How to Prove Liability in Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Claims

How to Prove Liability in Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Claims

How to prove liability in Pennsylvania slip and fall claims. Fall accidents are very common in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of three million older adults are treated in the emergency department every year for fall injuries, and 800,000 people are hospitalized for injuries that they have sustained in falls. When fall accidents happen when people are visiting the property of others, the property owners might be liable in some cases but not liable in others.

If you have been injured after slipping or tripping and falling while you were visiting a business, the private property of another person, or public property, you might wonder whether you can recover damages to compensate you for the losses that you have suffered. In some cases, property owners will not be liable for injuries in fall accidents. For example, a business might not be liable if you slipped and fell in something that was spilled in the seconds before your accident because the business would not have had time to discover the spill and clean it. Property owners also will often not be found to be liable when people slip and fall because of something that a reasonable person would be expected to see and avoid.

Property owners are required to keep their properties in reasonably safe conditions for people who are legally present. Slip-and-fall accident cases frequently turn on the reasonableness of the property owners’ actions to prevent falls and the negligence of the victims in failing to avoid falling. Determining liability in a potential slip-and-fall claim is important to figure out whether the claim has legal merits. The legal team at DiCindio Law can evaluate claims and explain whether the victims have grounds to file lawsuits and recover damages.

Liability in slip-and-fall cases

Before you can recover damages after suffering injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, you will need to be able to prove that the business or property owner was liable for what happened to you. To succeed, you will need to show that one of the following situations occurred in your case:

  • The hazardous condition that caused your fall was created by the property owner or an employee.
  • The property owner or an employee must have known about the dangerous condition but failed to do anything about it.
  • The property owner or an employee should have known about the dangerous condition because a reasonably prudent person would have discovered and fixed it.

Out of the three scenarios, the third one is the most common. However, it is also not as clear-cut as the other two because plaintiffs must prove that the property owner should have known about the hazardous condition. In these types of cases, liability frequently is determined by common sense. A jury will determine whether the property owner was appropriately careful by examining the steps that the owner took to ensure that the property remained safe.

Determining reasonableness

In many slip-and-fall negligence claims, the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions will be important. The court will look at whether the property owner engaged in regular and thorough activities to try to maintain the property in a clean and safe condition. For example, if you tripped and fell over a broken or torn area of the floor or carpet or slipped on a slick area, determining how long the dangerous spot had been there will be important to show that the owner either knew or should have known about it.

If the property owner has a regular schedule or procedure for inspecting and cleaning the premises, you will want to get copies of any proof that the owner has that the maintenance was conducted. For example, the business might have a maintenance and inspection log that the employees initial.

If you fell because you tripped over an object that someone had left on the ground, the reason why the object was placed there will be important. If there was a legitimate reason for its placement, you might not have grounds to file a claim. However, if the reason for the object being placed there no longer exists, you will want to explore whether it could have been removed or made safe in a different way. You will also want to investigate whether the object could have been placed in a different, safer spot without substantial expense or inconvenience caused to the property owner. If there wasn’t a barrier around the object or a warning sign, you will also want to determine whether a barrier or sign could have prevented your accident from happening.

The lighting conditions can also be important in some cases. For example, if you tripped and fell while walking on stairs, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit if the stairwell was dark because of inadequate or broken lighting.

Your negligence or carelessness

In most slip-and-fall cases, determining whether the victim contributed to his or her accident will also be important. Pennsylvania follows a rule of modified comparative negligence. Under 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102, contributing to your accident will not be a bar to recovering damages as long as your negligence did not exceed the negligence of the defendant. However, your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you. For example, if a jury determines that you were 49% at fault and the defendant was 51% at fault, you can still recover damages. Your award will be reduced by 49%, however. If the jury determines that your negligence was greater than the negligence of the defendant, you will not be able to recover damages.

Defendants commonly try to argue that the plaintiffs were careless and caused their accidents. They do this to try to limit their liability or avoid it altogether. This makes it important for you to evaluate your actions to determine whether your carelessness might prevent you from recovering damages. Some things to consider include the following:

  • Whether you had a valid and foreseeable reason for being in the area where the dangerous condition was located
  • Whether a reasonable person would have noticed and avoided the dangerous condition
  • Whether warning signs were placed in the area
  • Whether you were distracted by your smartphone
  • Whether you were engaging in unreasonable actions such as running, skipping, or jumping

Get help from DiCindio Law

Determining liability is the first step in figuring out whether you can recover damages after a slip-and-fall accident. An attorney at DiCindio Law can help by evaluating what happened and explaining the legal options and remedies that might be available. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation by calling us at 610.430.3535.

What happens in a side-impact collision?

What happens in a side-impact collision?

What happens in a side-impact collision? Side-impact crashes are also called T-bone or broadside accidents. These accidents occur when the front of a vehicle collides into the side of a different vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 25% of all traffic fatalities each year are caused by side-impact collisions. These accidents most frequently occur at intersections when drivers run red lights or fail to stop at stop signs. Even when these collisions occur at low speeds, severe injuries can happen to the occupants of the car that is broad-sided. If you have been seriously injured in a side-impact collision because of the actions of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The legal team at DiCindio Law can review what happened in your case and provide you with an honest analysis of the options that might be available to you.

What are the causes of side-impact collisions?

Side-impact crashes frequently result from the carelessness or recklessness of one or more drivers. Some of the most common causes of these types of accidents include the following:Distracted driving, including texting while driving, talking on the phone, eating or drinking, or taking your eyes off of the road

  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Speeding
  • Trying to make it through a light before it turns red
  • Failing to yield
  • Inattentive driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Making an unsafe left turn
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way at four-way stops

Side-impact collisions can happen when drivers fail to obey traffic laws or engage in careless or reckless driving behaviors. When they occur, the people in the car that is impacted frequently do not have any time to react before the collision occurs.

