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$26M Settlement to Missionary Worker Left Paralyzed in Crash

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/sshepard

A 27-year-old missionary student who was paralyzed in a 2009 vehicle rollover crash has been awarded a $26 million court settlement in Montana.

The victim, Jeremy Vangsnes, was on a 10-week mission trip assignment in Yellowstone National Park on July 21, 2009, when a Jeep Cherokee he was riding in drifted off Interstate 90, drove into the median and rolled several times, leaving him with critical injuries, according to a July 16 story in The Baptist News.

Vangsnes, who had been an All-American collegiate distance runner before the incident, suffered severe brain injuries and was left a quadriplegic from the crash, the story said. He was traveling in the Jeep with two of his brothers and the driver of the vehicle, Scott Minear, as they headed back from a trip to Glacier National Park. All four were hurt in the crash.

Vangsnes’ family sued the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) in connection with the crash, according to the story. The group organized the mission trip.

A Montana state District Judge, Mike Salvagni of Gallatin County, ruled that the Jeep’s driver “was acting within the course and scope of his NAMB assignment when the wreck occurred,” according to the story. The settlement is being paid by insurers for the NAMB.

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely 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.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Get MyPhillyLawyer’s Free Mobile App for Legal Help Anywhere

MyPhillyLawyer now offers a free mobile app for your smartphone or tablet that provides basic legal information, contact details in an emergency and a helpful accident report capability so you can collect and fill in all the important information that’s needed  if you are ever involved in a vehicle accident.

The MyPhillyLawyer app is available immediately for Android devices through the Google Play Store and for Apple iPhones and iPads through the Apple App Store to assist clients and prospective clients with basic legal information when they need it.

Using the app, clients can find clickable icons that lead to basic legal descriptions of cases involving vehicle crashes, personal injury incidents, medical malpractice situations and workplace injuries, as well as a two-click process to reach an attorney from MyPhillyLawyer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Personal biographies of our compassionate and talented attorneys are also built into the app, giving clients details about the background and insights of the lawyers they are interested in retaining.

This is the main screen of the MyPhillyLawyer app, which clients can use to find out more about our law firm.

Also included is a handy podcast library of recent and past MyPhillyLawyer Court Radio broadcasts, which are aired every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on Philadelphia’s Old School 100.3 WRNB, Boom 107.9 WPHI and on Praise 103.9 WPPZ. Court Radio, which has been airing since January 2009, highlights topical legal issues every Sunday morning on a wide range of legal topics, from personal injury questions to insurance, estates and wills, vehicle crashes, surgical errors, divorce, family law and much more. Using the app, you can listen to the informative podcasts anytime from anywhere, just like our 18,000 listeners who are hearing the broadcasts live each week.

Through the app, clients can also quickly reach our law firm to schedule a free consultation about any legal issues they may be facing.

So why in the world did MyPhillyLawyer create this app?

That’s easy. We built the app to give clients and prospective clients a straight-forward and quick way for them to find out more about our law firm, our attorneys and for the way that we approach our clients, their cases and their legal needs.

I think we’re one of the early adopters in bringing legal help to clients through an easy-to-use and always-available app on their mobile devices. Clearly, the world is going to all things mobile and we want to be in the forefront by giving our clients the tools they need when they want to contact us for help and advice in a critical moment.

The built-in accident reporting form is a key example of the app’s usefulness. A client can click the “Accident Checklist” icon on the main app screen to access the fillable form where you can type in all of the relevant information that is needed if you are involved in a vehicle crash. The details include names and address of all involved drivers, insurance company and vehicle information, descriptions of the crash scene and road names, weather details and more, all laid out so that victims can collect all of the pertinent details which will be needed by their attorneys to represent a client and protect them following an accident.

Using this app, you won’t have to think about all of the details on your own that you need to obtain while you are at the accident scene. This way, MyPhillyLawyer can help you by providing an app that already identifies the needed information and guides you to fill it in and collect it easily during a stressful time.

Providing this professionally prepared app for our clients to help them process their claims is a good thing and it’s exciting to do it. The Android app, which was released July 5, is an 8.6MB download and requires Android 4.0 and up for installation and use on Android devices. The iOS app, which was released July 8, is a 26.2MB file and works with iOS 6.0 or later. It works with iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices, and is optimized for iPhone5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices.

I invite you to download our new Android or iOS apps so that we can introduce ourselves to you and your family in more detail and make it easy for you to reach us when you are seeking legal services.

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. We are also there to handle cases involving medical malpractice, workplace injuries, personal injuries, family law, wills and estates, criminal cases and more. It is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award, and that’s what we do best.

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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$900,000 Settlement to Luzerne County Man in 2009 Truck Crash

A Luzerne County man who suffered serious neck and back injuries when his pickup was hit by a commercial truck in November 2009 will receive a $900,000 settlement from the company that owned the truck.

