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Wrongful Death

When a loved one passes away because of someone else’s negligence, it can be very hard to decide what to do next. Nothing can ever replace the individual that you’ve lost in your life, but you are entitled to compensation for the enormous financial expense occasioned by someone’s sudden passing. If you have lost someone you love, here are some factors to be considered to determine if you have a valid wrongful death action.

Negligence and Recklessness

wrongful death

The first factor that needs to be weighed is whether the loved one’s death was the result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. If someone you love was killed in a car accident because of someone else’s mistake on the road, or killed because of faulty repairs or on the premises of a business that did not take reasonable care in maintaining its premises, then these are classic examples of negligence which has caused the injury that your loved one suffered.

Negligence is defined under Pennsylvania law as failing to take the same reasonable care as the average reasonable person. Recklessness is found when one is aware of a risk but intentionally disregards the risk.

Wrongful Death v. Survival Action

There are two types of actions that the law of Pennsylvania recognizes when someone has been wrongfully killed. The first is called a “survival action,” and the second is called “wrongful death.” A survival action deals with the pain and suffering and bills that the individual accumulated during the time that they survived after the injury that ultimately led to their death. Sometimes, this can be a substantial period of time. In other instances, such as a sudden car crash, this amount of time was brief. Understanding the legal validity of this claim can help to predict the outcome of a settlement or lawsuit.

Wrongful death has to do with the loss that those left behind have incurred as a result of their relative’s death. These two distinct claims allow for different types of damages and also, by law, may be distributed to different family members.

Compassionate and Caring Lawyers Can Help You Recover

At Cornerstone Law Firm we don’t take lightly our responsibility when we’re retained to help a family grieving the loss of a loved one. We know that in this time you need compassion, care, and to be listened to. We understand that not every family wants to pursue damages to the full extent of the law. We understand that no one who is grieving wants to chase other people for money. Frequently, we’ve found that the relatives of victims of wrongful death just want closure, but simply want to know their options. We’re here to listen to you and to work to obtain the result that you want in your case.

If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident or because of someone’s reckless or deliberate act, please call the Cornerstone Law Firm so that we can discuss your rights with you in a free, no obligation consultation. If you retain us, we don’t get paid until you get paid. Call the Cornerstone Law Firm today.

 

 

Construction Litigation

One of the most commonly litigated issues in America is construction. Whether it’s because a construction company failed to do the work that was promised, did the work inadequately, or because of buyer’s remorse that causes a customer to be unhappy with a perfectly good job, construction disputes end up in court about as often as anything else in American law. Experienced construction lawyers will tell you that there are several issues to consider when trying to predict the outcome of a construction case.

Workman-Like Qualityconstruction lawyers

Implied in nearly every construction contract in law, is a requirement that construction be done in a “workman-like manner.” If a contractor or subcontractor shows up to do their job and installs paper mâché plumbing, obviously this would not satisfy the requirements of a contract even if the contract didn’t explicitly say what the plumbing had to be made with. The standard quality requirements of the industry will prevail.

While this may be easy to determine when it comes to paper mâché, it is much harder to determine in instances where a contractor or subcontractor simply isn’t very good at their job. Perhaps they put in cheap materials instead of those ordered, or perhaps they took shortcuts and didn’t get the work done to the standards of the general contractor.

The question that the court will ask is, “What meets the minimum standards of competency in the profession? Did the contractor’s work rise to that level?”

Contract Provisions

In most instances, a dispute with a contractor will be over fulfillment of the terms of a contract. It makes sense, then, to carefully check the contract at the beginning of a job, routinely throughout the job, and of course before the filing of suit. The contract’s provisions will largely set down the rights and obligations of each party. But anyone who’s ever done a construction job knows that things can change quickly.

A homeowner decides they want a different type of flooring throughout the house. A municipal body changes the layout of a building completely. A contractor can’t get the subcontractors originally bargained for. All too often, these become oral conversations. The parties agree that they will do something differently than laid out in the contract, but they don’t memorialize it in writing. Preferably, the parties should execute a Change Order at each stage in the process when things change.

Even without change orders in place, written documents can make it much easier to track the changes that have been made and whether all parties agreed to the changes that were made. A great deal of litigation can be traced back to change orders that weren’t properly executed.

