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Archive for November, 2011

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of MyPhillyLawyer: Our Thanks to You, Our Clients

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the MyPhillyLawyer brand in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

From the streets of Philadelphia’s incredible neighborhoods to the Jersey Shore, to Delaware, Maryland and north to Allentown, Easton and Bethlehem, the attorneys and staff of MyPhillyLawyer work hard every day to serve a diverse range of clients who are involved in a myriad of legal cases.

From personal injury cases to automobile, motorcycle, truck and other vehicle accidents, we are there to help you every step of the way, representing you and fighting for you and your family from depositions to court appearances to settlement talks and every step in between.

We’re there to handle a wide range of other legal cases, including medical malpractice, birth injuries, workplace injuries, estate law and estate planning, wills, criminal cases, worker’s compensation cases and more.

So what does the 10-year anniversary of MyPhillyLawyer mean to us here at the firm?

“To me, the MyPhillyLawyer brand symbolizes the image of a Philadelphia lawyer as one who is tenacious on behalf of his clients and who works tirelessly to understand his clients and their needs,” says Dean Weitzman, managing partner of MyPhillyLawyer.  “It symbolizes attorneys who put their clients’ behalf at the forefront of their work.”

“That branding is not by accident,” Weitzman says. “When you see our MyPhillyLawyer ads on TV or billboards or on the sides of city buses, those ads look different than ads you will see from any other law firms. That’s not by chance.  We run those ads because they show the lawyers of MyPhillyLawyer in their element – on the streets of Philadelphia in the same places where our clients are. I’m not sitting at a desk in a law library with law books behind me. I’m out at Pat’s Steaks. I’m in front of Citizens Bank Park. I’m on Logan Circle in front of the fountain. I’m where our clients live, work and play.”

“When our clients are involved in a legal case, they are typically going through a tough time and need an attorney who will be there for them, to support them emotionally and help them through the maze of the legal system,” Weitzman says. “That’s the kind of compassionate service that we provide to each and every client who we represent.  That’s what our clients feel from us.”

The MyPhillyLawyer moniker is how we created an online presence for the original law firm on which the company is based. The original firm, Silvers & Langsam, was started in 1976 by the late Arnold Silver and Saul Langsam, who remains with the firm today. Later, Dean Weitzman joined the firm, eventually inspiring another name change for the firm to Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman. Today, MyPhillyLawyer is the online and public face of the firm and its attorneys and staff.

Over the years, the MyPhillyLawyer Web site has grown to include a large number of useful resources for clients and prospective clients.

There’s our own MyPhillyLawyer Blog page, where you can read about a wide range of legal issues and cases in the news and get advice, insights and great information.

Then there is the popular and engaging MyPhillyLawyer Court Radio show, hosted by Dean Weitzman and broadcast every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on WRNB-FM 100.3 in Philadelphia. The innovative radio show, which encourages callers to phone in with any legal questions or comments that they have, is simulcast on the station’s Web page so you can listen in from anywhere with Internet access.

Do you know that you can also find MyPhillyLawyer on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Feel free to check in regularly on each site and subscribe to our Facebook posts, Twitter Tweets and YouTube videos so you can stay up to date on what we are up to here at MyPhillyLawyer. Don’t forget to send in your comments and questions, too.

We’re proud of the work we have done on behalf of our clients over the last 10 years and we are grateful to all of you for bestowing your trust in us. We look forward to serving your legal needs whenever you need us.

To every one of our thousands of clients over the years, we say thank you.

Best wishes for a Happy and Safe Holiday Season to you all.

Sincerely,

The Attorneys of MyPhillyLawyer

Dean Weitzman, Frank Breitman, John Logue, Saul Langsam, Ken Edelin Jr., William Hobson, Robert Nix and Todd Richman

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Are Medical Flights by Plane or Helicopter Riskier Than They Should Be?

An elderly Florida medical patient and his wife died earlier this week when the small plane carrying them had engine trouble and crashed near Chicago. The 80-year-old man was being treated for an illness on the medical flight and was accompanied by a flight paramedic and two pilots, according to a story in The Chicago Tribune.

