Local News Updates from a Philly Personal Injury Attorney


Car Accidents on Roosevelt Blvd., preventable?

An article published on 11/18/2013 in this week's Philadelphia Daily News discussed plans for making Roosevelt Blvd. safer as a person who commutes on this stretch of road daily is unquestionably a good idea. 

The article cites a plan from the Central Northeast District to improve mass transit and make the road safe for 'drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Specifically, the plan calls for 'strengthening commercial centers' throughout Northeast Philadelphia. While that may be a boon for the local economy, it does not seem to address the significant issue here: how can we cut down on the voluminous number of car accidents on Roosevelt Blvd, which happens daily?

Do a Google search for accidents on Roosevelt Blvd., and you will see the shocking amount of results and horrific accidents that occur on this road daily. For example, a random click will bring you to an October 1, 2013 story about a wrong-way driver involved in a car accident on Roosevelt Blvd. 

This resulted in the killing of a mother of 5, or even more recently. The July 2013 alleged drag racing car accidenton Roosevelt Blvd. resulted in the death of a mother and her three young children. Furthermore, State Farm Insurance has released a study that names Red Lion Road & Roosevelt Blvd. and Grant Avenue & Roosevelt Blvd. as numbers 2 and 3 most dangerous intersections in the United States.

Philadelphia City Council's response to this data was to install red-light cameras and then install some more red-light cameras. While these red-light cameras certainly help with city funding, how much these help with preventing car accidents on Roosevelt Blvd. is debatable. As any Philadelphia resident who drives on Roosevelt Blvd. can see car accidents occur there daily. 

If you or someone you know is involved in an accident on Roosevelt Blvd., here are ten key points to remember if you are interested in a car accident and use the information provided by your Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers KaplunMarx, PLLC. The takeaway from this article is that real change on Roosevelt Blvd. is needed; an idea outside the box could effectively cut down car accidents on Roosevelt Blvd. because of red-light cameras and retrofitting commercial centers does not seem like a solution to this problem.


Upper Darby Man Killed in Construction Accident in Northeast Philadelphia

A 59-year-old Upper Darby man was killed when a bulldozer ran him over at a construction site in Northeast Philadelphia. According to Philly.com, the incident occurred in the 5100 block of Pennypack Street near the Philadelphia Fire Academy in the Upper Holmesburg section. The worker was pronounced dead by medics at the scene. Officials said the bulldozer was being operated by another employer when his co-worker was struck. The incident is under investigation.

Struck-By Accidents

Being struck by an object such as a vehicle or piece of equipment is one of the leading causes of construction accident-related fatalities. Workers are often struck by heavy equipment and vehicles such as bulldozers, trucks, forklifts, and cranes. They may also be hit by falling or flying objects such as tools or concrete/masonry walls that are being constructed. Employers such as construction companies and contractors are responsible for protecting workers from being struck by vehicles and objects on the job.

While these hazards do exist at every construction site, there are ways to prevent or reduce injuries from these types of dangers. Here are a few precautions that must be taken at construction sites to avoid these accidents:

  • Check vehicles before each shift to ensure that all parts and accessories are in good working order.
  • Don't drive any construction vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker signals that it is safe.
  • Set parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked and chock the wheels if they are parked on an incline.
  • All vehicles must have adequate braking systems and other safety devices in place.
  • Use traffic signs, barricades, or flaggers when construction work takes place near public roadways.
  • Workers must be evident in all levels of light. Workers should be wearing red or orange vests during the day, and if working at night, they should wear a vest made out of reflective material.

Compensation for Workers and Their Families

In cases where workers have been injured on the job, they may be able to seek damages through their employer's worker's compensation insurance. Injured victims may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Families of workers who are killed on the job may seek worker's compensation death benefits. In some cases, workers or families of deceased workers may file a third-party claim against a party other than the employer. Examples of third parties include general contractors, sub-contractors, manufacturers of defective equipment or machinery, building owners, etc.

Regardless of how they are caused, construction accidents in Pennsylvania leave workers with debilitating injuries and disabilities. While some can successfully return to work, some others aren't able to do so. As a result, many end up losing their livelihoods. In cases where workers are killed doing their jobs, families not only endure the emotional pain of losing a loved one but are also devastated financially as they lose a wage earner or, in many cases, a sole breadwinner.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one, our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers can help you better understand your legal rights and options. In addition, we will help you hold the at-fault parties accountable and secure fair and total compensation for your damages and losses.


Car Accident & Yelling Girlfriend Leads to NJ Criminal Charges

This weekend a New Jersey man, who was arguing with his girlfriend and involved in a car accident, fled the scene of the accident. His reasoning, to get away from yelling girlfriend or what not to do after being involved in a car accident.

While I may feel for the guy, running away from the scene and his yelling girlfriend may have provided him with some temporary relief – he has opened himself up to NJ criminal charges, such as leaving the accident and failure to report, NJ code 39:4-129 and 39:4-130 respectively. Furthermore, your insurance carrier could deny coverage if you leave the scene of an accident because your insurance company makes it your duty to report all accidents, or you may be in breach of your insurance contract. Below is a list of 5 things to do if you are involved in a New Jersey car accident:

Things To Do if you are involved in a New Jersey Car Accident?

  1. STOP! New Jersey and Pennsylvania state laws require that a driver involved in an accident stop and stay at the scene to exchange info with anyone involved. This applies regardless of whether your girlfriend is screaming at you or not.
  2. Call the Police and get medical attention for any injuries. Suppose there is an injury or death because of the automobile accident. In that instance, you have to report the accident to the Police, but notifying the Police, who will inform the accident, will provide clarity.
  3. You have a cell phone camera. Use it. The better you document the accident scene, and your injuries can only help you through this process.
  4. Report all accidents to your auto insurance carrier. There is language in every insurance contract I have looked at that states that not reporting an accident can constitute a breach and try not to provide coverage.
  5. Sign nothing, say nothing. After reporting the accident, you will get calls from insurance adjusters and the like – say nothing, they are not always there to help you, like they may say – here is the time you need to speak with a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney. Luckily, KaplunMarx helps clients throughout New Jersey. Contact us so that we can protect your rights.

These five things to do if you are involved in a New Jersey car accident are helpful tips, but there are always more considerations to discuss. The takeaway, do not run away! Leaving the scene of an accident, to get away from your girlfriend or otherwise, is not the right decision. 

