Who is at fault for the accident? Whose insurance company pays?

Q: I was involved in a car accident where it was snowing badly. I was traveling around 35 on the Parkway but it was a white out. I spun out. I was on the side of the rode. Another car came along and rear-ended me. He knocked me into the guard rail and caused extensive damage to my car. The police were called, and he received a citation. My car had to be towed away. Is he responsible because he rear-ended me while I’m already off to the side of the road or am I at fault because I pulled over to the side in a white out? (Forest Hills, PA)

A: Generally, the person who hits someone from behind is at fault. If you were pulled off the road completely at a safe distance from the road way, that also puts more fault on him. You need to report this to your insurance company. Their attorney will advise you. The other driver’s insurance company may or may not offer to pay full damages. They may offer to pay 50% or 75% of the damages due to the weather conditions. Additionally, the other driver may have another version of what happened. It is hard to tell how it will settle. More information would need to be known to give you a thorough answer, but the case will probably settle.

School bus dropped 14-year-old daughter off in ghetto!

Q: This isn’t the first time the school bus dropped my 14-year-old daughter off at different locations and didn’t have my permission. Now they leave her off in a high-crime area full of no good people. They didn’t even try calling us to see if it was ok to drop her off. Something needs to be done about it. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I understand your frustration but fortunately she was not injured. Had she been injured, you may have a claim. You need to voice your concerns to the school board, so this sort of mayhem does not happen to another child.

Can I recover for air bag that never deployed?

Q: I was rear-ended and broke my nose on the steering wheel. The air bags never deployed. Is that normal? Do I have a possible law suit for time missed at work, medical bills, suffering, etc. Is it a possible defect by manufacturer? Is that normal when rear-ended? (Bridgeville, PA)

A: Generally, when you are hit from behind you have a good case unless your claim is devalued by your contribution such as sudden stopping or reckless maneuvering. You can obtain an award for some types of medical expenses and possibly non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of life’s pleasures. Air bag cases are a bit more difficult. Do front airbags deploy in rear end collisions? Was there a recall that you were unaware of? If you pursue such a claim, you will need to have an expert, likely a forensic mechanic, examine the car to determine what caused the problem. If you go this way, you will need to preserve this car until it is examined by your expert. With serious accidents, some insurance companies and plaintiff’s attorney have the car impounded and seal it in plastic wrap to preserve the evidence. You need to see a personal injury attorney who also handles product liability.

Will insurance pay inmate’s medicals?

Q: If a person is arrested and in the county jail, goes to the ER for a car accident injury that happened 5 days prior to arrest, will the person’s insurance pay for the medical expenses? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Auto insurance is the primary coverage for medical benefits relating to injuries arising out of motor vehicle accidents. If the person has some credible proof that the injury is related to the car accident, at least evidence of car accident. Was there an accident report filed? Was the insurance company notified? Are there photos? If there is no record of the car accident and the person was taken to ER because of a jail fight, it is not going to happen.

Is Sheets responsible for anything?

Q: I bought a milkshake at Sheets convenience store for my son. I took it home and he started to drink it. He noticed small hard pieces of what he thought was ice. He showed me two pieces they are about as big a grain of sea salt. They are hard. He not sure if he digested any or not but he thinks so. So far there are no issues. I did go back to Sheets and report it to a manager. She grabbed the shake and ran in the back of store with it. She wanted my bag with the objects, but I said I wanted them in case he gets sick to show any doctors. She gave me a number to Sheets customer service. I called them and explained. They gave me claim. Is this situation grounds for anything? (West Mifflin, PA)

A:  Let us hope that he has no ill effects from the shake. Personal injury cases require injury. Plus, even if the objects in the shake are some sort of poison, or harmful, you lost the evidence by giving the shake to the manager. These people are trained to hide and/or destroy any food that is returned so there is no evidence against them. I know you thought you were trying to do the right thing and they caught you off guard. At least you kept the bag. Had you kept the shake you could have taken it to a lab for testing. I would monitor your son and if he has any unusual conditions, take him to a doctor. Hold on to your bag and anything else you have, like a receipt. Make the claim and keep notes on everything. You need to demand an explanation from Sheets and verify what these foreign materials are. I would not cease to persist until you get an answer. I would demand that the material be sent to an independent laboratory. If you do not get an explanation, hire an attorney and they will move quicker.

Can I sue a doctor’s office for embarrassing and humiliating me?

Q: Went to new OBGYN 4-4-17 with three windows. The lady to the right completely ignored me and the lady on the left was on the phone when she got off the phone she says “sir have you been helped.” I tell her I’m a woman and no, she doesn’t apologize. The woman to the right says this isn’t one of mine (there wasn’t any rapport no hello can I help you). The lady at the 3rd says are you so and so? I say yes and go to the window. I can hear the other 2 laughing. When I sat down I hear one woman say I still can’t see the difference they continued laughing. I go in for my appointment and when I’m done the women at the nurse station are looking at me and giggling. When I go back to the window to checkout there is a woman walking by the door in the back giggling and trying to get a look at me. She did this twice the 2nd time I made eye contact and gave her a look of I know what you are doing. I told the woman at the window what was happening and asked for the person in charge phone number. Supposedly, she’s on vacation for the rest of the week. Last night I was so upset playing it in my mind why didn’t I say something to them I cried in bed until I fell asleep.

