Man holding his shoulder in pain, suffering a personal injury

How Can Sovereign Immunity Impact a Personal Injury Claim?

The concept of sovereign immunity goes all the way back to old England, back to a time when the king, or sovereign, enjoyed immunity from lawsuits regardless of whether his or her actions resulted in harm to someone else. In modern American times, sovereign immunity lingers and is still fully applicable in some cases. In Pennsylvania, the Sovereign Immunity Act has waived the Commonwealth’s sovereign immunity protection from certain types of personal injury claims. There are, however, still lingering impacts of sovereign immunity in personal injury claims that should be considered should you seek to file a liability claim against a government employee or agency.

Sovereign immunity and Personal Injury Claims

In waiving its sovereign immunity in certain types of personal injury claims, Pennsylvania opens itself up to being sued for damages. All other states, like Pennsylvania, have chosen to conditionally waive sovereign immunity by passing laws that fall in line with Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act. As previously stated, however, Pennsylvania has not fully waived sovereign immunity in injury claims, but only in certain types of cases such as:

  • Vehicle liability (including car accidents)
  • Medical malpractice (including toxoids and vaccines)
  • Care, custody, or control of personal property or animals (including police dogs and horses)
  • Premises liability (including commonwealth real estate, highways, and sidewalks)
  • Liquor liability (such as those that fall under the state’s Dram Shop laws)
  • National Guard
  • Negligent maintenance of roadways (including dangerous conditions caused by potholes and sinkholes)

In addition to the requirement that a claim fall under one of the above situations, the injured party must observe a strict set of deadlines and procedural rules in order to bring a personal injury claim against a government entity.

The injured party seeking to bring the claim must have sustained an injury that was caused by the negligence of a local government agency or an employee of a local government agency acting within the scope of his or her official government duties. Additionally, the damages sought by the injured party must be those ordinarily available to him or her had the injuries been caused by a non-governmental agency or employee.

The injured party must send written notice of their claim to the applicable government agency and, if the claim is against the state, the Attorney General. This notice must be given within a limited timeframe that is specific to the governmental agency involved. The notice must include the name and residence of the injured party making the claim. The notice must also include the date and time, along with the approximate location, of the accident. Additionally, the notice must include the name and office address of any attending physician. If the injured party fails to properly and timely send notice, then it is likely to result in dismissal of any lawsuit that is filed later on.

It should also be noted that the Sovereign Immunity Act places a limit on the amount of money recoverable by the injured party against the government. The government’s liability is capped at $250,000 per any one claimant per a single incident. Furthermore, there is a $1 million total cap over a single incident.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

While bringing an injury claim against the government is possible, it can be difficult and requires strict compliance with all filing requirements and deadlines. The dedicated attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are here to fight for your legal right to recover compensation from the government for any injuries their negligence may have caused you. Contact us today.

Man nursing his wrist injury after accident.

Should I Still Seek Medical Treatment for My Accident Injuries During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

While it seems like much of the world has simply come to a standstill in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, things do continue to move forward. Some people are still required to go to work. We all still need to go out for food and essential supplies. As a result, there are still accidents occurring every day, resulting in injured persons that need continued medical treatment. This, however, is an especially complicated time to be seeking medical treatment. Hospitals all across the U.S. are feeling the strain of the heightened demand placed on them by the spread of the Coronavirus.

Do I Still Seek Medical Treatment After an Accident?

If you have been injured in an accident, seeking medical treatment is often critical to your health and recovery. Seeking emergency medical treatment as soon as possible is recommended as failure to have injuries diagnosed and treated in a timely manner can have devastating, even fatal, consequences. The fact that we are all in the middle of a pandemic does not change the fact that accident injury victims will require emergency care. 

