Rapid Response for Catastrophic Accidents Only

Gregory S. Hirtzel

Contact Info

P: 717.553.2601
F: 717.344.5560
E: ghirtzel@fhmslaw.com

Lancaster Office
1860 Charter Lane
Suite 201
Lancaster, PA 17601

Map & Directions


  • Widener University School of Law (J.D. 1989), Pi Delta Phi Honor Fraternity; Moot Court Honor Society
  • State University of New York, Buffalo (B.A. Political Science)
  • Buffalo State College, Varsity Football Team 1982 and 1983

Bar Memberships

  • Pennsylvania, 1989

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania


  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Lancaster Bar Association
  • Claims Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
  • Construction Committee
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Alternative Fee Arrangement Committee
  • American Builders & Contractors
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Trucking Law Committee
  • Transportation Lawyers Association

Client Service Awards

  • 2015 Blue Ocean Think Tank Award in recognition of continued Dedication to Value Innovation and Strategic Partnership
  • 2013  Blue Ocean Award in Recognition of Value Innovation and Strategic Partnership
  • 2012 Golden Gavel Award in Recognition of Outstanding Trial Result
  • 2010 Golden Gavel Award in Recognition of Outstanding Advice and Counsel
  • 2008 Golden Gavel Award in Recognition of Outstanding Advice & Counsel

Certifications & Training

  • Certified Litigation Management Professional, 2013, Claims & Litigation Management Alliance
  • Temple University School of Law Advanced Trial Advocacy Program (“The Litvin Course”), 1992

Performance Recognition

Community Activities

  • Coach – Youth & Middle School Boys Lacrosse, Lititz, Pennsylvania 2011-2014
  • Coach – Warwick Midget Football 2008-2012
  • Coach – Warwick Girls Softball 2002-2009


  • Post & Schell, P.C., Principal in Charge of Casualty Group Lancaster, Pennsylvania Office 1999-2014
  • Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, Partner  1996-1999, Litigation Associate 1989-1996

Gregory S. Hirtzel has over thirty-one years of civil defense litigation experience. The scope of Greg’s practice currently includes the defense of complex and large catastrophic personal injury claims throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The areas in which he primarily practices include construction liability and defects, trucking and motor vehicle, and product liability and insurance coverage issues, including UM and UIM claims. Greg associates successful representation with aggressive resolution of these matters for the lowest possible total case cost at the earliest practical opportunity, whether by risk transfer, trial, dispositive motions, alternative dispute resolution or direct negotiations with the opposition. The method of resolution in his cases, unless otherwise instructed, is dependent upon the factors which drive total case costs in light of the facts, projected liability and exposure of his client, and the position of the opposition. This analysis continues in Greg’s cases from the time of assignment through conclusion of the matter to assure that the specific tasks are performed in the context of value driven events, no sooner and no later.

Greg is certified in litigation management by the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance. He is highly experienced in both trial advocacy, as well as the presentation of complex claims before a variety of alternative dispute resolution forums pursuant to a myriad of different types of agreements. A sample of representative cases handled by Greg are included below.

