SEPTA commuter train

Getting Compensation After a SEPTA Train or Trolley Accident

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)  train accidents in Philadelphia can result in severe injuries and significant disruptions to one’s life. Victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and other damages. The process of obtaining compensation involves navigating complex legal and regulatory frameworks, often requiring the assistance of an experienced attorney. Those affected by SEPTA train accidents must understand their rights and the procedures for filing claims to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Pennsylvania Laws for Public Transportation Accidents

Suppose you have been involved in a SEPTA train or trolley accident in Philadelphia. In that case, it  is necessary to be knowledgeable about the unique legal and procedural rules that apply to accidents involving public transportation systems and to take the following steps: 

  • Understanding Your Rights: It is essential to understand that as a passenger, pedestrian, or party injured due to a SEPTA vehicle, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, claims against public entities like SEPTA have specific requirements and limitations.
  • Reporting the Accident: Immediately following the accident, report the incident to SEPTA authorities and the police. Documenting the event accurately and promptly can be crucial for your claim. Get a copy of the accident report, as it will be an essential piece of evidence.
  • Seeking Medical Attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, it is crucial to get medical attention immediately. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and having a medical record right after the accident can significantly support your claim.
  • Documenting Your Case: Collect as much evidence as possible, including photographs of the scene, your injuries, witness contact information, and any personal accounts of the incident. Keep all receipts and records of expenses related to the incident, including medical bills and any other costs incurred due to the accident.
  • Understanding SEPTA’s Sovereign Immunity and Notice Requirements: SEPTA, as a state-affiliated entity, enjoys certain protections under Pennsylvania law, including sovereign immunity. There are strict limitations and procedures for filing a claim. Notably, you must file a notice of intent to sue the city of Philadelphia within six months of the accident. This notice must contain specific information, and failing to comply with these requirements can result in the dismissal of your claim.
  • Dealing with SEPTA’s Insurance: SEPTA’s insurance company may contact you after reporting the accident. Be cautious when dealing with insurance adjusters, as their primary goal is to minimize the company’s liability. It is usually advisable to consult with an attorney before signing anything or providing a recorded statement.
  • Hiring an Attorney: Navigating the complexities of a claim against SEPTA can be challenging. An attorney experienced in SEPTA accidents can provide invaluable assistance. They can help ensure that all procedural requirements are met, assist with collecting evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If you cannot reach a fair settlement through insurance negotiations, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years. However, due to the sovereign immunity and notice requirements for claims against SEPTA, the actual timeframe for action can be much shorter.
  • Compensation and Damages: If your claim is successful, you could be entitled to various forms of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. However, awards against government entities like SEPTA may be subject to caps under state law.

Takeaway

Compensation after a SEPTA train or trolley accident involves navigating a complex legal landscape with specific rules and limitations. Prompt action, thorough documentation, and legal representation are critical elements for a successful claim. Cooper Schall & Levy have experienced personal injury attorneys who can advise you based on the specifics of your situation. Contact our office for a complimentary initial consultation.

Red rose on a marble grave stone

Can You Seek Civil Liability for a Wrongful Death Due to a Violent Crime?

When an individual is injured because of the negligent or intentional acts of others, he or she can bring a personal injury claim. But when the injury results in the victim’s death, certain eligible survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These claims cover a variety of wrongful actions, including those that involve violent crimes. The Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy are here to seek justice for you and your family.

Negligent Security and Violent Crime

Pennsylvania law requires that residential and commercial property owners provide reasonable security measures to keep their guests and visitors safe. When they fail to do so, and someone becomes the victim of a violent crime, that individual can pursue a premises liability case against the owner of the property and potentially other parties. If the victim dies as a result of the crime, survivors may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

No property owner can absolutely guarantee that a visitor or guest will not be the victim of a violent crime on their property. Even with the strongest security protocols imaginable, violent crime can still claim the life of someone. However, property owners are obligated to adopt preventive measures against reasonably foreseeable hazards. Among such hazards are the risks associated with violent crime.

