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November 17, 2017

Tips to Help You Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

Distracted Driving Attorney in PA

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Injury Center, distracted driving causes more than 390,000 injuries and 3,477 deaths in a single year? This is shocking, because it means that drivers could prevent hundreds of thousands of accidents—and thousands of fatal ones—by paying attention to the road. There is no sure way to protect yourself from distracted drivers, but you can help reduce the likelihood that you will be involved in serious accidents as the result of distracted driving. You can also seek compensation if you were injured in a car accident because another driver was distracted.

Categories of Distracted Driving

  • Generally, experts claim that three categories of distracted driving contribute to most motor vehicle accidents:
  • Visual: When a driver’s eyes are not on the road at the time of or immediately before the accident
  • Manual: When a driver’s hands or feet lose contact with the steering wheel or pedals
  • Cognitive: When you are not focused on driving—that is, daydreaming

The reason why texting while driving is extremely dangerous and has been the focus of legislators is because it takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving all at the same time. This means you are visually, manually, and cognitively distracted, while many other types of accidents are caused by only one type of distraction.

Unsurprisingly, drivers younger than 20 have the highest rates of distraction-related fatal car crashes, the majority of which are attributed to texting and use of electronic devices. It was also reported that, when compared to European drivers, Americans had higher overall rates of distracted driving incidents because they were more likely to email, text, or talk on a cell phone while driving. For these reasons, Pennsylvania has banned texting while driving. In fact, Pennsylvania law prohibits using a wireless device to send, read, or write a text-based communication while driving, which would include texting, emailing, or posting to a social media account. Notably, this does not include using a GPS.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distractions greatly reduce reaction time while driving. Thus, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation urges you to avoid the following behaviors while driving:

  • Eating, drinking, or smoking, because your hands will be off the wheel and eyes off the road
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Using electronic devices
  • Interacting with other passengers
  • Searching for objects in your vehicle, such as dropped cell phones
  • Reading, writing, or studying, of which many students are guilty during exams
  • Grooming or putting on makeup, which is common during the morning business rush
  • Looking for a destination

Statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely to end up in car accidents if they are driving with teenage passengers as opposed to driving alone or with adults. Interaction with teenage peers causes distractions, and peer pressure itself can induce young teenagers to drive faster or act more impulsively behind the wheel. If you want to prevent distracted driving, do not engage in such behaviors while your vehicle is in motion. It is also important to monitor young drivers to reduce their distractions, and to speak with teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.

How to Prevent Distracted Driving

Experts state that education about the dangers of distracted driving, especially for those younger than 20, is the key to preventing many distracted driving accidents. Perhaps when young drivers are presented with the statistical likelihood of suffering or causing fatal or serious injuries due to texting or cell phone use, they would engage in distracted behaviors less often. Maybe stronger distracted driving laws and stricter enforcement of those laws will also help reduce distracted driving accidents.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to control other drivers on the road, and you cannot always protect yourself from another driver’s negligence. However, these tips may help you avoid accidents that result from distracted driving:

  • When stopped at an intersection, wait two seconds after the light turns green before proceeding. This will allow any drivers who did not see the light change to pass.
  • When at a multi-way stop, never assume another vehicle is going to stop or give you right-of-way. Be sure that the other vehicle has come to a complete stop at the stop sign before proceeding.
  • If you witness a driver swerving or engaging in dangerous behavior, change lanes and put distance between yourself and the driver, then report the driver to the police.

Again, you cannot always prevent distracted driving accidents, but you can protect yourself from causing an accident by not engaging in behaviors that cause you to lose visible, cognitive, or physical focus on the road. You can also help prevent yourself from suffering more serious injuries as a result of a distracted driving accident by paying special attention at all high-speed intersections and avoiding drivers who engage in distracted behavior.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorney Today

Unfortunately, even if you take all of the above-recommended precautions, another distracted driver could still injure you. Taking precautions can help mitigate your responsibility for an accident, but it will not always mitigate your injuries.

If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of another driver’s negligent and distracted behavior, however, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia personal injury and car accident attorneys you need to help fight for your right to compensation after a car crash. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

November 15, 2017

Sciatica and Car Accidents in Philadelphia: What You Need to Know

Car Accident Lawyers in PA

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is defined as pain, tingling, or numbness radiating down your legs from your lower back that is caused by irritation of certain spinal nerves. Because the sciatic nerve, which is located in the back of each leg, is injured or irritated in these cases, the condition is called sciatica. In layperson terms, sciatica is the medical word for lower back and leg pain, something from which a large percentage of Americans suffer. Because sciatica is often triggered by a herniated or bulging disc in the spinal column, it can sometimes result from natural spinal weakening and deterioration. However, traumatic spinal injuries caused by car crashes, which often damage the spine despite safety precautions, are a leading cause of sciatica, which can be harder to treat than you expect.

Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica

If you suffer from sciatica, it generally begins in your lower back or buttocks and radiates down your leg and foot. You may also experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in those areas. Unfortunately, because sciatica is nerve related, physical therapy and exercise often only deepen the pain, and many people will experience a worsening in symptoms if they stay in one position—for example, sitting, standing, or laying— for extended periods of time.

The severity of your symptoms depends on your age, health, and the nature of your injuries. While some individuals can remain sitting for an hour, others need to stand or walk around every 15 minutes to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with sciatica. Although a doctor can diagnose sciatica with a physical exam or simply by analyzing your medical history, such as a recent car accident, because sciatica is associated with more serious injuries, you may need either an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If you believe you are suffering from sciatica, look for the following symptoms of sciatic nerve pain:

  • Constant radiating pain on one side of the leg or buttock
  • Pain that worsens when sitting
  • Burning tingling, or searing pain as opposed to a dull ache
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg, foot, and toes
  • Sharp pain when standing or walking
  • Although sciatica is not a life-threatening injury, for those who suffer from it as the result of a traumatic car accident, it can be life-changing.

Sciatica and Your Lifestyle

The medical profession has always faced difficulty when it comes to treating spine and nerve injuries due to the complexity of our neurological systems. Accordingly, physicians can manage pain associated with sciatica and treat the symptoms, but there is no magic treatment for the condition itself. Accordingly, the near constant pain, numbness, and inability to sit or stand for long periods of time can greatly interfere with something attorneys refer to as “activities of daily living.” When litigating your case, although sciatica may seem minor compared to a severe spinal injury suffered in a car crash, you can still claim loss of enjoyment of life. For example, if you have difficulty sitting, standing, sleeping, reaching, bending, lifting, driving, or maintaining concentration at work as a result of sciatica, your attorney can request a certain allocation of damages for the impact this has had on your life. The sharp shooting pain that occurs when you stand or walk as a result of severe sciatica can stop you in your tracks, damaging your ability to cook, shop, drive, clean, or shower. In other words, it can harm every aspect of your life.

Trauma-Induced Sciatica

Sciatica results from the compression of the nerve root in your lumbar spine, including by non-traumatic causes such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, and even spinal tumors. If you were not suffering from lower back pain before your car accident, however, degeneration due to disease is not the likely cause of your sciatica. Instead, if you’ve been in a recent car accident, sciatica results from two main causes: lumbar bulging/herniated discs or direct trauma. If you were in an accident, especially a rear-end type accident, the force of the impact may cause one of the gel-like discs that sits between your vertebra to slip out of position and push against the spinal nerves. Depending on its severity, this slip is called a herniation or bulge, but either way, the pressure the slipped disc puts on the nerve causes sciatica. Accordingly, sciatica is a secondary diagnosis as a result of a traumatic disc herniation. Direct trauma to the nerve itself, however, can also cause sciatica. This type of sciatica is commonly caused by a car accident when an external force directly compresses the nerve, such as in a crushing accident.

Seeking Compensation for Sciatica in Pennsylvania

Lower back pain as the result of nerve damage is more common than you may realize. Accordingly, defense attorneys will attempt to claim that your sciatica was not trauma induced and was instead the result of natural degeneration or a previous accident. For this reason, seek medical attention immediately after your accident if you are experiencing any type of lower back or leg pain. Furthermore, even if you were suffering from a degenerative disorder, if the car accident aggravated that pre-existing condition, resulting in sciatica, you are still entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. This is commonly called the “eggshell skull rule,” and it means that defendants must take their plaintiffs in the condition that they find them. A defendant cannot get out of compensating you for your pain made worse by the accident simply because the injury was pre-existing. This is often a difficult claim to make, however, because it requires extensive medical documentation—which an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you compile.

Call a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Back Pain Attorney Today

If you were injured in a car accident and suffer from back pain and sciatica that hurts every aspect of your life, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver. Don’t live in pain—get the compensation you deserve so you can work on your recovery. The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia back pain and car accident attorneys you need to help you fight for your right to compensation after a traumatic accident. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

November 13, 2017

Injured by a Drunk Driver in Pennsylvania? A Conviction Won’t Help You Recover Compensation

DUI Lawyer in PA

It often doesn’t matter how safe you drive, how careful you are after having a drink with dinner, or how much attention you pay to other drivers on the road, a drunk driving accident can happen unexpectedly and in an unpredictable way. According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, nearly one in three traffic deaths were alcohol-related. This means that DUI-related accidents cause greater than average life-changing injuries as the result of a drunk driver’s reckless behavior. It should be noted that not all traffic accidents are criminal in nature, but DUI-related accidents can result in serious charges, including third-degree murder or vehicular manslaughter. Because the civil and criminal systems of law are different, however, a conviction for a DUI-related crash does not necessarily translate to compensation for your injuries.

Pennsylvania Criminal DUI Laws

In Pennsylvania, a drunk driver falls into one of three levels of DUI offenses. The driver’s previous DUI offenses, the nature of the driver’s offenses, and the driver’s age and license status all make a difference in any criminal or civil charges. The levels are broken down as follows:

  • General impairment – Blood alcohol level (“BAC”) from 0.08 to 0.099
  • High BAC – 0.10 to 0.159
  • Highest BAC – 0.16 and above.

