Our client was injured in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in two (2) subsequent back surgeries. The client had back problems that pre-existed the automobile accident, including a surgery nine (9) months before the subject accident. Additionally, our client faced a significant medical lien that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately the insurance policy for the driver that caused the accident was not sufficient to fully compensate him for his injuries, so a claim was made for underinsured motorist benefits available through the client’s auto insurance policy. The insurance company initially (i) argued that the subsequent back surgeries were not related to the automobile accident; and (ii) disputed the amount of the medical lien. Through the use of medical, vocational, and economic experts, a fair settlement was reached and the medical lien was satisfied, permitting our client to be fully compensated for his losses.
Our client, an 86 year old woman, was walking on a sidewalk when a catering van attempted to back out of a private drive and struck her causing a right elbow fracture. Our client was taken from the scene by ambulance and ultimately had to undergo surgery on her right elbow. Following surgery, the client remained in the hospital for one (1) week and was then transferred to an inpatient rehab facility for three (3) weeks. Ultimately, the surgery was a success but the client still suffered from pain and stiffness in the surgically repaired elbow. Additionally, as a result of the fall, she was at a higher risk of developing painful arthritis. Prior to this accident, she led an active, independent lifestyle. The claim was presented for past pain and suffering as well as the future given the pain, stiffness and future possibility of arthritis in the elbow.
Our firm recently obtained a $70,000 settlement for a client injured in a fall in front of a commercial business. A claim was brought against both the owner and tenant of the building. We were able to demonstrate that the icy condition of the sidewalk in front of the commercial building where the fall occurred had existed for a substantial period of time. Specifically, we were able to establish that neither the owner nor tenant of the subject building had performed any type of ice or snow removal on the subject sidewalk the entire winter. The client sustained a rotator cuff tear in the fall and required surgery. Ultimately, the client recovered fairly well from the surgery. It can be extremely difficult to obtain a monetary recovery for falls on ice and snow because a business owner may not be held responsible for conditions resulting from a recent snowfall or freeze. The evidence that our investigation revealed, including, third party eye witness testimony, was key to demonstrating that the business owner and/or tenant had adequate time to make its property safe for the public and had neglected to do so.
Our attorneys obtained a $475,000 verdict for a client that suffered a severe ankle fracture in a fall at a local country club. The client fell while walking down the main internal stairway leading from the upstairs primary entrance of the club, to a downstairs dining area. We retained an architectural expert who testified that the steps were not equipped with a proper handrail. The railing in place was a large board that could not be grasped to prevent a fall and the balusters supporting the rail were improperly located so that they prevented users from sliding their hand along the rail as would be necessary for guidance while using the stairs. The client lost her balance but could not stop her fall because she could not grasp the rail or slide along her hand along it for balance. She suffered a severe ankle injury that resulted in permanent limitations and a risk of amputation. An addition to the building included a secondary stairway that was equipped with a proper, graspable handrail, demonstrating that the property owner was aware of the unsafe condition of its older, main stairway, but failed to upgrade its railing with the new addition.
Our attorneys obtained a $1.2 Million jury verdict in a claim made on behalf of a 23 year old woman who was injured in a head on collision. The client was a passenger at the time of the accident and the cause of the accident was not in question. The driver that caused the accident had minimal insurance which was not enough to compensate our client for the serious injuries she suffered. The jury was asked to decide a claim made under the client’s own auto insurance policy for underinsured motorist benefits her family had purchased to provide coverage if one of them were injured by someone that did not have sufficient coverage.
In the accident, the client suffered a permanent elbow injury to her dominant arm that required lengthy treatment and two (2) surgeries. At the time of the accident, she was working in a barber shop and attending business classes at night, with the goal of opening her own barber shop by age 30. The client’s treating physician testified that her injury resulted in permanent limitations that prevented her from ever cutting hair again. The doctor hired by the insurance company agreed that the client suffered an injury in the accident and that all of her treatment, including her surgeries, were necessary, but he did not agree to the extent of her future limitations. We presented the jury with expert testimony about the client’s significant loss of future earning capacity because she can no longer cut hair and own her own barber shop. The jury agreed that the injury had caused the client a significant loss of future earnings, entering a $1.2 Million verdict in her favor and against the insurance company.