Going to the ER right now does, however, present unique challenges that have not been present in the past. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are operating over-capacity. Facilities are more crowded than usual as healthcare demands have rapidly increased as the Coronavirus has spread. ERs and local hospitals, as well as other urgent care facilities are, however, still serving those in need of emergency medical care that may not be experiencing Coronavirus symptoms. If you are in an accident and have concerns about going to a medical facility right now because of fears of being exposed to COVID-19, you can request a mask or gloves. You should also avoid touching your face. Practice proper hand washing as often as possible. Keep your space from others. While fear of the Coronavirus is very real, you should not jeopardize your health in other ways in an effort to avoid it. If you have been injured in an accident, go get medical attention.

Additionally, you should make every attempt to follow your treating doctor’s recommendations for any necessary follow-up care. This will often require treatment that can occur outside the hospital setting. For instance, you may be able to get treatment from smaller offices such as from local chiropractors and physical therapists. Seeking consistent medical treatment is not only important to your health and well-being, it is also critical to your personal injury claim. A pandemic will not stop insurance companies from undervaluing claims. Any lapse in treatment will still be used to justify not paying your claim or paying you less than your claim is worth.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

At Cooper Schall & Levy, we are dedicated to providing continuous, reliable legal support to our injured clients. If you have any questions or concerns during the chaos that has seemed to envelop the world during the Coronavirus pandemic, know that we are here for you. Contact us today.

Woman on her phone browsing social media accounts.

How Social Media Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

Social media has become so ingrained in everyday life, it seems as though everyone, regardless of age, has an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media platform. We use social media to keep in touch with friends and family, find out what is going on with other people, let other people know what is going on with us and connect with the outside world. The use of social media, however, can have other effects as well. For instance, the use of social media can have very real and very serious impacts on your personal injury claim. Be aware of these potential effects as many of them can jeopardize your claim and opportunity at recovering compensation for your injuries.

Social Media May Impact Your Personal Injury Case

There are two main ways using social media can impact your personal injury claim. Through using social media, you may inadvertently call liability into question about who was at-fault in causing an accident or you may inadvertently undermine the extent and nature of your injuries. This can be accomplished in several different ways.

Many people “check-in” on social media. Check-ins let others know your location and/or what activity you are out participating in. Unfortunately, disclosing activities can undermine your injury claim. Insurance companies will use any avenue to undermine or shut down your claim. They are protecting their money and will go to great lengths to do so. If you check in someplace, such as a gym for an exercise class, this information may come up later to act as evidence that you are not injured as you say you are. 

Does this sound unfair? Yes, and it absolutely is. Even those who have been injured due to the negligent action or inaction of another have to find a way to move on with their lives. Just because you are injured does not mean you cannot participate in various activities, although participation may be limited. The tough truth is that insurance companies will still use this type of information to paint a picture of you being untruthful about the nature and extent of your injuries.

In addition to check-ins, posting pictures or status updates regarding your day to day life can also call your injury claim into question. This is true for the same reasons as described above. Not only can it call into question the extent of your injuries, but it can also undermine any claim you are making regarding pain and suffering damages. If you are posting about going out with your friends and participating in extracurricular activities, it is not going to look good if you are also claiming your lifestyle was detrimentally impacted by your accident injuries. Friends or family posting on your social media account can also have this same unintended effect on your personal injury claim.

Social media content can also inadvertently call liability into question. For instance, you may use it to post about a car accident with the innocent intent of letting your friends and family know you are alright. You might mention something like you didn’t see the other car coming, you were on the phone when the accident happened, or some other details about the accident that could end up creating questions about your role in causing the accident. Insurance companies will absolutely try to spin your words in this direction. 

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are seeking compensation for accident injuries through a personal injury claim, the safest bet is to take an extended break from social media. It is far too easy for social media to jeopardize your claim. Should you have any other concerns, the knowledgeable attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy will answer any of your questions. We are here to protect your best interests and provide you with trusted legal counsel. Contact us today.

Cooper, Schall & Levy discusses how a pedestrian was fatally struck by a pick-up truck.