A driver charged with general impairment, even if it is a first, second, or third offense, faces up to two years in prison, fines, license suspension, and forced treatment. The same is true of a high BAC conviction, which is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor with as many as five years in prison if there are multiple offenses. Even highest BAC offenses are punishable as first degree misdemeanors if there have been multiple convictions. If, however, the driver is a minor, a commercial vehicle driver, a bus driver, or involved in an accident that injures someone or causes property damage, the penalties may increase—even if the driver was only generally impaired.

Pennsylvania Civil Law and DUI Accidents

If you were injured in a DUI-related accident and are seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering in Pennsylvania’s courts, the Commonwealth generally does not treat this as a criminal matter. A judge may order a drunk driver who injured you to pay restitution as a part of the criminal sentence, meaning that you can receive compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. If restitution is not ordered at sentencing, then it cannot be ordered afterwards. However, Pennsylvania specifically states that restitution cannot be awarded for your pain and suffering or any intangible damages such as emotional anguish or loss of enjoyment of life. Restitution is solely meant to compensate you for direct out-of-pocket expenses.

Accordingly, if a loved one was killed in a car accident or you were severely disabled as a result, simply compensating you for medical bills that your insurance may have already covered is not enough. Furthermore, it will likely mean very little to you if the offender spends a few months in prison and has his license suspended for a year. You would then need to seek further compensation for your pain and suffering in a civil case, which is a type of litigation brought by private attorneys that cannot result in jail time or criminal punishment for the offender. It can generally only result in a monetary award for you and your family.

The Interplay Between the Civil and Criminal System

Because DUI offenses that result in injury or death are serious, they are almost always prosecuted in criminal court and privately in a civil action for personal injuries or wrongful deaths. In many states, whether at common law or based on a statute, an admission or determination of guilt for a traffic or criminal vehicular offense is admissible in a subsequent civil case to prove the other driver’s negligence or recklessness. However, Pennsylvania is in a minority of states, because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that guilty pleas or convictions for traffic violations are not admissible in a subsequent civil proceeding to prove liability. In fact, in Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court has stated that “[i]t is well-settled that when recklessness or carelessness is at issue, proof of intoxication is relevant, but the mere fact of consuming alcohol is not admissible, being unfairly prejudicial unless it reasonably establishes intoxication.”

Accordingly, your personal injury attorney may present evidence that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident and that this intoxication actually caused the accident. Criminal conviction for a DUI, however, does not necessarily mean that the other driver was negligent in causing an accident, which is why it is not admissible. For example, in an interesting case, a driver was stopped at a red light when she was negligently rear-ended by another driver. The driver who was stopped at the light, however, had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit and pled guilty to a DUI offense, but she was not negligent in causing the accident itself. In this case, her DUI offense could not be admitted to prove her liability in civil court. There was no correlation between the DUI and the accident.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a Philadelphia DUI accident, you may be confused by the interplay between the criminal case, restitution from that case, and a civil case for wrongful death or personal injuries. Just because a conviction for a DUI may not be used to directly prove negligence in a civil case, the other driver’s blood alcohol level may still have caused the accident. Your Pennsylvania personal injury attorney will simply have to prove this with additional evidence. The Levin Firm has the experienced lawyers you need to help you understand the complexities of Pennsylvania DUI law and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

November 9, 2017

Can Car Accidents Cause PTSD?

Car Accident Lawyer in PA

 

You woke up last night again, sweating after re-living your traumatic car accident in your dreams. You felt the impact, heard the crushing metal, and startled awake from the fear. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) reports that stressful reactions, such as nightmares or flashbacks, are normal after traumatic events—but if certain symptoms last longer than three months, are causing you greater than average distress, and are disrupting your work or home life in a way unrelated to your physical injuries, you may suffer from PTSD. Although we typically associate PTSD with war veterans, any type of traumatic event, including a serious car accident, can trigger it. So what should you look for if you believe you are suffering from atypical mental and emotional symptoms after a car accident, and what are your options for compensation in Pennsylvania?

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

As stated previously, it is normal to suffer from stress-related symptoms a few weeks or even months after a car accident. The problem, however, can develop when these symptoms linger and you do not improve during the following months. There are generally four types of PTSD symptoms:

  • Reliving the traumatic event, or re-experiencing symptoms – These include nightmares, flashbacks, or “triggers” that occur when you see, hear, or smell something associated with the traumatic event, and they cause abnormally stressful reactions.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event – These include avoiding driving or riding in a car or keeping obsessively busy so you don’t have to discuss or talk about the accident.
  • Negative changes in beliefs or feelings – This includes a change in the way you think about others, including changed feelings about loved ones, avoidance of relationships, forgetting about parts of the event, not being about to talk about the accident, or experiencing symptoms of paranoia, alert for danger, or sudden anger or irritability. You may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, or loud noises or surprises may abnormally startle you.