An example of a violent crime that may fall into the above category includes a shooting at a restaurant, a fight that turns deadly at a bar, or an invasion resulting in death at a hotel. Cases such as these can be complex, and a number of factors must be examined to determine whether the property owner or manager knew, or should have known, of the risk of such violent crime but failed to do anything about it.

Examples of Property Owner Negligence

If someone dies from a violent crime, an attorney will need to investigate the circumstances surrounding it to determine if the owner or manager of the property was somehow negligent. The following examples are evidence of such negligence:

  • Broken or malfunctioning security equipment such as locks and alarm systems
  • Poor lighting, especially in common areas like hallways and parking lots
  • Failure to adopt safety and security measures after a criminal incident has been reported
  • Refusal to expel guests who are posing a threat to others
  • Improper training of security staff, especially where they are hired to provide security for specific events

An attorney will review internal property records, police reports, surveillance camera footage, statements from witnesses, and other evidence to determine the nature of the owner’s negligence.

Negligent Security and Wrongful Death

Wrongful death claims cover situations in which a property owner, due to negligent acts or omissions, allowed a reasonably foreseeable hazard to harm and kill someone else. These lawsuits may cover a variety of property conditions that result in the demise of someone else, including those which arise from negligent security. In other words, if someone dies because of inadequate security measures, surviving family members may be able to take legal action against the owner or manager of the property.

The personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate must file the wrongful death lawsuit. But if this individual fails to do so within six months of the victim’s death, immediate family members (spouse, children, or parents of the deceased) can file the lawsuit. Potential damages include:

  • The victim’s funeral expenses
  • Medical expenses the victim incurred before death
  • Estate administration costs
  • Lost income and benefits, including what the deceased victim would reasonably have been expected to earn if he or she had lived
  • Loss of the deceased victim’s services and companionship

Explore Your Legal Options With Us Today

If your loved one died in a preventable violent crime, Cooper Schall & Levy wants to help you seek justice. We are committed to demanding the maximum amount of wrongful death damages available under the law. Reach out to us today to get started.

Man's foot next to a pallet jack tire

Common Causes of Crush Injuries

Excessive force or pressure applied to the body, or part of the body, can result in a crush injury. These injuries are painful, and debilitating, and can cause the victim to incur significant medical bills, lost time from work, and other damages. When someone suffers a crush injury due to another party’s negligence, the victim has the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. It starts with understanding some of the common reasons these accidents happen. With Cooper Schall & Levy by your side, you can present a strong case for the damages you deserve.

Why Do Crush Injuries Happen?

When a person’s body, or part of it, gets caught between two objects and pressure is applied, a crush injury may result. These are sometimes called caught-in/between injuries. They occur in a variety of contexts such as automobile wrecks, pedestrian accidents, and workplace accidents. In nearly every case, they are the result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct.

Even if the accident involves only an appendage (such as a finger) as opposed to the torso, it is imperative that the victim seek medical attention and consider filing a personal injury claim against the wrongful party. To file a lawsuit, the burden is on the victim to explain exactly how the crush injury happened. It therefore helps to understand some of the most common causes, including:

Irresponsible Driving

Because many crush injuries are the result of car and truck wrecks, responsibility typically points to some negligent act or omission on the part of the driver. This may include anything from speeding and reckless driving to driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving. A serious enough accident can pin the victim in the car and crush bones and vital organs.

Falling Objects

This risk is especially prevalent at construction sites. These sites should be secured and may even require rerouting nearby sidewalks to keep pedestrians safe. But in some cases, irresponsible construction workers may drop things that fall and crush a person. Falling objects can prove fatal if they fall from a significant height.

Defective Equipment and Machinery

Perhaps you have purchased heavy machinery for personal or commercial use. This equipment should come with ample instructions that tell the user how to safely operate it. There should also be safety guards and devices installed, for instance, to prevent someone’s hand from getting caught in the machine. Without either or both of these measures, the machinery may be defective and cause a crush injury.

