Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we know a lot of our friends will be traveling to other states to enjoy this holiday. If you or someone you know is heading to Pennsylvania, take a second to read our interview with prominent Pennsylvania Attorney Gabriel Levin of Levin and Zeiger, LLP (Injury Attorneys) and Levin and Zeiger, LLP (Criminal Defense).
Is Pennsylvania a no fault state? If so, does it work the same way Florida does?
I don’t know the laws of Florida. In Pennsylvania, when a driver purchases auto insurance they must elect for either “Full Tort” or “Limited Tort” coverage. If they choose “Full Tort” they are entitled to collect against a negligent driver for all injuries caused in an accident including pain and suffering. If the driver elected for “Limited Tort” insurance the driver can only recover for injuries or pain and suffering if their injuries rise to a level of “serious bodily injury.” Economic damages have no such hurdle and are always fully recoverable.
If I get into an accident in Pennsylvania, am I required to hire a Pennsylvania attorney? If not, do you recommend that I should?
No one is ever required to hire an attorney. If you are involved in an accident in Pennsylvania you could hire an attorney from out of state, I’m just not sure why you would do that. You want to make sure that your attorney is knowledgeable with the laws in the state where the accident happened. Only an attorney licensed to practice in Pennsylvania will be able to file a lawsuit in the state should that be necessary to get you compensated for your injuries.
Since I’m an out-of-state driver injured in Pennsylvania, is there a way to avoid going to court in Pennsylvania? I don’t want to have to travel and the cost of getting a hotel and missing work would be significant.
This is a problem that many victims have when they are injured far from home. The answer is it really depends. Often I am able to settle cases and get great recoveries for people out of state and they never have to come to Pennsylvania at any point of the case. For other clients it is necessary for them to return. They might have to be deposed or visit a doctor the defense requested them to see. In all cases I am mindful of the burden and do my best to limit the amount of time spent traveling.
Does Pennsylvania cap non-economic damages like pain-and-suffering?
No. There are no caps in Pennsylvania.
Are punitive damages available in Pennsylvania? If so, what usually justifies them being awarded?
There are punitive damages in Pennsylvania. Punitive damages are awarded when the conduct of the defendant displays a wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of others. The idea is we want to punish people that disregard a known risk that has a high percentage chance to cause physical harm. The amount of the award is not related to the actual injury suffered by the Plaintiff. Rather the award is based off the value of the defendant and should be great enough to persuade the defendant and others to not behave like that in the future.
What is the blood alcohol level needed to presume someone is driving impaired?
In Pennsylvania if your blood alcohol level is .08 or above you are presumed to intoxicated and should not be driving.
If I am injured in Pennsylvania, but wait till I return to Florida to visit a doctor, will that hurt my case?
That is a difficult question. The facts of the case would really shape my answer. Generally, when people call me immediately after an accident I always tell them to go to the ER. This is important because the ER can make sure there are not hidden injuries that could be life threatening. Visiting the ER can also be great evidence for your case. The ER will document all of your injuries. The records will show the date the injury was sustained and help to causally relate your injuries to the accident.
Does Pennsylvania have a statute of limitations covering how long I have to make a claim?
Most injury claims in Pennsylvania have a two year statute of limitations. There are exceptions to every rule but this is the case in an overwhelming majority of claims.
If I am driving a rental car in Pennsylvania and get into an accident that is not my fault will that hurt my claim?
No. The law does not create any exception for rental cars. Rental cars are treated the same as any other vehicle under the law.
Florida recently passed a ban on texting-while-driving, does Pennsylvania have any similar legislation?
Yes. There has been a push recently to exposed defendants to punitive damages for injuries they cause while driving and texting.
Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group would like to thank Mr. Ziegler for taking the time to share with us his important insights. We hope everyone enjoyed it, learned something new and will have a wonderful Thanksgiving!