If you experience any of these symptoms for a lasting time or the severity is hurting your work and home life, seek immediate medical attention from a specialist. Linking your PTSD symptoms to your car accident with medical records is essential if you wish to seek compensation for your mental anguish.

Diagnosing PTSD

Like a broken leg, you can suffer PTSD as the result of a traumatic car accident. Unlike a broken leg, however, it can be harder to prove that you are suffering from PTSD, as opposed to natural post-traumatic stress associated with the accident. According to the University of Pennsylvania, you don’t have to experience a physical injury to develop PTSD as the result of a serious Pennsylvania car accident. Whether you were the driver, passenger, or witness to a horrible accident, even the absence of an injury can lead to mental scars that a medical professional must explicitly diagnose.

Importantly, PTSD can also occur in children, but studies indicate that young children do not continue to relive the experience as adults do. Instead, they may begin to dream about the car accident—but those dreams often turn into more general nightmares about monsters or danger. Because children may have difficulty expressing their fears and relating the start of those fears to the aftermath of the car accident, parents, teachers, and pediatricians must look for and recognize these unique signs of PTSD in children that they might otherwise attribute to a scary movie.

Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, mental and emotional losses after a car accident are compensable injuries. This means that your insurance company, the liable driver’s insurance company, or the driver would face responsibility for compensating you for expenses such as your counseling, lost time from work, and mental anguish if you are able to prove that the PTSD is directly linked to the accident.

For example, what if a military combat veteran is involved in a serious car or motorcycle accident and as a result develops PTSD? The defense attorney on the case may try to disprove that the PTSD was caused by the car accident and instead claim that it developed after combat trauma. In this and similar cases where an injured individual has experienced more than one serious trauma throughout a lifetime, documented medical evidence of the trauma, as well as affidavit testimony from witnesses such as family, friends, and co-workers, can link the onset of symptomatic behavior to shortly after the traumatic car accident. You need the help of a Pennsylvania PTSD car accident lawyer who is familiar with these tactics and knows what you will need to provide the court and insurance companies to prove your case.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Lawyer Today

Whether you were a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or witness to a traumatic car accident or wrongful death, PTSD is a real injury. You deserve compensation for injuries both seen and unseen, and you should not feel embarrassed to seek the medical help and related compensation you need for those injuries. Mental injuries can damage your home and work life as much or even more than physical ones, so it is important to contact an attorney who understands the impact such injuries can have on you and your family. The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia PTSD and car accident lawyers you need to help fight for your right to compensation after a traumatic car accident. Whether PTSD is your only injury or one of many, contact The Levin Firm today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

November 7, 2017

Are Car Accidents Civil or Criminal Matters?

Car accident Lawyer in pa

Before discussing whether car accidents are civil or criminal matters (or even both), it is important to understand a bit about the American legal system and the difference between types of litigation. Although judges hear both civil and criminal cases, unless the court is specialized, there are not different courthouses or judges for these matters. There are, however, different standards of evidence and remedies available depending on the types of litigation. Furthermore, not everyone can bring civil or criminal litigation, which is why it is important to understand your rights to compensation after a Pennsylvania car accident.

Main Differences Between Civil and Criminal Litigation

The main difference between civil and criminal litigation is what lawyers refer to as the “remedies” sought. Civil litigation is generally defined as litigation between two or more parties who seek money or performance—for example, the sale of a house—as the end goal of the litigation. Criminal litigation, however, is defined as litigation in which the end result is a criminal sanction, whether it’s a fine, forced rehabilitation, or jail. You cannot seek a criminal sanction in a civil matter, and you cannot seek a civil sanction, such as compensation for your pain and suffering after an accident, in a criminal matter.These cases are also distinct because of the evidentiary standards required of the plaintiff or prosecution in each matter. In a civil case, the plaintiff—the party who filed the litigation seeking compensation—need only prove a case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is another way of saying that, to award a plaintiff monetary compensation, the allegations only need to be 51 percent correct. This standard is much lower than in a criminal case, because no jail time or criminal sanctions are at issue.

In a criminal case, however, the prosecutor, who is an entity of the Commonwealth, must prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt”—or a 99 percent likelihood that the defendant committed the crime. A great example of this difference is in the famous O.J. Simpson case. Simpson was acquitted of his criminal charges because the jury did not find that it was 99 percent likely he committed the crime, but he lost his civil case and had to pay compensation to the victims’ families because that jury found it was at least 51 percent likely he caused the victims’ wrongful deaths.

Finally, the last major difference between civil and criminal litigation is who can bring the litigation. A private individual can never instigate criminal proceedings. Only the Commonwealth itself may choose whether to charge and prosecute an individually criminally. Both the state and a private individual, however, can bring civil claims in Pennsylvania’s courts.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Car Accident Litigation

Because private individuals may not bring criminal litigation, if you were injured in a car accident, your remedy is generally going to come from civil litigation. You can bring three main causes of action in civil court after a car accident:

  • Negligence
  • Recklessness
  • Wrongful death

The most common cause of action is for negligence, which is different than a cause of action for criminal negligence, which is more akin to extreme recklessness. Negligence occurs when one person does not act in accordance with a reasonable standard of care. You must prove four elements (one of which has two parts) to sustain a negligence claim:

  • Duty: The driver had a duty to operate a motor vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner.
  • Breach: The driver failed to operate the vehicle in a safe, reasonable, or legal manner.
  • Causation: As a result of the driver’s breach, you were involved in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Damages: As a result of the accident, you sustained injuries or other compensable damage.