The plane was carrying the couple back to Chicago so he could continue his medical treatment while being with relatives, but the aircraft went down after a fuel problem was reported by the pilot, according to the paper.

Fatal accidents involving medical flights are not an uncommon occurrence in the United States, based on news stories and government accident reports.

A medical flight helicopter. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/VMJones

A medical flight helicopter. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/VMJones

In August, three medical helicopter crew members and a patient died near Kansas City, Mo., when the air ambulance crashed, according to a story on CBSNews.com.  An investigation into the crash is continuing.

In July of 2010, three members of a medical helicopter crew died in Tucson, Ariz., when their state-of-the-art vehicle crashed on a return flight to their base, according to a story on KVOA.com.

A series of stories in The Washington Post in 2009, “Fatal Flights: A Perilous Rush To Profit,”  identified the job of working on a medical helicopter as the second most dangerous job in the nation, behind only commercial fishing.

The number of fatal flights has risen sharply, closely tracking the rapid growth of what is now a $2.5 billion industry,” reported the Washington Post in the series. “Nearly half of all deaths have occurred in the past decade. In 2008, the deadliest year ever, 23 crew members and five patients were killed. Some calamities were the result of pilot errors. But many were predictable, pilots and safety experts say, and could have been prevented with stronger oversight and better technology.”

A story in Popular Mechanics magazine in July 2010 deeply criticized the safety record of medical helicopter flights in this country, arguing that most of the vehicles don’t carry the same critical safety equipment that’s required on other types of commercial aircraft. “The majority have no autopilot system or co-pilot to assist the pilot in emergencies,” the story reported. “Medical helicopters are not required to have terrain awareness and warning systems, night-vision goggles, flight data recorders, detailed weather reporting or ground personnel in charge of flight dispatch and in-flight tracking.”

These kinds of tragedies shouldn’t be happening today, especially with the rich variety of technologies that can add safety to these kinds of emergency flights.

When a medical airplane or helicopter crashes, it leaves a wake of legal issues for its victims, from the patients who are being carried, to the crews that are providing the patient care and flying the aircraft, to anyone who might be hurt on the ground. Then of course there are the family members and survivors of anyone who is injured or dies due to such crashes.

These accidents are made more tragic because of the work that these crews perform – they are there to save lives, yet tragically can cause the deaths of the people they are trying to help.

Safety improvements are needed to ensure that medical helicopters and other aircraft used for medical flights get the safety equipment and features that can make such accidents far less likely.

Helicopter ambulances have crashed 149 times since 1998, killing 140 people and seriously injuring dozens more,” according to news analysis story in Popular Mechanics in March, 2010. “An industry created to save lives actually has the highest rate of fatal accidents in all of commercial aviation. In fact, working onboard a medical helicopter is the most dangerous profession in America, with a higher risk of death than fishermen, steel workers or loggers.”

The biggest problem, the story reported, is the dearth of safety standards for such flights. Since then, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally began a “years-long process of writing mandatory rules for the medical helicopter industry,” the story says.  Among the features that are needed for safety are night vision goggles so air crews can see their flying conditions better in the darkness, according to the magazine.  Also needed are Terrain Awareness Systems, which are already required in commercial aircraft, so that flight crews can get warnings when they are too close to the ground in poor weather conditions.

Lastly, the story said, the FAA should require medical helicopters to have flight data recorders so that data can be recorded and dissected in the event of a crash and improved weather data availability for air ambulance crews to keep them safer.

Patients and air ambulance crews shouldn’t have to worry about becoming statistics when the aircraft that carry them leave the ground.

It’s time that these safety issues are rectified for good.

If you or someone you love is injured in such an accident, be sure to speak with a competent, caring and compassionate attorney to learn about your legal rights and responsibilities.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Firearm Safety and Hunting Safety: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe

As the fall game hunting season continues across Pennsylvania, bolstered by the opening of deer season today, it’s a good time to remind ourselves about hunting safety in the woods and firearm safety in the home.

Since 1982, hunting-related shooting incidents have been on a sharp decline across the Commonwealth, according to statistics kept by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  In fact, hunting-related shooting incidents have declined in the state by nearly 80 percent since 1959 when hunter education training programs were started, the commission reports.

