140 E. Broad Street
    Northampton County
    Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18018
    45 North 7th Street
    Monroe County
    Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360
    1282 Route 113
    P.O. Box 178
    Bucks County
    Perkasie, Pennsylvania 18944
    Lehigh County
    Allentown, Pennsylvania 18104
    Northampton County
    Easton, Pennsylvania 18042
    Montgomery County
    Lansdale, Pennsylvania 19446
    Carbon County
    Lehighton, Pennsylvania 18235
    Bucks County
    Quakertown, Pennsylvania 18951

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Attorney Newell PA Personal Injury Settlements

$508,613.84                           York County, PA

Attorney Thomas J. Newell obtained a $508,613.84 settlement for an eight year-old boy and his mother who were attacked by 2 pit bulls in Hanover, PA.  The child’s injuries were so severe that he was hospitalized for 7 days at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  The Pennsylvania dog bite lawyer battled the homeowners insurance company for two years.  They finally relented and paid their liability policy limit of $500,000.00, as well as an $8,613.84 med pay payment.

$435,000.00                          Pike County, PA

Attorney Newell negotiated a total payout of $435,000.00 to compensate a Pike County car crash victim.  The negligent driver’s car veered into her lane of travel and struck her head-on.  She was knocked unconscious and medevaced to Geisinger Medical Center.  The Pike County resident sustained multiple broken bones in her leg.  Surgeons used a rod, plates and screws to stabilize her fractures.  The Pike County car crash attorney obtained the $435,000.00 settlement within several months of the conclusion of her medical care.

$350,000.00                         Pike County, PA

The maximum insurance coverage payout of $350,000.00 was obtained by Attorney Newell after a Route 209 car accident.  The woman’s car was struck by a negligent driver resulting in multiple fractures to her legs and hip.  Surgeons at the Lehigh Valley Trauma Unit in Allentown, PA performed numerous surgeries to repair her auto accident wounds.  The Poconos car accident lawyer obtained the defendant’s liability coverage limit and also his client’s maximum underinsured motorist policy limit.

$300,000.00                        Northampton County, PA

Attorney Newell obtained the policy limit payment of $300,000.00 for a Lehigh Valley auto accident victim.  The young man was seriously injured in a car crash on Rt. 248 in Northampton County.  He was hospitalized for 10 days and underwent several surgeries.  Your Lehigh Valley car crash attorney was able to obtain the maximum insurance payout within six months of the accident.

Let Me Handle Your PA Insurance/Legal Hassles!

When you have been hurt in a car crash, dog bite or slip & fall, you can quickly become overwhelmed dealing with insurance companies. As a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, my job is to handle all of the legal/insurance issues so you concentrate on getting better!

No Attorney Fee Until You Recover!

Free HOME Consultation!

I will personally review the facts of your PA accident or dog bite case with you. Please CONTACT ME to make the process of hiring your PA car accident attorney and personal injury attorney as easy as possible. Usually, I can schedule your free home consultation within 48 hours of our phone conversation.

PA Personal Injury Cases ONLY!

As a PA personal injury lawyer, I only represent victims harmed by the negligence of others. Unlike general practice attorneys, I do NOT represent insurance companies or accept any other type of case. To review over 30 years of my PA personal injury experience, please visit Why Attorney Newell? To see the specific types of personal injury cases I accept, please go to PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENT.

Thomas Newell’s Settlement Blog

Car Accident Settlements

Location: Pike County, PA
Settlement: $435,000.00

A Poconos car accident victim was paid $435,000.00 to settle her personal injury claims after an automobile crash in the Pocono Mts. She was hit head-on and knocked unconscious. A MedEvac helicopter took her to an area hospital where she was admitted as a “trauma alert”. Several surgeries were needed to… read more

Dog Bite Settlements

Location: Montgomery County PA
Settlement: $479,000.00

A Montgomery County Pennsylvania dog bite victim received a $479,000.00 settlement after a dog attack near Lansdale, PA. A German Shepherd was running loose in a development and bit the young boy without any provocation. The Montgomery County resident sustained severe lacerations to his face… read more

Slip and Fall Settlements

Location: Bucks County, PA
Settlement: $212,500.00

A Perkasie, PA slip and fall victim settled his case for $212,500.00. A couple bought a home in Perkasie. The hill next to their house was very steep and the developer ignored their request that it be re-graded. As the Perkasie resident was cutting the hill, he slipped and his right foot went under the lawn mower… read more

Motorcycle Accident Settlements

Location: Bucks County, PA
Settlement: $130,000.00

A Bucks County Pennsylvania motorcycle accident settlement of $130,000.00 was agreed to by a Bucks County couple. The Bucks County residents were riding their Harley on Rt. 611 above Stroudsburg PA when a car went through a stop sign and crashed into their HOG… read more

**Past settlements/verdicts obtained by Attorney Thomas J. Newell in other Pennsylvania personal injury cases were evaluated according to their specific facts.  They do not guarantee a specific result in your PA personal injury claim.

PA Car Crash Lawyer As a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer, I’ve handled hundreds of car crash cases since 1981. For answers to your PA auto accident questions, please see CAR ACCIDENT FAQs. For information regarding how your tort option selection affects your motor vehicle accident claim, please visit FULL TORT/LIMITED TORT. To review over 50 summaries of PA car accident claims, please go to CAR ACCIDENT SETTLEMENTS.

PA Dog Bite Lawyer Each year, thousands of people become Pennsylvania dog bite attack victims. Many children have been bitten in the face by pitbulls, rottweilers or German Shepherds and are left with permanent facial scars. As a Pennsylvania dog bite attorney, Thomas Newell has been fighting for personal injury victims since 1981. For more information regarding your Pennsylvania dog bite case see:


PA Slip & Fall Attorney You’ve been injured in a trip & fall or slip & fall and believe that the negligence of the property owner caused your fall. Why not receive a free home consultation from a PA slip and fall lawyer with over 30 years of experience? For answers to your Pennsylvania slip & fall/trip & fall accident questions, please visit SLIP AND FALL FAQs. To read about some of Attorney Newell’s PA slip and fall case results, please see SLIP AND FALL SETTLEMENTS.

PA Uninsured Motorist Lawyer If you have been injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist or hit & run driver, please see UNINSURED MOTORIST FAQ’s. To review Attorney Newell’s Pennsylvania UM case summaries, please visit UNINSURED MOTORIST SETTLEMENTS.

PA Underinsured Motorist Lawyer Given today’s economy, many motor vehicle owners have their cars insured at the minimum amount required by Pennsylvania. Those seriously injured can have their PA underinsured motorist claim questions answered at UNDERINSURED MOTORIST FAQ’s. PA UIM case summaries can be found at UNDERINSURED MOTORIST SETTLEMENTS.

PA Pedestrian Accident Lawyer You’re a pedestrian who has just been hit in a crosswalk by a speeding motorist. Who pays your medical bills and how do you get compensated for your pain and suffering are 2 of the many questions you may have regarding your Pennsylvania pedestrian accident claim. Please visit PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT FAQs to see answers to 11 questions PA pedestrian accident victims may have.

