Ok, here are the usual disclaimers

The facts found on these pages are for information only. I am not saying that they are inaccurate, but since injury law is complicated, you absolutely must be represented by counsel who is familiar with your case. No two cases are exactly alike. You can lose money, property, or even miss the statute of limitations if you try to represent yourself! So do it right and get a lawyer. By the way, if you call me, I will not charge you, but I can’t represent you unless you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. If I tell you something by phone and you do not retain me (because, e.g., you are out-of-state), this does not mean you have complied with the above warning. You still have to get local counsel. Please do not be stupid and think that just because I put up this web site, I am your lawyer! No lawyer is permitted to represent a client in this type of a case without getting some kind of written agreement from the client. For that matter, no lawyer is allowed to charge a contingent fee without it being in writing. Therefore, unless you have a written agreement from you, I do not represent you; and if I do not represent you, I am not protecting your rights, and you should not rely on these pages as the final authority, should you? Now that was easy, right?

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is probably one of the more controversial areas of the law. It is also one of the ones where injuries can be the greatest. No more trust is generally put in a single person than your doctor, and no feeling of betrayal is usually more intense. And yet, most people are reluctant to sue their doctors. Why? Possibly because of a very effective campaign on behalf of your doctor’s insurance companies.

Medical malpractice insurance companies would have you believe that lawyers are « sue happy » when it comes to doctors. The following are some myths and the truth as it relates to medical malpractice:

  1. Myth: Lawyers target doctors because they can usually get a settlement even if the case is groundless. Truth: Insurance companies for physicians do not settle without a very substantial risk of loss to their insureds. This means that it is common that most cases, except the very significant ones, never settle. Most attorneys realize this and they will refuse to bring cases against doctors unless they believe the case is valid and substantial. Doctors are not « targets » of lawyers. On the contrary, doctors generally enjoy more immunity from suit than most individuals and companies because of the expense and difficulty of those suits.
  2. Myth: Anyone can sue and even for the most trivial reason; and they often do. Truth: Lawyers know that medical malpractice cases are expensive to bring; sometimes costing upwards of $10,000 in costs. Trivial cases are simply never brought, if only for the economic reasons alone. But there are many other reasons as well-lawyers do not take cases to lose them. Further lawyers are bound by a strict code of ethics that prevents them from bring groundless legal actions. In short, people think that lawyers will sue at the ‘drop of a hat’, but the opposite e is actually true.
  3. Myth: Lawyers and lawsuits are responsible for the high cost of healthcare. Truth: Lawyers and lawsuits do tend to police the medical profession in a manner that the AMA and the state attorneys general could never do. The AMA is the oldest medical professional organization and presently has as its membership less than 50% of the doctors in this country. This is far fewer than even 10 years ago, which is indicative of the staid and conservative nature of the organization. It is not in its interest to alienate the members remaining by effectively policing them, nor can it regulate the doctors that do not belong to it. It has no legal authority to suspend any doctor’s licence. The attorneys general of the various states do not have the manpower to adequately police every doctor for every improper act, not would it even want to do so. Certain acts which fall short of the standard of care expected of a like physician do not amount to crimes, nor do they necessarily mean that a doctor should have his license revoked. Doctors make mistakes, like all persons, however, their mistakes can be costly ones. There is no reason why doctors should not have to pay for theirs; you would if you made an error on the job. Doctors, however, have insurance companies to pay for their mistakes. Their insurance companies operate much in the same way that your insurance company would act if you had an accident in your car (this can be thought of as « driving malpractice »). There is one difference-doctors often can tell their insurance companies not to settle their cases, thus driving up the cost of the litigation for both sides. Many doctors refuse to accept that they can make a mistake and they can bind the hands of their insurers since they will not have to pay for the costs of defense nor the judgment. This is a right that almost no other insureds have. Notwithstanding the lawsuits, however, healthcare costs have little to do with litigation. The cost of healthcare is due only to a small part on malpractice insurance (and some of even that would have had to have been paid anyway). Healthcare costs is due to many factors: high technology, drug development costs, the general longer life-span of Americans, physician’s salaries, and many, many other factors. Lawyers give the public a valuable service-protection from and compensation for just plain bad doctoring. Our office handles medical malpractice cases on contingency fee basis, meaning you never pay legal fees until a recovery is made.
  4. Myth: Lawsuits against doctors hurt everyone since their cost is passed to the general public in terms of higher medical costs. Truth: This might be true if medical malpractice suits were more prevalent and defense of these comprised a major portion of the cost of medical care in the country. Fortunately, however, malpractice litigation is simply not a major portion of the cost of health care to the extent that it significantly affects its cost when compared to the many other factors. Also consider that the majority of malpractice cases tried are not successful and the cost of defense of these is not significant compared to the cost of caring for an aging population. The present generation is also the most long-lived generation and as a consequence, the generation that is and will be the most costly to care for. Hiring an attorney is a lot cheaper that caring for a victim of cancer or even one week in the hospital for a patient with a serious illness.

