Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

May the lights 
of Hanukkah 
ignite the miracle 
of faith in your heart!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


    1.  TALK TO NO ONE - Do not discuss your case with anyone else, except your attorneys or their investigators.  You should always require identification of anyone asking about your case.  You should not even talk to your own insurance company or to any lawyers hired by your own insurance company without notifying us first, so that we have an opportunity to determine if we need to be present during any discussion.  We will generally want these statements taken in our office.

    2.  REPAIRS - Do not have your automobile, machinery, household item or other object that was involved in your accident repaired until we have had time to examine it, have it photographed, or have it examined by an expert as we feel may be necessary to preserve evidence as needed for your case.  If your case involves a product or instrument which is not in your control, please try to see that it is not repaired or disposed of until we have photographed it and had it examined by an expert if necessary.

    3.  DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH US FIRST - Please contact us first before you sign any documents related to your case.  We should have an opportunity to examine those documents and advise you with regard to the documents.  Applications for insurance benefits, reports to the State, returns to work, or any changes in treatment should be reported to this office promptly.  Disability or unemployment applications should first be checked by us.

    4.  YOUR DOCTOR - Tell your doctor all of your complaints.  The doctor's records can only be as complete as what you have told the doctor.  This is your responsibility.  If you see additional doctors for additional treatment, please advise us immediately so that we may send to them for their records, medical bills, prescriptions, etc.  Keep track of all medicines and prescriptions taken.

        THEIR DOCTOR- If your case goes into litigation, it is very likely that the defendant will schedule you for an examination with a physician of its choice. This is their right to do so and there are very few circumstances where we can oppose what is referred to as a defense medical evaluation.   

    5.  PRIOR INJURIES - It will help your case to tell me about any prior injury to any parts of your body or prior medical conditions.  Many good cases are lost because of the injured person's failure to advise the attorney of past injuries. The Defense can obtain full copies of  all present and past medical records.

    6.  NEW INJURIES - If you are in ANY other accidents, call us immediately.

    7.  PRIOR CLAIMS - Insurance Companies keep a record of any and all claims against any insurance company. The Insurance Company is sure to find out if you have ever made a previous claim.

    8.  DIARY -  Please keep a daily or weekly record of your complaints and progress.  This can be very helpful when, a year later, you will be asked to recall your pain and suffering.  You should keep track of all  of your symptoms, as this will be most helpful to us in presenting your case, and most helpful to your doctors in treating you.  Please note what activities you are no longer able to perform.  If you have a spouse or housemate, ask him or her to help you keep these records.  It is not enough to say to the insurance company that you hurt - you must be able to say how you hurt.

    9.  INVESTIGATION - Insurance Companies do not pay money willingly.  The Insurance Company can be expected to thoroughly investigate the facts of the accident, the claim for medical treatment, and any past injuries or claims.  The Insurance Company will obtain copies of all past medical records.  This is why it is so important for you to advise us in complete detail of previous accidents and previous medical conditions.   You should be aware that some insurance companies will place you under surveillance and take motion pictures of  you as you go about your daily business.  The Insurance Company may hire a private investigator to question neighbors about you and your activities.  You should not discuss your case with anyone.  If someone contacts you, tell them you have an attorney and give them our office number.  If you find that someone appears to be loitering around your home, please feel free to call the police and report that fact and request that they investigate. 

    10. WAGES AND EARNINGS LOST  - Please keep an accurate record of all days lost from work because of your injuries.

    11. MEDICAL  BILLS - Please obtain and keep duplicate copies of all medical, hospital and prescription drug bills.  You should periodically send these bills to us for our files.  Also keep records of any other expenses you may have in connection with your accident, such as help in cleaning your home.  All your bills should be paid by check or you should obtain and keep receipts.

    12. WITNESSES - Immediately furnish us with the correct names, addresses and telephone numbers of any and all witnesses.  If someone will be leaving the area permanently, please call us so that we can take their deposition if necessary.

