time and space limits
  • At least in part to serve the employer

Liability may extend to a driver’s employer in the following example:

A delivery driver, delivering to a customer, drives a company vehicle at high speeds, swerving in and out of traffic despite wet weather conditions. The delivery driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes into another vehicle in oncoming traffic, injuring that driver and that car’s passengers.

Here, the driver acts within the scope of employment because the driver is making a delivery on behalf of the employer (and in a company vehicle). The driver’s negligence causes the accident and injures the other vehicle’s passengers. Because of these factors, the injured parties may recover compensation from both the driver and employer.

Victims cannot always hold a delivery driver’s employer liable. For example, if the driver in the above scenario was not making a delivery and was instead making a detour to visit a friend, then the employer may avoid liability—visiting a friend is not within the driver’s scope of employment.

The facts of a case are not always as cut and dry as the above examples. To determine whether you can hold a delivery driver’s employer liable for injuries the driver caused you, seek experienced legal counsel.

Recovering Damages

An automobile accident victim must demonstrate injuries and expenses to recover compensation. Victims must keep detailed records and receipts for all accident-related medical expenses, doctor visits, and repairs. Good record-keeping will help a skilled attorney put together a strong, well-written claim on your behalf.

For What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover Compensation?

In the event of an automobile accident, you can recover damages for:

  • Medical expenses (including current and future medical costs for accident-related injuries, as well as for rehabilitation and physical therapy).
  • Non-monetary losses (particularly pain and suffering).

Lost wages. Injuries may preclude a victim may from returning to work, whether temporarily or permanently, after the accident. The victim may recover compensation for lost wages—based on earning capacity—incurred during the recovery period.

Punitive damages, although awarded to victims, do not compensate victims for their losses— they punish defendants while discouraging others from acting in similar ways.

Automobile accidents can also—sometimes, all too often—involve the loss of life. In fact, statistics indicate that one in 10 fatal highway accidents involve large trucks—which can include some delivery vehicles. When fatal accidents involving large trucks took place, 70 percent of those who died in 2015 occupied passenger vehicles. Family members may recover compensation for loss of companionship because they can no longer enjoy the presence of the deceased.

Extending Punitive Damages to Employers

Punitive damages can extend to an employer. This helps victims because employers tend to have deeper pockets and can, therefore, pay these damages, which can add up to significant sums.

A victim will need to demonstrate specific facts to receive punitive damages. Given the complex arguments required to receive punitive damages, victims should seek experienced legal counsel to help with their claims.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today

As the victim of an automobile accident, you deserve to recover compensation for your injuries and accident-related expenses. Whenever the driver of a commercial vehicle causes an accident, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to recover damages from both the driver and the driver’s employer. The personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm have the experience and determination to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or visit our website.

December 20, 2017

Managing an Accident Involving Commercial Trucks

Truck Accident Lawyer in PA

Traffic accidents involving commercial trucks, including tractor-trailer rigs, cause thousands of injuries each year. If you were in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area that involved a commercial truck, seek professional assistance to deal with the complicated liability issues that will arise. Protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks Present Complicated Liability Issues

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, crashes involving large trucks in 2014 killed 3,903 persons and injured about 111,000. Almost three-fourths of those killed or injured in those accidents were the occupants of passenger vehicles involved in the crashes.

Unfortunately, statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate after years of decline, accidents involving large trucks and buses started to increase again.

Because of the complicated ownership issues and hiring practices involved in the motor shipping industry, accidents involving tractor-trailers pose interesting liability questions.

Truckers may work under shipping companies’ permits and even company logos, colors, and brands. Relatively few drivers are actual employees of a shipping company, however. They generally work as independent contractors who own their rigs and pay for their own fuel, repairs, and licensing fees. They contract with shipping companies to haul loads but choose the routes and schedules on which they operate. If they don’t want to carry cargo on a motor carrier shipping company’s desired schedules or routes, they decline the contracts and find ones more to their liking.

Complicating things further, the trailers pulled by the tractor-trailers generally are owned by another entity separate from both the shipper and the trucker. The cargo is usually owned by yet another entity. In all likelihood, each these entities have different insurance companies.

Until relatively recently, then, the shipping company—also known as the motor carrier—would argue that because the driver was an independent contractor, the motor carrier did not bear liability for any accident that might arise out of a driver’s negligence or fault. This would force an accident victim to file a claim against a truck driver—usually through the truck driver’s insurance company—and attempt to get compensation that way. The disadvantage of suing an individual, even one with insurance, versus the shipping company, is obvious.

Suing all of the entities involved in shipping the load carried by the truck involved in your accident can yield a larger amount of compensation, but can prove complicated and expensive, and involve complex legal issues.

The Independent Contractor Exception for Motor Carrier Liability No Longer Applies

Fortunately, at least from the perspective of people involved in traffic accidents where truck drivers are at fault, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations eliminated the distinction between independent contractors and employees with respect to motor carriers and liability. All drivers for a motor carrier company, including independent contractors, are now deemed statutory employees of the motor carriers. The motor carriers now bear the ultimate liability for any accident in which their drivers are at fault.

Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks Still Present Complicated Liability Issues

The very size of tractor-trailers also creates one of their most dangerous characteristics: blind spots. Every car has blind spots, but passenger vehicles are smaller, and so are their blind spots. Passenger vehicle drivers can easily check their blind spots.

This is not the case with tractor-trailer drivers. In fact, it is impossible. Tractor-trailer blind spots, depending on the size of the truck, can extend as much as 200 feet behind the rig. Blind spots on either side of the rig extend well beyond the end of the trailer, and depending upon the make and model of the semi hauling the trailer, as far as 20 feet in front of the semi. Liability issues become complicated when it is literally impossible for a truck driver to know whether a passenger vehicle is there.

Avoid Truck Blind-Spot Accidents

Passenger vehicle drivers must take defensive measures to avoid accidents that might occur because a truck driver can’t see them. These measures include:

  • Do not cut closely in front of a tractor-trailer. This might put you in a blind spot where the truck driver cannot see if you are there.
  • Avoid holding a position next to a tractor-trailer. If you find yourself driving next to a truck, either pass the truck or fall back to a position where the truck driver can see you. Where possible, pass on the left, where the truck driver’s blind spot is smaller. The blind spot on the right is much larger. If you can’t see the driver’s face in his side mirror, he can’t see you.
  • Keep a safe distance when driving behind a tractor-trailer. If you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see you.

If a Commercial Truck Injured You in the Philadelphia Area, Contact The Levin Firm

If you suffered a personal injury in a traffic accident involving a commercial truck in the Philadelphia area, protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

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