Pennsylvania Personal Injury Cases
Pennsylvania is one of Miller & Zois's primary home base jurisdictions. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of personal injury cases in Pennsylvania. Our expertise in Pennsylvania is not limited to medical malpractice and birth injuries. We represent injured clients in all other types of Pennsylvania personal injury cases including: slip and falls; prescription drug; product liability; and nursing home negligence. Generally speaking Pennsylvania (and particularly Philadelphia) is an excellent jurisdiction for tort plaintiffs. Below is a brief summary of some of the more common types of personal injury cases we routinely deal with in Pennsylvania.Pennsylvania Slip and Falls Cases
When someone is injured by a hazardous property condition (e.g., slippery floor, icy sidewalk, loose ceiling tile, etc.) the injured party can sue the property owner for financial compensation. This type of personal injury claim against a property owner is referred to a premises liability. Slip and falls incidents are by far the most common type of premises liability claim in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law property owners can be sued for slip and falls or premises liability under one of 2 possible tort law theories: (1) strict liability; or (2) negligence.
Pennsylvania property owners can be liable under strict liability when there is a condition or activity on their property that is considered abnormally dangerous in nature. An "abnormally dangerous" activity or condition is define as something that cannot be made completely safe and poses an unavoidable risk of harm even when done with reasonable care. Classic examples of abnormally dangerous activities include manufacturing or testing high explosives; storing toxic chemicals; or keeping extremely dangerous animals. Strict liability is not frequently used as a theory of recovery in Pennsylvania slip and falls cases.
Most slip and falls cases (and other types of premises liability) are based on negligence. To hold a property owner liable for premises liability under a general negligence theory, the plaintiff must prove 2 primary elements: (1) there was hazardous condition or activity on the property; and (2) the property owner knew about the hazardous condition but failed to do anything about it.
Most slip and fall cases sink or swim based on the 2nd element which requires proof that the property owner had knowledge of a hazard. "I didn't know about it" or some variation on that theme is the standard property owner defense in most slip and fall cases. To overcome this defense a slip and fall plaintiff must be able to present some sort of evidence showing that the owner of the property was actually aware of the hazardous condition or activity. So if someone slips on a wet floor at a Wal-Mart or Target outside Philadelphia, they will need evidence that the store employees were aware of the wet floor at the time but did nothing about it.
The value of slip and fall and other premises liability cases in Pennsylvania is primarily driven by the extent of the injuries involved. The injuries from typical slip and fall on wet floor are obviously not going to be as serious as a high speed car accident. Still, major premises liability cases can sometimes involve serious personal injuries. Below are recent Pennsylvania verdicts and reported settlements from premises liability cases.
- Gentile v Jefferson Methodist (Pennsylvania 2018) $15,000: hospice employee at Jefferson Methodist Hospital on Wolf Street in Philadelphia slips and falls on a puddle of water that had accumulated on the hallway floor. Case proceeds to arbitration and she is awarded $15,000 for various soft tissue injuries to her neck and back.
- Collier v Susiak (Pennsylvania 2018) $70,000: in this residential premises liability case the plaintiff trips and falls over a row over flower pots on the sidewalk in front of a duplex home and suffers moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck and back. She sues the homeowner alleging that the flower pots created a hazardous condition. The homeowner claims that the flower pots were not her but belonged to her neighbor. The jury finds the property owner liable and awards $70,000 - which was presumably covered by the defendant's homeowner's insurance policy.
- Tanner v AutoZone (Pennsylvania 2017) $534,000: middle aged woman is walking on the sidewalk directly in front of the AutoZone store in the University City area of Philadelphia. She slips and falls on ice and snow that had not been cleared. She suffers fractured ankle and additional soft tissue injuries that require extensive treatment and cause her to miss work. AutoZone claims that the location of her fall was actually not on store property but the jury in Philadelphia disagrees and awards $534,000 in damages.
- Dixon v Batchelor Bros Funeral (Pennsylvania 2016) $19,000: woman slips and falls on snow and ice while walking to her car in the parking lot of the Batchelor Brothers Funeral Home on North Broad Street, Philadelphia. She suffers moderate injuries to her buttocks and lower back and sues. Case goes to arbitration and the arbitrator awards plaintiff a total of $19,085.57.
