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Is SEPTA immune from Personal Injury Lawsuits

In this article, Philadelphia SEPTA accident lawyer, Brent Wieand, Esq., discusses whether SEPTA can be held liable for injuries caused by accidents such as train crashes, bus accidents or slip and fall accidents that occur on SEPTA property. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, a/k/a SEPTA, is a transit service provider owned by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth. SEPTA operates hundreds of buses, trains and trolleys throughout Southeastern PA. Most of these trips are completed without incident. However, sometimes, SEPTA vehicles are involved in accidents, or people may become hurt due to a defective or hazardous condition of SEPTA’s property. Contrary to what many people think, SEPTA is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (not the City of Philadelphia). Because SEPTA is owned by the Commonwealth, it is entitled to protection from lawsuits. This is known as Sovereign immunity. However, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created exceptions to Sovereign immunity in certain cases. The law which creates exceptions to Sovereign Immunity is the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act. Sovereign immunity is coded in Subchapter B, §8521 et seq. §8522 sets forth nine exceptions to sovereign immunity including: 1) vehicle liability, 2) medical professional liability, 3) Care, custody and control of personal property, 4) commonwealth real estate, highways and sidewalks, 5) Potholes and other dangerous conditions, 6) Care, custody and control of animals, 7) Liquor store sales, 8) National guard activities and 9) Toxoids and vaccines. If a personal injury lawsuits meets the criteria of one of these 9 exceptions you can bring a claim for injuries caused by SEPTA in court. The most common provisions that apply to SEPTA accidents resulting in injury are: 1) vehicle liability 4) commonwealth real estate, highways and sidewalks and 5) potholes and other dangerous conditions. The vehicle liability exception waives immunity for injuries caused by SEPTA due to the operation of any “motor vehicle” which is self propelled and any attachment thereto, including vehicles operated by rail, through water and in the air. Thus, collisions involving SEPTA trolleys, buses, trains and subway cars are covered under an exception to sovereign immunity. SEPTA may also be held liable for a dangerous condition of SEPTA owned real estate, highways, sidewalks, potholes and other dangerous conditions. These exceptions most frequently apply to slip and fall or trip and fall accidents which occur because of a defect on SEPTA owned property. For example, if a person trips on broken sidewalk...
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Age Discrimination and Employment Law Today

Pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA” and the “Act”) of 1967, an employer cannot discriminate against employees and job applicants over the age of 40 years old, including in hiring, compensation, and discharge, as a discrimination lawyer  can explain. Like many other civil rights statutes of the time period, it was connected to the Civil Rights Act, which bans many forms of discrimination, such as based on race or sex. However, after being in place for a little more than fifty years, the Act is somewhat of an endangered species. The federal law has been subjected to court decisions that weaken it by increasing loopholes for employers to avoid violation as well as decreasing the remedies that employees can access under it when employers are found to have violated it. There have always been exceptions, such as the fact that employers can favor younger workers when they can demonstrate that “reasonable factors other than age” were part of their decision-making process in deciding to hire one worker over another. For example, employers could allow something like quick reflexes to be relevant to the job, such as for police or pilots. What’s Happening Now? One important element of employment law and the ADEA is class action waivers. A class action is when a large number of people band together to bring a suit that addresses all of their legal needs, and provides rectification therein. The problem is that some employers are imposing class action waivers on workers, making it so that they cannot bring a class action suit against that employer. This inhibits workers from being able to articulate their rights and seek assistance under the law, as a group. The first company to include a waiver like this was D.R. Horton, which is the U.S.’s largest homebuilding company. IBM did too, shortly thereafter. In response, in 2014 the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled that this was not legal. Three federal appeals courts rejected the NLRB’s decision, while two other appeals courts affirmed it. The issue, thereby, came to be an issue that needed resolution by the Supreme Court. The Trump Administration’s Justice Department does not favor the NLRB on this issue—therefore standing against the rights of workers to bring these class actions and for the employers who want to waive these rights. Oral arguments came last October. Justice Stephen Breyer discussed the importance of these...
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Family Awarded $19 Million in Deadly Las Vegas Bike Crash Case