  • Representation of lessor/premises owner in loading dock accident resulting in traumatic brain injury to employee of lessee’s contractor. Tendered client’s defense and indemnity to lessee pursuant to provision in lease and obtained acceptance based upon definition of “insured” in tenant ‘s Commercial Liability Policy.
  • Summary judgment in favor of warehouse roof panel manufacturer and installer in multi-million dollar construction defect case where it was alleged the roof of Plaintiff’s Distribution Center collapsed under the weight of snow and ice. Rejected the indemnity/defense tenders of owner and design professional. Brokered a stay of the civil action after Warehouse Operations Manager removed claims against it to binding arbitration pursuant to the terms of its contract with the Plaintiff – Distribution Center owner. Summary judgment was then granted as to all claims and cross claims against client based upon collateral estoppel and res judicata after a finding of liability against Warehouse Operations Manager at arbitration.
  • Defended the project excavator which lent its front end loader to another subcontractor on a municipal project. The sub contractor’s operator backed over Plaintiff’s foot and ankle while using that front end loader, resulting in catastrophic personal injures. Among the rules and requirements of the project was a directive that all motorized heavy equipment have functioning backup alarms at all times. Multiple witnesses maintained the backup alarm for the client’s front end loader was not working at the time of the accident. The theories against the client were negligent maintenance and inspection of its equipment, and negligent entrustment of the equipment to the co-defendant’s operator, who left the scene for several hours after the incident and was reported to have been known by all on the job site to have “issues.” The case settled after two depositions for $1,500,000, with the co-defendant subcontractor paying $1,400,000 and the equipment owner/client contributing $100,000 toward the settlement. Multiple tenders from other parties, including the project owner, engineer, and general contractor were successfully rejected, on the basis that the incident did not arise out of the client’s performance of its work under the subcontract, since the act of lending the front end loader to another party was not within the client’s scope of work per the general and/or specific conditions of the contract.
  • Defended a major automotive parts supplier in a product liability failure to warn claim, involving a 23-year-old plaintiff who survived 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body and was placed in an induced coma for over 3 months. The product at issue was an incandescent trouble (drop) light which the client imported from China and sold under its brand name as meeting OSHA standards. It was alleged the drop light ignited aspirated fuel vapors, which engulfed Plaintiff in flames after  a coworker at the engine compartment blew compressed air through the fuel line of a vehicle which plaintiff was attempting to remove the gas tank from at ground level. At the time, the drop light was hung under the vehicle from its frame. The commercial garage where Plaintiff was working allegedly constituted a “hazardous environment” under OSHA guidelines and the NEC. Plaintiff contended not only that the Defendant failed to properly warn of the risk of harm which caused Plaintiff’s injuries, but also that the representation on the product’s packaging that it “[met] OSHA standards” was knowingly and deliberately false. The case was defended on product identification, adequacy of product warnings, misuse and spoliation. The case was also defended on causation, under the theory that the “end user” of the product was the owner of the commercial repair shop, who admitted that he was aware, independent of any warning on the product, that the droplight should not be used around combustible vapors or liquids. All tenders pursuant to vendor’s endorsement and requests for indemnity by the downstream vendors and retailer were successfully rejected. The matter was settled for an amount acceptable to the client.
  • Obtained a defense verdict at an Underinsured Motorist Arbitration where the 24-year-old claimant never moved off her demand for the carrier’s stacked Underinsured Motorists policy limits of $600,000. The insured’s UIM claim was against a $100,000 credit received in settlement with the tortfeasor’s carrier, who had clear liability for the accident. Claimant argued she sustained injuries that resulted in chronic pain caused by, among other things, disc herniation at T-12 and L5-S1 and associated symptomology. Claimant’s vocational rehabilitation expert opined that claimant was prevented from pursuing her chosen vocational paths for which she had gone to college and invested in excess of $80,000 in tuition. He also opined that claimant suffered an impairment of earnings capacity between $463,000 and $800,000 based on claimant’s age, her treating physicians’ diagnosis of chronic pain arising from the accident, and statistics showing persons with the “disability” claimant alleged miss anywhere between fifty to several hundred hours annually from the work force and have shortened work life expectancies. The defense was premised on the physical exam findings, steady improvement reported by the initial provider claimant saw during the first 7 months after the accident, the rebuttal opinion of Defendant’s vocational expert, Government resources establishing that “chronic pain” is not a “disability” but rather a description of a situation where one chronically complains of pain, and other impeachment evidence which directly impugned the veracity of claimant and her experts on damages. The arbitration panel awarded Plaintiff a gross verdict of $67,500, substantially less than the tortfeasor’s policy limits.
