As a Philadelphia accident and injury firm Pearce Law often receives questions about who may be at fault or sued in certain accidents. In other words, can someone be found negligent once an injury has happened in a car accident, slip and fall, construction, or other accident or injury? For more information, click here. In the case Mendez v. City of Philadelphia, a Philadelphia jury awarded $61 million for injuries Natalia Mendez suffered when a tree fell on her car while she was driving down Cheltenham Avenue in Philadelphia. Ms. Mendez was rendered a paraplegic as a result of the severe car accident. The property owner where the tree was located had hired a cement contractor to repair the sidewalk along the property line. Apparently, the cement contractor cut the roots of the tree while performing their work. The tree later fell on Mendez’s car on a rainy and wind day in July 2006.
At first glance, it may appear that no one was at fault by a tree simply falling, even though it caused severe injuries. However, in any case such as this, an experienced Philadelphia attorney should conduct a thorough investigation. In the Mendez case, Mendez sued the property owner, the City of Philadelphia, the Fairmount Park Commission and the cement contractor. Apparently, after an investigation into the accident, it was found that the property owner contended that he had made reports to the City of Philadelphia and the Commission that the tree was problematic. This case is a good example of the need to fully investigate an accident to make sure all potential responsible defendants are sued. The property owner had homeowner’s insurance with Nationwide Insurance, but with a policy limit of $100,000. This accident may have first appeared to be nobody’s fault, or only the fault of the property owner. If only the property owner was sued, Ms. Mendez would have most likely only recovered $100,000. However, an experienced injury lawyer will know that a thorough investigation of the accident or injury may show that multiple people or entities were negligent in knowing of the potential danger. This will allow multiple insurance policies or defendants to be in the case to maximize the recovery for a serious injury.
Source: Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer, February 27, 2009