Philadelphia Pedestrian Fatally Struck by Pick-Up Truck

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, in 2016 alone, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities in U.S. traffic crashes. On top of that, close to 129,000 pedestrians received emergency room treatment for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. The CDC goes on to report that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than occupants of passenger vehicles to be killed in a car crash on each trip. These kinds of numbers make it clear that it is not safe for pedestrians. Pedestrians are at great risk at sustaining injuries, often fatal injuries, in motor vehicle crashes. As we look at the numbers of lives destroyed or forever changed by involvement in a pedestrian accident, we can take measures to make the roads safer for everyone.

Philadelphia Pedestrian Fatally Struck by Pick-Up Truck

At around 9 pm on October 1st, there was a fatal pedestrian accident in the Homesburg section of Philadelphia. A 63-year-old man was struck by a pickup truck and the victim was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Police report that the entire accident was caught on private surveillance cameras. The driver of the pick-up truck involved in the fatal crash was a 70-year-old man who remained at the accident scene and is cooperating with law enforcement.

Unfortunately, this type of accident is far too common. Older adults are at greater risk of being involved in pedestrian crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that, in 2017, two-thirds of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were males. Also, the NHTSA reports that 26%, the highest percentage of pedestrian fatalities, happen between the hours of 6 pm and 8:59 pm. What all this means is that the 63-year-old man who was fatally injured in a pedestrian crash on the night of October 1st is one of many who met a similar fate.

To combat the dangers associated with being a pedestrian, especially the dangers associated with being a pedestrian at night. Pedestrians should always remember to be as visible as possible. Wear bright clothes. Be predictable and avoid actions that might surprise motorists. Never make the assumption that a driver can see you, even if you are crossing in a marked sidewalk. Put down your phone and avoid engaging in any other distractions such as other kinds of handheld devices.

Drivers, it is also up to you to help keep pedestrians and others on the road safe. Make sure to adjust your driving depending on conditions such as lighting and weather. Do not engage in things like speeding, reckless driving, and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in areas where pedestrians are likely to be present. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and give them space. Drive defensively and, as much as possible, drive to expect the unexpected.

Pedestrian Crash Attorneys

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries. Talk to the experienced attorneys at Cooper, Schall & Levy and we will discuss your legal options for monetary recovery. Contact us today.

Cooper, Schall & Levy discusses who is liable for dog bites in Pennsylvania.

Who Is Liable for Dog Bites?

Being attacked by a dog and sustaining a dog bite injury is a scary experience. Pennsylvania law requires that owners and keepers of dogs maintain reasonable control over their dogs at all times. This includes confining their dogs on their premises and using restraint devices such as collars, chains, and leashes when necessary. Unfortunately, dog bites still happen and can sometimes lead to very serious injuries.

The Liability of Dog Bites

In Pennsylvania, if you are attacked by a dog, the owner will be liable for paying your medical costs. Most states have a strict liability statute that automatically holds a dog owner responsible for the majority of dog bite injuries, even if the animal had no history of aggressive behavior and even if the owner was in no way negligent in maintaining the animal. Pennsylvania’s strict liability statute pertaining to dog bites makes the dog owner liable for paying for all of the victim’s related medical expenses. The owner is not, however, responsible for other damages. This means that the owner will not be strictly liable for paying for things like lost income or pain and suffering.

If the victim of a dog attack can prove that the owner was negligent or knew that the animal had a tendency to exhibit aggressive behavior, then he or she may be able to recover full damages, not just medical expenses. The victim can sue the dog owner for negligence, but he or she must be able to prove that the dog had “unmistakably vicious tendencies” and the owner failed to properly control the animal. A dog does not necessarily have to have a record of biting others to be considered vicious. On the other side of this, a single bite on a dog’s record will not necessarily merit labeling the dog as vicious.

