Rules and Limitations that can Shield SEPTA from Liability

On January 12, 2017, NBC News reported a fatal bus accident in Philadelphia Area: the victim was a 64-year-old woman; the vehicle involved was a SEPTA bus.

Another SEPTA bus crash occurred on March 2, 2017, leaving 12 people injured – this involved another SEPTA bus that was said to have collided with a Philadelphia Water Department truck.

SEPTA, short for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is a regional public transportation authority that operates roughly 120 bus routes in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Bucks County (other forms of public transit services SEPTA provides include subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, light rail and electric trolleybus).

Anyone who has walked the streets of Philadelphia can be witness to how SEPTA bus drivers have driven at excessive rates of speed, ran yellow and red lights, and failed to observe the rules of the road. As a result, hundreds of SEPTA bus accidents have occurred and continue to occur each year involving other cars, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians. SEPTA general counsel Gino Benedetti himself has said that during the 2014-15 fiscal year SEPTA was sued about 1,400 times, not just 408 times as court records show. Back in 1988, this same number of lawsuits, 405, was filed against SEPTA in the month of January alone.

It is explained by Philadelphia SEPTA accident lawyers at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, however, that whether one is injured while a passenger on a SEPTA bus, as a result of a car accident with a SEPTA bus, or while a pedestrian after being struck by a SEPTA bus, there are certain rules and limitations that will apply due to SEPTA being a government agency. This means SEPTA is entitled to certain immunity under the law. Also, an individual injured as a result of SEPTA’s negligence must provide notice (using SEPTA claims form) within 6 months of the date of the SEPTA accident. Failure to provide timely notice may result to inability to pursue a claim for personal injuries. In addition, SEPTA can be held liable only for injuries that occur with respect to its negligent operation of its buses and vehicles. In other words, the courts have held that in order to sue SEPTA, your personal injuries must have been caused by SEPTA’s actual operation of its vehicles. Since “to operate” means “to put in motion,” preparing to operate a vehicle or acts taken once the vehicle has come to a complete stop, therefore, cannot be considered as operating a vehicle. In fact, courts have rejected many lawsuits filed by passengers injured on SEPTA buses that were not “operating” at the time. For example, Pennsylvania courts have granted SEPTA immunity on the basis that SEPTA was not “operating a vehicle” in the following circumstances:

  • SEPTA bus rear-ended while loading/unloading passengers;
  • SEPTA bus overcrowded which resulted in passenger missing his stop and falling at the next stop;
  • SEPTA driver did not “kneel” bus properly for passenger to exit; and,
  • Wheelchair ramp was uneven with the ground after being lowered, resulting in injuries to wheelchair-bound passenger attempting to exit via ramp.

In 2011, the new law called the Fair Share Act was also gave SEPTA the assurance that it would no longer be on the hook for large payouts unless it can be ruled that it is responsible for at least 60 percent of an accident.

If you are a SEPTA passenger, pedestrian or car driver injured as a result of a SEPTA bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering as well as any economic damages such as wage loss and medical expenses incurred. However, due to the many rules and limitations that can shield SEPTA from liability, it may be much more advantageous if you will be represented by a skilled and experienced SEPTA accident lawyer.

 

 

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Common Damages Associated with Wrongful Deaths

A wrongful death occurs when a person has undeservedly died because of another person’s error, negligence, or recklessness. Usually, this happens in the form of accidents, such as the following:

  • Car accidents caused by reckless drivers
  • Medical malpractice cases caused by unwarrantedly incompetent medical professionals
  • Product liability cases caused by negligent designers and manufacturers
  • Premises liability cases caused by negligent property owners
  • Workplace accidents caused by negligent employers and supervisors