A hunter watches for his prey. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/cotesebastien

The key reasons for the improved safety, according to the Commission, are the success of hunter education training and the use of fluorescent orange clothing.

A state report on the number of hunting-related shootings in Pennsylvania since 1982 details how 10 hunters died in 1982 from gun accidents.  That same year, there were 171 non-fatal shootings.

In 1991, there were 9 gun fatalities during hunting season, as well as 127 non-fatal injuries, according to the report.

By 2001, the number of hunting shooting deaths was down to 2, with an additional 60 non-fatal injuries, and last year, 2010, the number of fatalities rose to 5, with an additional 30 non-fatalities.

To continue to improve on those numbers, information on hunting safety courses can be obtained through the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.

Preventing hunting accidents is key to safety in the woods, and that begins with the five basic rules of firearm safety, according to tips from the Game Commission:

Safe Direction: Keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), “about one-third of all hunting incidents are self-inflicted injuries. That means the muzzle was pointed at some part of the hunter’s body. A safe direction is a direction where the bullet will travel and harm no one in the event of an unwanted discharge. There are no accidental discharges with firearms, only unwanted discharges.”

Make sure: Positively identify your target. “To shoot at something you only think is a legal target is gambling, according to the WDNR. “In the case of human injury, that means gambling with human life. You must be absolutely certain and correct in judgment before deciding to shoot. Otherwise, it’s reckless behavior.”

Always check: Know what’s beyond your target before shooting. “In addition to identifying the target, a hunter must know that a safe backstop for their bullet is present in every shooting situation, according to the WDNR. “We don’t always hit our target, and, in some cases, the bullet passes through the target. A safe backstop guarantees that no one will get hurt.”

Respect firearms: Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. “Never assume a firearm is unloaded and never treat it that way, even if you watch as it is unloaded, states the WDNR. “Make it a habit to treat guns like they are loaded all the time.”

Trigger caution: Don’t touch the trigger until you are ready to shoot. “If a hunter stumbles with a firearm in one hand and nothing in the other, whatever that person does with their free hand will automatically happen with the hand holding the gun,” according to the WDNR. “If a finger is inside the trigger guard, that hand is likely going to close around the pistol grip of the gun and on the trigger causing an unwanted discharge.”

If you follow these five steps, they spell S.M.A.R.T.

And remember, hunting gun safety doesn’t end in the woods.

It also means taking extra precautions when returning your hunting guns to safe storage in your home to protect your family members, according to tips from the Wisconsin DNR Web site:

Unload all firearms before taking them into the home. Simple reason dictates that firearms should be loaded only when in the field or on the range. At all other times, during travel and especially in the home, they should be kept unloaded.

Never handle or show guns without first carefully checking to be sure they are unloaded. Open the action and keep it open until the gun is again ready for storage. Never assume that a firearm is unloaded, even if it was checked only a few minutes earlier. And don’t trust the safety to compensate for unsafe gun handling — like all mechanical devices, safeties can malfunction, and in any case, they are only intended to supplement human care and intelligence.

Among experienced gun handlers there is a kind of ritual that is repeated whenever a firearm is shown or examined. The person picking up the gun opens the action and checks to make sure it is not loaded. When the gun is handed over to the second person, he goes through the entire procedure again. This is not an insult to the original handler. In fact, most shooting veterans take it as a sign of gun-savvy and competence, because there is just no way to be overcautious about firearms safety.

Long arms, such as rifles and shotguns, should be stowed securely in racks or cabinets, preferably locked. Handguns should be stored in a locked cabinet or drawer. Locked storage is particularly important if there are children in the home. Standing a shotgun in the closet corner or keeping a pistol in the desk does not do the job. If the proper storage facilities are not available, trigger locks should be purchased. Different types are available for use on all kinds of guns, including revolvers and pistols, and they prevent even a fully loaded gun from being fired.

