NeuwirthLawCase Matters


Inevitably, a weird fact pattern means that you probably have a good personal injury case. I don’t know why, but it’s true. So, here are a series of weird ones from recent cases.


A Tree Falls In Frankford:

Frankford, as you may know, is a tough part of Philly with homes and yards chock a block on top of each other. One day after a storm a little old lady needed to have a limb cut down from a tree in her yard. Rather than pay a legitimate company to do the work, she hired someone with a chainsaw. They cut the limb down as requested. Unfortunately, the limb fell and hit my client who was standing with his back to the tree work. The limb hit him and knocked him unconscious. He was taken to the ER with a bad concussion and a shoulder fracture that needed surgery. My client found a lawyer, me, and I sent a nice letter telling the lady what happened. Later, in depositions, she accused my client of making the whole thing up. It is hard to prove cases when your client is either deceased or unaware of the incident unfolding. But, the facts here showed that there was a large tree sitting on his 5 foot high chain link fence in scene photos.  My client was 6 foot 5 inches tall so the falling tree would have hit my client before hitting the fence. We never found the alleged chainsaw wielder, but the lady’s homeowners insurance paid up.

Two Reds Don’t Make a Right:

So, two drivers are approaching a large suburban intersection.  My client appears to run a red light. A driver coming the other way makes an illegal left turn through the same red light and hits my client. My client is more injured than the other driver and needs surgery. In Pennsylvania, if you are 50% or more responsible for an incident, you cannot recover. In reality, as a plaintiff’s lawyer, I try not to take cases where liability or negligence is unclear. Nevertheless, after depositions, both defense counsel and I and the claims representative all agreed that both clients were probably somewhat at fault, but the crash would not have occurred without the driver turning left across the intersection. And, the penalty for running a red light is not a severe fracture. It’s $100 or so. So, we won.

The Wisdom of Visiting the Scene of the Accident:

I had a slip and fall case a few years ago that was won simply because me and my expert went to the scene together, got on a ladder, and tried to figure out why the client was right that there was ice on the concrete under the gutter. My expert noticed a small everyday switch on an exterior wall next to the downspout. There was a gutter located above where she fell and the gutter had a heating element wire in the gutter, which was connected to the switch. If you forget to turn on the switch on chilly days, the ice in the gutter won’t melt and water will eventually run off the roof and drip onto the concrete and freeze. We would not have figured this all out without finding the switch and finding the heating element and without going to the scene. A lot of lawyers don’t bother. They have too many cases or just don’t care or have the time to work the case up properly. The case settled largely because of our visit and the expert finding the little switch.

And, the winner in the weird case category, though not personal injury goes to……..

My first month as an Assistant District Attorney was spent arraigning people and asking for bail for people in Queens New York who were just arrested. My first month in arraignments, which has a night court proceeding involved an event at Belmont Park, which is a New York horse racing track. A groom, who cleans stalls etc., was caught standing on a plastic bucket, with his pants down and doing bad things to a female horse. Police arrested him and he was charged with some form of bestiality. Now, since this is a lawyer newsletter, my supervisor and later the judge asked, how will you prove a case, now that he is charged? You would need a vet, semen, something more than just an attempted bestiality. I don’t know what happened, but I am guessing the groom lost his job.