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$1.6 Million Settlement in Car Crash Caused By a Domino’s Pizza Driver

A former Connecticut woman was riding as a rear seat passenger in a friend’s car when it was smashed from behind by a car being driven by a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver on Dec. 22, 2011 in Mansfield, Conn. The car she was riding in was then propelled into another car in front of it, which was being operated by a Connecticut State Patrol officer.

The impact was so powerful that the victim, Reiko Sugai-Fernandez, was thrown about inside her friend’s car, knocking her unconscious, according to an Aug. 28 story in The Connecticut Law Tribune. Now Sugai-Fernandez has been awarded a $1.6 million settlement to compensate her for the severe injuries she received in the crash, including a closed brain injury that caused cognitive changes in her ability to read and retain information, according to the story.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

On the evening of the crash, Sugai-Fernandez was in the back seat in a car driven by a friend, Erin O’Neil, according to the story. Behind their car, a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, Samantha Stebbins, plowed her car into O’Neil’s vehicle as O’Neil was stopping to make a left turn into an apartment complex, the story reported.

After the crash, Sugai-Fernandez was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where she was diagnosed with a closed head brain injury, then flown to another hospital by Life Star helicopter, where she underwent emergency surgery to reduce swelling from her brain, the Law Tribune reported.

“To reduce swelling in Sugai-Fernandez’s brain, a portion of her skull was removed and preserved in a freezer for several weeks; after the brain swelling subsided, the portion of the skull was reattached,” the story continued. While her recovery continued, she wore a prosthetic section of skull. She then underwent extensive rehabilitation at a rehabilitation facility to help her begin to recover from her severe brain injury.

Following her rehabilitation, Sugai-Fernandez moved to New York City and enrolled in school where she began to notice cognitive problems that occurred after the car crash, the story reported.

That’s when the victim then filed a lawsuit  in 2013 against Stebbins, who was the Domino’s Pizza driver; Stebbins’ mother, Jill, who owned the car that that caused the crash; and the owner of the Domino’s franchise where Stebbins worked, which is called Southern Connecticut Pizza, the Law Tribune reported. Also sued was the international Domino’s Pizza Corp.

Eventually, the two sides agreed to a $1.6 million offer to allow the victim to be compensated, the story reported. Under the settlement, $100,000 comes from Stebbins’ car insurance, while $1.5 million comes from Southern Connecticut Pizza.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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Car Insurance, Risk and You: Why Better Coverage is A Good Idea

Having car insurance for your cars, SUV’s, motorcycles and trucks is the law in Pennsylvania. But just having insurance isn’t enough. You also need to make sure that you actually have enough insurance coverage to protect you, your family and others if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle accidents happen every day, often injuring people who have done nothing to contribute to causing the accident which has ensnared their lives. Victims are injured when other cars crash into their vehicles or in a myriad of other tragic ways.

Yet learning after such an accident that one’s automobile insurance or the other driver’s insurance isn’t adequate to compensate them for a serious injury is one of the toughest things we have to discuss with our clients here at MyPhillyLawyer. It’s a relatively common scenario, and one that we’ve seen over and over again recently involving a spate of cases that have come into our doors.

Two Emergency Medical Technicians lower a crash victim onto a stretcher. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Spiritartist

Here’s how it works. There are several key categories of insurance coverage for vehicles, including liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverages and medical expenses. If you only have $15,000 of state minimum uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, then that is the full amount that your insurance company would have to give to you under an uninsured motorist claim. And that is simply not enough coverage if your injuries are serious or catastrophic. In fact, this kind of scenario is exactly why every driver on the road in Pennsylvania and every other state really needs to do a careful review of their insurance coverage annually to be sure they are well-protected for potential injuries caused by others who are not adequately insured.

In addition, there is a minimum $15,000 liability coverage requirement in Pennsylvania that was set some 30 years ago and has not been changed since then, which is absurd. It’s a travesty of justice for working people who drive around thinking that they have adequate insurance coverage and then find out how wrong those assumptions can be when the unthinkable happens and they are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When is our Legislature going to do something about this?

It was a whole different world 30 years ago when the $15,000 minimum coverage limit was established, and unbelievably, no provisions were ever created to increase that figure annually for inflation and for changing times.

Another coverage area where drivers often find they are underinsured is for medical expenses in the event of a crash. The minimum amount for coverage in Pennsylvania is $5,000, and that miniscule, inadequate amount is what most people carry to help keep their insurance premiums lower.

Uninsured Motorist coverage, and the related Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, are actually the most important types of coverage that you can have for your vehicle, even more so than collision coverage. Collision covers the vehicle physically, but better protecting you as the driver – and your passengers – should be viewed as a smarter investment of your policy dollars. Drivers should look at raising their collision coverage deductibles so that they can afford to pay for higher UM and UIM coverage which will better protect them against another driver’s irresponsibility.

