December 18, 2018

How Pennsylvania Statutes Impact Personal Injury Claims

Personal Injury Lawyer PA

Most Pennsylvanians don’t give much thought to how laws on the books affect their rights to recover damages for a personal injury. Then again, why would they? Other than an occasional election-season nod to tort reform by politicians, the statutes governing when, how, and from whom someone can seek compensation for an injury simply don’t get much public discussion. With this blog post, we aim to fix that by shedding some much-needed light on the subject.

It may surprise you to learn that the official Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are chock-full of provisions that can make a huge impact on personal injury cases. Many of these laws and rules are anything but straightforward, which means that unsuspecting victims of a personal injury can lose their rights if they’re not careful.

Fortunately, the aggressive, diligent team at The Levin Firm has years of experience navigating the complexities of Pennsylvania personal injury law. Here are some of the most important ways Pennsylvania statutes (and other types of law) impact personal injury cases we routinely handle.

Statutes Impact How Much Time You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim

Pennsylvania, like all jurisdictions, has laws dictating the amount of time a person has to bring legal action against another person for a personal injury. This time period is known as the statute of limitation, but in fact, it doesn’t consist of just one statute. Instead, different laws set varying time periods for different types of personal injury cases.

For an ordinary personal injury case, by which we mean a claim by an adult, private citizen against another adult, private citizen, the statute of limitation under Pennsylvania law is two years after the injury. The rules only get more complicated from there, however. Here’s what we mean.

  • If you plan to bring a personal injury claim against a government unit, you must give notice to the government unit of your intention to file a claim within six months after the injury (unless you weren’t able to give notice for some reason or the government unit had “actual or constructive notice” of the “incident or condition” that led to your injury). If you give that notice, then the two-year statute of limitation applies for filing the action in court. If you don’t give the notice, then you may lose your claim after the six months are up.
  • If your claim is for libel or slander, the statute of limitation is only one year.
  • If your claim is for having suffered childhood sexual abuse, the statute of limitation is 12 years from your 18th birthday.
  • If your claim is against a person for having deficiently performed, designed, planned or supervised a construction project, the statute of limitation is generally 12 years from the completion of the construction project.

In addition, the statute of limitation “clock” won’t start running, or will stop running, under certain circumstances specified in Pennsylvania law, such as:

It doesn’t take a law degree to see how complicated it can be to figure out the statute of limitation in a particular case. At The Levin Firm, we encourage all of our potential clients to reach out to us as soon as possible, to help ensure they do not miss a critical window of opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries.

Who You Can(not) Sue

Pennsylvania statutes contain numerous provisions that limit who you can sue for personal injuries you’ve sustained. For instance:

  • Under Pennsylvania law, in most (but not all) circumstances, you cannot sue good Samaritans, first responders, or school officials for a personal injury you received while they were giving you emergency first aid.
  • In most (but not all) circumstances, you cannot sue youth sports volunteers, such as coaches, umpires, or referees, for a personal injury your child sustained while participating in that sport.
  • You cannot sue a farmer for a personal injury you sustained at a pick-your-own farm unless the farmer knew about an unreasonable risk of harm and failed to warn you or take reasonable measures to protect you from it.
  • You cannot sue someone who injured you while acting in self-defense or in defense of property, as defined under Pennsylvania law.
  • You generally cannot sue the owner of a property you were using for recreational purposes for failing to warn you about dangerous conditions on that property.

These are just a few of the examples of the “immunities” Pennsylvania law provides for some people who might otherwise be liable for causing a person a personal injury. As you’ll notice, even these immunities have exceptions. We encourage you to consult with the experienced personal injury team at The Levin Firm to assess whether your personal injury claim falls under any of these categories or the exceptions to them.

How to Allocate Fault and Liability

Some personal injury cases present a straightforward scenario in which one, and only one, person’s negligence makes that person one hundred percent at fault for another person’s injury.

Often, however, the negligence of more than one individual or business may have contributed to the victim’s injuries. In some cases, the victim him or herself may also be partially at fault.

A Pennsylvania statute addresses how to divide up (or allocate) fault in cases where multiple parties’ negligence may have led to a personal injury. Under this so-called “comparative negligence” statute, a personal injury plaintiff may only recover damages for an injury caused by someone else’s negligence if the plaintiff was less than fifty percent at fault. Additionally, damages for a plaintiff who is less than fifty percent at fault will be reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.

So, for example, if Driver A was twenty-five percent responsible for causing a collision with Driver B, and Driver B was seventy-five percent responsible, Driver A’s damages in a suit against Driver B will be reduced by twenty-five percent. Conversely, Driver B would not be able to recover any damages from Driver A, since Driver B was more than fifty percent at fault.

What happens if Driver A was only ten percent responsible, and two other drivers, Drivers C and D, combined to bear the remaining ninety percent of fault? The Pennsylvania comparative negligence statute addresses that issue, too. If neither Drivers C nor D was, individually, more than sixty percent responsible for the accident, each of them will have liability for the proportion of Driver A’s damages that corresponds to their percentage of fault. But, if one of them was more than sixty percent responsible, then that driver will have liability for all of Driver A’s damages (which will, of course, be reduced by Driver A’s ten percent fault).

