17 High Swartz Attorneys Named Main Line Today Top Lawyers for 2021

We are pleased to announce that 17 attorneys have been included in the 2021 Main Line Today Top Lawyers Around the Main Line and Western Suburbs List.

Main Line Today is a Southeastern Pennsylvania regional magazine focusing on the communities of the western suburbs of Philadelphia and surrounding Counties. The Best Lawyers of Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County are nominated through peer balloting then vetted through Main Line Today's editorial process.

2021 sees the addition of 3 High Swartz attorneys to the Top Lawyers list. New attorneys include family lawyers Chelsey A. Christiansen and Michael B. Prasad for Divorce and Family Law and Stephen M. Zaffuto for Real Estate Law. Congratulations to all winners!

Below is the full list of High Swartz Top Lawyers from Main Line Today in 2021.

  • Joel D. Rosen - Business Law
  • Kevin Cornish - Civil Litigation
  • Mark Fischer - Civil Litigation
  • Melissa Boyd - Divorce & Family
  • Mary Doherty - Divorce & Family
  • Elizabeth Early - Divorce & Family
  • Chelsey Christiansen - Divorce & Family
  • Michael Prasad - Divorce & Family
  • Thomas Rees - Employment Law
  • James B. Shrimp - Employment Law
  • David Brooman - Municipal Law
  • Gilbert High - Municipal Law
  • William Kerr - Municipal Law
  • Richard Sokorai - Personal Injury
  • Arn Heller - Real Estate Law
  • Stephen Zaffuto - Real Estate Law
  • Thomas Panzer - Workers’ Compensation

If you're looking for lawyers near you in Norristown, Doylestown, and the Greater Philadelphia area, get in touch with our law office. Our attorneys and lawyers are some of the best you'll find to handle all your legal concerns.

Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Auto Insurance

It's tempting to try to save a few dollars up front by choosing what is known as “limited tort” instead of “full tort” insurance. Here's why saving 15% or more on your car insurance could cost you a whole lot more.

No one likes to pay for auto insurance; it's expensive and it’s one of the few purchases we all make that all of us hope to never use. Insurance companies tell you that you can save up to a quick 15% on your yearly premium just by checking the “limited tort” box on the application or insurance renewal form and then signing it. So you might think, “I’m a good driver, I haven’t had any accidents, why not save 15% on something I probably won’t use anyway?” But, as with many deals that look too good to be true, in the long run choosing full tort vs. limited tort can cost you a whole lot more than 15% of your yearly car insurance premium.

There are two types of damages in any auto accident.

Let’s pull back the curtain a bit. If you are injured in an auto accident, your damages fall into two general categories. One category is called economic damages.  Economic damages refers to compensation for objectively verifiable monetary losses like lost wages, medical bills, damage to your automobile or other personal property, and similar out-of-pocket expenses.

The other category of damages are called non-economic damages. Non-economic losses are not objectively verifiable; these can be damages such as pain and suffering, emotional shock or loss of enjoyment of life. While non-economic damages cannot be objectively measured, they can often be the largest element of a claim requiring the support of a personal injury lawyer. Few of us would think that time spent in a hospital or going to medical and physical therapy appointments is enjoyable.

We do not want to be fearful every time we are in a car, recalling the time  a careless driver was texting, missed a stop sign, and rammed our vehicle. None of us want to miss out on participating in family events or doing the activities we love because of injuries sustained while another driver was being inattentive. These non-economic damages can be considerable, and insurance companies dislike paying them because they mean the insurance companies make less profit.

What does Tort mean?

Tort refers to a civil misdeed or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another. It's important to understand that Tort covers both ends of the spectrum - whether the act was intentional, or a completely by accident.

Auto Insurance companies WANT you to go with the cheaper option.

The limited tort vs full tort option was created over insurance company concerns that there were too many lawsuits in Pennsylvania where the injured parties sought and received compensation for non-economic damages. In other words, limited tort insurance was created largely to protect insurance company profits. To avoid paying out too many premium dollars to alleviate pain and suffering, insurance companies encourage Pennsylvania drivers to choose limited tort.