PA Motorcycle Accident Attorney Those involved in Pennsylvania motorcycle accidents have many questions regarding insurance coverages and legal responsibility. As a PA motorcycle accident lawyer, I have provided a resource to answer your questions, as well as descriptions of PA motorcycle accident claims I have settled. Please see MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT SETTLEMENTS.

PA Bicycle Accident Attorney If you have been involved in a Pennsylvania bicycle accident, you need a trusted source of information to help you understand your legal rights. Please visit BICYCLE ACCIDENT FAQs for answers to your PA bicycle/car accident questions and summaries of Pennsylvania bicycle accident settlements.

Pennsylvania Medical Care Experiences As a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, I have been involved in approximately 1,500 negligence cases since 1981. I can use the past experiences of my clients to guide you with your medical care decisions.

Daily PA Personal Injury Updates I receive three emails EACH DAY to ensure that I am up-to-date on PA Law that could affect my Pennsylvania personal injury clients.

Pennsylvania Communities Served Please call 800-980-4842 today for your free attorney phone consultation. I welcome the opportunity to serve as your Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer in the Lehigh Valley, Pocono Mountains, Bucks County PA or Montgomery County PA regions. Whether you live in Bethlehem or Easton, Stroudsburg or , or any other town in Eastern Pennsylvania, I look forward to setting up your free home consultation to review your PA auto accident, dog bite or trip & fall legal claim.


Attorney Thomas J. Newell has been representing Pennsylvania personal injury victims since 1981. The content of this website is for informational purposes only. You should not interpret this website as providing legal advice by Attorney Newell to you for your PA personal injury case. Pennsylvania’s personal injury laws constantly change and evolve. You are strongly advised to hire an experienced PA personal injury lawyer to aggressively represent your legal interests.

Specific results obtained by Attorney Thomas J. Newell in other PA personal injury cases were based upon the specific facts regarding liability and damages on each of those cases.  Past settlements/verdicts obtained by Attorney Newell do not guarantee a specific result in your Pennsylvania personal injury claim.

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PA Personal Injury Legal Decisions


PA Superior Court Upholds Collateral Source Rule

In January of 2015, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld PA’s collateral source rule, a vital protection for all Pennsylvania personal injury victims. The Appeals Court confirmed that it is illegal for defendants to attempt to present into evidence payments made by others for the victim’s medical expenses. Deeds v. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Pa. Super 2015)


No UIM Coverage for PA Car Crash Victim

On 10/17/13, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a PA auto accident victim was not entitled to recover underinsured motorist benefits.  The 24 year old man was driving his parents’ car when a negligent driver hit him.  The defendant’s insurance company paid its $50,000.00 liability limit.  His UIM claim versus his parents’ automobile insurance coverage was denied.

The PA Superior Court held that while he kept his belongings and received mail at his parents’ home, he did not really reside there because he slept at his girlfriend’s home every night for the previous 6 months.  His parents had also informed their car insurance company that their son lived at his girlfriend’s address and he was “a family member no longer in the household.”  Atlantic State Insurance v. Bubeck (2013)


PA Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Drop Nearly 45% in 12 Years

On June 4, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a report that showed a continuing decline in the filing of med-malpractice lawsuits.   In 2012, there were only 1,508 filings – a 44.8 percent decline from the average number of lawsuits filed in the years 2000 thru 2002.  It was in 2003 that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania mandated 2 significant rule changes designed to limit such lawsuits.

Throughout Pennsylvania, 133 medical malpractice cases went to a jury verdict.  106 of the verdicts were for the defense – a staggering # of nearly 80% for the doctors, hospitals, etc.  In Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties, 34 total cases went to a jury verdict, with 32 defense verdicts!  There is no other personal injury area where the jurors so consistently find for the defense.


Ski Accident Victim Can Sue Camelback For Reckless Conduct

On July 18, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that it is illegal for defendants in PA to deny a victim the right to receive a personal injury verdict due to reckless or intentional conduct on the part of the defendants and/or their employees.  In December of 2003, a woman was snow tubing at the Camelback Ski Resort in Monroe County.

The Poconos personal injury victim sustained serious leg injuries when she was struck by another snow tube that was sent down the ski slope in direct violation of the ski resort’s guidelines.  Litigation took place in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas, as well as the Pennsylvania Superior Court regarding the legal impact a signed release had on the plaintiff’s claims.

The PA Supreme Court ruled that the negligent employee was entitled to legal protection by the terms of the release even though the release only listed Camelback Ski Corp. as a releasee.  The Court held that a corporation can only act thru its employees and the intent of the release was to protect the employees acting within the scope of their employment.

In terms of reckless conduct, the PA Supreme Court ruled that it is different from ordinary negligence since it requires conscious action or inaction which creates a substantial risk of harm to others.  To give individuals or businesses a free pass on reckless or intentional conduct would remove any incentive for parties to act with even a minimal standard of care and thus violate public policy.  Tayar v. Camelback, et al., (J-50-2011) Pa. 2012.


PA Car Crash Victim Gets New Trial

A December 2011 decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a Beaver County Trial Judge’s decision and granted a new trial to a PA car accident victim.  A man was driving in Midland, Beaver County when he stopped at an intersection to make a left turn.

Three police cars were traveling in the opposite direction, all responding to an emergency call while driving at least 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.  None of the officers turned on their emergency lights or their sirens.  The PA auto accident victim let the 1st 2 cop cars pass.  He then made a left turn and was hit by the last officer.

At trial, the Judge denied a request for a per se negligence jury charge against the officer for violating Section 3362 of the PA Vehicle Code regarding maximum posted speed limits.  The Beaver County Judge ruled after post trial motions that he should have instructed the jury on negligence per se as to both drivers.  The Commonwealth Court concurred and remanded the case for a new trial.  Sodders v. Fry, 32 A.3d 882 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2011).

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Insurance Company Owes Coverage for Bar After Fatal Car Accident

An August 2011 opinion of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania was a victory for 4 families whose loved ones were killed in a crash caused by a drunk driver.  Two 22 year-old men were “celebrating” St. Patrick’s Day by getting drunk and patronizing one bar after another in Erie PA.  They got into a fight in one tavern and were ejected.

They then got into a car, the drunk driver lost control while trying to illegally pass and crashed into another motor vehicle killing 4 of its occupants.  The insurance company which insured the bar filed a lawsuit.  They requested a judicial ruling that it did not owe a duty to provide insurance coverage for the decedents’ personal injury lawsuit.

The Penn-America Insurance Company claimed that the policy’s liquor liability exclusion clause denied coverage in the case.  However, both the trial court and appeals court ruled in favor of the bar and mandated insurance coverage.  The Estates of the dead occupants claimed that the bar and its employees were negligent in throwing the 2 men out of the bar.