Speaking of car accidents, one other quirk of Pennsylvania law comes into play when “allocating” fault between drivers. A Pennsylvania statute having to do with seat belts bars defendants in auto accident cases from arguing that a plaintiff was at fault under the comparative negligence statute for failing to wear a seat belt. In other words, in Pennsylvania, not wearing a seat belt does not count as negligence that will reduce a plaintiff’s damages award (You should always wear your seatbelt, however!).

If all of this discussion of percentages of fault seems confusing, don’t worry. The team at The Levin Firm deals with comparative negligence issues day-in, day-out, and are always ready to help our clients figure out exactly who might be liable to them in what amount for a personal injury.

How Much You Might Recover in Damages.

Generally speaking, there are no caps on so-called “compensatory” damages in Pennsylvania. But, Pennsylvania statutes do place certain limits on damages plaintiffs might recover in specific types of personal injury cases, and for some punitive damages.

Statutes Aren’t The Only Personal Injury Laws in Pennsylvania.

The statutes we’ve covered above represent just a sampling of those that can impact a personal injury case under Pennsylvania law. Other, specific statutes might be applicable to any given case (such as if an injury occurred in or around a railroad, or there is workers’ compensation insurance involved).

The statutes above also don’t cover all of the types of law in Pennsylvania that can govern personal injury matters. Other rules pertaining to personal injury actions can be found in regulations passed by the executive branch of Pennsylvania government (a body of law known as “regulatory” or “administrative” law). For example, a regulation may affect a personal injury case by setting minimum standards of conduct in an industry. Pennsylvania intrastate motor carrier regulations, for instance, adopt federal standards for limits on the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel at a stretch. When a truck driver causes personal injuries in an accident, it may constitute evidence that he acted negligently that he violated the hourly limits set by these regulations.

That’s not all. There is another, critically important body of law that also affects personal injury cases in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, known as common law; it consists of the long, constantly-evolving chain of decisions by Pennsylvania and federal courts that define legal obligations that aren’t covered by statutes or regulations. Many areas of Pennsylvania common law have a direct impact on personal injury matters, including how we define the concepts of “negligence,” “gross negligence,” willful misconduct,” and when it’s appropriate plaintiffs to seek and courts to award punitive damages.

Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney at the Levin Firm

The job of a personal injury attorney is, in large part, to represent the client’s interests by pursuing all available compensation for a personal injury that is permissible under the law. To be effective, a personal injury attorney has to stay up to speed on the developments in the statutes, regulations, and judicial opinions that can affect personal injury matters. That is what lawyers and judges mean when they say the law is a “living, breathing” thing. It is constantly evolving to suit new priorities, expectations, and dangers in our world.

Distinguishing between lawyers can be a challenge for people suffering from an unexpected personal injury or tragic loss. Many lawyers may appear to offer similar services with similar fee arrangements. What distinguishes The Levin Firm from the pack? Thanks to our years of experience as public defenders, we have both an extensive and broad-based knowledge of the law and deep experience trying cases to Pennsylvania juries. We are aggressive and thorough advocates for our clients. We stay current on changes to Pennsylvania personal injury law, whether in statutes, regulations, or judges’ opinions so that we can press our clients’ claims vigorously and accurately in Pennsylvania’s state and federal courts.

If you or a loved one sustained a personal injury in the Philadelphia area, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to significant compensation. Depending on the type of injury, the statute of limitations may have already started running, which means it may be very important to speak with an experienced personal injury as soon as possible. Contact the aggressive, diligent, and experienced personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm today at The Levin Firm online, or by phone at (215) 825-5183. An initial consultation is always free of charge.

March 20, 2018

Four Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrian Accident Attorney PA

When you take to the sidewalk on foot, you probably dont give a whole lot of thought to your safety. After all, youve been walking safely for quite a while now. Pedestrian accidents, however, are some of the most dangerous accidents you can encounter becausewhen youre on foottheres absolutely nothing to protect you from the impact of an accident. When youre walkingwhether you commute, shop, go sightseeing in the beautiful and historic city of Philadelphia, or are simply walking in a parking lotalways make safety your top priority.

Pedestrian Accidents: The Sobering Statistics

The statistics related to pedestrian accidents are worth careful attention. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center relays several statistics that every single pedestrian should consider:

  • In 2015, more than 5,000 pedestrians died in pedestrian/motor-vehicle accidentsthe highest number of these fatalities since 1996
  • In the years from 2006 through 2015, the number of pedestrians injured in pedestrian/motor-vehicle accidents rose by nearly 15 percent
  • In the years from 2006 through 2015, the total number of traffic-accident fatalities fell by almost 18 percentbut the number of pedestrian/motor-vehicle accident fatalities rose by 12 percent

Pedestrian accidents are exceedingly dangerous, are often emotionally devastating, and increasing in number. If you or someone you love was injured in a pedestrian accident, you need experienced legal counsel. The skilled personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia have the experience and compassion to fight for your rights and for your claims best possible resolution. We understand all of the difficulties that pedestrian accidents cause, and were committed to helping you recover on your damages.