To be found negligent, evidence of the owner’s failure to keep the dog restrained at all times or failure of an owner to meet the legal requirements of those who have dangerous dogs will usually be presented. In addition to being held liable for negligence, the owner may also be charged with harboring a dangerous dog if the dog has a history of vicious behavior or unprovoked attacks. This is a summary offense, but it carries a fine of up to $500 and the owner will have to register the dog as dangerous and have the dog implanted with a special microchip. The dog must be properly confined, muzzled, and/or restrained. Additionally, there must be conspicuous signs posted on the owner’s property warning children to stay away as there is a dangerous animal present. The owner may also have to pay court-ordered restitution to the victim of the dog attack.

Dog Bite Attorneys

If you have been injured in a dog attack, you may be able to recover damages beyond your medical expenses. There are many more costs that are associated with such an attack. You may be compensated for your pain and suffering. You may be compensated for any lost income or loss of earning capacity. You may be compensated if you have sustained any permanent disfigurement. The attorneys at Cooper, Schall & Levy will be in your corner the entire time. We advocate for dog bit victims. Contact us today.

Cooper Schall & Levy discusses who pays in an electric scooter accident.

Who Pays in an Electric Scooter Accident?

The electric scooter craze has spread across the U.S. Companies, such as Lime and Bird, provided electric scooter sharing opportunities in some major U.S. cities. Unfortunately, there have been many problems with electric scooters. There have been widespread reports of accidents caused by the use and misuse of electric scooters. This has led many local government officials to question the safety of having electronic scooter companies to bring in business. 

Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has provided guidance stating that electronic scooters are not street legal, but this stance may be in the process of evolving. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow e-scooters on streets in the Commonwealth. Philadelphia does not have any electronic scooters, but city officials have expressed concerns about allowing them on city streets and sidewalks.

Is Philadelphia Ready for Electric Scooters?

Electronic scooter-sharing companies let people pay to reserve and ride electric scooters just by using a smartphone app. There isn’t even a need to drop off the scooters at a particular docking location, as they can be left wherever (which has caused problems such as blocked city sidewalks in other areas).

Back in November of 2018, Philadelphia city officials deemed electronic scooters to be classified as “motor vehicles.” This means that they cannot be used on streets or sidewalks because the scooters do not meet the requisite safety and equipment standards. Pennsylvania lawmakers, however, introduced a bill in late February that would start the process for legalizing the use of electronic scooters. Philadelphia city officials have continually expressed objections to this kind of thing. While state lawmakers may be feeling more progressive about allowing the use of electronic scooters, local officials still express continued resistance to the idea.

While some may be resistant to the use of electronic scooters due to safety concerns, city officials could take large steps to help address potential safety issues. For instance, making sure there is quality infrastructure in place to support the use of electronic scooters would be a valuable way to help ensure the safety of riders and others on the road. Putting an infrastructure in place that would do things like physically separate those engaged in different modes of transportation, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter riders, would help to ease some of the major safety concerns that have come up.

Additionally, the city may want to consider having any electronic scooter company require lessons for how to ride and where to ride the scooters. Most are not subject to this kind of requirement and it has resulted in people riding the scooters that do not know how to properly ride and do not understand what the scooter is capable of. Without an understanding of how to safely operate an electronic scooter and how the traffic rules apply to them, people are put in needless danger.

Pennsylvania Injury Attorney

Electronic scooters can be a fun way of getting around town. Unfortunately, the lack of safety measures in many locations that have allowed electronic scooter use has made a potentially fun mode of transportation extremely dangerous. Should Philadelphia ever allow electronic scooters, we hope that riders and others on the roads and sidewalks stay safe. If you are ever injured on the roads or sidewalks of Philadelphia, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy. We are here for you. Contact us today.

Cooper Schall & Levy discusses the dog bite laws in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Dog Bite Laws

Being the victim of a dog bite can be both a physically and emotionally traumatic experience. The injuries you can sustain due to a dog attacking you can be painful and require extensive treatment that must be sought immediately after the incident to prevent things such as infection and permanent scarring. Pennsylvania law allows for a person who has been the victim of a dog bite to bring a personal injury claim seeking compensation for his or her damages. However, there is a two-year statute of limitations on these types of claims. This means you should not wait to bring your claim. Once the two-year deadline has passed, you will not be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages for your injuries. 