Our client was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurred while he was working. Unfortunately the insurance policy for the driver that caused the accident was not sufficient to fully compensate him for his injuries, so a claim was made for underinsured motorist benefits available through an auto insurance policy purchased by the client’s employer. The insurance company initially delayed payment, refusing to accept the severity of the injury and our client’s lost wages, so an additional claim for bad faith was also made. Through the use of medical, vocational, and economic experts, a fair settlement was reached, permitting our client to be fully compensated for his losses.
Our clients, a husband and wife, were out enjoying a day motorcycling when distracted and speeding youths crossed the centerline and struck them. Both the husband and the wife sustained severe orthopedic injuries, broken bones and loss of full bodily function causing them to no longer be employable in their chosen fields. We were able to locate several layers of liability and underinsured motorist insurance policies providing a recovery of $500,000.00.
Our client was the wife of a man who had been drinking at a bar for over 8 hours. Video surveillance that was obtained from the Defendant bar showed that our client’s husband had become intoxicated but was continuously served additional drinks by the only bartender on duty. Pennsylvania Law prohibits liquor licensees from serving an alcoholic beverage to any person that is visibly intoxicated. Our client’s husband eventually left the bar, got into his vehicle and attempted to drive home. Shortly after leaving the bar his vehicle left the roadway and he was killed. An expert toxicologist indicated that the high level of alcohol made it impossible to safely operate a motor vehicle. After the filing of a lawsuit, the case settled for $300,000.00, which represented the full amount of the bar’s insurance coverage.
Our client was an employee of a local industrial facility and was working at the plant when he was killed in an explosion. Our office resolved claims against other Defendants prior to trial and tried the case before a jury against the remaining corporate Defendant for negligence in the rebuilding of one of the refinery columns. Our office presented evidence that workers failed to properly construct the column during rebuild. It was our position that foreign material (in the nature of excessive refractory mortar) was left inside the column during the rebuild and clogged the flow of molten zinc during operation. After only twelve days of operation the zinc flow began to back up into the super-heated column. The pressure caused by that back up resulted in a massive explosion that took the life of our client. The case settled after the jury heard three days of testimony for $1.75 million.
Our attorneys recently obtained settlement of $1.25 million for an injured construction worker who suffered severe orthopedic injuries to his feet and legs after falling 30 feet at a construction site. The client had a significant amount of medical expenses and was disabled from work for a long period of time. We were able to handle both the civil and workers compensation aspects of the case.
We represented a steelworker who suffered wrist and elbow injuries that completely disabled him from working. Settlement of $250,000 was obtained and the client was awarded Social security Disability benefits as well.
Our client, a 29 year old man, was a passenger in a car when another vehicle crossed over the center line causing a head on collision. Our client sustained injuries to his intestines that were so severe that emergency surgery was required to save his life and a colostomy was also performed. Our client had multiple surgeries on his intestines and had a colostomy bag attached to him for over a year. With significant research and use of experts, we were able to demonstrate the severity of the injury and the impact on the client’s social and economic life. A settlement was obtained which consisted of the insurance policy limits of the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident, the underinsured motorist insurance policy limits of the driver of the vehicle that our client was in and the underinsured motorist insurance policy limits of our client. A total settlement for all of the insurance available was obtained in the amount of $400,000.00.
Our attorneys obtained a verdict against PennDOT for its failure to install a traffic signal at an unsafe intersection of 2 state roads. The crash was severe and resulted in 4 fatalities and a severe injury. We retained a traffic engineer who proved that the intersection was dangerous because it met at a skewed angle, making it difficult for drivers to cross through. Our investigation found a significant accident history with many prior accidents and other fatalities. We also conducted a traffic study that confirmed the intersection was associated with speeding vehicles and that the traffic volume and prior accident history met PennDOT’s criteria for a traffic signal.
PennDOT’s defense focused on excessive speed and PennDOT policies. PennDOT called a State Trooper who reconstructed the accident and calculated the speed of one of the vehicles at 116 mph. The Trooper’s speed calculation was contested at trial and our expert noted that speed was one of the problems at this location and one of the reasons a light was needed to protect the public. PennDOT also relied on its longstanding policy to refuse to install a traffic signal until the municipality where an intersection is located agrees to pay for one, even if both roads are state highways. Here, the very small municipality where this intersection is located could not afford to pay for a signal so PennDOT never even studied the need for one, despite the accident history and fatalities that had occurred there.