Common Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrian accidents are dangerous, and they often lead to ongoing physical issues that necessitate ongoing medical care. While every pedestrian accident is unique, four kinds of injuries are closely associated with these dangerous accidents:

  • Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by a blow or trauma to the head, which is an exceedingly common occurrence in pedestrian accidents. Because your brain acts as your bodys central command center, even a minor injury can cause highly unpredictable physical and psychological consequencesA Traumatic brain injury can lead to extreme physical damages, altered mental and emotional functioning, altered language capabilities, and diminished sensory perceptions that can include your sense of smell and your hearing. All these elements combine to make you exactly who you are. In fact, many TBI sufferers contend that their traumatic brain injuries left them with an altered sense of self, which significantly exacerbated the severity of their physical injuries consequences. Furthermore, some TBIs victims develop chronic seizures. Its difficult to overstate how significantly a TBI can damage your life.
  • Spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury is caused by damage to your vertebrae, to your ligaments, to the discs in your spinal cord, or to your spinal cord itself. Spinal cord injuries dont always reveal themselves at the time of the accident. Sometimes, spinal cord injuries develop with time as the associated bleeding, swelling, and accumulation of fluid in your spinal column continues to collect. Coupled together, your spinal cord and your brain make up your bodys central nervous system, which manages all your physical movements and sensations. If your spinal cord suffers significant injury, it can impede your bodys ability to accurately receive messages from your brain, which can cause your motor system to dysfunction and can lead to partial or complete paralysis.
  • Broken bones. Pedestrian accidents frequently result in fractured bones, where an external force thats stronger than the bone itself causes it to fracture or break. Doctors can usually treat these injuries and they may heal well, but in the meantime they can cause extreme pain and can necessitate extensive medical treatments or even surgeries. Furthermore, broken and fractured bones sometimes develop complications that can lead to ongoing pain and medical issues.
  • Soft tissue injuries. Injuries to the soft tissues are common in nearly any kind of accident, and this is especially true of pedestrian accidents. Such injuries can include bruising, cuts, tears, dislocations, and sprains. While some soft-tissue injuries heal themselves with time, others require extensive medical and therapeutic care. These injuries can hurt terribly and lead to extended periods of lost work hours.

Staying Safe

You can help yourself stay safe when you head out on the streets of Philadelphia:

  • Remain alert to the traffic all around youand obey all posted pedestrian signs, signals, and warnings
  • Always cross at marked crosswalks (or other designated walkways) whenever theyre available
  • Cross with a group whenever possiblegroups of pedestrians are easier for motorists to see
  • Wear comfortable, supportive, well-fitting, nonslip footwear that allows you to safely and swiftly make your way across the street
  • If you need to walk after dark, ensure that vehicles can see you by wearing a prominent piece of clothing that incorporates reflective material

Because pedestrian accidents are so serious, always make safety your top priority when you head out the door on foot.

If You Were Injured in a Pedestrian Accident, Consult an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you care about was injured in a pedestrian accident, you know the problems that can result. Because your rights and your case are too important to leave to chance, you need experienced legal counsel. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia has the experience and commitment to aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled. Our skilled personal injury attorneys care about your case, and were here to help. Please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.

December 15, 2017

How to Avoid Traffic Accidents in The Philadelphia Area

Car Accident Lawyer in PA

Traffic accidents cause thousands of injuries each year. The possible need for long-term care, among other things, can complicate the determination of damages for injuries. Effectively dealing with these issues can require professional assistance. Obviously, however, the best solution is to avoid traffic accidents in the first place.

The Levin Firm has some advice to help you do that. If you have suffered an injury in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area, however, consult an attorney to 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.

Can I Reduce My Risk of a Traffic Accident?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. And there is a good reason for wanting to do so. According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, a traffic accident kills someone every 12 minutes, injures someone every 10 seconds, and crashes every five seconds.

Driving safety experts offer different answers for how to avoid traffic accidents based on their editorial perspectives. The different viewpoints, however, appear equally valid. For example, EHS Today advises:

  • Pull into traffic slowly, paying attention to other drivers’ blind spots and objects that might obstruct the vision of other drivers, including highway road signs.
  • Look both ways at least twice before turning right at intersections.
  • Make sure no one runs a red light or pushes through during the last milliseconds of a yellow light before you proceed into an intersection.
  • Take care when passing commercial trucks, which have large blind spots on their right-hand sides and to their rears.
  • Always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel. Avoid distractions, including changing radio stations, tapes, or CDs; using cell phones; eating, or taking both hands off the wheel.
  • Watch for children, pedestrians, and animals.
  • Maintain your vehicle, including the engine and safety equipment, such as brakes and brake lights, position lights, and head lights. Keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Be vigilant when backing up. Don’t rely on mirrors—turn and look to ensure nothing is in the way.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Treat other drivers with courtesy and don’t do anything that might spark road rage in them.

Edmunds offers these suggestions for avoiding accidents:

  • Stay out of the fast lane. The left lane is for passing, but more important, the center or right lanes give you have more places to go should you need to quickly change lanes or move to the shoulder. Most accidents involve vehicles traveling in the left lane.
  • Focus on the front, and not just the vehicle in front of you—look for problems farther ahead and keep an eye on what happens in front of the vehicle in front of you. This will give you time to react.
  • Pay attention to blind spots—yours, others’, everyones. Turn to check your own blind spots, and adjust your mirrors to minimize those blind spots. Pay particular attention to truckers’ blind spots.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel, preferably at or above the nine- and three o’clock positions.
  • Know your car’s limits. A minivan is not a Porsche, and acceleration, maneuverability, and other performance standards differ accordingly. Learn how your vehicle can perform in an emergency.
  • Keep your car in good shape. Observe maintenance schedules, regularly change your tires, change wiper blades, and take other steps to keep your car in proper condition.
  • Avoid driving late at night if possible. While driving late to avoid traffic sounds good, you are more fatigued at night and other drivers are more likely to drive drowsy—or worse, under the influence of alcohol.