Common injuries in side-impact collisions

Side-impact crashes can cause serious injuries. Cars do not have as much protection along their sides as they do in the front or rear. When vehicles are struck from behind, the trunk helps to absorb some of the impacts. Similarly, vehicles that are struck from the front have the engine compartment and hood to absorb some of the forces of the collision. When a vehicle crashes into the side of a vehicle, only the door stands between the occupants and the striking vehicle. While newer vehicles might have side airbags, they are often insufficient to absorb all of the forces that are released in these types of crashes. Because of these issues, people who are occupying cars that are involved in side-impact crashes may suffer multiple, serious injuries, including the following:

  • Whiplash injuries
  • Fractures to the upper extremities
  • Fractured ribs
  • Fractures to the lower extremities
  • Serious traumatic brain injuries
  • Burns, bruises, and lacerations
  • Organ damage
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis

Other injuries are also possible in side-impact crashes. If you have suffered serious injuries or have lost your loved one in a side-impact collision, you may be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault driver through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

What to do after a side-impact collision

In the immediate aftermath of a crash, it can be difficult to know what to do. Keeping the following tips in mind can help you if you are involved in a side-impact crash.

You should always stop at the scene and park your vehicle in a safe location. Call 911 and wait for help to arrive. Check everyone involved for injuries, and provide help to any people who are injured. If you can, photograph the damage to both cars and the scene, making sure to get photos of nearby traffic control devices, stop signs, speed limit signs, weather conditions, and other relevant information. If any witnesses saw what happened, take down their names and contact information.

Make sure to exchange information with the other driver. You should provide your name, driver’s license information, registration, and insurance information. You should also get the same information from the other driver. Document the make, model, and license plate of the other vehicle. When the police arrive, tell them what happened, but do not apologize or accept blame. Make sure to go to the hospital or your doctor for medical attention. Some injuries might not show symptoms for hours after an accident, and getting immediate treatment can help you to identify and treat your injuries to help to improve your chances of fully recovering from them.

Do not make any statements to the other party’s insurance company or sign any documents. Insurance companies try to get statements that they can use against you. The insurance company might also ask you to sign a medical release and tell you that it needs the information to verify your injuries. Do not agree to do this. The company can use the release to dig through your medical history so that it can try to blame your injuries on some other event. When you are contacted by a company, politely explain that you want to consult with an attorney before you will give any statement or sign anything. Once you have an attorney, all of the communication will be directed to him or her.

The importance of an attorney following a side-impact crash

Attorneys understand how insurance companies defend against claims. Since side-impact crashes often cause severe injuries, the claims typically involve large sums of money. This means that the insurance company will likely aggressively defend against your claim. Having the help of an attorney who can anticipate the different defenses that might be raised can help you to avoid making costly mistakes and build a strong case of liability. Attorneys may thoroughly investigate what happened and work with experts to demonstrate the liability of the other driver and the extent of your injuries and losses.

Potential damages in a side-impact crash

The damages that might be available to you will depend on your injuries, how long it will take you to recover, and the extent of your losses. In a personal injury lawsuit following a side-impact crash, the available damages might include both economic and non-economic damages. Your economic damages might include things like your medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, out-of-pocket expenses, wage losses, and property losses. Your non-economic damages might include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement, disability, and emotional anguish. Your attorney can help to value your claim so that you can have a general idea of what it might be worth.

Contact DiCindio Law

A side-impact crash can cause devastating injuries and losses. If you have been injured in this type of collision, you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation at 610.430.3535.

Types of field sobriety tests and their admissibility in court

Types of field sobriety tests and their admissibility in court

When people in Pennsylvania are pulled over by officers who suspect that they might be under the influence of alcohol, they may be asked to perform several tests at the roadside. There are types of field sobriety tests and their admissibility in court or known as SFSTs. There are three tests that officers might conduct to try to develop probable cause for a DUI arrest. These tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn. Unlike chemical tests after an arrest, people are not legally required to submit to SFSTs. However, if they do, they may wonder whether the tests are admissible in court. Here is what the legal team at DiCindio Law thinks that you should know about SFSTs and their admissibility.

What are the standardized field sobriety tests?

The standardized field sobriety tests are a battery of tests that were created and standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1970s and 1980s. When these tests are properly administered, the NHTSA claims that they are effective in helping to determine whether a motorist is under the influence of alcohol. However, the tests are subjective and are frequently not administered according to the standards. They also do not work for all people because of medical conditions and other issues that might impact motor control and eye movements. The three standardized tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. Officers might also ask people to submit to other field sobriety tests that are not standardized.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The HGN test looks for an involuntary jerking movement of the eyes when they move to look to the side. Normally, nystagmus happens when people’s eyes are rotated at high side angles. In people who are under the influence of alcohol, the jerking motions are exaggerated and may be seen at smaller angles. People who are impaired by alcohol also have trouble tracking a moving object with their eyes. In this test, the police officer uses a pen and asks the person to track it with his or her eyes as the officer slowly moves it to the side. The officer observes the person’s eyes to watch for three things. The officer will look to see if the person’s eyes are unable to smoothly track the object. He or she will also look for distinct and sustained jerking motions when the eyes reach the maximum deviation and if the jerking is observed before the eyes reach a 45-degree angle from the center.

