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General Archives

A WARNING TO PA DOG OWNERS: NEW "RUFF" WEATHER EXPOSURE LAW

A new law in Pennsylvania called "Libre's Law" requires that dog owners limit outdoor tethering to only 30 minutes per day during winter months (defined by temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit). The law seeks to encourage dog owners to recognize the harmful effects of long-term cold weather exposure on their furry friends, and will be strictly enforced throughout the state this winter season.

Did you know that there is an antidote available for heroin overdoses?

Stories about tragic drug overdoses and the concern for heroin use in our local communities seem to always hit the news. The steps that are being taken to reduce some of the suffering from drug addiction don't usually get the same attention. Hopefully, news will spread about legislation that has been signed into law on October 1, 2014, by the Governor.

Procedural Rules of Court

There has been a significant change to the Procedural Rules of Court with regard to jurors. You may have recently read some articles in statewide publications with regard to alternate jurors. Routinely at the end of a trial, alternate jurors were set free to go once deliberations began. The Rule, by Order of the State Supreme Court, has now been altered so that alternates shall be kept ready during deliberations in case a juror has to be replaced due to various legitimate reasons. The alternates will not be part of the deliberations; however, they will be sitting ready to step in if they are needed.

Community Leader: David S. DeRose, Esq.

Below are links to a three-part series on back pain and its treatment from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/my-aching-back-only-seek-surgery-for-the-back-when-necessary-703565/ http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/ways-to-have-a-healthier-back-703518/ http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/my-aching-back-low-back-problems-are-common-neurological-disorder-701704/

Unemployment Compensation Basics

The unemployment compensation (UC) system is designed to provide a short-term "safety net" of benefits which provide income when you lose your job through no fault of your own. Generally speaking, to be eligible for UC benefits, you must be able and available to work. The determination of whether you are eligible for benefits is a three step process. The first step is to determine whether you are financially eligible for benefits. This step generally involves two questions. The first question is whether you earned enough wages to qualify. Your earnings are reviewed using your "base year". The base year is generally the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the date you applied for benefits. The base year is different for individuals who separated from their employment due to a compensable work-related injury. The amount of benefits you are entitled to will be based on the highest of the four quarterly wages. The second question is whether you have 16 or more "credit weeks." Credit weeks are defined as weeks in your base year in which you earned $50 or more. If you have less than 16 credit weeks, you are not eligible for benefits. The UC office will perform these calculations and issue a financial determination. The second step is to determine whether you are eligible to receive benefits based on the circumstances of your job loss. There are primarily two reasons for losing a job: either you quit or you are fired. Some people have the misconception that if they quit their job they are not entitled to benefits. This is simply untrue. Under certain circumstances, you are able to quit your job and subsequently receive benefits. For example, you are eligible for benefits if you quit due to a health problem which affects your ability to perform your job, as long as you have given your employer an opportunity to offer you suitable work. This involves a discussion between you and your employer prior to quitting. If your employer has no accommodations or other suitable work, you may quit and be eligible for benefits. On the other hand, if you were fired from your job, you still may be entitled to benefits. I have represented people who have been fired for many different reasons, such as violating an employment rule or policy, unsatisfactory work performance, or committing too many mistakes at work. Just because you were fired from your job doesn't mean that you are not entitled to benefits. In this type of situation, an employer has to prove that you committed "willful misconduct." This can only be determined on a case-by-case basis depending upon your circumstances. You may have particular reasons to justify your conduct. For example, if you are fired from your job as a delivery person for having too many vehicle accidents, you may still be entitled to benefits. You might be able to prove that the accidents were truly accidents, and not intentional nor deliberate. The third step involves maintaining your eligibility for benefits after you begin to receive them. If you are both financially eligible and eligible based on the circumstances surrounding your loss of employment, you will begin to receive benefits one week after you apply for benefits. Upon receiving benefits, you must continue to be able and available to work. You are not entitled to benefits if you are not physically able to work at any job due to medical reasons. You must also be available to work and, for example, not be on vacation or in jail. In addition, you must report your current employment status to the UC office every other week. If the UC office determines that you are not eligible for benefits, you have a limited time to appeal that decision. On appeal, a referee will hold a hearing to review the circumstances of your claim based upon testimony from both you and your employer. Each party has the right to be represented by an attorney. After the hearing, the referee will issue a new determination regarding your eligibility for benefits. If you are contemplating quitting your employment, call me at 724-552-2745 before you quit to discuss your circumstances and how to preserve your right to benefits. If you have already been denied benefits, I can help you appeal your claim and represent you at your hearing.