PennDOT agreed to pay its statutory damage cap of $1 million to be divided among the victims in the event PennDOT was found to be liable.
Our client was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately the insurance policy for the driver that caused the accident was not sufficient to fully compensate him for his injuries so a claim was made against the underinsured motorist coverage he had purchased through his own auto insurance policy. The client’s insurance carrier refused to pay the underinsured motorist claim and forced him to litigate despite clear, uncontested evidence of damages exceeding the coverage he was entitled to. Damages far in excess of the policy limits were awarded but the insurance carrier paid only its policy limits. After the award, we pursued a claim against the insurance company for its bad faith conduct in failing to pay the claim. A verdict was entered in favor of the client for nearly $1.5 million, representing attorney fees incurred in pursuing both actions, interest on the amount of the coverage, and punitive damages.
We represented victims of both the 1994 USAir Airline crash in Hopewell Township, Beaver County, and the 1996 Valuejet Airline crash in the Florida Everglades. Substantial settlements were obtained for the families of the victims in each of these tragedies.
Our client, a 56 year old man, was walking across the street at an intersection when a car traveling up a one way street turned left and hit him causing his left knee to hyperextend. Our client was taken from the scene by ambulance and ultimately had to undergo three arthroscopic surgeries to his knee over a 2 year period. Despite the success of the surgeries, he was left with continued complaints of pain and stiffness and has continued treating with knee injections. Prior to this accident, he led an active lifestyle. He had no difficulty walking for pleasure or occasional exercise. The claim was presented for past pain and suffering as well as the future given the pain in his knee. We pursued both a claim against the driver who struck our client and the underinsured motorist provisions of our client’s insurance company for total compensation of $285,000.00.
Our firm recently obtained a $110,000 settlement for a student injured in a fall at a local university. We were able to demonstrate through an engineering expert that the structure and surface of an outdoor walkway where the fall occurred did not meet safety standards. Through the use of private investigators, we were able to provide witness accounts of the fall as well as a history of slip and falls at that location. The student sustained a broken ankle in the fall and required two surgeries. The student did not have a wage loss claim.
$300,000.00 MOTOR VEHICLE SETTLEMENT
Our client was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a single car accident that had traveled off the roadway and over an embankment. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Although none of our client’s injuries required surgery, they were nevertheless quite serious consisting of a fractured hip, broken wrist, fractured sternum and fractured hand. Our client was hospitalized for almost two weeks and then spent several weeks in a rehabilitation facility. Although there were no claimable medical bills or lost wages, we were able to reach a settlement with the Defendant’s insurance company in the amount of $300,000.00. This sum represented the applicable amount of insurance carried by the Defendant.
This was a two (2) vehicle accident with uncontested liability. The Plaintiff was a 52 year old single woman who suffered a total disability of her right upper extremity as a result of a previous motor vehicle accident in 1996. Since that previous accident, the Plaintiff lived an active independent lifestyle, living on her own, caring for her pets and driving her own vehicle which was equipped with a specialized steering knob to accommodate her right arm disability.
As a result of the motor vehicle accident at issue, the Plaintiff suffered a left rotator cuff tear, left lateral epicondylitis, left carpal tunnel syndrome, left tenosynovitis of the 2nd and 3rd digits and a torn medial meniscus of the left knee with an aggravation of pre-existing arthritis. In light of her pre-existing right arm disability, the accident related injuries to the Plaintiff’s left upper extremity were particularly problematic. She underwent five (5) surgical procedures in 4 separate surgeries. Each time she underwent a left upper extremity surgery she was rendered completely incapacitated and unable to care for herself. Although the surgical procedures were normally performed on an out-patient basis, due to Plaintiff’s prior right arm injury, two of the surgeries required in-patient hospitalization followed by rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. Plaintiff’s treating physician also indicated that the left knee may require further medical treatment.
The Defendant’s orthopedic expert conceded the left shoulder and elbow injuries were causally related to the accident but disputed the carpal tunnel, finger and knee injuries.