It will only lead to NJ criminal charges or NJ traffic offenses – while at KaplunMarx, we are a New Jersey Criminal Defense Law Firm, we hope to provide our readers with this blog post to help them stay out of this trouble. So remember, leave the toxic relationship, not the scene of a car accident!


Philadelphia Automobile Accident Lawyers Talks ATVs

As the weather warms, you may see and hear ATVs being "driven" in the streets of Philadelphia. Automobile accident lawyers are often left answering clients' questions when involved in an accident. These off-road vehicles are usually driven by young people with no insurance in places they should not be. In Pennsylvania, ATVs are prohibited from being driven on any street or highway, but this is hardly a deterrent when the weather gets warm.

Just this weekend, a story about Philadelphia teens racing ATVs in Southwest Philly ended with a crash sending the rider with severe injuries to CHOP. This incident comes on the heels of a Tacony Philadelphia man getting killed in an ATV accident earlier in the week. As these articles point out, these ATV accidents often result in severe injuries and often death.

The Philadelphia Police have enacted an initiative to keep illegally operated ATVs off the streets, but the problem persists. While the industry by the Philly police has had positive, as the seizure before the "rides out" for Philly rapper Meek Mill's concert in March 2015, this shows how big a problem this has become. The Police have a mandate to not chase these ATV riders because of the safety concerns to others on the road, and while they can be pulled over, they often know that Police can't give chase.

As Philadelphia automobile accident lawyers, we often get the question, what do you do if you are involved in a crash with one of these ATVs? It isn't effortless! While the letter of the law requires that these ATVs have insurance, we have yet to see one of these ATVs' accidents have coverage. 

Even if there is coverage, an insurance company will likely disclaim (not cover you) for illegal use of the ATV – because they are not meant to be driven on public roadways. In addition, using your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is precluded because of Pennsylvania case law in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. vs. Yungwirth, 940 A.2d 523 (Pa. Super. 2008). 

This allows an insurance company to exclude UM coverage for an ATV injury claim because the vehicle is designed to be used off-road.

To add more confusion to the topic, if you are in an accident with a dirt bike, the law allows you to make a UM claim – the distinction is that the PA legislature did not specifically address dirt bikes like it did ATVs. 

So that often leaves the accident victim few options. The best is to go after the rider (or their parents) homeowners insurance coverage. However, the person's homeowners policy has specific language to exclude coverage for ATV use, and that is when it gets dicier – when your lawyer will have to gear up for battle.

The Takeaway

The takeaway from this post should be that Philadelphia residents need to be extra cautious when on the road with ATVs. If you are in an accident with an ATV, the argument for liability will undoubtedly be complex, but that is precisely why you need to speak with the Philadelphia automobile accident lawyers. We have a thorough understanding of ATV law, homeowners insurance coverage, and how to fight for our injury clients. If you are in an automobile accident with an ATV, it sucks, but to make sure you are protected – contact KaplunMarx immediately.


CNN: Insurance Companies Play Hardball With Car Accident Victims

Recently, CNN conducted an 18-month investigation into how major insurance companies treat claims of car accident victims who submit a claim for soft tissue injury, defined as damage of muscles, ligaments, and tendons throughout the body. The information learned in the study is as follows:

"Since the mid-1990s, most of the major insurance companies — led by the two largest, Allstate and State Farm — have adopted a challenging take-it-or-leave-it strategy when dealing with such cases.

The result has been billions in profits for insurance companies and little, if anything, for the public, according to University of Nevada insurance law professor Jeff Stempel (emphasis added)."

What this means is that if you are involved in a car accident or other personal injury, which results in soft tissue damage – strap in because, even if you are hurt through no fault of your own, the insurance companies will fight tooth and nail NOT to compensate you for the injury. When the insurance company does convey an offer, it is done as a take it or leave it to offer, because the strategy, as represented by a former Allstate attorney, is by dragging the process out, the insurance company can make it "so expensive and so time-consuming that lawyers would start refusing to help clients." Does this sound like you are 'In good hands with Allstate? Not if you have an injury claim.

"Playing off Allstate's signature slogan, one document recommends the insurer put boxing gloves on its "good hands" for those who insist on going to court.

The strategy, according to former Allstate and State Farm employee Jim Mathis, relies on the three D's — denying a claim, delaying settlement of the claim, and defending against the claim in court."

In our experience, soft tissue injury claims are indeed fought by insurance companies, but this bottom-line strategy applies across the board, including catastrophic injury or even death. Insurance companies are for-profit entities and will employ the technique necessary to protect these profits, even if it comes at the expense of accident victims. 

More evidence points to the importance of having representation when pursuing a claim – a look at the results of a 1999 study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) suggested that the decision to hire a personal injury lawyer pays significant dividends for accident victims pursuing an auto insurance claim. A Consumer Panel Survey of Auto Accident Victims, settlements for injury victims were 40 percent higher with attorney representation than without. 

Numbers tell the story. If you are injured, your best possibility is to consult with a personal injury lawyer, whose loyalty is to the accident victim.

Source: //www.cnn.com/2007/US/02/09/insurance.hardball/


Pennsylvania State Police Launch Crackdown on Distracted Drivers

Pennsylvania State Police have announced a crackdown on distracted driving that will focus on Lehigh, Northampton, and Bucks counties. According to a Lehigh Valley Live news report, Police say this enforcement means officers will have "zero tolerance" for any distracted driving that diverts the motorist's attention away from the primary task of operating a vehicle.

During this enforcement period, which is already underway, some of the specific motor vehicle violations that will be enforced include texting and driving, using a handheld mobile telephone, prohibited use of hearing impairment devices, prohibited text-based communications, and careless/reckless driving.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents that end in injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania, second only to speeding. Distracted driving was a factor in 14,805 car accidents statewide in 2015, resulting in 61 deaths.

Nationwide, during the same year, 3,477 people were killed, and an estimated 391,000 were injured in auto accidents involving distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Ten percent of fatal wrecks, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic collisions in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected crashes nationwide.

Types of Driving Distractions

Safety experts group driver distractions into three categories:

  • Manual: A manual distraction occurs when you take your hands off the wheel or move your hands away from controlling the vehicle. For example, when you reach for a water bottle or take your hands off the wheel to adjust your radio or program your GPS, that is a manual distraction.
  • Visual: A visual distraction is when you take your eyes off the road. For example, when you turn around to talk to a passenger or drop something and bend down to pick it up while you're driving, such acts are essentially visual distractions.
  • Cognitive: This is when your mind wanders away from the task of driving. For example, when you're preoccupied thinking about an argument you've had with a co-worker or your spouse, you're no longer focused on what's happening around you on the roadway. This is a cognitive distraction.