Walk-and-turn test

The walk-and-turn test is the second of the three SFSTs. In this test, the officer asks the person to take nine heel-to-toe steps on a straight line. Once the person takes the steps, he or she is asked to turn around on one foot and return in the same way back to the starting point. The officer will watch to see if the person exhibits any of the eight following signs that might indicate that he or she is impaired:

  • Inability to maintain balance while being told the instructions
  • Starting to walk before the officer has finished giving the instructions
  • Stopping during the walk to regain balance
  • Not touching heel-to-toe
  • Extending arms out for balance
  • Stepping off of the line
  • Taking the wrong number of steps
  • Turning improperlyhow to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how tohow to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop  make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signshow to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop  pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminathow to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop ed signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonhow to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop illuminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop how how to make nonilluminated signs pop how to make nonilluminated signs pop to make nonilluminated signs pop

One-leg stand test

The one-leg stand test involves the officer asking the person to stand while having one foot extended in front of him or her around six inches off of the ground. While maintaining the foot off of the ground, the person is told to count by one thousand and one, one thousand and two, etc. until he or she is told to return his or her foot to the ground. The officer will time the person for 30 seconds. The signs that the officer will look for include swaying, extending the arms for balance, hopping, or putting the foot down early.

Problems with the tests

Multiple problems can make someone unable to complete the tests successfully. For example, some medical conditions or eye diseases cause nystagmus. Many people suffer from health conditions that affect their balance and their ability to complete the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. Generally, police officers should ask people whether they have any medical conditions or reasons that make them unable to complete the tests. If a person tells the officer that he or she does, the officer should write the condition down in the report.

Are the results of SFSTs admissible?

The NHTSA created a standard for the procedures for administering SFSTs in 1981. However, it is a federal standard that states are not required to follow. Out of the three SFSTs, the one-legged stand and the walk-and-turn are generally considered to be admissible at trial. The third test, the HGN test, is not admissible at trial in Pennsylvania. However, it is admissible for use in a probable cause hearing. For the one-legged stand and the walk-and-turn tests, a lawyer can review the administration of the tests and challenge the officer about any deviations from the standard established by the NHTSA. Since the HGN is based on the person’s eye movements that cannot be seen, it is more difficult to challenge how it was administered.

Your attorney may request copies of the video of your SFSTs during the discovery process. He or she can then review how the tests were administered and your performance on the tests. If the officer administered the tests incorrectly, your lawyer may file a motion to challenge their admissibility at trial in your DUI case. If the motion is granted, the prosecutor will not be able to present them as evidence against you at trial.

Contact DiCindio Law

Getting pulled over for a suspected DUI can be scary. If you were arrested after an officer performed standardized field sobriety tests, it is important to review the video carefully. Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law understands how these tests should be administered and can challenge any errors that he observes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us at 610.430.3535.

Understanding the Preservation of Evidence in Criminal Cases

Understanding the Preservation of Evidence in Criminal Cases

Today we’re talking about understanding the preservation of evidence in criminal cases. When people are criminally prosecuted in Pennsylvania, the government must preserve the evidence that it gathers during criminal investigations to protect the due process rights of defendants. The duty to preserve evidence also includes a mandate for the government to disclose the evidence that it plans to use against defendants at trial. It must also disclose any mitigating evidence that it uncovers that could help the defense. This duty begins when any state agency has collected evidence during a criminal investigation. A criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law understands how to secure the required disclosures to help to build defense cases for defendants.

Types of evidence that must be preserved

The duty for preservation of evidence in criminal cases does not mean that police officers must preserve all of the information and evidence that they collect. Instead, the duty applies only to the evidence that is exculpatory and material. Exculpatory evidence includes evidence that tends to clear the defendant of guilt. Material evidence includes any relevant evidence that directly relates to the issues in a criminal case.

One type of evidence that is nearly always both exculpatory and material is alibi evidence. This type of evidence includes things like forensic evidence that demonstrates that the defendant could not have committed the offense and witness statements that the defendant was located somewhere else at the time the crime was committed.

Other types of material and exculpatory evidence

Many cases don’t have alibi evidence. However, they may have other types of material and exculpatory evidence that tends to weaken the state’s case against a defendant. Some examples of other types of material and exculpatory evidence include the following:

  • Evidence from the crime scene, including photographs, murder weapons, blood samples, and measurements
  • Video and audio recordings
  • Investigative notes made while interrogating a defendant
  • 911 call recordings

Who must preserve evidence?

Several parties must preserve evidence that is collected in a criminal case, including the following:

  • Detectives, investigators, forensic staff, clerical staff, and administrative staff of investigative agencies
  • Prosecutors, prosecution experts, and prosecution investigators
  • Attorney general for appeals and post-conviction matters

Private agencies and individuals do not have a duty to preserve evidence unless they have formal relationships with law enforcement agencies. If a prosecutor hires a private lab to perform DNA analysis, the lab will have to preserve the evidence and the results of the tests that it performs because of the relationship it has with the prosecutor’s office.

Evidence that is destroyed or lost

The burden of proving that the state violated the duty to preserve evidence lies with the defendant. A defendant will have to show that the state’s violation of its duty interfered with his or her right to a fair trial and due process. To get the court to take action, a defendant will need to show that the evidence that was lost or destroyed was material and exculpatory. The defendant will also have to prove that the state acted in bad faith in destroying or losing the evidence in question.

To prove that lost or destroyed evidence was material, a defendant will need to be able to show that the police officers knew or should have known that the evidence was exculpatory before it was destroyed. The defendant will also need to show that the evidence cannot be replaced by other available evidence.

The materiality of the evidence can sometimes be inferred from the actions of the officers. For example, if the officers destroyed evidence that was a type that is normally preserved in similar cases, the materiality of the evidence might be inferred by the court. The court might also infer that the evidence was material if the state tested, used, or intended to test the evidence that was lost or destroyed.

It is difficult to prove that the state acted in bad faith in losing or destroying evidence. Simply showing that the officers were negligent or careless is not enough. Instead, the defendant must demonstrate that the officers acted willfully, maliciously, or deceitfully. Bad faith can be inferred when the state failed to follow standard procedures. An example of an investigator’s bad faith might include destroying DNA samples that tend to show that someone else committed the crime.