With full tort vs. limited tort insurance, you can always consult with a personal injury lawyer and sue for your "full" damages. However, with limited tort insurance, your ability to recover your full damages is "limited" to when you can prove that you have sustained what is called a “serious injury.”

What is considered a serious injury in Pennsylvania?

It is the requirement to prove a “serious injury” before an accident victim is entitled to any pain and suffering damages that saves insurance companies so much money.  “Serious injury” is defined as “death, significant deformity, or impairment of bodily function.” In practice, this means that if you are not dead, disfigured or crippled, your insurance carrier is likely to deny your claim for pain and suffering.

This bears repeating:

If you are not dead, disfigured or crippled, your insurance carrier is likely to deny your claim for pain and suffering if you have limited tort insurance.

Insurance carriers have denied that broken bones or even herniated spinal discs amount to “serious injuries.” Maybe you can prove in court that your particular injury was “serious” within the limitations of the law, but it is likely you will not be able to carry this heavy burden of proof.

The money you save on limited tort insurance will quickly disappear.

At minimum, your insurance company will likely use your status as a limited tort policy holder to significantly reduce any settlement offer to you. The cost of proving that you sustained a “serious injury” will quickly exceed the few dollars you saved in insurance premiums.  Further, in light of the extra burden of proving a “serious injury,” many personal injury lawyers decline to represent limited tort policy holders except in exceptional circumstances.

It's not just about you.

Be aware that the choice of full tort vs. limited tort insurance by the owner of a vehicle in a household can bind resident relatives, such as spouses and children, to the limited tort choice. Accordingly, selecting limited tort insurance can limit not only your right of recovery, but those of your family.

Like all insurance, cheaper is better until you have to use it.  But the 15% you might have saved on your premiums with limited tort will likely be but a tiny fraction of your losses should you be unfortunate enough to be in a bad car accident that was caused by the fault of another driver.

The emotional pain and physical suffering of being an auto accident victim is difficult enough without your formerly friendly insurance company telling you that your injuries aren’t “serious” enough to justify full compensation, but that you can sue them if you disagree.   The money you saved will be small solace when personal injury lawyer after personal injury lawyer tells you that they probably could have helped you obtain a better recovery, but that your status as a limited tort insured means that it is not economically feasible to take your case.

Don’t be fooled by the small upfront savings of limited tort insurance.  Know that the substantial rights you are giving up by selecting limited tort insurance are exactly the ones you are most likely to need should you be injured in an auto accident.  Don’t be victimized twice; once by a negligent driver of another vehicle, and again by an insurance company that has charged you 85% of the premium that could have purchased adequate, full tort insurance but instead sold you inadequate insurance called limited tort.

Ask yourself, “would my insurance company be offering me a 15% upfront discount on my auto premiums if I select limited tort, if the insurance company ultimately did not save much more money in the long run by not providing me with full tort insurance?”

Please consider the fact that insurance is a for-profit business; insurance companies would not offer limited tort insurance if it was not ultimately more profitable to them to do so.

Full Tort vs Limited Tort Equals Adequate vs. Inadequate.

You are encouraged to think of full tort as “adequate” insurance and limited tort as “inadequate” insurance.  Don’t wait until after an auto accident to learn the hard way the valuable rights you have given up by opting for limited tort vs full tort insurance.

If you have limited tort insurance, our personal injury lawyers urge you to call your insurance company today and ask to be sent the paperwork necessary to switch to full tort.  Fill that paperwork out, sign and date it, and please keep a copy.  Or, when your insurance policy renewal comes around, switch to full tort.  You and your family will be glad you did should an auto accident occur.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

11 High Swartz Attorneys named to PA Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists

High Swartz is pleased to announce that 11 of its attorneys have been named among Pennsylvania’s 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Among the highlights are two inclusions on the 50 Top Female Lawyers in Pennsylvania list going to Melissa M. Boyd and Mary Cushing Doherty of the High Swartz Domestic Relations practice.

