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$950,000 Settlement for Calif. Man Injured When Truck Hits His SUV

A 30-year-old California man has received a $950,000 settlement from the City of San Diego, Calif., after a city water department driver drove his truck into the victim’s SUV in June 2012.

The settlement award to James Heath was approved by San Diego City Council members on Oct. 7, five months after the victim was awarded a $1.3 million jury verdict in the case, according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The city then appealed the verdict and decided to seek a new trial, but recently reversed course and chose to settle the case, the story reported.

Heath suffered long-term neck and arm injuries in the crash, which occurred when a city truck driven by water department employee John Romero crashed into Heath’s SUV on Jackson Drive near Mission Gorge Road in San Carlos, the paper reported. The original jury had awarded Heath $1.3 million for pain, suffering and previous and future medical expenses.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/alexskopje

Romero’s city water truck had drifted from one lane of the roadway and into Heath’s lane, according to the victim.

Under the settlement, the city will pay Heath $97,000 immediately and then fund an annuity that will give him about $1,300 a month through late 2025, according to the story. The victim will also receive $20,000 per year from 2027 through 2030. The payout also includes $153,000 in attorney’s fees and payments to several doctors who have examined and treated Heath, the story reported.

Heath’s long-term injuries forced him to leave his work with the Navy, the report stated.

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, inattentiveness 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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$5.92M Verdict Awarded to Crash Victim in Defective Airbag Case

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Svenler

An 83-year-old man was awarded a $5.92 million verdict by a Lackawanna County jury after he suffered paralysis of his lower extremities and a massively herniated disc when the driver’s airbag in his Mercury Sable failed to deploy when his car was struck by another vehicle in August of 2010.

The victim, John Cancelleri, was driving his Mercury south on Route 307 in Spring Brook Township, Pa., on Aug. 20, 2010, when his car was struck head-on by a Ford Mustang whose driver was trying to make a left turn, according to a Sept. 23 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Cancelleri “underwent an anterior decompression of the spinal cord, with spinal cooling, and a cervical fusion,” at a hospital following the crash, and then underwent rehabilitation until Dec. 23, 2010.

The plaintiff sued Ford Motor Co. and Ray Price Motors Inc., the dealership where he had his vehicle regularly maintained, “alleging strict product liability regarding crashworthiness and defective design,” the story reported. The plaintiffs “argued that the crash sensor and the restraint control module in the vehicle malfunctioned and were defectively designed.”

The lawsuit noted that the passenger side airbag in Cancelleri’s Mercury did deploy in the crash, even though no one was sitting in the passenger seat, the story reported. The failure of the driver’s airbag and the actual deployment of the passenger side airbag “further indicated a defect, as the vehicle was equipped with a device that determines whether a seat is occupied,” the plaintiffs charged, according to the story.

The plaintiff’s memo said that “Defendant Ford has no logical explanation for the deployment of the passenger frontal impact airbag,” the story reported.

“Cancelleri’s expert airbag engineer, Chris Caruso, opined in the pretrial memo that the frontal airbag should have deployed, and that the crash sensor must be mounted in the crush zone to ensure timely activation of the safety system,” the story reported. “The restraints in the Sable depended on a single satellite front crash test sensor for deployment, and Ford should have mounted the crash sensor on a crushing structure to ensure proper deployment of the airbag, he opined according to the memo. He further said, according to the memo, that the sensor was not mounted in the proper position, and the failure to deploy was due to the system design.”

The lack of airbag deployment “allowed Cancelleri to strike his head on either the steering wheel or the A pillar in the vehicle,” the story reported. “Cancelleri’s memo said an expert hired by Ford admitted that Cancelleri would not have been able to strike his head in such a way had the airbag deployed.”

Cancelleri’s health after the crash declined in September 2011 when he was readmitted to the hospital due to multiple urinary tract infections, episodes of falling, severe neck pain, and further spinal cord damage, the story reported.

The injuries suffered in the crash led to other related health problems, including neurogenic bowel and bladder, the onset of diabetes due to the treatment, pneumonia and a severe ulcer on Cancelleri’s coccyx, the story reported.

After hearing the testimony in the case, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the “airbag was defectively designed, that a safer alternative design was available, and that the defect caused the injuries,” the story reported.

Cancelleri and his wife were awarded $120,707 in past medical expenses, $1.3 million in future medical expenses, $1.2 million in past pain and suffering, $1.8 million in future pain and suffering, $600,000 in past loss of consortium and $900,000 in future loss of consortium.

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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More Construction Workers Taking the Fall for Lax Workplace Rules

Sometimes it’s expensive for companies to keep their workers safe, but frankly, that’s just the cost of doing business.