Remedies when the state destroys or loses material and exculpatory evidence

The prosecution will not be sanctioned by the court if it loses or destroys material or exculpatory evidence unless the defendant raises the issue. Normally, a defendant will file a motion with the court to notify it, and the court will schedule a motion hearing. At the hearing, the defendant will have to present evidence showing that the government has violated its duty to preserve evidence and acted in bad faith. The defendant will also need to present evidence showing that the destroyed or lost evidence was material and exculpatory to the extent that his or her constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process were violated.

If the defendant is successful, the court may limit testimony about related evidence or suppress it. In extreme situations, the court may dismiss the charges against the defendant. When the destruction of evidence is not discovered until after a conviction, the conviction may be overturned by an appeals court.

When the defendant discovers during his or her trial that the prosecution violated the duty to preserve and disclose evidence, there are a couple of remedies. The defendant can ask the court to exclude or restrict testimony about the destroyed or lost evidence, suppress related evidence, or dismiss the charges.

Contact DiCindio Law

The preservation of evidence in all criminal cases are critical for ensuring that people receive fair trials. People who are charged with crimes might want to retain experienced criminal defense lawyers for help with ensuring that all of the relevant evidence is disclosed to them. Contact a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law today by calling us at 610.430.3535.

What Is The Difference Between Contributory Negligence and Comparative Negligence

What Is The Difference Between Contributory Negligence and Comparative Negligence

In personal injury cases, determining who was at fault for an accident is a key issue. An injured victim cannot sue someone else and recover damages without showing that the person was at fault for causing the accident and injuries. In some situations, an injured victim will be partly to blame for causing the accident. When the parties share fault, the courts will determine fault based on either comparative or contributory negligence, depending on the state. Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Understanding the differences between contributory and comparative negligence is important for people who have been injured in accidents. Here is what the legal team at DiCindio Law thinks that you should know about comparative negligence and contributory negligence.

Contributory vs. comparative negligence

Contributory and comparative negligence are legal doctrines that affect the ability of a plaintiff to recover damages after he or she has been injured in an accident in which he or she was partially at fault. The doctrine that will apply depends on the state’s laws. Pennsylvania follows a doctrine called modified comparative fault, which will be explained more below. Before discussing the doctrine of modified comparative fault, it is first important to define contributory negligence and comparative negligence to understand how they differ from each other.

Contributory negligence

Historically, injured plaintiffs could not recover damages if they contributed any portion of the fault to an accident. This meant that if a jury determined that a plaintiff was 1% at fault, he or she would be unable to recover damages for his or her losses. This doctrine is called contributory negligence. Because it is now considered to be too harsh, most states now follow some type of comparative negligence rule.

Comparative negligence

A majority of states, including Pennsylvania, now use comparative negligence instead of contributory negligence when determining the ability of a plaintiff to recover damages. Under comparative negligence rules, plaintiffs can recover damages for their injuries. However, their ability to recover compensation will depend on their percentages of fault. For example, if a jury finds that a defendant is 70% at fault and the plaintiff is 30% at fault, the plaintiff’s award will be reduced by 30%. The states that have adopted the comparative negligence doctrine either follow pure comparative negligence or modified comparative negligence.

Pure comparative negligence

Approximately 25% of the states follow the pure comparative negligence rule. People in these states can recover compensation for their losses to the extent that they were not at fault. For example, if someone is found to be 25% at fault in a pure comparative negligence state, his or her damages would be reduced by 25%. However, pure comparative negligence states allow plaintiffs to recover compensation even when they were largely to blame for causing their accidents. For example, if a person is 90% at fault for an accident, he or she could still recover 10% of the damages awarded by a jury. Because of situations like that, Pennsylvania and the majority of states have modified comparative negligence rules.

Modified comparative negligence

A majority of the states have modified comparative negligence laws. In these states, a plaintiff can only recover damages for the percentage of fault that is attributed to the defendant. However, a plaintiff cannot recover damages if his or her negligence exceeded a threshold. Typically, the threshold beyond which damages will not be recoverable is 50% or 51%.

For example, if a plaintiff files a lawsuit after being injured in an accident and is found to be 40% at fault, he or she will be able to recover 60% of the damages. By contrast, if the plaintiff is found to be 55% at fault, he or she will not be able to recover compensation for his or her losses. This is because the plaintiff’s percentage of fault exceeded the state’s threshold.

What are Pennsylvania’s laws about negligence?

Under this law, a plaintiff will not be barred from recovering damages simply because he or she contributed fault for his or her accident. However, the plaintiff will not be able to recover damages if his or her negligence exceeds the negligence of the defendant. This means that plaintiffs in the state cannot recover damages if their percentages of fault exceed 50%. Plaintiffs can only recover damages if their percentages of fault are 50% or less.

In the second section of the statute, the courts are told to reduce the damages that plaintiffs are awarded proportionately to their fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 10% at fault, his or her gross damages award will be reduced by 10%. The percentage of fault that is attributed to the defendant and the plaintiff will be determined based on the evidence presented at the trial.

How is the percentage of fault of each party determined?

In many personal injury cases, the defendants will try to argue that the plaintiffs were partially at fault for their accidents and injuries. They may argue that the plaintiffs were at least partially to blame to reduce the amount of damages that they might be forced to pay. Plaintiffs build their cases in such a way to minimize any negligence that they might have contributed to their accidents so that they can try to maximize their compensation. An attorney at DiCindio Law understands how the courts allocate negligence and can gather evidence to show that the defendant was primarily at fault for causing an accident. The evidence that might be gathered and presented can include photographs, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, and documents.