Dog owner laws

In Pennsylvania, dog owners are required to control their animals by adequately confining and restraining the dog. If a dog has been deemed a “dangerous” animal, the law has additional requirements that the owner must observe. A dog is considered dangerous if the animal has:

  • Inflicted serious injury on a person without provocation;
  • Killed or seriously injured a domestic animal without provocation while off of the owner’s property; or
  • Been used in the commission of a crime.

If a person owns a dangerous dog, he or she must confine the dog in a suitable enclosure. The dog must not be let out of this enclosure unless muzzled and restrained by a leash that is being held by a responsible person. The dangerous dog owner must also post visible warning signs on his or her property making it clear that there is a dangerous dog on the property. Additionally, the owner must obtain a $50,000 surety bond issued by an insurance provider authorized to do business in Pennsylvania. The surety bond must be payable to any person who is injured by the dangerous dog.

Under certain circumstances, Pennsylvania law allows a person who has been seriously injured by a dog bite to recover compensation for injuries sustained by the animal’s owner. The dog owner must be found negligent or must have failed to comply with the dog laws of the state. The court will look to the specific facts and circumstances of the case to decide whether the dog owner should be held liable for compensating the dog bite victim for his or her injury. It will be important to be clear about whether or not the animal was at all provoked. If there is no evidence of provocation, the court is more likely to find the owner liable. Furthermore, the visitor status of the victim and the location where the attack occurred will be relevant. If the victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s private property, the court may weigh this against finding the owner liable.

Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorneys

A dog bite is a serious matter. The attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy fight for dog bite victims to help see that they are properly compensated for the damages they have suffered. Contact us today.

Cooper Schall & Levy discusses the most common slip and fall injuries.

Most Common Slip and Fall Injuries

Some of the most common personal injury claims involve slip and fall accidents. A property owner has a duty to maintain safe conditions on the premises. Unfortunately, property owners can become complacent and hazardous conditions can go unaddressed for far too long. Slip and fall injuries can have serious and lasting health consequences for the victim. In turn, a victim may experience financial hardships due to rapidly piling up medical bills and the inability to go to work because of the injuries. If you have been injured due to negligent property conditions, you may seek compensation for your injuries.

What Are the Most Common Slip and Fall Causes and Injuries?

The most common injuries sustained in slip and falls span a wide range. The nature of the injury will largely depend on the cause of the fall and how the person actually made contact with the ground or surrounding area. For instance, broken bones are often sustained in a slip and fall. The impact of a fall can have such a stressful impact on the bone that the bone is unable to withstand it. Wrist fractures in slip and falls are especially common because it is a natural reflex for a person to try and brace themselves with their hand when they are falling. Sprains and strains in the wrist area are common in these types of cases for the same reason. Hip fractures are also common in slip and falls as landing directly on the hip joint is a usual point of initial contact the person’s body has with the ground.

If you twist and land a certain way when you fall, you may also end up with a serious knee injury. Ligament tears or dislocation of the patella can have devastating consequences that require immediate knee reconstruction. The need for surgery and extensive follow up physical therapy are common in knee injury cases. Additionally, if you fall and hit your shoulder or reach out to brace yourself as you fall, you may dislocate your shoulder or strain your muscles. A shoulder dislocation is likely to require immediate surgery as well as a lengthy follow-up treatment plan to ensure that your injury is properly addressed and given the best chances for healing.

Some of the scariest and most common slip and fall injuries involve head injuries such as traumatic brain injury. Your head does not need to hit the ground for a traumatic brain injury to occur, although that is commonly the case. The jolt to the brain can cause serious damage. These kinds of injuries can be especially tricky as you may not even know that you have this kind of injury or the full extent of the injury. Be clear with your doctor with all of the symptoms you are experiencing to make sure any traumatic brain injury is properly evaluated and treated accordingly.