Police should have been called or a taxi service provided.  This negligent conduct had nothing to do with the service of alcohol to the inebriated men. Failure to call a cab or the police resulted in a drunk man getting behind the wheel of a car.  Penn-America Ins. Co. v Peccadillo Inc., 27 A.3d 259 (Pa. Super 2011).

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Attorney-Client Privilege Upheld by PA Supreme Court

A February 2011 decision by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upheld the full confidentiality of all attorney-to-client communications.  An injured PA car accident victim had brought an uninsured motorist claim versus his auto insurer, AIG Insurance Company.  After the resolution of that UM claim, the insured filed a bad faith claim against the insurer.  In the course of discovery, the insured demanded copies of all correspondence sent by AIG’s UM attorney to the insurance company.

The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge ruled that the attorney-client privilege only protected confidential communications from the client to the attorney, not vice versa.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial judge’s opinion.  However, the PA Supreme Court held that the attorney-client privilege operates in a two-way fashion to protect client to lawyer private communications, as well as lawyer to client exchanges.  Gillard v. AIG Ins. Co., 15 A.3d 44 (PA 2011)

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Recreational Use of Land & Water Act Not a Defense

A December 2010 decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed a Westmoreland County legal opinion.  A spectator at a girl’s softball tournament at Penn Township Municipal Park fell and broke her ankle and elbow.  She tripped after stepping in a hole in a grass and dirt area between 2 softball fields.

A lawsuit was filed versus Penn Township.  The municipality claimed it was immune from suit due to the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA).  The evidence established that the 45 acre park had 10 baseball/softball fields, batting cages, courts for hockey, basketball and volleyball, as well as buildings that housed concession stands and restrooms.

The Appeals Court ruled that this highly developed recreational park could not qualify under RULWA.  Since the land was significantly altered from its original state, the improvements must be maintained in a manner safe for public use.  Hatfield v. Penn Township, 12 A.3d 482 (Pa. Cmwlth 2010)

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Passenger’s Claim vs. SEPTA Dismissed

A December 2010 decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a trial judge’s decision to dismiss a personal injury claim filed by a SEPTA passenger.  A woman boarded a SEPTA bus and then realized that she got on the wrong bus.  She asked the driver to let her off at the next stop by “kneeling” the bus.  The driver apparently did not hear the request.  As he opened the door, the passenger stepped out and fell.

After the personal injury claim was filed, SEPTA filed a Motion for Summary Judgment claiming that the lawsuit was barred by sovereign immunity.  The trial judge ruled that the failure to kneel the bus was not a negligent operation of a motor vehicle.  The Commonwealth Court agreed that this fact situation did not constitute operation of the SEPTA bus.  The bus was stopped to discharge the passengers and all of its parts and attachments were motionless at the time of the woman’s fall.  Royal v. SEPTA, 10 A.3d 927 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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Assumption of Risk Does Not Apply in Tree Stand Injury Case

A Butler County PA personal injury victim was awarded a new trial limited to damages by a 2010 Superior Court of Pennsylvania decision. The plaintiff had fallen 20 to 25 feet after a tree stand broke while he was “setting the stand.” His personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of the product seeking a damage award after suffering a crushed vertebrae.

The Butler County Trial Judge made a ruling which permitted the jury to return a defense verdict. The PA Superior Court stated that to establish voluntary assumption of the risk, the defendant must show that the buyer knew of a defect and yet voluntarily and unreasonably proceeded to use the product in conscious disregard for the attendant risks.

The Appeals Court confirmed that the assumption of the risk claim is an affirmative defense for which the defendant has the burden of proof. This risk must be voluntarily undertaken in addition to being known. Since the defense did not meet its burden to prove assumption of the risk, a directed verdict should have been granted in the plaintiffs’ favor on the issue of liability. Reott v. Asia Trend, Inc., 7 A.3d 830 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Communications Between Attorney and Expert Discoverable

A September 2010 opinion of the Pennsylvania Superior Court discussed in detail the rules regarding expert-attorney communications discovery. A hospital cafeteria patron filed a personal injury lawsuit after a chair he was sitting on collapsed. The attorneys representing the hospital served a subpoena on the victim’s treating doctor seeking copies of his medical records and correspondence between the plaintiff’s attorney and the expert.

The subpoena was objected to based upon attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. The defendants countered that they were entitled to discover all factors that may influence the expert’s opinion and testimony. Both the Cumberland County Trial Judge and the Appeals Court ruled that opposing counsel is entitled to discover the extent of the attorney’s influence over his expert’s opinions. Litigants are also entitled to see whether their opponent suggested the expert reach certain conclusions. Barrick v. Holy Spirit Hosp., 5 A.3d 404 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Nationwide Illegally Cancels Homeowner’s Policy

A September 2010 decision of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that Nationwide improperly cancelled an insured’s homeowners policy and, therefore, must pay a legitimate claim. An elderly woman incorrectly paid $1,029.00 instead of the correct $1,129.00 amount for the renewal premium. Several months later, the home was burglarized and sustained significant property damage.

When the Nationwide insured put in a claim, she was told her policy had been cancelled. Nationwide claimed that it had sent her 2 cancellation notice letters and she had failed to pay in full her policy premium. At a hearing, Nationwide’s representatives admitted that their letters were returned as “undeliverable” even though they were sent to her correct address. They also did not follow company protocol as they did not contact her Nationwide agent to inform him/her of the communication problem. The PA Commonwealth Court found that Nationwide had violated the Unfair Insurance Practices Act by wrongfully cancelling her homeowners policy. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company v. Insurance Dept., 4 A.3d 231 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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Assumption of Risk Prevents Skier From Suing Snowboarder

A 2010 legal opinion of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of York County that dismissed a skier’s personal injury lawsuit. The PA injury victim had been skiing at Ski Roundtop in York County when he was struck by a snowboarder whom he alleged was not keeping a proper lookout. The defense alleged that crashes between users of a ski slope are part of the inherent risk of skiing.

The York County judge agreed that the Pennsylvania personal injury victim’s claim should be denied based upon the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act and the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk. The Superior Court agreed that the risk of colliding with another skier or snowboarder is a risk inherent to the sport of downhill skiing and one that the skier assumed by participating in the sport. When a varied group of skiers and snowboarders proceed down the side of a mountain at a ski resort there is an obvious risk of a collision between the participants. Bell v. Dean, 5 A.3d 266 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Surveillance Videotape Not Invasion of Privacy or Abuse of Legal Process

In 2010, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a decision of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas and dismissed all claims made by a Workers’ Compensation claimant. He suffered a broken hand and an insurance investigator conducted surveillance while he was worshipping at a mosque. The Islamic center had large windows which the accident victim was adjacent to as he stood, kneeled and moved about while he prayed.