Obviously, none of this advice can prevent all accidents, but it can reduce your risk. Safe driving requires constant attention and vigilance. Maintain that attitude and you might take the best step to avoid traffic accidents.

The government, of course, has its own perspective on accident prevention. In large part, the government focuses on how accidents hurt the economy, since many accidents occur during rush hours or work hours, and to different degrees employers bear the cost for injuries that occur whether they take place on or off the job. Even off-the-job injuries cost employers if employees can’t work due to accident injuries. Hence, the federal government has its own recommendations for reducing traffic accidents. Employers should:

  • Maintain traffic safety policies and ensure that all employees understand them, even if the job duties of those employees do not include driving. Such policies could include banning the use of drugs or alcohol during work hours or while performing company business.
  • Enforce policies requiring the use of seat belts when engaged in company business or using company vehicles, and require all occupants of company vehicles to wear seat belts.
  • Establish policies regarding fatigued driving to ensure that employees properly rest before they drive on company business.
  • Make it company policy to avoid aggressive driving even when simply commuting to and from work, but especially when driving on company business.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of The Levin Firm

Drive with the goal of avoiding accidents, but if a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area injured you, getting an experienced legal team on your side can help. If you were in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area despite your defensive driving, protect your rights and explore your compensation options. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

December 13, 2017

What questions should you ask when hiring a lawyer?

Personal Injury Attorney in PA

Traffic accidents cause thousands of injuries each year. The possible need for long-term care, among other things, can complicate the determination of damages for injuries. Effectively dealing with these issues can require professional assistance. Read on to learn how to choose the right attorney to assist you with any claims that might arise from a traffic accident, and what questions will help you make that determination.

The attorneys of The Levin Firm can help. You can take advantage of a free consultation, and The Levin Firm wants you to know the questions you should ask before hiring an attorney to assist you with an injury claim. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

What Questions Should I Ask When I Look for a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If a traffic accident injured you, you want to find the best lawyer you can. How do you do that? The first thing you should look for is someone with the right experience to handle your case. To that end, ask any attorney you interview the following questions:

  • How long have you practiced personal injury law?
  • Do you frequently handle cases involving traffic accidents like mine?
  • What kinds of traffic-accident injuries do you have experience handling?
  • What are your professional credentials, including bar memberships and professional awards and recognitions? Where did you go to law school?
  • About how many traffic accident injury cases do you handle every year, how many do you settle, and how many go to trial?

Those are just the first questions you should ask, not the only ones. You should also want to know whether you have a viable case and whether the negligence of another person might entitle you to compensation.

Ask How the Lawyer Will Handle Your Case

Once you are satisfied with the attorney’s competence to handle your case, ask questions that will let you know how your attorney will handle it. Ask how the attorney works with clients—will the lawyer simply tell you what to do, or tell you your options and let you decide? Neither approach is wrong, but some people prefer to have input into decisions. On the other hand, maybe you want hire an attorney to make decisions. It is an issue for your consideration.

  • Other questions about case management could include:
  • Will you manage my case, or will another attorney at your firm handle it?
  • Who will make court appearances, and who will attend negotiations?
  • Who will serve as my day-to-day point of contact?
  • What other attorneys will work on my case?
  • Will my case require expert witnesses? If so, who are they and what will they do?
  • How often will you give me progress reports, and what information can I expect those reports to include?
  • How do I reach you and how quickly will you respond?

Ask About Your Case Strengths and Weaknesses

You need to know the strength of your case, including the likely outcomes. Ask for an honest assessment, what works against you and what works in your favor. Ask about your chances of a fair settlement, or whether your case might go to trial. If your case is likely to go to trial, ask about your chances of success and whether it’s worth pursuing the case. Find out whether mediation or arbitration are options and if they’ll work for you.

Finally, ask for a timeline and an estimate for how long your case might take to conclude. Having suffered damages, including medical expenses, you need to know how to manage your finances while awaiting the conclusion of your case. When litigation is possible, accurate estimates are hard to provide, and your attorney might not offer a definite answer. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

What Will My Case Cost Me?

Finally, you need to address what legal representation will cost you. You need to know how a lawyer will charge you, whether your case will cost you money up front and, if so, how much. Questions to ask include:

Will you charge me a contingency fee or an hourly rate? (A contingency fee is a percentage of whatever compensation you recover. Obviously, you will want to know that percentage. Usually, a contingency agreement means you don’t have to pay lawyer fees if you don’t win compensation.)

If you charge me an hourly rate, how much is that rate, and will you require me to pay if I don’t win compensation?

  • Will you charge me a retainer fee?
  • Will you charge me for anything if you fail to obtain a settlement or win the case?
  • What expenses must I pay, and must I pay them even if I lose and receive no money?