Drivers can possibly even save money by increasing their collision deductible (and lowering their costs for collision coverage) while still obtaining increased UM and UIM coverage of $300,000 per incident.

Yes, by raising your vehicle’s collision deductible, you are taking a known risk on having to pay more if your car is damaged, but the significantly higher UM and UIM coverages will protect you if God forbid you are seriously injured in a crash by another driver.

Not having enough UM and UIM coverage is a giant risk to take. Your life, livelihood, your work and your family can all be affected in an instant if you are seriously injured and are without adequate UM and UIM coverage. In the blink of an eye a family can have a catastrophic loss and if you don’t protect yourself, nobody else is out there to protect you.

Insurance is something you likely spend a lot of money on, right up there with mortgages or rent, food and other essentials. Don’t listen blindly to your insurance agent for their recommendations for such coverage. I’ve seen client after client get bad advice from insurance agents which then leaves them with inadequate coverage that will haunt them later when a tragic accident occurs.

If you suffer a life changing injury and can’t return to work after a crash caused by another driver who has inadequate insurance, your life and future can hang in the balance. The only way you can be adequately and fairly compensated after such an event is to have the highest amount of UM and UIM that you can afford. That can be accomplished without spending more on your existing policy by increasing your vehicle collision deductible, as I mentioned earlier. If you are going to take a chance, take the chance on the property damage. That’s better than having the unknown risk of having life changing catastrophic injuries and not having the money to pay for care.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$850,000 Settlement To Brain Injury Victim in Armored Truck Crash

An $850,000 settlement has been reached in the case of a driver whose suffers from a traumatic brain injury caused when his car was struck hard by an armored truck that ran a red light in April 2012 in Bensalem, Pa.

The victim, Frank Jazlovietcki, was 29 at the time of the crash, which happened when an armored truck owned by Garda CL Atlantic Inc., smashed into his car, according to an Aug. 19 story in The Legal Intelligencer. The case was being heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The seven-ton armored truck, which was being driven by Garda employee Kevin Moss, struck the victim’s car on the passenger side, and then pushed the car into another vehicle and onto a grassy area, the story reported. Jazlovietcki was trapped in his car after the crash. Jazlovietcki was driving northbound on Brookwood Drive at Street Road in Bensalem on April 21, 2012, when the crash occurred.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/sshepherd

“At the hospital, Jazlovietcki was diagnosed with a radial shaft fracture of the left arm, and closed head injury,” the story reported. “The CT scan showed a laceration of the scalp over the right posterior frontal parietal region, as well as a subcutaneous hematoma.” His left arm was also splinted after the crash.

Several days later, Jazlovietcki returned to the hospital on April 23, 2012, “complaining of difficulty breathing, increased neck, head, jaw, left arm and right hand pain.” Tests were conducted including X-rays, as well as EKG and CT scans, the story said.

Jazlovietcki continued to have other health difficulties after the crash, including vertigo, blurred and double vision and memory loss, the story reported. He also experienced radiating pain down his legs and arms, severe wrist pain, and ongoing headaches, back pain, rib cage pain and pain in his left arm, according to the report. An orthopedist later diagnosed Jazlovietcki with a cerebral concussion, cervical, thoracic and lumbosacral pain and strain and myofasical syndrome, the report said. He continued to have ongoing medical issues.

Another doctor, a neuropsychologist, later diagnosed the victim with concentration, speech and short-term memory problems, according to the story. The doctor also diagnosed him as suffering from anxiety and depression and unable to resume work, as well as from a traumatic brain disorder. He had been employed as a material handler in a K-mart store.

On July 28, the case was settled for $850,000.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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$3 Million Settlement to Woman Severely Hurt in Verizon Truck Crash

As Patricia Pinkerton drove her car and waited at a red light on Feb. 27, 2012 on Garrett Road in Upper Darby, Pa., a Verizon bucket truck slammed into the rear of her vehicle as the truck driver was using his cellphone for work. The rear-end crash caused Pinkerton to suffer a traumatic brain injury and spinal injuries.

To compensate her for her serious injuries, Pinkerton recently was awarded a $3 million settlement from Verizon in the midst of a trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to an Aug. 12 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

At the time of the crash, Pinkerton was an operating-room nurse who was on her way home after working at Bryn Mawr Hospital, according to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum, the story reported. “Verizon’s truck slammed into Patricia Pinkerton’s car with such force that she was knocked unconscious and had to be rescued by passersby from her car that caught fire,” according to court papers referred to in the story.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/creatingmore

After the crash, Pinkerton was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury in addition to spinal injuries that caused problems with her memory, the paper reported. In addition, when she tried to return to work after the crash, she “found herself handing surgeons the wrong instruments during operations as well as giving out the wrong medications to patients,” the story stated.