All ammunition should be kept under lock and in a location separate from firearms for complete safety. Again, this is especially important if there are children in the home. An extra measure of safety can be had by storing ammunition in another room or on a different floor level. The objective is to create a situation in which conscious effort is required to bring firearms and ammunition together. Obviously the keys to all storage areas must be kept away from children.

When handling firearms, always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Avoid horseplay at all times — guns are not toys and they must be handled with respect. Common sense must be used in choosing the safest direction to point the muzzle. “Down” is not always the safest direction and neither is “up.”

Hunting accidents can be deadly and usually can be prevented with proper safety precautions and training.

If you hunt, be sure to practice safety every minute you are in the field. That’s the best way to prevent injury to another hunter or bystander while you are hunting.

Be safe and be respectful of the power of the weapons you are using and the laws that regulate your rights as a hunter on state game lands.

To our friends who are hunters, enjoy the season and be careful out there.

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Big Brother Car Insurance Companies: Should You Let Your Insurance Company Track Your Driving Habits to Earn a Discount?

Maybe it sounds like a great idea – plug a device into your car that let’s your insurance company see that you are a good driver so that you can get an additional discount of up to 30 percent on your insurance rates.

But before you sign up, think again. Maybe it’s a deal with the devil that you are considering.

That’s the concern we have with the Snapshot Pay-As-You-Drive program from Progressive Insurance. Progressive, the company with all those fun and friendly TV ads featuring the perky saleswoman, Flo, offers Snapshot as a way for drivers to allow the company to track some of their on-the-road behaviors so the company can see how safe their driving is around the clock.

This is a photo of Progressive's Snapshot data logging device, that is installed in participating vehicles. Image credit: Progressive Insurance

Progressive calls Snapshot “a type of usage-based insurance,” according to its Web site. Once you enroll in the optional program, the company sends you a small electronic module that plugs into your vehicle’s computer diagnostic port, which is usually under the dashboard.

Once plugged in, you drive normally and the device collects data about your driving – a “snapshot” – for the company. So what is it collecting? Progressive says that the device only records the number of miles you drive, the time of day when you drive and how often you stop suddenly in your vehicle. It also collects your vehicle’s identification number and keeps track of whenever the device is plugged in or disconnected from the vehicle. The driving behavior that can lead to lower rates includes gentle braking, driving fewer miles than the average driver in your state and minimizing the time you spend on the road during high-traffic periods and during early mornings between midnight and 4 a.m.

The company’s Web site insists that Progressive won’t use the information to raise your rates. It also states that Snapshot does NOT include a GPS, or Geographic Positioning System, component. That means that it can’t record where you are driving or if you are driving over the speed limit, according to the company. “People who drive less, in safer ways and during safer times of day could get a discount,” the Web site states.

And if you change your mind and want to opt out of the program, the company says you can drop out at any time with no penalty and that your collected driving data won’t be used to determine your insurance rates.

So what’s the catch?

The scary thing is that if the technology inaccurately produces data to the insurance company, it could potentially be used against you.

Progressive says it won’t use the information to increase your rates, but the question is, do you believe them? Is it even possible that an insurance company that offers a device like this could ever use such information against you?

What if insurance companies would use such information, despite their assurances, to drop you from coverage based on your driving practices?

If such a situation could ever arise, then handing over your driving data to someone else – where it is out of your control – may not be such a good idea.

Right now, this is a driving monitoring program offered only by Progressive. But what if other insurance companies started offering it in the future? What if they potentially began requiring the use of such a device to have insurance coverage? Could they actually march down such a path? Could such a thing happen if consumers popularize the use of Snapshot from Progressive?

No one knows the answers to these questions today, but they are at least worth considering. Your rights to privacy and due process are at stake here.

Yes, you could perhaps save money by allowing an insurance company to record such information about your driving, but before signing up for such a program, be sure that you know what you are getting into.

It certainly brings up a myriad of other legal issues.

What if another driver, who is insured by Progressive, hits your vehicle in a crash and they are using the Snapshot device. Could your attorney subpoena such records and could they be used against the other driver if it shows that their driving caused the crash?

Actually, according to Progressive, yes, such a scenario could happen.