Structural Collapse

A partial or total collapse of a building, due to negligent construction or design, can harm several people depending on the circumstances. A person’s entire body could be crushed or a limb (e.g. leg) could suffer damage. Either way, these are potentially life-threatening events that in most cases are avoidable.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slip and fall accidents, and those that involve tripping, are among the most common reasons victims file premises liability lawsuits. Property owners are required to keep their premises reasonably safe to avoid hazardous conditions that can cause these accidents. Otherwise, a victim can fall and crush body parts as a result.

Workplace Accidents

Crush injuries can happen on construction sites, at industrial plants, in factories, and in many other workplaces. Although the victim may have the right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim against the employer, there are cases in which other parties may be held accountable in a separate personal injury lawsuit.

Advocating for Crush Injury Victims in Philadelphia

Were you hurt in a crush injury accident because of someone else’s negligent conduct? Would you like to know more about the potential damages that may be available to you? Reach out to Cooper Schall & Levy. We can schedule your consultation and explain the legal process for recovering compensation.

City Do Not Walk sign illuminated

Who’s At Fault When a Pedestrian is Hit on a Do Not Walk Sign?

When a driver strikes a pedestrian, the immediate assumption is that the driver is at fault. However, there are instances in which a pedestrian can be found liable in an accident involving a vehicle. One area in which this may arise is when a pedestrian is hit while crossing the street on a “do not walk” sign. If you are a pedestrian who has been in one of these accidents, it’s imperative that you retain a skilled Philadelphia personal injury lawyer. Cooper Schall & Levy have you covered.

Pedestrian Negligence at Crosswalks

Everyone who uses the roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks throughout our city and state owes a duty of care to everyone around them. This means conducting themselves in a reasonably safe manner, under the circumstances, so that others are not put at an unnecessary risk of injury. The duty of care extends not just to drivers but to pedestrians. Both of these groups are required to obey traffic laws designed to keep everyone safe.

Most people are familiar with what the duty of care looks like when drivers don’t follow it: some examples are disobeying traffic laws, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or failing to ensure that their vehicles are safe to drive. Not as many people understand the different ways that pedestrians can violate the duty of care. One prominent way involves illegally crossing at a crosswalk.

Pennsylvania law requires that pedestrians cross streets at designated crosswalks (when available) and obey traffic control devices. These devices include the ubiquitous “walk” and “do not walk” signs. A pedestrian who crosses the street against a traffic control signal – in other words, then the signal displays “do not walk” – could be found negligent. More generally, pedestrians should take reasonable precautions when walking through crosswalks. Deciding to enter at the last second may increase the risk that they get struck by a driver who, for whatever reason, may not see them.

How Pedestrian Negligence Affects Personal Injury Awards

If you were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street on a “do not walk” sign, you need to understand Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, you can still seek damages in a personal injury case as long as you are less than 50% at fault. If your fault for the accident exceeds 50%, you can recover no damages, regardless of how bad your injuries are.

Assume that a pedestrian crossed the street while the traffic control device displayed “do not walk.” Also, assume that the driver who struck the pedestrian was speeding. A jury may determine that the pedestrian was 25% at fault and the speeding driver was 75% at fault.

In a case like this, because the pedestrian’s fault was less than 50%, he or she can still recover damages. However, those damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault. Suppose the pedestrian’s total damages are $100,000. That amount would then be reduced by 25%, or $25,000, to $75,000.

Defending Your Right to the Maximum Damages Available

If you’re a pedestrian who was hit by a vehicle during a “do not walk” sign, you can expect the automobile driver’s lawyer to argue that your damages should be reduced by the highest percentage possible. But perhaps you crossed when the signal said “walk,” meaning you shared no responsibility for the accident at all.

Either way, you need seasoned legal counsel who will zealously argue on your behalf and against any attempt by the defendant to shift blame to you or attempt to make you more responsible for the accident than you were. Give the personal injury lawyers of Cooper Schall & Levy a call today, or contact us online.

