Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“E-Legs” Aid Those Suffering From Paralysis

A San Jose, CA company is pioneering a new technology called “e-legs” that allows people suffering from spinal cord injuries to walk again. These medical devices take steps for the patients, who just have to keep their balance and shift their weight to keep moving. As of this time, there are only two sets of e-legs in existence, which are being tested in 10 California hospitals. One of the trial participants, a young woman who became paralyzed in a car accident, explains that it gives her a feeling of hope and freedom. The young woman was injured while texting and driving her car, and encourages others to avoid this practice. As previously mentioned in this blog, texting and driving is now illegal in Pennsylvania and is considered a primary offense.
Severe brain and spinal cord injuries, especially as a result of a motor vehicle accident, can be extremely debilitating and disheartening to experience and overcome. Attorney Stoehr has experience working with those suffering from brain and spinal cord injuries as a result of an accident at the fault of another. If you would like to consult with Attorney Stoehr at the Law Offices of Attorney Doug Stoehr at no cost to you, please contact our law office.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harrisburg Sees Wave of Dog Attacks

Recently, Harrisburg has seen a sizeable increase in dog attacks. Within the past month, the city has reported attacks on both people and dogs, including an 80 year old woman and a beloved family pet. The bulk of these attacks have been attributed to pit bulls, a traditionally aggressive and dangerous breed of dog by many police officers and dog experts.
Attorney Stoehr has experiencing litigating dog bite claims, and recently settled a $300,000 claim involving a pit bull attack that seriously injured a young child, resulting in several large wounds and chronic psychological injuries. Dogs can be beloved household pets, but they can also do serious harm to other people if not properly trained or taken care of. Please contact our law office for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been a victim of a dog attack. Attorney Doug Stoehr would be happy to meet with you to discuss a possible claim.

Monday, June 27, 2011

PA Man Killed In Motorcycle/Tour Bus Collision

A Pennsylvania man was recently killed by a tour bus at a tollbooth outside the Lincoln Tunnel inNew York City. The tour bus approached the motorcycle and caused them to collide, killing the motorcyclist. No passengers on the tour bus were injured.
Tour bus and commercial truck drivers are a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents onAmerica’s roads and highways. Often, these commercial drivers are fatigued and are driving above the mandated allotment of hours. Additionally, many of them are driving large vehicles that are not up to federal and state safety standards. As a result, other vehicles and motorcycle riders often bear the brunt of their illegal activity and are often seriously injured or die from a collision with the tour bus or commercial truck. If you have been injured or a loved one has died as a result of a commercial vehicle accident, please contact our law office for a consultation at no cost to you at the Law Offices of Attorney Doug Stoehr.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AARP Members Lobby for Legislation for Caregiver Reimbursement in PA

Members of the Pennsylvania division of AARP are lobbying for legislation in Pennsylvania that would increase caregiver reimbursement for expenses. In addition to increasing the amount of reimbursement per month, currently at $200, it would also extend the reimbursement to apply to non-relatives and those relatives who do not reside with the person needing caregiver services. This increase in funds would supposedly come from the Pennsylvania Lottery fund, which benefits older Pennsylvanians.

Caregivers have a very difficult job in taking care of the needs of elderly or disabled patients. However, negligent caregivers may also frequently neglect or abuse those in their care emotionally, physically, sexually, or financially. When looking for caregivers for your loved ones, especially those not related to you, take care to choose a responsible and respectful worker who will appropriately address the needs of your family member. If you feel that you or a loved one have been a victim of caregiver abuse and neglect, especially in a nursing home or hospital and would like a consultation at no cost to you, please contact our law office to schedule an appointment with Attorney Stoehr.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lehigh County Boy Victim of Pedestrian Accident