Problems arise, and workers are injured or killed, when companies don’t follow laws that are aimed at protecting workers and when companies don’t spend the money to provide improved protections for workers.

This tragic situation was just covered extensively in a Sept. 28 story in The Wall Street Journal, which described ongoing battles in the roofing industry between companies that don’t want to step to ensure employee safety and victims who are being maimed or killed due to roof falls from building in the workplace.

A fallen construction worker lay injured on the ground at a worksite. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/BartCo

The story described how one worker, 64-year-old Jose Olvera, fell eight feet from the roof of a one-story home in Hereford, Ariz., earlier this year and died because he wasn’t wearing a harness or other system that could have stopped his fall. Olvera, an experienced roofer, died on the scene from a head injury, the report said.

“Many contractors say such protection is too expensive or can create new problems,” according to the story. “But other contractors say such protection can saves lives. With a growing number of residential construction workers dying from fatal falls in recent years, the federal government has started requiring fall protection even for one- and two-story buildings as part of an initiative to address problems on residential construction sites.”

At the same time, though, “many contractors and officials in seven states, including Arizona, have refused to comply, setting off a fight between the federal and state governments,” the story reported.

In August, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration “took the unprecedented step of formally proposing to take over construction workplace safety in Arizona because it said the state doesn’t require proper fall protection,” the Journal reported.

Arizona’s state workplace enforcement agency believes that the state’s requirements are adequate, a spokesperson told the Journal. “Contractors have long argued that measures such as training and monitoring of workers constitute appropriate fall protection.”

But that’s just not right.

On-the-job deaths among residential construction workers totaled 190 in 2013, according to  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That marked a 23 percent increase from 2011, when 154 workers were killed in such incidents. Fatalities in commercial, municipal and industrial construction went up comparatively by 4 percent during the same period, according to the story.

The problem is that even though residential contractors generally work at lower heights than workers in commercial construction, they tend to be killed in falls more often because their employers typically provide fewer safety protections, the story reported.

That has to change.

Yes, protections aren’t necessarily cheap. Harnesses with retractable ropes can cost up to $300 per worker and can be complicated to use while working, the story said. That can add up to a lot of money depending on how many workers a roofing company employs.

The human cost when such devices are not used, however, is far, far greater if roofers or other construction workers die from falls that could have and should have been prevented at work sites across the United States.

These tragedies underscore the consequences that occur every day across the United States in busy construction sites when profit and indifference replace worker safety.  Too often, workers are hurt when companies fail to take the proper precautions for worker safety all in the name of saving time or money.

Workers who are seriously injured on the job should immediately talk with a competent, professional and compassionate attorney about their case to protect themselves and preserve their legal rights. You have a myriad of legal options, including filing for Workers’ Compensation or filing a lawsuit to recover damages if your case warrants additional legal action.

The best way to review your legal strategy is to know your legal options from the start so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.

In the meantime, in the workplace, you can be you own best advocate. If you or someone you love is asked to do something in a workplace that appears to be dangerous or life-threatening, then you need to thoroughly and completely discuss it with the person asking you to perform the dangerous task. You need to be sure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter and that you are minimizing any and all risks to yourself and others.

And if you still have concerns, then you need to discuss them immediately with others in the workplace until you get a satisfactory reply regarding safety and proper procedures.

If you or someone you love is suffers a workplace injury, you certainly know that a serious work-related accident can be deadly or debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your personal mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or someone you love is ever seriously injured in a worksite, workplace or construction accident anywhere in the United States. At MyPhillyLawyer, you can consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.

We represent the families of victims who are killed 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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Here’s What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself After a Car Crash

Every day, innocent drivers and their passengers are injured when they are involved in crashes with other cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles that are being driven by other drivers who are drunk or distracted or doing stupid things on our roadways.

These kinds of crashes happen when innocent drivers least expect them.

That’s where it is critical to know what you should do if you are involved in a vehicle crash when another driver’s vehicle strikes your vehicle while you are operating it.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Svenler

Now is a good time to review these steps as fall weather and winter driving weather approach, bringing their own challenges and risks for drivers, with slippery roadways, snow, ice and more.

If you are involved in a vehicle crash, there are several key things for you to keep in mind while you wait for law enforcement officials to respond to the crash. One of the first and best steps you can take is to stay calm and aware of the situation, according to a list of tips provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Drivers should follow some basic procedures after an accident, Dr. William Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training Programs, said in a statement. “It does not matter who is at fault, the most important thing to do first is make sure everyone is OK, then seek medical and law enforcement help and know what to do to protect yourself from legal or financial problems down the road.”