Cute baby in a car seat

Car Seat Recalls: Making Sure Your Child’s Seat is Safe

Car seats play an essential role in keeping young children safe when driving, as standard seat belts may not offer enough protection in a crash or could hurt a child due to their smaller size. Therefore, it’s crucial for parents to make sure a child’s car seat is safe and watch out for product recalls.

Sadly, companies recall car seats with alarming frequency. In March 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled almost 60,000 car seats from the brands Maxi Cosi and Safety 1st. The NHTSA said the anchor components used to secure the seats could fail and allow the car seat to detach in a crash, potentially causing catastrophic injuries. And in May 2023, General Motors (GM) recalled over 650,000 SUVs because one of the components used to attach a car seat to the vehicles could fail and prevent the seat from being attached correctly.

The Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Cooper, Schall & Levy want every parent to have the information they need to keep their kids safe when driving. This blog provides helpful tips on car seat recalls and how to check your child’s car seat to make sure it’s safe.

Car Seat Safety Tips

Here are a few essential car seat safety tips for Philadelphia parents:

  • Never buy a used car seat. You don’t know where the seat came from or what it’s been through. New seats may be more expensive, but you know what you’re getting.
  • Always get a new car seat after an accident, even if the seat appears undamaged. You might not be able to see damage to internal components that could fail catastrophically in a crash.
  • Make sure the car seat meets federal safety standards. All car seats should have a sticker certifying that the device meets NHTSA safety regulations.
  • Make sure your child uses the correct car seat for their age and size. In general, children ages one to three should use a rear-facing seat, while children ages three and up can use front-facing seats. Children ages seven and onward can use booster seats if they exceed the weight or height limits for front-facing car seats.
  • Have a professional inspect your car seat to make sure it’s safe. There are many agencies that offer child seat safety inspections for free. These professionals can evaluate a car seat and look at all its components to make sure it’s safe to use.
  • Always follow manufacturer guidelines and instructions when installing a car seat. These devices only work correctly when installed properly, so make sure to read the instructions carefully.
  • Periodically check for car seat recalls. You can check the NHTSA’s website for information on the most recent car seat recalls. If you see your model on the list, get a new one immediately. In most cases, manufacturers of recalled car seats will offer a free replacement.

What to Do If Your Child’s Car Seat Fails in a Crash

Once you have sought medical attention for yourself and your child after a crash, it’s vital to take steps to protect your legal rights. Here’s what to do in these situations:

  • Don’t throw the car seat away. It’s a crucial piece of physical evidence, and experts can examine the car seat to pinpoint what went wrong and who’s to blame.
  • Save any other evidence you have from the crash scene. This includes photos or videos, eyewitness contact information, etc.
  • Get a copy of the police report. If the police responded to the crash, get a copy of the accident report or ask a lawyer to obtain it for you.
  • Do not post about the accident on social media. Insurance companies and product manufacturers can use your posts against you.
  • Talk to an experienced product liability attorney right away. They can protect your rights and explain your potential legal options.

Contact Our Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers Now

You have the right to fair compensation if your child’s car seat failed due to a manufacturing or design defect. Call Cooper, Schall & Levy today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

Baby girl with a cochlear implant

Cochlear Implant Failures: Proving Liability

Cochlear implants have helped thousands of people with disabilities regain their hearing, but these devices can cause severe harm when they break or malfunction. What’s more, the emotional distress of these injuries, coupled with the sudden loss of hearing after regaining it, can have devastating effects on patients’ emotional well-being.

Unfortunately for people whose cochlear implants have failed, proving the manufacturer or another party caused the failure is often challenging. In this blog, the Philadelphia product liability attorneys at Cooper, Schall & Levy outline the challenges of these cases and explain how our team can help you recover fair compensation for your losses. Read on to learn more.

How Can Cochlear Implants Fail?

A cochlear implant typically includes two primary components: An external sound processor is implanted under the skin on the head. The implant connects to the external processor through an array of electrodes in the ear, bypassing the parts of the ear that don’t function to directly transmit sound to the brain.