Once the evidence has been presented, the court assigns the percentages of fault to the parties. As long as your attorney can prove that the defendant had a greater degree of fault than you, you will recover compensation.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Determining fault and gathering evidence to prove that the defendant was more at fault than you for your accident’s cause is important. An attorney at DiCindio Law can evaluate your potential claim and explain whether you are likely to recover damages. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn about the legal remedies that might be available to you. We can be reached by telephone at 610.430.3535 or through our online contact form.

Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident in Pennsylvania

Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident in Pennsylvania

Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident in Pennsylvania is our topic for today. If you are involved in an accident in Pennsylvania in which property is damaged or someone is injured or killed, you must exchange information with the other driver and remain at the scene. Should you fail to stay at the scene, you can be criminally charged with a hit-and-run accident even if the accident was not your fault. If you fail to remain at the scene of an accident, you can face stiff penalties, including jail or prison, substantial fines, and the loss of your driving privileges. Leaving the scene of an accident is treated seriously, and you should get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law if you are facing this type of charge.

Duty to stay at the scene in an accident involving injuries or fatalities

If you are involved in an accident in which someone is injured or killed, you are required to stay at the scene of the accident. This is true even if someone only suffers minor injuries. The law requires you to park your vehicle somewhere nearby that is safe and to exchange information with the other involved driver, including your address, insurance company, and name. You must also call the police to summon emergency responders.

You must also help anyone who is injured in your accident. If someone is injured and asks for help or obviously needs it, you must provide first aid and call an ambulance. If you fail to remain at the accident scene when someone has been injured or killed and fail to provide help, exchange your information, and call the police, you could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor which is the consequences of a hit-and-run accident in Pennsylvania. The penalties for failing to remain at the scene of an injury or fatality accident can include a prison sentence, substantial fines, points on your driving record, and a criminal record.

Penalties for a fatal hit-and-run accident in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, motorists who are involved in accidents that cause injuries or fatalities must stop their vehicles and remain at the scene until help arrives. Even in situations in which no one is injured, drivers must still provide their identifying and contact information and their license and registration to the other drivers. The consequences of a hit-and-run accident in Pennsylvania

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3742(b)(3), leaving the scene of an accident or failing to render assistance is a second-degree felony. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face from one up to 10 years in prions and a fine of up to $25,000.

Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident causing injuries

If you leave the scene of an accident that caused someone to be injured, you are also required to remain at the scene, summon help, and render aid. This includes situations in which someone suffers minor injuries. The penalties that you will face if you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries will depend on whether the injuries are minor or constitute serious bodily injuries.

Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage

If you are involved in an accident that only results in property damage in Pennsylvania, you are still required to stop your vehicle and park it in a safe location near to the accident scene. You should call the police to report the accident. Should the owner of the property not be present, you should try to find them to explain what happened. Even if you cannot find the property owner, you should leave a note where the owner can easily find it that includes information about your accident and how you can be contacted.

If the property owner is present, you are required to give him or her your name, address, insurance information, registration information, and license plate information. If you fail to provide the required information and to stop at the scene, you can face up to 90 days of jail, $200 or more in fines, four points on your driver’s license, and a potential suspension of your driving privileges for up to six months.

Defending against hit-and-run charges

When you are charged with a hit-and-run accident, your lawyer at DiCindio Law will build defenses based on the circumstances of what happened. The prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you left the accident scene. If you remained at the scene, your lawyer will collect evidence to show that you did so.

Some other potential defenses to a hit-and-run accident charge include the following:

  • Someone else drove your vehicle away from the accident scene.
  • Your vehicle is not the one that was involved in the accident.
  • You were involved in a different type of emergency and were on your way to the hospital.
  • You did not realize that you struck another object, person, or car.

It can be difficult to fight charges of leaving the scene of an accident. Having help from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you to build a strong defense to protect your interests. Your attorney at DiCindio Law will thoroughly investigate what happened and analyze the evidence to identify the defense strategies to implement.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious criminal traffic violation. Because of the penalties that you might face, you need to retain an experienced defense lawyer. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.

Timeline for a slip-and-fall lawsuit in Pennsylvania

Timeline for a slip-and-fall lawsuit in Pennsylvania

Each year, many people are injured after slipping or tripping and falling in Pennsylvania. When an accident happens on someone else’s property and is caused by the property owner’s negligence, the injured victim may be entitled to recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you have suffered injuries in a slip-and-fall accident on the property of another person or entity, you might wonder about filing a claim. It is common for people who have been injured in these types of accidents to wonder about the process and how long it might take to resolve their claims. The experienced slip-and-fall accident lawyer at DiCindio Law believes that it is important for you to understand what the process entails so that you will have a better understanding of what to expect.

Getting medical care

You should seek medical care immediately after you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident. Getting treated immediately after your fall can help to prevent your injuries from becoming worse. Early medical care can also help you to start on the path to recovery. If you later decide to file a lawsuit against the property owner or operator, early medical care is critical for demonstrating a link between your accident and injuries. Your medical records after your slip-and-fall accident are crucial pieces of evidence. They help to document the treatment that you have received, the extent and severity of your injuries, and the noneconomic and economic losses that you have suffered.

Getting help to determine liability

Some slip-and-fall accidents are not caused by the negligence of others. Simply falling while you are visiting the property of someone else is not enough to provide a valid basis for a claim. Instead, you will need to show that your accident was caused by the negligent actions of the property’s owner to win a personal injury lawsuit.

Property owners and operators must maintain their property in a relatively safe and hazard-free condition. They must fix or remove hazards that they know about and that could foreseeably cause injuries to customers, guests, or residents. When a hazardous condition causes someone to be injured in a slip-and-fall accident that the property owner either knew existed or reasonably should have known about, the victim might have valid grounds to file a lawsuit against the property owner or operator. An experienced premises liability lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you to determine whether your slip-and-fall accident was caused by negligence.