“We will not share Snapshot data with any third parties unless it’s necessary or appropriate to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research, or comply with the law,” the company’s Web site states. “For example, Snapshot data may be disclosed when we’re legally required to provide Snapshot data, such as in response to a subpoena in a civil lawsuit or by police when investigating the cause of an accident.”

That could be getting very dangerous for drivers. It sounds as though you could be giving up some of your important legal rights all for the sake of a few saved dollars.

And that is not a bargain at all.

If you are ever involved in a vehicle crash with a driver who is using such a device, be sure to discuss the matter with your attorney. If this is something you’d like to discuss with us here at MyPhillyLawyer, we are here to help you.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Occupy Philly: What Do You Think About It? Listen to Court Radio at 7 a.m. Sunday

The headline-grabbing, controversial Occupy Wall Street movement, and its local offshoot, Occupy Philly, will be the topics of discussion on Sunday morning’s Court Radio show with MyPhillyLawyer’s managing partner, Dean Weitzman.

The show, which will air live tomorrow, Nov. 20, at 7 a.m. on WRNB 100.3 FM, will include special guest Everett Gillison, who is the newly-appointed chief of staff for Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. Gillison previously served as Nutter’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety until taking on his new post in October.

Everett Gillison, chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

In his former post, Gillison oversaw the Police and Fire Departments, Prisons, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders. Earlier, Gillison served at the Defender Association of Philadelphia for twenty-eight years; six years as a social worker and twenty-two years as an attorney. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Syracuse University’s College of Law. Gillison grew up in West Philadelphia and graduated from University City High School.

Weitzman invited Gillison to Court Radio to discuss the city’ approach to the Occupy Philly movement and its encampment at City Hall.

So what is the original Occupy Wall Street group, and its Occupy Philly sister group?

“OccupyWallSt.org is the unofficial de facto online resource for the growing occupation movement happening on Wall Street and around the world, ” according to the group’s Web site. “We’re an affinity group committed to doing technical support work for resistance movements.”

“Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally,” the group says. “Occupy Wall Street is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”

The Occupy Philly group, on its own Web site, describes the overall movement as a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants. This movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians to build a better society.”

The group has issued what it calls The 99% Declaration, which lays out a plan for the nation so that the rest of the citizens in our country can be properly represented by our government – not just the 1% who control most of the money in the U.S. The declaration espouses a total ban on all private contributions to political campaigns for any persons running for federal office. The ban would “extend to all individuals, corporations, political action committees, super political action committees, lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or anything of value,” according to the group. Instead, the system would be replaced with a fair and equal public-funded system, they say.

The group’s declaration would also eliminate perks and private benefits to politicians and would set strict term limits for members of the U.S. House and Senate – no more than four two-year terms for the House and no more than two six-year terms for the Senate.

The group also proposes “a complete reformation of the United States Tax Code to require ALL citizens and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes.”

The Occupy movement also proposes other reforms aimed at protecting the health of the planet, ending the war in Afghanistan, providing healthcare for all Americans, creating an effective jobs program for all Americans who are jobless, public education reform, student loan forgiveness and more.

Yes, that’s quite a topic, and that’s why Weitzman will bring it up on Court Radio, along with his co-host and fellow attorney David M. Rapoport.

Weitzman, Gillison and Rapoport will discuss the group’s First Amendment rights, their City Hall encampment and more related to the local gathering, which has been going on for more than a month.

Is the encampment legal?

Should the protesters be allowed to do this?

Is this truly about a protest over Wall Street and how banks and investment companies tanked the U.S. economy over the last decade? Or are there other agendas?

What else is it all about?

What do you think?

Those are some of the issues to be discussed on tomorrow’s Court Radio show.

So how do you, our Court Radio listeners, feel about Occupy Philly?

We invite you to listen to the show at 7 a.m. and to call in with your comments and questions during the broadcast.

Court Radio is broadcast every Sunday at 7 a.m. on WRNB 100.3 FM in the Philadelphia metropolitan area or listen live over the Internet. Click the “Listen Live” button on the top right to hear the live broadcast from anywhere.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Why You Need A Living Will: To Protect Your Wishes and Your Family’s Sanity

When 55-year-old Maryland resident Daniel Sanger suffered a heart attack this past July, it caused life-altering brain damage and began a sad legal battle that quickly pitted his wife against his mother and brother.

