Personal Injury

July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Personal Injury

Is There a Solution to Parking Shortages for Large Trucks in Pennsylvania?

The shortage of parking places for large trucks in Pennsylvania has created dangerous conditions for all motorists. Truck drivers can drive only so far before becoming fatigued and having to stop for necessities such as food, water, gas, bathrooms, and sleep, but the facilities for parking vehicles legally and safely are woefully inadequate.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), shortfalls in parking capacity in heavily traveled corridors may exceed triple the amount of available parking spaces.  On the Pennsylvania turnpike alone, there is a deficit of 890 parking spots for trucks, and frustrated truckers wind up leaving their vehicles wherever they can, usually alongside the highways or on ramps.  This creates problems for both truckers and motorists who have to navigate a maze of large vehicles parked where they do not belong.  In addition, trucks pulling back onto the road from unsafe parking can cause crashes.

Any crash involving largely trucks is likely to be devastating and result in serious injuries or death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (https://www.iihs.org/iihs), 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or someone has died in a crash involving an illegally parked truck or any other vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, due to the complexity and issues involving these accidents, your case must be handled correctly and competently by an attorney experienced in truck crashes or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to. 

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to achieve an adequate settlement. Our skilled and experienced Pennsylvania truck crash attorneys have represented any number individuals who have been injured or killed in vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania.  Recently, we settled a death case for a passenger as a result of trucking negligence for $7.5 million.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation, so contact us at our office or online today.

Parking Shortages and Driver Fatigue

When truckers drive too long without stopping and they become fatigued, their reaction time slows and they are not able to make life-saving maneuvers. They even become more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.  Government regulation changes which were intended to enhance safety by preventing truckers from driving beyond the point of exhaustion are actually making the parking situation worse.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations make truckers record how much time they spend on the road and when they take mandated breaks and rest stops. Previously, truckers could log their own hours in a log book and were able to have grace periods to find parking, but now they are required to use electronic log devices that track their time automatically, and the grace period has been eliminated. Since violating the time restrictions can result in expensive fines, the changes have placed a premium on parking spots on or near major trucking routes, and truckers park wherever they can.

We had a case recently in the office where a truck driver took his eyes off the road for a protracted period of time to check his tracking device, which his employer knew was not working properly. Punitive damages were asserted against both the truck driver and the employer.

What Can Be Done With Respect to Parking Issues

This parking problem has existed for a long time, and Pennsylvania is starting to make some efforts to rectify it, including:

  • PennDOT is instituting a pilot program to address the truck parking issues, better manage existing truck parking spaces, and provide real time information to drivers on where available spaces are located.
  • The department is inviting private companies to come up with ideas on how the state can partner with businesses to address the truck parking issue.
  • The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and some townships have adopted a policy requiring developers to include extra truck parking on their development plans.
  • Local municipalities and planning commissions are being encouraged to require developers to provide extra parking spots for truckers delivering goods to and from their facilities.

Contact an Attorney at Our Firm

Damages from truck crashes are severe and often fatal. If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a truck crash, you should get immediate legal assistance to protect your rights at every stage of your liability claim.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Cliff Rieders wrote the book on Financial Responsibility Law in Pennsylvania, which governs many automobile and truck accident cases in the Commonwealth.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. He is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.

Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.  Cliff Rieders does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

At Rieders Travis, we offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Do not delay. Contact us today by calling or our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Limousine Safety in Pennsylvania

It was a birthday celebration that turned deadly. A crash involving a limousine in Schoharie, New York, on the afternoon of Saturday, October 6, killed 20 people, including the driver, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. The limousine failed to come to a stop and lost control while proceeding through a busy intersection.

An investigation showed that the stretch limousine, a converted 2001 Ford Excursion, had failed safety inspections shortly before the crash and was not supposed to be on the road. In inspections made on September 4, Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service, the company which owned the vehicle, had its limos cited for defective brakes, lack of proper emergency exits, flat or balding tires, defective windshield wipers, and other maintenance problems. In addition, the driver was not even licensed to operate the vehicle, as he did not have a commercial driver license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement.

Both the company and the vehicle had been watched by the New York Department of Transportation in the past, but the company still managed to put a defective vehicle on the road driven by a driver without a proper license.

Factors like noncompliance with government regulation and safety standards, driver negligence, human error, equipment malfunction, defective parts, faulty maintenance, or even poorly designed roadways can all increase the risk of a serious or deadly crash.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or someone has died in a crash involving a limousine or any other vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, due to the complexity and issues involving these accidents, your case must be handled correctly and competently by an attorney experienced in auto/truck crashes, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to. 

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to win a good settlement or to go to trial if necessary. Our skilled and experienced Pennsylvania auto accident attorneys have represented any number of individuals who have been injured or killed in vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation, so contact us at our office or online today.

Problems with Limousines

Even without defects or violations, there are potential dangers with stretch limousines. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), after-market modifications to a vehicle may affect its structural integrity and safety, and this may potentially increase the risk of serious injuries in a crash. For example, limousines typically feature floor-to-ceiling pillars to help protect passengers, but these may be absent in modified vehicles.

The NTSB’s records show that limousine crashes have killed at least 68 people since 2000.

What Pennsylvania Companies Are Doing

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), a modified vehicle must undergo an enhanced safety inspection at the time the vehicle is modified. In addition, Pennsylvania law requires a CDL for the driver of a limousine designed to transport 16 or more passengers.

In addition, some local limousine companies are taking steps to help prevent crashes.  These include:

  • Examining a ten-year driving record when hiring drivers
  • Monitoring speeds with daily safety logs, which are reviewed regularly by management
  • Inspecting vehicles annually and taking them off the road until problems are fixed.
  • Retrofitting and purchasing vehicles that are safer and with GPS control.

Litigation and Unlawful Death

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a limousine crash you may be entitled to recover damages, including:

1) economic damages, which include compensation for past and future medical and hospital expenses, rehabilitation expenses, past and future wage loss and loss of wage horizon, and other out-of-pocket expenses;

2) it is often said economic damage are the tip of the iceberg.   Therefore a person is entitled to claim non-economic damages, including loss of life’s pleasures until death, emotional distress, pain and suffering; and

3) physical impairment and disfigurement and, depending upon the case, other specialized damages.

You may have several types of claims, including:

  • negligence of the driver
  • negligence against the owner of the limousine and company
  • negligent entrustment or negligent hiring, training and supervision
  • claims against the manufacturer, retailer, modifier, or maintenance crews of any defective or malfunctioning parts on the limousine.

Contact an Attorney at Our Firm

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a limousine crash, you should get immediate legal assistance to protect your rights at every stage of your liability claim.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania auto/truck accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in experience while providing top-notch personal service.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.

One of Cliff Rieders’ books specifically involves the Financial Responsibility Law which governs many considerations with respect to auto/truck and other vehicle collisions in Pennsylvania.

Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania, and he wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.  Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state.  Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field.  Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Rieders is a Nationally Board certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.

Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.  Cliff Rieders does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Don’t delay. Contact Rieders Travis today by calling or completing our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

What Does Roundup Verdict Mean for Future Lawsuits?

Roundup is a product commonly used by homeowners and commercial landscapers to kill weeds, but it has also been accused of killing people. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in recent years contending that Roundup (or glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup) is “dangerous to human health, unfit and unsuitable to be marketed and sold in commerce, and that it lacked proper warnings and directions as to the dangers associated with its use.”

Now, a jury at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco has decided in favor of a plaintiff who alleged that Roundup caused his cancer. The jury awarded Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages, $250 million of which is intended to punish Monsanto, the company that makes the herbicide. This verdict sets a precedent for thousands of other cases that similarly claim that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive cancer that starts in the body’s immune system.

After the trial, Monsanto issued a statement saying that it stands by the studies that suggest Roundup does not cause cancer. The company intends to appeal this decision and continue to defend the product.

In spite of Monsanto’s denials, product liability attorneys claim that the manufacturer has known for more than 30 years that there is a link between the use of Roundup and cancer.  They claim that instead of warning the public, Monsanto created fake data and attacked legitimate studies exposing the dangers and created a campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general population that its herbicide was safe.

If you or someone you love has been injured by Roundup or any other dangerous product, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

The skilled and seasoned Pennsylvania product liability and personal injury attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury due to defects in products.  Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.

We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your individual situation and determine the best way to proceed with your case. Contact us today by calling or by using our online contact form.

What Happened to Johnson?

Dewayne Johnson, 46, applied Roundup 20 to 30 times per year while working as a groundskeeper for a school district near San Francisco, and he had two accidents in which he was soaked with the product. The first accident happened in 2012; in 2014, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

How Carcinogenic are Roundup and Glyphosate?

The major questions raised in the liability case are whether Roundup can cause cancer and, if so, whether Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the product’s cancer risk. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said the key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Monsanto argues that Roundup does not cause cancer, and that the IARC report is greatly outweighed by studies which concluded that glyphosate is safe. However, the plaintiff’s attorneys claimed that glyphosate and other ingredients in Roundup interact and cause a “synergistic effect” that makes the product more carcinogenic than glyphosate alone.

In the Johnson case, Monsanto was not required to prove anything. The burden of proof was on the plaintiff to prove that Roundup was a “substantial contributing factor” to his illness. While it is difficult to prove exactly what caused a particular cancer, the jury concluded that Johnson’s cancer would not have occurred if he had not been exposed to Roundup. This is similar to the conclusion now accepted that tobacco can be a big contributing factor for lung cancer.

The jury also agreed that Monsanto does not warn about the dangers of Roundup, which it keeps promoting without warning users of the increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or any of the other diseases linked to glyphosate.

State and Federal Cases

Roundup cases have been filed in both state and federal courts.  Johnson’s attorney said that he and other attorneys have more than 4,000 similar cases awaiting trial in various state courts, and another 400 cases have been filed in federal multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

MDL cases are not similar to class-action lawsuits.  In a class-action lawsuit, a small number of people bring a claim on their own behalf and on behalf of a class.  The recovery then may be split up among others who are said to be part of that class. In MDL cases, each individual has their own separate identifiable claim.  Whether an outcome is faster in state as opposed to federal court depends upon the courts.

The Rieders Travis Law Firm, under the direction of Cliff Rieders and in combination with Sasha Coffiner, handles a variety of multi-district litigation throughout the country.  Many people unfortunately call 800 numbers or go on the internet for “MDL lawyers.”  The Rieders Travis Law Firm does not take a case where they do not meet the client.  We are accessible throughout the litigation.  With Rieders Travis, you are not a number but rather you are an identifiable person.  This is important because oftentimes lawyers from other states find that they cannot bring the matter to fruition because they are not familiar with the state law where the plaintiff they represent lives.  We at Rieders Travis only take cases within the jurisdiction where we can practice law.