When cochlear implants work as designed, they can immeasurably improve a patient’s quality of life. However, like all electronic devices, cochlear implants can fail, causing intense harm when they do. Some common ways that cochlear implants can fail include:

  • Surgical Errors: Incorrect placement or damage during surgery can cause device malfunctions, causing infections, vertigo, tinnitus, or even facial nerve damage.
  • Device Malfunction: The internal or external components of the implant can fail, leading to a loss of hearing, sudden loud noises or shocks, and a return of deafness or severe hearing impairment.
  • Faulty Design: Design flaws can result in the device not working as intended, potentially causing inconsistent sound quality, leading to difficulties in speech recognition and communication challenges.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Defects in the manufacturing process can compromise the implant’s functionality, resulting in intermittent hearing, device failure, or the need for additional surgeries to replace or repair the implant.
  • Failure to Warn: Inadequate instructions or warnings about the proper use and maintenance of the device can lead to misuse, resulting in decreased effectiveness, additional hearing loss, or injury.
  • Battery Issues: Problems with the battery or power source can lead to sudden loss of hearing, which can be particularly dangerous in situations where hearing is crucial for safety.

Who’s Responsible When a Cochlear Implant Fails?

One significant challenge in a cochlear implant failure claim is identifying who caused the issue with the device. Depending on how the failure occurred, the potentially liable parties include:

  • The implant’s manufacturer: The companies that designed and produced the cochlear implant may be responsible if the failure resulted from design flaws, manufacturing defects, or inadequate safety testing.
  • Surgeons and Medical Professionals: If the failure is related to the surgical procedure or post-operative care, the healthcare professionals involved in the implantation and follow-up care may be liable.
  • Retailers and Distributors: The companies responsible for selling or distributing the cochlear implant may be liable if they sold a defective product or failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions.
  • Designers and Engineers: If the failure is linked to the initial design or engineering of the implant, the professionals involved in these processes could be responsible.
  • Regulatory Agencies: In rare cases, regulatory bodies that approved the cochlear implant for use might be scrutinized if they did not adequately assess the device’s safety or effectiveness.

Evidence to Prove Liability in a Cochlear Implant Failure Claim

Proving a device manufacturer, doctor, or another party caused a cochlear implant to fail requires thorough evidence. An experienced product liability attorney can gather evidence to support your claim, which may include:

  • Medical Records
  • Expert Testimony
  • Implant Device Records, including Technical Specifications
  • Photographic and Video Evidence
  • FDA Reports and Recalls
  • The Device’s User Manual and Product Warnings
  • Testimonials from Other Users

Have You Sustained Injuries from a Cochlear Implant Failure? Call Our Philadelphia Injury Attorneys Today

If your cochlear implant failed and injured you, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries. The Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Cooper, Schall & Levy can find all available evidence to prove your case and represent you in your fight for justice. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

Close up of elderly woman's hand on a walker

Can a Personal Injury Settlement Affect Social Security Disability?

Severe accidents in Philadelphia can have lifelong effects, including leaving people unable to work. Social Security disability benefits can help people pay their bills after an accident, but what happens if someone injured in an accident wins a personal injury settlement? Can people who get a settlement retain their Social Security benefits?

At Cooper, Schall & Levy, we understand your need for answers to these critical questions. We have over 60 years of legal experience and have a deep understanding of both personal injury law and Social Security disability regulations and requirements. We can answer your questions and provide the clarity you need to take care of yourself. This blog explains everything you need to know about how a personal injury settlement affects your Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security Benefits Explained

There are three main types of Social Security benefits. In addition to retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two main types of benefits to people with disabilities or severe financial needs. Those two benefits are:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – When people talk about Social Security disability, this is typically the program they mean. The SSDI program provides financial aid for workers with long-term or terminal injuries, provided the injured worker meets certain criteria. First, the injured worker must meet the SSA’s definition of disability. Second, the injured worker must have earned enough work credits to qualify by paying Social Security taxes on their income. What’s important to know about SSDI is that the program is not a needs-based benefit. If you qualify, you’ll get benefits, regardless of the amount of your income.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – The SSI program provides financial aid to people with disabilities or older adults with few or no financial resources. Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI benefits are based on the applicant’s income and other assets.

