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

Bounce houses: Are they safe?

If you have children, you know that birthdays are a big deal, and you have likely held a birthday party or two at your Pennsylvania home. While clowns were once a party staple, today's birthday entertainment often includes a bounce castle or another type of inflatable funhouse. They are also known as moon bounces, bouncers, jumpers and a variety of other names. Whatever you call them, they are great fun and children love them. However, they do come with some risks that you should know about if you are considering such a rental.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that, during the 10-year period between 2003 and 2013, hospitals treated more than 113,000 people for emergency injuries due to inflatable amusements. Another 12 people died, including older teens and adults.

What alternatives to foreclosure are available?

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments or are otherwise in a financial situation where you know you will be unable to pay, you may be facing foreclosure. However, you do not have to let your mortgage go into foreclosure in Pennsylvania. There are some alternative options you may have to protect your home and your credit.

According to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, you can negotiate with your lender for a plan that could make your mortgage more affordable or you could let go of your home in a way that will not have such as a negative impact on you as a foreclosure. For example, you could turn the house back over to the lender using a deed in lieu. You also could sell your home for less than you owe, which is called a short sale. 

Common residential construction defects to watch out for

Unfortunately, the high costs of construction are not a guarantee of quality workmanship and construction defects are relatively common. Some defects are small, merely detracting from the overall aesthetic of the residence. Others are severe and pose a safety hazard to the residents.

Common residential construction defects

What can you do to encourage your teen to drive responsibly?

Imagine you are sitting in the passenger seat of your car and instructing your teenage child in the basics of driving. Often, these times can be some of the most terrifying and equally laughable moments as you try to help your child understand how to safely operate a vehicle. However, when the time comes for him or her to drive alone, your constant encouragement and vigilance is no longer present. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child understand the importance of driving safely and responsibly even when it seems that no one is watching. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three primary steps you can take in teaching your teenage child responsibility behind the wheel. First, you should make sure he or she successfully completes a driver's license certification program and has the appropriate hours logged and confirmed. Second, you should teach him or her about the reasons that seat belts are so critical. One of the best ways to do this is to lead by example and always put your seat belt on before you leave anywhere. Third, do not be afraid to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving or texting and driving. 

Using vigilance to eliminate workplace slips, trips and falls

For every Pennsylvania business, having hard-working employees who are committed to the company mission is an imperative part of effective organizational processes. Without talented employees, businesses simply cannot thrive and succeed. Part of a company's efforts to maintain an effective team of workers is creating an environment that is conducive to productivity. Perhaps the most important step in this process is eliminating hazards and keeping the environment clean and well-maintained to avoid unnecessary injuries from happening. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly $70 billion in medical costs and workers' compensation payouts are attributed to occupational falls every year in the nation. Workers who are employed in the maintenance, healthcare, transportation and construction industries are at a considerably higher risk of suffering an injury as the result of a slip, trip or fall. 

How does the FDA handle a product recall?

Product recalls happen all the time. You have probably heard about them on television, radio or through other media sources in Pennsylvania. When they happen, they are often issued by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The FDA regulates common consumer products including food, medications, medical devices and cosmetics.  

There are three classes of recalls the FDA makes. Class III is for products that violate FDA label laws or other manufacturing laws and are not likely to cause actual harm to you. Class II is for products that pose a slight threat or could cause a temporary health issue. Class I recalls are for products that could cause you serious harm. 

Tragedy in the blink of an eye, or nod of the head

When truck drivers drowse bad things happen. A survey of current news headlines highlight this danger: "Dozing OC truck driver causes dramatic crash." "Tractor-trailer driver falls asleep, hits 4 other trucks on I-81 South." "Deadly bus crash truck driver to stand trial." "Semi rolls over on I-69 near Emmett after driver falls asleep."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, annually on average from 2009 to 2013, there were over 72,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers. These accidents resulted in injuries to more than an estimated 41,000 people and killed over 800 people.

Preventing construction disputes from hurting your success

If you are a professional in the construction industry, you may be familiar with the unique risks you face in regards to creating, implementing and honoring contracts. Often, you make these types of agreements with developers, subcontractors and others who are responsible for facilitating a project's success. Preventing construction disputes is a direct result of your ability to effectively communicate and prepare for the unexpected. At Gesk Moritz LLC, we understand the complications that are faced by construction companies in Pennsylvania. 

Civil + Structural Engineer Magazine has suggested several helpful tips that you may wish to implement as you work to create relationships that are built on trust and less prone to disputes and contention. Some of the things you could do include the following:

  • Perform frequent reviews throughout any construction process to identify areas where you may need to make modifications to stay within the boundaries of original contractual terms.
  • Address disputes as soon as they arise and work through disagreements in a controlled environment to help save you potentially costly consequences if a dispute goes on too long. 
  • Make a detailed list of any potential risks that could affect the outcome of your project. Make sure to address these concerns by planning ahead and implementing controls to keep things on the right track.
  • Be decisive when you need to make critical decisions. Make sure that all parties who are going to be affected by the decision are aware of the outcome and understand what their role is in your process as things progress. 

Passenger killed when truck plunges through ice, driver flees

When people are driving themselves around Pennsylvania, they have full responsibility over their actions and can feel confident about their safety when they carefully adhere to the rules of the road. However, when they are the passenger in someone else's vehicle, they are subject to the behavior and choices of the driver and may have to deal with consequences if the driver fails to act responsibly. 

This is what happened in a recent car accident that occurred in Iowa where two people were driving on the frozen water at Lake Delhi when their vehicle plunged into the icy water. The driver managed to escape the wreckage and make it back to shore, but his passenger was not so fortunate and drowned in the accident. A witness reported seeing the pair doing doughnuts on the ice and after a brief search, investigators located the passenger's body inside of the vehicle under the water. When confronted by authorities, the driver denied any involvement with the accident. However, after further investigations revealed a pair of frozen shoes in the man's possession with tread that matched tracks found at the scene, he admitted being the driver and that he was able to escape the wreck. Currently, he is facing charges related to reckless driving and vehicular homicide. 

Brain injuries: Why you need an attorney

14-year-old Kieran Winter was on her way to a local soccer tournament when a semi-truck broadsided her family's station wagon. Kieran was critically injured, including head trauma, fractured pelvis, lacerated spleen and a punctured lung. After waking up from her coma with left-sided paralysis, Kieran spent the next few months in rehab learning how to redo the basics like eating, walking, and talking before being released home in a wheelchair. Kieran had a traumatic brain injury.

If there ever was a need for having an attorney to help guide the way through the complexities of police reports, insurance claims, medical treatments and bills, a brain injury would most certainly qualify. But, many people believe that hiring a personal injury lawyer is wrong because they're just in it for the money. They will point to the McDonald's coffee lawsuit as the classic example of a frivolous lawsuit--and why they don't like personal injury claims.