Get Help – Contact Us For Honest Answers

If you feel you have been injured by Roundup or other dangerous products, you may be entitled to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann are familiar with the law and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our sizeable staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

The Deadliest Times on Pennsylvania’s Roads

When you take your car on the road, there is always a chance that you could be involved in a crash, no matter what the time of day or year.

According to a 2015 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), there were more than 127,000 auto accidents in 2014 which caused the deaths of 1,200 people, while another 80,004 were injured. Those who survive a crash can wind up with serious injuries such as whiplash, neck injuries, and paralysis that can maim, disfigure, and cause pain and suffering that may last a lifetime.

Still, there are times when it is more dangerous to drive than others and when motorists should take extra safety precautions.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE WAS INJURED OR SOMEONE HAS DIED IN A VEHICLE CRASH IN PENNSYLVANIA, YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER SUCH AS CLIFF RIEDERS OF RIEDERS, TRAVIS, HUMPHREY, WATERS & DOHRMANN, REGARDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.  If another party’s negligence or responsibility was involved in the accident, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover your medical, hospital and therapy expenses, lost wages, property loss, disfigurement, and loss of life’s enjoyment. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement.  Our seasoned Pennsylvania vehicle accident attorneys have helped a great variety and number of people file successful personal injury lawsuits. With decades of experience with many types of crashes and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation, so contact us at our office or online today.

What are the most dangerous times to drive in Pennsylvania?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has statistics breaking down traffic accident information by time, days of the week and months. According to their data, the following are the most dangerous times to drive:

  • Months — May and June are the deadliest months for Pennsylvania Possible reasons include extra people driving on vacation and extra teenagers on the road. The second most dangerous time comes in September and October due to back-to-school traffic and fall deer season, when deer running out in the road cause collisions.
  • Days of the week — Wednesday is the safest day to travel; Friday and Saturday are the most dangerous.
  • Time — The deadliest times are between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., when people are returning home from school and work. The safest time is from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., when there are fewer vehicles on the road.

Many collisions share factors in common.  For example, speeding and alcohol use are both major accident factors, as are holiday weekends, when the roads swell with fatigued and intoxicated drivers coming and going from parties and family get-togethers.

Accidents at Night

It makes sense that when darkness falls, the possibility of crashes increases. According to AAA, about 30% of all serious or fatal car collisions happen between midnight and 3:00 a.m. During the rest of the night, fatal crashes occur four times more often than during the day, even though there are far fewer vehicles on the roads at night.  Reasons include poor visibility at night, fatigue and poor reaction time of sleepy drivers, and increased drinking and drunk driving that occurs at night.

Contact us for Help

No matter what time of day, if you or a loved one is involved in a crash, you need legal assistance to protect your rights and ensure that you get the settlement you are entitled to.  An experienced attorney can make sure that all relevant evidence is immediately identified and documented and can help you deal with insurance companies and handle information, medical bills and treatment.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania vehicle collision and personal injury attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in competency while providing top-notch personal service.

We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from collisions and have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  He has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.

Pennsylvania auto laws are complex.  Pennsylvania is governed by the Financial Responsibility Law.  Cliff Rieders has a great deal of experience in this field of the law and was involved in its creation.  Rieders wrote the book on the subject, Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania. This book is available at www.amazon.com.  Cliff Rieders teaches the subject of motor vehicle insurance laws to experienced attorneys in Pennsylvania.

Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many areas of practice, including the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania, and he wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.   Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm in any collision, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling or by using our online contact form.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

PA Ranked 29th for Texting Teens

Texting while driving is a major cause of crashes; and teens, already inclined to take risks, are among the worst offenders. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania teens are worse than those in most other states for risky texting behavior. According to a study from the Journal of Adolescent Health that looked at teen texting while driving in the United States, our state ranked No. 29 out of the 35 states surveyed.

The study found that 38 percent of the 200,000 teens surveyed reported texting while driving on at least one day; 22 percent reported texting while driving one to nine days; and 16 percent said they texted 10 to 30 days.

The incidence of texting and driving rose sharply when kids legally drove unsupervised. It also is highest in states with a learner’s permit age of 15 or younger. More than one in five students aged 14 or 15 reported driving before they were eligible for a learner’s permit, and one in six of these drivers had texted while driving. The rate doubled between ages 15 and 16 and continued to rise through age 17 and beyond, and white teens were more likely to text while driving than students of all other races. And the study found that texting is also linked to other risky driving behaviors, including not wearing a seat belt, or drinking and driving.

If you or a loved one was involved in a vehicle crash caused by a teen who was texting or otherwise driving distracted, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.  However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to. To ensure that you get the settlement you deserve, you should CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER REGARDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.

The seasoned Pennsylvania vehicle collision attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.   With decades of experience with many types of crashes and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases.

We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Contact us today by calling or by using our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Texting and driving

In the less than 4.5 seconds it takes to send a text, a vehicle going 55 mph covers more than the length of a football field and can easily cause a crash.

It is no wonder that, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, driving distractions kill 3,500 people and injure 390,000 in U.S. crashes every year.

In Pennsylvania, distracted driving has been increasing.  According to data by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, there were 5,054 citations in 2017 for offenses related to texting, using a handheld cell phone and wearing or using headphones while driving, up 172 percent from the 1,858 citations issued statewide in 2013.

Since March 2012, Pennsylvania has a law that prohibits all drivers from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write text-based messages while their vehicle is in motion. This is a primary law, which means that a police officer has the right to pull drivers over and give them a ticket for texting while driving, without having to witness another moving violation.  The law carries a $50 fine and nearly $90 in court costs.

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania texting ban is inadequate since it doesn’t prohibit drivers from talking on their cell phones while their vehicle is in motion.

Drivers must be responsible

Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity that has the potential to distract the driver from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel), or cognitive (taking mind off driving). Texting involves all three.

To help address the problem, parents of teens should get more involved and provide positive parental role modeling, clear communication of rules around texting, and increased monitoring of teen drivers.

INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT? GET A FREE CONSULTATION

If you or a loved one was involved in a crash due to someone else’s negligence due to texting while driving, you have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical costs, loss of life’s enjoyment, and property and other damages.  To protect your rights and maximize compensation, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to determine the cause of the accident and identify the responsible parties. Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania distracted driving personal injury attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania.   Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure and is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s negligence, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling or using our online contact form.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Drivers Are Addicted to Distracting Activities – Automakers Aren’t Helping

Emerging technologies are cool and useful, but they can also take drivers down a path of distraction that leads to increased crashes.  Driving while distracted is illegal in 47 states, including Pennsylvania; but people are addicted to their gadgets and technology, and new cars have more of these than ever. As a result, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been studying how to minimize the driving distractions they say kill 3,500 people and injure 390,000 in U.S. crashes every year.

According to the Washington Post the study showed that new vehicle technology involving buttons, touch screens, gesture controls, heads-up displays, and voice commands are often not safe when used while the vehicle is in motion. For example, distractions from Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto shaved crucial seconds from the time that drivers could get their eyes back on the road.

The AAA survey found that almost half of drivers said they make calls and 35 percent sent a text or email while driving. In the less than 4.5 seconds it takes to send a text, a vehicle going 55 mph covers more than the length of a football field and can easily cause a crash.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a crash involving a distracted driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses, past, present and future.  Damages may also cover current and future lost wages, including loss of wage horizon.  Property loss may be covered as well as non-economic compensation, which is often the greatest loss.  Non-economic compensation may be loss of life’s pleasures during one’s life, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and other items.  However, your case must be handled correctly to prove the other driver was at fault or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Contact us today by calling or by using our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Pennsylvania Distracted Driving

In the last five years, distraction citations in Pennsylvania have shot up dramatically, according to data by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.  There were 5,054 citations in 2017 for offenses related to texting, using a hand-held cell phone and wearing or using headphones while driving — up from 3,336 the year before, and up 172 percent from the 1,858 citations issued statewide in 2013.

Since March, 2012, Pennsylvania has had a law that prohibits all drivers from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write text-based messages while their vehicle is in motion. This is a primary law, which means that a police officer has the right to pull drivers over and give them a ticket for texting while driving, without having to witness another moving violation.  The law carries a $50 fine and nearly $90 in court costs.

Unfortunately, the texting ban is inadequate to protect people from drivers, especially teens, who are distracted by handheld devices, because Pennsylvania law doesn’t prohibit drivers from talking on their cell phones (even hand-held ones) while their vehicle is in motion.

DRIVERS MUST BE RESPONSIBLE

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity that has the potential to distract the driver from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel), or cognitive (taking mind off what you’re doing). Texting is particularly dangerous as it involves all three, but so does fiddling with controls for many of the technological features found in newer vehicles.

Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits. When drivers devote their attention to anything other than the road, they must be held responsible for any injuries they cause.

INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT? GET A FREE CONSULTATION.

If you or a loved one was involved in a crash due to someone else’s negligence caused by driving while distracted, you have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical costs, loss of life’s enjoyment, and property and other damages.  To protect your rights and maximize compensation, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to determine the cause of the car accident and identify the responsible parties. Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania distracted driving attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from vehicle crashes.  As a result, we have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims.

Pennsylvania auto laws are complex. Pennsylvania is governed by the Financial Responsibility Law.  Cliff Rieders has a great deal of experience in this field of the law and was involved in its creation.  Rieders wrote the book on the subject, Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania. This book is available at www.amazon.com.  Cliff Rieders teaches the subject of motor vehicle insurance laws to experienced attorneys in Pennsylvania.Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute, which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  He is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania, and he wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.   Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure and is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s negligence, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling or using our online contact form.

School Bus Safety Reminders for All Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers school buses to be the safest way to transport schoolchildren, but tragic school bus accidents do happen. Thousands of children are injured each year in preventable school bus collisions that can result in serious and debilitating injuries and death.

School bus drivers may not be trained professionals.  They may or may not have the requisite experience.  School bus drivers can be negligent like anyone else.  Crashes may be caused by other drivers, defective buses, poor weather, or by parents and children who do not follow safety rules.

If you, your child, or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a school bus, you may be entitled to a settlement to cover medical, hospital and rehabilitative expenses past, present and future, current and future lost wages and loss of wage horizon, loss of life’s pleasures until the time of death, disfigurement and emotional distress. Property loss may be covered.  All negligent parties, including the school bus driver and the school district, may be liable.  Cases against school districts is difficult because of Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity laws.

Parents may sue on behalf of their children, and drivers of vehicles who are involved in accidents with school buses may sue as well.  However, there are rules and restrictions involved when suing a State agency such as a school district, so you should seek the help of an attorney experienced with school bus accidents to help you file claims and receive the compensation you deserve.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation, so contact us at our office or online today.