A surveillance tape was filmed from an adjacent public parking lot. The injury victim filed a lawsuit alleging an invasion of privacy and abuse of legal process. The Dauphin County Judge granted the defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. By making a claim for personal injuries, the victim must expect reasonable inquiry and investigation to be made of his claim. Since the injury victim’s activities could be viewed by passers-by on the road, he could not expect the same degree of privacy as within a secluded private room. Tagouma v. Investigative Consultant Svcs., 4 A.3d 170 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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PA Ski Accident Victim’s Negligence Claim Denied

A 2010 decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a PA ski accident victim’s negligence case. A family was skiing at the Hidden Valley Resort in Somerset County PA when a woman and her nephew wanted to use a ski lift to return to their condominium. As the 6 year-old boy was being seated, he started to slip off the moving ski lift. The woman tried to help her nephew but she fell and suffered a dislocated shoulder and broken hip.

Her Pennsylvania personal injury attorney filed a lawsuit versus the ski resort business and its employee claiming they were negligent in not stopping the ski lift completely so the young boy could get on safely. The trial court granted the defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment based upon the assumption of the risk legal doctrine set forth in the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act. Also supporting the decision was the release language set forth on the back of the season pass paid for by the plaintiff.

The PA Supreme Court affirmed the trial court decision. Falling from a ski lift is an inherent risk of skiing which is contemplated by the PA Skier’s Responsibility Act. The release language did not violate PA public policy. Chepkevich v. Hidden Valley Resort L.P., 2 A.3d 1174 (Pa. 2010)

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Insurance Co. Can’t Use Possible Medicare Lien as Excuse not to Pay P. I. Victim

A November 17, 2010 decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court was a major victory for PA personal injury victims. A car accident victim filed a lawsuit in Luzerne County versus a negligent driver. She suffered soft-tissue injuries and her auto carrier paid for her medical bills. As of the time of trial, she had not yet exhausted her PIP medical coverage.

The Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas jury awarded her $5,000.00 for future medical expenses and $10,000.00 for her non-economic injuries. The insurance company representing the defendant demanded that it be permitted to draft a $15,000.00 check made payable to the plaintiff, her attorneys and Medicare. In the alternative, it proposed paying the money into a court fund that would only distribute the $15,000.00 verdict payment after written notification from Medicare that all outstanding Medicare liens had been satisfied.

The Luzerne County Trial Judge denied the defendant’s request and the PA Superior Court affirmed its decision. Neither the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA) nor Pennsylvania Law authorizes a private entity to assert the interests of the United States government in any context. The jury verdict and subsequent judgment in favor of the car accident victim can’t be satisfied if Medicare were to be added as a payee to the award check. The plaintiff and her attorneys were to be paid independent of any legal obligation owed under MSPA. Zaleppa v. Seiwell, 2010 PA. Super. 208 (2010)

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Pennsylvania Personal Injury Victim Granted New Trial on Damages

On Sept. 21. 2010, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overruled the Trial Court and granted a PA personal injury victim a new trial limited to the issue of the award of damages.  In January of 2003, a man purchased 2 tree stands to be used for hunting.  In September of 2005, the Pennsylvania personal injury victim was installing a tree stand in Butler County.  Unfortunately, a locking strap broke free and the hunter fell to the ground.

One of the victim’s vertebrae was crushed and his personal injury attorney filed a lawsuit versus the distributors and manufacturers of the alleged defective product.  A jury verdict was entered in favor of the defendants.  They had successfully argued that the plaintiff had voluntarily assumed the risk of using the tree stand and had exhibited highly reckless conduct by “setting the stand” and failing to use the fall restraint device.

The PA Superior Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence presented to prove assumption of the risk/reckless conduct on the part of the plaintiff.  Therefore, the issue of the defendants’ legal responsibility never should have reached the jury.  The PA personal injury victim was entitled to a new trial to have a jury make a damage award.  Reott v. Asia Trend, Inc., et al., 2010 Pa. Super. 176 (2010)

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Insurance Company Required to Pay its own Attorney Fees

On Aug. 17, 2010, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against an insurance company and required it to pay its own attorney fees. Two organizations filed a civil lawsuit against 18 firearms wholesalers and distributors. They sought to hold the firearms industry liable for the personal injuries and deaths of its members/constituents as a result of the alleged failure to distribute firearms reasonably and safely.

Jerry’s Sport Center was joined as a defendant. The firearms dealer notified Royal Insurance Company of the lawsuit. The business requested a defense and indemnification alleging that the complaint fell under the bodily injury coverage provided by the liability insurance policy with Royal. The insurance company hired a law firm to represent the firearms dealer, but did so with a “reservation of rights.” The trial court later granted Royal’s declaratory judgment action that it had no duty to defend Jerry’s Sport Center.

The insurance company then sued the firearms dealer to recover all attorney fees it paid before it won the declaratory judgment action. The Susquehanna Court of Common Pleas granted the insurance company’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

The Superior Court reversed the lower court decision. The Supreme Court affirmed. The insurance company did not initially deny liability coverage. Instead it sought a judicial determination. The court’s resolution of the question of insurance coverage in favor of the insurance carrier does not allow it to retroactively eliminate the insurer’s duty to defend the insured during the previous time of uncertainty. American & Foreign v Jerry’s Sport Center, 2 A.3d 526 (Pa. 2010).

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Personal Injury Claim of Mechanic’s Estate Can Go To Trial

A 2010 ruling of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overruled a Trial Court decision and permitted a PA personal injury claim to proceed to trial.  A lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County alleging that after 40 years as an automobile mechanic, a man contracted mesothelioma.  His Pennsylvania personal injury attorney filed a complaint alleging that the mechanic’s cancer was caused by the inhalation of asbestos from using/installing automotive friction products for over 4 decades.

Various motions were filed by the defendants to have the PA personal injury lawsuit thrown out.  The trial judge ruled that the plaintiff’s expert testimony was not sufficently based upon scientific and medical principles to establish a direct link between the automotive products and cancer.  The PA personal injury lawyer filed an appeal.  The PA Superior Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to permit the expert to testify as to causation.  Betz v. Pneumo Abex LLC, 998 A.2d 962 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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PA UIM Victim Must Liltigate Separately vs. Driver and Her Carrier

On July 14, 2010, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania denied re-argument and let stand its May 14, 2010 decision that required separate verdicts for an injured PA car wreck victim.  A woman was rear-ended by a negligent driver in Beaver County PA.  Both drivers were insured by State Farm.  The defendant had a $50,000.00 liability policy, while the car crash victim had $50,000.00 in PA underinsured motorist coverage.

Litigation filed versus the defendant driver was temporarily put on hold while the UIM claim was litigated versus State Farm.  The arbitrators awarded the underinsured motorist claim victim a total of $100,000.00.  After the woman collected her $50,000.00 in UIM coverage, her Pennsylvania underinsured motorist lawyer filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with the trial court.  He argued that the legal doctrine of collateral estoppel prevented the defendant and State Farm from challenging a $50,000.00 judgment versus the tortfeasor.