You should always be prepared for a post-crash emergency by having a pen and paper, disposable camera or cellphone camera, and a copy of your insurance card easily accessible to minimize your stress if an accident occurs, according to AAA.

If anyone is injured due to the crash, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. If medical attention is not needed, make sure your vehicle and any other vehicles are out of the way or are moved out of the way of other motorists who are driving nearby to prevent other vehicles from being involved in the crash.

Use your vehicle’s hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles to let other drivers know to use caution near the scene. Wait in a safe area until police arrive.

Definitely call the police and file a report, regardless of what other drivers say, according to AAA. “If the police do not come to the scene to open an investigation, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or automobile insurance agency in the days after a crash,” AAA recommends. “Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.”

Be sure to exchange and write down all identifying information for all other drivers, as well as from any witnesses. This information will be needed for insurance claims and any legal actions. Make sure you write down all names, addresses, email addresses, vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved, vehicle identification and license plate numbers for all vehicles and the driver’s license numbers for all involved operators. Also be sure to get the names of all insurance companies of other drivers, as well as their insurance policy numbers. It’s also important to use your cellphone camera or another camera to take photos of the location, people involved and of the damaged vehicles to document the crash, if you are able to do so.

After the accident has been documented with police and you have recorded information for other drivers, be sure to report the incident to your insurance company to begin a claim. Many insurance companies today have staff available 24/7 and can assist immediately. Have your agent’s phone number in your cellphone for such emergencies.

Obviously, if you have been seriously injured you won’t be able to take the steps listed above. Most of that information will be available later through police reports and insurance documents.

Knowing what to do ahead of time, however, can make the post-crash process simpler later. You can be one of your own best advocates in a crash because you can help provide the information which will show that the other driver is at fault in such a scenario.

There’s one other important thing you need to keep in mind — 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. Read the details of this critical issue in another recent MyPhillyLawyer blog post.

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 accident caused by another driver 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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$15.8 Million Jury Verdict to Bride-to-be’s Mother Hurt in Car Crash

A Pittsburgh-area woman was awarded $15.8 million in damages by a jury to compensate her after she suffered severe brain injuries in a 2010 car crash that happened as she was heading to the rehearsal dinner for her daughter’s wedding.

The victim, Brenda Gump-Schragl, who was 52 at the time of the collision, was in a coma for five weeks after the June 11, 2010, crash, which occurred in a road construction zone, according to a Sept. 16 story in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The crash happened the day before the wedding of the victim’s daughter’, the paper reported. The incident occurred on Route 51 in Pleasant Hills near Pittsburgh, as Gump-Schragl’s son, Daniel Gump, “tried to turn left from northbound Route 51 into Primanti Bros. restaurant, where a rehearsal dinner was scheduled for his sister, Dana Gump. Oncoming traffic was backed up in the left lane as drivers merged from two lanes to one for the construction area.”

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Spiritartist

When a driver in the left lane allowed Daniel Gump to turn his car toward his destination, he didn’t see a pickup truck that was approaching and his vehicle was struck by the pickup, the story stated.

Gump-Schragl’s lawsuit “contended that the construction zone was dangerous and no improvements were made after several earlier collisions in the same area,” the paper reported.

The plaintiff settled earlier related cases with PennDOT, which managed the work zone, and with Adam Mains, the driver of the pickup truck, the story reported. In 2010, Mains was found guilty of speeding, driving too fast for conditions and careless driving near a work zone, in connection with the crash, the story stated.

The verdict by the Allegheny County jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the remaining defendant, Lane Construction, a PennDOT contractor, to pay the entire $15.8 million award. Lane Construction is based in Connecticut.

The construction company is planning an appeal of the verdict.

The victim’s future medical and care expenses total an estimated $4.8 million, the story reported. She is still unable to use her left hand and had to relearn how to walk, the story stated.

Gump-Schragl’s daughter’s wedding was postponed for one year due to the crash.

At least five other crashes had previously occurred in the construction zone—two of which were on the same day as Gump’s accident, according to a Sept. 17 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The victim suffered a closed head injury from the crash and had to be resuscitated on the scene by a relative who was an EMT, the story reported. At a hospital, she underwent a partial temporal lobectomy to relieve pressure from brain swelling, and she was diagnosed with an acute subdural hematoma and hemorrhagic brain contusions, the story stated. She also suffered torso injuries, including multiple fractured ribs and a pneumothorax, and had a tracheostomy and gastric feeding tube installed.

Her treatment continued with physical and occupational therapy, but she continues to “suffer from cognitive deficits, including memory loss and poor judgment, and continued to have left-sided paralysis,” the story reported.

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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$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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