2019 High Swartz Super Lawyers Melissa Boyd David Brooman Mary Cushing Doherty Mark Fischer Gilbert High, Thomas Panzer Thomas Rees Joel Rosen
2019 High Swartz attorneys added to the Super Lawyers List

What is Super Lawyers?

The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Super Lawyers Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less. High Swartz 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are listed below in alphabetical order.

Melissa M. Boyd: Has been nominated to her 5th consecutive Super lawyer list preceded by 6 Rising Star distinctions. On top of her streak, Missy has been nominated to 3 Super Lawyers Top Lists in Pennsylvania. Those accolades are 100 Top Lawyers in Pennsylvania, 100 Top Lawyers in Philadelphia and 50 Top Female Attorneys in Pennsylvania. Missy is a partner and family law attorney with High Swartz and advocates in various areas including divorce, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, child custody and child support, equitable distribution, alimony, adoptions, protection from abuse and juvenile law.

David J. Brooman: 2019 marks the return to the Super Lawyers list for David. This is his 10th selection. As a land development and litigation attorney, David J. Brooman has more than three decades experience in zoning and land use development, as well as environmental law.

Mary Cushing Doherty: This will be Mary’s 16th consecutive selection to the Super Lawyers list. Along with her distinction, she’ll join the 50 Top Female Lawyers in Pennsylvania list. With a distinguished record of professional and community service, Mary Cushing Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience as a family law lawyer. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division, and is the chair of High Swartz’s Family Law practice.

Mark R. Fischer: Mark has been nominated to his second consecutive Super Lawyer designation. He focuses his practice primarily on representing businesses in breach of contract, payment collection, construction defect, and consumer protection disputes throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Gilbert P. High, Jr.: This will be Gil’s 14 section in a row. Gil’s impressive career is devoted primarily to the practice of municipal and Real Estate and Land Use Law. He regularly speaks on issues pertaining to municipal liability, particularly regarding the maintenance of the Urban Forest, a subject on which he has lectured nationally.

Thomas E. Panzer: This is Tom’s first and much-deserved selection to the Super Lawyers’ list. Thomas E. Panzer, a workers’ compensation attorney, joined High Swartz in 2016 as a result of a merger with McNamara, Bolla & Panzer, Attorneys at Law, a firm for which he served as Managing Partner. Mr. Panzer is active in his community and is currently the Bucks County, Pennsylvania Treasurer.

Thomas D. Rees: Elected to his 14th Super Lawyers list, Tom heads the firm’s Litigation and Employment Practice. He focuses his practice primarily on employment law and private education law. In the education area, Tom represents a number of independent schools in the Philadelphia area, handling employment, student discipline, contract, and governance matters.

Joel D. Rosen: As High Swartz’s Managing partner, Joel has been a Super Lawyer since 2017. With more than 30 years of legal experience as a corporate law attorney, Joel Rosen’s areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing.

list of 2019 high swartz super lawyers rising stars
2019 Rising Stars attorneys from High Swartz

Kevin Cornish: Recently elected as a partner at High Swartz, Kevin receives his 8th Super Lawyers Rising Star selection. Kevin focuses his practice on commercial, civil, and contract & multi-state litigation support. His clients include individuals as well as local, regional, and national businesses up and down the east coast.

Elizabeth Early: has been nominated to her third consecutive Rising Star selection. Her areas of specialization include divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements, parenting coordination and abuse matters. Liz also serves as court-appointed counsel and guardian for minor children.

Brittany M. Yurchyk: High Swartz congratulates Brittany’s first nomination to the Super Lawyers’ list as a Rising Star. Specializing in alternative dispute resolution, Brittany concentrates her family law practice on equitable distribution, child custody, child and spousal support, abuse and domestic relations.

How were the High Swartz Super Lawyers selected to the list?

Super Lawyers nominates the best attorneys using a unique selection process. Peer evaluations and nominations are combined with independent research. Nominees are evaluated on 12 indicators from professional achievement through peer nominations. Nominations are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The Super Lawyers objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys on a national level that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. As an aid to those selecting a lawyer, Super Lawyers only selects outstanding local lawyers who are able to be retained by the public.