Our firm pledges you that we will carefully screen your case and advise you truthfully as to the case’s viability. We won’t waste your time with a matter that cannot be won. Therefore, when your case is accepted, you can be sure that it will not be put on the ‘back-burner’ while we attend to matters that we feel will be more lucrative. We offer a free initial (non-medical) case screening. Contact us today at 610-565-6660 for an appointment.

What a Deposition Is & How to Handle It

Under the law, the defense attorney has a right to take your « deposition. » This means that you will be put under oath, just as you would be in court, and the defense attorney will ask you questions relating to your case. His questions and your answers will be taken down by a court reporter. I will be present with you during this deposition.

There will be no judge or jury present. However, after the deposition is over, the court reporter will type out all the questions and answers, and both myself and the defense attorney will receive copies. The original will be filed with the court.

If your case goes to trial, this deposition may be used in court in cross examination by the defense attorney should your testimony at trial be any different than your testimony at the time of the deposition. For this reason, it is extremely important that you have everything in mind concerning the cause and nature of your injuries at the time of the deposition.

The defense attorney in this discovery deposition can ask you questions that are admissible in court under the rules of evidence. In addition, he can ask you questions that may seem to you as if they are none of his business and that, actually, under the rules of evidence, would not be admissible in court. However, the courts allow « discovery » in these depositions, and the attorney may ask you anything that will enable him to make further investigation of the case and further prepare to defend it against you.

One of the purposes of your deposition is to assist the defense attorney in evaluating this case for settlement purposes. This is often the first and only opportunity for the defense attorney to see you before the case comes to trial. Therefore, you should answer the questions in an honest and straightforward manner, so the attorney will be impressed with the fact that the jury will know, if the case is tried, that you are completely honest and sincere.

The defense attorney will get all possible information regarding the names of witnesses, doctors, and items of that nature to assist him in completing his investigation of the case and preparation for trial. He will get you committed under oath to all of the facts concerning the cause of your injury and the nature and extent of your injuries, so that you cannot say anything different at the trial without being subject to impeachment with this deposition on cross examination.

The attorney may try to trap you into lying. One of the most effective ways to defend a case is to be able to prove that the plaintiff has lied in some way. Proving that you have lied under oath on a deposition is almost as effective as catching you in a lie in the courtroom. Therefore, it is important that you are not trapped into testifying to something that is inaccurate or exaggerated. For this reason, listen to each question carefully and be sure that you understand it before answering. If you do not understand it, ask the defense attorney to repeat it or to rephrase it so you do understand it. When you understand the question, then answer it honestly and in a straightforward manner. If you do not know the answer, do not be afraid to say that you don’t know or don’t recall. No one can remember every small detail. However, you will remember the important things and should give an honest and full answer to questions on these points.

Probably the most important instruction is – Do not volunteer anything. Give a full and complete answer to the question asked but do not anticipate any other question or attempt to answer it. If the defense attorney overlooks any relevant questions, that is his worry, not yours. We are not presenting our « case » at this deposition and it is not necessary to prove or substantiate anything. Therefore, answer, as fully as possible, the question asked, but do not volunteer any information beyond that answer.