What Pennsylvania Law Says

Drivers sharing the road with school buses need to know Pennsylvania laws instituted to promote safety. Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law requires:

  • Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
  • Motorists must stop when they are behind or meeting a bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
  • Motorists alongside a bus must stop until the lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
  • If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in opposing lanes may proceed.

Penalties for anyone convicted of violating the law include:

  • $250 fine
  • Five points on your license
  • 60-day license suspension.

Negligence and Liability

Owners and operators of school buses must ensure that reasonable care is taken to keep students safe, or they may be found negligent and liable for damages. To collect damages from a bus driver or school district, it must be shown that other parties failed to take reasonable care, which contributed to or caused the accident.

Negligent acts might include:

While Pennsylvania school districts are afforded some immunity under Pennsylvania’s laws.  However, there are exceptions to this immunity although there are also caps on damages and other restrictions.  Parents may be able to file a claim on behalf of their minor child if:

  • The child was injured as a result of the actions of a school district employee; and
  • Injuries were caused by someone who was not protected by immunity.

There is a Pennsylvania statute of limitations of two years after the accident date for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit. If a death is involved, this is figured from the date the victim died.

There are highly unusual circumstances in which a federal claim can be brought since children may be within the protective realm of a school district.  This is sometimes referred to as “special relationship” criteria.  This is an extremely complex area of the law and has many hurdles to overcome in order to be able to bring a claim under Section 1983 of 42 U.S. Code.

People Worry About Self-Driving Cars

Does the idea of self-driving cars on the road send shivers down your spine?  You are not alone.  According to three different surveys, while most Americans are resigned to the fact that autonomous cars will be common within 15 years, 74 percent do not expect to have one, and two-thirds say they wouldn’t want to walk or ride a bicycle near one.

The surveys show the misgivings people have about the expected increase in self-driving vehicles and the challenges that automakers face in marketing them. The results also point to a need for safety reassurances from federal regulators.

Recent crashes involving the new technology have made the public even more skittish. One highly-publicized example occurred when a self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. A test driver from Uber was behind the wheel of the car at the time, but the car was driving automatically. Also, in Arizona a Waymo test vehicle with a human at the wheel crashed when another motorist swerved into it last month.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a crash that involved a self-driving car or any other vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  However, your case must be handled correctly and competently or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Contact us today by calling or by using our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

How Safe Should Autonomous Cars Be?

A study published this month in the journal Risk Analysis found that people feel that self-driving vehicles must be 4 to 5 times as safe as human-driven vehicles to be accepted. This is because people’s demand for safety increases when an external factor is involved.

This demand is despite the statistic that human error is believed to cause 94 percent of traffic collisions in the United States. And one of the reasons self-driving vehicles were created in the first place was to help improve road safety and reduce crashes.

Unfortunately, it is neither technologically nor economically feasible to make a “perfectly safe” self-driving vehicle. And while researchers estimate that the current global risk of dying in a traffic accident is 17.4 per 100,000, this rate is 350 times greater than the frequency the study’s participants found acceptable for autonomous vehicles.

This means that while several dozen companies are currently working to develop autonomous cars, before the cars can become commonplace there must be a major change in people’s attitude.  Right now, most of us are still unwilling to ride in an automated vehicle, although younger generations appear to have greater willingness to do so.

Currently, there are no commercially available fully autonomous vehicles. Still, prototypes are undergoing testing, and consumers will most likely regain confidence in the technology as vehicles are improved.

Legal Issues and Concerns

When an accident occurs with self-driving vehicles, numerous legal issues arise.  There is no driver controlling the vehicle, so even if someone is sitting behind the wheel, that person is, in essence, a passenger, and the vehicle itself is the driver.

If an autonomous vehicle is at fault, questions arise as to who is liable for personal injury claims. Consider the following situations:

  • If car problems are the reason for a crash, the manufacturer and/or software companies may be held liable.
  • If parts break, the manufacturer may be held responsible.
  • If driverless software malfunctions, developers such as Google may be liable.

The problem with many claims is that there are various immunities for manufacturers, computer companies and software makers.  The law is complex in this field, and unfortunately the legislature has not yet addressed the relative responsibilities involved.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently recognized Google software as the “driver” in their self-driving cars.

  • In cases where there is a function where a human driver can take over, drivers may still be responsible for an accident.

Contact Us For Help and a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one was involved in a crash due to someone else’s negligence, you have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical costs, loss of life’s enjoyment, and property and other damages.  To protect your rights and maximize compensation, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to determine the cause of the accident and identify the responsible parties.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania pedestrian accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from vehicle crashes.  As a result, we have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims.

Pennsylvania auto laws are complex.  Pennsylvania is governed by the Financial Responsibility Law.  Cliff Rieders has a great deal of experience in this field of the law and was involved in its creation.  Rieders wrote the book on the subject, Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania. This book is available at www.amazon.com.  Cliff Rieders teaches the subject of motor vehicle insurance laws to experienced attorneys in Pennsylvania.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania.   Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure and is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s negligence, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling or using our online contact form.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

What Is the New Fireworks Law in Pennsylvania?

Setting off fireworks can be fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous, and a new Pennsylvania law that went into effect October 30, 2017, makes it even more so. The law broadened the legal use of fireworks and slapped a new 12 percent tax on those purchases. The tax will help plug the budget deficit and provide grants to emergency medical services and volunteer fire departments. However, expanding fireworks use also increases the chance of causing injuries and damage.

Under the new law, Pennsylvania residents, previously restricted to using items like sparklers, now are allowed to purchase consumer-grade fireworks like Roman candles and bottle rockets that fly into the air. Previously, these items were available only to out-of-state shoppers.

While residents can now enjoy the freedom to create beautiful fireworks displays, this comes at a price. Once lit, these items are difficult to control and can cause injuries and fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fireworks report, in 2013 alone U.S. emergency rooms treated 11,400 people for fireworks-related injuries. An estimated 55% involved injury to arms, hands and legs, while 38% were to the head.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or had property damaged due to someone else’s negligence using fireworks, you may be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered.  The experienced and compassionate Pennsylvania fireworks injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann may be able to achieve for you the settlement you deserve.  Of course, each case is fact specific and there is no guarantee.

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement.  Our seasoned Pennsylvania attorneys have helped hundreds of people file successful personal injury lawsuits. With decades of experience and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases and have successfully represented clients in personal injury cases of all kinds.

We offer a free consultation, so call or contact us online today.

What are the Rules?

Although the new law is statewide, every municipality can still set its own local fireworks laws and ordinances. Even where fireworks are legal, everyone using them has to exercise caution and follow rules.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, state rules are as follows:

  • Buyers must be over 18.
  • Fireworks cannot be discharged from or toward a building or vehicle or within 150 feet of an occupied building.
  • Users must have permission from the owner of property where fireworks are to be discharged.
  • Fireworks cannot be used when under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances.

Some fireworks remain illegal or are limited to those operators with a permit. Devices such as M-80s, M-100s, cherry bombs or quarter- and half-sticks, remain illegal to individuals under federal law as they contain one to 10 grams of explosive flash powder and are used as dynamite in mining or by the military.

Using Fireworks Safely

Anyone deciding to use fireworks has a responsibility to do so safely. According to Wikihow, users should:

1) Take precautions

  • Protect eyes and ears with safety glasses and earplugs.
  • Dress in snugly fitting long sleeves and pants to protect from burns.
  • Use only legal fireworks with a Common Class C rating, bought from licensed public fireworks stands.
  • Store fireworks out of reach, away from children and from sun, extreme heat, or electronics.
  • Never carry fireworks in pockets or enclosed in fabric or plastic wrap.
  • Have water on hand in case of
  • Stay sober and alert.

2) Choose a safe area

Only use fireworks outdoors, in a flat and wide-open area with no overhead obstructions, and far from residences and flammable liquids. Watch for dry vegetation.

3) Practice safety

  • Follow instructions on the package.
  • Use long lighting devices.
  • Set up the fireworks correctly on flat surfaces or in ground.
  • Protect your head; do not lean over aerial fireworks or look into a mortar tube.
  • Be patient; wait at least 30 minutes before approaching fireworks that do not go off; disarm them in a bucket of water.
  • Light one device at a time and stand back 20 feet after lighting.
  • Keep pets and spectators away and upwind.

Injured by Fireworks? Contact Us for Help

Using fireworks carelessly and in uncontrolled settings is a recipe for disaster. Negligence and failure to follow safe procedures is behind most injuries, but they may also occur because of a fireworks defect. Manufacturers of defective products may be liable for injuries, as can local or regional distributors or importers.

The issue of comparative negligence often comes up in these cases.  The user of the fireworks has an obligation to be careful, and in Pennsylvania if a person is more than 50 percent responsible, they are not entitled to any recovery.

If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered property damage, or someone has died due to negligence in fireworks use or manufacturing defects, you need the help of an experienced attorney in order to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to.  With our competent staff, the experienced and compassionate fireworks injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann can help.

Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute, which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  He is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania and wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual situation, so do not delay.  Call our office or contact us online today.

Distracted Driving Enforcement Increases in Pennsylvania; Distraction Continues to Be a Problem

Pennsylvania is cracking down on anyone caught driving while distracted, and the number of distracted driving citations is climbing.  Ticketed drivers pay a $50 fine plus $90 for court costs. According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, citations increased by 52 percent statewide in 2017 and 172 percent since 2013.

The heightened emphasis on distracted driving is for good reason:  The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports 1,188 total deaths on Pennsylvania roads in 2016, with distracted driving a contributing factor in 61 of them.

If you or a loved one was injured or if someone has died in a crash involving distracted driving, you may have a claim for compensation for your losses. This includes medical, hospital and rehabilitation bills that are not covered by first party personal injury protection, lost wages and future wage horizon and other economic expenses.  You may also have a claim for noneconomic damages such as loss of life’s pleasures, pain and suffering, and disfigurement.

Pennsylvania auto laws are complex.  Pennsylvania is governed by the Financial Responsibility Law.  Cliff Rieders has a great deal of experience in this field of the law and was involved in its creation.  Rieders wrote the book on the subject, Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania.  Your case must be handled correctly and competently or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.  It makes sense to have an experienced distracted-driving attorney on your side to protect your rights and maximize the compensation you receive.

Attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts, the insurance companies, the system, and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. Our attorneys have successfully represented people who have been harmed in crashes involving distracted drivers throughout Pennsylvania.  Contact Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann today by calling for a free consultation to evaluate the circumstances of your accident, or use our online contact form.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity that has the potential to distract the driver from driving and increases the risk of a crash. Distractions can be visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel), or cognitive (taking mind off what you’re doing). Since texting involves all three, it is particularly dangerous. Texting typically takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which is like driving the length of an entire football field with eyes closed.