High Swartz named among 2019 ‘Best Law Firms’ by U.S. News – Best Lawyers

Full-service law firm in Bucks and Montgomery counties recognized for prowess in Family Law, Municipal Law, Real Estate Law and Litigation - Real Estate, Land Use and Zoning

High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that it has been named a “Best Law Firm” for 2019 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®, achieving a Tier 1 ranking in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area in the practice areas of Family Law, Municipal Law, Real Estate Law and Litigation - Real Estate, Land Use and Zoning and National Tier 2 ranking for Land Use and Zoning Law.

To be eligible for a Best Law Firm ranking, a firm must have at least one lawyer included in The Best Lawyers in America©. Attorneys are neither required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. For 2019, 9 High Swartz attorneys were named among Best Lawyers:

Best Law Firm rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

The highest honor, a Tier 1 ranking, is based on a firm's overall evaluation, which is derived from a combination of its clients' impressive feedback, the regard that lawyers in other firms in the same practice areas have for the firm, and information that the firm provided to Best Lawyers via a survey.

Teen driver safety in Pennsylvania

As a personal injury lawyer who recently represented a teen driver who had received a traffic citation, I was presented with a letter she had received from the Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania covering traffic laws and driver safety.

In that thoughtful letter, the Secretary of Transportation reminded her that “personal responsibility and knowledge of our traffic laws are major parts of [being] a safe driver.”

It was further noted that:

  • a traffic violation doubles your risk for being involved in a car crash
  • at highway speeds, your car travels the length of a football field in a couple of seconds
  • a moment of carelessness or distraction can quickly become a tragedy
  • not paying attention to the road or careless decisions while driving can cause serious injuries or death to you and to those around you
  • car crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 20 year olds

My client’s parents were asked to encourage their teenage driver to improve her driving performance in the future and were also reminded that they had the right to withdraw consent of their young driver’s license until the age of 18!

The letter also directed us to additional traffic and driver safety information which can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) website. There, one can find a great deal of interesting, although often quite disturbing, details. I would encourage you to visit that site when you have some free time on your hands, but I will share some of those statistics with you now.

However, before we focus on traffic crash figures, I have one question, the answer to which you will find at the end of this blog. In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 2,500 municipalities throughout the 67 counties, but which is the only official “town?”

Traffic and driver safety statistics in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s website reported that, in 2015, there were traffic-related deaths in Pennsylvania arising from various circumstances, including:

  • 459 fatalities involving hitting a fixed object
  • 413 fatalities involving unrestrained occupants of a motor vehicle
  • 306 fatalities involving drinking drivers
  • 179 motorcycle fatalities
  • 153 pedestrian fatalities
  • 119 fatalities involving aggressive drivers
  • 66 fatalities involving distracted drivers
  • 23 fatalities in work zones

PennDOT has also published a booklet of 2017 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics which contains the following information:

  • Pennsylvania has over 120,000 miles of roads and highways
  • In 2016, there were approximately 101.1 billion vehicle miles of travel on those roads and highways

In its “Overview,” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notes that (based on 2017 data), on average, each day:

  • 351 reportable traffic crashes occur (about 15 per hour)
  • 3 persons are fatally injured in traffic crashes (one every 8 hours)
  • 221 persons are injured in reportable crashes (about 9 per hour)

Based upon Pennsylvania’s population in 2017 (12,805,537), this would mean that:

  • 1 out of every 44 people was involved in a reportable traffic crash
  • 1 out of every 11,263 people was fatally injured in a crash
  • 1 out of every 159 people was injured in a crash

Teen and young driver safety statistics in Pennsylvania

PennDOT reports that, in most age groups, male drivers are involved in more crashes than female drivers. In fact, male drivers aged 21 to 25 were involved in more crashes than drivers in any other age group—male or female. Regrettably, in that age group, 31% of all driver fatalities were drivers who had been drinking.