Consulting with an attorney and drafting a complaint

Once you consult with a lawyer about your potential claim, he or she may agree to accept the case if your claim has legal merit. After exhausting all settlement options, your attorney will then draft a civil complaint that includes the details of your claim. The complaint contains a summary of what happened and includes factual information about the identities of the plaintiff and the property owner, how the accident happened, who is allegedly liable, and the damages that are being sought.

The complaint is the formal legal document that must be filed to initiate your lawsuit. It should be filed in the court that has jurisdiction to hear the case. Once your complaint and summons are filed with the appropriate court, you must serve the documents on the defendant or defendants. The summons will tell the defendants to file their responses to your complaint within 20 days.

The answer

Once your complaint and summons have been properly served on the defendants, they will then file their responses. The responses are called answers and will either admit or deny each of the allegations that you have made in your civil complaint. The answers will also list the potential legal defenses that might limit the liability of the defendants.

Discovery

The discovery phase is the part of a lawsuit that begins after the complaint and answer have been filed. During this part of your lawsuit, you and the defendants will be required to exchange information and evidence with each other. Discovery can include written discovery, interrogatories, and depositions. Your attorney might send requests for the production of certain types of evidence that are relevant to your case. Interrogatories are written lists of questions that you or the defendant may be required to answer under oath. Depositions held outside of court. During a deposition, you, the defendants, and other relevant witnesses may testify under oath and be questioned by the attorneys for both sides. A court reporter will be present, but a judge will not. Transcripts from depositions can be used at trial. Depositions can also provide the lawyers with an idea of how each person might testify and whether they are believable. Discovery can last anywhere from a few months up to several years, depending on the complexity of your case, the court’s schedule, and the length of your medical treatment.

Pre-trial motions

If your case does not settle, both you and the defendants might file pre-trial motions to try to resolve specific issues before you go to trial. The defendant might file a motion for summary judgment if the defense believes that your lawsuit does not have any material facts in dispute to be heard by a jury. If the court grants a motion for summary judgment, your case can be dismissed.

A motion to compel is a motion that can be filed by either the plaintiff or the defendant to ask for a court order to force the other party to do something. This can be used to ask for a court order for the other party to appear for a deposition or produce specific documents.

Motions in limine are motions that can be filed by either party. These motions contain arguments about why the court should keep certain types of evidence out of the trial because of the danger of prejudice. For example, a defendant might file a motion in limine to keep the fact that the liability insurance is sufficient to cover all of the claimed damages because a jury might be likelier to return a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.

Mediation and settlement conferences

The majority of slip-and-fall lawsuits are settled before trial. In many cases, the parties might try to resolve the cases by going through mediation or holding settlement conferences. The parties typically arrange mediation and choose the mediator who will handle the negotiations. Settlement conferences are typically court-ordered.

Mediation or settlement conferences normally occur near the end of discovery. If you can negotiate a settlement through mediation or a settlement conference, you will receive the amount that is agreed to through your settlement negotiations.

Jury trial

If you cannot reach a settlement agreement, your case will go to trial. At your trial, your attorney and the defense lawyer will present evidence and call witnesses. Your attorney will present evidence and witnesses to prove the elements of negligence. The defense lawyer will present evidence and witnesses to refute your claims. Both lawyers will be able to cross-examine the witnesses called by the opposite party.

Once both sides have rested, the case will be given to the jury. The jury will then meet in private to discuss the evidence and reach a decision based on the testimony and evidence. If the jury returns a verdict in your favor, you will receive an award of damages based on the economic and noneconomic losses that you have suffered.

Receiving financial compensation

If the jury returns a verdict in your favor, the defendant will have to pay you the amount that is awarded. However, if the defendant files an appeal, your case can take much longer before you receive what you have been awarded. If an appeal is successful, you might be forced to go through another trial.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Recovering damages following a slip-and-fall accident can take some time. If you believe that your accident was caused by the negligence of the property owner or operator, you should consult with an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our online contact form.

Understanding Pennsylvania Embezzlement Laws

Understanding Pennsylvania Embezzlement Laws

When you think about embezzlement in Pennsylvania, you might imagine someone who works for a large company funneling away substantial sums from their employer to their personal accounts. While some embezzlement cases fit this scenario, this offense does not need to involve huge sums or working for a big corporation. Embezzlement in Pennsylvania is a type of theft crime that is considered to be a white-collar criminal offense. If you are convicted of embezzlement, you can expect to face harsh penalties that will depend on the value of the property or the money that you stole. If you are convicted of embezzling a substantial amount of money or property, you can expect to receive a harsher penalty if you are convicted. At DiCindio Law, we understand how to defend against embezzlement charges and will work to build the strongest possible defense for you.

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a type of theft that can be charged in Pennsylvania. The theft offenses can be found at 18 § 3921 and other related statutes. Theft occurs when you take someone else’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive him or her of the property. Embezzlement is a specific kind of theft. To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you got possession of the property or money through an agreement or a fiduciary duty and then used it for your financial gain.

Embezzlement involves a person who is entrusted with property or money by the rightful owner. When you have a legal obligation to protect another person’s or entity’s money or property, you owe the owner a fiduciary duty. This makes embezzlement a theft that is committed when you breach your fiduciary duty.

You can breach your fiduciary duty in a few different ways. For example, you might use deception or fraud to embezzle the funds. Regardless of the tactics that you used, using your position to steal property or money from the owner for your personal financial gain is a crime.

Some of the types of people who have fiduciary duties include the following:

  • Trustees
  • Investment portfolio managers
  • Bank tellers
  • Corporate executives
  • Bookkeepers

All of these types of people have duties to protect the assets of others. When they instead take the assets to benefit themselves, they have committed embezzlement.