Pennsylvania law prohibits all drivers from texting while driving, which includes sending, reading or writing a text-based message or e-mail, and from wearing or using headphones or earphones while the car is in motion. This is a primary law, which means that a police officer has the right to pull drivers over and give them a ticket for texting while driving, without having to witness another moving violation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  (NHTSA) includes activities such as talking, eating or adjusting radios or navigation devices as distracted driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, talking with a passenger could be as distracting as using a phone, and using a speech-to-text system is even more dangerous than using a handheld or hands-free phone.

Pennsylvania Citations

Your chances of receiving a ticket for distracted driving depend on what county you are driving in.  Montgomery County had the highest number of distracted driving citations from 2013 to 2017, with a total of 1,695 citations over those years.

Other top counties for citations are Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Berks counties. Chester County had a total of 963 citations given over that time period, while Bucks County followed closely with 859 citations, Delaware County with 659, and Berks County with 589.

Lycoming County and North Central Pennsylvania counties are crisscrossed by interstate roads, rural roads, and sometimes very bad driving conditions.  Distracted driving is exacerbated by bad roads, speeding truck drivers and unsafe drivers who frequently drink and drive.

Lawsuits Against Distracted Drivers

When drivers devote their attention to anything other than the road, they must be held responsible for any injuries they cause. Evidence that a driver was on a cell phone at the time of an accident is admissible in a lawsuit and may support an award of punitive damages against the distracted driver.  For punitive damages to be awarded, there must be outrageous conduct.  Sometimes punitive damages are not covered by insurance.

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a crash that you suspect was caused by a distracted driver, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.  Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years after the accident for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit, and the sooner you file, the easier it is for your attorney to find witnesses and evidence  to help your case.

Achieving Results When it Counts

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania distracted driving accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to another driver’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.  We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from distracted driving crashes and have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims.

Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute, which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.

Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice and is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia state courts and many federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s driving negligence, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling or using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Uber Halts Project After Pedestrian Death

Self-driving cars are claimed to be safer than the average human driver as they eliminate human error, but they can and do crash. Recently, a self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg who was walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. A test driver from Uber was behind the wheel of the car at the time, but the car was driving automatically.

Uber has stopped testing the vehicles after the fatal crash, but companies such as GM’s (GM) Cruise and Intel (INTC) are also testing. Tesla’s Model S has allegedly already caused two fatalities.

While self-driving cars are revolutionizing driving, when an accident occurs, the concept raises numerous legal issues. If a driverless car causes a crash, who is liable for personal injury claims? There is no driver controlling the vehicle, so even if someone is sitting behind the wheel, that person is, in essence, a passenger. The car itself is the driver; but can you hold a car liable for an accident?

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a crash that involved a self-driving vehicle (or any vehicle), you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Self-Driving Cars in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a proponent of highly automated vehicle (HAV) technology, and our variable climate and topography make good testing grounds for self-driving cars. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon Universityis considered to be the birthplace of the autonomous vehicle and has developed 14 HAVs to date. In late 2016, Uber began operating self-driving cars around select areas of the city.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has released guidelines for autonomous cars. Pennsylvania law requires that a self-driving car have a steering wheel and a person in the driver’s seat, but anticipates developments that may eliminate the need for both.  HAV companies entering contracts with PennDOT must provide a testing plan, may be restricted to designated routes, and testers are required to collect and share crash data and information about the car’s operations.

What are Concerns?

There are several concerns with self-driving vehicles, including:

  • Security — A concern with autonomous vehicles is the prospect of a malicious hacker breaking into an HAV’s computer system and taking control of the vehicle. All testers must provide proof of cybersecurity measures, including the ability for police and emergency responders to shut down compromised vehicles remotely.
  • Technology – The technology is still evolving and not perfected. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently recognized Google software as the “driver” in their self-driving cars.
  • Liability — If an autonomous vehicle is at fault, who is responsible? If car problems are the reason for a crash, the manufacturer and/or software companies will probably be held liable. If parts break, the manufactures will be held responsible, but if the driverless software malfunctions, developers such as Google may be liable. In cases where there is a function in self-driving cars where a human driver can take over, drivers might still be responsible.

Lawsuits have already been filed for several incidents. One involved a Chevrolet Bolt that collided with a motorcyclist in San Francisco on December 7, 2017. The lawsuit against General Motors alleges that General Motors “owes a duty of care in having its self-driving vehicle operate in a manner in which it obeys the traffic laws and regulations,” but that the company “breached that duty in that its self-driving vehicle drove in such a negligent manner that it veered into an adjacent lane of traffic without regard for a passing motorist.”

 

Pregnant Women in Rural America Are Not Getting Needed Medical/Hospital Care

If you are pregnant and live in rural Pennsylvania, you face a dangerous situation for both yourself and your child. There is an increasing lack of maternity care in America’s rural counties, which can lead to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

According to a new report from the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota, obstetrical services, especially in rural areas, are in a decline. While in 2004, 45 percent of rural counties had no hospitals with obstetric services, the figure rose to 54 percent by 2014. The situation was the worst in heavily African-American counties and in states with the strictest eligibility rules for Medicaid, and it is continuing to worsen. In Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Health’s annual hospital survey, the commonwealth lost 28 obstetric units from 2004 to 2014, a 23 percent decline.

This decrease in services has severe consequences. Rural areas have higher rates of chronic conditions and higher rates of childbirth-related hemorrhages — and higher rates of death for mothers and infants.

The doctors are not leaving the state. Nobody is driven out of practice because of lawsuits, as the medical industry sometimes claims. In fact, the opposite is true. The number of doctors and auxiliary healthcare providers has actually increased, but people do not want to be in rural areas; they want to be where the money is. Rural areas generally suffer from lack of professional expertise. Pennsylvania, for example, has loosened the requirements for healthcare “extenders”, meaning there are many physician assistants and others. Unfortunately, sometimes these “extenders” are not properly supervised which leads to even more preventable medical errors.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death due to maternal or infant care medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and how to increase your chances of winning a good settlement, with maximum benefits. We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Contact us today by calling 800-326-9259 or by using our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Why the Problem Exists

There are several factors contributing to the problem in rural areas:

  • Finances

Obstetrical services are expensive, requiring availability of beds and equipment for mothers and their babies, and skilled clinicians and staff. Since many rural hospitals have a low volume of births, it does not pay for them to provide these services, and they start closing them down.

For example, Ellwood City Hospital closed its obstetric unit in 2013 due to costs of $200,000 a year to keep it running. Two nearby hospitals, the Grove City Medical Center and Jameson Hospital in New Castle, closed down obstetric units for financial and staffing reasons in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Medicaid funding plays a big part, as Medicaid funds about half of all births in the United States and an even greater percentage of births in rural hospitals. Rural counties in states with more generous Medicaid programs are less likely to lose hospital-based obstetric services.

  • Staffing

Doctors often do not want to live in isolated rural areas, so it can be difficult for rural areas to keep doctors.

  • Insurance

Insurance rates for obstetrics are higher than those of other medical specialties, because if there is negligence or incompetency in connection with pregnancies leading to injuries to a newborn, the damages can be substantial. However, it should also be pointed out that the verdicts against doctors and hospitals in rural areas is extremely low. There are counties which have actually never had a successful verdict against a doctor or hospital in North Central Pennsylvania, for example. The rates even in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, are low. Statewide statistics from the administrative office of the Pennsylvania courts show something like less than 18 percent of filed medical malpractice cases being in favor of the innocent injured victim. That is a real problem. The reason why verdicts are so difficult to obtain is because the medical defense industry effectively blacklists experts who would testify against doctors, drives up the cost of litigation by frivolous practices, and frequently employs so many people in the rural counties. There are rural counties in Pennsylvania where the majority of citizens either work for or are connected with a healthcare institution.

  • Low birth rates

Birth rates have been declining in Pennsylvania and are now 11 births per 1,000 residents per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, lower than the national average of 13. In 1960 there were 21 births per 1,000 residents.

Ways to Address the Problems

While it can be challenging to improve maternity care in rural areas, there are suggestions that might help:

  • Institute programs to support pregnant women and families with respect to housing and transportation needs when they live far away from obstetrical care.
  • Allow midwives and nurse practitioners to play a greater role in offering prenatal and postpartum care, without having to be under a doctor’s supervision. This can cause its own problems. Non-physicians have to be properly supervised, and it has been our experience that that does not always occur.
  • Institute programs to support training in emergency births in rural communities that lose obstetric care and to support the costs of providing maternity care.
  • Restructure Medicaid to fund some hospitals for critical services on an ongoing basis, instead of compensating them per patient only after care has been provided.
  • Institute a policy of student loan forgiveness for obstetricians and other labor and delivery professionals who relocate to remote areas.
  • Focus on new methods of prenatal care, such as monitoring in outpatient facilities through the use of telemedicine. This can also cause problems. We have seen cases where remote providers have acted negligently or incompetently, and unfortunately local people may rely upon them. Proper supervision would be crucial.

Medical Professionals Must be Held Accountable

Delivery situations are often emergency situations, so it is not surprising that there is a correlation between the distance a patient must travel to care and negligent deliveries, prematurity and higher costs of neonatal care.

Nonetheless, medical professionals involved with pregnancy, childbirth, and maternal care are held accountable to a national standard of care. If preventable injuries or death to mothers and babies are caused by incompetence or negligence, the doctor, nurses, anesthesiologist, medical facility, and hospital may be liable for personal injuries that are caused as a result.

Trust Our Firm for Straightforward Answers

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or someone has died due to maternal or neonatal care negligence, you should seek legal assistance to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Medical malpractice cases may be complicated, as each person’s symptoms and circumstances are unique. Since symptoms change over time and evidence and witnesses disappear, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in medical malpractice as soon as possible. Medical liability claims are controlled by the Mcare Act in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders was President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association the year the law was passed, and actually appointed to the negotiating committee on behalf of the trial lawyers that was involved in the writing of the law. There probably is no one in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who knows the law better than Cliff Rieders. Aside from having published the book on medical malpractice, Rieders also teaches the subject of medical malpractice annually to lawyers in the state. Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate, Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, and is even involved in the legislative process.

The skilled and experienced pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our highly competent staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

Cliff Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award. Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state. Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state. Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field. Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields. Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has been injured or someone has died due to medical malpractice, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259, or by using our online contact form.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Safety Tips for Going Back to School

It is back-to-school season, a potentially dangerous time when children are on the road and motorists need to take extra safety precautions to avoid accidents. According to a study by SafeKids.org, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the United States. This occurs most often in the hours before and after school, and accidents peak in September. In addition, children are often injured riding on school buses, cars and bicycles; while walking back and forth to school; and even while playing sports or on playgrounds.