A deposition is nothing to worry about. If you answer each question truthfully, and without volunteering any information not specifically asked for, everything will be fine.

Aircraft Accidents

Within certain limits, as set by the Geneva Convention respecting international air travel, airlines are insurers of your safety. This means that you generally do not have to prove negligence. Airlines will, however, evaluate the damages that are actually due you, and if you do not agree with that sum, you still have the right to sue. No one should deal with the airlines insurance company or the airline themselves without legal counsel. We are trained in evaluating the amount of damages due you in injury cases and with respect to wrongful death matters, we can determine a fair recovery for your loved ones.

All airplane crashes in the U.S.A.. are investigated by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). Their report is generally made public and can be used by us in most cases in preparing your case. This keeps costs of such a case to a minimum. Contact us today if you or someone you care for was injured in a plane crash. We handle matters related to airlines as well as small private planes.

Injuries on Public Transportation

Imagine this scenario: You are riding to work on a city bus. There are no seatbelts. You are taking your safety for granted; after all, you never knew anyone injured in a bus accident. And if buses were prone to accidents, they would have installed seatbelts, right? Today is not going to be your day. The bus driver has other things on his mind; his children, his poor marital relations, the latest episode of the X-Files, whatever it is, it is most certainly not you. He turns his hear to look at a young woman. He anticipates that the vehicle that just started to move, will continue to accelerate forward. It doesn’t. He rams it. Not going too fast, about 5 or 10 m.p.h.. Fast enough, however, to cause you to ejected from your seat.

You have lost your laptop and your back has gone out again, but this time you hear a chilling popping sound. At first you feel OK. However, when you get home, you realize that are sensing a tingling and an increasing back pain. You cannot bend and you are having problems turning your neck. « Why did I tell the bus driver I was ok »you wonder. « I can’t sue now, » you think, « they are going to say I said I was alright at the time of the accident. » Anyway, who would I sue? They bus driver? The municipality? The maker of the bus. I forgot the bus number! I even forgot to get the name of the bus driver! What do I do now? You slowly realize that the recovery process is going to be even longer than the time you first injured your back.

These and other questions like the ones posed by our imaginary victim have been answered by the courts time and again. Our office knows that time is of the essence when bringing a claim against a municipality. For instance, did you know that in some jurisdictions, unless notice of a claim is given to a local government within a certain time period, your right to sue may be hindered, or forever barred? We have handled dozens of cases against municipalities and local governmental units. We know who to notify and when. In short, you should always seek the assistance of experienced counsel and you should do it promptly after an accident.

We are also skilled in handling matters involving non-governmental carriers; i.e. private buses, trains, etc. Call us for an appointment today.

Slips and Falls

It was bound to happen sooner or later. That fact does not diminish the pain, embarrassment and possible humiliation. You have taken a big one-right on your rear and in front of your friends, colleagues or co-workers. This could not be my fault. Well, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t; but someone has to pay; after all, I’m hurt pretty badly, right? « I’m seeing my lawyer tomorrow! » you think to yourself. « I’m going to teach these bastards a lesson! »

As silly as this may appear, this is a perfectly natural feeling that many, if not most people have after falling. It may be on ice, on a sidewalk, or possibly on a discarded grape in a supermarket. It is not easy to accept the gaff as your own.

Although the refusal to ever take responsibility is wrong, the part about seeing a lawyer is usually not. Based upon years of litigation experience, we are trained to know what is a recoverable slip and fall, and what to leave alone. We can often get money for medical bills even if the fault was yours. Most of all, we will not waste your time and money pursuing matters we cannot win. This is the difference between our firm and certain less reputable firms.

For instance, you have slipped and fell on ice that has built up in front of your local mall. The fall has hurt you pretty badly. Enough to sue? Well maybe. But there is more. What if the ice formed overnight when the mall was closed and you fell at 7 a.m. What if the ice had formed after a brief rain and snap cold spell during business hours? What if you were in an area of the mall that is not generally open to the public as an employee?