Early this June, a six year old boy was hit while trying to cross the street in Lower Macungie Township. Residents have cited the lack of a much-needed traffic light, as well as signs designating the area as a school zone, large reasons why the accident has occurred. Bicyclists also do not seem to be following the rules of the road in that area, leading to unnecessary accidents and confusion.
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are not as uncommon as you might think, especially in the summer when children and their families are spending much more time outside. The warm weather and longer days also lead to an increase in reckless and distracted driving, which can result in many more motor vehicle accidents. If you or a family member has been injured as a result of a pedestrian accident and would like a free consultation with Attorney Stoehr, please contact our law office.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Many PA Trucks and Drivers Placed Out of Service Due to Safety Initiative

A recent press release by the Pennsylvania State Police reported on the results of Operation SAFE—a statewide police task force assigned to examine seat belt use and driver fatigue in commercial truck drivers over a single day in early June. The research resulted in the removal of over 100 trucks and the suspension of over 70 drivers due to safety issues. Additionally, an overwhelming 51% of trucks failed inspection of federal motor carrier safety regulations. Many of the drivers removed from service by the state police were done so because of their driving logs, which showed an overload of hours prohibited by federal and state standards. This overload of hours leads to driver fatigue, a significant cause of accidents on PA highways.
Driver fatigue is one of the major causes of truck accidents on PA’s major highways. Fatigue often leads to distractibility, an inability to focus, and a lack of alertness that leads to serious and potentially deadly accidents with lasting injuries. If you feel that you have been wrongly injured due to a truck accident, please contact our law office for a consultation at no cost to you. Attorney Doug Stoehr would be happy to meet with you to discuss legal action pertaining to your truck accident.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Distracted Driving Bill Passes

Early this week, a bill passed in the Pennsylvania State Senate that banned the practice of texting on a cell phone while driving. Texting while driving will now be considered a primary offense that comes with a fine of $100. Additionally, talking on your cell phone and driving is also banned; however, this will not be considered a primary offense. The use of hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth, is allowed for experienced drivers, but not those who hold a learner’s permit or a junior driver’s license.
Distracted driving is one of the major causes of motor vehicle accidents, especially with young and inexperienced drivers. Distracted drivers may also swerve off the road, hitting stop signs, telephone poles, and most seriously, other people walking or biking. If you feel that you have been wrongly injured due to an accident with a distracted driver, please contact our law office for a consultation at no cost to you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pennsylvania Ranks #6 in Dog Attacks

A recent press release by State Farm Insurance ranks Pennsylvania number 6 in the country for the number of dog attack claims in 2010, with 155 claims. The press released also stated that roughly 60% of the claims were against children under the age of 12; children also accounted for 20 of 33 total fatalities handled by State Farm. In 2009, it was estimated that insurers paid $412 million as a result of dog bite claims.
This law office has handled several dog bite claims in the Altoona area, mostly for child victims. Unfortunately, children are more susceptible to dog attacks because they are more likely to approach a dog that adults may deem unsafe. They are also smaller, so the same size dog does significantly more damage on a child that cannot protect him or herself than they might do to an average adult. In addition to significant physical damage, dog attacks can lead to lasting and pervasive psychological stress, especially in very young children. Children may become scared by other animals in the future, including their previously loved household pets. They may also have difficulty sleeping, working in school, interacting with friends and family, and may become withdrawn and anxious.
Some cities and housing developments have banned certain breeds of dogs from residing on their premises, including pit bulls and rottweilers, or make the owners of the pets put up higher fences, purchase additional liability insurance, or muzzle the dog in public. Currently, the city of Altoona has no law against having certain dog breeds as pets.
If you feel that you or a family member have been wrongly hurt as a result of a dog attack, please contact our office for a consultation at no cost to you. We will be happy to review your claim.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Changes Affecting Teenage Drivers in PA