The Trial Court agreed and ordered that State Farm pay its $50,000.00 liability policy limit.  Since the defendant driver was not a party to the UIM litigation, her individual interests were not protected.  Her lack of privity meant that the UIM arbitration result was not binding upon her.  The car crash victim is now required to proceed to trial against the defendant.  Catroppa v. Carlton, 998 A.2d 643 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Personal Injury Claims Against Police Officers Dismissed

A June 2010 legal ruling of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania affirmed the dismissal of personal injury claims versus 5 police officers.  The cops were staking out a home they suspected was being used for drug dealing.  A search warrant was obtained and the officers found 336 packets of crack cocaine, marijuana and other drugs, as well as drug paraphernalia.  The adult son of the property owners, who was observed making the drug sales, and his parents were arrested.

At the preliminary hearing, the only evidence presented was against the son who was later convicted of all criminal charges.  The charges against the parents were dismissed.  Their PA personal injury attorney filed suit alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other legal claims versus the police officers.

Those personal injury claims were dismissed via a Motion for Summary Judgment.  The Court ruled that there was probable cause to arrest the parents.  They owned the home, they had access to the freezer, barbecue grill and bedroom where the drugs were located.  They were also present when their son conducted his drug sales at their front door.  Manley v. Fitzgerald, 997 A.2d 1235 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010).

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SEPTA Pays Interest on Overdue Bus Accident Medical Bills

On July 21, 2010, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied re-argument and confirmed its May 28, 2010 decision that SEPTA must make interest payments to medical providers whose bills it did not pay within 30 days of receipt.  A number of medical offices were treating PA bus accident victims and complained that SEPTA was not timely paying their medical bills.

The medical providers filed a lawsuit versus SEPTA claiming that it was required to pay their medical bills plus 12% interest for all bills not paid within 30 days of their receipt.  The Trial Court agreed and granted their Motion for Summary Judgment.  An Appeal was taken.  The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that since SEPTA is self-insured, it was subject to the same legal requirements as “insurers”.  Therefore, any PA bus accident victim’s medical bills which are not timely paid are subject to the 12% interest penalty.  In Re SEPTA MVFRL Interest Litigation, 996 A.2d 1099 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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PA Personal Injury Victim Assumed Risk of Injury

An April 30, 2010 Opinion of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the dismissal of a PA personal injury claim due to the legal doctrine of assumption of risk.  A group of teenage boys decided to build a homemade bomb which they planned to detonate in a remote location to avoid detection.  The plaintiff held the bomb while another boy lit the fuse.  The device exploded before the personal injury victim had time to throw it.

The explosion tore apart his right hand amputating portions of his right thumb, middle finger and ring finger.  The boy’s parents sued all of the other boys involved in building the explosive device.  The Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County granted the defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment.  The PA Superior Court agreed finding that the defendants did not owe him a duty to safeguard him from the harmful situation he helped create.  He also assumed the risk of injury by handling a lit explosive.  Montagazzi v. Crisci, 994 A.2d 626 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Personal Injury Lawsuit Versus Can Proceed to Trial

A March 2010 decision by a Lancaster County PA Trial Judge overruled the Preliminary Objections of the defendant restaurant/bar and permitted a personal injury suit to go to trial.  In March of 2008 a woman drove the wrong way on Route 30 and crashed head-on into a vehicle killing 3 of its occupants.  A police investigation identified the defendant driver as intoxicated and driving without a license due to a suspension because of a prior DUI charge.

A Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit versus the defendant driver, her parents and the bar that served her alcohol before the car wreck.  The Complaint alleged that the bar served the defendant driver with alcohol in violation of the Dram Shop Act and on legal theories based upon common law negligence.  A claim for punitive damages was also made.

The Preliminary Objections were filed to strike the punitive damage claim, as well as allegations of common law negligence.  The Estate of the personal injury victims properly plead facts to support a punitive damage claim.  The Lancaster County Common Pleas Judge ruled that the Dram Shop Act is not the exclusive remedy against a licensee due to the furnishing of alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person.  Court of Common Pleas Lancaster County PA. No. C1-09-08267 (March 10, 2010 J. Ashworth)

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Pennsylvania Car Accident Victim’s Lawsuit Reinstated

An April 2010 ruling of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reinstated the personal injury claims of 2 Philadelphia car accident victims.  A lawsuit was filed by a PA car crash attorney against an individual who was believed to be the owner and driver of the car that caused the MVC.  During the discovery process of the litigation, the lawyer obtained information which led him to believe that someone else may have been driving the defendant’s car at the time of the crash.

A Motion to Amend the Complaint was filed requesting the Court’s permission to join this other person as an additional defendant.  The Motion was filed before the expiration of the 2 year Statute of Limitations.  The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge denied the Motion and discontinued the lawsuit marking it ‘disposed.’  The personal injury lawyer filed an Appeal which was granted.  The trial court had no authority to dismiss the Complaint on its own initiative.  In addition, there was no proof of prejudice to the original defendant.  Meadows v. Goodman, 993 A.2d 99 (Pa. Super. 2010)

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Negligence Suit Win For Port Authority of Allegheny County

A 2010 decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a jury’s decision in favor of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.  A negligence lawsuit had been filed by the Morewood Point Community Association to recover damages suffered when a landslide from a hill owned by the Port Authority damaged Association property.  The lawyers representing the plaintiffs had put the defendant on notice of a potentially dangerous condition prior to the landslide.

While the defense of sovereign immunity did not bar the lawsuit, the attorneys representing the Association could not prove that the defendant’s employees/agents performed any negligent act to cause the landslide.  While ground water flowing from the Port Authority’s real estate probably contributed to the hill’s instability, its employees did not perform any actions which caused or worsened the unstable situation.  Therefore, the jury verdict was sustained.  Morewood Point Community v. Port Authority of Allegheny County, 993 A.2d 323 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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No Liability in PA Car Crash

A 2010 legal opinion of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas decision which granted a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC).  A man was driving eastbound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when his automobile hydroplaned on the wet highway, spun off the road and struck a guardrail.  A portion of the guardrail went into the car, hitting the car accident victim and resulting in a massive loss of blood which caused his death.

The Estate of the Pennsylvania personal injury victim filed a lawsuit versus the PA Turnpike Commission alleging a negligent design of the guardrail.  The PTC asserted a defense of Sovereign Immunity.  The Appeals Court agreed that the car accident victim’s Estate had not proved that a dangerous condition of the road itself caused the driver to lose control of the car.  The Commonwealth Court also re-affirmed prior decisions which noted that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has no legal duty to erect guardrails.  Therefore, any guardrails which it voluntarily installs can’t be challenged due to alleged design defects.  Stein v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Com’n, 989 A.2d 80 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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Car Accident Victim’s Past Mental Health Records Discoverable

On April 26, 2010, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ordered a car crash victim to sign authorizations permitting the defense to access her past mental health records.  The injured woman filed a lawsuit seeking a damage award as the result of an automobile accident.  Part of her claim was for mental health related problems caused by anxiety in dealing with the crash and her physical injuries.