The family of a Las Vegas hand surgeon who died when he was struck and swept underneath a bus was just awarded close to $19 million in a wrongful death case that focused on the design of the bus. Fifty-one-year-old Dr. Kayvan Khiabani, the head of micro and hand surgery at the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine and the University Medical Center’s Chief Hand Surgeon, was killed last year while riding his bike near the Red Rock Resort. According to witnesses, the doctor was cycling near a Motor Coach Industries tour bus when it looked as if he had accidentally shifted left. This quick move caused the handlebar of his bike to hit the passenger side of the bus, and after that contact, Khiabani fell right into the large vehicle’s path. After a trial that lasted five weeks and deliberation of under a day, the jurors on the case found the bus did not provide adequate warning. They awarded the doctor’s two young sons $16.3 million and another $2.5 million was awarded to the estate of his late wife, who passed away from cancer this past October. According to court documents, the doctor’s family argued that the sharp edges and square design of the bus created a negative pressure zone, and that airflow is what pulled Khiabani off of his bike and under the bus. Two decades ago, the bus company hired engineers to design a vehicle that was more aerodynamic but with a front end that reduced the air pressure and increased safety. However, that design was not used in the 2008 model that struck the doctor in April of last year. In addition, the model in the fatal crash did not have sensors to alert cyclists or pedestrians of its proximity or to warn its driver that people were close by. Before the fatal crash, Khiabani was riding his bike on the South Pavilion Center Drive bike lane in the Summerlin area, according to police. In June of last year, around 400 bicyclists met in Summerlin to install a white metal bike with a light blue seat near the intersection where Khiabani was hit, in his memory. Known as a “ghost bike,” these memorial bikes aim to raise awareness of cyclist deaths while remembering someone who was lost. A video of the ceremony, which took place the weekend of Father’s Day, was posted on YouTube and...
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Common Questions of Medical Malpractice

Going through unnecessary pain from a misdiagnosis or surgical mistake can leave you feeling helpless. It can be frustrating to have to endure a lengthy recovery and possible legal process when you have been hurt at the hands of someone else. Choosing to take legal action for medical malpractice can be a stressful process, especially if you do not have an attorney you can trust by your side. If you believe that you have been mistreated by a doctor due to medical malpractice, contact a professional, like a medical malpractice lawyer Fort Lauderdale, FL needs, soon. How do I know if my doctor was negligent? If your doctor has hurt you, you may consider speaking with an attorney to determine if your case warrants taking legal action. Negligence is when a doctor fails to provide a patient with the standard of care that all patients are entitled to. If you believe that had you gone to another doctor you would have received a different outcome, you may have a case for medical malpractice. How do I file a complaint with the medical board? You will want to file a complaint with the state medical board early on in the legal process. It will be important to inform them of the doctor’s actions and how they impacted your medical care and overall health. Filing a complaint can result in the medical board taking action against the medical professional. Ultimately, they could lose their license. Is it hard to prove a medical malpractice case? Medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove without acquiring an expert witness to help support the evidence, and the case. Expert witnesses can be expensive to retain for medical malpractice cases. Because of this, attorneys will look closely at your case to make sure that there is a high probability of winning your case. They will want to make sure that the potential compensation you stand to collect is enough to pay the expert witnesses. An attorney usually will cover legal costs until the case is resolved; as a result, they are not likely to take on cases that they do not believe can win. What are some tips for finding a reputable attorney? It will be necessary to take your time in making sure that you find a good attorney who has experience in representing medical malpractice cases. Put in the extra effort to research...
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Things to Consider When Going Through a Divorce

Putting an end to a marriage is never easy. Regardless of the reason you and your mate are getting divorced, it can be an emotional and complex ordeal for everyone involved. It is easy to become consumed by the hardships of divorce, and they often can distract you from the legal matters at hand. There are a number of important life components that are impacted by a divorce. Amid the chaos and emotional roller coaster you will want to keep a clear enough mind to ensure you make decisions that are best for the future of you and those around you. The following are some of the things to consider when proceeding with the divorce process.If you have children, then they are probably your biggest concern as you and your spouse dissolve the marriage. Minor children, especially, are directly impacted by a divorce. Even if you and your spouse are at complete odds, it is important to be civil and make decisions with their best interests in mind. To ensure the best for your children, you should consider and take care of the following issues as soon as the decision to divorce is made: How will you tell the children? It is best to plan a time where you and your spouse can sit down and tell the children together in a civil manner. You should have all the details worked out at this point so your children are not involved in any of the stress. This is a difficult time for children, so you should do whatever you can to help them cope Who will pay for what? Child support can be necessary if one parent makes less money than the other or if one parent has primary custody. Again, this issue can be settled outside of court with the other parent. With who and where will the children stay? If possible, you and your spouse should make this decision together rather than taking it to court. Unless one parent is unfit to care for the children, shared custody is usually best for children. If you and your spouse will live in different geographical regions, then you will need to decide where the children will primarily live and go to school. Your New Life When going through a divorce, you and your spouse will have to divide your assets and belongings. This can be a stressful ordeal, especially...
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