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would result in changes to how Pennsylvania teenagers use their learning permits and would increase the requirements to receive a junior license. Currently, a PA driving permit requires 50 practice hours; this bill increased that number to 65 hours, with 10 hours of nighttime driving and 5 hours of driving in inclement weather. In addition to an increase in driving hours, this bill would also make not wearing your seatbelt a primary offense. This means that junior drivers can be pulled over for not wearing their seatbelt, even if no other offense has occurred (such as running a red light, speeding, or running a stop sign). This is also likely helping to promote Pennsylvania’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign, encouraging drivers to wear their seatbelts on the road or face additional fines if pulled over for another offense while not wearing their seatbelt. This bill has passed and will now move on to the state senate for consideration.
Inexperienced driving is a major component in many motor vehicle accidents. Teenage drivers are arguably the most likely group to cause a car accident, due to a lack of experience, a tendency to talk on their cell phones and text while driving, and distractibility by other friends in their vehicle. Our law office hopes that the additional practice hours for permit holders will lead to a decrease in accidents and will result in more responsible and experienced teenage drivers.
If you feel that you have been wrongly hurt in a motor vehicle accident, please contact our office for a consultation at no cost to you. We will be happy to review your claim.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beware Fatigued Drivers!

Fatigued drivers are becoming an increasingly common problem on major highways and interstates. A recent article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review highlighted a problem with Pennsylvania charter bus companies shuttling passengers on day or overnight trips. The article stated that many drivers are driving over the legal cap of 10 hours, and are not taking 8 hours off between driving sessions. Unfortunately, these drivers become fatigued and can cause fatal accidents, injuring or killing themselves and their passengers. This is also a common problem among semi-truck drivers. According to the Washington, DC-based Advocates for Highway Safety, semi-truck drivers are involved in multi-vehicle crashes at almost two times the rate of passenger vehicles. Many times, truck drivers feel pressured to make deadlines and rack up as many miles as possible to increase their paycheck, and their focus on the road suffers as a result.
Our law firm has seen several serious accidents involving truck drivers colliding with cars as a result of driver fatigue, leading to severe injuries. While you may be responsible, safe, and focused on the road, this does not mean that everyone you are sharing the road with is as well. Defensive driving is especially important on truck-heavy roads and highways. If you have been in a truck accident caused by a semi-truck or charter bus driver and have suffered significant personal injuries, please contact our office for a free consultation.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

Elder abuse is a topic that should be addressed throughout the year, but June is an especially important month to remember and work to prevent elder abuse. Many people do not fully understand what elder abuse is, and limit it to physical abuse or neglect, but elder abuse can actually take many different forms. This type of abuse can include physical harm, such as striking another person, neglecting to feed or give proper medication, or not aiding in mobility to prevent injury, such as bedsores. It can also include emotional abuse, such as threatening, taunting, belittling, or humiliating, and sexual abuse. Another common form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. The elderly are one of the most susceptible groups to be financially taken advantage of, such as by use of their personal checks, credit cards, and bank accounts without knowledge, forging their signature, or by identity theft. Common signs of elder abuse include unexplained bruising or injury, bedsores, unusual bank transactions, unsanitary living conditions, and noticeable tension between the caregiver and the patient. For more information on elder abuse, please contact our law office or visit the National Center for Elder Abuse.
Attorney Stoehr deals with elder abuse in both nursing homes and hospitals. If you suspect that your loved one has been mistreated or neglected by caregivers in a hospital or a nursing home, please contact our law office for a consultation to discuss possible action on your claim.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sharing the Road: Hazards for Summertime Recreation

Recently, two bicyclists in downtown Pittsburgh were struck by an SUV that hit the two men and continued driving. The two Children’s Hospital doctors suffered serious injuries, including a concussion, facial fractures, and a broken leg, hip, shoulder, and arm. This accident is an example of what can happen when bicyclists and vehicles do not share the road in a responsible and safe manner.
As the summer begins and the weather improves, many people will gravitate outside to run, bike, walk, and spend time with their families. Although this can provide an excellent outlet for fun and recreation, it can also lead to potential bicycle and pedestrian accidents. When driving this summer, be alert for pedestrians and bicyclists on the road, especially small children that may not be easily seen. By being alert and considerate and sharing the road, you will avoid serious injuries and complications to those around you. If you plan to bike or run this summer, wear bright colors and make sure that you give appropriate and clear turning signals with your arms so that drivers know when and where you intend to turn.
Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr works with clients who have been injured in pedestrian and bicycle accidents. If you would like a consultation regarding your personal injury, please contact our law office.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Helmet Laws May Change in Coming Months