According to the website of these Chicago accident attorneys, those who have lost loved ones because of wrongful death may have legal options, like trying to make the responsible party accountable for the damages.
Family members may be able to get compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical Expenses – Not all victims immediately succumbed to injuries and illnesses that have been sustained from other parties. Some survive for quite a while, resulting into huge hospital bills, medication costs, and rehabilitative costs, not to mention false hopes from family members that their loved ones will survive.
  • Funeral Expenses – Aside from the medical costs, another direct financial burden is the funeral costs for the victims. Funerals are both expensive and emotional, making them double whammies.
  • Lost Salaries – This may not be a direct financial burden like medical and funeral expenses, but they are equally as devastating. This is particularly problematic if the victims are the primary workers in their respective families, because the lost wages will surely translate to significant lifestyle changes.
  • Lost Benefits – Financial plans including healthcare benefits, social security benefits, and pension plans may also be put at risk if their users have passed away, and this is another indirect financial burden to the family members and may even compromise their future, especially the children.
  • Lost Companionship – The victims’ spouses and children have lost an important person in their lives. This may have emotional and psychological implications, especially on children that are still on their development years. Usually, courts don’t give monetary compensation for lost companionship, but it can be a valid argument to strengthen a wrongful death case.
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Slip and Fall Accidents

Property owners are legally required to ensure the safety of their premises. Any accident that has occurred on their properties because of their own negligence may be subject to a premises liability claim.

According to an article from the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, property owners may be liable for accidents if the following are proven:

  • The property owner was responsible for the unsafe condition
  • The property owner knew that the condition on the property existed but did not try to correct it
  • The property owner should have known about the danger, since a “reasonable” person would have found the problem and taken steps to correct it

One of the most common claims are regarding slip and fall accidents. These kinds of accidents occur because of many reasons. But whatever those reasons are, they don’t change the fact that the victims may sustain injuries, especially in the head, neck, back, arm, leg, and hip area.

Indoor Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, may it be indoor or outdoor. It can happen at home, at the office, in inherently dangerous workplace environments such as construction sites, and malls. The most common causes of indoor slip and fall accidents include:

  • Defective staircases
  • Loose cables
  • Poorly maintained escalators and elevators
  • Slippery substances such as spilled drinks and floor wax
  • Unnecessary obstructions such as opened cabinets in offices
  • Worn carpets

Outdoor Slip and Fall
Many slip and fall accidents outside happen because of weather conditions and poor maintenance practices. Typically, outdoor slip and fall accidents occur on parking lots and sidewalks. The most common causes of outdoor slip and fall accidents include:

  • Buildup of snow and ice on roofs
  • Inadequate lighting or poor visibility
  • Melted snow and ice on sidewalks
  • Pile of leaves
  • Potholes and other uneven surfaces
  • Trash and debris
  • Water on pavement
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Business Litigation 101

In the conduct of running a business, it is normal for disputes and conflicts to arise. When the issues cannot be resolved through negotiations or arbitration, the usual result is business litigation. There are various circumstances when business litigation is the only way to resolve corporate disputes and conflicts. An Austin business litigation lawyer will tell you that resolving legal matters is crucial to the success of your company. The areas that business litigation may resolve include the following:

Finances and Investments

They say that money is the root of all evil and when financial matters find their way into businesses and companies, litigation is almost certain to follow. The case that will be filed may involve outsiders or even people inside the company.

Intellectual Property

A business may push a case against another business if they are deemed as infringing patents, trademarks, or copyrights which is illegal and may be grounds for pursuing a case.

Insurance Disputes

There are instances when insurance claims become one of the major causes of business litigation. In attempts to get higher proceeds, some businesses commit fraud and lie about some information. Insurance companies conduct investigations before granting claims and if they found out that you falsified information, then they have grounds to proceed with business litigation.

Breach of Contract

A contract is a binding agreement between two parties. For this reason, it is important for them to act in good faith and be true to the agreement. When one of the parties breaks the agreement, they are guilty of breach of contract and that violation may result to business litigation.

These are just some common instances that can result to business litigation. Getting involved in a lawsuit can be financially draining on the part of the parties involved. At the same time, it can also eat up so much time and the businesses involved may end up not being able to focus on running their business.

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Chapter 7 Business Bankruptcy

Companies fail daily, they fail so frequently that starting a business is one of the most risky financial decisions of any body’s life. Sometimes the risk pays off, but often times it does not and that’s understandable. If you are part of a failed company, the best thing you can do is take a breath and begin thinking of a way to salvage the situation. This may even include bankruptcy. Probably the most dreaded thing for any entrepreneur to even think about. However, with chapter 7 bankruptcy, a business owner can finally put aside that chapter of their life and begin anew.