In a civil action, to award you compensation for your injuries, the court must only find it was more likely than not that the other driver was negligent.

Criminal Car Accident Cases

As you can imagine, not all car accidents are created equal. Some car accidents are not criminal in nature. For example, if the accident took place on a private road and there was no traffic infraction, no criminal charge for simple negligence is likely. If, however, a driver ran over someone on private property, there is still a cause of action for negligence in civil court to recover for the personal injuries sustained.

Oftentimes, however, a serious car accident will result in both criminal charges and civil litigation. If you were injured by a drunk driver, a speeding driver, or someone who simply operated a vehicle aggressively, those people may face criminal charges. Technically, traffic tickets are a part of the criminal justice system, so adjudication of a ticket would be a criminal procedure. A lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries that resulted from those people’s negligence, however, would be a civil procedure.

The specific facts of the case and nature of your damages will determine the direction of the case. For example, if a drunk driver rear-ended and totaled your vehicle, but your injuries were minor and you have not suffered physical harm, you may not want to bring a civil action after a cost-benefit analysis. However, if the drunk driver is charged with a DUI offense, you can request “restitution” be a part of his sentence. Restitution is essentially compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of your vehicle or rental car fees.

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney with Questions

If you were injured in a car accident and you believe criminal charges have been brought against the driver, contact a Philadelphia personal injury and car accident attorney to discuss your potential compensation. Whether it is settling with an insurance company, seeking restitution, or filing a civil case for your personal injuries and pain and suffering, the attorneys at the Levin Firm can help you choose the best option for you and your family. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

November 2, 2017

Watch out for Drunk Drivers Near Philly College Campuses

Drunk Driving Attorney in PA

Philadelphia is jam-packed with colleges and universities—which is part of what makes Philly uniquely Philly. College students and good sense, however, don’t always go hand-in-hand. When you find yourself near one of our fine city’s beautiful campuses, it is always wise to beware of drunk drivers.

College Campuses and Drinking

It should come as no surprise that college students and drinking just seem to go together. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that nearly 60 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol within a month of their studies beginning and that nearly 66 percent binge drank within that time frame. That’s a lot of drinking—and car accidents can be a serious consequence.

Impaired Drivers

Everyone understands by now that getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol is a dangerous proposition. Alcohol consumption, however, inhibits impulse control, and because college students are a young population, they’re already at an impulse-control disadvantage. When you’re near a Philadelphia college campus, keep this in mind—you could very well share the road with impaired drivers.

Underage Drinking

Most college students aren’t old enough to drink legally. In Pennsylvania, the legal limit for drivers who are 21 and older is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Because drivers younger than 21 accounts for a disproportionately high number of DUI-related fatalities, drivers who are younger than 21 are held to a BAC limit of 0.02 percent. This amounts to Pennsylvania adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking and driving. In fact, even one drink will set a driver who is under the legal drinking age over this limit.

Pennsylvania’s Three-Tiered DUI Law

Pennsylvania takes a three-tiered approach to DUI charges:

(1) DUI with General Impairment

This classification applies when non-commercial motorists of legal drinking age with a BAC between 0.08 percent and 0.099 percent are arrested for DUI. Furthermore, even if a driver’s BAC doesn’t reach the minimum BAC threshold, that driver can be charged with general impairment if there is enough evidence to demonstrate that he imbibed an amount of alcohol that kept him from safely operating a vehicle.

(2) DUI with High Impairment

This classification applies when non-commercial drivers are arrested for DUI with a BAC of between 0.10 percent and 0.159 percent. Underaged drivers arrested with a BAC between 0.02 percent and 0.159 percent will also be charged with DUI with High Impairment.

(3) DUI with Highest Impairment

This classification applies when a non-commercial driver of any age is arrested for DUI with a BAC higher than 0.16 percent. This categorization also applies to those motorists found under the influence of drugs.

The Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares some sobering statistics from 2015 that relate to impaired drivers:

  • Alcohol-related car accidents accounted for a full 29 percent of all deadly traffic accidents.
  • Alcohol plays a role in a third of teenage auto fatalities.
  • Sixteen percent of all car crashes involved drivers who were impaired by drugs other than alcohol.

The Statistics for College Students

Many college students either have a car or have access to a car while on campus. This not only amplifies traffic congestion around campuses but also contributes to increased accidents throughout the school year. For these younger drivers, the DUI statistics are even more startling:

  • Drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 with a BAC of 0.08 percent are 17 times more likely to die in an accident than if they hadn’t been drinking.
  • In 2010, one in five young drivers who were involved in fatal traffic accidents had some alcohol in their systems.
  • Nearly 81 percent of these young drivers had a BAC above the adult legal limit.