If you or your child has been seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence or unsafe conditions, you deserve to be compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered. The experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have a long history of achieving results for our clients. We offer a free consultation to evaluate the circumstances of your situation and determine the best way to handle your individual case.

Here are a few tips to increase safety during back-to-school time – and the rest of the year, as well.

Bicycle Safety

Pennsylvania has a bike safety law for both motorists and bicyclists. Bicyclists should always wear a helmet; stay to the right of the highway; ride defensively and with traffic; and use hand signals when turning or stopping.

Motorists should yield to both pedestrians and bicyclists and leave a 4-foot “cushion of safety” when passing a bicyclist. Pay extra attention when approaching busy intersections, since 80 percent of all vehicle accidents involving bicycles occur at intersections when cars are turning.

Backpack Safety

Heavy backpacks can cause problems for kids, including back and shoulder pain and poor posture. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s weight.

Look for backpacks that are the right size, with padded back and shoulder straps, and that have reflective material. Tell children to carry no more than they must.

Playground Safety

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger wind up in the emergency room for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year. The following conditions contribute to the playground accidents:

  • Improper protective surfaces
  • Protrusion hazards such as sharp edges, hooks and bolts
  • Head entrapment openings of between 3 ½ and 9 inches
  • Lack of supervision
  • Lack of maintenance of equipment
  • Platforms with no guardrails
  • Equipment not recommended for public playgrounds, such as monkey bars.

Unsafe playground conditions should be reported immediately, and the injuries they cause may result in lawsuits for negligence.

Concussion Risk from Sports

In the United States, a child is treated for a sports-related concussion every three minutes. According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of sports-related concussions is highest in high school athletes, but they are rising in younger athletes.

If your child gets hit on the head, be aware that concussions are very serious and always require medical attention. Signs and symptoms of concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Glassy eyes
  • Disorientation
  • Clumsiness or poor balance
  • Slowed speech
  • Changes in mood, behavior or personality

All coaches and parents should know how to recognize the signs of a concussion and have a plan in case of emergency.

School Bus Safety

While riding a school bus is probably the safest way to get to school, children are vulnerable while getting on and off the bus. Drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it is loading or unloading passengers, but they do not always do so. Lap and shoulder belts in school buses have been available since 2002, but Pennsylvania still does not have a law requiring them.

Parents should teach children safe procedures for:

  • Getting on the bus: Stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing, line up away from the road, wait until the bus has stopped before approaching the bus, and use the handrail when boarding.
  • Behaving on the bus: Buckle seat belts, stay in seats, do not distract the driver, do not hang out the window, and wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up.
  • Getting off the bus: Use the handrail, make sure the driver can see you, wait for a signal from the driver before crossing, look out for traffic when crossing, and stay away from the rear wheels of the bus.

Distracted Walking and Phone Safety

According to a study by The Nielsen Company, kids ages 13 to 17 send more than 3,400 texts a month. Safety tips for walkers are:

  • Never walk or cross streets while texting or talking on the phone.
  • Do not walk with headphones on.
  • Be aware of surroundings.
  • Walk on the sidewalk if available, or face oncoming traffic.
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street, and cross only at crosswalks

Like pedestrians, motorists must make sure they aren’t distracted. The National Safety Council states that texting while driving causes 1.6 million crashes per year. Since March 2012, Pennsylvania has had a law that prohibits all drivers from texting while driving and carries a $50 fine and nearly $90 in court costs.

Injured in an accident? Get a free consultation

If you or your child suffered injuries from an accident due to someone else’s negligence or unsafe behavior, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Drop

Dow Jones News Corp. Company recognizes a precipitous drop in personal injury lawsuits.  Fewer than 2 in 1,000 people filed tort lawsuits in 2015.  That is sharply down from 1993 when about 10 in 1,000 Americans filed such lawsuits.

Tort lawsuits now account for less than 5% of all civil filings in state courts.  What is at tort?  A tort is when a person suffers a negligent or intentional injury.  Torts may sometimes include so-called business torts where there is no personal harm as such.

In a recent election-poll, 87% of voters agree that there are “too many lawsuits filed in America”.  Although this is not true, the advertising by manufacturers has changed public perception.

Tort cases declined from 60% of civil filings in state court since 1993 to about 4% in 2015, a difference in more than 1.7 million cases nationwide.  One law professor noted that nobody complains when debt collectors flood the courts, but heaven forbid that there is a personal injury lawsuit filed.

Researchers at one University recorded a 57% nationwide decline in medical malpractice claims paid by doctors or their insurers between 1992 and 2012.  There has been a similar drop in the number of malpractice lawsuits.  Smaller claims fell the most.

More than 30 states have capped damages in medical malpractice or other cases since the 1970’s.  That has not occurred in Pennsylvania except in lawsuits against the State or local agencies which face a severe cap unless a case can be brought as a civil rights claim.

The costs have increased for medical records and expert witnesses in medical liability claims.  This has been another reason why it is difficult to bring medical malpractice cases.

Very few lawyers do medical and hospital liability cases on a regular basis.  Even fewer lawyers handle multidistrict litigation, pharmaceutical cases, medical device claims and cases against dietary supplement and vitamin supplement companies.

A study conducted found that 0.2% of civil cases resulted in judgment of more than $500,000.  Most mass tort cases ended in judgments of $12,000 or less.

This shows why it is crucial to have an actual board certified trial lawyer.  Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, quite literally.  Cliff is a founder and past member of the Patient Safety Authority and teaches medical malpractice lawyers on a regular basis.

Improving Work Zone Safety in Pennsylvania

Road construction work zones are a hassle to navigate, and they present a major hazard to both motorists and workers. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), 47% of the work zone crashes in Pennsylvania in 2014 resulted in fatalities or injuries. In 2015, PennDOT reported 1,935 work-zone crashes – the most of any year in the preceding decade. These accidents resulted in 23 fatalities, including those of two road workers. The large number of accidents is due partially to the increase in roadwork projects since the state raised the gas tax in 2013 to pay for road repairs.

Work zone collisions are sometimes caused by drivers speeding or breaking safety laws, but often construction companies or workers are to blame. Work zones may be poorly designed or maintained; work zone signs, speed limits and barriers may be inadequate; or workers may fail to take proper safety precautions. Negligence in any of these areas can lead to tragic results. There are safety protocols, manuals, statutes and regulations promulgated both by federal and state authorities. There may even be local regulations that control. Violation of these protocols may define who is negligent and under what circumstances.

Work zone safety needs to be a top priority to prevent collisions. Drivers as well as construction workers and contractors are responsible for following regulations to ensure work zone safety. If any of these parties fails to do their duty, they may be held responsible for harm they cause.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or died because of a work zone accident that was caused by negligence, you deserve to be compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial damages suffered, including pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of wages, loss of future horizon, and other damages suffered. Determining the cause of and who is responsible for accidents in work zones is often complicated, and it pays to have an experienced lawyer on your side. The work zone safety lawyer Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has a long history of results helping Pennsylvania families who have suffered personal injury. We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your individual situation and to determine how to obtain the maximum compensation possible.

What Causes Work Zone Accidents

Work zones create hazards such as detours, barriers, unexpected twists and turns, sudden stops, and workers appearing in unexpected places. Under adverse conditions, it is imperative for both motorists and workers to stay alert, be defensive, and take all precautions to avoid accidents.

Common causes of work zone accidents include:

  • Inadequate signage, signs that do not give enough advanced warning, or confusing signs that distract
  • Lack of adequate or improper placement of barricades
  • Construction vehicles pulling out into traffic, or misdirection of traffic
  • Inadequate lighting, barriers, or buffer space
  • Construction debris, equipment, objects or supplies in the roadway
  • Defective or improperly repaired roadways
  • Inadequate training of work zone crew.

Sometimes even the Commonwealth or local agencies can be liable. This is also a very complex area of the law because of certain immunities that are provided to government agencies. However, government agencies may sub their work out to third parties who are not entitled to governmental immunity.

Dangerous Driving

Drivers may be at fault for or contribute to accidents in work zones. The most common causes are speeding and distracted driving. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity, such as texting or talking on cell phones, that has the potential to distract the driver from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing.

When navigating through a work zone, drivers should always:

  • Stay alert, focus on the road, avoid distractions, and obey all construction signs, markers and flaggers
  • Reduce speed to posted limits
  • Avoid construction vehicles and workers
  • Use headlights
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly
  • Be patient, expect the unexpected, and be prepared to stop.

Pennsylvania Work Zone Safety Laws

Pennsylvania has Work Zone Safety (WZS) Laws requiring all drivers to travel with their headlights on in all posted work zones, even if no one is working at the time. Road construction project costs of $300,000 must have a speed-monitoring device to alert drivers of their speed as they enter a work zone. Active work zones must have signs alerting drivers when they enter and leave the area.

An “Active Work Zone When Flashing” sign lets motorists know that workers are present on the construction site. Violators will face stiffer penalties, including:

  • A 15-day license suspension for driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit or for driving at an unsafe speed that results in a traffic accident in an active work zone
  • Doubled fines for traffic violations, including speeding, driving under the influence and not obeying traffic laws
  • Up to five years in prison for conviction for causing a fatal collision while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Pennsylvania has been slow to empower police with technology such as radar detectors to track speeders. This could change with a law now being proposed to install cameras in work zones to photograph license plates of speeding cars. The state’s Senate Transportation Committee has already approved legislation to establish a five-year pilot program of installing speed-detection cameras in work zones on PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission highways. Work zones will have repeated warnings about the cameras, and drivers caught speeding will face $100 fines.

DRIVERS MUST BE RESPONSIBLE

Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits. City and state agencies, engineers, maintenance companies, and contractors are all responsible for ensuring work zone safety and must follow state or federal safety regulations. If any of these parties fails to do their duty, they can be held responsible for injuries they cause. Judges and juries may apportion liability between different parties. Pennsylvania has a comparative fault act.

If you have lost a loved one or have been seriously injured in a work zone accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered, including pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of wages, loss of future horizon, and other damages suffered. The seasoned Pennsylvania work zone injury attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann offers personal attention and loyalty to every client, and aggressively fights for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.

Class Action Lawsuits Face a Serious Threat

Class action lawsuits are one of the most fundamental tools for citizens to band together against large entities such as corporations and manufacturers. These lawsuits provide strength through numbers and may be brought on behalf of groups of people who have been injured by problems such as a consumer rip-off, pharmaceutical drug mistake, faulty product design, sex discrimination in the workplace, lead and asbestos poisoning, and others. The purpose of these lawsuits is to provide a fair means of evaluating similar claims and to allow groups of injured persons to receive a settlement without having to hire individual attorneys.