    13. EVIDENCE - Give us the negatives and prints or digital media of any photographs pertaining to your case which you or your friends may have taken.  If you are required to be hospitalized or to wear a cast, brace, or other such appliances, save them for evidence at trial.  You should also notify us that you require these items, as we may desire to have photographs taken.

    14. YOUR ADDRESS - Be sure to keep us advised of any change in your address or telephone number.

    15. SPECIAL FACE BOOK WARNING!  With the advent of internet social networking sites such as Face book and Twitter emerges the danger of saying the wrong thing!  Please keep this in mind: a.) Keep the privacy settings on your accounts as restrictive as possible-if they are public, the defense can access them and copy content from your account. b.)  Do not accept friend requests from anyone you do not know. c.) Think before you post-can what you are about to post be considered adverse to your ongoing claim?  This includes photos. d.) Do not discuss your case on your account or any other public site where anyone can go and read it.

    16. QUESTIONS - We may not contact you until we have something definite to report.  We will be contacting you for depositions, answers to Interrogatories, and when your case goes to trial, which may not be for quite some time.  If you have specific questions, don't hesitate to call us.  However, please be patient and realize that many things are done on your file without your presence, and also that the processing of a personal injury case takes time.  It can take many months to settle a claim.  In fact, it is dangerous to settle neck or back claims within the first year since it often takes a long time for serious injuries to become evident.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deer in the Headlights!!!

 As a Bucks County personal injury attorney, I see all sorts of circumstances leading to car accidents.  One of the most dangerous to life and property is an accident involving wild animals on the roadway, in particular, deer who streak out in front of our cars or literally jump into our cars.  It is said that the fall is one of the more dangerous times of the year for this, so I thought I would share some driving safety tips which I found online.

First, though, I want to share with you the video below, which is a perfect example of how deer can sometimes be glued to the road, in this case by fear.  According to reports, the deer in the video had almost been struck by a vehicle as she crossed the road. Frozen with fear, she stood in the middle of the road for almost one half hour before she was rescued by a sheriff's deputy.

When he came to her and tried to nudge her to move from her spot, she would not move, so he picked her up and actually carried her to the side of the road. After a few moments and a few friendly pats on the back from him, she finally came to her senses, and bolted off into the woods. This story exemplifies the danger to both the animal and to the occupants of the vehicles on the road.  Fortunately, it had a happy conclusion.  After you have viewed it, look below for some tips on avoiding a collision with deer on the road.

Both person, animal and property can suffer significant damage from collisions with deer. Serious injuries and death can occur from these collisions. Consumer tells us that the average car-deer collision produces approximately $3171 in property damage. Where I live, I see dead deer on the side of the road far too often.  While part of the problem is simply the diminishing space for the deer to safely roam, there are things we can do as drivers to help avoid such outcomes.

SLOW DOWN   This is so obvious but we sometimes starts cruising along and forget just how fast we are going.  Deer are especially active around dawn and between the hours of 6 to 9 pm.  At night time, there is the additional risk of them being transfixed by the headlights of traffic, making the danger even worse.  Try and be aware of your speed  and your surroundings in areas where you see deer-crossing signs, wooded areas, and fields and parks which deer and other wildlife tend to inhabit.

PAY ATTENTION    Pay attention to your regular routes and the places where you often see deer grazing and congregating together.  Try to remember to slow down and watch carefully for any activity in these areas. If you should see a deer on the side of the road, slow down while you pass.

BRAKE OR STOP   It is often suggested that you brake rather than swerve to avoid a deer on the road, as swerving can put you at risk for hitting another car or losing control of your vehicle.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT   Be on the lookout for other deer, as they often travel in groups and will follow each other onto the road.  If you see one, others are likely to follow.

BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY   This advice applies whenever you get into your car, not just for yourself but for your passengers, too.  I won't start moving my car until everyone has buckled up!  A study showed that 60 percent of people killed in animal-vehicle collisions were not wearing their seat belts.