If You’ve Been Injured by an Impaired Driver, Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you know how harrowing that can be. Personal injury claims involving impaired drivers are complicated—and if you’ve been injured, you need an experienced Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, personal injury attorney. The Levin Firm is here to help. We have the knowledge, experience, and dedication to fight for the best resolution of your claim. Please contact or call us at (215) 825.5183 today.

October 27, 2017

Common Injuries Involved in Car Accidents

Car Accident Lawyers in PA

There’s no getting around it—car accidents are dangerous. Not all car accidents, however, are created equal. Some are more dangerous and more prone to cause serious injuries. When you get behind the wheel in Pennsylvania, remember to follow the safety rules of the road and to drive defensively. Even the safest driver, however, may be involved in a collision.

Side-Impact Accidents

Side-impact accidents, which are also known as T-bone or broadside accidents, are among the most dangerous car accidents, especially for those cars that lack side airbags. Side-impact crashes are also the most likely to come out of nowhere, as the other driver slams into you from the side. These accidents are more dangerous because they offer no crumple zone, such as the trunk in the back of the car or the hood in the front, to protect drivers or passengers.

Side-impact crashes can lead serious injuries, including:

  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Whiplash
  • Dislocated limbs
  • Nerve and spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Injuries caused by being crushed
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Rear-End Collisions

You might think rear-end collisions don’t amount to much more than fender benders. While this is sometimes true, rear-end accidents can be extremely dangerous. On the busy streets of Philadelphia, these accidents are common.

Rear-end collisions can happen anywhere, but because the speeds on surface roads are typically much slower, surface road collisions are often less dangerous. When these collisions occur at higher speeds, however, they can result in much more severe injuries. Due to the powerful whipping motion that rear-end accidents thrust on the head and neck, they are closely associated with neck injuries, such as whiplash—which can lead to ongoing symptoms and complications:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional complications, including depression or anxiety
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pain in the back, shoulder, arm, or jaw
  • Furthermore, other injuries are frequently associated with rear-end crashes:
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Leg, ankle, and foot injuries
  • Facial lacerations

If you experience any of these symptoms or injuries after a rear-end collision—no matter how minor it may seem—seek immediate medical attention. The sooner your condition is identified, the better chance you have to fully recover.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on injuries are not only exceedingly dangerous but also terrifying. Speed, rural roads, distracted driving, fatigued driving, impaired driving, adverse weather conditions, ignored traffic signs and signals, and dangerous passing can all contribute to head-on collisions. Head-on collisions can lead to a host of extremely serious injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Neck and shoulder injuries
  • Facial lacerations and broken facial bones
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Abdominal injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Leg, ankle, and foot injuries

Accidents and Injuries

Car accidents can vary from minor to deadly, and the seriousness of the injuries they cause can vary accordingly. Never simply ignore a car accident. If it’s significant enough to jolt you, you need to seek medical attention. Some injuries, such as TBIs, whiplash, and soft-tissue injuries, can come on slowly—but may have disastrous long-term effects. The best way to avoid a car accident is to follow the rules of the road and not drive while fatigued, distracted, or impaired, give other drivers plenty of space, and drive defensively. Even with all these precautions, however, accidents do happen.

Your Claim

Car accident claims can be especially complicated. You’ll probably be called upon to give a statement, to complete complicated paperwork, and to come up with piles of documentation. These tasks are all important to your successful personal injury claim, but if you’ve been injured because of another driver’s negligence, you’re probably far too distressed to adequately attend to them. In protection of your rights, an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer will effectively manage all of your claim’s details. Your case, your rights, and your just compensation matter.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Crash, Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are no doubt overwhelmed and in need of a skilled Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, personal injury attorney. Car accident claims are notoriously complicated, but the experienced legal team at The Levin Firm is here to help. We have the knowledge, dedication, and skill to fight for the compensation you’re entitled to. Please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.

October 21, 2017

Will the Larger iPhone X Increase Distracted Driving?

Personal Injury Lawyers in PA

These days, few events are more exciting than the unveiling of a brand new, beautiful Apple product—like the much-anticipated iPhone X. In anticipation of its release, many waited with bated breath. Along with this unveiling, however, comes a renewed interest in the role smartphones play in accidents caused by distracted driving, which is an inquiry that’s worth examining more closely.

Court Cases

Apple has faced several lawsuits that focus on allegations regarding the role iPhones have played in distracted driving cases. A California judge recently dismissed a case brought by a college student’s family that blames Apple for their son’s death at the hand of a texting teen driver. The court found that, ultimately, Apple is not legally obligated to aid in the prevention of distracted driving and that causation in the case was too nebulous to stick. This means that it falls to drivers to resist using their new iPhones behind the wheel.