Potential for other charges

Since Pennsylvania doesn’t include a single statute for embezzlement, prosecutors frequently add other charges against defendants who are accused of this offense. For example, if you engaged in fraud to obtain the property or money, you may be charged with fraud as well as a theft offense.

There are different types of fraud, and each of them involves intentionally engaging in an act of deception. For example, a fraud offense might be charged if you created fake documents or engaged in identity theft to access the funds that you are accused of embezzling.

To be charged with embezzlement, you must have had a position of responsibility for the property or money that was allegedly stolen. You might have been granted access to the funds by your employer and used them instead of protecting them.

Under federal law, embezzlement is one of the offenses that are listed in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO Act. Depending on the circumstances of your alleged offense, you could be charged federally under the RICO Act. Federal charges carry even stiffer penalties than state convictions.

What are the penalties for embezzlement in Pennsylvania?

The penalties that you might face if you are convicted of embezzlement under Pennsylvania’s state laws will depend on the value of the property or money that you stole. In many cases, the penalties will include fines, incarceration, and restitution.

If you are convicted of embezzlement, the penalties that you will face will depend on the value of the property or money that was stolen as follows:

  • Under $50 – Fine up to $2,500 and jail up to one year
  • $50 to $199 – Fine up to $5,000 and jail up to two years
  • $200 to $1,999 – Fine up to $10,000 and jail up to five years
  • $2,000 or more – Fine up to $15,000 and prison up to seven years
  • $500,000 or more – First-degree felony with a fine up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison

If you are convicted of embezzling property or money valued at $2,000 or more, you will have a felony on your record. Having any type of theft conviction on your record can have an ongoing impact on your life even after you have completed your sentence. People who are convicted of embezzlement may have trouble finding jobs and housing. However, it is important to understand that being charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. If you work with an experienced attorney who understands how to defend against embezzlement charges, you might avoid a conviction.

Get help from DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with embezzlement in Pennsylvania, you should talk to an experienced defense lawyer at DiCindio Law. As a former prosecutor, Michael DiCindio knows how the state builds its cases against people who are charged with all types of criminal offenses, including white-collar crimes. This helps him to anticipate the arguments that might be made so that he can counter them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.

Types of Slip-and-Fall Injuries in Pennsylvania

Types of Slip-and-Fall Injuries in Pennsylvania

Many people face long periods of recovery and serious injuries when they slip or trip and fall. Slip-and-fall accidents are among the leading causes of visits to the emergency department in Pennsylvania. These types of accidents are common and elderly adults are especially at risk. Millions of Americans suffer severe injuries or fatalities after slipping and falling. By understanding the types of slip-and-fall injuries that commonly occur, you can more easily discuss them with your doctor and your lawyer at DiCindio Law. This can help your doctor as he or she creates your treatment plan and your lawyer as he works to build your legal claim for compensation.

Types of injuries in slip-and-fall accidents

Slipping or tripping and falling can lead to many different types of injuries, including the following:

  • Fractures
  • Sprained wrists or ankles
  • Damage to the knee
  • Muscle strains or shoulder dislocations
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Hip and pelvic fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage
  • Back injuries
  • Bruises and cuts

Fractures

Among elderly adults, falls are the leading cause of hip fractures. Many older adults who suffer hip fractures never fully recover and many are unable to return to their homes after their accidents. Older adults are likelier to suffer fractures in slip-and-fall accidents because their bones are more fragile. From a legal standpoint, however, it does not matter how old you are at the time of your accident. People who are more fragile than others have a right to recover compensation for their injuries when their accidents are caused by the negligence of others.

Fractures happen when too much pressure is placed on the bones. When you fall, the bones throughout your body can experience substantial pressure. Slip-and-fall accidents commonly result in fractures to the ankles, wrists, and hips.

The older you are, the more likely you are to break a bone as a result of a slip and fall. However, your age or health at the time of the injury doesn’t matter from a legal standpoint. Even if you’re more fragile than someone else, you still have a right to recover financially for your unique injuries whatever they are.

Strains or sprains of the wrists or ankles

When people fall, they often take uneven steps and extend their arms out to brace themselves as they fall down. The ligaments in their ankles and wrists can tear during their falls. This causes strains or sprains. Since there isn’t a lot of blood flow to the ligaments, strains and sprains can take a long time to recover.

Wrist and ankle injuries can interfere with your ability to complete the normal activities of everyday life. You might be unable to cook, clean, button your clothes, or work until your injuries heal. If your ankles are sprained, you might have trouble walking without crutches or a walker. Sprains and strains are very common after slip-and-fall accidents and can present significant problems for the victims.

Damage to the knees

Knee damage is another common type of injury in a slip-and-fall accident because of twisting when you fall. Your knees are complex structures containing multiple moving pieces that work together to provide your joint with function and mobility. When you hurt or tear your ACL or MCL, it can take a long time for the injury to heal. You can also suffer dislocation of your patella bone in a fall. Knee damage can require you to undergo reconstructive surgery immediately after your accident or sometime in the future.

Muscle strains and shoulder dislocations

Many people hit their shoulders when they fall. Your shoulder can be strained or dislocated if you reach out while falling and jar it. A dislocated shoulder and muscular strains can require surgery. Your doctor may write a treatment plan to determine your prognosis and guide your recovery.

Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage

Your spinal cord and nerves are quite fragile. When you suffer a slip-and-fall accident, you can damage your nerves and your spinal cord from direct trauma, from cuts, or from overstretching. Nerve and spinal cord injuries can be permanent, or people might recover from them with treatment and rehabilitation.

Traumatic brain injuries

You can suffer a traumatic brain injury in a slip-and-fall accident whether or not your head strikes the ground. If your brain is jolted during a fall, you can suffer a TBI. Traumatic brain injuries can pose special dangers because the victims might not recognize the severity of their injuries right after their falls.