Will a Personal Injury Settlement Affect Your Social Security Disability Benefits? It Depends

Whether a personal injury settlement will affect your Social Security disability benefits depends on the type of benefits you receive. In general, a settlement should not affect SSDI benefits because that is not a needs-based program. All that matters is whether you meet the medical definition of disability and if you have earned enough work credits.

On the other hand, a personal injury settlement likely will impact your SSI benefits if you receive them. Eligibility for SSI is based on your income, and a large personal injury settlement could represent a substantial increase in your income. Depending on the size of the settlement, you could see a reduction in your SSI benefits or lose them entirely.

How Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You

If you have not already applied for Social Security benefits or have issues with your application, we can take care of the paperwork. We can represent you in any appeals if the SSA denies your claim. Studies show that only 20 percent of Social Security disability claims are approved after the initial application, while only 29 percent of claims are approved in total once you include cases eventually approved after an appeal. Having an experienced attorney handle your claim can make a significant difference in the outcome of your application.

We can also assist you in your fight for fair compensation in a personal injury claim. We’ll handle gathering the evidence to support your claim, filing the initial paperwork, negotiating with the insurance companies, and attending any necessary court hearings. We know how insurance companies think and the tactics they use to deny or reduce the value of your claim, and we can counter these tactics with compelling arguments.

Contact Our Philadelphia Injury Attorneys Today

With Cooper, Schall & Levy by your side, you can rest assured that we’re working diligently to maximize your personal injury settlement and protect your Social Security Disability benefits. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

Person sitting with arm that is in a cast over their lap

How is Personal Injury Compensation Calculated?

When you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, financial restitution becomes a critical component of your recovery, ensuring that you don’t have to bear the burden of medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs on your own. The capable, caring personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy in Philadelphia understand the importance of securing compensation that reflects the true extent of your physical and emotional, as well as economic, losses. 

How the Law Calculates Damages in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law is crafted to fully compensate the injured party for their losses. The process involves several steps and considerations, with the ultimate goal of making the victim whole again. Following is a detailed explanation of the categories that must be considered: 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are calculated based on the actual monetary losses the victim has incurred and will likely incur in the future as a direct result of their injury. These include:

  • Medical Expenses: Calculations start with bills already received for treatment directly related to the injury. Future medical costs are estimated based on the victim’s current and anticipated medical needs, often requiring expert testimony from medical professionals.
  • Lost Income: The calculation of lost wages is straightforward for those with a steady income: the amount lost is based on the period the victim has already been incapacitated and unable to work. For future income loss, particularly in cases of permanent disability, calculations involve estimating the victim’s expected earnings over their lifetime, adjusted for inflation, promotions, and career growth potential.
  • Property Damage: The cost to repair or replace damaged property (e.g., a vehicle in an auto accident) is relatively direct and based on market values or repair estimates.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are inherently more subjective and are calculated using less concrete numerical methods. These damages compensate for:

  • Pain and Suffering: There is no fixed formula for calculating pain and suffering in Pennsylvania. Juries or judges may consider the severity and permanency of injuries, the impact on the victim’s lifestyle, and the pain and discomfort endured. In some cases, multipliers between 1 and 5 are used to estimate these damages.
  • Emotional Distress: Emotional distress calculations take into account the psychological impact of the injury, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and loss of enjoyment of life. Expert testimony from psychologists or psychiatrists may be used to underscore these effects.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not directly related to the calculation of the victim’s losses but rather are intended to punish egregious wrongdoing by the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. Though not capped in Pennsylvania, punitive damages must be proportionate to the severity of the wrongdoing and the economic and non-economic damages awarded.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania follows the principle of modified comparative negligence, meaning that the victim’s compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault in the accident. If the victim is found to be more than 50 percent at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

Damage Caps

While there are no caps on economic and non-economic damages in most personal injury cases, Pennsylvania law does impose caps on damages against government entities and in certain types of lawsuits, such as medical malpractice cases involving punitive damages.