How you fall and how you land can largely depend on the cause of the slip and fall. Some of the most common causes for slip and falls include:

  • Wet or freshly waxed floors
  • Damaged or loose flooring
  • Potholes
  • Unsalted ice
  • Debris in walkways
  • Poor lighting
  • Cords running across walkways
  • Lack of handrails

Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Attorneys

If you have been injured by a dangerous property condition, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim seeking compensation for your losses. At Cooper Schall & Levy, our personal injury attorneys fight for slip and fall victims. Contact us today.

Cooper Schall & Levy discusses what you need to know about dog bite laws in Pennsylvania

5 Things You Need to Know About Dog Bite Laws in Pennsylvania

Dog bites can range from minor injuries that heal within a few weeks to traumatic injuries that result in permanent scarring, nerve damage, and other impairments or disabilities. The mental and emotional injuries from dog bites can last a lifetime. If a dog caused you injury, you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages under Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence to prove liability and document your damages.

5 Things to Know About Holding Pennsylvania Dog Owners Liable After a Dog Bite

1. Pennsylvania Has A Leash Law

Dog owners are required by law to maintain control over their dogs at all times. Maintaining control or restraining a dog may be accomplished in several ways including:

  • Confining the dog to the owner’s premises;
  • Securing the dog with a chain and collar or other device so it cannot wander off the premises; or,
  • Under the reasonable control of a person.

Many dog owners build fences, keep their dogs indoors, and use leashes whenever their dogs are not indoors or tethered in place on the premises. Owners who violate leash laws may be held liable for damages if the dog bites another person or attacks another animal.

2. Pennsylvania Also Has A Dangerous Dog Statute

A dog that is considered “dangerous” under the elements outlined in the statute must be registered, contained, and insured. Owners of dangerous dogs must also post clear, visible warning signs on the property where the dog is kept or housed. Failing to abide by the requirements of the dangerous dog statute can result in fines and penalties, in addition to liability for personal injuries.

A dog may be dangerous who:

  • Caused serious injury to a person without provocation;
  • Caused serious injury or death to a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s premises;
  • Attacked a person without provocation;
  • Was used by a person to commit a crime; or;
  • Has a history of attacking people or animals without provocation or demonstrates a propensity to attack.

3. Trespass and Provocation are Defenses to Dog Bite Claims

A dog owner may have one or more defenses available to claims for damages caused by a dog bite or dog attack. If the dog owner can show that the person was trespassing on the dog owner’s property or the person provoked the dog, the dog owner may not be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the dog.

4. Cities and Counties May Have Specific Laws

In addition to state laws, cities and counties may have leash laws or other laws pertaining to restraining or confining animals. If a dog bites a person, local animal control laws may be used to prove negligence or wrongdoing for a personal injury claim.

5. Time Is Limited to File Dog Bite Claims in Pennsylvania

The state’s Statute of Limitations limits a victim’s time to file a personal injury lawsuit related to a dog bite. In most cases, you only have two years from the date of the bite or attack to file a lawsuit claiming damages. If the victim of a dog bite is a child, the child typically has two years from his or her 18th birthday to file a dog bite lawsuit. Because there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, it is best to seek the advice of a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after an attack.

Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

Dog bite injury claims can be complex. Proving a dog owner is liable for damages can be challenging. The Pennsylvania dog bite injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy understand dog bite laws and can investigate the incident to search for evidence that proves the dog owner is liable for your injuries and damages. Contact us today.

CSL Recovers from School District of Philadelphia

image of broken slide at a playgroundOur dangerous playground attorneys successfully proved that the School District of Philadelphia and the manufacturer of the sliding board were both responsible for the partial amputation of our client’s pinky finger. The sliding board was not constructed according to regulations and the school district turned a blind eye when its’ employees tried to protect young students from a dangerous opening by using tape to cover the areas where the metal had split. Through the use of a highly qualified engineer and the aggressive handling of this case, our young client was awarded $500,000.00.

Contact the Lawyers who can help you with your Slip and Fall on www.cooperschallandlevy.com or call us  on 215.561.3313.