During the discovery process, the defense requested access to her past records of both physical and mental health injuries.  While the PA car accident attorney provided authorizations for the physical injury records, he claimed the mental health documents were protected by privilege.  The Appeals Court ruled that by claiming an aggravation of a pre-existing mental health condition, the Pennsylvania car accident victim made relevant her past treatment history.  Gormley v. Fagar, (Pa. Super. April 26, 2010)

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PA Personal Injury Case Denied

A 2010 decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a lower court ruling to dismiss a PA personal injury claim.  A man was working as an irrigation technician at a golf course owned by the City of Philadelphia.  He was instructed to take a pick and shovel to remove crocus bulbs from a flower bed.  His pick unexpectedly got stuck in some landfill containing chunks of concrete and asphalt under the topsoil.  While trying to pull the pick out, he suffered a serious back injury.

His Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit vs. the City of Philadelphia (City). During discovery, testimony was given that proved that the flower bed was originally constructed years ago by an independent contractor hired by the City.  Based upon the Trial Court’s jury instructions, including local governmental immunity, the jury found Philadelphia not negligent and, therefore, not responsible for the Plaintiff’s injuries.

The Appeals Court ruled that since the City presented evidence establishing that the flower bed was constructed by an independent contractor, the burden of proof shifted to the personal injury victim.  Without proof that a City employee participated in the construction of or supervision over the building of the flower bed, Philadelphia was immune from legal responsibility.  Nardo v. City of Philadelphia, 988 A.2d 740 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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Monroe County PA Judge Overruled

A Monroe County PA personal injury claim versus an alleged negligent doctor was reinstated after a December 2009 Decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overruled an Opinion of Judge Linda Miller.  An administrator of the Estate of Christopher Aranda filed a Writ of Summons versus 19 medical providers.  A Complaint was later filed containing averments against 15 of the original Defendants.  The personal injury attorney agreed to dismiss the other 4 named Defendants.

Since the Complaint was a professional liability lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure require a Certificate of Merit to be submitted against each Defendant within 60 days of the filing of the Complaint.  The Plaintiff’s personal injury attorney attached 14 Certificates of Merit to the Complaint itself.  As a result of an undetected clerical error, the remaining Certificate of Merit was not included.

The defense attorney chose not to alert Plaintiff’s counsel of the oversight.  Instead, he waited until the 61st day after the Complaint’s submission when he filed a Praecipe for Entry of Judgment of Non Pros.  The Prothonotary’s Office entered Judgment on his client’s behalf that same day.  Seven days later Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Petition to Open/Strike Judgment.  The Monroe County Trial Judge refused to permit the filing of the 15th Certificate of Merit and denied the Petition.  As a result, the Monroe County personal injury claim against the alleged negligent doctor was dismissed due to a technicality which had nothing to do with the merits of the case.

Fortunately, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recognized this miscarriage of justice.  All 3 judges who heard the appeal agreed that the p. i. case against the alleged negligent physician should be reinstated and the Appeals Court reversed Judge Miller’s decision.  Estate of Aranda v. Amrick, 987 A.2d 727 (Pa.Super. 2009)

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Personal Injury Victim Must Repay DPW in Full

A December 2009 ruling of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed a decision of the PA Superior Court and ordered parents to reimburse the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare (DPW) for all Medicare expenses incurred on behalf of their disabled child.  The girl was born with severe disabilities.  Her parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit versus Centre Community Hospital 2 months before she turned 18.

A personal injury settlement was agreed to during the litigation.  From the day she was born until the date of the settlement, DPW had paid a total of $56,517.81.  Due to the 2 year Statute of Limitations, the parents were only able to recover a small portion of that sum in the litigation.  Nonetheless, the Centre County Trial Judge ordered the parents to pay DPW 100% of their lien.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court had reversed the Trial Court ruling and required payment of only the medical expenses recoverable from the negligent Defendant.  The PA Supreme Court vacated this decision and reinstated the Trial Court ruling.  While all future Medicaid beneficiaries can sue their tortfeasors to recover all medical payments made on their behalf, the Boumaster family was required to reimburse DPW tens of thousands of dollars they were unable to recover from the negligent hospital.  E. D. B. Ex Rel. D. B. v Clair, 987 A.2d 681 (PA 2009)

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Release Negates PA Personal Injury Case

A December 2009 legal opinion of the PA Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of a Pennsylvania personal injury claim.  An employee of a security company was working at a client’s job site when she was injured.  She filed a lawsuit against the property owner.  The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted the Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the pleadings due to a Workmen’s Compensation Release she had signed prior to her injury.

Her PA personal injury lawyer filed an appeal claiming that the employer’s release was contrary to public policy.  The Appeals Court noted that the employee signed a release which waived any claims she may have against a customer if those injuries are covered under the Worker’s Compensation Statutes.  Since she did receive W.C. benefits, the court upheld the enforcement of the release’s terms.  Bowman v. Sunoco, Inc., 986 A.2d 883 (Pa. Super. 2009)

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Personal Injury Victim Denied Delay Damages

A 2009 decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania denied an injured worker’s claim of nearly $85,000.00 in delay damages after an Erie County PA jury verdict.  The victim was working at a construction site when he was injured due to the negligence of employees of another company.  His Pennsylvania personal injury attorney entered into a high/low settlement agreement with the Defendant’s insurance company.

Any jury verdict below the minimum settlement number would be adjusted up to that number.  A verdict rendered above the high number would be reduced to that figure.  The Erie County Court of Common Pleas jury verdict was higher than the agreed upon maximum damage award.  Once the judge molded the verdict, the victim’s trial attorney filed a motion requesting the addition of delay damages.

The Erie County trial judge denied the motion.  The high/low agreement was clear and unambiguous.  The Appeals Court affirmed the lower court decision.  Since the high/low settlement agreement did not discuss delay damages, the contract could not be amended by the court to add additional financial liability on the part of the Defendant’s insurance carrier.  Thompson v. T. J. Whipple Construction Co., 985 A.2d 221 (Pa. Super. 2009)

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Jury to Decide Fault re: Construction Site Car Crash

A November 2009 ruling of Judge Kwidis of the Beaver County PA Court of Common Pleas denied the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by a construction company and permitted a Pennsylvania car crash victim to proceed to a jury trial.  The driver came to an intersection in Aliquippa PA which was under construction.

The right lane was closed and traffic was diverted into the left lane.  The driver didn’t notice the altered traffic pattern and crashed into the concrete median in the center of the 4 lane road.  His gas tank ruptured and he sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns which required 3 surgeries with skin grafting.