It was also noted that, although adverse weather and road conditions negatively affect vehicle handling and driver sight, the vast majority (80.2%) of all crashes occurred under no adverse conditions. This has been attributed to:

  1. the fact that weather and roads are clear and dry most of the time; and
  2. the reality that drivers fail to use caution under even optimal road conditions. It is also reported that more crashes occur during daylight (probably because there are more vehicles on the road at this time).

As the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation points out, every traffic crash involves 3 different elements:  the driver, the roadway, and the vehicle. It is reported nationally that 85-90% of all traffic crashes involve some sort of driver error which contributes to the crash. Of all the different age groups represented, the teen driver is one that stands out most. Teen drivers (age 16 to 21) are not only the least experienced drivers, but they are also prone to what has been described as “overzealous” driving. Again, 18% of the driver fatalities in the 16 to 20 age group were drinking drivers.

We are now in and approaching that time of year when most traffic crashes occur—October, November, December, and January. More crashes occur on Friday and Saturday and the number of fatalities which occur on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday) is proportionately greater than the number of crashes (which could be attributed to alcohol use).

So, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves—and also our teen drivers—of the importance of being safe in order to avoid being sorry.

Toward that end, PennDOT offers the following tips for teen drivers:

  • always wear your seat belt
  • do not eat or drink while driving
  • do not talk or text on your cellphone while driving
  • obey the speed limit—driving too fast gives one less time to react
  • adjust radio and climate controls before beginning your trip
  • leave early—give yourself plenty of time to get there
  • expect the unexpected—you never know what might happen
  • and many others

We certainly hope you never face a traffic crash or a situation involving serious injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision or otherwise.

However, if this does occur, please be sure to contact myself, Eric Marttila, or one of our experienced personal injury lawyers—located in the greater Philadelphia area—to fully explore your legal options and to seek all available remedies to be made whole.

By the way, the Town of Bloomsburg in Columbia County is the only official “town” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Limited Tort! = Limited Recovery?

Pennsylvania drivers, when presented with car insurance coverage choices, are given the “Limited Tort Option” – at a discount of some 15% to 20% on annual premiums.  While such savings may be appealing at first glance, such a decision can have far reaching adverse consequences – and our personal injury law firm strongly recommends that our clients select the “Full Tort Option” whenever possible.

Not coincidentally, the word “Limited” has been defined as “restricted in size, amount, or extent” -- and various synonyms have been offered, such as “restricted, finite, little, slight.”  All of these appropriately describe the impact on your potential recovery of selecting the “Limited Tort Option” . . . should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been injured in a motor vehicle collision which is not your fault.

As a general rule, choosing Limited Tort restricts your right to make a claim for non-economic harms and losses which arise from personal injuries sustained as a result of a car collision – damages most often referred to as “pain and suffering.”  Regrettably, too many fail to appreciate what they have given up in this regard until it’s too late.  Even one lost opportunity to be fully compensated for all harms and losses will normally far outweigh any short-term savings by choosing the Limited Tort Option.  Therefore, our personal injury lawyers highly recommend Full Tort coverage to “fully” protect you and your loved ones.

Even if you have selected the Limited Tort Option, though, all is not necessarily lost.  Although many insurance companies will attempt to convince persons who have made such an election -- and who then suffer physical injuries in a motor vehicle collision -- that they are not entitled to any compensation for their pain and suffering, there are exceptions to the general rule precluding such recovery.  Therefore, it is very important that you talk to a personal injury lawyer before agreeing to be bound by any “limited” recovery.

What exceptions might apply?  A few, have nothing to do with the nature and extent of physical injuries which were caused by the collision, include the following . . .

  • The driver at fault is determined to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • The driver at fault is driving a car registered in another state
  • The driver at fault has not maintained proper car insurance
  • The injured party is the occupant of a motor vehicle other than a private motor vehicle

However, there are also exceptions which relate to how “serious” an injury was suffered.

Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility law provides as follows:

Each person who elects the limited tort alternative remains eligible to seek compensation for economic loss sustained in a motor vehicle accident as the consequence of the fault of another person pursuant to applicable tort law. Unless the injury sustained is a serious injury, each person who is bound by the limited tort election shall be precluded from maintaining an action for any noneconomic loss . . .