Experts say texting while driving is the worst kind of distraction because it takes your hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road, and mind away from the task of driving.

How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving?

The best way to avoid a distracted driving crash is not to be distracted when behind the wheel. However, given our hectic lives and our attempts at multitasking, this is easier said than done. Here are a few best tips to help stop distracted driving.

  • Store loose items that could roll around the car, so you are not tempted to reach for them when you are driving.
  • Adjust your GPS, seats, mirrors, radio, and climate controls before you hit the road. Check traffic conditions and your route before you start driving.
  • Finish dressing and personal grooming at home.
  • Eat all food before or after your trip, not when you are driving. Messy foods and drinks can especially be difficult to manage.
  • Secure children and pets before you start to drive. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching over to the back seat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Put aside your phone and all your electronics. Don't use your cell phones, not even in hands-free mode, when you are driving. If you need to make a call, move to a safe location.
  • Use an app that turns off all applications on your phone when you are driving. Such apps will also inform anyone trying to reach you that you are moving and will get back to them when you arrive at your destination.

If a distracted driver has injured you or a loved one, you might be able to seek compensation for ab=ny injuries, damages, and losses. Contact an experienced Philadelphia auto accident lawyer at KaplunMarx at 610-660-7780 to schedule a free consultation.


Horrific 100mph Amtrak Train Derailment Philadelphia

Overnight saw a tragic Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia. There are currently seven confirmed deaths, with some passengers still unaccounted for, along with 200 reported injuries. Amtrak Northeast Regional train #188 was a heavily traveled commuter train from Washington, DC to New York. This is one of the nation's busiest train corridors; the train was reported to have had 238 passengers and 5 Amtrak crew members aboard. Amtrak set up a hotline for those on the train or loved ones to call 1-800-523-9101.

Investigators from the NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board, are already on the scene, and much like an airplane crash investigation, one of the first things that are looked at is the trains' black box. The black box will provide a great deal of data relating to how fast the train was going and play a key role in helping investigators determine what went wrong. For example, initial reports from the NTSB show that the Amtrak train was traveling at over 100mph around a curve where the speed limit for trains was 50mph. 

Raw surveillance video of the Amtrak train derailment, seen below, has led investigators to make the speed determination, but this is only a preliminary finding. The NTSB has released a video of the devastating crash scene, which shows train cars turned over and thrown from the tracks.

Investigators are looking closely at the Amtrak train conductor to determine if this terrible train accident was caused by human error or another factor. Train accidents, especially major derailments like this Amtrak accident, take a lot of time to investigate because of the multitude of evidence needed to be gathered – like a vast puzzle that needs to be put back together to determine who is liable for this tragedy. 

So the best thing you can do if you are involved in this Amtrak train accident, or any other train accident, is contact KaplunMarx, the Philadelphia Train Accident Lawyer, to represent your best interests.

Source: //www.phillyvoice.com/amtrak-train-crashes-philadelphia/


Lululemon Philadelphia Store Roof Collapse – Who Is at Fault?

Your out shopping in Center City Philadelphia on Walnut Street, one of the highest rent and busiest shopping corridors in the entire city, when "BAM" the roof caves in. That is precisely what happened on Tuesday afternoon inside the Lululemon Philadelphia store located at 1529 Walnut Street. 

Employees and witnesses said they heard a loud noise, and it is believed that bricks from a neighboring building came crashing down on the roof, causing the collapse – 3 shoppers at the store were trapped under debris and sustained injuries. The million-dollar question surrounding the roof collapse is who is at fault?

Who is at Fault?

The question of who is at fault is often at the center of premises liability claims, with many parties who may have had culpability trying to lay off blame to the other. Section 343 of the Restatement of Torts spells out the duty owed to an "invitee" ( or persons who are invited to a property for the benefit of the property owner – such as a customer); Under Section 343, invitees are owed: a duty of ordinary care and maintenance of the property and premises which may include an obligation to conduct regular inspections of the property.

Understanding the duty owed in the Lululemon roof collapse still leaves for a whole lot of property owners and others who may have liability in this case, that is precisely why retaining a Philadelphia a personal injury attorney is so essential, exploring who's responsible for injuries, in this case, will take time. Multiple parties may be taken to task. Off the top of my head, several parties would be looked to – the building owner, the neighboring building owner, the store themselves, property managers, roofers, and maintenance companies should be looked at.

The bottom line is the customers who were shopping never in their wildest dreams thought they would be hurt – exploring who is at fault is something an experienced Philadelphia personal injury law firm will do. If you have been damaged because of a premises liability issue, whether it be the Lululemon roof collapse, a falling brick, slip, and fall, or otherwise, calling a personal injury lawyer and figuring out who is at fault is key to protecting your rights.

Source: Falling Bricks at LuLuLemon Philadelphia Store


Is a painted yellow line enough? A SEPTA accident lawyer perspective

A young girl was involved in a SEPTA accident on 11/14/2013 and is believed to have suffered severe head trauma. At this point, the extent of her injuries is unknown, but this type of tragedy could undoubtedly be prevented. 

From accounts at the scene, it looks like the girl's father had lost his footing while holding the one-year-old girl, who was struck in the head by the oncoming SEPTA train. Initially, this seems to be just an unfortunate accident, but from the perspective of a SEPTA accident lawyer, an investigation of the underlying facts that need to be undertaken is explicitly a yellow painted line enough to fulfill SEPTA's duty of care towards its passengers?

As a SEPTA accident lawyer, in my opinion, concerning protection, a yellow line painted on the floor just doesn't cut it. Would it be too difficult to install a sensor that warns people who have crossed the yellow line or maybe suitable old-fashioned guardrails in today's technologically advanced world? I am sure safety (and cost) will be an ongoing conversation that SEPTA will need to address, but in the meanwhile, this unfortunate accident will have life-lasting consequences on this poor little girl.

Source: //www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Child-Critical-After-Being-Struck-by-SEPTA-Train-232141731.html


Tracy Morgan, Walmart – A Truck Accident Lawyers Perspective

Initial NTSB Report finds Deadly New Jersey Turnpike Truck Accident Involving Comedian Tracy Morgan Caused Due to Drivers Speeding.

On June 7, 2014, a deadly truck accident occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike, when a truck owned and operated by Walmart crashed into a limo carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and five other passengers. On June 19, 2014, The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report, finding that the New Jersey Turnpike crash that badly injured Morgan and killed one of his friends, was speeding at 65 mph, 20 mph over the posted 45 mph speed limit, for the 60 seconds before the crash. 

