In this video, Christopher M. Pyne, Chair of Stark & Stark’s Motorcycle Group,discusses the need for an attorney if you or a loved one is ever injured in a motorcycle accident. Mr. Pyne reviews the aspects of a case many people may not be familiar with, such as coverage for your medical bills and the differences between automobile and motorcycle insurance policies.

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Motorcyle Law – Part 1 from Stark & Stark on Vimeo.

I recently recovered a significant settlement for an individual who was injured while riding his motorcycle in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The middle-aged biker was out for a nice Sunday ride when another car pulled out in front of him. The biker did not have enough time to lay down his bike and instead struck the hood of the car. After flying through the air, the biker landed on his back. Fortunately for the biker he was wearing a helmet and protective clothing. Nonetheless, he suffered serious injuries to his back.

Speed, a sense of independence, and the open air are just a few of the reasons many people ride motorcycles. Unfortunately, drivers of automobiles often fail to notice motorcycles. Their focus and attention are on other cars. Consequently, motorcycle accidents often involve a combination of inattentive motorists and hard-to-see motorcycles. Motorcycle accidents are likely to result in major injuries, including head injuries, spinal cord injuries and other serious injuries, often times resulting in death.

Stay-at-home orders issued in Pennsylvania and New Jersey mean most people are not driving at all. At best, individuals are occasionally driving for curbside pickup food.

Because of the dramatic decrease in driving, ten of the largest U.S. auto insurance companies say they will take the unusual step of giving back a portion of premiums to policyholders because they have fewer accidents to cover.

Continue Reading Due to COVID-19, Is Your Car Insurance Company Refunding You Money?

Congratulations to Stark & Stark Shareholder Carin O’Donnell for winning the Bucks Happening 2016 List for the Attorney Category. Ms. O’Donnell is a member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group in the firm’s Yardley office.

The Bucks Happening List is an annual record that is curated as a result of thousands of Bucks County residents voting to determine the most “happening” people, places, businesses, and events in the region. One winner is announced for each of the hundreds of potential categories, along with four runner-ups. Every nominee must reside in Bucks County in order to qualify.

Ms. O’Donnell concentrates her practice at Stark & Stark in representing children and adults who have been seriously injured or killed due to catastrophic accidents which can include those in construction, the workplace, motor vehicle, and motorcycle accidents.

In addition to Ms. O’Donnell’s win in the Attorney category of the Bucks Happening 2016 List, another Stark & Stark Shareholder, Jennifer Gould, was a finalist in the same category. Ms. Gould is a member of the Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Group and is also located in the Yardley office.

To learn more about the Bucks Happening 2016 List and to see the full record of winners, click here. To learn more about Ms. O’Donnell, please click here.

A few weekends ago, I attended a wonderful charity event sponsored by the “Hellraisers Bucks County, LEMC”.  The event was held at the Newportville Firehouse in Newpostville, PA on Sunday, November 2, 2014 to raise money for the mother of one of the members who was able to battle cancer thanks to the “Healing Consciousness Foundation” an organization that helps people overcome their battle with cancer. Although the name “Hellraisers” sounds intimidating for a motorcycle group, the members of this organization could not have been more welcoming and inviting,  for this fundraising event.  I want to thank Ron Zapolski, who is the “Ride Captain” for inviting me, and Stark and Stark to attend the event and for allowing us to contribute.

The Healing Consciousness Foundation (HCF), a non-profit organization, was founded by nationally recognized breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Beth Baughman DuPree. To find out more about the group and how you can help, please visit http://www.thehealingconsciousness.com/

Should you have a community event that you would like us to attend or sponsor, please contact us as we enjoy giving back to our community!

 

 

As an attorney who has been born and raised in a union family, I always have concerns over what is going on with unions. While I represent any and all people who have been injured or killed in car accident, industrial accident, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, work accidents or by defective products, I take a special interest when it comes to union families.

Recently I came across a study of unions in America. Union membership has been declining for decades.  In the last year however the percentage of American Workers in unions basically remained unchanged.  Some of the states that remain union strong however are:

 Top 5 states with  the strongest unions are:

1.         New York is the strongest with  24. 3 percent of worker  being union

2          Alaska 23.1 percent of workers are union

3.         Hawii- 22.1 percent of workers are union

4.         Washington- 18.9 percent of workers are union

5.         Rhode Island- 16.9 percent of workers are union

The 5 states with the weakest unions are:

1.  North Carolina is the weakest with 3.0 percent of workers being union

2. Arkansas- 3.5 percent of workers are union

3. Mississippi- 3.6 percent of workers are union

4.  South Carolina- 3.7 percent of workers are union

5.  Utah-  3.9 percent of workers are union

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.

If you are injured while commuting to or from work, you generally cannot make a Workers’ Compensation claim. Commuting to and from work is not considered in the course of employment (“coming and going rule”). The following are exceptions to this general rule:

  • The employee has no fixed place of work;
  • The employment contract included transportation to and from work;
  • The employee is on special assignment for the employer; or
  • Special circumstances are such that the employee was furthering the business of the employer.

Whether or not an exception applies requires careful examination of the particular circumstances. If you have any questions of whether an exception applies, please contact our experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Stark & Stark.

Please continue reading for more detailed examples.

