Today’s Legal Intelligencer, the daily newspaper for Philadelphia’s legal community featured the case of Erie Insurance v. Bristol, for which Attorney Daniel J. Siegel serves as counsel for Mr. Bristol. The article focuses on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case and the court’s ruling will impact virtually every uninsured and underinsured motorist claim in Pennsylvania. The Court will decide whether a person seeking uninsured motorist benefits from his or her insurance company must file a Petition or lawsuit to toll the statute of limitations, or whether there is no need for such a filing when an insurance company agrees to arbitrate, or takes other actions demonstrating its agreement to arbitrate.
An uninsured motorist claim arises when a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident and the negligent/responsible party either has no auto insurance or left the scene of the accident and cannot be identified. In those cases, persons purchasing uninsured motorist coverage receive benefits from their own insurance company.
An underinsured motorist claim arises when a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident and the negligent/responsible party does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate the victim fully. In those cases, persons purchasing underinsured motorist coverage receive benefits from their own insurance company for the excess amount they are entitled to for their injuries.
The article quoted attorney Dan Siegel, who summarized the case by stating that “The issue is, if there’s an agreement, why would you have to file a petition to compel a party to agree to do something they already agreed to do?” Siegel also noted that “The Supreme Court saw the argument and accepted it on broader terms than we even asked them to.”
Siegel is the founder of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, which assists lawyers throughout Pennsylvania with trial and appellate writing and other matters. The firm regularly appears before Pennsylvania’s appeals court and is a go-to firm for lawyers throughout the Commonwealth who need advice on how to handle their cases, including personal injury, workers’ compensation, motor vehicle accidents, and other civil litigation matters. The firm also regularly represents individuals with personal injury, workers’ compensation and other claims. Siegel is the author of numerous books, including Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law: The Basics: A Primer for Lawyers, Workers, Medical Professionals & Others, an up-to-date and easy-to-understand guide to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, practice and procedure. The book is designed to be used as a desk reference by injured workers, employers, attorneys, paralegals, claims adjusters, self-insured employers and vocational rehabilitation workers. important guidance for litigants and courts.T
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur today in Erie Insurance v. Bristol, on the following issue, “In uninsured motorist claims subject to mandatory arbitration, is the statute of limitations tolled only by the commencement of an official judicial action, or may extra-judicial actions also toll the statute of limitations?”
I am appellate counsel, working with Attorney Thomas More Holland, who handled the case at the trial court level. The trial court and the Superior Court had ruled that a motor vehicle insurance carrier’s agreement to arbitrate a claim for uninsured motorist benefits did not toll the statute of limitations. Instead, they ruled that the claim was barred because (1) the UM case had not concluded before the statute of limitations, and therefore (2) plaintiff/claimant was required to file a Complaint against the carrier even though it had agreed to arbitration. This is an issue of first impression in Pennsylvania.
November 1, 2016 – The Havertown/Philadelphia Area Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC has been named to the “Best Law Firms” rankings for firms in the area of Workers’ Compensation – Claimants (Injured Workers). Published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, the listings “recognize [the firm] for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.”
To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Siegel, who founded the firm in 2005, is listed in Best Lawyers, and has also been recognized by his peers in other rankings.
The announcement is particularly well-timed because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard argument today in Protz v. WCAB, a landmark workers’ compensation case in which attorney Siegel authored the amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association).
“I am honored that the firm has received this distinction,” said attorney Dan Siegel, “because we are a small client-focused firm with only two attorneys and two support staff. This is a tribute to everyone at the firm and the fact that, although we handle many types of cases, including personal injury, Social Security Disability and wills, our peers recognize the efforts we make on behalf of all of our clients, including the 1000s of injured workers I have represented for more than 32 years.”
Effective November 28, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a regulation prohibiting nursing homes from using pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. The Regulation also prohibit nursing homes from entering into an agreement for binding arbitration with a resident or the resident’s representative until a dispute arises between the parties.
Under the provision, a facility may not require a resident or a resident’s representative to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission to the facility. If, after a dispute arises, a facility chooses to ask a resident or his or her representative to enter into a binding arbitration agreement, the facility must comply with all of the requirements in the regulations. These requirements include, inter alia, that:
- the agreement must be explained to the resident,
- the agreement must be entered into voluntarily, and
- the agreement must provide for the selection of a neutral arbitrator agreed upon by both parties.
- the resident’s continuing right to remain in the facility must not be contingent upon the resident or the resident’s representative signing the binding arbitration agreement.
CMS, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued the regulation on October 4, 2016. Click here to read the entire regulation.
On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. §2, preempts Pa.R.Civ.P. 2013(e), which requires consolidation of survival and wrongful death actions for trial. Consequently, the Court held that plaintiffs’ wrongful death and survival actions must be bifurcated, and that the survival action must proceed to arbitration under the FAA.
The decision in Taylor v. Extendicare
addresses the interaction between the FAA and arbitration agreements, but declines to apply the FAA’s “savings clause,” which permits courts to refuse to enforce agreements to arbitrate under state laws that “arose to govern issues concerning the validity, revocability, and enforceability of contracts generally.” In reversing the Superior Court and the trial court, the majority, in an Opinion by Justice Wecht, noted that the U.S. “Supreme Court has limited the role of state courts to regulating contracts to arbitrate under general contract law principles in accord with the savings clause, under which it has held that only ‘generally applicable contract defenses, such as fraud, duress, or unconscionability, may be applied to invalidate arbitration agreements without contravening [the FAA].’” Justices Saylor, Baer and Dougherty joined in the opinion, with Chief Justice Saylor filing a concurring opinion in which Justice Baer joined.
Justice Donohue filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Todd joined. Justice Donohue noted that it was “incorrect to focus the analysis on the dispensability of Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 213(e) under the pressure of the herculean FAA. Instead, the pinpoint question [was] whether the FAA can divest wrongful death heirs of their statutorily created right to bring a wrongful death action in this Commonwealth. Because 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8301 (the “Wrongful Death Act”) preconditions the maintenance of heirs’ claims on their joinder with any claim pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8302 (the “Survival Act”), severance defeats the heirs’ right to recover under the statutorily created cause of action. Although the Majority may be correct in its apocalyptic recitation of existing United States Supreme Court precedent, the FAA does not and cannot deprive a citizen of this Commonwealth of the right to pursue a cause of action.”