While it seems clear in the 'Tracy Morgan' truck accident that the at-fault party would be Walmart because of their truck's ownership and driver's actions, truck accident cases are not as uncomplicated as a truck accident lawyer's perspective car accident claims. Frequently, such as in the 'Tracy Morgan' truck accident, there are multiple levels of liability and possible liable parties who can potentially share the blame for the collision – ranging from the driver of the truck, the owner of the car, the owner of the trailer, the company that leased the equipment from the owner, the manufacturer of the vehicle and its parts, the shipper of the cargo, and the State or Municipality who maintains the roadway. 

When a truck accident happens, the parties involved will blame one another and often fight over whose insurance company should cover the costs of your injuries and damages. Unfortunately, as seen in the 'Tracy Morgan' truck accident, the wounds in these accidents are severe, including death and dismemberment, due to the sheer size, weight, and speed when these accidents occur.

The three most common causes of Truck Accidents are as follows.

  1. Driver Error: Lack of sleep, general fatigue, not following posted speed limits are most common. GPS and onboard computed records can show how long a driver has been on the road, the truck's speed, and if they violated any laws relating to either.
  2. Equipment Problems: Maintenance of these trucks is significant; equipment failure is a leading cause of truck accidents. Records need to be examined of all repairs, inspections, and tests for the car involved in the accident.
  3. Failure to Follow Regulations: Trucking companies, to maximize their profits, will stretch the limits of their trucks and drivers by overloading or requiring impossible delivery speed, which creates unsafe and illegal shipping conditions.

These are only a few of countless considerations that a truck accident lawyer will consider when trying to resolve these cases (See: 4 Truck Accident Tips). Because these truck accident cases are so intricate, the importance of a qualified truck accident lawyer cannot be stressed enough. Early and thorough investigation of the truck accident is key to sorting out the intricacies.


Fatal Car Accident on I-76

This morning, November 27, 2013, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, heavy rain played a part in a deadly car accident on I-76. The 5 AM crash on I-76, near Montgomery Drive, caused severe traffic delays as Montgomery County Police had to perform a full investigation at the scene of the deadly car accident because of the fatality that occurred. 

According to news, the fatal car accident happened when an Audi traveling west on I-76 hit a pool of water, causing the Audi to spin out and hit a concrete barrier; a Chrysler van with six passengers and driver then slowed down to avoid a collision with the Audi, but a tractor-trailer could not stop and rear-ended the van. This fatal car accident on I-76 was just one of many car accidents throughout the Philadelphia area today, as the heavy rain, high winds, and treacherous road conditions took their toll on Philadelphia area drivers.

If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident in the Philadelphia area, please remember our ten key points to Remember;  Each accident is different, as evidenced today, and there can be multiple considerations, including possibly a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers, a truck accidentand maybe a wrongful death accident – which is why it is so important to contact the lawyers at KaplunMarx, PLLC to discuss the particulars of your accident immediately. 

Additionally, rain, sleet, snow, and wind can cause driving less than safe as the weather changes. Therefore, drivers must make safety their priority – remember, we all have loved ones, and we at KaplunMarx. PLLC wants everyone going to get home safely!

Source: //www.philly.com/philly/news/Noreasters_winds_rain_impacting_commute.html#ndn-widget-embed-1-player


Harley-Davidson Recall Over Motorcycle Accident Concern

At the peak of the summer riding season, Harley-Davidson is recalling some 66,421 2014 Touring and CVO Touring bikes due to a motorcycle accident. The cause of this recall is a flaw in the design of the brake line for the front wheel, which can become pinched and cause the brake fluid pressure to increase, resulting in the front wheel locking up without warning.

At this point, there have been five reported motorcycle accidents attributed to this flaw. So why would Harley-Davidson need to have a massive recall if there is currently a small number of casualties from the mark? The answer is that in many states, manufacturers of motorcycles (and other motor vehicles) can be held liable for injuries caused by a vehicle defect.

The manufacturers (and others in the chain of the vehicle's distribution) can be held responsible for such injuries or deaths even if the car had been recalled before the accident occurred. Therefore, manufacturers and designers of motorcycles and other motor vehicles must create crash-worthy and safe vehicles for their intended use.

Harley-Davidson has taken an innovative, proactive approach to deal with this flaw, contacting owners and addressing the issue. Companies who know dangerous defects in their products, but choose not to let the public know, can face substantial liability issues and lose consumer trust (See: Toyota 2009).

When You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

As we all know, a motorcycle accident is one of the most severe auto accidents just by the nature of the lack of protection when riding; the importance of motorcycle safety cannot be overstated. So if you own one of the models Harley-Davidson has recalled, get to your dealer and have them repair the issue as soon as possible. 

If you or someone you know is injured in a motorcycle accident – contact the motorcycle accident lawyers at KaplunMarx.

Source: //www.cnbc.com/id/101825421#.


Philadelphia and Lancaster School Kids Hurt in Bus Accidents

Today, a parent's worst nightmare was when a chartered bus transporting Philadelphia school kids was hurt in a terrible bus accident on I-95 in Maryland. The kids were on a field trip from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, when the bus was caused to flip over. This crash shut down I-95 for several hours as many of the children were seriously injured. 

Coincidentally and fortunately, a bus of Philadelphia police officer was traveling to Washington, DC, for a separate event and happened to be in the area when the accident occurred. The Philadelphia police officers in the area helped with triage efforts and likely helped avoid a great deal more injuries from this horrific bus accident.

The State Police investigation says that a driver of a car trying to pass the bus, lost control and clipped the front of the bus causing the accident. From the initial investigation it would seem that the other driver was at fault for this accident, but it is too early to tell. A much more thorough analysis of this accident is needed for all details of the bus crash to come to light and better determine who's at fault for this.

The most important aspect after a bus accident is getting medical care. The second most important is the investigation as to exactly what the cause(s) of the accident was. The investigation into an accident like this must be done quickly because physical evidence and witnesses are needed to help reconstruct the conditions of the accident. Unfortunately, the physical evidence scattered on the highway needs to be re-opened and gets lost quickly in these accidents. 

Multiple parties could be at fault for this type of bus accident, such as the other driver, the bus company, the bus manufacturer, State Agencies who own the roadway, etc. However, the possible defendants who had a hand in causing this horrible accident need to be held accountable to eventually make the injured children whole.