The Verizon bucket truck driver, Robert McCollick, said in court papers that he was using his Verizon cellphone just before the crash as he sat in his truck and that he looked down for a moment to get a job ticket number for a repair assignment, the story reported. “When I looked up, I saw the plaintiff’s car in front of me,” he explained in his statement. “I hit my brakes but was unable to avoid striking the plaintiff’s car at a very low speed.”

The crash ended Pinkerton’s 32-year career as a nurse, which Pinkerton argued to the court was caused by “Verizon’s policy of having its employees check the details of daily jobs on their cellphones,” the story reported. “Court papers also noted that McCollick had been reprimanded by Verizon for a prior accident.”

The injuries suffered by Pinkerton in the crash left her unable to continue her work as a nurse and have caused her difficulties with sleeping, eating, dressing herself and remembering to pick up her daughter from school, according to court papers. “Though Verizon has a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones during the operation of its trucks, in conscious disregard for the health, welfare and safety of the community, and Patty Pinkerton, Verizon disregarded that policy and communicated with McCollick on his cellphone while he operated its eight-ton truck,” the court papers continued.

The defense had argued that the victim’s injuries were not necessarily permanent, the story reported. Verizon had offered to settle the case before trial for $200,000 and then for $300,000 on the day of jury selection, one of the victim’s attorneys told The Legal Intelligencer.

The case highlighted the continuing issue of the risks of distracted driving by vehicle operators.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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How MyPhillyLawyer Can Help Serve Your Family Law Needs

Known for our distinguished work and expertise in the legal fields of personal injury, vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, birth injury, criminal defense and estate planning, MyPhillyLawyer is also now your best source for family law assistance.

In June, MyPhillyLawyer opened its first-ever office in Northeast Philadelphia, far from the bustle of Center City, where our newest attorney, Ms. Irena Shiloh, is working with clients on a wide array of family law cases. Irena, a graduate of Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Institut Franco-Americain de Management in Paris, France.

So what exactly is family law and what does it mean to you and your family?

Irena Shiloh, MyPhillyLawyer's new family law attorney in our Bustleton Avenue offices.

MyPhillyLawyer’s family practice deals predominantly with child custody, divorce, child support, alimony, protection from abuse and petitions for contempt. Custody cases usually involve biological children, but may also involve grandchildren, stepchildren, adoptive children or children to whom a party stands in loco parentis (acting as a parent).

Parties in domestic relations matters are frequently unrepresented, however it is always advisable to have an attorney who genuinely cares about your case and works with you toward long-term results. Just like you are willing to go to a doctor when you have medical issues, you should allow a good lawyer to handle your legal issues.

But why do people need a lawyer in domestic relations cases? What is it that a lawyer can do that a non-lawyer can’t do? There are many aspects of family matters that are complex, require strict knowledge of the laws and experience with the court system. For example, the rules of evidence are so complex that you could damage your case simply by not being familiar with them. Inadmissible evidence against you could end up being admitted solely because you didn’t know you could object – or on which basis to object.

Another prevalent problem is the opposite of the issue described above: you may think you have strong evidence in your favor, but that evidence could actually be inadmissible—meaning, the judge can’t hear it or see it no matter how important it may be for your case. In such a case, a lawyer may find alternative ways to present the evidence in your favor. Next, parties to domestic cases often think that certain evidence should prove their case without fail, when in reality, it works against them and damages their case if introduced.

Another significant mistake people make about evidence is regarding its importance and relevance. Pennsylvania statutes and case law imposes on courts factors and rules that courts must consider in domestic relations cases. That means that your own perception of what’s right and wrong may be correct – subjectively or objectively – but different from how things work in the courtroom. For example, marital assets acquired during the marriage are joint property, even if bought with one party’s income and put in that party’s name.

Furthermore, the bad conduct of either of the parties is irrelevant when it comes to distribution of marital assets. This means if A and B were married for ten years and A was a good spouse who worked very hard to acquire a home, cars and significant savings, while B was unfaithful and not earning any income during the marriage, a court would consider all assets as joint and not inquire into the character of either spouse.

Another example is that courts favor custodial arrangements that promote a child’s relationship with both parents. They try to be objective and keep in mind the best interest of the child rather than punish the “bad guy” and reward the “victim.” Many parties have a problem understanding what really matters in child custody cases. Unfortunately, some judges have the same problem. Some parties are so determined to obstruct their child’s relationship with the other parent that they resort to lies and serious false accusations for personal vendetta. This is where an attorney can help bring the truth to light and expose the false allegations of the other party in a manner that courts understand and accept.