In general, your insurance will pay for your actual expenses, both medical and property damages, even if you are at fault for an accident. The key to recovery beyond that is whether the other party was at fault. That may entitle you to more. Asking the above questions can help you determine whether that is possible, and what it will cost you.

If You Suffered an Injury in a Traffic Accident in the Philadelphia Area, Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of The Levin Firm

If you suffered a personal injury in a traffic accident 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.

December 7, 2017

Drowsy Driving Is a Serious Problem

PA Car Accident Lawyer

Traffic accidents involving drowsy drivers cause thousands of injuries each year. As experienced car accident attorneys, the lawyers of The Levin Firm know how you feel after such an incident. You want help, and you want your life to return to normal.

If you were in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area that involved a drowsy or fatigued driver, then 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.

The Impacts of Driving When Drowsy or Fatigued

Driving fatigued or drowsy has serious impacts on traffic safety and, ultimately the well-being and quality of life for any drivers who encounter the hazard. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s traffic accidents statistics rely upon police and hospital reporting to estimate the number of traffic accidents related to drowsy driving. The NHTSA, however, can’t determine the exact number of accidents caused by drowsy driving, because police may not easily find conclusive crash-scene evidence of drowsy driving.

The agency estimated that in 2015, local law enforcement reported more than 72,000 accidents that involved drowsy or fatigued drivers, resulting in about 41,000 injuries and more than 800 deaths. While those numbers seem bad enough, experts in traffic safety, sleep science, and public health believes the numbers are much larger. These experts, according to the NHTSA, believe that drowsy driving contributes to seven percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of all fatal accidents, which would mean that about 6,000 persons died in drowsy-driving related accidents in 2015.

Federal statistics show that drowsy driving contributed to 846 fatalities in 2014, representing 2.6 percent of all traffic deaths. These data points are consistent with the previous 10 years—between 2005 and 2009, drowsy driving factored in an average of 83,000 accidents each year, with about 886 fatalities each year—roughly 2.6 percent of all traffic fatalities annually—and an estimated 37,000 injuries annually. In addition, drowsy driving causes an estimated 45,000 traffic accidents each year that only result in property damage

The Leading Causes of Drowsy Driving

Why is there such an epidemic of drowsy driving? The NHTSA’s answers include:

  • Sleep loss. It seems simple, but people tend to discount this when they get behind the wheel.
  • When you’re driving and how far you’re driving. Driving between midnight and 6 a.m., driving a lot of miles or many hours each day, and driving for long periods without breaks are major causes.
  • Use of sedatives, including painkillers, some antidepressants, and some antihistamines.
  • Sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy.
  • Alcoholic beverages.

Each of these factors has cumulative effects, meaning a combination of any of these greatly increases the risks of drowsy driving accidents.

Furthermore, three groups of drivers are particularly at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. They include, not surprisingly, night-shift workers and people who suffer from sleep apnea. Surprisingly, however, young people are the third group susceptible to drowsy driving—not because they party late all the time, but because of biology. The brain has a cluster of neurons that constitute a so-called sleep switch that tells our bodies when to sleep. This sleep switch works quite effective on sleep-deprived youth, causing to fall asleep involuntarily.

As for night-shift workers, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that they are much more likely toface traffic accidents, particularly on their ways home from work. One study had night-shift workers drive on a test track at the time they normally would drive home from work. Nearly 40 percent of the test subjects showed signs of drowsy driving that nearly resulted in crashes.

Warning Signs That You Are Driving Drowsy

One key to stopping drowsy driving is for drivers to recognize the danger signs. The American Automobile Association cites a number of indicators that you are driving drowsy, including:

  • The inability to remember the last few miles you have driven
  • The inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
  • Your head feels heavy and keeps dropping
  • Drifting across driving lanes
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Inadvertently tailgating other vehicles
  • Missing traffic signs

Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that drowsy driving can mimic the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, drowsy drivers sometimes drive so poorly that they might appear drunk. The AAA foundation conducted a survey of police officers and found that:

  • 88 percent had stopped a driver they believed was drunk but was drowsy
  • 89 percent believed drowsy driving presents as much danger as drunk driving
  • 93 percent said drowsy driving is a serious problem for passenger car drivers
  • 97 percent said drowsy driving is a serious problem for truck drivers
  • 95 percent believed that drowsy drivers who cause crashes should receive driving violations

While most drowsy-driving accidents take place late at night or early in the morning, a large number also occur in the mid-afternoon. Natural sleep rhythms indicate that people are sleepiest at the mid-point of their night-time sleeps, and then again about 12 hours later. For most people, this second period of sleepiness comes between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Levin Firm

The Levin Firm is ready to help victims of drowsy drivers in the Philadelphia area. If a drowsy driver injured you in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area, seek legal advice. The Levin Firm can help. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

May 4, 2017

TBIs Can Be Caused by a Variety of Accidents

TBI Attorneys in PA

Traumatic brain injuries,1 or TBIS, are among the most serious kinds of injuries a person can sustain. They can occur when you hit your head on another object with sufficient force or even when your head snaps back and forth on your neck. The most common form of TBI is known as a concussion, and more severe brain injuries often leave victims with cognitive and physical disabilities that can last a lifetime. Additionally, even repetitive mild TBIs have been linked to serious issues like Parkinson’s disease and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Many TBIs are the result of accidents caused by the negligence of other people, which means that victims are entitled to compensation for their losses. Here are some of the more common accidents that have the potential to leave individuals with brain injuries.