A troubling trend in the news this week this morning, another school bus accident occurred, this time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A school bus transporting students to Lancaster Mennonite School was a tractor-trailer hauling a sizeable pre-fabricated home. The crash left the school bus toppled over on its side, much like the Philadelphia school children's accident earlier in the week. 

Early reports from this accident showed three severe injuries to the children on the bus who were admitted to Lancaster General Hospital. Additionally, a minivan also collided with the tractor-trailer in this accident.

Prayers and thoughts go out to all the parents and children who have been involved in these tragic bus accidents. However, after medical attention is rendered, it is crucial to investigate the actual cause of the bus accidents. 

Was it driver error on the part of the school bus, driver error on the part of the tractor-trailer or possibly the driver of the car, or something else that caused these accidents? This fundamental question needs to be answered when evaluating who makes these children whole about this bus accident.

For more updated information on the Philadelphia children hurt in the I-95 bus crash: //6abc.com/traffic/philly-students-involved-in-md-charter-bus-crash;-dozens-hurt/1995326/

For more updated information on the Lancaster County school bus and tractor-trailer crash: //6abc.com/news/15-students-driver-hospitalized-after-school-bus-crash-in-lancaster-co/2003415/


Heroes Of Philadelphia Awards

Here at Kaplunmarx, we love being personal injury attorneys in Philadelphia, but even more so when we get to present something back to the Philadelphia community that is so close to our hearts. For that reason, when we got the opportunity to sponsor a scheme that celebrates local heroes in the Philly community – we jumped at the chance.

Recognizing Local Heros

The Heroes Of Philadelphia Awards is an initiative that we launched this year about recognizing and celebrating the men, women, or young people who go the extra mile to make Philly a great city. Members of the public nominate people they consider to be LOCAL HEROES. 

We select one of these nominees each month and reward their endeavors with a $100 check and a Heroes Of Philadelphia t-shirt. We also promote their work through our social media outlets and partnerships with local media and press, thus celebrating local Good Deeds and spreading Good News stories in Philly.

These Local Heroes can take many forms, from teachers to charity workers, litter collectors, or animal lovers. This week, we just made our first presentation to Johnny' Scrabble' Green, an absolute gem of a fellow who gives up a great deal of his time working with After School Partnerships Philly teaching, mentoring, and inspiring young Scrabble players. See the photo of the presentation below.

Please take a look around you. Philly is full of beautiful people like Johnny doing great deeds for our community. Why not contact us through the Facebook page, Twitter, or the main HOP Awards website and nominate your Local Hero? Would you please help us spread the good news by liking or sharing these pages too?


Buffalo Bills' Shady McCoy Facing Criminal Charges in Brawl with Cops

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean' Shady' McCoy is expected to face criminal charges in the brawl at the Philadelphia nightclub, Recess, early Sunday morning. Details of the incident are still emerging, but it appears that a group of off-duty police officers purchased several bottles of champagne, and one of McCoy's group of friends grabbed a bottle.

As a result, an argument started, and a police officer was punched and thrown to the ground. Police reports indicate that while on the basis, the police officer was "punched, kicked, and stomped" on both his head and body by a group of four suspects, including LeSean McCoy. A second off-duty officer and a group of bodyguards joined the fray, and all involved were ejected from the club.

Two off-duty police officers received treatment at the hospital for injuries ranging from a broken rib, possible skull fracture, lacerations, and a sprained thumb. Surveillance cameras inside the bar were "not working," but a video of the fight has emerged. It shows the running back McCoy brawling with a group of men. Both Police and the NFL are investigating the incident.

Rumors are swirling that arrest warrants are imminent in the case. Based on Pennsylvania law, it seems those involved will likely be charged with aggravated assault. Police officers in Pennsylvania fall into a protected class, and any attempt to cause bodily injury is a felonious aggravated assault offense. Aggravated assault that does not result in serious harm is punishable with up to 10 years in prison and a fine as high as $25,000. Serious bodily injury moves the punishment to as long as 20 years in prison.

Through his criminal defense lawyer, McCoy will likely have the option of applying for the ARD program. The ARD program is short for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a first-time offenders program, generally for defendants charged with relatively minor crimes. Therein lies the problem for "Shady," Agg. 

Assault is a felony charge, which is a more serious criminal offense. Our experience with these accounts is tough but doable to get a defendant into the ARD program, even with a severe charge. Although getting a client into the ARD program often takes skill and finesse, it is where the criminal defense lawyer makes his bones.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office will review the application and determine if someone can participate in the program. If accepted into ARD, Shady would agree to a probationary sentence, often with conditions such as restitution to the victim (i.e., medical bills for the officers), rehabilitative classes (i.e., anger management), and community service. In addition, if you complete the ARD requirements, you may be eligible to have your record expunged.

Aside from the criminal charges facing McCoy, the NFL may impose separate penalties according to their collective bargaining agreement – which can be harsh, ask Ray Rice. This was not a good look for McCoy, who is coming off being traded by the Philadelphia Eagles to the Buffalo Bills, a sub-par injury-plagued season, and countless other off-the-field incidents.

An arrest warrant for McCoy is reported to be imminent, criminal charges in brawl remain to be seen, but LeSean McCoy looks to be facing a clash in the courtroom soon. A word of advice, Shady – lawyer-up and quick!


Crazy SEPTA Bus Accident Caused By Unbuckled Driver ?!?

This past week brought us a crazy SEPTA bus accident caused by [an] unbuckled driver – this has got to be a first, even for those exceptional drivers at SEPTA. The video below is unbelievable; it shows the SEPTA bus driver sliding out of her seat when trying to make a U-turn on Columbus Blvd. (Delaware Ave), causing her to lose control of the bus. As a result, the SEPTA bus jumped the curb, landing on the train tracks. Luckily no trains were active on the trails. However, as the video shows, the SEPTA riders were thrown from their seats and injured.

Does SEPTA require its drivers to wear a seatbelt when driving a bus?

Yes, this is a requirement by SEPTA, but as can be seen, it is not followed or stringently enforced by this SEPTA bus accident. The SEPTA bus driver was a ten-year veteran, but she did not seriously take the seat belt. As the video shows, SEPTA riders were violently thrown from their seats as a result of this accident. 2 riders and the driver were injured in this SEPTA bus accident, which happened at 6 PM, if it happened a bit earlier, with more riders, this could have been a complete disaster.