Do you have any other safety tips for avoiding collisions with animals in the wild?  Please share them here.
Feel free to contact me at

Thanks for some of the information in this post goes to:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Safety Tips for Halloween

Bucks County personal injury lawyerJoyce J. Sweinberg, Esquire, wants to wish all of you a happy and safe Halloween!!!
Here are some suggestions from ACH Injury Prevention Center to help your trick-or-treaters have a fun and injury-free Halloween... 

Costume safety:
  • Costumes should be brightly colored and made of flame-retardant fabric
  • Be careful around candles and luminaries
  • Avoid costumes that drag the ground and cause a tripping hazard
  • Make sure that shoes fit properly to avoid tripping
  • Use reflective tape on costumes or provide children with flashlights, glow sticks or glow-in-the-dark bracelets so cars can see them;
  • Masks should not obscure the child’s vision
  • Face paint is a good option, but be careful to avoid skin and eye irritation
  • Carry only flexible “weapons” (knives, swords and other props)
  • Have your child carry some form of I.D. with emergency contact information.
  • Select a predetermined route for your children
  • Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods and visit only houses that are lighted
  • Instruct children to never enter the home of a stranger
  • Children should trick or treat in groups and be accompanied by a responsible adult or older sibling
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic
  • Watch for oncoming traffic when crossing a street to visit the next house
  • Remain on well-lighted streets.
Candy safety:
  • Instruct children to bring candy home to be inspected before they eat it
  • Dispose of any loosely wrapped or unwrapped items, or those that have any suspicious-looking marks or punctures
  • Small hard candies, popcorn, peanuts and very sticky candy can be possible choking hazards for children 3 years of age and under
  • Throw away homemade treats.
Driving safety:
  • Drive slowly and watch carefully for children crossing the street
  • Check for children before backing out of driveways
  • With children on the streets, it is especially important to put down the cell phone and not text behind the wheel
  • Keep car headlights on to ensure you see all little ones nearby
  • Be sure to use your child’s car seat or booster seat each time you get in the car, even if you’re only traveling a short distance.

  • If trick-or-treaters are welcome at your home, leave the porch light on
  • Remove any tripping hazards from the lawn and walkways to the home
  • Try using strings or lights instead of candles, which can cause fires
  • Consider healthy food alternatives or non-food treats.
 Taken from expert-tips-for-a-safe-halloween

Visit me at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Webwire Press Release

Joyce J. Sweinberg is a Bucks County Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who has been serving accident victims since 1981. People in search of an auto accident attorney in Pennsylvania or who need representation for another kind of personal injury will find a dedicated and experienced professional in Joyce J. Sweinberg.

In addition to being a car accident attorney in Pennsylvania, Joyce J. Sweinberg also assists people to file claims for dog bites, slip and fall accidents, product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, work injuries,  and several other types of personal injury cases. She works closely with the accident victim to advise him or her on a proper course of legal action which will result in the best settlement possible.

Joyce J. Sweinberg enjoys a solid reputation as a personal injury attorney who gets results for clients, while at the same time interacting with them in a caring and empathetic manner. She makes it her personal mission to truly know her clients, and those hiring her for legal services will be able to see a clear difference. She has earned a superb rating on

Although Joyce J. Sweinberg works primarily with personal injury cases, she networks with several other attorneys and can provide referrals to clients needing legal help outside her personal area of expertise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Steered in the Wrong Direction?

“What is steering?  Steering is a deceptive concept of salesmanship, whereas someone is coerced, directed, pushed or driven to use a specific service provider because the recommender derives monetary consideration, kickbacks, special privilege, economic savings etc. as a result for such activity. Consumers are often led into undesired purchases and making decisions for products and services they later regret because they were steered towards them by design.”

So often when you have an auto accident, the insurance company will send out their adjuster to assess the damage, and then “guide” you to their shop where all the repairs will be done. What may seem like a convenience is actually a business relationship between the insurance company and the repair shop to give them the best price for the work, but not always the best work for you.