However, class action lawsuits have their detractors. Those who oppose them claim that some class action lawsuits are overly broad.

Class action lawsuits are guided by procedural rules. In a class action, one or more people bring a case on behalf of others. This is different than multi-district litigation, which we also become involved with. In a multi-district case, each person who files a lawsuit in fact has a separate case. In class actions, it is the representatives who bring the case on behalf of others.

On March 10, 2017, a bill was proposed to place new and additional restrictions on class action based lawsuits. This came from the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, misleadingly, is called the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act. This legislation would make it very difficult to bring class actions and may affect multi-district litigation as well.

Many times, the only way that individuals can effectively bring cases and prevail is by banding together. It is difficult and expensive to bring legislation against manufacturers and other major industrial giants. Without the device of class action and multi-district litigation, misconduct by the largest corporate entities would go uncompensated.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, faulty product design, medical liability, product defect or the like, this could lead to a class action, individual lawsuit or multi-district litigation. In that eventuality, you should speak with a lawyer who can give you some guidance. Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann sometimes will handle these cases himself, and other times coordinate with attorneys and in some cases will even refer the matter to other lawyers.

What the Legislation Does

The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act requires proof that each proposed member of a class-action suit has the same extent of injuries before a federal court can certify it. Obviously, this is difficult and sometimes impossible. People do not have identical injuries.

The proposed legislation also provides a shield for corporate wrongdoers by making it more difficult for victims who suffer injuries to band together. The Act would roll back protections for defrauded investors, cheated consumers and workers, small businesses harmed by price fixing, and others seriously affected by corporations that break the law.

Do Class Action Lawsuits Help Consumers?

The answer is definitely “yes.” Class actions are generally a good thing for consumer protection. A study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of 400 class actions against banks and payday lenders found that more than 13 million customers received more than $2.7 billion in recoveries. The CFPB study also found that the total attorney fees in the cases amounted to 16% of the amount received by the consumers.

Class action lawsuits often involve defective products or predatory lending schemes. They help when a small person is up against a big corporation. For example, recent notable corporate wrongdoings include Wells Fargo’s cheating two million of its customers by creating false and unauthorized credit cards and checking accounts; Volkswagen’s rigging its pollution control devices not to work; and damage to home and health due to defective Chinese dry wall.

Advantages of class action lawsuits include:

  • Lower Costs to Litigate – Costs are spread across many plaintiffs, so it increases litigation affordability. Many class actions are on a contingency fee basis, so no one pays legal fees unless the case is won. And while it may not be worth the cost of pursuing a claim for justice against a corporation on your own, you can if you are part of a group.
  • Higher Likelihood of Financial Recovery – If many plaintiffs individually sue the defendant and the business goes bankrupt, only the earliest plaintiffs may wind up receiving damages. Class actions help ensure that damages are spread among plaintiffs.
  • Greater Efficiency – Cases are determined by one judge in one court, so verdicts are not inconsistent, and they generally take less time than many similar claims tried at different times.
  • Changes in Corporate Behavior – Class action suits get corporations’ attention, and may even motivate changes in their behavior. Corporations can avoid such litigation by implementing policies that respect the rights and safety of their consumers and workers.

What Determines Whether You Have a Class Action Lawsuit?

The following are characteristics that a lawsuit must currently have in order to proceed as a class action:

Numerosity — The claims need to be similar, though not identical, so one lawsuit can resolve them.
Commonality — The claims should involve similar sets of facts or questions of law so they can all be handled together.
Adequacy — Certain plaintiffs will be named as class representatives and should be able to adequately represent the interests of the entire class in a fair manner.

Many times, we join in class actions and multi-district litigation that have already been filed. When class actions and multi-district litigation are filed, it may be a court far away from where you live. Even so, you can be part of such an action under the correct circumstances.

Contact Us For Help

Class actions and multi-district litigation are complicated, and there are different standards set by state as well as federal courts. It is essential that you contact an attorney who will answer your questions and be aware of class actions and multi-district litigation that may suit your needs and concerns. Be aware that there are strict deadlines associated with bringing any lawsuit and you need to act promptly.

The attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s neglect or product defect. We offer personal attention and loyalty to our clients, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation in individual as well as multi-district and class action lawsuits. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.

If you or your loved one has suffered personal injury, time is of the essence, so do not delay. Contact Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259 or by using our online contact form.

In multi-district litigation, your case may be chosen at what is called a Bellwether case. These are cases that are tried first, in order to assist lawyers and courts in knowing how viable the claims are. In other situations, your case may be like the caboose on the train. Frequently but not always class action and multi-district litigation cases settle. Knowing how to get these cases settled and following through in connection with the course of what can be complex and lengthy litigation, requires attention to detail and much time.

You may hear about law firms either on the internet or on TV that give 800 numbers and say they practice throughout the country. However, you may have local issues. For example, you may think that you are harmed by a pharmaceutical, but in fact it is a local doctor who is involved. Lawyers from other states may not be permitted to represent you in Pennsylvania. Be careful when you call an 800 number off of TV or pick a name off the internet from another state. We even ran into one occasion where a law firm in another state claimed that they represented people who they did not really represent.

It is important that you speak to somebody who knows the field of law for class actions and multi-district litigation and who will talk to you and will guide you through the steps involved.

The Rieders Travis Law Firm also has a lawyer who has a Master’s Degree in molecular biology and chemistry. We have a nurse on staff, and we are able to give you some guidance as to whether your case may qualify for class action or multi-district litigation status.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. We are dedicated to providing the legal support you need to have a successful case, and we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Personal Injury Plaintiffs and Social Media Do Not Mix

If you are involved with a claim for personal injury in Pennsylvania, be aware that any information posted on social media can be used against you. Social media provides so much information about individuals that insurance companies and law firms monitor sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a regular basis, looking for anything that could potentially harm your case and reduce the amount you can recover.

It should be obvious that posting any details about your accident or injury online could jeopardize your case, but that is not the only way posts can turn into evidence against you. Photos, even old ones, of you engaging in activities such as sports or social events, comments about you from friends who mention they were glad to see you at dinner or looking happy again, or even innocuous comments that do not seem related to your case, can be twisted and used to contradict the severity of your injury claim. Posts from friends on their own social media sites can be used against you as well.

And do not think you can just simply delete unfavorable information from your social media site – doing so may be illegal. The Pennsylvania Bar Association recently issued an ethics opinion on social media and concluded:

“a lawyer may not instruct a client to alter, destroy, or conceal any relevant information, regardless whether that information is in paper or digital form. A lawyer may, however, instruct a client to delete information that may be damaging from the client’s page, provided the conduct does not constitute spoliation or is otherwise illegal, but must take appropriate action to preserve the information in the event it is discoverable or becomes relevant to the client’s matter.”

Knowing how to handle social media correctly is only a small part of the reason that experience and knowledge is crucial in personal injury cases, and the seasoned attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have both.  We know the system and understand the dangers of inadvertently providing information, not only through social media sites, but through any manner that can be used against you. Our deep sense of loyalty to each client drives us to pursue each claim vigorously. We offer a free consultation to examine your individual situation and let you know how we can help.

How Opposition Lawyers Use Social Media Against You

Opposition lawyers will research your Facebook profile, MySpace account, Twitter accounts, etc., and they may be able to access everything you and your friends write and say, especially if privacy settings are not high.  Even less obvious sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, or Flickr may be targeted. Lawyers have the ability to identify your online screen names for chat rooms and discussions, and search any public blog posts.  They may even be able to search your computer if they obtain a court order or subpoena, or without these if the police have a probable cause.

Even if you do not think a particular post is relevant, they may find a way to use it. Anything they obtain legally online can be used as evidence – against you.

Tips for Avoiding Social Media Problems

It is best to assume that ANYTHING you say online can and will be used against you. There is a good chance that whatever you post can be seen by the other side — regardless of your privacy settings, there are ways for others to see your social media postings. It is best to not do anything on all social media pages while your case is ongoing, and if you cannot remove pages completely, be extremely careful of what you post.

Do not:

  • post photos, especially of your injuries or of being involved with physical activities or enjoying social outings. If someone else takes a photo of you, make sure they know not to post it and get them to remove anything that has a chance of being incriminating.
  • mention taking vacations, partaking in social events, working, etc., on any social media sites.
  • accept “friend” or “follow” requests from people you do not know, as the other side may try to trick you into accepting them as friends so they can monitor you.
  • talk about your case online on any social media sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and other websites.
  • post status updates – anything indicating you are improving can be taken the wrong way.

Do:

  • Shut down your blog.
  • Suspend your Facebook and Twitter accounts if possible.
  • Check your preferences and privacy settings – some default privacy settings, including Facebook’s, allow people in your area or network to see your information, even if you are not friends. Change this immediately.
  • Monitor photos – Look for photos of yourself on pictures that you post or are tagged in. Untag yourself or ask the person who posted it to delete anything incriminating with you in it.
  • Watch what friends post – Monitor what is being posted on your wall to see if it has the slightest chance of being used against you.
  • Watch what you say when commenting on friends’ statuses or photos.

Contact Us For Help and a Free Consultation

Being in the middle of a personal injury case is stressful, and you do not want to make any mistakes with social media or anything else that could jeopardize what is owed to you. The experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for your right to compensation and making sure you avoid problems such as those that can occur through use of social media.

If you or your loved one has suffered a personal injury, your next step should be to consult Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259 or by using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, and we offer a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Distracted Walking

Walking can be dangerous to your health — especially when you or someone else is not paying attention. Walkers who are distracted, usually because they are making calls or texting on mobile phones, have suffered cuts and bruises, sustained serious head injuries or even been killed. They are particularly vulnerable when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic.  They suffer injuries from walking into objects and people, and sometimes even from walking off a curb, bridge, train platform or cliff. And they may cause accidents for motorists when they unexpectedly dart out into traffic.

On the other hand, pedestrians almost always have the right of way, unless they are not walking in a crosswalk. As Justice Musmanno famously said involving an intoxicated pedestrian: A drunk pedestrian is just as entitled to a safe place as anyone else, and more in need of it. While that is a paraphrase of the great Justice’s thinking, too many drivers are completely oblivious or even resentful of pedestrians, bikers, and other people who are not in a vehicle.  Sometimes this is even worse with SUV drivers, who feel that they are the king or queen of the road.

Walking, like distracted driving, is a problem as people of all ages become more dependent on electronic devices. One may be injured by a distracted pedestrian, biker or driver.  In some circumstances, if somebody is injured due to people distracted by electronic devices, they may be entitled to compensation.