Calculating damages in personal injury cases in Pennsylvania involves a complex interplay of factual evidence, legal principles, and most often, the use of expert testimony. At Cooper Schall & Levy, our experienced attorneys have a deep understanding of this process. We are committed to employing every available resource to ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation for their injuries. 

Our expertise in gathering evidence, assessing damages, and presenting compelling arguments in negotiations and courtrooms is your advantage when it comes to securing the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Today

Seeking maximum compensation for your personal injury claim? Contact our highly skilled attorneys now. We are well-versed in every aspect of personal injury law in Pennsylvania and committed to fighting for a just resolution of your case for you and your family. We have an impressive record of successful outcomes and will charge you nothing until we win your case.

Personal injury claim form

How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Personal Injury Claims?

Pre-existing conditions are medical issues that existed prior to a personal injury incident.  If you happen to have had a pre-existing condition before a personal injury incident occurred, the defendant might argue that your current pain or disability is due more to your previous condition than the incident in question. This is a way of trying to reduce the amount they would owe you in damages. 

While pre-existing conditions can complicate a personal injury case, it should not disqualify you from seeking compensation. The strategy to employ is to demonstrate the connection between the incident and how it made your pre-existing condition worse. Attorneys and insurance companies must distinguish between injuries related to the incident and symptoms arising from pre-existing conditions. This distinction plays a vital role in evaluating claims, calculating compensations, and negotiating settlements. Understanding the complexities of cases involving pre-existing conditions is essential for a fair assessment of these types of personal injury cases.

Here are some factors to consider as to how pre-existing conditions can impact a personal injury case in Pennsylvania:

  • Disclosure: It is important to disclose any pre-existing conditions during a personal injury case. If you fail to disclose these conditions and they are later discovered, it could severely undermine your credibility and the strength of your case.
  • Complications in Determining New Injuries: If a person has a pre-existing condition, it can be challenging to determine the extent to which a new injury, caused by an accident or incident, exacerbates that pre-existing condition. This can be a point of contention when calculating damages.
  • The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule: Pennsylvania, like many states, follows the “eggshell plaintiff” doctrine. This principle means that a defendant takes a plaintiff as they find them. If a person with a pre-existing condition is more susceptible to injury and suffers more severe harm than an average person would, the defendant is still liable for the full extent of the injuries caused.
  • Impact on Damage Awards: While the eggshell plaintiff rule applies, the presence of a pre-existing condition can still complicate the calculation of damages. It may require detailed medical testimony to differentiate the new injuries from the preexisting conditions and to establish how much the incident has exacerbated the individual’s existing condition.
  • Insurance Company Scrutiny: Insurance companies often scrutinize claims involving pre-existing conditions more closely. They may argue that the injuries claimed are not due to the incident but are rather the result of pre-existing conditions.
  • Necessity of Medical Evidence: In cases involving pre-existing conditions, it is crucial to have comprehensive medical records and expert testimony. This evidence can help in proving that the accident worsened the pre-existing condition or caused new injuries.
  • Negotiation and Litigation: Claims with pre-existing conditions often require more intensive negotiation and, potentially, litigation, as they are typically more complex than claims without such conditions.
  • Limitations and Exclusions: In some cases, insurance policies may have limitations or exclusions related to pre-existing conditions. This could affect the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay out.
  • Statute of Limitations: Like all personal injury claims, those involving pre-existing conditions are subject to a statute of limitations for filing a claim. In Pennsylvania, this is generally two years from the date of the injury.

Each personal injury case is unique, especially when pre-existing conditions are involved. Individuals in such situations should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide guidance specific to their case. The law firm of Cooper Schall & Levy can help differentiate between injuries caused by the accident and the pre-existing condition and advocate to make sure that you receive the appropriate compensation.

Family gathered around a holiday table

How High Is the Risk of Injury During the Holidays?