You should know that in Pennsylvania and many other states,you do not have to use the repair shop which is recommended by the insurance company, whether it be your own insurance company or the company which insures the person who caused the damage to your vehicle.  In Pennsylvania you have the right to have your vehicle restored to the condition it was in prior to the accident which caused the damage. This should include the use of O.E.M. (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts in some situations.  Here is an excerpt from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website:

Your insurance company is required to pay the amount necessary to return the motor vehicle to its same condition just prior to the damage in question. At your request, you may obtain information from the insurance company regarding repair facilities within a reasonable distance of where the motor vehicle is located and where work will be performed in accordance with the written appraisal. You are not required to use any specific repair shop, but can choose the repair shop you trust.

Excerpted from "Your Guide to Auto Insurance Premiums" - Page 3
And this:                            

If the vehicle you own has been damaged, the decision of where the vehicle is to be repaired is yours. No insurer, adjuster, appraiser or agent shall require that repairs be made at a specific repair facility.

Excerpted from "Insurance Tips for Pennsylvania Consumers" - Page 2. The source of this can be found in Purdon’s Statutes, Title 63, Chapter 22B,  §861(d), also known as the Motor Vehicle Physical Damage Appraisers Act, which states as follows: 
(d) No appraiser or his employer shall require that repairs be made in any specified repair shop.
A few more informational web pages are available below:
If you should have property damage to your vehicle, refer to this article and the links provided to educate yourself as to your options for repair. 
Don't let yourself be steered in the wrong direction!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are You Serious???!!!

If you want to recover noneconomic damages when you have chosen the limited tort option on your auto policy in PA, unless you meet one of the other named exceptions ( don’t-get-fooled-get-full-tort,) you have to sustain a serious injury within the meaning of the statute to do so. Otherwise, you are limited to recovery of certain unpaid medical expenses, wage loss and property damage. The limited tort option means what it says...damages which are recoverable as a result of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) are limited by the choice of this option under Section 1705 (d) of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law( MVFRL) unless certain exceptions are met.

For the purpose of this discussion, the exception to be explored is the serious injury exception, which is most commonly attempted where the other clear cut exceptions do not apply.  Under Section 1705 (d) one must prove a “serious injury” in order to prevail in a claim for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.  In Section 1702 of the MVFRL, serious injury is defined as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”   75 Pa. C.S.§ 1702 

It was not further defined in the statute, which naturally resulted in litigation of this most important issue.  Although there are few cases, the ones which do interpret it are stringent in their requirements:

In McGee v. Muldowney, 2000 PA Super 116; 750 A.2d 912 (2000), the Superior Court established the criteria for a threshold determination of whether or not a serious injury had been suffered by the Plaintiff. The Court first emphasized that unless reasonable minds could not differ on the conclusion, the conclusion as to whether a plaintiff suffered a serious injury within the meaning of the statute was not to be determined by a trial court upon the filing of a motion for a summary judgment by the defendant in a limited tort case, but left to a jury to determine.  Washington v. Baxter, 553 PA. 434, 719 A. 2d 733 (1998)

In the Washington case, the Court noted that neither the legislative history of the MVFRL nor the Michigan statute upon which it was based intended such a procedure, but rather left it to the jury to determine.  The Court then proceeded to look to Michigan precedent again to define “serious impairment of a body function and adopted the definition elucidated in a Michigan case, DiFranco v. Pickard, 427 Mich. 32, 398 N.W. 896 (1986) as follows:

The "serious impairment of body function" threshold contains two inquiries:

a) What body function, if any, was impaired because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?

b) Was the impairment of the body function serious? The focus of these inquiries is not on the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affected a particular body function. Generally, medical testimony will be needed to establish the existence, extent, and permanency of the impairment…. In determining whether the impairment was serious, several factors should be considered: the extent of the impairment, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors. An impairment need not be permanent to be serious.  DiFranco, 398 N.W.2d at 901. Washington v. Baxter, 553 Pa. at 446-48, 719 A.2d at 740 (footnotes omitted).