Negligence may also be an issue. When a plaintiff is negligent, recovery is reduced by the percentage of negligence, and if the percentage of negligence is more than 50% in Pennsylvania, plaintiff cannot recover at all.

An experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer can make all the difference.  The seasoned and compassionate Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann are on your side. We have a long history of results and offer a free consultation to help you sort out the facts and evidence to ensure that you get the compensation you are entitled to.

Cell Phone Distracted Walking

According to Injury Facts 2015, a statistical report published by the National Safety Council (NSC):

  • In 2013, 6,100 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles and about 160,000 pedestrian injuries required medical attention.
  • 23 percent of deaths and injuries result from pedestrians darting into the street, with the majority of those younger than age 15.

In addition, distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.

  • 52% of cell phone distracted walking injuries happen at home.
  • 68% of those injured are women.
  • 54% are age 40 or younger.
  • Nearly 80% of the injuries were due to a fall.

Talking on the phone was the most prevalent activity at the time of injury, while texting accounted for 12 percent. Nearly 80 percent of the injuries occurred as the result of a fall, while 9 percent occurred from the pedestrian’s striking a motionless object.  The most common injury types included dislocations or fractures, sprains or strains and concussions or contusions.

As a result of the rise in deaths and injuries, several state legislators have introduced bills that punish negligent pedestrians and/or bicyclists with fines, but these bills generally have failed. The main question raised is whether distracted walking laws can be enforced consistently by police officers, who usually have more pressing matters to deal with. Many believe that instead of imposing a law, the state should focus on distracted-walking education.

Some states are considering laws that would permit police to access a person’s cell phone, to see if they were using the phone for texting or other purposes at the time of an accident. Cliff Rieders at Rieders Travis Law Firm supports such legislation.

Distracted Walking Safety Tips

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported 122 pedestrian fatalities in 2011. Philadelphia tried to publicize the dangers on April Fools’ Day in 2012 by jokingly marking off sidewalk “e-lanes” reserved for texting walkers.  On a more serious note, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who has acknowledged that distracted walking is a factor in increased pedestrian deaths and injuries, has granted $1.6 million to Louisville, New York City and Philadelphia for safety programs.

Here are a few tips from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council to avoid distracted walking:

  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time.
  • Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.
  • Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots.
  • Don’t wear headphones while walking.
  • Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking.
  • If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
  • Never rely on a car to stop.
  • Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult.
  • Cross only at designated crosswalks.
  • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing.
  • Walk in groups.

Injured in a Distracted Walking Accident? Get a Free Consultation.

If you suspect your accident and subsequent injuries were caused by someone who was talking on their cell phone, texting, or was otherwise distracted, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.  Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence.

The experienced personal injury attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, and aggressively fight for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.

 

CONFLICTS OF LAW – CHOICE OF LAW – SLIP & FALL – APPLICATION OF MARYLAND LAW

Marks v. Redner’s Warehouse Markets, 136 A.3d 984 (Pa. Super 2016). The Marks appeal from entry of summary judgment in favor of Redner’s Warehouse Markets and Redner’s Markets.  Trial court applied Maryland contributory negligence and determined that Mr. Marks’ negligence barred recovery as a matter of law.  The court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded further proceedings.  The court found a true conflict of law between Maryland and Pennsylvania.  In contrast of Pennsylvania law Maryland utilizes a doctrine of contributory negligence which protects defendants from tort claims if the plaintiff is found to be negligent in any degree.  Pennsylvania has comparative negligence.  After considering all of the contacts with the various dates, the court concluded that the trial court did not err in ruling that Maryland law applies to the case.  However the court also determined that Maryland law dictates that it must be left for a jury to decide whether Mr. Marks was contributory negligent.  That is why the case was reversed.

Chaudhuri v. Capital Area Transit, 131 A.3d 589 (Pa. Commw. 2016)

Plaintiff appeals from a judgment.  Pedestrian was hit by the side view mirror of a bus.  The jury returned a verdict finding plaintiff 75% negligent and defendant 25% negligent and hence there was no recovery.  The jury properly charged on the pedestrian’s legal duty.  Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point other than a crosswalk or intersection shall yield a right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.  This is a proper statement of the law.  The charges as a whole was correct.  The instruction concerning when his credibility was also correct.

ARCHITECTS-NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION

Gongloff Contracting v. L. Robert Kimball, 119 A.3d 1070 (Pa. Super. 2015).  Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granted motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by L. Robert Kimball and Associates Architects and Engineers.  After careful consideration, the Superior Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.  Plaintiff Gongloff contended that Kimball:  (1) either explicitly or implicitly represented that a structure could safely sustain all required loads; (2) either explicitly or implicitly represented that normal construction methods could be employed to erect the structure; and (3) supplied false information, in the form of its structural design of the project.  AT issue was the application of the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 552.  Negligent misrepresentation is the following:  (1) a misrepresentation of a material fact; (2) made under circumstances in which the misrepresenter ought to have known its falsity; (3) with an intent to induce another to act on it; and (4) which results in injury to a  party acting in justifiable reliance on the misrepresentation.  In negligent misrepresentation the speaker need not know that his or her words are untrue, but must have failed to make a reasonable investigation of the truth of those words.  Generally, Pennsylvania law bars claims brought in negligence that result solely in economic loss, but that limitation does not apply to § 552 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.  A design professional is typically responsible for the preparation of its plans and specifications supplied to potential bidders.  This law applies to architects and they therefore have liability under § 552, negligent misrepresentation claims, when it is alleged that those professionals negligently included faulty information in their design documents.  The trial court’s decision in Gongloff was required to identify an express representation by Kimball to succeed on its Section 552 claim was erroneous.  Gongloff alleged that Kimball was working on the project in order to provide guidance; Kimball clearly qualified as a design professional, and Gongloff alleged specific instances where the feasibility of construction of the roof in accordance with Kimball’s design was called into question.  This was enough under Section 552 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.

NEGLIGENCE-COMMON CARRIERS-JERK AND JOLT DOCTRINE

Bost-Pearson v. Southeastern PA Transportation Authority, 118 A.3d 472 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015).  The Commonwealth Court affirmed Court of Common Pleas dismissing a claim against SEPTA.  The passenger failed to satisfy the “jerk and jolt” doctrine.  There must be some showing of additional facts and circumstances from which it is shown that the movement of the vehicle was so extraordinary and unusual as to be beyond the passenger’s reasonable anticipation.  There must be unusual movement establishing the unusual character of the jolt or jerk.  Here, the court rejected the passenger’s claim.

NEGLIGENCE-VALET SERVICE-VISIBLY INTOXICATED PERSON

Moranko v. Downs Racing LP, 118 A.3d 1111 (Pa. Super. 2015).  This is a case of first impression of the Commonwealth with respect to the duty and ultimate liability of a valet service when an automobile is returned to an allegedly intoxicated person.  We find that no duty exists under Pennsylvania law.  Hence the Superior Court affirmed the entry of summary judgment for the defendant entered by the trial court.  Mohegan Sun was duty bound to return the vehicle in spite of the alleged intoxication.  The negligent entrustment theory of tort liability does not apply to this case.  The court brushed aside Section 324A and Section 323 of the Restatement Second of Torts.  The Dram Shop Act does not apply.  Under Pennsylvania law, a mutual bailment is created where a valet service accepts possession of a patron’s keys and parks the vehicle as a service to those gambling on the casino premises.  The vehicle must be returned, apparently no matter how drunk the driver is.

CIVIL RIGHTS – EXCESSIVE FORCE – PRETRIAL DETAINEE

Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S. Ct. 2466 (2015).  In this case an individual detained in a jail prior to trial brought a claim under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against several jail officers, alleging that they used excessive force against him, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.  The officers concede that they intended to use the force that they used.  But the parties disagree about whether the force used was excessive.  The question before us is whether, to prove an excessive force claim, a pretrial detainee must show that the officers were subjectively aware that their use of force was unreasonable, or only that the officers’ use of that force was objectively unreasonable.  We conclude that the latter standard is the correct one.

1 Dead, 1 Hurt in Farm Incident

MANSFIELD – A farm worker died Monday and another was injured after they became stuck in a silo chute while trying to free up chaff.

Tioga County coroner Dr. James Wilson declared Jason A. Kingsley, 26, of Mainesburg, dead at 1:20 p.m., after rescuers recovered his body from the silo.

Wilson said the cause death is under investigation and he will know more after an autopsy at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown.

The call to 911 was made about 10 a.m. for a report of a silo entrapment at the Ron Wood farm on Gor-Wood Road in Rutland Township.

Eric Smith, 39, was pulled from the silo and helped down Mansfield Fire Department’s 75-foot ladder truck shortly after 11 a.m. and transported via Western Alliance ambulance to Arnot-Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, New York. His condition was unknown as of press time.

Kingsley had been stuck 30 feet down the chute and rescuers were unable to pull him out or get oxygen to him because of the position he was in, according Mansfield Fire Chief Jim Welch.

“It appears he fell in the chute, whether it was from the top or whether he was trying to climb up or down the chute. Somehow he fell and he was head-down in the chute,” Welch said.

An oxygen line was run up the silo to him but rescuers could not get it down to him.

“It was a toxic environment in the top of that silo. Oxygen levels were below 19 percent and carbon monoxide was at varied levels. That was a significant issue, and to put a rescuer in that situation would not have been a good idea,” Welch said.

“It was immediately dangerous to health and life inside that silo,” he added. “A few rescuers at the top were breathing off backpack air supplies until we got better ventilation into the silo,” he said.

A tractor equipped with a blower that normally pushes air into the silo had been clogged so they were unable to get air into the top of the silo at all, Welch said.

“Normally they have a blower running that pushes air into the silo that flushes fresh air in and makes it a safer work environment. That blower was not effective due to some blockages and that was part of what they were trying to do is deal with those blockages,” he added.

Mansfield Crane Co. was called in as “another means of access,” Welch said.

NEGLIGENCE-SLIP & FALL-BUSINESS INVITEE-CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE

Rodriguez v. Kravco Simon Company, 111 A.3d 1191 (Pa. Super. 2015).  Michael Rodriguez appealed from an order which entered summary judgment in favor of defendants.  The Superior Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.  The Lehigh Valley Mall placed Rodriguez in the role of a business invitee which enhances the duty of care.  The mall has an obligation to discover dangers to potential patrons.  Superior Court agreed with the trial court that constructive notice that the liquid was on the floor and therefore needed to be cleaned up was not established by the characteristics of the puddle.  Without evidence of how long it takes the liquid in question to become sticky or dry, the jury would be unable to determine whether the spill was present for a sufficiently long time to warrant a finding of constructive notice.  The fact that an incident report was filed indicating that a fall took place on a wet floor does not preclude entry of summary judgment.  However, the case was reversed because of a spoliation question.  The cleaning of the mall was subcontracted out to another company.  The report of cleaning for the day was the only report missing.  The open question about spoliation therefore precludes the entry of summary judgment in favor of all defendants.  Rodriguez came forth with evidence that at least cast doubt as to the existence of a question of material fact.  With the open possibility that the subcontractor failed to check the floors as scheduled prior to the fall, it is not clear that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Asbesto’s ‘Any Exposure” Arguments Delve Into Causation

Click here to read the Arguments.