The winter holiday season is a time for people to gather together and enjoy the various festivities. Despite it being a time for joy and celebration, this particular time of year comes with its own set of risks and potential injuries. Some of the most common risks around the holiday arise from the activities, decorations, and even the weather conditions this time of year.

Holiday-Related Activities and Injuries

  • Alcohol-Related Injuries: Celebrations often involve alcohol, which can increase the risk of accidents, including car accidents and falls. Celebrations that involve serving alcohol mean that hosts have specific legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of their guests. This responsibility falls under the Social Host Liability or Dram Shop Liability laws.
    While Pennsylvania does not consider house parties that feature alcohol as a dram shop, these types of parties may involve a social host liability issue. The hosts of private parties are not held to the same standard as a business serving alcohol, but social host liability does come into play if anyone under the age of 21 consumes alcohol at the event. If the intoxicated minor leaves the party and then causes an accident, the host who knowingly provided the alcohol can be held legally responsible. As a host, it is your duty to prevent minors from accessing alcohol on your property or at your event. If minors do drink at your gathering, you may be subject to both civil and criminal liability as a result of injuries from the minor’s intoxication and fines or jail time for serving a minor.
    If you are serving adult guests at a party in your home, you may have a moral responsibility to ensure that individuals do not drink excessively or on an empty stomach, but the burden would not fall on you as host if an adult gets into an accident as a result of drinking too much in your home. The state’s current legislation protects social hosts from being held responsible for damages inflicted by an intoxicated person, so long as the person who caused the damage is over the age of 21.
  •  Accidents As A Result of Slips and Falls:  Decorating for the holidays often involves climbing ladders to string lights or hanging ornaments, which can lead to falls. These falls can result in a range of injuries, from minor bruises to more serious injuries like fractures or concussions. Slip and fall accidents can also occur more often during the holidays due to icy conditions, wet floors in stores, or tripping hazards from holiday decorations lying around on the floors of homes. Property owners might be liable if they fail to maintain safe conditions or warn of potential hazards.
  • Car Accidents: The holiday season often sees an increase in car accidents due to factors like increased travel, winter weather conditions, and, unfortunately, drunk driving after holiday parties. Drivers at fault can be held liable for injuries caused in such accidents. 
  • Cold Weather Injuries: In many places, the holiday season corresponds with colder weather, leading to risks like hypothermia, frostbite, or injuries from slippery surfaces.
  • Product Liability and Toy-Related Injuries: For children, new toys, especially those not age-appropriate, can pose choking hazards or lead to other injuries. Gifts and holiday products can sometimes be defective or dangerous, leading to injuries. If a product is poorly designed, manufactured, or lacks proper warnings, the manufacturer or seller could be liable under product liability laws.
  • Burn and Electric Shock Injuries: With the increased use of candles, fireplaces, and cooking, there is an increased risk of burns during the holiday season. This includes burns from cooking, open flames, or hot holiday lights. Injuries involving electricity are possible at this time of year as well as a result of the installation of holiday lights and decorations. Working with electricity can lead to electric shocks if not handled properly. If any injuries sustained result from someone else’s negligence (like a landlord not maintaining fire safety standards), you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
  • Injuries at Holiday Parties: If you are injured at a holiday party, especially a work-related one, there could be various avenues for claims, including premises liability or workers’ compensation, depending on the circumstances.
  • Dog Bites and Animal Attacks: With more social gatherings, there is increased exposure to pets, which might lead to more animal-related injuries. Pet owners are generally liable for any harm their pets cause.

There is a two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania that applies to any civil action in which an individual seeks to recover damages for personal injuries, or for the death of an individual, caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another person. This two-year statute of limitations also applies to product liability cases in the event of a defective product that causes harm around the holiday season.

Hopefully, any injuries will be avoided during the holiday season. However, should an accident unfortunately occur during this time of year, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who can help you determine if you should pursue any type of claim.  The attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are experienced in personal injury law and can help you if you need to take legal action as a result of the festivities surrounding the holidays.