75 Pa.C.S. § 1705 [Emphases added]

A “serious injury” is therein defined as a “personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” 75 Pa.C.S. § 1702 [Emphases added]  Therefore, one who has selected the “Limited Tort Option” may still make a claim for pain and suffering where he or she has sustained a “serious injury.” Whether or not a personal injury has resulted in “serious impairment of body function” is most often the hotly contested question faced by a personal injury lawyer.

The first case in which the issue of “serious injury” was addressed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was that of Washington v. Baxter in 1998.  There, the Court stated:

The “serious impairment of body function” threshold contains two inquiries:

  1. a) What body function, if any, was impaired because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?
  2. b) Was the impairment of the body function serious? The focus of these inquiries is not on the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affected a particular body function. Generally, medical testimony will be needed to establish the existence, extent, and permanency of the impairment . . . In determining whether the impairment was serious, several factors should be considered: the extent of the impairment, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors. An impairment need not be permanent to be serious.

Washington v. Baxter, 553 Pa. 434, 447–48, 719 A.2d 733, 740 (1998).

Since then, parties have focused less on the physical injuries suffered and more on the effect which those injuries have had on a particular body function or functions.  For example, where physical injuries limit walking, lifting, working, sleeping – and even cognitive function – courts have decided that it is for a finder of fact to ultimately determine whether or not a “serious injury” has been sustained.

Factors to be considered include how the injury affected the actual functioning of certain injured areas; the extent of the impairment; the duration of the impairment; treatment required to address the impairment; and any and all other factors.  Indeed, it has been determined that subjective complaints of pain alone may constitute a “serious impairment of body function”—and that an impairment need not be permanent in order to be serious.

Accordingly, even where you have selected the Limited Tort Option, please talk to a personal injury lawyer in order to determine whether or not it may reasonably be contended that you have suffered a “serious injury.”  To be safe and secure, however, you should always select the Full Tort Option when possible so that you and your family are fully protected – and are unquestionably permitted to make claims for all harms and losses sustained as the result of a motor vehicle collision which is not your fault.

We certainly hope that you are never faced with a situation involving serious injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision or otherwise.  If this does occur, though, please be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in this area to fully explore your legal options and to seek all available remedies to be made whole.

If you have any questions about Limited Tort, please contact Eric G. Marttila at 215-345-8888 or emarttila@highswartz.com. At High Swartz, we advocate for the rights of injured people. With law offices in Doylestown, Bucks County and Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, our personal injury lawyers work with people who have been injured by the negligence of others throughout Pennsylvania.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Be Prepared for Motorcycle Season

As the long cold and rainy spring of 2018 fades into memory, motorcycle riders across the Commonwealth are taking out their bikes and getting ready for a glorious season of riding.  However, the unfortunate truth is that motorcycle accidents can and do happen. Here are some thoughts about how to increase your chance to have a safe and happy motorcycle season.