Patton vs. Worthington Associates, Inc., 43 A.3d 479 (Pa. Super. 2012) – Case Summary

This case involved an independent contractor hired by a subcontractor working on a church. The independent contractor is hurt and sues.  The court found that the immunity of workers’ compensation act for statutory employers did not control.  An independent contractor does not fit within the immunity.  See Section 52 Employers Liability of Employee or Contractor permitted to enter upon premises.  The court found that the McDonald case did not apply.  The jury was properly charged concerning whether independent contractor is.  The court agreed that the injured worker was an independent contractor and therefore the company that hired him was not immune.  A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on a land if, but only if, he knows or by the exercise of reasonable care, would have discovered the condition and should expect that it will not be discovered by the person who was hurt.  Section 343 Restatement Second of Torts.  The court looks at 343A Restatement and the discussion of it and finds that the lower court was correct.  The jury was properly charged on contributory negligence.

Betz v. Pneumo Abex, LLC, 44 A.3d 27 (Pa. 2012) Case Summary

This case was an asbestos case where plaintiff’s expert testified that any exposure to asbestos can cause cancer.  The court found that a Frye hearing was appropriate.  We agree that a reasonably broad meaning should be ascribed to the term “novel.”  Furthermore, we conclude that a Frye hearing is warranted when a judge has articulable grounds to believe that an expert witness has not applied accepted scientific methodology in a conventional fashion in reaching conclusions.  The court found that the expert testimony was simply internally inconsistent.  One cannot simultaneously maintain that a single fiber among millions is substantially causative, while also conceding that a disease is dose responsive.  We agree that the breadth in character of an expert’s extrapolations are relevant to the scientific acceptance of this methodology.  Certainly a complete discounting of the substantiality in exposure would be fundamentally inconsistent with Pennsylvania law.

Bole v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 50 A.3d 1256 (Pa. 2012) Case Summary

The rescue doctrine does not allow a volunteer firefighter responding to a crash in a hurricane to recover where there has been a finding that his injuries were the result of a superseding cause.  On his way to the fire station, a bridge on the firefighter’s property collapsed as he drove over it, causing him serious injuries.  Because the negligent driver that the firefighter was rushing to rescue was underinsured, the firefighter sued to collect underinsured motorist benefits from his insurer.  The arbitration panel found that the bridge collapse was not reasonably foreseeable and it was a superseding cause.  This finding of fact must be respected and hence the rescue doctrine which ordinarily would make the person in trouble liable for the rescuer’s injuries does not apply.

Gillingham vs. Console Energy Inc., 51 A.3d 841 (Pa Super. 2012) Case Summary

This case involved a worker who was injured when bolts to a stairwell broke loose and the stairwell fell.  The court found that the expert testimony did not lack a foundational basis.  The Restatement 2nd of Torts § 332 applied to the worker as an invitee.  The case was premised not upon the fact the bolts were hammered into the building but rather that there was a failure to inspect the building and recognize the visible rust on the outside of the bolts and the backing plate and that the stairwell must have been compromised by rust and corrosion.  The signing of a release should have gone to the jury.  Whether the release was a contract of adhesion should have gone to the jury.  The question was whether the worker was compelled to sign the release in order to work.  The judge did not err in submitting the issue of whether the worker’s employer was immune under the Workers’  Compensation Act.  In fact it was not.  Also the court looked at statutory employment and found that that was properly submitted to the jury.  The worker had the ability to choose the means and methods for completing his work.  The court also looked at the damages including economic, loss of commissions, pain and suffering and loss of consortium due to lack of sex and found that all the damages were proper. The verdict slip properly relied upon Rule 223.3.

Bole v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 50 A.3d 1256 (Pa. 2012) Case Summary

The rescue doctrine does not allow a volunteer firefighter responding to a crash in a hurricane to recover where there has been a finding that his injuries were the result of a superseding cause.  On his way to the fire station, a bridge on the firefighter’s property collapsed as he drove over it, causing him serious injuries.  Because the negligent driver that the firefighter was rushing to rescue was underinsured, the firefighter sued to collect underinsured motorist benefits from his insurer.  The arbitration panel found that the bridge collapse was not reasonably foreseeable and it was a superseding cause.  This finding of fact must be respected and hence the rescue doctrine which ordinarily would make the person in trouble liable for the rescuer’s injuries does not apply.

Rosenberry vs. Evans, 48 A.3d 1255 (Pa. Super. 2012) Case Summary

Dog bit somebody and landlord got sued.  Usually owner is responsible for vicious animal.  A landlord out of possession is not liable for animals kept by tenants.  However a duty to use reasonable care will apply to prevent such injuries if the landlord has knowledge of a dangerous animal on rented property and if the landlord enjoyed the right to control or remove the animal by retaking the premises.  Actual knowledge of a dog’s dangerous propensities is required.  Dangerousness could involve even an overly friendly dog that jumps in somebody’s lap or, as in this case, has an involuntary tick or spasm.  The law makes no distinction between animal dangerous from viciousness and one which is mischievous or dangerous from playfulness.  However, the test seems to be different for landlords.  Mere knowledge of a dog’s issue is not equivalent to actual knowledge of dangerous propensities.  Here the landlord did not have knowledge just because their employee knew that the dog had this weird clenching thing that it did with its teeth.

Octave ex rel. Octave v. Walker, 103 A.2d 1255 (Pa. 2014) Case Summary

An estate filed a negligence suit to recover for physical injuries sustained by James Octave upon being struck by a tractor-trailer driven by David Walker.  The state police concluded that Octave attempted to commit suicide by jumping under the truck’s trailer.  The estate said that defendant Walker could not obtain information about Octave’s prior psychiatric history because of the Mental Health Procedures Act.  The court distinguished this case from those where mental health records are sought but are not necessary to establish any claim or defense.  In fact, this is a very limited ruling.  The court said that in terms of obtaining mental health records in personal injury litigation, a patient waives his confidentiality protections under the MHPA where judged by an objective standard, he knew or reasonably should have known his mental health would be placed directly at issue by filing the lawsuit.  Disinterested eyewitnesses said that James Octave attempted to commit suicide by jumping under the truck’s trailer.  This put the estate on notice that if they filed a civil action, a suicide defense would likely be advanced.  There was a history of suicidal ideations that might be entirely decisive of liability.  The estate knew, or reasonably should have known, that James Octave’s mental health would be directly placed at issue by filing the lawsuit. The court urged the lower court to use great caution in accepting implicit waiver.  The importance of the protections afforded by the MHPA cannot be overemphasized and thus protections must not be ignored in deciding whether a patient impliedly waived the privilege.

White v. City of Philadelphia, 102 A.3d 1053 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014)

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has held that a plaintiff cannot establish that damages would be recoverable under common law for the negligent acts of a local agency or its employees if the plaintiff is fleeing police apprehension, because the police officer does not owe a fleeing suspect the duty of care.  The court believes that the purposes underlying the provision of the Judicial Code apply in this case.  The legislature presupposed that one could be considered “in flight, or fleeing apprehension” only if he had reasonable cause to know he was being pursued by the police.  For this reason, the appellate court affirmed the judgment of the trial court which entered judgment in favor of the individual who was injured while being chased by a police officer.  A jury had found that the police officer was negligent, that the negligence was a factual cause of harm to the plaintiff, and at the time of the incident the plaintiff was not fleeing apprehension because he did not know that the person chasing him was a police officer.  Finally, the jury held that the plaintiff who instituted suit was not negligent in operating his bicycle.  The bicycle rider was awarded $100,000.

Overdose Response Immunity, Act No. 2014-139

A person, law enforcement agency, fire department or fire company who, acting in good faith and with reasonable care, administers naloxone to another person whom the person believes to be suffering from an opioid-related drug overdose is immune from criminal or civil liability.  Such person shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions resulting from such act.  Receipt of training and instructional materials that meet the criteria of the Act and the prompt seeking of additional medical assistance shall created a rebuttable presumption that the person acted with reasonable care in administering naloxone.  Nothing in the Act shall be interpreted to limit any existing immunities for emergency response providers that are provided for under 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8332 relating to emergency response providers and bystander good Samaritan civli immunity.

NEGLIGENCE-SLIP & FALL-TRIVIAL DEFECT

Whether a defect in a sidewalk is de minimis is a matter of fact for the jury.  Here, summary judgment was reversed.  Shaw v. Thomas Jefferson University, 80 A.3d 540 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2013).  When a person falls on a sidewalk, the question is whether the defect in the sidewalk is so small that it is not a jury question and the case should be dismissed.  When a defect is too small to raise a legal claim, it is called de minimis.  In this particular case, the matter should go to the jury and the defect is not so small that the case should be dismissed.

Nertavich v. PP&L Electric Utilities, 100 A.3d 221 (Pa. Super. 2014)

Man who was working for a painting contractor using PP&L ladder fell and was injured.  Sued PP&L.  There can be no recovery, and summary judgment is reversed.  The rule is that a landowner who engages an independent contractor is not responsible for the acts or omissions of the independent contractor unless the owner retains control as set forth in § 414 of the Restatement [Second] of Torts.  The trial court was reversed.  A property owner may retain a certain degree of authority over safety issues as well as regulate the use of an access to buildings without “retaining control” of the premises for liability purposes.  The contract provided quality specifications for the painting of the transmission poles.  However, the fall here had nothing to do with these quality specifications.  The fact that PP&L did supervision and had safety meetings is not “retained control.”  Monitoring the contractor safety practices did not evidence retention of control over the whole work site.  PP&L’s internal safety guidelines is not retention of control.  Implementation of “green tag” procedure, limiting access to poles, the use of single-rail ladders and providing those ladders without necessary bolts to secure them to the transmission poles is not retention of control.  The theory of “direct liability” exists where the landowner engages in his own independent negligent conduct that directly contributes to the worker’s injuries.  The court found that that did not apply here, however.  There was no “gratuitous undertaking” pursuant to § 323 of the Restatement.  There was no negligent design of the transmission poles.  Violation of OSHA and national electric code did not provide for direct liability.

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