Car Accidents

People are involved in car accidents on a daily basis in the Philadelphia area. Even in the best of circumstances, a car wreck can easily involve forces that cause a vehicle occupant to hit his or her head on the dashboard, windshield or other surfaces. In more serious cases, victims are thrown through windshields and end up hitting the ground or another vehicle.

Slip and Falls

Most people think of slip and falls as minor accidents that cause only minor injuries like bumps and bruises. While it is certainly true that most slip and fall victims can walk away from their accidents, if they happen in a certain way, victims can end up hitting their heads on the ground or another object as they fall.

Bicycle Accidents

Bicyclists are among the most vulnerable people on the road. In accidents, they can easily be thrown from their vehicles and end up hitting their heads on the ground, cars, or even nearby objects like buildings or trees. Furthermore, TBIs can occur even when bicycle accident victims are wearing helmets and other safety gear.

Workplace Injuries

Many TBIs occur at work. While it may seem obvious that people who work in high-risk industries, such as construction or manufacturing, are at risk for brain injuries, you should keep in mind that even people who work behind a desk can hit their heads while they are at work. Importantly, while many workplace injuries limit people to workers’ compensation2 claims, there are plenty of circumstances under which a workplace injury gives rise to a personal injury claim. Some of the more common include the following:

  • Accidents caused by third-party contractors
  • Accidents caused by defective workplace tools
  • Accidents caused by the intentional conduct of an employer

Call a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. At The Levin Firm, we are committed to providing brain injury victims with effective and solution-oriented legal representation. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 215-285-5183 or contact us online.

March 17, 2017

How to Maximize a Personal Injury Award or Settlement

Personal Injury Lawyer in PA

Motor vehicle accidents can happen anywhere, and Philadelphia, with its many busy roadways and highways, is no exception. Car wrecks can be very traumatizing experiences, and legal concerns are probably the last thing on your mind following involvement in a serious car crash.

Insurance companies, like most big businesses, are interested in lining their own pockets. Their goal in a car accident case is to settle the case as quickly (and as cheaply) as possible. Our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys can help you by negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf and assisting you with obtaining a favorable settlement offer.

If the insurance company refuses to settle your case fairly, we are not afraid to litigate your case and take it to trial. What follows are some simple steps you can take to maximize the value of your case, including the amount of your settlement, arbitration award, or jury verdict.

Visit a Hospital Emergency Room or Urgent Care Facility Immediately After the Accident

Injured victims of Philadelphia car accidents should immediately seek same-day treatment at a local hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. This is true even when no symptoms are immediately apparent. Same-day treatment is necessary for the following reasons:

  • Symptoms oftentimes do not manifest themselves until well after the accident (e.g., days or weeks), and it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Failing to seek same-day emergency medical treatment sends a message to insurance adjusters that the accident victim was not all that seriously injured and/or was not making medical treatment a top priority following the collision.

It is also important that car accident victims be complete and accurate when describing their pain and symptoms (without overstating their cases) – and that they follow through with all of the emergency room physician’s treatment recommendations. This may include doing one or more of the following:

  • Following up with a primary care physician or specialist for subsequent treatment
  • Beginning a physical therapy regimen at a separate facility
  • Seeking follow-up care and treatment at another facility

Seek Medical Treatment for Injuries and Concentrate on Getting Better

Following a same-day hospital emergency room or urgent care visit, it is important to start treatment with a health care provider immediately for injuries sustained in the accident. Large gaps in treatment, long delays in treatment, and missed appointments (or late arrivals) are red flags for insurance adjusters. Rightly or wrongly, gaps in medical treatment or physical therapy send a signal to the insurance company that a car accident victim is not as seriously injured as he or she claims.

Document How Your Injuries Have Affected You

While proving losses like lost income and medical expenses is fairly straightforward, it is often more difficult to establish the non-economic damages accident victims sustain. Consequently, it is important for victims to keep detailed notes about the way in which their injuries have affected them. Make note of pain that you experience, activities that you forgo because of your injuries, any problems you have sleeping, and feelings of depression1 or anxiety that you have.

Seek Legal Representation

An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer will be able to do the following:

  • Recommend further treatment options
  • Obtain all medical records and bills from hospitals, treating physicians, and physical therapy facilities
  • Obtain information from insurance companies about their available policy limits
  • Submit a settlement demand to the insurance company
  • Negotiate with insurance adjusters to obtain a fair settlement of the case
  • File a lawsuit and litigate the case in the court system, if necessary
  • Take the case to trial or explore alternative dispute resolution options

It is important to keep in mind that establishing the value of a car accident case is a complicated matter and often requires determining how your injuries will affect in the months and years that follow. The assistance of an attorney will ensure that all of your injuries are adequately compensated and that you receive the settlement or award that you deserve.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

Personal injuries sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence2 can be very serious and can affect every aspect of a person’s life – including their health, their finances, and their quality of life.

An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer will have the necessary legal knowledge and expertise to negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf and help you to obtain a fair resolution to your case.