Chapter 7 business bankruptcies works much like the conventional idea of bankruptcy, but it is much more compromising than most people may think. Upon approval of the bankruptcy petition and all other necessary financial documents, assets are divided into exempt and nonexempt assets. Nonexempt assets will be then be liquidated at auction and used to repay business debts. Exempt assets such as clothing, motor vehicles, and pensions are able to be kept to maintain a basic standard of living. Debts are then divided into secured and unsecured debts. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects with chapter 7 is the ability to discharge a majority of unsecured debts. These include any asset that is not secured with tangible property such as credit card debt and medical bills. If unsecured debts are unable to be discharged, many creditors will accept a reduced settlement amount for these debts which can be 50% lower than the original. According to Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, the majority of a company’s debts will in fact be eligible for discharge.

Businesses are difficult to own and operate, and it is inevitable that some companies are bound to fail. The thought of bankruptcy is hard for most entrepreneurs to stomach as they believe it is the mark of failure, but this is a unhealthy way of thinking. Bankruptcies need to be viewed as an opportunity for business owners to start over and create a better business from what you learned in the past.

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The Basics of a No-Zone Accident

Anyone can tell you than an eighteen wheeler truck is so much more massive than a regular vehicle. Putting it into a more calculated perspective, an eighteen wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds without a permit while a regular vehicle weighs only around 3,000 to 10,000 pounds. The contrast between the two vehicles is huge and so, when operating such a massive vehicle, there are certain precautionary measures that are needed.

Take, for instance, the amount of visibility that a truck driver has of their surroundings. There are certain areas of the truck that are difficult to see. While a truck driver must be professional trained in matters concerning turns or changing lanes, some drivers may fail to take these “no-zones” into account, according to the website of the lawyers with Ausband & Dumont. If mishandled or negligently done, the narrow spaces in front, behind, or on the sides of a truck could cause significant damage if the truck driver turns suddenly, without the necessary precautions.

This kind of negligence is not something that should be allowed to let pass, henceforth why there are specific restrictions and laws that are exclusive to trucks, their drivers, and the employers who utilize their services. A driver, for example, can only drive a truck for fourteen hours a day. These precautions are necessary not only just to protect the driver but also the other vehicles on the road. There is precedent for this, of course, as the level of damage that truck could do far outweighs the damage that a regular vehicle can do; that’s just the basic math of it.

So if even the slightest bit of a slip up in the standard of care that a truck driver must follow by is neglected, a lot of people could be affected simply by being at the wrong “no-zone” at the wrong time.

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Is There A Happily Ever After, After Divorce?

People are fickle creatures. More often than not, people make decisions based on what feels right at the time instead of with logic or proper reasoning. Sometimes, this gut instinct is enough to make a good decision but sometimes, things just don’t work out. The case with some marriages, for example, is that the couples just rushed into marriage far too quickly without considering the consequences of actually living together. Some couples just grow apart – and that’s okay too.

But divorce, with how it’s portrayed in various stories told through different media, can seem like an ugly, dangerous thing that can only result in unhappiness. Can there be a happily ever after, after a divorce?

Sometimes, it is the only option there is for everyone involved to be happy. According to the website of Marshal & Taylor, PLLC, there are many cases wherein a couple staying together in the marriage can only do more harm than good. This is especially true if there are children involved.

There are, of course, couples that are in very difficult situations regarding their marriages. Abusive relationships do exist and sometimes, partners are conditioned in order to think that they have no choice that they must stay in the relationship. This is simply not true. However, the road to happiness can be one that is paved with many obstacles – especially one concerning divorce. There is not a single person who can say that divorce was a walk in the park but most people who have ended their unhappy relationships have ended up happier than ever, since they gave themselves the chance to be.

If you are looking into seeking a divorce or legal separation from your partner, it would be recommended to consult your options with an experienced, sensitive professional in order to know the best way to go about this situation.

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Can Filing for Bankruptcy Be A Good Choice?