Neglect and abuse in nursing homes is a major problem across the country and Pennsylvania is no exception. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health nearly 100,000 elderly Pennsylvanians are now residents in the state's 700 nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The grim reality is that hundreds of these elderly nursing home residents are victims of daily neglect and/or intentional abuse.
When nursing home residents are injured by negligent care or abusive conduct they have every right to sue their nursing home. If the nursing home resident passes away or lack the mental capacity to bring suit against the facility Pennsylvania law allows claims to be brought by their estate or survivors. Nursing homes in Pennsylvania are considered licensed health care facilities (much like hospitals) so they can be sued for medical malpractice as well as under more general tort theories.
The value of Pennsylvania nursing home abuse cases tends to vary quite a bit based on various circumstances. In nursing home cases the value is driven not just by the extent of the injuries. A key factor in these cases is often how egregious or shameful the neglect is. Below are some recently reported verdicts and settlements in Pennsylvania nursing home cases.
- Brigman v Pottstown (Pennsylvania 2017) $190,000: elderly man has extended stay in hospital for acute pneumonia where he starts to develop early stage bedsores. He is later transferred to a nursing home where he is not moved enough and the bedsores get much worse and eventually progressed to stage IV and caused severe infection requiring surgical debridement and partial bone removal. He eventually dies from related complications and his estate sues the nursing home. The case settles out of court for $190,000.
- Shilck v Extendicare (Pennsylvania 2016) $150,000: elderly woman dies after suffering a bad fall at her nursing home facility. Her estate sues the nursing home claiming that it provided negligent care due to gross understaffing which caused the woman to develop a blot clot, suffer numerous falls, malnutrition, and dehydration all of which contributed to her early death. The case is settled out of court for $150,000.
When a Pennsylvania consumer is seriously harmed by a defective product they are legally entitled to sue the manufacturer and/or seller for compensation. Defective products for liability purposes can include almost anything including a device, material, food, machine, chemical, toy, tool, etc. Product liability also applies to more sophisticated medical products such medical devices or prescription medications.
There tends to be a wide range of value in product liability cases in Pennsylvania. Below are verdicts and reported settlements from a number of recent product liability and pharmaceutical cases from Pennsylvania:
- Wysocki v John Crane Inc (Pennsylvania 2018) $2.1 million: 64-year-old former construction worker claims that he suffered colon cancer from years of asbestos exposure sold or supplied by the defendants. Liability is essentially admitted but defendants dispute whether plaintiff was exposed to their products and whether his cancer was proximately caused by exposure to asbestos. The jury finds in favor of plaintiff and awards $1 million against each defendant and awards his wife $75k against each defendant.
- Hartmann v Janssen Pharmaceutical (Pennsylvania 2017) $28 million: 75-year-old woman takes popular prescription blood thinner drug Xarelto for 2 year to treat her irregular heartbeat. She has a bad reaction to the Xarelto and suffers severe gastrointestinal bleeding requiring 4 blood transfusions. She sues the manufacturer for failure to warn and design defects based on evidence that they knew the drug would cause this type of bleeding in certain patients but concealed that information. A jury in Philadelphia awards her $1.8 million in compensatory damages and a staggering $26 million in punitive damages.
- A.Y. v Janssen Pharmaceutical (Pennsylvania 2016) $70 million: young male starts taking prescription drug Risperdal at age 5 to treat a psychiatric disorder. He takes the drugs for years and in his early teens the drug causes him to grow breasts. His family sues the manufacturer alleging that they knew the drug caused abnormal breast development in boys but failed to warn about this risk. The case goes to trial in Philadelphia and the jury awards $70 million in damages.
- Reyes v Cincinnati Inc (Pennsylvania 2016) $15 million: a construction worker's dominant hand is completely crushed while using a hydraulic shear used to cut large pieces of metal. He sued the manufacturer of the metal-cutting shear based on a defective design theory since the shear lacked a safety guard at the point of operation. A jury in Philadelphia agrees that the tool was not safely designed and awards him $15 million.
The lawyers at Miller & Zois have brought successful personal injury cases on behalf of clients in Pennsylvania. If you have a Pennsylvania personal injury case involving a slip and fall, premises liability, product liability, nursing home negligence, or any other type of claim contact us today at 800-553-8082 or get an online consultation.