This SEPTA bus accident is just the most recent example of safety rules not being followed by SEPTA drivers. Although a possible fix was adding a sensor that will beep incessantly like my car does if the SEPTA driver does not put on a seatbelt or maybe add seat belts for passengers, I am not clear why SEPTA does not do. This incident comes on the heels of the recent SEPTA mirror design flaw causing injuries to pedestrians, along with our taking a look at the Painted Yellow Line issue at SEPTA train stations – a few seemingly easy fixes, but neither addressed to date.

SEPTA bus accidents happen daily. ThereHowever, there are special rules when you are injured and need to bring legal action against SEPTA. Specifically, SEPTA is a State Agency, and they have a notice provision if you intend to bring an injury claim. See our Philadelphia SEPTA bus accident lawyer page for more information on why you should choose our law firm for your injury claim.


Wrongful Death Lawsuit for 2 People Killed On NJ Turnpike?

As a wrongful death attorney in PA, I know those car accidents involving pedestrians are no joke. Unfortunately, around 1 AM this morning, an NJ State Police officer was involved in a car accident in which two pedestrians were struck and killed. 

This tragic accident happened on the New Jersey turnpike, near the Vince Lombardi service area outside Secaucus. The investigation into the accident is ongoing, but NJ.com reports that the two pedestrians were walking away from their vehicle, which had broke-down. The families may have a wrongful death lawsuit for two people killed on the NJ turnpike in this tragic accident against the New Jersey State Police.

Proving Wrongful Death

To prove wrongful death, you must show that the person(s) died due to a negligent, wrongful, or intentional act. There are generally two parts to wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action that allows recovery for injuries until death, and the illegal death action, in which the heirs can recover losses associated with the end (i.e., lost earnings and prospective earnings of the deceased, lost companionship, etc.).

Further complications for a wrongful death lawsuit against the New Jersey State Police is that the legislature has enacted the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. This means that you MUST ACT FAST. In addition, there is a 90-day notice provision in which the claimant must give notice of claim to the public entity – there is an exception to the general rule. 

Still, it leaves discretion to a Superior Court Judge to allow the filing at that point or not. That does not mean you have to bring a lawsuit at that point, you have two years to bring the lawsuit, but you need to notify the public entity before then. The act also provides a threshold provision at NJ Stat. § 59:9-2 (d) as follows:

"No damages shall be awarded against a public entity or public employee for pain and suffering resulting from any injury; provided, however, that this limitation on the recovery of damages for pain and suffering shall not apply in cases of permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment where the medical treatment expenses are more than $ 3,600.00."

However, unlike in Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not cap the damages for a wrongful death lawsuit. Under the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa. CS § 5522, it requires notice to the public entity within six months after the accident happened. In addition to the issues mentioned, there are many other complicating factors when making a wrongful death lawsuit against a public entity (i.e., the State, Municipality, or Agency) that need to be addressed by a wrongful death lawyer.

In this tragic case or any other wrongful death lawsuit, it is crucial to contact a wrongful death lawyer to investigate the claim and discuss issues relating to the death, including whether an autopsy is needed and the appointment of an administrator if there is no will. 

If there is a will, the executor should come with you to meet the wrongful death lawyer to start an investigation of all possible claims. The lawyers at KaplunMarx are licensed to handle a wrongful death lawsuit in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. At the very least, we could give sound advice to a family who has experienced a tragedy.

As you can see, many complicating factors need to be considered before a wrongful death lawsuit for the two people killed on the New Jersey Turnpike can be brought. The most important of which is whether the two pedestrians were negligent in being on the turnpike.

Another essential factor would be the officer's speed in question and whether he could have prevented this accident? Again, these issues would need to be investigated quickly and thoroughly because physical evidence gets rapidly lost due to the nature of this type of accident on a bustling roadway.


UFC Champ Jon Jones Hit and Run Car Accident – Lawyer Up Bones

UFC (former) Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones was involved in a hit-and-run car accident, and by the run, I mean run – reports are that he ran from the accident scene. According to witnesses, Jones ran from the car accident but quickly returned to the stage to grab a handful of cash and then ran off again. Not the brightest thing when you are one of the most recognizable MMA fighters globally and one of the most recognizable athletes in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

According to the criminal complaint, Jones ran a red light, crashing his SUV into two vehicles (See picture of Jones smashed SUV after the crash), drugs found in his car, and injured a pregnant woman driver in the car accident. Lawyered up Bones ended up turning himself in 24 hours after the accident – I guess those Reebok Pump sneakers that Jones (used to) endorsed do a good job when running from the Police.

Jon Jones's hit-and-run car accident is just another series of bizarre incidents for Jon Jones. 

Back in 2012, Jon Jones wrapped his Bentley around a telephone pole and was charged with DWI. In 2014, after his most recent UFC fight, Jones tested positive for cocaine, did one night in rehab, and declared himself clean. All these issues likely stem from a drug problem for Jones and are the very reason that we have laws against driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol – just don't do it. When you are as privileged as Jon Jones is, hire a driver, get uber, or a limo, but driving under the influence is just plain dumb. Running from the accident scene is even dumber, causing Felony charges to be filed (See the full pdf of the Criminal Complaint against Jon Jones).

The Fallout

The fallout for Jon Jones hit and run accident at this point is the UFC has stripped him of his championship, suspended him from competing in the UFC indefinitely, Reebok has dropped him as an endorser, he faces criminal charges and likely civil lawsuits for property damage and personal injury – not to mention his possible drug problem and the bad press he continues to receive. Jones has gone from greatest pound-for-pound UFC fighter in the world to pariah in short form.

The insightful article on Deadspin, "How Jon Bones Jones Became the Baddest Motherf…. on Earth," painted a picture of a young person struggling with fame, perception, and expectations – adding drugs to the mix has made the situation explosive. So what happens now? Jones has already retained a criminal defense lawyer to deal with the charges against him. He certainly needs help with his substance abuse issues and should hire a PR firm to deal with this crisis. The personal injury claim that is likely to follow will likely be covered by auto insurance. Still, the extent of the injuries will dictate – and the distance to the unborn baby of the pregnant woman who Jones hit.

The only good that can come of this situation is that Jon Jones realizes that he has a problem and get help. As a lawyer and UFC fan, I find this situation horrifying yet fascinating. I hope justice is served, the injured parties are made whole, and Jones gets the help he needs.


Cam Newton Car Accident Due to Unsafe Road?

Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton was involved in a two-vehicle car accident on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Reports are that Cam Newton's pickup truck flipped over multiple times; the car accident scene, along with medical staff attending to the injured parties below:

Cam Newtown's Car Accident at Dangerous Road / Intersection.