The McGee court noted as follows:  The Supreme Court emphasized that "the question to be answered is not whether appellant has adduced sufficient evidence to show that appellant suffered any injury; rather, the question is whether appellant has shown that he has suffered a serious injury such that a body function has been seriously impaired." Id. at 449, 719 A.2d at 741 (emphasis in original). See also: Kelly v. Ziolko, 1999 PA Super 157, 734 A.2d 893, 899 (Pa.Super. 1999).

The McGee court then examined the evidence and found that there was no serious injury based upon the following paragraph:

“Simply put, appellant was examined and treated on several occasions during the six months following the accident, but did not seek any medical attention (except for the visits to Dr. Mannhertz on December 20, 1993, and May 31, 1994) during the next five and one-half years which preceded the answers which he filed to the motion of appellee for summary judgment. Moreover, during that same period he was employed full time in a trade.

In summary, appellant has failed to present objective medical evidence as to the degree of any impairment and extent of any pain suffered during the five years preceding those answers to the motion for summary judgment. The subjective allegations presented by appellant, in the absence of objective medical evidence, do not permit a finding that appellant suffered the requisite "serious injury." While appellant has established that he suffered some injuries to his back and shoulder, he has, nonetheless, failed to establish that these injuries resulted in such substantial interference with any bodily function as to permit a conclusion that the injuries have resulted in a serious impact on his life for an extended period of time. The decision, therefore, was not to be left to a jury, because "reasonable minds could not [here] differ on the issue of whether a serious injury had been sustained."  citing Washington v. Baxter, supra at 446, 719 A.2d at 740.

A careful reading of the Court’s language makes it clear that the medical treatment pursued and other factors can make a critical difference in whether a limited tort claim will withstand the McGee analysis. If you purchase full tort coverage, none of this would be necessary and you could make a claim for pain and suffering. Call my office at 215-752-3732 if you need advice. I am here to extend a helping hand.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Can I Help You?

I work together with experts to ensure you get the best result and the best representation possible. There is no attorney fee unless we recover money damages for you... How can I help you?

Over the years, my practice has centered on helping victims of negligence and work injuries. I am a lawyer who can help you with auto accidents and negligence cases which include slip and fall, dog bite, construction accidents, wrongful death, product liability and medical malpractice, work injuries and social security matters. I limit the number and type of cases I handle so that I can serve you personally and know your case thoroughly. You will not feel as if you are just a file among many- your case is important to me and you will be treated with respect and prompt personal service. Phone calls are returned quickly and your questions answered as thoroughly as possible. 
If your case is not in my area of practice, I can put you in the hands of an attorney who is best equipped to handle your specific case. I have been in practice since 1981 and I know the attorneys in the area who are best suited to your needs. I will work with only the best attorneys to assure you the best representation for your problem.  REFERRALS

Call me at 215-752-3732 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
or email me at

Please note that your case can often overlap into other areas of the law. It is better to coordinate all of your problems through one office since there are so many issues that relate to one another and need to be coordinated among the attorneys who work together as a team to assure you the best result. For example, if you are injured in an auto accident while working on the job and then you cannot work at all, you may have cases in all three areas-auto accident, workers' compensation and social security disability. Sometimes one benefit source takes an offset or a credit because you are receiving another benefit. This can become complicated and people can lose money if it is not handled properly. Medicare Set Asides have become mandatory; workers’ compensation carriers are entitled to subrogation against third party recoveries for payments made by them and credit for unemployment compensation benefits received by a claimant; private health insurance carriers can assert liens against recoveries for payments made for medical expenses. This can become confusing and overwhelming for the injure plaintiff. These issues are negotiated for you so they are resolved when your case comes to a conclusion. 

