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News And Reflections On Legal Issues In Western Pennsylvania And West Virginia

How can you prepare to become a homeowner?

If you are preparing to purchase your first home in Pennsylvania, there are probably moments where you feel excitement and anticipation for the future. There are probably also moments where you feel unsure of where to begin and nervous about the prospect of owning and caring for your own property. Fortunately, there are proactive steps that you can take as you prepare to embark on the exciting journey of becoming a homeowner. 

One of the most exciting aspects of purchasing your first home is looking through prospective properties and finding one that meets your personal needs and is fitting for your lifestyle. Factors you may consider include the area the home is located in, how much the home costs, the size of the home and what kinds of amenities are in the surrounding community. 

What is comparative negligence?

Personal injury cases usually involve one person who was injured by another person's actions. Sometimes, though, the blame does not fall on just one person. In some cases, the injured person may hold some responsibility for his or her injury. The Pennsylvania General Assembly explains that under the law when the injured person holds some of the responsibility for his or her injury, it is comparative negligence.

So, if you were injured on someone else's property, for example, and whatever led to your injury was due to the property being in disrepair but also due to your own negligence, then when you go to court, the judge could hold you partially responsible. What this means is that when the judge makes the final decision, he or she may assign a percentage to each responsible party. If the judge feels you had 20 percent responsibility, the other person would hold 80 percent responsibility.

4 injured, 1 dead in Pennsylvania accident

One young person is dead and four others are injured following a mysterious incident that took place early Sunday morning in Philadelphia on Interstate 95. Because there are still so many unanswered questions surrounding the crash, state authorities have asked the public for any information regarding the identity of a driver who left the scene.

Initially, the accident allegedly involved a rear-end collision between a car and a tractor-trailer. It appears that a third automobile, a dark-colored SUV, later hit one of the car's occupants after she exited or fell out of the vehicle. 

What is title insurance and do you need it?

When you buy a home in Pennsylvania, you will discover that the process involves paying several mysterious fees. One such fee you will have to pay is for title insurance. If you are like most new home buyers, you have no idea what title insurance is or why lenders require it. Hopefully this article sheds some light on the subject.

According to NerdWallet, there are two types of title insurance you can buy: lender's title insurance, which lenders require you to purchase, and owner's title insurance. Both are one-time, up-front costs you pay upon closing. You will not have to pay a monthly premium on either. 

Has your employer provided adequate fall protection?

The construction industry routinely ranks among the most dangerous in terms of practitioners suffering serious injuries. Yet if you work in this profession, you likely go to work every day in Carnegie taking comfort in knowing that your employer knows the dangers that you face, and thus puts safeguards in place to protect you from them. Yet if your company follows the trend of many employers in the construction industry, you and your coworkers may not be as safe as you believe. What is most troubling is that the most common safety failures are typically those involving readily apparent hazards. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized four causes as producing almost 60 percent of all construction industry fatalities. These include: 

  • Falls
  • Being struck by objects
  • Electrocutions
  • Being caught in equipment or in-between equipment and surfaces

Trailers, debris and the risk of an accident

There are many examples of less common auto accident risk factors, such as a driver having a seizure while behind the wheel or someone colliding with another vehicle because they are unfamiliar with the roads in a particular area. While these factors may not cause as many collisions as drunk driving crashes and driving over the speed limit, they are still serious concerns. Moreover, those who pull trailers may become involved in a crash in various ways, and it is vital for you to be mindful of these issues if you have to haul debris or use a trailer for any other reason.

Some people use trailers without much experience, and this can be disastrous. For example, they may lose their trailer while driving at high speeds or going around a turn, which could cause a vehicle to slam into the trailer. Or, debris, equipment and other materials that are not secured to the trailer properly may pose a risk to others on the road if it falls onto the roadway. Furthermore, some people may fail to check their lights and ensure that others will be able to see when they apply their brakes or turn signals.

Expose finds new homes rotting from water intrusion

An expose by the Philadelphia Enquirer in November uncovered thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of homes across Pennsylvania and the U.S. that were built with substandard materials and have been exposed to water damage that costs homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair.

The expose, called “Rotting from Within,” describes multiple contractors who used shoddy materials and lax construction techniques to build new homes and remodel older homes from the start of the 2000s housing boom to today. The result is water damage that is often unseen until an inspector finds the damage when the homeowner tries to sell the house.

Common construction defects in the winter months

Winter can be the most unpredictable season when it comes to construction. Not many projects are as active due to the colder weather, however it gives some people more reason to contract workers to get their houses or buildings done since they know the workers will become busier during the summer months.

The coldest months of the year are also the most frequent times where people find construction defects in their homes. Houses are vulnerable to the weather no matter when construction finished. Some were not built to withstand the increasingly harsh winters in Pennsylvania every year while others may have been made during extreme weather that deteriorated material that the workers failed to replace or update. No matter the case, new homeowners should investigate their houses and keep an eye out for the following deficiencies often seen around this time:

What are third-party claims?

If you have in a car accident or someone suffers an injury on your Pennsylvania property, you will have to deal with insurance companies. During the course of your dealings, you may hear about a third-party claim. This can be confusing if you do not understand insurance industry lingo. However, do not worry, this type of claim is perfectly normal.

According to Economic Times, a third-party claim is just when the injured person makes a claim for damages. In any insurance situation, you are the first party because you are the insured person. The insurance company, as the insurer, is the second party. It does not matter the situation or type of insurance. Whenever someone else makes a claim to your insurance company on your insurance policy, there is a third-party claim.

How can I get my vehicle ready for winter roads?

There is no denying that when winter weather hits Pennsylvania the roads become treacherous. While driving a large, heavy truck may seem like the best answer to bad road conditions, it is not a feasible solution for most people. If you do not own such a vehicle, there are still some things that you can do to prepare your vehicle for winter road conditions, according to Edmunds.

Choosing the right vehicle is always helpful when thinking about safe driving on winter roads. If you can, choose one that has electronic stability control. This will help with controlling your vehicle on snow and ice. It is also helpful to have all-wheel drive, but if you do not, it could be a good thing. All-wheel drive is really only useful in heavy snow. It does not assist well with turning or maneuvering.