According to local reporter Brad Panovic, this car accident occurred at an intersection that is known to be dangerous.

This intersection is always dangerous people miss this Stop sign thinking they are already on a ramp to I-277. pic.twitter.com/I5E91EthUu

— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) December 9, 2014

Here's the view both @CameronNewton & another driver would have had. Fewer leaves on trees yesterday. pic.twitter.com/jZHl88O816

— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) December 10, 2014

Cam Newton's Fractured Back and Other Damages:

Unfortunately, Cam Newton is not really 'Superman' as his nickname suggests. He suffered two transverse fractures in his lower back. The technical explanation of this fracture is discussed here. 

From the perspective of a personal injury lawyer, damages from a car accident are looked at in total when evaluating the value of an injury claim – some of these factors include, how bad is the injury? How much rehabilitation is involved? Is there permanency? How many wages are lost? Among others. If Cam had been hurt worse, these numbers could be astronomical because of his age and profession. 

Hopefully, professional athletes understand that their body is their most important tool, directly related to their earning capacity, and get insurance coverage in place to protect themselves if the unexpected, like Cam Newton's car accident, happens.

States Responsibility to Design and Maintain Safe Roads

State agencies, such as NCDOT in North Carolina or PENNDOT in Pennsylvania, are tasked to design, care for, and maintain roadways. That means that the States Department of Transportation has to inspect, warn of unsafe conditions – after getting notice, and make repairs to roads. 

A lawsuit can be brought against a DOT or other agency based on negligence. Specifically, there was a breach of duty, which proximate cause of an injury. I am sure that Cam Newtown's legal team will investigate the reasons relating to his car accident, including if NCDOT or other agency knew or should have known that this was a dangerous intersection, which may lead to legal action against the State and the State Agency who could have corrected this dangerous condition.

How Should I Know if My Car Accident Happened on an Unsafe Roadway?

That is where you need a Top Personal Injury Law Firm to examine your car accident, including all of the factors involved. Records of other accidents on the roadway, complaints of the dangerous condition prior, and more need to be examined to determine if you have a case against the State or a State Agency. My suggestion speaks to a car accident law firm that will go through the process and look at all possible ways to get you fairly compensated for your car accident case.


CM Punk Speaks on WWE and Employment Law?

You may be asking yourself why CM Punk is a topic on a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer blog? Simple, at KaplunMarx, we handle more than just Philadelphia personal injury cases. We represent business clients and employees relating to workplace issues and employment law – just like the workplace issue that CM Punk has discussed on the Colt Cabana Art of Wrestling podcast. This was the first time CM Punk discussed the details surrounding his leaving the WWE in January 2014 – many of which related to a "toxic" work environment.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

The WWE classifies (the majority) of its on-screen talent, including CM Punk, as independent contractors and not employees. Whats is the difference? The significant difference is a control that the employer may have over the individual. 

In considering the classification, Courts can use the "economics reality test" looking at:

  • Control over the person by the employer,
  • Who supplies the worker with equipment, materials, and tools,
  • Who decides on the workers' schedule and hours of employment,
  • Is the work is temporary or permanent,
  • Is the nature of the work integral to the business.

Examining this list, it would seem that wrestlers like CM Punk were employees – but the WWE's released a statement explaining why they consider otherwise: "WWE talent are highly skilled professionals who only perform and promote their appearances; unlike employees, they do not have any corporate responsibilities or duties, and thus are independent contractors. As independent contractors, WWE talent can negotiate all aspects of their contracts including length of the agreement, compensation, time off, disability provisions and other benefits that would not be afforded to an employee." (see //talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/does-linda-mcmahon-have-a-dead-wrestler-problem). Surprisingly this disparity has not, at this point, been challenged in court, and the WWE continues to classify on-screen talent as such.

Why would the WWE, or any business for that matter, want to have independent contractors rather than employees? The answer is simple – money. Of course, there are many added costs with having employees, including but not limited to workers compensation insurance, social security taxes, health insurance concerns, among others. However, the dollar amount saved for the WWE is enormous.

How did the Employment Designation Affect CM Punk?

CM Punk states in his interview that he was "forced" to work with various injuries, a big part of why he eventually left the WWE; forcing someone to work injured is not allowed, especially when that injury was a workplace injury. This goes back to whether the distinction of an independent contractor vs. employee comes into play. 

If you are considered an employee, you will be covered under workers' compensation, but that is not the case for wrestlers in the WWE. In my estimation, the WWE has a liability nightmare on its hands, relating to concussions protocol and CTE along the lines that the NFL is facing – the designation of its wrestlers will just add to the possible liability.

What Does CM Punk and the WWE Have to do With My Business?

The distinction of an independent contractor vs. employee takes place in every business, big like the WWE or a small mom-and-pop hoagie shop in Philadelphia. Liability for misclassification of employees can cost a company a great deal of money and sometimes even one of its best employees.

If you are an employer or an employee with a business law issue, contact the lawyers at KaplunMarx – we can help!

UPDATE: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon Apologizes to CM Punk on the Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon apologies to CM Punk. Specifically, Mr. McMahon apologized to CM Punk regarding the receipt of his severance paperwork on his wedding date. At the same time, this is outside the scope of the purposes of this blog post but interesting nonetheless.


Thundersnow in Philadelphia ?!?!

Does Philadelphia magazine report that Thundersnow hit Philadelphia? You, like me, maybe asking what the heck is Thundersnow? This is a winter thunderstorm, a rare occurrence where snow is falling instead of the usual rain. These are rare in the winter months because the reaction within the clouds needed to create the conditions does not often happen. After all, the clouds are generally frozen.

Well, it happened in Philadelphia today, and while this is one of the more exciting weather happenings in the area, it has made area roadways a mess on Thanksgiving eve. The storm brought a wintry mix of snow, rain, sleet, and ice, all conditions which increase the chances of automobile accidents in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. 

According to the US Department of Transportation statistics, over 1.3 million motor vehicle accidents happen due to poor weather conditions. Drivers who do not take precautions, including cleaning snow off their vehicles and reducing speeds, are putting their lives at risk.

The Takeaway

The takeaway from the Philadelphia Thundersnow – interesting, unique, but be careful on the roadway! If you are involved in an accident due to this type of condition or otherwise, 1st get medical attention, and 2nd get a hold of KaplunMarx, the Philadelphia injury law firm!

For more technical information on Thundersnow, see – //www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-latest/11983-thunder.