If a TBI is not immediately recognized and treated, secondary injuries can happen that might be more serious than the initial brain injury. An untreated TBI can lead to pain and other problems for months. Secondary problems such as brain swelling and the build-up of cerebrospinal fluid can cause long-lasting, permanent damage.

Bruises and cuts

Bruises and cuts can happen whenever you fall because of other objects. While you might not think that a cut is especially serious, serious cuts can leave you with permanent scarring and can be disfiguring. You should make sure to photograph your bruises, cuts, and other visible injuries to document them right after your fall.

Why you have to be injured to recover compensation

To recover in a slip-and-fall accident, you must be able to prove all of the elements of negligence. One of the elements of a negligence claim is suffering harm and injuries. If you are uninjured, it will not matter if the property owner failed to take proper care to prevent the accident. Without injuries, you will not have met your burden to prove each of the elements of negligence to support a claim.

What to do if you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident

If you slip or trip and fall while you are legally present on the property of a business or another person, you should begin by carefully documenting your injuries and the accident scene. Take photographs if you can or ask someone else to take them for you. Get the names and contact information of each witness, and ask the property owner or operator to make an accident report. Make sure to seek medical attention as soon as you can. Take pictures of your injuries and keep track of your daily levels of pain in a diary.

Make sure to keep all of your medical appointments, and follow your doctor’s recommendations. You should seek immediate medical attention to receive the best treatment outcomes and to show that your injuries were caused by your slip-and-fall accident.

How a personal injury lawyer at DiCindio Law can help

An experienced personal injury lawyer at DiCindio Law can evaluate your potential claim and explain whether you have valid grounds to file a lawsuit. Working with an attorney can help you to avoid making critical errors that could harm your ability to recover compensation for your losses. A lawyer can guide you through the claim process and handle the negotiations with the insurance company for you while you concentrate on getting better. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.

How to Value a Slip and Fall Injury Claim

How to Value a Slip and Fall Injury Claim

Being injured in a slip-and-fall accident on the property of someone else might leave you with injuries. You might wonder whether you should file a lawsuit against the owner of the property and how much your claim might be worth. The value of your slip-and-fall claim will depend on several different factors. An experienced premises liability lawyer at DiCindio Law can assess your claim’s legal merits and provide you with a range of values within which you might expect a reasonable offer of settlement to fall. Here are some of the factors that might influence the value of your slip-and-fall accident claim.

The medical expenses that you have incurred now and in the future

The medical bills that you have already incurred as well as your expected future medical expenses related to treating your slip-and-fall accident injuries are among the most important factors influencing the value of your claim. Your attorney can help you figure out how much your medical expenses are and what you might expect to pay for your care in the future.

Normally, a slip-and-fall case will be worth at least the total of your medical expenses. You will likely be entitled to recover other damages beyond your medical bills, however.

Past lost wages

If your injuries from your slip-and-fall accident were serious, you may have been forced to miss work. If you missed work and lost pay, you will likely be entitled to recover the amount of the wages that you would have earned if you had not been injured in your accident. You will need to provide documentation of the time that you missed and the normal amount that you earn. Normally, this documentation might include your pay stubs and tax returns. You can also ask your employer to verify the amount of time that you missed from your job because of your injury along with your regular hourly rate.

Lost capacity to earn an income

If you suffered extensive injuries that prevent you from returning to the job that you had before your accident and are no longer able to earn the same amount of money that you previously did, you might be entitled to recover compensation for your lost capacity to earn an income. Your attorney might retain a vocational rehabilitation expert to testify about your reduced earnings capacity to support your claim. The expert might complete an evaluation of your injuries, your future job prospects, and your occupation to provide evidence for your claim.

If you and your lawyer can establish that your earning capacity has been reduced because of your accident injuries, the court might require the property owner to compensate you by paying a lump sum for your reduced capacity to earn an income or by paying for you to receive education or training in a new field.

Your incidental expenses

If you have incurred incidental expenses because of your injuries, you may be able to recover compensation to pay for them. For example, if your gas bill went up because of traveling to medical appointments by $100 per month, you might be compensated for those expenses. You will need to be able to show a connection between your injury and the incidental expenses, however.

Pain and suffering damages in slip-and-fall claims

Calculating the value of your pain and suffering damages can be difficult. While there isn’t a strict rule about how to calculate these types of damages, your medical bills are typically used as a measuring stick.

Some injuries from slip-and-fall accidents do not show symptoms until weeks after your accident. You should keep this in mind when you are negotiating your claim amount with the insurance company. If you hire an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law, your lawyer can handle the negotiations for you while you work on your recovery.

Value of slip-and-fall settlements versus trial verdicts

The vast majority of slip-and-fall claims settle outside of court. In some cases, a settlement agreement might be reached before a formal lawsuit is filed. Reaching a settlement agreement is normally mutually beneficial to both the injured victims and the insurance companies. While a reasonable settlement offer might be slightly less than what your case might be worth at trial, you will not have to risk a trial and the possibility of losing. The insurance company might pay more than it might want when it settles a claim. However, the company might also want to avoid a trial because of the possibility of losing and being forced to pay more. Settlements benefit both sides because juries are unpredictable, and it is never possible to figure out exactly what a jury might decide.

If your case does go to trial and you receive a verdict award in your favor, the insurance company can also file an appeal. If it does, your case may take a substantially longer time to complete before you receive your compensation.

Normally, your lawyer will only file a lawsuit if you and the insurance company cannot reach a fair settlement agreement. In some cases, the insurance company will refuse to make a reasonable offer. After a formal lawsuit is filed, most cases will eventually reach a resolution before trial, however.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Suffering serious injuries in a slip-and-fall accident because of the negligence of the property owner can be devastating. Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law can help you to figure out your legal options and the potential value of your claim. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535.