Making Sense of Your Auto Policy

We have heard clients comment that they never really read their auto insurance information prior to their motor vehicle collision. Unfortunately, after you are in an accident, it is too late to make sure you have the coverage you need. Take just a little bit of time to do some "preventive maintenance." Here is our advice about the coverage you should have in place to protect you and your family.
TORT OPTION: FULL TORTThis is the most important choice when selecting your coverage. Always choose the full tort option which provides the most complete protection. If you do not choose full tort, you give up important legal rights. This holds true even if an accident is not your fault.The person who makes the tort selection binds the entire household and everyone covered under the policy. Selecting full tort is "easy." There are no forms to sign to select it. You actually have to sign a form to opt out of your rights under full tort.
MEDICAL COVERAGE: $10,000.00 MINIMUMThough you must purchase at least $5,000 of medical coverage, we recommend at least double that amount for medical coverage, or "first party coverage" as it is called in Pennsylvania. If you do not have health insurance, you may want to purchase even more coverage which will pay medical bills if you or a family member are hurt in a collision.
WAGE LOSS COVERAGE: CHOOSE IT!If you are hurt in an accident and not able to work, wage loss coverage will keep money coming in to pay your bills while you are off work. If you do not have this coverage, you must wait to get your wage loss covered by the person at fault for the collision. This process can take a long time because the wage loss payment is part of a one-time, lump-sum payment. Though Pennsylvania does not require that you carry this coverage, most people who become involved in an accident are thankful they purchased it.
UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED (UM/UIM) COVERAGE: $100,000.00 MINIMUMJust like wage loss coverage, this coverage is not required under Pennsylvania law - BUT you do not want to go without it. This important coverage protects you and your family if you are hurt by a person who has little or no insurance. To make this coverage even more valuable, you want to "stack" uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you have several cars in your household, you can collect this type of coverage from another car in your household. This coverage may also provide protection even if you would be involved in an accident that does not involve your auto.
Full Tort + Wage Loss Coverage + stacked UM/UIM coverage = the best protection for you and your family.

WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ON DISTRACTED DRIVING?

Pennsylvania lawmakers have drawn the line as to what will soon be considered illegal driving practices. New provisions in the law will go into effect in March 2012 to attempt to limit the use of "interactive wireless communications devices." This term includes the use of wireless telephones, smart phones, portable or mobile computers or other similar devices, but does not include GPS or navigation systems. The changes to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code will outlaw driving while using such devices to send, read or write a text-based communication.This offense is a primary offense, which means that law enforcement personnel can issue a citation for the offense even if the driver is not violating any other section of the Vehicle Code. In contrast, the seat belt law in Pennsylvania is a secondary offense - this means that an adult driver must be cited for some other violation before an officer can add the lack of use of a seat belt to the citation. The fine for a driver who commits the new summary offense of using an interactive wireless device in violation of the statute is $50.The new law makes no move to control the use of wireless communication devices for telephone calls which is something that was debated by the legislature. Thus the question arises: does the new legislation go far enough to discourage distracted driving?
Distracted driving includes activities such as:

The Compassionate Allowance List (CAL)

The Social Security Administration maintains a Compassionate Allowance List (CAL) as a way to quickly identify medical conditions that will likely qualify for disability benefits, lessening the wait time for a decision.As of April 11, 2012, Social Security expanded the Compassionate Allowances List to include 52 new medical conditions. The 52 new Compassionate Allowance conditions are: Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome
Alobar Holoprosencephaly
Alpers Disease
Alpha Mannosidosis
Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site
Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis
Child Neuroblastoma
Child Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Chondrosarcoma with multimodal therapy
Cornelia de Lange Syndrome-Classic Form
Ewings Sarcoma
Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma with metastases
Fucosidosis - Type 1
Galactosialidosis - Early Infantile Type
Glioma Grade III and IV
Hallervorden-Spatz Disease
Hepatoblastoma
Histiocytosis
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome
Hydranencephaly
Hypocomplementemic Urticarial Vasculitis
Hypophosphatasia Perinatal lethal Form
I Cell disease
Infantile Free Sialic Acid Storage Disease
Juvenile Onset Huntington Disease
Kufs Disease Type A and B
Lissencephaly
Lymphomatoid Granulomatosis Grade III
Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas - Childhood
Malignant Melanoma with metastases
Mastocytosis Type IV
Medulloblastoma with metastasis
Merkel Cell Carcinoma with metastases
Myocolonic Epilepsy and Ragged Red Fibers Syndrome
Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
Obliterative Bronchiolitis
Ohtahara Syndrome
Orthochromatic Leukodystrophy with Pigmented Glia
Pearson Syndrome
Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Classic Form
Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Connatal Form
Peripheral Nerve Cancer - metastatic or recurrent
Perry Syndrome
Rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata
Schindler Disease Type 1
Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome
Spinal Nerve Root Cancer- metastatic or recurrent
Stiff Person Syndrome
Tabes Dorsalis
Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome
Xeroderma PigmentosumTo view the complete list visit: /Social-Security-Disability/The-Compassionate-Allowance-List-CAL.shtml

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