A new piece of legislation by State Representative Dan Frankel (D) is working to reverse a 2003 law that allows motorcycle riders over 21 to ride without a helmet, given that they completed an official motorcycle safety course sanctioned by the state. This new piece of legislation would require that all riders, regardless of age, be required to wear a helmet while riding their motorcycle. In addition to this bill, two other bills relating to motorcycle use were also addressed—one proposing that motorcyclists who do not wear a helmet will have to purchase additional insurance, and another that would require different license plates for motorcycle riders under 21 years old. The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives will be reconvening in June to discuss new legislation, and this piece will most likely be discussed among the other bills.
Wearing a helmet is a common safety procedure that this law office feels should be followed at all times to protect yourself, whether you are on a bicycle or a motorcycle. However, we recognize that, at this time, mandatory helmet laws for those over 21 are not yet in effect. We also strongly feel that motorcyclists, cars, and bicyclists should share the road in a responsible and respectful manner. If you are a motorcyclist who has been wrongfully injured in a motor vehicle accident and may suffer from a spinal cord, brain, or other serious injury, please contact our law office for a consultation at no cost to you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bill to Protect PA Residents Against Dependent-Care Abuse

A recent bill successfully passed in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives that would act to amend PA’s Crime Code to include protection from abuse by caretakers of care-dependent citizens. This bill works to explain what caregiver abuse would consist of, including failure to provide goods, services, and treatments, as well as actual physical or mental abuse. The law as it stands now only protects against physical harm. The bill will now move on to the State Senate to be voted on in the coming weeks. Bill 1053 was drafted as a result of a series of elder abuse incidents involving personal care homes in Palmyra, PA.
Care-dependent citizens, such as the elderly and mentally disabled, have been subject to an increasing amount of abuse and neglect in the past years. Sadly, abuse and neglect can occur for weeks, months, or years before family members or friends really comprehend or realize what is happening. This new bill will hopefully prevent some of these instances from occurring, and work to clearly define what caregiver abuse consists of and what the punishments will be for that offense.
Attorney Stoehr has successfully negotiated claims involving elder abuse and neglect, most often in nursing homes. If you would like to set up a consultation at no cost to you to discuss your possible claim, please contact his office.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hope For Those With Severe Spinal Cord Injuries

Disabled people who suffer from severe spinal cord injuries that make them incapable of breathing on their own may see a big development in medical technology coming their way. Doctors at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital have successfully tested and implemented a new implant that will allow quadriplegic patients to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. The doctors in charge of this new development liken the new implant to a pacemaker, which stimulates muscle activity in the diaphragm. This new device is also expected to reduce the risk of infection, such as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), which was a significant problem with ventilators.
Researchers across the country are also developing treatments to rehabilitate paralyzed patients and, hopefully, help them walk again. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on collaborative research with universities and foundations across America that resulted in a paralyzed man regaining some movement and feeling in previously immobile parts of his body. By combining the use of electrical stimulation from an implant on his spinal cord and large amounts of physical therapy, the patient can now stand and move parts of his legs after only a few days of the treatment. This exciting new development will hopefully continue to aid in fully rehabilitating some forms of paralysis.
Unfortunately, significant brain and spinal cord injuries are not uncommon as a result of a motor vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, or a slip-and-fall accident. Brain and spinal cord injuries are often complicated to treat and diagnose, and are unarguably frightening and difficult to deal with from the patient’s perspective. If the injury occurred due to the negligence of another, it is also difficult to find a lawyer with both knowledge and compassion about significant neurological injuries. Attorney Stoehr has experiencing handling cases involving these types of injuries and has received favorable outcomes. If you are looking for more information regarding a claim pertaining to spinal cord or brain injuries or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our law office.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elder Abuse on the Rise in Pennsylvania

