First Reported Tesla Autopilot Fatality in Central Florida

Posted in Personal Injury

In a recent blog post, Tesla revealed that the Model S vehicle that was involved in a fatal accident on May 7 in Williston, Florida was in Autopilot mode at the time of the collision. This marks the first known fatality in a Tesla vehicle where Autopilot was active. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is currently in the midst of an investigation of the cause of the collision which is believed to include a determination of whether the Autopilot system was working properly at the time of the accident.

According to various news sources, the accident occurred when a tractor trailer drove across a divided highway and in front of the Tesla vehicle. Due to the height of the trailer, the Model S actually passed under the trailer with the initial impact occurring to the vehicle’s windshield. Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated on Twitter that the radar system used by the Autopilot feature did not help in this case because of the height of the trailer. According to Musk, the system “tunes out what looks like an overhead road sign to avoid false breaking events.” Tesla believes that the Autopilot system would have prevented the accident if the impact had occurred to the front or rear of the trailer.

This accident represents the first in what will undoubtedly be many similar accidents that will raise questions regarding the safety of Autopilot systems. Tesla is one of the first automakers to utilize such technology and they have reiterated that they require customers to sign an agreement acknowledging that the system is in a “public beta phase” before they can use it. Some driving experts have criticized Tesla for introducing an Autopilot feature too early believing that the system gives drivers the false impression that the car can handle anything it encounters. By way of contrast, GM has only tested their Autopilot feature privately and Volvo has indicated that they intend to take full liability for their cars when the feature is activated.

Prohibition Times are Coming to an End in Pennsylvania

Posted in Beer & Spirits

We’ve entered a new era in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation into law that allows wine sales in licensed private establishments in the Commonwealth. Under the law grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, and takeout beer licensees are permitted to sell up to four bottles of takeout wine per customer. This is exciting news for Pennsylvanians as the sale of wine in grocery stores has not been permitted since before Prohibition.

The law also permits wine wholesalers to ship wine directly to consumers in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s Wine & Spirits Stores can expand their hours of operation on Sundays and holidays, and are given more freedom in setting prices. Casinos will also be able to apply to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The law goes into effect in August, and is estimated to bring in $150 million to the Commonwealth in the first year.

New licensing procedures will be established by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) in response to the legislation. Existing licensees, and businesses seeking new licenses, should prepare for licensing changes related to the sale of wine, direct shipment of wine, and casinos that wish to sell wine around the clock.

This is a big win for anyone who sells wine or lives in Pennsylvania. The law opens a whole new market for businesses to expand their sales and brings needed convenience to Pennsylvania residents.

Your Business Could Be Liable for Cyber Security Breaches

Posted in Business & Corporate, Cyber Law

Cyber security has become a growing concern for individuals and businesses across the nation. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard about breaches at Target, Wal-Mart, J.P. Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Apple, and Neiman Marcus. Hundreds of thousands of people had their names, social security numbers, financial information, and other sensitive data stolen and used unlawfully.

Theft of consumer information via the internet happens every day from any number of data or network systems to all types of people. It’s not just individuals or big box stores that are targeted. Cyber-attacks are directed at various organizations that keep clients’ and customers’ personal information on record. Hackers will look to small businesses, and even to a person’s home management company or homeowners’ association, to access their sensitive personal and financial information.

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Stark & Stark Attorneys Recognized as 2016 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers

Posted in Stark News

Congratulations to the Stark & Stark attorneys who have made the 2016 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list and the 2016 Pennsylvania Rising Stars list. All of these attorneys are Personal Injury attorneys based in the firm’s Yardley office. Visit SuperLawyers.com for more information about the selection process.

The Stark & Stark attorneys who made the 2016 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list include:

The Stark & Stark attorneys who made the 2016 Pennsylvania Rising Stars list:

For more information about our attorneys and practices, please visit www.stark-stark.com.

Medical Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

A Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., has published his research into various categories of treatment of patients in hospitals. These categories ranged from more simplistic “bad doctors” to “more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.”

Dr. Makary explained that “when a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns… we consider it part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards.” The study and research was done to illuminate problems which are normally swept under the rug by hospitals and healthcare facilities. Often, these facilities will go out of their way to avoid discussing any issues or risks, and frankly bend over backwards to keep such information confidential, arguing it is “privileged.”

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Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. Elected Managing Shareholder of Stark & Stark

Posted in Stark News

Stark & Stark is pleased to announce the election of Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. as Managing Shareholder of the firm, effective May 1, 2016.  In this new leadership role, Mr. Donahue will oversee the day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning of the firm.  His election to Managing Shareholder coincides with his upcoming June installation as President of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) for the 2016-2017 term, where he also serves as co-chair of NJAJ’s Amicus Curiae Committee.

Mr. Donahue, who has been with the firm since 1995, is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney and focuses his practice on products liability and serious personal injury litigation. He is a prolific legal presenter, a member of several New Jersey-based law associations, and very active in area charitable and philanthropic organizations, including Boheme Opera New Jersey, the Trenton Area YMCA, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra, and Theater Exile in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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No Insurance, No Claim Against the Physician Individually – So Says the New Jersey Supreme Court in Jarrell v. Kaul, M.D.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

New Jersey Statute 45:9-19.17 requires physicians to maintain insurance and specifically states:

A physician who maintains a professional medical practice in this State and has responsibility for patient care is required to be covered by medical malpractice liability insurance issued by a carrier authorized to write medical malpractice liability insurance policies in this State, in the sum of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 per policy year and unless renewal coverage includes the premium retroactive date, the policy shall provide for extended reporting endorsement coverage for claims made policies, also known as “tail coverage,” or, if such liability coverage is not available, by a letter of credit for at least $500,000.

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Passing a Social Security Continuing Disability Re-Evaluation

Posted in Social Security

Some period of time after a claimant begins receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) generally conducts a Continuing Disability Re-Evaluation (CDR). If you are less than 55 years of age at the time your benefits begin, a review is usually conducted every 3 years. If you are 55 years old or older, or if you have a condition that is unlikely to improve, your CDR will occur approximately every 7 years, until you reach retirement age.

A CDR may also occur if you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits and earning more than “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) per month. In 2016, the SGA amount for disabled non-blind beneficiaries is $1,130 per month. For blind beneficiaries, the amount is $1,820 per month. If you earn more than the SGA, your disability benefits will be in jeopardy. The exception to the SGA limitations is when the beneficiary is enrolled in a return-to-work plan through Social Security, which allows for a trial run of work for the beneficiary.

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6 Steps You Can Take in an Effort to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Malpractice

Posted in Medical Malpractice

You may not be aware, but medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Recently, the Huffington Post published an article which outlined some general steps that you can take to prevent becoming a victim of medical malpractice. Some of these recommendations include:

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