Continue Reading Workers’ Compensation / Commuting

Are punitive damages claims justified in a case where Defendants allegedly caused an accident while talking on his cell phone?  The answer seems to be “maybe.” 

Previously, I addressed the issue of whether punitive damages claims are justified in a case where it is believed the Defendants was using a mobile device while trying to operate his or her car at the same time. Now, there is a split in the decisions among the Trial Courts in Pennsylvania. 

In Deringer v. Li, No. GD10-019081, a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, overruled preliminary objections which would have thrown out a punitive damage claim in which the Plaintiff alleged Defendant was using a mobile device and caused an accident. In the case, Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant was using a mobile phone when he drove his vehicle into the rear end of the motorcycle operating by the Plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that if the defendant was utilizing a mobile phone to text, call or use the internet, then such conduct was reckless and justified the imposition of punitive damages. 

Defendant filed preliminary objections seeking to dismiss the claim for punitive damages. Specifically, Defendant argued that such conduct constitutes mere negligence.  Defendant also noted that the legislature has not made cell phone use while operating a car illegal. The Court disagreed and overruled the preliminary objections by Order, and Defendant had argued that he was not using his cell phone. The Court noted that Defendants could revisit this issue in a Motion for Summary if it was determined that the cell phone was not in use at the time of the accident. 

In Xander v. Kiss, No. CV-2010-11945, a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County granted preliminary objections and dismissed a punitive damage claim against a driver who allegedly caused an accident while talking on his cell phone. In this case, Plaintiff claimed Defendant driver crossed lanes of travel and caused an accident while talking on the cell phone.  The trial court ruled that viewing the facts in the Complaint in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, it was only alleged that the “Defendant simply lost control of his vehicle while speaking on his cellular phone, causing a motor vehicle accident. . . .”  The trial court noted that such alleged facts may support a claim of negligence, but the allegations do not arise to a level of an evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of the Plaintiff as required for a punitive damage claim. 
 
Obviously, this decision is in direct conflict with the decision in Deringer. The significance of these Court’s rulings is that the Court is required to perform an analysis of whether the conduct at issue (use of a mobile device while operating a car) could properly support a claim for punitive damages. Just because the Defendant was using his or her cell phone is not going to automatically entitle a plaintiff to a punitive damages award.  In order to obtain a punitive damages award, an attorney will need develop more evidence to establish outrageous conduct.  Therefore, it is important for an attorney to prompt and thorough investigate these issues before filing a claim for punitive damages under these circumstances.

Joe Cullen is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Cullen.

Negligence should never take the life of another…but unfortunately it does happen.

Some people have been faced with the horrible tragedy of losing a loved one. In my practice I have frequently seen innocent people die because another person was at fault for causing their death. Whether it is a car accident, motorcycle accident and/or work-related accident, the pain of losing a loved one never goes away.

In these situations, I hear people say that no amount of money can bring a person back. And while I agree with this statement, the law, through allowing a recovery of money, does at least provide a means to help a family cope with their loss and a means of getting back to the way of life before their loved one was killed.

The law through the “Wrongful Death and Survival Act” allows a family to recover money against the person(s) at fault for their loved one’s death. This money is presumably the amount of money that would have otherwise been provided to them if their loved one was still alive. Specifically, a family can recover what is called “loss of earnings” and” earnings capacity.” This is a calculation to determine the amount of money which the deceased loved one could realistically have earned considering his or her age, health, training and education, if they were still alive. In addition, fringe benefits such as healthcare insurance and retirement benefits are included in this calculation. The lost value of household services that the deceased would have likely provided is also permitted to be claimed. This is generally calculated by looking at the type of services the deceased person had (such as landscapers) and looking at the amount to replace these services.

As mentioned above, while it is painfully apparent that no amount of money can bring a person back, awarding a family money for the wrongful death of their love one does help a family resume some normalcy in giving them the life they may have otherwise had if their loved one was not killed. Specifically, I have seen this money used for worthy causes such as children’s educations, helping others in similar situations and creating charities to prevent, or create awareness about the same type of accidents or tragedy that killed their family member.

If your loved one has been killed due to the fault of another and you would like to discuss how to recover money in hopes of helping your family have a means to return to a similar life to that of before your loved one was killed, please contact me for a free consultation here in my firm’s Yardley, Pennsylvania office.

June 20, 2011 is the 20th Annual “Ride to Work Day”.  On this day more than twice the normal number of motorcycle riders are expected to join.  Stark & Stark believes “Ride to Work Day” is an important day for showcasing motorcycles and to protect and promote motorcycle riding With more motorcycles on the road, riders become more visible to motor vehicle drivers which makes them more aware of the presence of motorcycles. 

Along those lines The Riders Lawyers at Stark & Stark want to remind you to ride safely.  Specifically, when you are riding with passengers on your bike keep in mind that you should consider certain adjustments to your bike such as the tire pressure and suspension settings.  In addition, the extra weight of the passenger will tend to make motorcycles slower to respond to steering and may require more throttle to start. In addition,  greater brake pressure will be needed to slow and stop and cornering clearance will be reduced because of the passenger’s extra weight.

As always Stark & Stark encourages safe and responsible riding and urges you to ride you motorcycle on “Ride to Work Day” to make all road users conscious of motorcycles and increase safety for motorcycles on the roadway.