  1. Make sure your ride is ready. Like any vehicle, motorcycles need maintenance.   Before taking your motorcycle on the road, check your oil, brakes and tires to make sure that they are in proper condition.  Worn brake pads and tires can make an accident more likely and make it more difficult to avoid an accident in the first place.  A small investment now may avoid large problems later.
  2. Make sure you are ready. Are your skills polished and up to date?   If you have not ridden in a while, your skills and reflexes may have diminished.  Your first rides of the year are no time to challenge yourself.   Please consider taking your initial 2018 rides in good weather, on uncrowded roads, and when you are rested and alert.  Consider a class or professional training if it’s been a while since you’ve been on the road.
  3. Proper gear is essential. While the wind in your hair may seem appealing, remember that you’ve only been issued the one head, and you’d best take good care of it.  Similarly, long sleeves and long pants made of proper materials may literally save your skin.  Your chances of surviving an accident with minimal injury increase dramatically with proper clothing and gear.
  4. Remember that you may see automobiles before they see you. Don’t assume that an automobile driver has you and your bike in their field of vision.  A brightly colored helmet or jacket may increase your visibility.  Beware of blind spots and try to avoid them, or spend as little time in them as possible.
  5. Check your insurance. Is your motorcycle properly covered?   Unlike car insurance in Pennsylvania, motorcycle insurance does not include payment of medical expenses.   Your personal medical insurance will have to cover your motorcycle-related injuries, so make sure you have medical insurance that is adequate to the task.
  6. Remember that a collision that is a fender-bender to a car can result in serious injury or death to a motorcycle rider. There is no metal box around a motorcyclist to absorb impact and no seat belt to keep the ride from being thrown.  Even a minor motorcycle accident can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, and brain damage.
  7. Don’t Assume What Other Drivers Will Do. It is far better to avoid an accident than to have to play the “blame game” afterwards.   It is therefore recommended that motorcyclists  assume that drivers of other vehicles may be distracted or inattentive.   Be wary of cars making or that may unexpectedly make left turns, for such turns are a frequent cause of accidents.   Don’t assume that a car is turning just because its turn signal is on, or that a car is stopping because it is approaching a red light or stop sign.   Watch the other drivers; if another driver’s body language does not indicate that they driver has seen you and your motorcycle, be ready to move or take evasive action.

If an accident happens, keep your cool.   Don’t play into the stereotype of the “reckless motorcyclist.”   Remain at the scene, check yourself for injuries, and call 911.  If you are able, take photographs at the scene to establish the position of the vehicles.  Exchange insurance information and get medical attention if necessary.  When the police arrive, do not accept any blame for the accident.   Even if you believe you are unhurt, it is not in your best interest to tell that to the police.  Many injuries only become apparent later, and that statement you made to the police officer that you are “all right” or “unhurt” may be difficult to overcome at a later date. It's also best to talk with a personal injury lawyer.

After a motorcycle accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters seeking a statement from you.  Be wary, as the insurance adjuster may not have your best interests in mind.  It is wise to talk to a personal injury lawyer before you talk to any adjuster to make sure that your rights are protected.   Similarly, seek counsel before signing any documents that an insurance adjuster may place in front of you, such as a blanket authorization to obtain medical records.

Enjoy your ride, but be careful out there.    And should you be in an accident, remember that the personal injury lawyers at High Swartz stand ready to help with any questions or problems you might encounter.  If you have any questions or need assistance with Personal Injury, please contact a High Swartz attorney.  At High Swartz, we advocate for the rights of injured people. With law offices in Doylestown, Bucks County and Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, our personal injury lawyers work with people who have been injured by the negligence of others throughout Pennsylvania.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Leave No Stone Unturned

As stated in previous articles in this series, when faced with unexpected economic harms and losses due to personal injury, it is important to explore -- and understand -- all legal avenues and options which may be available to seek and secure appropriate benefits and compensation. Depending upon the surrounding circumstances, there may be multiple sources of recovery.  Leave no stone unturned when it comes to a personal injury claim!

When one suffers a disabling injury due to a work incident, the possibility of holding a negligent “third party” responsible should be investigated by talking with a personal injury lawyer.

Personal Injury Claim in PA

Under Pennsylvania law, injured workers may be entitled to medical treatment of an injury and reimbursement of a portion of their lost wages from their employer (or its insurance company), but they are not normally permitted to sue their employers directly for additional compensation for pain and suffering – even when the negligence of those employers is directly responsible for causing the underlying incident.

However, sometimes someone or something else has done something – or failed to do something – which is a substantial factor in causing the injury.  This might be the driver of a motor vehicle, or one who maintains a piece of property, or a construction contractor or subcontractor performing nearby work. That person is called a "third party" -- and it is sometimes possible to work with a personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party while simultaneously collecting workers' compensation benefits.

It must be noted, of course, that, if such a personal injury claim is ultimately successful, the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to reimbursement of a portion of the monies it has expended which are related to that injury.  This concept is known as “subrogation” – the legal right of an entity which has paid out benefits in connection with an injury which was caused by a negligent “third party” to be compensated, or re-paid, by that “third party” out of any resulting lawsuit.