To schedule a free consultation with one of the experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm, call us today at 215-825-518 or contact us online.



January 12, 2017

Information about Premises Liability Claims

Premise Liability Lawyers in PA

Claims that arise from injuries that you sustain in accidents can be categorized under the general umbrella of “personal injury.” However, there are more specific types of claims depending on now that injury occurred. For example, cases against doctors who cause injuries are called “medical malpractice” claims and cases against companies that sold dangerous products are called “products liability” claims. One common type of personal injury case is called “premises liability” and it involves a claim against a property owner whose negligence caused your injury.

Types of Accidents that can Lead to Premises Liability Claims

Many different accidents can happen on another party’s property, whether that property is commercial or residential. Some examples of accidents at the heart of premises liability claims include the following:

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Falls down stairs
  • Falls from landings, balconies, or other heights
  • Getting hit by falling objects
  • Swimming pool or spa accidents
  • Construction site accidents
  • Toxic exposure
  • Electrocution
  • Blasting or explosion accidents
  • Assaults or robberies

Such accidents can happen in many different locations, including grocery stores, schools, retail stores, apartment or condo complexes, bars and restaurants, hotels and resorts, workplaces, and much more.

Any of these accidents can result in serious and often life-changing injuries for victims. Injuries can range from broken bones to brain or spinal cord injuries1 to severe burns, among many others. Victims are often left wondering who they can hold responsible for their extensive medical bills, pain and suffering, and other injury-related losses.

Negligence in Premises Liability Cases

When a party is negligent and causes injury, they can be held liable for the losses of the injured victim. This is no different in premises liability cases as negligent property owners can be ordered to compensate victims for their losses stemming from the accident. In order to be deemed negligent, property owners must have breached their legal duty to maintain their premises and keep it in reasonably safe condition for customers, visitors, and other guests.

Some examples of negligence that can lead to premises liability can include:

  • Having worn or slippery flooring or carpets
  • Allowing wet spills to stay on floors
  • Not cleaning up debris from walkways
  • Having dangerous stairways or broken railings
  • Having unfinished or faulty electrical systems or wires
  • Not having adequate security measures to protect guests
  • Having unstable shelving
  • Allowing any other defects or hazards to persist on the property

Note that a property owner may not defend against a premises liability lawsuit by simply claiming ignorance of the hazard or dangerous condition. Part of a property owner’s duty is to regularly inspect the property so that any potential risks can be identified and addressed. This includes performing routine maintenance and performing repairs on defects. If a property owner simply ignores the premises, it will not relieve them of liability if an injury occurs.

Instead, in this situation, the injured victims must demonstrate that the property owner should have known about the hazard if they had taken reasonable care. For example, imagine that a jar fell in a grocery store and spilled liquid all over the floor. You subsequently slipped on the liquid and fell, suffering a serious back injury. You would have to show that a reasonable store owner or manager would have discovered the spill in the time before you fell and would have cleaned it up or warned visitors of the possible fall hazard.

Statute of Limitations in PA

Pennsylvania law2 does not give you an indefinite period of time to file a claim against a property owner for premises liability. Instead, you only have two years from the date of the injury to file your lawsuit. In this time, you must gather evidence of the property owner’s negligence and of your losses, as well as prepare your complaint to file with the court. Because time is limited, you should discuss your case with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Consult with a Philadelphia Premises Liability Attorney Regarding Your Case

Premises liability cases can be significantly different than a case involving other types of accidents. You need to have an attorney handling your case who specifically understands how to prove negligence in a premises liability claim and who can help you hold business and property owners fully liable for the injuries you suffered and losses you incurred. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, we have the resources needed to take on claims against businesses large and small and we are committed to fighting for your rights. Please call our premises liability lawyer at 215-825-5183 today to learn more about our services for free.



December 29, 2016

Cold Weather Personal Injury Concerns

Personal Injury Attorneys in PA

Philadelphia can have extremely severe winters. Subfreezing temperatures, snow, ice, and dangerous wind chills are not uncommon, and these conditions can often last for days or even weeks on end. While the cold and wintry weather may initially seem like an annoyance that can be easily managed by simply bundling up in quality outerwear, in reality, cold weather can put us all at risk of serious injury. Some of the more common accidents that can occur in cold weather are discussed below.

Car Accidents

Conditions like snow and ice can make driving extraordinarily difficult, even for four-wheel drive vehicles. In many cases, winter storms can result in significantly decreased visibility and slippery roads that can easily result in accidents. Even cold weather by itself can result in the formation of “black ice,” which is a thin sheet of ice on the road that is often invisible to motorists.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence during cold weather, as accumulating snow and ice can make surfaces like sidewalks, walkways, stairwells, and entryways treacherous for pedestrians. While slip and falls are often thought of as minor accidents that do not usually result in serious injury, they are responsible for almost 9 million emergency department visits each year. Some of the more common injuries sustained in cold weather slip and fall accidents include the following:

Broken bones

Hip fractures

Soft tissue injuries

Traumatic brain injuries

Spinal cord injuries

Nerve injuries




Muscle tears


Space Heater Accidents

When the weather gets colder, many people in the Philadelphia area turn to space heaters to keep their homes or offices warm. A space heater can be an efficient way to keep your energy costs low by only heating areas that you need to be heated and also can help manage the temperature in homes with drafty windows or doors. Unfortunately, these devices are also very dangerous and capable of causing serious injuries. For one thing, space heaters themselves can become extremely hot. If you accidentally touch a space heater after it has been operating for some time, it can easily cause serious burns. Secondly, space heaters are a serious fire hazard. They can overheat and start spark fires that could potentially burn an entire house down.