A: You can call a personal injury or civil rights attorney for a second opinion, but I doubt if this rises to the level of a legal action in tort, infliction of emotional distress or discrimination if you have no damages other than hurt feelings. However, these people work for someone. Chances are the doctor, doctors or corporation that they work for may be offended by their employees behaving like this, especially in today’s political climate. I would find out who owns or manages this office and write them a letter telling them what happened. I would write to the owner, and copy the woman allegedly on vacation. Don’t be overly dramatic and just state what happened and how you felt. The world has many types of people in it and some are intolerant and insensitive.

Can I sue JC Penny and the cop who falsely arrested me for theft?

Q: I was falsely accused of theft by JC Penny and the arresting cop is saying I stole 4 pairs of shoes. They have a photo of the person who did it on crime page. The person is not even me! I have proof where I was at the time. I am 6 feet shorter than the person who did this plus have piercing in my nose which cannot be removed and she don’t. I even lost my job over this! WTF? (Carrick, PA)

A: Generally, if you have proof of liability and damages, you have a law suit. You mention that you were arrested and if you can prove you lost your job. You therefore may have measurable damages. As for liability, if it was an honest mistake, the store has a defense that would weaken your case. However, if you are 6 feet shorter than the real criminal here, that is quite a noticeable difference-an obvious mistake! The case may have some settlement value. I would review this with a personal injury lawyer, one who has handled wrongful arrest cases

If I fell through a rotted deck. Is landlord responsible.

Q: I was on my friend’s deck. I took a step towards the front door and my leg broke through a board causing me to go down and landed on my sacroiliac joint (cross beam broke my fall all the way down) I have permanent injuries to my SI joint, back, knees, feet, ankles. neck and ended up with Fibromyalgia as a result of this. I’ve been in physical therapy for over a year and I am looking for a clear answer of liability.  My understanding is whether this landlord knew the deck was unsafe or not or they should have. Was it up to code? How old is this deck? Was it inspected? Done by a professional contractor or shoddily built by that homeowner? The boards were unsealed, weathered, potential to splinter, but not wobbly, so myself nor my friends (the occupants) would not have had any reason to think the deck was unsafe. Especially since the landlord came up and painted that deck over the rotten boards. I have over 20k in medical bills and a ton of Doctors now. To be clear, this is a rented manufactured home with a small deck built on to front entrance The tenants do not maintain the property. The landlord fixes everything.

A:  Al these questions you ask are good questions and need to be known. Do not try to settle this with the Landlord or the insurance company yourself. You will end up losing. The landlord could be responsible, it could be the deck manufacturer, it could be the contractor who built the deck, who knows at this point. That is why you get an attorney. The attorney will investigate and conduct discovery. There is probably insurance coverage somewhere. Do not waste time nor let evidence be disappear.

Can I sue a pedestrian for causing car accident?

Q: I was driving in the middle of the city before a concert and looking for a place to park, there was a woman flagging on the right side of the road, I went to pull into the lot behind her and she stepped out into the road pointing to a parking lot of the left side of the road, I in turned swerved back left to avoid hitting her and I hit another car. Both myself and the other car pulled into the lot, and exchanged info, she apologized and said she was sorry he even called her boss and said it was her fault and asked if we could park for free. He said no. My question is why was she flagging on the wrong side of the road and can I sue her or her company for causing this accident?

A: Yes, you can sue a pedestrian for causing a motor vehicle accident. Will it be worth it? A lot more facts would need to be known. First, there needs to be liability, fault on her part. Secondly, you need damages. I am hearing property damage here but not personal injury, lost work or other compensatory damages. If you suffered only property damage and you are insured, is your insurer not covering you? If your total damages are your deductible and say, rental car, while your car is being repaired, you may generate little interest in an attorney investing hundreds of dollars in costs and thousands of dollars of legal billable hours in this endeavor. You may want to file a civil action at the local District Justice. If you do sue, you may want to sue her employer as well. What is their liability? Would a judge find her to be exclusively liable for your property damage or would you be apportioned some fault (contributory or comparative negligence) for pulling into traffic without being clear to do so. I am just saying, I share your frustration but it may be a reach to hold her liable or not worth the investment. Why don’t you just submit the claim to your insurance company so they can assess potential liability.

Defamation – Slander per-se? Do I have a case?

A: A co-worker of mine spread a nasty rumor at work that I have a loathsome disease, which is not true. She also keeps talking about my breast augmentation, to other workers and our clients. I am experiencing such distress. What are the steps I need to do to take action? Thank you.

A: You need to prove that she said this (liability) and damages that you have suffered. Your damages need to be quantifiable, meaning you may need to prove that you treated and incurred costs of therapy or suffered some type of measurable damage to your image in the work environment or in the public eye. You may want to see if your employer has an option. If it is a bigger company, the HR department may mediate this and take action against the person. The only way to determine if you have a case is to sit down with a personal injury lawyer or employment lawyer and go over all of the facts.