Financial woes can get the better and best out of any of us. After all, not everyone makes savvy financial decisions in their youth and it was always easy to think “when I get money, I’ll pay all of my debt quickly!” as if their future selves would just magically have the answers to their then-present selves. The world we live in is one that celebrates in euphoric immediate gratification and it was this kind of spend first, ask where you’ll get the money later kind of thinking that sent so many adults today spiraling into financial ruin at such an early age.

So when you’ve reached the point where you consider bankruptcy, you might be wondering – what good can filing for bankruptcy ever do for someone in financial crisis?

The answer is that, if your situation calls for it, filing for bankruptcy can help you change everything for the better from the span of a few months to around three to five years instead of spending a lifetime in debt. According to the website of  Erin B. Shank, PC, Killeen bankruptcy attorney, if bankruptcy is the most advisable course of action for your given situation, things can only start to improve from there. For a start, once you file for bankruptcy, your creditors will be notified that you have filed for bankruptcy and the endless phone calls that you fear will cease to happen.

A lot of people tend to just shrink away from their financial problems once thing start to seem too overwhelming to handle. If you sweep your problems under the rug too often and do nothing to start rectifying the situation, you may face lawsuits and more trouble than you would have done if you had just made the first step into getting back a decent credit score.

Bankruptcy can allow for you to follow your own bespoke payment plan, depending on your income and lifestyle so that you needn’t have to pay out too much at once and end up in a difficult living situation. If you want to know what your options are and if filing for bankruptcy is on the table, it is recommended that you consult your potential solutions with a reputable bankruptcy attorney of your choic

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The Relation of Negligence and Personal Injury

In most dealings with personal injury, the word “negligence” is often thrown about with cases concerning it. After all, according to the website www.pohlberkattorneys.com, personal injury deals with incidents that have caused injury towards a person that were due to acts that were negligent in nature, either intentionally or unintentionally. But why is that so?

Negligence is the primary cause for personal injury cases as by definition, it means that there has been carelessness from one party and if that carelessness brings forth a damaging accident towards a victim, then the victim is warranted some form of justice and compensation for it. According to the website of the lawyers with Abel Law, every single person has a duty of care to each other. If that duty has been neglected and the result causes injury to someone else, the guilty party is then liable to compensate for the damage done.

In the website www.hankeylawoffice.com/personal-injury/, some examples that can be cited of this relationship are through the cases from various subsets of personal injury such as car accident. If Driver A did not practice the necessary precautions when getting on the road – making sure they are well rested, not intoxicated, etc – and this reckless negligence results into a car crash that greatly injures Driver B, then that is means for personal injury.

Things are not, however, always quite as straightforward as all that. Sometimes, things can get complicated, as can be the case for cases involving premises or product liability, wherein the fault lies to a guilty party but it was indirectly done. According to the website of Abel Law, proving negligence can be quite the difficult task.

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How Can You Prevent Workplace Accidents?

Employees and their employers need to have a mutually beneficial back and forth relationship so that there may be growth for the business and within the business. An employee wants a workplace that allows for career growth as well as a learning experience within the field while an employer wants workers who are dedicated and skilled in order to further the business’ progress.

In order for there to be a harmonious and productive work relationship between every party, the workplace needs to be an environment that promotes that mutual growth. If there were workplace accidents aplenty, it would affect morale significantly. After all, nobody wants to work in a place that puts them in unnecessary danger that they didn’t sign up for – it is then necessary for all parties to be transparent with one another.

How any of this is related to preventing workplace accidents, you may be asking?

Why, that is because preventing workplace accidents starts at the very root of the employee-employer relationship: the pre-employment process itself. According to the website of WorkSTEPS, pre-employment testing allows for employers to know if their employees are fit and appropriate for the task at hand. You wouldn’t give, for example, a profession that requires a steady hand to someone with early onset Parkinson’s disease, right?

The principle of pre-employment is so that the employer knows that their potential employee can do their tasks well as well as provide the employee sufficient grounds to establish that they are fit for the task and that they would not be held accountable for the damage that accidents due to negligence might inflict upon them.

Pre-employment allows for both parties to be accountable to each other from the get go and it is from that mutual accountability that trustworthiness between each other can be formed.

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