  • Summary judgment granted in wrongful death action for owner/possessor of commercial property where it was alleged that overgrown shrubs prevented the Plaintiff’s 42-year-old decedent from holding onto the hand railing as she descended the steps. The court ruled that decedent’s description of her unwitnessed fall at the scene did not establish the necessary causal link between decedent’s fall and the defendant’s alleged negligence in allowing the shrubs to be overgrown.
  • Jury trial on damages only in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania where client’s driver operated his tractor trailer in the oncoming lane at 50 mph for at least 1 mile before striking the Plaintiff’s semi-truck head on. At the time, Plaintiff was travelling in his proper lane of travel and at a similar speed. Both units sustained major/total physical damage from the collision and resulting fire. Plaintiff was life-flighted from the scene and suffered a comminuted displaced leg fracture. Plaintiff also claimed aggravation of previously asymptomatic neck, mid, and low back disc bulges and herniations, as well as bilateral shoulder impingement and permanent scarring from various abrasions and lacerations requiring sutures. The 51-year-old Plaintiff maintained he could no longer drive truck or continue operating his trucking business consisting of 6 power units and as many drivers, due to his injuries and limitations. Plaintiff boarded past and future special damages in excess of $600,000. The jury awarded the husband Plaintiff $450,000 in compensatory damages and the wife Plaintiff $50,000 on her consortium claim. There was no award for punitive damages.
  • Defense verdict after week long jury trial on claims of driver and occupant of pickup truck which attempted to pass client’s large farm tractor on the left just before an intersecting road to the tractor’s left. Client made a left turn without a left turn signal as the Plaintiffs’ vehicle was passing in the left. Plaintiff driver maintained this necessitated his leaving the road, which resulted in his vehicle crashing into a ravine, causing serious injuries to the driver and his passenger. Plaintiffs boarded in excess of $250,000 in past expenses alone. A defense verdict was entered on the claims of both the Plaintiff driver and his passenger against Defendant because the jury found that any negligence of Defendant was not a cause of the damages which resulted from the crash.
  • Case involving the claims by a family of four, alleging permanent physical and emotional injuries as well as permanent scarring after each was attacked by client’s Husky. Case was settled before the client’s Answer was filed at a meeting with Plaintiffs and their counsel. The dog had allegedly been involved in two prior incidents and was euthanized after this incident and the mother and son Plaintiffs had been bitten in the head, face, and neck during the attack.
  • Pre-discovery settlement at mediation involving rear end collision by client’s CDL driver where the Plaintiff truck driver had multiple pre-existing issues. A defense medical exam and radiologic review prior to mediation played a key role in early resolution. The 42 year old Plaintiff’s liens exceeded $145,000 arising from cervical discetomy and fusion after the incident. The matter was resolved for $225,000.
  • Resolution: This was a case of clear liability. Plaintiff was a 48 year old service manager for a garage earning $40,000 annually.  He alleged a variety of injuries but his primary complaint was injury to his cervical spine.  He had complained intermittently of cervical pain before the accident, as recently as a year prior, but work records did not reflect that he missed time from work because of that condition. The plaintiff underwent anterior cervical discectomy at C5/6 with removal of osteophytes, decompression, arthrodesis, and placement of cage and plate.  He did not return to work as a service manager after the surgery and subsequently was awarded social security disability. Immediately upon assignment, aggressive records discovery was conducted, the results of which raised considerable questions on causation.  With the pre-accident history in hand, we proposed mediation without a deposition, and plaintiff agreed. The case settled within five months of assignment for a number both sides deemed to be fair.
  • It was conceded that the Underinsured driver, who had $50,000 in liability coverage, was at fault for the collision. The UIM claimant demanded policy limits of $250,000. MRI of the left shoulder suggested a focal partial-thickness undersurface tear of the distal supraspinatus tendon insertion and confirmed a tear of the posterior labrum with paralabral cyst and marked degenerative and hypertrophic changes involving the AC joint with mass effect on the supraspinatus tendon.  The 50 year old claimant, who worked as a meat cutter for over 15 years, did not have any specific pre-accident treatment for left shoulder pain.  Five months after the accident, Claimant underwent a left shoulder arthroscopy, Type 2 SLAP repair, posterior labral repair with decompression of cyst, partial thickness rotator cuff tear and debridement, sub acromial decompression, and distal clavicle excision.  He missed a total of 253 days form work at his job as a meat cutter and thereafter returned full time without restriction. Claimant maintained he had daily residual pain and restricted motion which prevented him from lifting his left shoulder above shoulder height. Claimant’s expert opined that claimant had a 38% permanent left shoulder impairment.  Because of added first party benefit coverage, Claimant was able to introduce only $14,753 in special damages.  Hirtzel leveraged inconsistent statements, the degenerative conditions found in the left shoulder diagnostics and the fact that claimant had continued to work over 3 years without documented complaint or limitation in a heavy duty job after his surgery to obtain a gross Arbitration Award of $90,000, resulting in a net award to claimant on his UIM claim of $40,000.

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