A lawsuit was filed against PennDOT and the construction company working on the site.  It alleged that the Defendants created a dangerous condition by not adequately warning drivers of the potential dangers within the construction site re: the right lane closure and the damaged median.  The Beaver County Judge ruled that issues of fact should be decided by a jury regarding the need for appropriate warning signs.  Mavrich v PennDOT and Golden Triangle Construction Co., Court of Common Pleas Beaver County PA, No. 10900 of 2003 (Nov. 30, 2009 J. Kwidis)

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Assumption of Risk Not a Bar to Golfer’s Lawsuit

An August 2009 judicial ruling of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania permitted a golfer to pursue his Philadelphia County personal injury lawsuit. The golfer was playing in a charity golf outing when he agreed to drive his golf cart to the next hole to see if the playing group ahead had cleared the green. On his way back to the tee box, one of his partners hit a wayward tee shot hitting the victim in the face.

Once the personal injury lawsuit was filed, the defendant golfer’s lawyer filed a motion for summary judgment. It was granted by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas based upon the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk. The Appeals Court overturned the trial court decision.

The victim raised a factual issue that would potentially allow a jury to decide that the defendant golfer should have waited for the victim to return to the tee box area before he hit his tee shot. If he owed that duty and failed to do so, his negligence caused the accident. Zeidman v. Fisher, 980 A.2d 637 (Pa. Super. 2009)

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Evidence of Non-Use of Seatbelts results in New Trial

A 2009 opinion of the PA Superior Court resulted in a new trial granted to the Estate of a Pennsylvania motor vehicle accident victim. A pick-up driver approached an intersection in Lackawanna PA where the stop sign had been knocked down. He applied his brakes and skidded thru the intersection hitting an embankment. When the emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they found the Pike County PA personal injury victim dead in the passenger seat.

A wrongful death claim was filed with the Pike County Court of Common Pleas against Ford Motor Co. – the manufacturer of the pick-up truck. A product liability claim was presented to the jury based upon the legal theory that the airbag system was defective. The Pike County trial judge permitted Ford to present evidence that the pick-up truck driver was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Defendant.

The personal injury attorney filed an appeal based upon Section 4581 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. The PA Superior Court agreed that Pennsylvania Law prohibits the admissibility of the non-use of seat belts into evidence. A new trial was granted to the Estate of the accident victim. Gaudio v. Ford Motor Co., 976 A.2d 524 (PA Super. 2009)

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Recreational Use of Land and Water Act Denies Claim

A 2008 Decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a Lackawanna County Trial Judge’s decision to dismiss a boy’s personal injury lawsuit.  He had driven his motorbike on a company’s property that was mostly undeveloped.  The real estate had areas of brush and trees that were transected by dozens of trails used by local residents for recreational purposes.

The PA personal injury victim crashed into a gate suffering a cerebral concussion and multiple fractures requiring surgeries.  His parents sued based on the legal theories of negligence and attractive nuisance.  The Defendant pled statutory immunity under the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA).  The RULWA provides immunity for owners of undeveloped land who open that land without charge for recreational use by members of the public.

The Appeals Court noted that the gate was erected to discourage dumpers and/or vandals.  There was no evidence to prove ongoing maintenance/improvements to the property.  Therefore, the defense of the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act was appropriate.  Stanton v. Lackawanna Energy LTD, 951 A.2d 1181 (PA Super. 2008)

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Court Upholds Contract Exclusion for Drivers of Loaner Cars

A 2009 ruling of the PA Superior Court denied the ability of a Pennsylvania personal injury victim to obtain an additional recovery from an excess automobile insurance policy. A woman was rear-ended by a drunk driver who was driving a service loaner car from an auto dealership. The insurance company paid its policy limit.

The Pennsylvania car accident attorney filed suit versus the car dealership and its insurance company. He claimed that his client should be able to make a recovery against the dealership’s excess insurance coverage. The Wyoming County PA trial judge ruled that the exclusion in the excess policy for drivers of loaner cars was clear and unambiguous. The Appeals Court affirmed this decision. Kropa v. Gateway Ford, 974 A.2d 502 (PA Super. 2009)

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Insurance Company Doctor Can Testify for Car Accident Victim

A 2009 Decision by the PA Superior Court affirmed a Chester County jury’s verdict in favor of a Pennsylvania car accident victim. A woman was slowing down for traffic when she was rear-ended and then crashed into the car in front of her. She was treated for back injuries which she and her doctor felt were permanent.

The PA car crash victim received a favorable Arbitration Award. The Defendant’s attorney filed an Appeal and the case was heard by a jury. Her Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer presented the testimony of a chiropractor who had examined her at the request of the Defendant’s insurance company. This doctor’s testimony supported the conclusions of the treating doctor and the victim received a large verdict.

An Appeal was taken to the Pennsylvania Superior Court claiming that it was an error for the Trial Court to permit the doctor hired by the insurance company to testify for the car accident victim. Since the victim’s attorney did not discuss the case with the doctor before his voluntary testimony, there was no disclosure of expert-client communications and the Appeal was denied. Dolan v. Fissell, 973 A.2d 1009 (PA Super. 2009)

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Limited Tort Plaintiff Proceeds to Jury Trial

A 2009 ruling by the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County PA denied the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and permitted the personal injury claim of a limited tort victim to proceed to trial. The negligent Defendant rear-ended the Plaintiff’s car. The Defendant’s lawyers argued that the Pennsylvania car crash victim had not sustained a serious bodily injury and, therefore, could not overcome her selection of the limited tort option.

The PA car accident victim’s attorney filed a medical expert report and medical records claiming that his client suffered from a protruding disc in her neck and a bulging disc in her lumbar spine. Her treating doctor offered an opinion that these injuries prevented her from participating in athletics, as well as bending, stooping, standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. These significant impairments were alleged to be permanent. The Trial Judge ruled that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding the car accident victim’s injuries which would be resolved in the trial by jury. Tritt v. Ruley, et al., 31 Mercer Co. L. J. 6 (2009)

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Carbon County Driver Fails to Prove Damages

A 2009 decision by President Judge Rodger Nanovic of the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the Defendant and against the Pennsylvania personal injury claimant. Two motor vehicles were traveling on Mahoning Street in Lehighton PA when the Defendant rear-ended the Plaintiff’s van. Although the jury found that the Defendant was negligent, it ruled that the negligence did not result in any compensable injuries to the driver of the van.

The evidence showed that the Carbon County car accident victim denied any injury at the scene. He also waited until 3 weeks after the crash to receive his first medical care. At trial he admitted that he was involved in a second car accident soon after the 1st crash. He also later fell down 14 steps. Both of those incidents resulted in medical care being provided. His treating doctor admitted that the MRI’s did not show any bulges or herniations from the Lehighton auto accident. The personal injury claimant failed to comply with the recommended medical treatment and only saw a doctor recommended by his attorney.

In the cross examination of the Plaintiff’s expert, he admitted that his patient had seen a pain management specialist 16 days before the 1st crash for prior injuries which included left leg nerve damage and a lumbar spine operation requiring the installation of rods to support the low back. The Carbon County Trial Judge ruled that there was ample evidence to support the jury’s decision that the Plaintiff had not met his burden of proof regarding his damage claim relating to the Lehighton car accident. Righter v. Walter, Court of Common Pleas Carbon County PA, No. 04-0699 (March 9, 2009)

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Philadelphia Not Responsible for State Highway

A 2009 Opinion of the PA Commonwealth Court reversed a Philadelphia County Decision in favor of a personal injury victim. A woman was crossing the street in Center City Philadelphia when she tripped and fell on a raised portion of the road. Various companies had performed construction work at the area of the accident. Unfortunately, the road was not leveled off after the project was completed.