Holiday Decoration Accidents

Winter and colder weather also bring the holiday season. During this time, many people like to decorate their homes in strings of lights or other illuminated objects to create a holiday display. These items can be either inside or outside of the home and usually rely on electricity to operate. Like anything else electrical, if they are misused or defective in some way that can cause serious injury or spark fires. In addition, people who decorate their homes during the holidays often need to get on the roof or extend a ladder to the second story (or beyond) in order to achieve the desired result. As a result, holiday decorating could also expose you to a serious risk of injury in a fall accident.

Determining Whether You Have a Claim

Not every accidental injury entitles victims to pursue compensation. For example, if you are driving in snowy weather and lose control of your car because you were driving too fast, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover for your losses. If on the other hand, you can establish that your accident was the result of a faulty anti-lock braking system, you probably will be able to obtain a settlement or an award. Because of the complicated nature personal injury claims, it is critical for victims to have their case reviewed by an experienced attorney. Our lawyers will review your claim for free and determine whether you have a claim. In addition, if you do have a claim to pursue, you are under no obligation to retain us after your initial consultation.

Call a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you are injured in an accident this winter, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. In many instances, accidents related to cold weather conditions entitle victims to compensation. Examples of the kinds of damages that you may be able to recover include medical expenses, lost income, loss of quality of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering, among others. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call The Levin Firm today at 215-825-5183 or send us an email through our online contact form.

October 13, 2016

Swimming Pool Accidents in Hotels

Personal Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia

Traveling with kids can be fun but also challenging. Kids often need to be entertained on a constant basis and so you want to plan your trip with that in mind. For this reason, many parents try to specifically book reservations at hotels that have swimming pools and hot tubs. While many stays at hotels happen without incident, some families experience serious and even tragic accidents at hotel pools.

In many situations, hotels can be held liable for the losses your family suffered if your child was involved in a swimming pool accident on the premises. Whether the pool accident involved near-drowning, drowning, or other types of injuries, it is critical that you discuss what happened with a highly experienced premises liability attorney who understands how to help victims of swimming pool accidents recover for their losses.

  • Injuries Resulting from Hotel Pool Accidents
  • Many types of injuries can occur in or around swimming pools, many of which can be severe or fatal. Some examples of pool injuries can include the following:
  • Brain damage from oxygen deprivation (anoxia1 or hypoxia2)
  • Traumatic brain injury from head trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Burns and electrocution injuries
  • Evisceration
  • Death

As you can see, many of the injuries caused by pool accidents are highly serious and can have an extreme effect on your family. As a result, you should always seek information regarding whether you can hold a hotel responsible for the swimming pool accident and injuries.

How Hotels Can Be Negligent

In some cases, a swimming pool accident is just that – an accident that no one could have prevented. However, in many instances, a pool accident happens because the hotel was negligent in some manner. The following are only some ways in which a hotel can be negligent regarding a swimming pool or hot tub:

Defective gate and/or latch – Laws require that pool at hotels have fences or other enclosure with specific doors or gates that lock or latch. This is largely to keep unattended children from wandering into the pool area and falling into the pool. If a hotel has a door with a broken lock or a gate with a broken latch, it can be responsible for accidents that result.

Inadequate warnings – Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards on duty. However, there must be adequate warnings of such posted in the pool area. In addition, hotels must post any other applicable warnings (such as “no diving”) or rules, as well as have obvious depth markers around the pool so parents know to keep their kids in shallow waters if needed.

Diving board accidents – If a hotel pool has a diving board, it must be properly inspected and maintained. If a diving board is broken in any way, anyone using the diving board can fall off and hit their head or hurt another part of their body.

Slip and fall accidents – Hotels should ensure that the area surrounding the pool is not slippery and does not have tools or debris in walkways. If there are dangerous surfaces around the pool, guests can slip and fall causing traumatic injuries or may even fall into the pool, causing near-drowning or drowning accidents.

Drain accidents – Pool and hot tub drains can be very dangerous if they are not in compliance with relevant laws, such as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act,3 people can become suctioned to the drain, which can result in evisceration and drowning.

Other conditions inside the pool – Pools can have many other dangerous conditions including murky water, rough surfaces, incorrect chemicals, or other factors that can lead to drowning accidents or can make it difficult for parents to realize their child may be in trouble.

Electrocutions – Hotel pools are often equipped with lights and other electrical components that can help increase safety – that is unless they are wired incorrectly or improperly maintained. In such cases, anyone in the pool may be electrocuted and may suffer injuries or drown as a result.

Call an Experienced Philadelphia Hotel Injuries Attorney for More Information Today

If you or your child was injured in a hotel pool, an experienced Philadelphia hotel accident lawyer can evaluate the situation and help identify any negligence and responsibility on the part of the hotel. Please do not hesitate to call The Levin Firm to discuss a possible case for free at 215-825-5183 today.




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