Finally, and probably the most important thing, is that many people who encounter the family court system for the first time think that the judge assigned to their case will review all the evidence carefully, will hear and assess everyone’s testimony and detect lies with the ability of a polygraph. Certainly, the judge must see things clearly and rule in their favor – or so they hope. Judges can’t and don’t review all evidence and they are not polygraph machines. Some judges are more diligent and patient than others. And some are wiser and more experiences than others.

People also often believe that judges are always fair and just. Sadly, this is not always true. Judges come with their own life experiences and judicial experiences. Judges are just people with good and bad qualities that reflect accordingly in their judicial decisions.

Without legal representation, you are likely to make numerous mistakes, highly detrimental to your case. To achieve maximum results, you to bring with you an attorney who is familiar with the Pennsylvania rules of civil procedure, the Pennsylvania rules of evidence, local court rules, the substantive laws (laws on divorce, child support, etc.), and who knows how to present your case before a judge or a master in the most favorable light for you.

Divorce and custody matters can be traumatic for all parties involved, especially for children. It is best to amicably agree on issues such as property division, custody arrangements, spousal or child support. Working amicably toward solutions is always possible but not always imaginable, as most of the time, two divorcing spouses are two people who are very angry at each other. Many attorneys take advantage of this anger to fuel the animosity between the litigating parties, which brings more money to the attorneys, but only prolongs the agony of the clients and drains them financially.

At MyPhillyLawyer, we take domestic relations cases with great care, always considering the long-term effects, especially when children are involved. We want our clients to be happy and maintain good relationships with their children 10, 20 or 40 years down the road.

While in personal injury there is usually a one-time victory, in family matters, our slogan “When Winning Matters Most” continues to take effect long after a hearing is over and a judge has issued an order. We take a holistic approach to your family matters and work with care to insure that your issues are resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible. We frequently encounter opposing parties, and even opposing attorneys, who won’t settle or cooperate. In such cases, where negotiations are fruitless, we aggressively fight to protect your interests and achieve your goals. Each case is unique and we employ creative methods in achieving your goals. We listen and we care about our clients, about their children, about their financial welfare and about easing the distress that necessarily comes with all domestic relations matters.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case, ranging from personal injuries to vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, birth injuries, criminal defense, estate planning and family law.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$4.45 Million Settlement to Family of Man Killed in 10-Story Roof Fall

In June of 2010, Stanley Zarzecki, a 32-year-old cellular network installer, was working one night after a storm on the top of a 10-story building in Philadelphia making upgrades on antennas and related systems. As he worked, he turned to try to communicate with other workers below and plunged from the roof to his death, 10 stories below.

His wife and children will now receive a $4.45 million settlement to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit that his widow filed against the owners of the building and three other defendants, according to an Aug. 5 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/alexskopje

Zarzecki was working atop the building, Walnut Park Plaza at 6250 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, for his employer, Champion Communications, when the incident occurred, the story reported. Champion Communications had been hired by cellular company Clearwire and their general contractor, Excalibur Communications, to help do the upgrade work on Clearwire’s antennas. The building had contracts with cellphone companies Clearwire, Sprint and Cingular to place antennas, dishes and other cell equipment on the building’s rooftop, the story reported.

“Zarzecki had been on top of the building before as part of the overhaul, but had not worked on the building at night,” the story said. “When the Champion workers went onto the roof, they noticed the storm created some damage and had knocked a flagpole onto a fiber cable. The workers didn’t have their radios and so they had to shout to one another across the rooftop to work to get the flagpole moved so they could do their job, according to court documents.”

A short time later, one of the workers saw Zarzecki “stand up as if to yell something to the worker and then fall backward off of the roof, which had no fall protection,” the story reported. The victim died immediately upon impact.

The plaintiffs argued that the building’s owners and property managers should have had fall prevention in place on the roof, according to the story.

Excalibur’s insurer will pay $3 million toward the settlement on behalf of both Excalibur and Clearwire, while Walnut Park Plaza and Equity Management will pay a combined total of $950,000 toward the settlement, the story reported. Walnut Park Plaza’s parent company, Walnut Park Plaza 2003 Limited Partnership, added another $500,000 toward the settlement.

This case and others like it underscore the fact that innocent victims are hurt due to the actions or indifference of others in a wide range of incidents in every kind of situation imaginable. And that’s where having a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award is key.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a workplace accident, personal injury or vehicle crash case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., represent clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the surrounding Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, and cities such as Media, Doylestown, and Norristown. We are also proud to serve South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, in Camden County, New Jersey.

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