After the heart attack, he was unable to swallow solid food normally, which kept him from getting adequate nourishment, according to a news story from The Associated Press. He was put on a feeding tube, but it was later removed at his wife’s request, the story reported. His speech and mobility were also affected due to the heart attack, and he developed an infection from a bedsore.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/DNY59

His wife maintained that her husband had previously told her “many times before his heart attack he would not want to be kept alive by invasive means” if he were ever faced with a serious medical situation, according to the story. “’He said, ‘I definitely don’t want to live that way.’ He doesn’t want to live with the tubes.”

Sanger’s mother, however, argued otherwise, saying that he had previously explained his wishes to her and his doctor, telling them that he did want to live. His mother and brother fought for a temporary court order to have Sanger’s feeding tube reinserted, and then continued to fight for what they said were his wishes.

The case ended up late last month in a Frederick County, Md., circuit courtroom, where a judge was to hear arguments from both sides before deciding whether Sanger should or should not continue to be given nourishment through the tube to keep him alive.

We’ll never know how that would have proceeded. The emotion-filled scenario ended tragically last week when Sanger died hours before the hearing was to have taken place, according to a story in The Frederick News-Post.

Yet in the big scheme of things, this tragic family battle need not have happened. Had Sanger had a “living will” – a document that laid out his own wishes for his care if ever he would lose his ability to care for himself – then the family and doctors would have known exactly what to do to care for him, with no ambiguity.

That’s what we should all learn from this case so that something good can come out of it.

“This is a typical example of what can happen when someone doesn’t have a living will,” says Saul Langsam, an attorney with MyPhillyLawyer. “To avoid this situation, you should see a lawyer to draw one up to protect your family.”

In Pennsylvania, the living will – also called a Health Directive – specifically lays out the treatment wishes of an individual in the event they are unable to verbalize their wishes.

An attorney can prepare the document, which lists specific actions or non-actions to be taken on behalf of the individual in the event of a wide variety of medical scenarios, Langsam says.

“It requires the signer to overtly read each question and check off whether the individual would like any treating physicians to provide certain medical procedures and treatments in the event of a debilitating incident,” he says. “They check off whatever boxes they feel reflect their feelings and wishes,” such as if they do or don’t want medical measures to be taken if they suffer a heart attack, paralysis, seizures or other catastrophic medical conditions.

Another key part of the health directive is that the signer must designate a “health care adviser” who becomes the spokesperson for the signer if they are incapacitated and unable to speak for themselves, Langsam says. “It could be a relative, a friend, a neighbor or anyone. That’s purely a personal decision.”

One of the most famous cases involving a family fight over a patient and a feeding tube involved Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old Florida woman who suffered brain damage after having a heart attack in 1990 that deprived her body of oxygen. Her husband fought to remove her from a feeding tube because she was in a vegetative state, but her parents argued she should remain on the feeding tube because she was still conscious. Eventually, after rounds of appeals and legal battles, Schiavo was removed from the tube and died in 2005.

The common theme in these family disputes is an absence of a written document by the patient expressing his or her wishes in such cases, Langsam says.

To prevent these kinds of disputes in the midst of such difficult times, a living will allow everyone involved to know what will happen in the event of serious illness or accident.

“You’re pairing people who have diametrically opposed interests,” he says. “Usually it’s the spouse who has the best interests of the patient at heart and they’re fighting other family members who are being unrealistic and who are pursuing a course of action which is not always in the best interests of the patient. You see that all the time.”

At the same time, individuals should also remember to prepare traditional wills to distribute their assets and belongings in the event of their death, Langsam says. “Living wills go hand in hand with traditional wills, which we encourage everyone to have.”

When you are ready to protect yourself and your family, go to a qualified and compassionate attorney who can draft the legal documents that will make these situations less stressful for everyone.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer would be honored to assist you with these documents, as well as with trusts, estates and other family related legal filings. We are here whenever you need us.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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