Do Not Disturb

It’s no revelation that distracted driving is dangerous driving, and perhaps nothing is more dangerously distracting than a smartphone, with its rapid-fire texts, emails, and so much more. The new iPhone X includes a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which is poised to help keep drivers more focused on the open road and less distracted by their new Apple gadget. Once you choose to turn this safety feature on, the iPhone X will determine when you are driving (or riding as a passenger, which is a bit of a glitch) and will automatically mute all notifications so that your screen stays dark. Furthermore, your favorite contacts will receive an automated reply that lets them know you are driving.

Bigger Is Better

Although you may not know what a bezel is, you will. The new iPhone comes equipped with a screen that’s all about display—it includes no bezels, which are those bits on your phone’s screen that aren’t on the display, such as a home button. The iPhone X hits the scene with nothing but screen. The question is, will this enhanced display make distracted driving even more enticing?

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains that drivers whose attention is absorbed by any activity other than driving are distracted drivers. Such distractions are divided into three separate classifications:

  • Visual distractions, which engage your sense of sight (the iPhone X’s increased screen size could be called to task under this classification)
  • Manual distractions, which engage your hands (the iPhone attempts to address this issue with hands-free Siri and CarPlay, which most states allow as acceptable hands-free solutions)
  • Cognitive distractions, which engage your mental processing abilities (the iPhone X’s larger text display, for example)

Texting engages all three classifications and is identified as one of the most dangerous iterations of distracted driving. The iPhone X’s new and improved larger, bezel-free screen falls squarely within this overarching distracted driving category.

Doing the Numbers

The statistics related to driving under the influence of texting are sobering:

  • Your attention is distracted for at least five seconds when you engage in your phone’s text feature.
  • If your travel speed is 55 miles per hour, you’ll drive blind for at least the length of a football field while you text.
  • If you text and drive, you’re about 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
  • If you dial and drive, you’re about three times more likely to be involved in a car crash.
  • If you chat on your cell and drive, you’re almost a third more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Teens who text and drive spend about a tenth of their driving time outside of their lane.

Your smartphone takes your attention away from the road. When you’re driving, your attention should be focused solely on the road ahead of you. Heed these statistics.

The iPhone X

While it’s true that every new iPhone reveal is tantalizing, it’s also true that driving while distracted is dangerous. Go ahead and believe the hype—the iPhone X very well may change your life. It’s also important, however, to acknowledge the statistics as they relate to distracted driving. By putting your new iPhone down while you drive, the life you save may be your own.

If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver, Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney

Personal injury claims are complicated and should never be left to chance. If you’ve suffered an injury that was caused by a distracted driver, you need an experienced Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, personal injury attorney. The Levin Firm is here to help. We have the experience, dedication, and skill to fight for your claim’s best possible resolution. Please contact or call us at (215) 825.5183 today.

October 13, 2017

What Causes Truck Drivers to Lose Control and Crash?

Truck driver accident attorney in pa

While semi-trucks are big, fast, and dangerous, we all have to share the road. Our economy and our ever-growing demand for consumer goods ensure that the number of big rigs on the road continues to rise. When you drive in Pennsylvania, you share the road with tractor-trailers. As such, it’s in your best interest to educate yourself about how to stay safe out there.

Stopping Short

The cars we drive are agile and easy to maneuver. In fact, technology related to the powerful braking systems in cars continues to advance. When you’re behind the wheel of your car, you can practically stop on a dime. Semi-trucks, on the other hand, are far too heavy and cumbersome to stop short. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports several important stopping statistics:

  • The stopping times and distances for 18-wheelers are much greater than they are for cars.
  • The stopping distance increases when semis are loaded down or when they are driving under adverse weather conditions, such as rain, sleet, or snow.
  • A fully-loaded big rig traveling at about 55 miles per hour on clear roads requires nearly the length of two full football fields to come to a complete stop.

In other words, you should provide semis with plenty of space on the road.

Steer Clear

Semis pay for their massive size and weight with reduced maneuverability. They simply can’t make the sharp turns or instant lane changes that a car can easily manage. When space is at a premium, such as in construction zones or when pulling in and out of smaller areas, things can become even more restrictive and dangerous. In the final analysis, tractor-trailers need room to maneuver safely, and it’s in your best interest to give them that room. Yield to 18-wheelers, refrain from speeding around them as they prepare to make turns, and give them the space and time they need to change lanes (rather than rushing ahead of them).

Big rigs that make right turns are especially prone to creating a right turn squeeze in which cars can become ensnared. Because tractor-trailers are too large to easily take a right turn from the right-most lane, they typically move into the left lane to allow themselves enough room to make a safe right. For this reason, it is exceedingly dangerous to pass a semi on the right.

Seeing Blind Spots

Large commercial trucks experience large blind spots, or “no zones.” In fact, truck drivers experience limited visibility on all four sides of their trucks. When you’re behind the wheel, pay careful attention to truckers’ huge no zones—if you’re in one, a truck driver simply may not see you. When a big rig is turning, changing lanes, or backing up, those blind spots can become even more dangerous. Remember that an 18-wheeler’s right side blind spot is significantly larger than the blind spot on its left.