The Pennsylvania courts have strict guideline on this very issue. They will not be bothered with just any slip and fall on ice. The ice must have had time to accumulate for a while before anyone is found liable to you. The courts have stated the ice must have hills and ridges in it as evidence of its accumulation period. In short, ice that accumulates after a flash freeze will be flat, and a fall on it does generally not create a viable cause of action. Our firm has handled dozens of these types of cases. Most of all, we know when to sue and when to just walk away. We know how to get your medical bills paid, even if you do not technically have a right to sue (i.e., insurance med-pay policies). Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Premises Liability Primer

Have you ever had an accident at the home of a friend, acquaintance, business associate, or any person you were visiting? Have you ever been injured, or wondered what would happen if you were injured on the premises of a store, market, or other place of business?

Recovery of money for your injuries may be easier than you think. There is a common misconception that you always need to prove that the accident is the fault of someone else to recover money for your medical bills. This may not always be the case. Most businesses, including most homeowners carry a policy of insurance that will pay at least the first $1,000 in medical costs without any proof of fault. In other words, in most cases, you can get paid for your medical expenses, at least to some extent even if you were careless! This does not apply if you intentionally injure yourself though.

What’s more, if the accident is the result of the negligence of someone else, you may be able to recover for your pain, suffering, and even for the loss of the services, companionship and company of your spouse if he or she is injured. This means that your spouse may recover money, as well as you if you were injured.

We have more than twenty years of experience in the proper handling of premises liability cases.  We know how to maximize your recovery in these matters. Our cases have run the gamut from slip and fall on a business premises to an injury received by a person in the home of her sister.  In the latter case, the plaintiff’s sister’s insurance company eventually paid her $40,000 after a fall over a curtain rod box.

Auto Accident Primer

Vehicular accidents often result in significant injuries to those involved. The law allows those injured through the negligence of another to collect an award of money damages. The amount of damages recoverable will be determined by the degree of negligence as well as the extent of injuries. Anyone involved in an automobile, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicular accident should contact us as soon as possible to see if they may have a claim for damages.

While the variations of possible accidents they may result in significant damages, some of the cases which we have successfully handled have involved intersection collisions, improper lane changes, failure to yield right-of-way, stop sign and stop light violations, speeding, and all manner of inattentive driving. Click here to read about some interesting cases we have handled.Vehicular accidents do not « just happen », but rather are due to the negligence of either the drivers involved or others causing the accident to happen.

Sometimes a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes an accident. While it is obvious that the driver is negligent in such a case, it is also true that the supplier of the alcohol or drugs or another may be liable for their acts resulting in the driver’s intoxication. This allows one who has been injured in such a case to seek recovery from not only the driver, but from other sources, such as the bar, restaurant, liquor store, or even private party who provided the alcohol. It is important to identify and make claim against all persons who may be liable for the injuries caused by the drunk or drugged driver.

It seems that with increasing frequency police officers and emergency vehicles are being involved in accidents causing injury to others. While the law provides some protection for the drivers of emergency vehicles, it does not allow them to operate their vehicles negligently. If you are injured as a result of an accident with a police car, fire engine, ambulance or other emergency vehicle, you should contact us to determine if there may be liability on the part of the driver so that you may collect money damages. An interesting case in which we were recently handledi and in which our client received a recovery of substantial damages, involved a state police car responding to a police call which struck the vehicle of our client coming out of a street controlled by a stop sign. While the state police investigated the accident and not surprising came to their conclusion that their officer was not negligence, the facts as brought out during the course of suit indicated otherwise.

Another area that must be considered in determining negligence and liability is often the design and maintenance of roadways. States or municipalities are usually responsible the streets and roads and, as a result, if an accident is caused in whole or in part as a result of a defectively designed or maintained roadway, claim should include the government entity responsible. Recent cases we have successfully handled have included defective design of highways, failure to maintain the roadways, and creating a hazard with temporary traffic control devices.