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Personal Injury Law Blog

Who is entitled to sue in a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death occurs in Pennsylvania when a person is accidentally killed by the negligent, wrongful or unlawfully violent actions of another. Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act contain many provisions but arguably the most notable one is that they allow the victim's family and "personal representative" to sue those individuals responsible for the premature death of their loved one. More specifically, the right to sue on a wrongful death action is extended to the victim's spouse, children, parents or a person identified as the. There are also no state residency requirements for these beneficiaries to file their claims.

Another interesting component of the Wrongful Death Act is that it also contains a provision for situations where the decedent had no surviving beneficiaries. In those rare cases, the law allows an individual known as a "personal representative" to file a claim on behalf of the decedent's estate if no other family members have been identified within six months of the wrongful death.

Increased liability in Pennsylvania impaired motorcycle accidents

As stated in a previous web post, Pennsylvania allows motorists to choose their preferred method of insurance based on the so-called "tort option". Under this scheme, motorists with full tort car insurance can recover compensation for their bodily injuries even if they are not seriously injured. Whereas, motorists with the limited tort style of car insurance are essentially limited to recovering money associated with their medical costs and treatment only if they have been seriously injured in an accident.

Pennsylvania motorists and motorcyclists should know that there is one huge exception to that rule. The Commonwealth now allows victims injured by drunk or drugged drivers to sue those responsible for their bodily injuries regardless of which type of insurance they were carrying at the time of the accident.

Some important facts about auto-pedestrian accidents

Each of us becomes a pedestrian at some point of every day. Regardless of whether we drive a brand-new Ferrari or a dilapidated minivan, most of us will eventually have to park our vehicle and get out and walk.

As pedestrians we are exceptionally vulnerable to the motorists around us. Whether walking to the front door of a grocery store, or using a crosswalk at a major intersection, when we travel on foot we depend on the vigilance and driving abilities of others to avoid serious injuries and death.In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a national survey of auto-pedestrian accidents. The following are some of the most interesting statistics NHTSA compiled:

Slip and fall accidents and Pennsylvania premises liability law

Late fall and early winter are peak times for slip and fall injuries throughout the Commonwealth. Accumulations of ice and snow can make walking near commercial properties a particularly treacherous activity.

In a previous blog post, we discussed a lawsuit filed by New Jersey woman against a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-area home improvement store. In that case, the woman claimed that she slipped and fell on a puddle of water at the front of the store after husband dropped her off from their car. Imagine if that puddle of water had instead been a slab of ice.

How do “hours of service” affect truck accidents?

In a previous blog post, we discussed the serious consequences that sometimes result when truck drivers are excessively fatigued. In that post, we noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a driver who has been awake for 24 hours straight is equally impaired as someone who is legally drunk.

In July 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented new regulations regarding the total hours of service in which commercial drivers are allowed to operate. These so-called "HOS Regulations" are meant to reduce truck accidents by preventing overly fatigued drivers from continuing to operate across America's roadways.

Pennsylvania boating law aimed at reducing fatal accidents

Pennsylvania safety officials hope that a new law will help curb boating and water-related accident fatalities. The new law, which went into effect Nov. 1, now requires all boaters and waterfowl hunters throughout the Commonwealth to wear life jackets while on the water between Nov. 1 through April 30. This regulation also extends to water vessels less than 16 feet in length such as canoes and kayaks.

According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, research drawn from boating accident reports show that nearly 80 percent of all boating accident fatalities happened to individuals not wearing life jackets.

No limited tort liability on Pennsylvania drunk driving lawsuits

In a previous entry on our website, we explained that Pennsylvania motorists should always elect to choose full tort car insurance vs. the limited tort option. That is because full tort coverage will allow you to recover for bodily injuries even if you are not seriously injured. The other reason is that full tort coverage only costs approximately 15 percent more, or $150 extra per year, than limited tort insurance. This may not seem like a wise decision at the time you are writing the check to the insurance company, but if you have an accident later, you will understand the prudence of taking that extra precaution.

However, Pennsylvania's relatively recent tort reform laws have several exceptions to the rules that normally limit the recovery of injured plaintiffs. Accidents caused by drunk drivers are not covered under the limited tort provisions. This means that even motorists with limited tort insurance coverage are entitled to seek compensation for their injuries if they were caused by a drunk or drugged driver.

Just how big a problem is alcohol in Pennsylvania car accidents?

It is impossible to watch TV, listen to a radio or even drive along our Pennsylvania highways without being bombarded with advertising warning against drunk driving. However, each year a fair number of Pennsylvania residents are killed in alcohol-related accidents despite the use of expensive advertising campaigns and random DUI checkpoints.

According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, alcohol was a factor in 11,956 accidents during 2012. At least 404 people were killed that same year as a result of drunk driving.

A look at 2013 Pennsylvania motorcycle accident statistics

Most Pennsylvania residents are aware that motorcyclists are not currently required to wear helmets throughout the Commonwealth. Certainly, the lack of helmet regulations have led to an increase in traumatic brain injuries during motorcycle collisions. However, the relatively smaller size of motorcycles compared to cars, SUVs and trucks ensures that many motorcyclists will nevertheless receive extensive injuries, regardless of helmet usage.

A review of 2013 motorcycle crash statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation supports that theory. According to the report, there were 3,427 total crashes involving motorcycles throughout the state in 2013. Here is a breakdown of the other motorcycle crash stats:

Dangerous property issues raised by fatal stabbing

On Oct. 9, a bar fight in Delaware County, Pennsylvania left one man in critical condition and another man fleeing from arrest at a local bar. The incident occurred inside the La Cantina Bar in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, which is located in the 6800 block of Market Street.

According to police, the victim's throat was slashed by a knife wielded by another patron who was also visiting the bar at the same time. The victim was hospitalized in extremely critical condition following the stabbing, yet died four days later on Oct. 13 from injuries suffered in the attack.

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