The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

April 2011 Archives

Car Accidents: Are You Liable Even When You're Not Driving?

Many Philadelphia locals understand that they can generally be held responsible for car accidents when they are the ones found behind the wheel. But what some people may not realize is that in many states, individuals may also be held liable for a crash caused by someone else driving their car with their consent, whether implied or direct.

According to FindLaw, most states allow both the owner and the driver of an automobile to be named in a lawsuit under the legal theory of “vicarious liability.” FindLaw’s LawBrain writes that this theory imposes liability for an injury to a person who may have not caused the injury, but actually has a particular legal relationship to the negligent person.

Study Shows Teen Driver Errors Cause Most Fatal Car Crashes

A recent study conducted by State Farm Insurance Companies and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that nearly 75 percent of teen car accidents have resulted from significant and dangerous teen driver errors, including distractions inside the car.

When researchers evaluated over 800 car crashes with teenage drivers, they discovered teens are involved in fatal accidents four times more than the rate of adults. According to The Mercury, researchers identified a couple of common "critical errors" that are often made in the moments leading up to a crash.

Three of the common mistakes that contribute to a fatal car accident include:

Garen Meguerian Sues Apple For Pricey In-App Purchases

Suburban Philadelphia attorney Garen Meguerian has recently sued Apple, claiming the company has allegedly developed an unlawful scam encouraging children to buy game credits and level-ups in mobile-app games that are initially promoted as being free.

Meguerian said his 9-year-old daughter had accrued $200 in charges after purchasing "Zombie Toxin" and other gaming apps on her iPod, according to the Associated Press. The suit, which was filed in San Francisco's U.S. District Court, seeks class action status and contends Meguerian is among many other parents who were also hit with such expensive charges.

Ride The Duck Tours Resume On Delaware River

Philadelphia residents will be seeing Ride the Duck tours make a comeback on the Delaware River this August after city officials and the Coast Guard recently approved the company's operational plan. The Philadelphia Daily News reported the boats will now have new safety standards and a better route after last summer's fatal boat accident.

Ride the Ducks was suspended for about nine months after the Resource, a barge pulled by tugboat Caribbean Sea, crashed into DUKW 34 last July, causing it to sink with two crew members and 37 passengers onboard. Two visiting Hungarian students, Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, had drowned while 26 other people were injured.

Car Hits 7-year-old Jeff Bienamie On Roosevelt Boulevard

A car struck 7-year-old Jeff Bienamie, a first grader at Thomas Creighton Elementary, as he headed to school with two older students after he had missed his school bus. Police officials said the light had just turned green when the young boy hurriedly crossed Roosevelt Boulevard before the other kids during rush hour.

One car had swerved and missed hitting the boy, but an SUV driver, whom police have not identified, was unable to stop and ended up running into Bienamie, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Witnesses reported the driver remained at the scene and tried to help before paramedics arrived and brought the 7-year-old to St. Christopher's Hospital.

Federal Officials Conduct Bus Safety Inspections, Find Violations

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 289 unsafe buses or drivers were taken off the road after a series of surprise passenger carrier safety inspections was conducted throughout the United States during a span of nine days.

Between March 28 and April 6, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration worked with state and local law enforcement agencies in performing 2,782 safety inspections. They also issued a number of out-of-service violation citations to 262 vehicles and 156 drivers across the country, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

PA House Approves Bill Limiting Defendants' Liability In Civil Suits

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Pennsylvania state House has recently approved a “fair-share” bill, which limits the liability of multiple defendants in a civil lawsuit and protects those found to be less than 60 percent at fault from paying more than their portion of damages to a plaintiff.

However, the legislation also includes exceptions for awards in cases involving intentional torts like assault or battery, intentional misrepresentation, and other specific violations connected to liquor laws or hazardous waste. Under current state law, all defendants are responsible for 100 percent of damages if their codefendants are unable to pay.

3,900 Blue Bird School Buses Recalled For Possible Fire Hazard

According to The Consumerist, 3,900 Blue Bird school buses were recently recalled due to a problem with the power cables rubbing against the vehicles’ power steering hose, which could potentially start a fire. The affected buses include those made between June 26, 2003 and December 9, 2004 and buses with model years between 2004 and 2006.

Bus owners and operators in Philadelphia and across the country are expected to receive recall notices starting May 11, 2011. The U.S. Department of Transportation also added that the Blue Bird Body Company, which manufactures the buses, will have dealers evaluate and inspect the affected vision model buses “for proper clearance between the start cable and the power steering hose.”

Another recent lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over the way it has handled cases of alleged sexual abuse. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bristol Township local Daniel Neill contended that Reverend Joseph J. Gallagher, who is currently on administrative leave, repeatedly sexually abused him while he was at St. Mark's school.

But Neill ended up killing himself after the archdiocese did not believe that the priest molested him during the time he served as an altar boy at the church in 1980 and 1981. "It's a wrongful death is what it is," said Jeff Anderson, one of the personal injury attorneys for Neill's family.

National Work Zone Awareness Week Begins In PA

Interim PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch has joined state officials and public utility providers in Philadelphia and other counties in introducing the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which recognizes the 22 individuals who have died from work zone accidents in Pennsylvania over the last year. According to PR Newswire, the program begins on April 4 and lasts until April 8, 2010.

Recent data from PennDOT revealed three of the agency’s employees and one contractor were among the 22 killed last year, while three other fatalities resulted from a vehicle entering the work zone. Overall, 82 PennDOT workers have reportedly died while working in the line of duty since 1970.