Nonetheless, an injured person will always be better off by talking to a personal injury lawyer to seek appropriate compensation from all potentially responsible persons and entities – if he or she has a knowledgeable attorney or personal injury law firm thoughtfully coordinating the recovery of benefits.

Car Accident Personal Injury Claims

One example of where the possibility of recovery from multiple sources exists is when a worker is injured in a motor vehicle collision while in the course and scope of employment.   Although Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Responsibility Law generally prohibits subrogation, this no longer applies to workers’ compensation matters.

Accordingly, even where a worker has purchased Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured (UIM) coverage through his or her own motor vehicle insurance company, and rightfully seeks recovery under the terms of that policy, he or she must be aware of a right of subrogation on the part of the workers’ compensation carrier.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Another example of where the possibility of recovery from multiple sources exists is when a worker is injured in a “slip and fall” incident which was caused by a negligent “third party.”  It has been estimated that more than one million people are injured each year in accidents in which they slip, trip or fall.  Wet or icy floors, sidewalks or parking lots, inadequate lighting, or poor maintenance of a property can all be causes of such incidents.

In many such cases, the property owner or its subcontractor may have been negligent in fulfilling the responsibility to provide a safe premises for customers or business invitees.  When his is the case, they could be held liable for all resulting damages so talk to a personal injury lawyer near you.

As we have just experienced, winters in Pennsylvania can bring much snow and ice – resulting in treacherous conditions in parking lots and on sidewalks. With such wintry conditions, a duty is placed upon the property owner to act within a reasonable time -- after notice -- to remove the snow and ice when it constitutes a dangerous condition.

Courts in Pennsylvania continue to recognize the established common law regarding legal duties of care imposed on landowners, and apply what is known as the “Hills and Ridges” doctrine.  This normally applies to paved areas where pedestrians are expected to travel.  In order for an injured person to recover, he or she must show that ridges or elevations -- and not just generally slippery conditions -- were the cause of the fall. See Rinaldi v. Levine, 176 A.2d 623 (Pa.1962).

Our Personal Injury Lawyers Will Address Your Claim

In fact, our personal injury law firm currently represent an injured worker who stopped at a convenience store for a cup of coffee during his work day.  Unfortunately, because of the way that snow and ice had been improperly cleared, he slipped and fell, suffering serious physical injuries.  As previously indicated, here, the workers’ compensation carrier who paid his medical and wage loss benefits has asserted its right of “subrogation” -- and this must be factored into any potential resolution with the negligent “third party.”

Wherever injuries are caused by the negligence of a “third party,” a personal injury lawyer should analyze all surrounding circumstances and explore each path of potential recovery.  Although it will often involve “subrogation,” pursuit of a personal injury claim against a responsible “third party” should lead to more appropriate recovery and compensation for all the harms and losses sustained.

However, it is important to navigate this properly because the way one claim is handled can seriously affect the pursuit of another. Without knowledgeable legal representation from a personal injury lawyer, one may forfeit some of rights or accept less than is rightfully deserved.

Talk to Our Law Firm About Your Claim

If you suffer an injury on the job or elsewhere, our local law firm will pursue and protect your rights and seek to obtain all monetary and other benefits to which you are legally entitled.  As most personal injury lawyers do, we work on a contingent fee basis.  That is, the attorney's fee is contingent upon our winning or settling the case.  With no need to lay out legal fees in advance, all people can afford the best lawyers near them.

There are many qualified attorneys who specialize in one area of disability law or another.  However, it would seem prudent to consult a firm – like High Swartz – where multiple attorneys who focus on specific areas of disability law can work together to effectively coordinate a strategy to maximize your recovery and minimize the risks of leaving any valuable stone unturned.  Our personal injury lawyers in Bucks County and Montgomery County are here to assist you.  If you have questions regarding obtaining compensation for personal injuries, please contact Eric Marttila, Esq., at (215) 345-8888 or emarttila@highswartz.com.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.