Stay safe by spending as little time as possible in a commercial trucker’s no zones. When you do pass a big rig on the road, allow yourself enough space that you can see the entire truck in your rear-view mirror before you move back into its lane. In addition, allow plenty of space between you and the semi ahead of you—otherwise, the trucker won’t see you.

Trucking Regulations

Trucking, by any standards, is a tough gig, and drivers are often faced with tight deadlines and long hauls. Truckers are held to strict regulations regarding driving times and duty periods, but drivers sometimes push the limits of these restrictions. Drivers sometimes drive tired, distracted, and even impaired. All these elements can contribute to big rig accidents.

Big Rigs: Big Accidents

Big rigs do everything big—and that includes accidents. Accidents involving semi-trucks are some of the deadliest on the road, and you share the road with these metal behemoths. Take the time to understand exactly what makes 18-wheelers so dangerous and how you can keep yourself safe by steering clear of them.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Semi Accident, Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you know how devastating that can be. Because semi-accident claims can be especially complicated, you need an experienced Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, truck accident lawyerThe Levin Firm is here to help. We have the knowledge, dedication, and skill to fight for your claim’s most beneficial outcome. Please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.

October 6, 2017

Are Most Philadelphia Car Accidents the Fault Of Truck Drivers?

Truck Accident Lawyers in PA

Commercial trucks are a highly common sight on the roads and highways in and around Philadelphia. Regularly driving in close proximity to these large, heavy vehicles may cause you to wonder what would happen if you were in a crash with a semi-truck. In addition, news headlines are regularly reporting that truck drivers who were overly fatigued, distracted, or otherwise negligent caused a serious crash. This can lead to the question: Do truck drivers cause most Philadelphia accidents?

The following is some brief information regarding the connection between truck driver error and traffic accidents in Philly and throughout the United States. If you have questions regarding your specific crash and injuries, please do not hesitate to call our car accident law firm today.

Trucks Are Involved in Many Crashes Across the U.S.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported statistics that indicate that 12,092,091 commercial vehicles were registered in the U.S. in recent years, which makes up about 4.5 percent of the total number of registered motor vehicles. However, there were more than 6.2 million traffic-related accidents reported in one year and about 476,000 of those accidents involved at least one commercial vehicle. This means that about 7.6 percent of traffic accidents involved a tractor-trailer or another type of large truck. This also means that proportionally, commercial vehicles are involved in a greater number of accidents per registered vehicles than smaller personal vehicles.

Commercial truck accidents caused about 97,000 injuries in 2015, and that number has steadily been on the rise. Trucks may not cause the majority of traffic accidents, however, they do cause a substantial number of injuries, and truck accidents tend to be severe. For this reason, it is important to understand the main causes of truck accidents and the role the truck driver plays in these crashes.

Truck Driver Negligence Is the Top Cause of Accidents in Which the Truck Is Found at Fault

The FMCSA has published the results of a study the agency conducted seeking insight into the major causes of truck accidents. The study revealed what many people may have already suspected—that of the accidents in which the truck was assigned the reason for the crash, the significant majority were caused by errors committed by the commercial driver.

Specifically, the following are the most common driver errors cited as causes of crashes, in order of prevalence:

  • Use of prescription drugs
  • Speeding
  • Being unfamiliar with a particular road
  • Use of over-the-counter drugs
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Fatigued driving
  • Unlawful driving maneuvers
  • Not paying attention
  • Being distracted by something outside the truck
  • Failing to execute a sufficient evasive action to avoid a crash
  • Aggressive driving
  • Being unfamiliar with a particular truck
  • Tailgating
  • Making wrong assumptions about the actions of other drivers
  • Accepting too many loads
  • Having a conversation
  • Feeling pressured to drive while fatigued
  • Misjudging distance between vehicles
  • Being in a hurry
  • Illness
  • Being distracted by something inside the truck
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Being upset about something
  • Use of alcohol
  • Poor judgment or decision-making
  • Physical factors regarding vision or movement limitations
  • Emotional factors, including depression

As you can see, truck drivers can cause accidents for many reasons, and the above are only some of the most common. In these instances, a truck driver who negligently caused you harm should be held liable for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

When a truck driver is negligent, it is important to realize that their employer may also be held liable for errors the driver made on the job. Seeking compensation from both the trucking company and the driver can often result in a high payout since the trucking company may have more substantial insurance coverage. However, these cases can also be challenging as companies will seek to avoid any liability whenever they can. Taking on a corporation in court can be intimidating. Yet, with the right resources, it is possible for injured truck accident victims to receive the full amount they deserve.

Contact a Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney for Assistance

Truck accident cases can be complex, even when it is clear that the driver made an error on the road. At The Levin Firm, we understand how to thoroughly investigate the cause of a truck accident and stand up for the rights of victims to financially recover from negligent drivers and their employers. Following a crash, you should never hesitate to discuss what happened with an experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyer. Call us today at 215-825-5183 for a free consultation.

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