Exploding Airbags Recall – What You Need to Know

Drivers equate airbags with surviving an automobile accident, but not when they explode like grenades. Generally, airbags are one of the most significant safety innovations implemented in our lifetime. Airbags have saved countless lives and prevented many injuries for people involved in automobile accidents, but that has changed because of a defective airbag manufactured by Takata. 

As a result, automakers, including Nissan, Honda, Toyota, and GM, have implemented an exploding airbags recall, including all vehicles fitted with the Takata-made airbags, fearing injuries and death, which has now reached millions of vehicle recalls.

  • Whats is the danger? The propellant in the Takata airbag inflators can degrade and cause them to tear loose – blowing what amounts to metal shrapnel into the face and chest of the occupants. The exploding airbag can have the effect of a grenade, which has been attributed to 4 deaths and more than a dozen injuries to date.
  • Which vehicles fall under the recall? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a current list that can be found here: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Are there other claims outside of personal injury? The recall has also caused economic losses to owners of the affected vehicles, namely a possible diminution in the automobile's value. A class action for owners affected by the recall is being investigated.

What do I do if I have a recalled vehicle?

First, call your dealer to find out the procedure they have implemented for fixing your vehicle, and second, if you know anyone who has one of these vehicles, please contact the personal injury lawyers at KaplunMarx – we will have our automotive defect team investigate to determine if you have a claim.

Source: //www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-the-ongoing-airbag-recall-is-terrifying-2014-10


SEPTA Bus Accidents Caused by Design Flaw, Is SEPTA at Fault?

We have all seen those giant mirrors on the side of every SEPTA bus, but what has been installed to provide more safety is a design flaw that could be to blame for many serious SEPTA bus accidents. An investigation into these mirrors, after a deadly SEPTA bus accident that took the life of Sheena White in September 2014 (see: mother killed son injured after getting hit by septa bus), has uncovered that internal SEPTA documents examining the mirror have deemed it an "acceptable risk."

SEPTA's position has been that these SEPTA bus accidents are not due to a design flaw but the fault of its drivers. Thus, SEPTA has thrown its drivers, provided with training and vehicles by SEPTA, under the "bus" (pun intended). SEPTA bus drivers and their union have gone to SEPTA to rectify this issue but to no avail. Again internal documents show that SEPTA had noticed that these large mirrors were a safety issue. Studies show that an "Operator can lose sight of a pedestrian for approximately 2 seconds (when making a turn)", but again SEPTA felt this was a risk it was willing to accept.

Without admitting that the large mirror is a design flaw, to blame for many SEPTA bus accidents, in January 2015, SEPTA will be replacing the large mirror 15″ x 8″ with a 12″ x 8″ smaller mirror. The move to change the design on the SEPTA buses is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but one has to wonder what took so long? If SEPTA had taken this step sooner, could it have stopped countless SEPTA bus accidents, and would Ms. White be with us today?

When to Call a Lawyer

Looking at what has been reported regarding Ms. White's SEPTA bus accident and SEPTA's internal documents, it seems to me that SEPTA certainly had notice of the defect and failed to act – making them at fault for injuries caused by the defect. If you are involved in a SEPTA bus accident, whether due to this design flaw or otherwise – one of the most important things you can do to protect your rights is to Contact a SEPTA Bus Accident Lawyer KaplunMarx before signing any paperwork or speaking with any insurance company.

Source: Investigation: Left side mirrors a deadly flaw on SEPTA buses?


Cancer Doctor Alleged Fraud & Medical Malpractice

August 20, 2013: Medicare Fraud & Medical Malpractice makes national news

A massive Medicare Fraud case made news on August 13, 2013; Dr. Farid Fata, a cancer specialist in the Detroit, Michigan area, was charged by federal prosecutors with fraudulently billing Medicare over $35 million in claims over two years. 

Being held on $9 million bails, Dr. Fata is accused of deliberately misdiagnosing patients who did not have cancer, or who were in remission, or who were terminal end-of-life cases, and knowingly ordering chemotherapy and other expensive treatments he knew would not benefit them. While this story plays out in Michigan, it will be followed closely by the legal community throughout the country, specifically for Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice law.

Dr. Fata's case will begin in the criminal court system for which the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher standard than in civil suits. In civil cases, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, which means the allegations are more likely to be true than not valid, or, in some instances, by clear and convincing evidence

In the Dr. Fata case, the subsequent civil suits will benefit if he is found guilty of these criminal counts because civil courts recognize criminal verdicts. Likely, Dr. Fata will subsequently face a slew of Medical Malpractice claims from patients' families for whom he is alleged to have misdiagnosed and ordered unnecessary chemotherapy.

The basics of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice

To bring a civil medical malpractice suit, the doctor or hospital must deviate from an acceptable medical standard of care. The patient must suffer harm (causing or worsening a condition or resulting in death) due to these actions. A doctor or health care professional can be sued for negligence or a lack of informed consent. A hospital, HMO, or nursing home can be sued for: direct liability for policies, actions, or inactions of the institution; or for indirect liability for the actions of an employee, it knew or reasonably should have known about.

Under these categories, there are many types of cases – failure to diagnose or incorrect diagnoses; medication overdose or pharmacy errors; surgical or emergency room errors; birth injuries; brain injuries; or nursing home negligence – to name a few.

In Pennsylvania, it is increasingly difficult to pursue medical malpractice claims. Many attribute this to reform legislation passed from 2002 to 2005. These reforms have instituted, among other things, the requirement of Certificates of Merit. This means that expert testimony by a specialist in the same or related field must certify that the medical practitioner deviated from an acceptable standard of care and that these actions caused harm to the patient. 

As a result, in Pennsylvania, medical malpractice suits have decreased over the past ten years – down almost 45 percent since 2000-2002. However, this should not deter you from having a lawyer look over your case if you feel that you or a loved one have suffered harm due to possible Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice.

If you or a loved one have suffered harm as the result of medical malpractice, consult with an attorney immediately; time is of the essence, a thorough review of the facts and all the medical reports, likely by a medical expert will be needed to determine the viability of your potential medical malpractice claim. 

Therefore, it is essential to find a legal team you can work with effectively and have confidence in; the Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyers at KaplunMarx, PLLC, are those lawyers. Contact us, and we will be happy to help you and review your case free of charge.

As crucial as a takeaway message is to consider second or third medical opinions when dealing with serious healthcare decisions.

We invite your questions and comments.

Source: //www.fbi.gov/detroit/press-releases/2013/oakland-county-doctor-and-owner-of-michigan-hematology-and-oncology-centers-charged-in-35-million-medicare-fraud-scheme

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