Two recent occurrences across the state have put the spotlight on elder neglect and abuse in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this is an issue that Attorney Stoehr faces frequently with his clients and their families in the aftermath of serious injury or neglect in nursing homes and hospitals.
Quadrangle, a Delaware County nursing home, has recently lost its operating license after three workers were arrested for abusing and taunting a 78-year-old patient suffering from dementia. This is not the first time that this particular nursing home has had complaints of neglect; past occurrences have included paint ingestion by a patient in the dementia unit, as well as ingestion of an antibacterial product by another patient. Quadrangle may continue to work while it faces the appeals process. As unbelievable as this situation sounds, these kinds of situations are not uncommon in nursing homes that are understaffed or whose workers lack proper training or knowledge of emergency procedures.
Franklin County also has its share of elder abuse issues; they have reported a fourfold increase in elder abuse complaints within the last four years alone. Franklin County Area Agency on Aging has stated that they handled about 40 cases in 2007; contrast that number with their 2010 report of more than 120 cases and it’s easy to see how prevalent the problem is becoming. The agency has three broad categories in which it investigates cases—financial exploitation, abuse (physical, mental, and sexual), and neglect—which also extends to situations in nursing homes.
Pennsylvania ranks high among states for the percentage of elderly population, which is why it is so important to advocate for the rights of the elderly in situations of injury or neglect. Attorney Stoehr is familiar with, and has successfully resolved claims involving nursing home abuse and neglect. If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact our law office for a consultation.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pennsylvania Considering No-Texting Litigation

An increase in motor vehicle accidents due to texting while driving is prompting Pennsylvania politicians to introduce legislature that would make the practice illegal and possibly a primary offense. If texting while driving is made a primary offense, this allows police officers to stop a vehicle and ticket the driver if he or she is seen texting, even if no other offense has occurred (such as speeding or running a stop sign). If Pennsylvania makes this practice illegal, it will join 32 other states that have done the same, including 13 within the past year.
When this possible ban reached the House floor, an amendment was passed to include cell phone usage while driving as another primary offense. Due to this amendment, the bill was sent back to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be reviewed until it is ready to be readmitted to the House floor for voting. The PA Turnpike reported that 200 accidents were caused in 2010 by texting while driving, a significant number that many fear will rise if this bill does not pass.
At the Law Offices of Attorney Douglas Stoehr, we feel strongly that texting while driving creates distracted, unfocused drivers that are a potential danger to all other vehicles that share the road with them. Texting while driving is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents. Further, although cell phone usage is presently not in violation of the Motor Vehicle Code, a defendant driver may still be negligent and therefore be responsible for your civil damages.
Although cell phone usage while driving is more understandable in certain circumstances, we encourage drivers to be completely focused on the road and only use their cell phone when absolutely necessary. If possible, stopping by the side of the road or in a parking lot while using your phone is a much safer and more responsible option than dialing and talking to another person while driving.
If you feel that you have been injured due to a distracted driver that was on their cell phone or texting while driving, please contact our office for a consultation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Safe Driving OVer Holiday Weekends

A  recent news article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that there were a large number of accidents on Pennsylvania highways over Memorial Day weekend, killing 13 people and injuring 294 others. In addition to the increase in accidents and injuries, there were 357 DUI arrests and 7,934 speeding tickets.
We cannot stress to you enough how important it is to remain safe and alert while driving during periods of increased motor activity, especially summer holiday periods like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can be easily prevented with a few simple, common-sense tips:
1) BE ALERT. Do not drive while fatigued.
2) BE FOCUSED. Do not be distracted by others in the car, do not use your cell phone while driving, and especially do not text while driving.
3) BE DEFENSIVE. While you may be a responsible and respectful driver, this does not mean that everyone you are sharing the road with is also a good driver. Be alert for aggressive drivers, those who frequently switch lanes or swerve, or those who are tailgating others.
4) BE SAFE. Always wear your seatbelt. In 5 of the 13 deaths recorded this weekend, the victim was not wearing their seatbelt. Additionally, do not consume alcohol before driving or get into a car with a driver who has been drinking. 83 of the 808 crashes this weekend involved alcohol.
Douglas V. Stoehr works with clients who have been injured in motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents. If you feel that you have been wrongly hurt in an accident, please contact our office for a free consultation. Safe driving and here’s to the start of long-overdue warm weather and a great summer!