Rear-End Car Collisions

Hundreds of car accidents happen each year in which one driver fails to stop and rear-ends the car in front of him.  Pennsylvania follows the “assured clear distance rule”, which has been codified as part of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code.

This rule requires that a driver has to be capable of stopping his vehicle at all time – within the clear distance in front of him.  Regardless of the speed limit, a driver has to drive slow enough so he can safely stop within the visible space in front of him.  This includes the need to account for many factors including weather, lighting or other conditions affecting visibility, such as the crest of a hill.  A driver is also required to anticipate that the vehicle in front may slow down or stop suddenly.  It is not a defense that the first vehicle stopped too quickly.  Where a rear-end collision occurs, there is a legal inference that the second driver failed to maintain the assured clear distance.

If you are injured in a rear-end collision, you may suffer injuries and damages for which the law permits a financial recovery.  These can include wage loss, medical bills, pain and suffering, and also damages for your spouse (loss of consortium).

For more information and a consultation, contact our Law Firm      Supinka & Supinka PC.

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Additional Identification Required at Pennsylvania Airports

The REAL ID Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, requires states to change their requirements for issuing driver licenses to meet minimum security standards.  Beginning January 22, 2018, air travelers with identification that does not meet the REAL ID Act requirements and whose state does not have an extension will need to show an alternative form of identification.   Examples of acceptable forms of identification include U.S. military or dependent ID, DHS trusted traveler cards, airline or airport-issued ID, or passport book or passport card.

On May 26, 2017, Governor Wolf signed into law the Pennsylvania REAL ID Compliance Act which will allow Pennsylvania to issue REAL ID-compliant driver licenses, which can be used to access airports and federal facilities.

Pennsylvania is under a REAL ID enforcement extension until October 10, 2017, which means that Pennsylvania residents will not have to show alternative identification until then.  PennDOT says that it will continue to request extensions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until REAL ID products are available for Pennsylvania residents.

Under the new Pennsylvania Act, you are not required to get the new REAL ID driver license, but if you do obtain one, you will be able to use the new REAL ID driver license and will not also need to show a passport or additional identification.

PennDOT estimates REAL ID driver licenses will be available to Pennsylvania residents beginning in 2019. This will allow time for Pennsylvania residents to obtain one before the final Department of Homeland Security deadline of October 1, 2020.

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Insurance Coverage Granted for Contamination

In a recent case, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) filed a lawsuit against Johnson Matthey, a manufacturer of metal alloys, contending its operations contaminated soil and groundwater.  In addition to denying those allegations, Johnson Matthey submitted the claim under its own insurance policy.

The insurance company sought to avoid covering the claim, arguing that it was only required to cover damages that “occurred” during the 12-month period in which the policy was in effect and that this contamination had “occurred” many years before the policy was issued.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that Johnson Matthey was entitled to coverage.  The Court held that the policy applies to any “property damage which occurs during the policy period”.  Because “property damage” includes contamination, and contamination was discovered during the policy period, the Court found that the policy was triggered.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court analogized to cases in the asbestos context, in which there is a typically a long delay between one’s exposure to asbestos and the manifestation of symptoms.  In asbestos cases, all “occurrence” insurance policies in effect between the exposure and discovery of symptoms are triggered.

If you need help with an insurance claim, call our attorneys at 724-349-6768 for individual advice.

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Real Estate Awarded to Buyer

In the recent case of Oliver v. Ball, 136 A.3d 162 (Pa. Super. 2016), the Superior Court ruled in favor of a buyer when the seller backed out of the sale.

The buyer and seller agreed to the sale of a 71-acre parcel.  When the seller later refused to complete the sale, the buyer filed a lawsuit asking for a court order granting him the property, rather than an award of money damages.  The court explained that money damages are the typical remedy for a breach of contract, but there can be an award of “specific performance” where the contract involves a unique type of item that could not be adequately compensated with money.

The buyer argued that the value of this property could not be measured in dollars because he would not be able to develop another parcel in the same manner.  The court analyzed the details of the property – including its close proximity to the buyer’s other properties, the terrain, water features and mineral rights.  Based on these features, the court concluded that the buyer would not be adequately compensated through an award of money.  Therefore, the buyer was entitled to possession of the land.

If you are in need of assistance with a real estate transaction, please call our attorneys at 724-349-6768 for individual legal advice.

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New Pennsylvania Law Reduces No-Fault Divorce, Waiting Period to 1 Year

The waiting period for a no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania has recently been reduced from two years to one year.  House Bill 380, which Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law on October 4, 2016 will go into effect on December 4, 2016.

This new law is not retroactive and does not impact divorces that are already filed and pending.   Continue reading

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Dangerous Pitfalls in Starting New Job

In the recent 2016 case of Wakeley v. M.J. Bruner, Inc., the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled against an employee who had been terminated shortly after starting a new job.

Katie Wakeley had been living in Texas, with her husband and child, where she had a stable job as a project manager for an advertising agency. Ms. Wakeley was approached by a Pittsburgh-based company, which offered her a job that paid a higher salary, plus relocation expenses.   Continue reading

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Wrongful Death of College Basketball Player

In the recent Superior Court case of Hill v. Slippery Rock University, a college basketball player collapsed during a late night high-intensity practice with his team. After being transported to the emergency room, he suffered cardiac arrest and passed away. It was then discovered that the victim suffered from a blood disease that had gone undetected during the preseason physical exam required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”). The NCAA’s policy at that time only required blood testing for Division I athletes, whereas the victim played for a Division II school and did not undergo the testing. Continue reading

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New Changes to Pennsylvania Criminal Records

Pennsylvania Senate Bill No. 166 was signed into law on February 16, 2016, which seals certain criminal record information from public release. The change to the law allows a person who has been free from arrest or criminal charges for the last 10 years to file a Petition with the Court for limited access to their prior convictions. The new law only limits access to certain non-violent misdemeanors of the second and third degrees. Continue reading

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Important Decision When Buying Car Insurance

In the recent Pennsylvania case of Herrera v. Baum, Gregoria Herrera was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck from behind and suffered numerous back and knee injuries Ms. Herrera had a car insurance policy on which she elected “limited” rather than “full tort” coverage in order to reduce her premium costs. When she had renewed her coverage, Gregoria checked the boxes next to both tort options, creating an ambiguity. Continue reading

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Pennsylvania Dog Law

In the recent case of Wagner v. Teneyck, a Doberman got loose from its owner’s property and attacked a child in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, causing severe and permanent injuries. In most lawsuits based on negligence, the victim has to prove that the defendant failed to act with “reasonable care” under the circumstances. However, under the Pennsylvania Dog Law, if an owner does not keep his “dangerous” dog muzzled or confined, a dog owner may be liable regardless of whether he exercised reasonable care in confining the dog. A victim simply needs to show that the dog had a propensity to attack without provocation. Continue reading

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