Although there was no wage loss or recoverable medical bills, the jury was apparently affected by the impact this motor vehicle accident had on the Plaintiff in light of her prior unrelated right arm disability.
The jury deliberated less than two (2) hours and returned a unanimous verdict of One Million Dollars.
$195,000 WORKER’S COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT FOR LOW BACK INJURY
A young construction worker injured his low back while lifting at work. He had two surgeries but was found to be unable medically to return to his former heavy work. The insurance company had the worker undergo an Impairment Rating Examination which resulted in a finding that he was less than 50% whole body impaired. The case eventually settled by way of a Compromise and Release for the sum of $195,000. This enabled the worker to pursue vocational possibilities of his choosing.
A laborer in his mid 30s suffered devastating injuries to his leg and upper extremities in an on the job accident involving a large vehicle. The worker had multiple surgeries to correct his orthopedic problems. In addition to his worker’s compensation benefits he was also receiving Social Security Disability. We were able to successfully Compromise and Release his worker’s compensation claim for the amount of $286,500 and in the process secured a partial structured settlement to fund his future medical expenses. Approval to do that was secured from Medicare and the worker was able to have his Social Security Disability monthly payment increased.
A steel worker injured his shoulder and upper extremity while shoveling at work. He underwent surgery but it did not correct his problem. He developed a permanent numbness making it difficult to return to his former position. He was cleared to do less physically demanding work. A settlement in the amount of $165,000 was reached which freed the worker up to pursue other vocational goals.
We have handled a number of Social Security Disability cases resulting in awards of benefits to clients who were above the age of 50, with limited education, and who had performed unskilled work in the past. Because they were limited to performing only sedentary work the Regulations allow for an award to be made to them. Many of these types of cases have different aspects to them, whether they relate to medical problems, prior work experience or current work abilities that could increase or decrease the chances of winning. The most important factor of these appears to be age. Those who are 50 years of age or older seem to stand a better chance of winning than younger individuals. The only way to correctly assess a person’s chances is to do a full evaluation of all the facts and circumstances regarding a claim.
This claim involved a single motor vehicle accident which occurred on December 24, 2006. Our client was a passenger in a motor vehicle that lost control on a curve, causing the vehicle to come to rest over an embankment.
Our client was life-flighted to UPMC Presbyterian where the initial diagnosis was a right femur fracture and a Grade III B open tibial fracture, and underwent seven surgical procedures to repair the open tibial fracture. The client is now able to walk and has done well in rehabilitation.
Our client suffered a loss of future earning capacity and we were able to demonstrate this loss through expert witnesses that undertook to perform a vocational analysis of his future work limitations.
The case was litigated before a Board of Arbitration who found in our client’s favor in the amount of $4,000,000.00.
This accident occurred on March 20, 2007 in North Fayette Township, Allegheny County. At that time, the Defendant’s commercial tractor trailer truck failed to yield the right of way to Plaintiff’s vehicle and made a left turn into her vehicle. Plaintiff was transported from the scene by ambulance and taken to Ohio Valley General Hospital complaining of neck and midline low back pain. On November 15, 2007, an anterior cervical microdiscectomy and fusion was performed at Presbyterian University Hospital. On June 7, 2008, a posterior microsurgical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root at C5-C6 was undertaken. The lower back problem worsened and lower extremity radicular pain became severe. To treat this problem, a L5-S1 lumbar microdiscectomy was done on September 4, 2008. As of the present date, Plaintiff experiences both lumbar/cervical discomfort. This case also presented with a significant claim for future loss of earning capacity. Plaintiff was a trained paramedic and worked on various ambulance crews in 2004 and worked at UPMC Passavant North in 2006 as an emergency technician. In 2006, Plaintiff took an administrative assistant position, through a temp agency. The position is a temporary position and is scheduled to end in the summer of 2009. Due to her injuries, Plaintiff cannot return to a paramedic position.
Our client was a 77 year old resident in a nursing home when he developed severe pressure ulcers or bedsores. Due to a lack of proper medical care, the wounds worsened and eventually resulted in amputation of both legs and a colostomy. Review of the client’s medical records revealed that nursing home staff did not turn and reposition him as they should have and there was no medical assessment of his wounds for weeks, including a ten (10) day period when they worsened significantly. During cross examination at trial, the nursing home’s expert conceded that turning and repositioning should been performed every two (2) hours and that even a single lapse in protocol could lead to a pressure ulcer, particularly in a patient with other risk factors such as circulatory problems and immobility. A verdict in the amount of $850,000 was entered against the nursing home for its negligence.
