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Erie Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Personal injury Q and A

Pennsylvania residents who have been injured due to the negligence of other individuals may have the right to seek compensation for their losses. In order to do this one has to file a personal injury claim in a state civil court. This week's column will address some common questions that some may have about personal injury claims.

The first question is: What actions should one take directly after an accident? After being involved in an auto collision or other accident in which one is injured, there are certain steps that one should take. These include:

  • Collect evidence
  • Document details of the accident and any resulting losses
  • Collect witness information

Can you get convicted of a DUI if you refuse a breath test?

You were driving home and got pulled over by law enforcement. For whatever reason, the officer stated that he or she suspected you had been drinking or possibly doing illegal drugs. You get asked to step out of the vehicle for a roadside test. You comply, and you believe that you passed the test.

Then, the officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test. Maybe you've read about them being wrong for others, or perhaps you are worried that a medical condition, like diabetes, could impact the outcome. You decide you want to decline to take the test.

Criminal defense: What does an embezzlement charge involve?

Any person in Pennsylvania who is accused of a white collar crime, such as embezzlement, may have many questions about the allegations, the law and his or her legal rights. The most logical first step to take may be to seek the support and guidance of a criminal defense attorney -- even before charges are filed. An experienced lawyer can provide answers and advocate for the accused person throughout the legal proceedings that might follow.

Embezzlement is sometimes called employee theft, and it is an act of wrongful appropriation of funds that belonged to someone else and was entrusted to the accused person. It is not a crime that can only be committed by employees; anybody can be charged with violating fiduciary responsibility. However, it is often allegations made against accountants for manipulating financial records to hide misappropriated funds.

Workers' compensation benefits available for burn victims

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into a fire that followed the eruption of a propane gas tanker in Pennsylvania. Workers' compensation claims for benefits will likely be filed by two employees who suffered burn injuries in this incident. Reportedly, firefighters were called to the site of a gas provider on a recent Friday morning.

A suspected malfunction of a valve on a 3,500-gallon tanker truck vented fuel that resulted in the fire. The blaze apparently destroyed two tanker trucks. The heat led to a third tank venting fuel, but firefighters could stop that truck from being destroyed. However, two employees of the gas company who were working on the truck with the suspected faulty valve were caught in the fire.

New court ruling may impact other drunk driving cases

If a person is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, a blood alcohol test may be requested by authorities. Although suspects have the right to refuse a blood draw, a refusal could result in a suspension of their driver's license in addition to other consequences. If a suspect is unconscious, they no longer have the ability to refuse the blood test, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that authorities must obtain a warrant to perform a blood draw on anyone unresponsive. Drunk driving cases across the state may be impacted by the ruling.

The ruling resulted after one man's case continued through the court system to the highest court. Allegedly, after being pulled over for possibly drunk driving, the police officer recognized his level of intoxication required medical attention. Allegedly, the smell of alcohol was very strong on the man, and a bottle of liquor was discovered on his driver's seat.

A personal injury suffered in a swimming pool accident is no joke

Summer is still in full swing, and numerous Pennsylvania residents are spending their time at public and private swimming pools. While this certainly is a great way to spend lazy summer days, quite a few people are injured in swimming pool accidents every year. If you have suffered a personal injury or have lost a loved in such an incident, you may have legal recourse.

Swimming pools are fun, but they are dangerous also. If a pool is not properly installed or maintained, or if faulty products are used to build it, swimmers can get hurt or even sick. If children gain access to pools without proper supervision, they could suffer severe injury or worse.

Watch out! 3 work-zone safety tips to keep you safe

Work zones can quickly become dangerous in the summer months. From increased traffic to hot weather, there are plenty of construction hazards out there. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stay safe on the job.

Here are a few ways you can make sure you and your coworkers aren't caught off guard and don't suffer an injury while you're at work. Stay safe this summer, and take these into consideration.

Pennsylvania criminal defense: Charged with possession?

In Pennsylvania, being charged and convicted on any drug-related crime can have a drastic impact on one's life. The state simply does not take such crimes lightly. Those who have been charged with drug-related crimes can seek assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney to help them fight their cases in court.

Of all of the potential drug crimes, possession is probably the most commonly seen. Being charged with possession means that one has been found carrying or in close proximity to an illegal or controlled substance. Such substances include but are not limited to marijuana, methamphetamines and cocaine.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation: Scaffolding injuries

With summer in full swing, construction workers in Pennsylvania are busier than ever. Many of them use scaffolding structures every day in order to get their work done. Unfortunately, in doing so, some will suffer injuries in scaffolding-related accidents. Victims of such injuries may file workers' compensation claims to seek help covering their medical expenses and other losses.

How many construction workers are injured in incidents involving scaffolding each year? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an estimated 4,500 injuries occur annually due to scaffolding accidents. While that number may seem small compared to the number of construction workers currently employed across the county, it is still a big issue, one that cannot be overlooked.

Pennsylvania personal injury: Distracted commercial drivers

It is scary to see or drive near a commercial truck that is weaving in and out of its lane. Unfortunately, this is a common sight in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. Is this a sign that the driver is having a hard time controlling the truck or an indication that the driver simply is not paying attention? In either event, this can result in a wreck, causing an unsuspecting victim to suffer severe personal injury.

Anyone who has seen an accident involving a semi-trailer knows the destruction that these big machines can do. In order to help prevent collisions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set strict guidelines that trucking companies and their employees are to follow regarding cellphone use. Current laws state that:

  • Texting and emailing are prohibited
  • Reading texts or emails is not allowed
  • Talking is okay if one is using a hands-free device, or if one-button touch or voice-activated features are turned on
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