The Pennsylvania personal injury victim suffered serious injuries to her leg. Her attorney settled her claims versus the companies that performed the work and went to a non-jury trial versus the City of Philadelphia. The trial judge ruled in favor of the pedestrian. The Appeals Court overturned this Decision since the street was a state highway. There was no written contract between the city and Penn DOT requiring Philadelphia to repair and maintain the roadway. Leiphart v. City of Philadelphia, 972 A.2d 939 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009)

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Ice Hockey Injury Victim Gets Chance to Prove Recklessness

A 2009 Decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a trial judge’s ruling and ordered that a PA personal injury claim should proceed forward in the litigation. A Dauphin County PA no checking ice hockey league was the scene of a horrible accident. One of the players was checked into the boards. He sustained a badly fractured leg which required several surgeries and left him with permanent injuries and scarring.

His Pennsylvania personal injury attorney filed a lawsuit alleging that the Defendant’s conduct went well beyond mere negligence and the risks assumed by the players on the ice. The Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The Appeals Court overruled the decision. The Pennsylvania personal injury victim was given the opportunity to present evidence to a jury that the Defendant breached a duty owed to his fellow player and that his actions were reckless. Archibald v. Kemble, 971 A.2d 513 (Pa. Super. 2009)

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Community Association Not Liable to Carbon County Dog Bite Victim

The Pennsylvania Dog Law was clarified in a June 2008 ruling by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. A Carbon County PA dog bite victim was standing outside of his home when he was attacked by his neighbors’ pit bulls. His Pennsylvania dog bite attorney filed suit against the dog owners and the community association that operated the private community.

The Carbon County trial judge ruled against the Jim Thorpe PA dog bite victim and dismissed the lawsuit versus the association. The lawyers representing the association successfully argued that their client could not remove nor confine the dogs and had no legal authority to take possession of the dog owners’ home.

The Pennsylvania dog bite lawyer appealed the decision. The PA Commonwealth Court ruled that the community association did not have the power to enforce the PA Dog Law and affirmed the Carbon County Trial Court decision. The personal injury victim’s sole source of compensation was against the homeowner’s insurance policy of the dog owners. McMahan v. Pleasant Valley West Ass’n, 952 A.2d 731 (PA Cmwlth. 2008)

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Monroe County Tubing Accident Lawsuit to Trial

A Pennsylvania personal injury victim was able to proceed with her lawsuit versus a Monroe County PA ski resort as a result of a September 2008 legal decision of the PA Superior Court. A mother and her children went to the Poconos to go snow tubing at Camelback. They were using the family tubing slopes and at the end of their run, the woman stood up and was struck by another snow tube. The Pennsylvania personal injury victim suffered numerous comminuted fractures of her leg which required surgery.

The Pennsylvania personal injury attorney filed a lawsuit against Camelback Ski Corporation alleging that their employees had acted recklessly. The defense lawyer filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County demanding a dismissal of the legal action vs. Camelback. The defense claimed that a signed release and language on the back side of the lift ticket should result in the dismissal of the personal injury lawsuit.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the decision by Judge Arthur Zulick in favor of Camelback. The Appeals Court stated that the release form did not prevent a lawsuit versus the Monroe County business since reckless conduct by an employee was not specifically discussed in the release. The PA Superior Court pointed out that the lift ticket language was so small that it was nearly illegible and the PA personal injury victim stated that she did not read it prior to her accident. Tayar v. Camelback Ski Corp., 957 A.2d 281 (Pa. Super. 2008)

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Sovereign Immunity Denies Claim Despite Lack of Guardrails

A 2009 Opinion of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld a trial judge’s decision to dismiss a Pennsylvania car accident claim. A teenager was driving a car which left the highway and crashed into a tree. She died as a result of the crash. A Pennsylvania car crash lawyer filed a wrongful death claim against Penn DOT and another occupant of the automobile.

The defense attorney filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which was granted by the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas. Since the victim’s Estate could not prove that a dangerous condition of the highway itself caused the car to leave the roadway, sovereign immunity prevented a claim against Penn DOT from succeeding.

The Pennsylvania personal injury attorney filed an appeal arguing that PennDOT’s failure to have guardrails or reflective markings on the shoulder of the road contributed to the cause of the crash. The Commonwealth Court ruled that the Estate of the Pennsylvania car crash victim did not present facts sufficient to meet the real estate exception to sovereign immunity. Pritts v. Comm. Dept. of Transp., 969 A.2d 1 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2009)

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Court Broadens Definition of ‘Owner’ in Dog Bite Attack Case

The issue faced by some Pennsylvania dog bite victims is the inability to prove that the actual owner of the dog was in control of it during the time of the dog bite attack. A 2006 decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania confirmed the broad scope of the word ‘owner’ as defined by the PA Dog Law. The defendant was charged with multiple violations of the PA Dog Law even though she was not the registered owner.

The trial evidence proved that she was feeding & caring for the dogs and permitted them to remain on her property. The Appeals Court upheld her conviction of violating the PA Dog Law because of her control over the dogs.

Frequently people who are not the registered owners of dogs walk or look after a neighbor’s dog. If a Pennsylvania dog bite attack occurs in that situation, the dog owner could claim that he has no legal responsibility for the victim’s injuries since he wasn’t in control of the dog at the time of the attack. This legal decision provides a PA dog bite victim with the ability to obtain fair compensation for their injuries from the insurance company representing the individual actually in control of the dog when the attack occurred. Comm. v. Lopez, 908 A.2d 991 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006)

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Employee’s P.I. Claim v. Co-Worker Denied After Car Crash

A December 2008 Opinion of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania clarified the circumstances when an employee can make a PA personal injury claim against a fellow employee after a car accident. Two employees of a Montgomery County PA business used a company pick-up truck to drive to Baltimore to make repairs at a work site. After leaving the job, they stopped for dinner and both employees drank beer.

On the return trip to Pennsylvania, the driver lost control of the pick-up truck. The crash caused the passenger to sustain serious head injuries. The Pennsylvania car accident lawyer filed a lawsuit versus the driver in Philadelphia. The trial judge held that the driver’s actions in driving back to PA were work related for his employer’s benefit. Therefore, the co-employee was barred by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act from making a PA personal injury claim.

The Pennsylvania car crash lawyer filed an appeal. The Superior Court confirmed that Worker’s Compensation benefits are the only remedy available to employees injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a co-employee while in the course and scope of their employment. The Court did not grant an exception to the Pennsylvania car crash victim since the driver was not convicted of DUI and no proof was provided that the alleged intoxication caused the collision. EMC v. Boiler Erection