A $250,000 settlement was obtained for a 55 year old who suffered serious injuries as a result of a prescription refill error. For a number of years the client had been taking a prescription for hypertension, having it automatically refilled at a local pharmacy. The pharmacy erroneously refilled the prescription with a different drug. Not knowing of the error, the client continued taking the wrong medication for three weeks and began to experience side effects including problems with concentration and short term-memory. Once the error was discovered, attempts to “wean” the client off of the wrong medication were unsuccessful. Due to the drug’s side effects, the client was unable to perform her work duties in an office where she had been employed for 25 years. The pharmacy admitted it had made an error in the refill, but disputed that the client’s ongoing problems were caused by its error. Medical and wage loss experts helped to demonstrate that the pharmacy’s error resulted in long term problems and had led to a significant economic loss due to a forced early retirement.
Our client, age 27, was operating her car when a tractor trailer crossed the center line and crashed into her. Fortunately, she survived, but suffered a disc injury requiring surgery and a prolonged period of recovery. The trucking company subsequently filed bankruptcy and went out of business. The insurance company then tried to avoid paying the claim by improperly alleging that the truck driver was not acting as an employee of the trucking company at the time of the accident. With the use of private investigators the truck driver was located to provide testimony against his former employer and the insurance company. We were then able to file suit against the insurance company and obtained a $500,000.00 settlement for our client.
A $3.1 million verdict was recently obtained in a case against a snow removal service that performed an inadequate job of removing ice and snow from a designated walkway at a local business. The fall occurred on the only pedestrian walkway leading from the customer parking lot to the main entrance. The business owner had specifically requested that the snowplow operator remove snow and salt the walkway when warranted by weather conditions. The snowplow operator had cleared heavy snow accumulation weeks prior to the accident, by piling snow on either side of the walkway. Evidence demonstrated that although no snow had fallen for a week prior to the fall, temperatures led to a thawing and freezing of the piled up snow, leaving a thick accumulation of ice on the walkway and only a two inch clearing for pedestrians. The snowplow operator had been to the location to salt just two hours prior to the fall, but neglected to remove the icy build up on the walkway. The client suffered serious and disabling injuries that interfere with his ability to walk and perform normal activities of daily living. The verdict is one of the highest awarded in Beaver County in an accident of this type.
$950,000.00 SETTLEMENT IN AUTOMOBILE CASE
Our client, age 21, was a restrained passenger in a car when the driver lost control of the vehicle around a bend causing it to roll and go over an embankment. The client sustained injuries to his right leg that were so severe amputation was considered. After numerous surgeries and therapy, the leg was saved but carried a heightened risk for bone infection and is unlikely to ever return to a full range of motion and strength. With significant research and use of experts, we were able to demonstrate the severity of the injury and the impact on the client’s social and economic life, including a significant past, present and future wage loss claim. A settlement of $950,000.00 was obtained just prior to trial.
$800,000 SETTLEMENT FOR FALL ON ICE
Our firm recently obtained an $800,000 settlement for a client injured in a fall at a business. We were able to demonstrate through a weather expert that the icy condition of an outdoor walkway where the fall occurred had existed for a substantial period of time. The client sustained a back injury in the fall and required surgery. Surgical complications resulted in serious impairments including an inability to walk without the use of a walker. It can be extremely difficult to obtain a monetary recovery for falls on ice and snow because a business owner may not be held responsible for conditions resulting from a recent snowfall or freeze. Our use of a weather expert was key to demonstrating that the business owner had adequate time to make its property safe for customers.
$35,000 SETTLEMENT FOR DOG BITE
Our client, a seven year old girl, was bitten by her neighbor’s dog while playing on a swing set. The bite resulted in a two centimeter laceration to our client’s left side torso. The wound required a couple of sutures and has left a very small scar. Our investigative team was able to discover that the dog had bitten two other persons previously and was known to behave in a menacing manner. The case was able to be settled without a lawsuit having to be filed.