Damages

Finally, even after you’ve worked out all of the other questions in a case, the most important thing that parties heading into construction litigation have to consider are the damages at issue. If a subcontractor didn’t hold up their end of the work, and it caused delays, is the sub on the hook for the cost of the project’s delay? Can that subcontractor be held liable for the expense and costs that a general contractor incurred waiting for that job to be completed by someone else?

We’ve covered damages in other articles on this site from time to time, but it’s sufficient to say that every case is different and that determining the proper measure of damages at the outset of a suit will help you determine whether it’s beneficial to bring a suit at all, and if it is, when it’s appropriate to settle.

Conclusion: You need an experienced construction attorney

The attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm have experience in all sorts of litigation. We’ve handled messy cases, simple cases, and everything in between! Call the attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm today to discuss your construction litigation case and let us help you figure out how to proceed.

What do I do if I get a traffic ticket?

If you’ve been pulled over and given a traffic ticket, or if you’ve received a traffic ticket in the mail, you should think carefully about your options before pleading guilty to it. When you plead guilty to a traffic ticket, you will incur all of the fines, penalties, points and license suspensions that go along with it. So, here are a few things to consider when you see those blue lights in the rear-view mirror.

  1. Fines…and other coststraffic ticket

If you get a traffic ticket, you know there’s a fine. That’s really what a traffic ticket is. Traffic tickets in Pennsylvania are almost always “summary offenses,” meaning they can be resolved by simply paying your fine. Indeed, most traffic tickets in Pennsylvania are just fines, without any additional points or other complications (although some come with other penalties as discussed below).

But there can be other costs to a traffic ticket when you plead not guilty, including minor court costs and other fees. Regardless, pleading not guilty is your chance to challenge a ticket, and you should carefully weigh this option before simply paying the ticket. The fines on a traffic ticket are always the smallest cost in the long term, which leads us to number two.

  1. Points on your license

The bigger concern when you have a traffic ticket is how many points it will put on your license. In Pennsylvania, once you’ve reached 11 points, your license is suspended, and once you’ve reached six points, you have to pay fees and take a special exam (which, if it’s half as bad as it sounds, is a fate worse than death).

More relevantly, for most Pennsylvanians higher points means higher insurance premiums. Insurance companies take points into account when deciding how much to charge you for your premiums. So, if your traffic ticket comes with points, you want to carefully consider whether you can afford the long-term insurance costs that the ticket will bring. Sometimes a ticket with lower fines and points will end up costing you far more than a ticket with a higher fine and no points.

  1. Your license may be suspended

In some cases, tickets can bring about an automatic license suspension. Worst of all, they may not tell you that until after you’ve plead guilty and it’s too late to do anything about it. PennDOT assesses the suspensions automatically and does so after the fact. So, you won’t know about a suspension in some cases until after it’s too late. Your license can be suspended for relatively small matters such as speeding in a work zone, or allowing someone else to use your car without a license.

Call for a free consultation with a traffic lawyer today

Whenever you’ve received a traffic ticket, it’s important to discuss your matter with a traffic ticket lawyer. Attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm can help you determine whether there’s a way to fight your traffic ticket at the Magisterial District Court or a higher court, or whether it can be negotiated to something that doesn’t carry points or a license suspension.

We’ve helped many clients to avoid the serious ramifications of a traffic ticket and we can help you, too.
Call for a free consultation today.

What is Subrogation?

If you filed a claim with an insurance adjuster after a car accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident, there are a few unusual terms that you are going to hear. One of them is “subrogation.” You may hear about it first from the claims adjuster that you’re dealing with at the insurance company. Or perhaps you’ll get a letter from your own health insurance company saying that they’ve subrogated claims or that they believe they have a right of subrogation. So, what is this that they’re talking about, and what should you do about it? Do you need a subrogation lawyer?

subrogation

Subrogation is the right to be reimbursed

Subrogation is a strange word, but it’s fairly simple. It means that someone else has purchased your legal rights from you—even if you didn’t know it! The most common situation in which this arises is when a medical insurance provider pays for your medical care after an accident. In this situation, the medical provider or the health insurance company has a right to be reimbursed by you if you receive a settlement for your personal injury claim.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Someone who pays for your medical care generally ought to be partially reimbursed for their payments if you get paid by the person who hurt you. Similarly, if a hospital or other medical provider remains unpaid for treating you after you are injured, they are usually going to try to be first in line to get reimbursed after you are compensated for those injuries.