"I Will Come To You If You Are Injured."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Two Way Street: Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege is an old and sacred protection given to communications between an attorney and his or her client. The goal of the privilege is to allow clients to tell their attorney everything the attorney needs to know to properly represent and guide the client without fear of the opposing side being able to access this information by way of legal discovery in or out of the courtroom. One of the worst things a client can do is to lie to ot withhold information from the attorney on the case. People often think of the privilege only in terms of criminal matters. It does not matter whether it is a civil or a criminal case. The attorney needs to know all of the facts which might be relevant to the claim. If this communication is hindered in any way, the entire justice system suffers.

In the civil context, on February 23, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held in the case of Gilliard v. AIG Insurance Company that the attorney-client privilege is essentially a two way street, operating both to protect the flow of client communications to the attorney, as well as attorney communications and advice to clients. While this decision came about in the context of a case against insurance companies for bad faith and the plaintiff’s counsel was seeking all documents in the file of the attorneys representing the insurance companies, the breadth of the decision will also protect the plaintiff from the insurance company seeking any written communications between attorney and client.

The whole intent is not only to protect what the client says to the attorney but what interpretation and advice the attorney gives to the client in light of the facts of the case as they develop. Like any rule, exceptions will be carved out as time passes. Even in the context of the type of litigation which led to this decision, an insurer (and their attorney) will lose the privilege if they assert an "advice of counsel" defense to justify their actions in the handling of a claim.

Otherwise, the revered tradition of protection of these communications remains intact. This is an important decision recognizing not only the need for unfettered communication from the client to the attorney, but also the need for the attorney to communicate advice to the client freely and without reserve.  


Friday, January 28, 2011

Who Are You Protecting?

A look at PA Auto Insurance:
UM and UIM  Coverage

When people purchase auto insurance, they often buy very high limits for liability coverage and take the lowest possible limits for underinsured and uninsured coverage. Who are you protecting, anyway? Not just the other guy, but yourself and your family as well. That is what insurance is all about!!! To insure yourself in the event of harm. Let’s take a look...

Liability insurance covers your liability to the other driver if you cause an accident. This means that if you cause an accident and it is considered your fault, you are liable to the other party for damages and injuries you might cause.

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is just that you pay for to cover you if the other party is underinsured. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is insurance that you pay for just in case the other party is uninsured (it DOES happen). What does that mean? Let’s say you are in an accident and it is the other party’s fault. You are injured, badly. The other party did not do so well when he/she chose liability coverage and is only covered for liability to the other driver (you) for $15,000.00 in damages. Meanwhile, you were being frugal when you chose your own insurance and while you took $100,000.00 in liability coverage for any damages you might have caused to another person, you only took $15,000.00 in underinsured/uninsured (UIM/UM) motorist coverage. You wanted to save in auto insurance premiums but instead you lost in auto insurance coverage.

What does this mean? It means that while your damages may well exceed the total of $30,000.00 you can get in combination from the other driver’s liability policy ($15,000.00) and from your own underinsured (UIM) coverage ($15,000.00), you will not get a penny more than the $30,000.00 in combined coverage. While there are sometimes ways to sue the liable party directly for money in excess of their coverage, good luck! There is also the possibility of stacking vehicles, but that is another topic, to be covered elsewhere, and it is likely that if you took low UIM/UM coverage, you probably scrimped on and rejected stacking. Besides, it is only available if you have more than one vehicle insured by the policy. And, if the other party is uninsured, you would only collect your UM policy limits of $15,000.00.

What should you do? You should purchase underinsured(UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage in amounts equal to what you purchase in liability coverage. So it might cost a little more in premiums, but this is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. You cannot purchase more in UIM or UM than what you purchase in liability...the Pennsylvania State legislature prohibits this, but they allow you to protect yourself for less. Go figure :-) Don’t listen to them...listen to me!!!

Always buy UIM and UM in amounts equal to what you purchase in liability insurance. Do it now!!! Check your policy. Look in the section where it lists UIM/UM coverage. Go call your agent and have them make the change. Get UIM/UM limits equal to your liability limits, and make sure you get decent liability limits. It is well worth the few extra dollars in premiums. Who are you protecting? You are protecting yourself and your family.