But having said all of that, just because someone claims the right of reimbursement doesn’t mean they actually have a right to reimbursement. This is a complicated area of the law. Subrogation is what is known as an “equitable doctrine.” The insurance company or medical provider may have a right of subrogation but that right is limited by a number of important legal principles that a subrogation lawyer or personal injury attorney can help you work through.

Your Personal Injury Claim is Affected by a Subrogation Claim.

One thing people often do not realize when they are negotiating with an insurance adjuster about their personal injury claim is that these subrogation rights of other parties have to be considered when determining the proper amount of compensation for a personal injury claim. In other words, if a medical insurance provider has already paid for your medical bills, the car insurance company involved is typically going to be responsible for providing you with enough money to reimburse them for the amount of money that they paid.

Sometimes an injured party will be negotiating a settlement and believe they are going to receive a certain sum of money from the insurance company only to find out that the entire amount of money will have to be handed over to a medical provider. This should not be the case. The insurance company is responsible for compensating you for all of the injuries you’ve suffered and to make sure that there’s money left over to compensate you for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. This is where having an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you value your claim and protect you against third-party creditors is extremely important.

Do I Need a Subrogation Lawyer?

If all of this sounds a little bit confusing, don’t panic. An experienced subrogation lawyer can help you to figure out whether your personal injury claim is being properly valued by the insurance company when taking into account any right of repayment that a medical provider or medical insurance company may have.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience in the areas of personal injury and subrogation. Our lawyers know how to help you to compromise liens which may be placed against you and how to deal with those claiming a right of subrogation. They can help to defray the costs that would otherwise accrue you and they can help to maximize your recovery. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash or if you’ve been injured in another way and someone has contacted you about a right of subrogation, call us right away.

Public Drunkenness and Kutztown University Students

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we’ve helped many Kutztown University students who are accused of crimes. When a college student is charged with public drunkenness or another crime involving alcohol or drugs, the impact on the student’s academic and professional future can be profound. Here are several things that a student at Kutztown University or any other college should consider when deciding what to do about criminal charges.

  1. Your charges can impact professional licensure

Sometimes, college students are quick to plead guilty or accept the initial charges filed without thinking about how such a charge will impact their professional future. If a student wants to be a teacher, a counselor, a police officer or even go into the military, a conviction can end up derailing the student’s plans. An expensive education can be wasted by accepting a plea agreement without considering these aspects.

The reality is, a college student who is 18 or older is an adult, and your charges will remain on your record for the rest of your life if they are not properly disposed of. Contrary to popular belief, expungement is not easy to obtain, and in many situations, it will not be available at all unless it is part of the plea agreement or diversionary program accepted. Don’t just plead guilty! You need to discuss the potential consequences of your plea with an experienced attorney.

  1. You are innocent until proven guilty

In the midst of all of this discussion of plea agreements and reduced charges, let’s not forget the most important fact: you are innocent until proven guilty. Just because a police officer has charged you with a crime doesn’t mean you have to plead guilty to it. Indeed, proving that someone has committed a crime in a court of law is the highest bar in the law. It requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of your peers in an environment where the state cannot require you to testify against yourself. This is not an easy task. Not infrequently, police officers and investigators make mistakes in the course of their investigation, misunderstand the significance of evidence, or rely on false characterizations in their charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you to spot these mistakes and challenge them. Sometimes this reduces criminal charges, and sometimes it eliminates them altogether.

  1. Kutztown University might implement their own academic discipline.

College students are often surprised when they find out that their legal problems create academic problems, as well. Charges filed against an individual will trigger an academic investigation by the university, and a dean of student conduct or other campus official might demand an explanation, even before the charges have been resolved.

However, Kutztown University, like any public university in Pennsylvania, is subject to the constitution and its provisions about due process, the right to an attorney, and the right to notice and a hearing. Occasionally, students are told that they do not have a right to be represented by an attorney in a disciplinary hearing. This is not true. As a student a public university, you have your full constitutional rights in disciplinary hearings, including the right to remain silent without adverse action being taken against you. You should not attempt to handle these hearings alone. In most cases, you can insist that the hearings not go forward until the charges are resolved.

  1. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you is a must.

There are plenty of things in life that you can save money on by doing it yourself. Dealing with your potentially life-altering criminal charges is not one of them. An experienced attorney who understands the potential impact of a conviction on your professional future is vital. An experienced attorney can help you to decide whether to fight charges or to seek a favorable plea, and how to eliminate or minimize potential negative consequences for your future.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we have helped many Kutztown University students to deal with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to drug possession and more. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.