Michael Spadine was driving on Cherry Street in Montrose, Luzerne County, on Nov. 3, 2009 when his pickup truck was struck by a Linde Enterprises Inc. commercial truck being driven by employee Richard Kemmerer, according to a March 28 story in The (Scranton) Times Tribune newspaper. Kemmerer was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash and had a blood alcohol level of 0.225, which is more than three times the legal limit, according to the story. Kemmerer left the scene after the crash but was apprehended later by Montrose police, the report continued. Linde Enterprises is a contracting company based in Pittson, Pa.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Svenler

Spadine was seriously injured in the crash, suffering disc protrusions to his neck and back. The case was heard in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

In 2011, Spadine and his wife, Jennifer, sued Linde and Kemmerer for damages related to the crash, alleging that Kemmerer was driving a company-owned vehicle within the scope of his employment while he was drunk, causing the collision, the paper reported.

Kemmerer, of Sweet Valley, had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Susquehanna County Court in December 2009, the story reported, and was sentenced to six months of probation and fined $350.

Spadine’s injuries included cervical and lumbar radiculopathies, mainly to the left side of his body, according to an April 14 story in The Legal Intelligencer. An MRI revealed disc bulging and protrusions of the lumbar spine and disc protrusions of the cervical spine, leaving him disabled and unable to return to work as a tree surgeon, the story reported.

A jury deliberated for five hours after hearing the case and returned a verdict for the plaintiffs but a settlement was reached while the jury was deliberating, according to reports.

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely 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.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Montgomery County Man Awarded $4 Million Verdict After Errant Cyst Surgery

In July of 2009, 29-year-old Jeffrey Hierholzer of Hatboro, Montgomery County, went in to his doctor’s office to have a cyst removed from his neck. Shortly after the surgery, however, he began feeling pain and weakness in his shoulder near the site of the cyst surgery.

In a decision handed down Aug. 22, a Montgomery County jury awarded Hierholzer $4 million in damages for his injuries after he sued the doctor for the errant procedure that left his shoulder permanently weakened, according to a Sept. 3 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Hierholzer’s physician, Dr. Harris Cohen of Hatboro Medical Associates, had examined the patient and diagnosed the lump on his neck as a cyst, the report stated. Harris later performed an “incision and drainage” procedure to treat the cyst, “but did not perform a complete head and neck evaluation before rendering the diagnosis,” according to a statement by Hierholzer.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Oxford

When Hierholzer returned to Harris’ office in July 2009 for a follow-up visit after the surgery, the patient again complained of pain to Cohen, according to the story.  “Hierholzer claimed in his pretrial memorandum that for several months after the July 31 follow-up visit, he experienced ‘progressive weakness and loss of normal use of his left shoulder,’ with persistent pain and discomfort felt when performing certain physical activities and sleeping,” the story reported.

Almost a year later, the patient was examined by another doctor in Harris’ office after his left arm continued to suffer weakness and related problems, the story reported. The second doctor “thought there was a possibility that Hierholzer’s left trapezius muscles were atrophied” and sent him to an orthopedic surgeon for follow-up and testing.

A related story from The Bucks County Courier Times reported that “an orthopedic surgeon and later a neurosurgeon determined that the spinal accessory nerve, a major motor nerve coming off the cervical spinal cord, was severed during the cyst removal and couldn’t be repaired, according to court documents.”

A follow-up surgery that attempted to repair the patient’s nerve damage was unsuccessful, according to The Legal Intelligencer. The victim’s lawsuit “alleged that Cohen’s ‘failure to protect and preserve the spinal accessory nerve’ caused a permanent injury, impairing the use of Hierholzer’s left shoulder and significantly limiting his ability to perform his duties as an HVAC mechanic,” the story reported.

After hearing the testimony in the case, the jury awarded Hierholzer $1 million for past pain and suffering and $3 million for future pain and suffering, according to the report.

This tragic case is a somber reminder of the kinds of problems that can arise when patients seek medical treatment in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other medical facilities and become innocent victims of inadequate or incorrect procedures.

Patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.

That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

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 medical malpractice or related 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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MyPhillyLawyer’s Court Radio Expands to 2 More Radio Stations

MyPhillyLawyer’s four-year-old “Court Radio” show, which is broadcast at 7 a.m. ET every Sunday on 100.3 FM in Philadelphia, is now expanding to two additional radio stations starting this Sunday, Sept. 8.

The call-in radio show, which features listeners asking questions about their legal concerns and problems involving a wide variety of scenarios, has been a Sunday morning staple in the Philadelphia area since January of 2009 on Old School 100.3 FM, which was formerly known as WRNB.

Starting Sept. 8, Court Radio will now also be carried live on Hot 107.9 and on Praise 103.9 in Philadelphia as the popular radio program brings its legal advice, comfort, folksy assistance and humor to more callers who have legal questions and want to get help from a lawyer. All three stations are part of the Radio One network.

Attorney Dean I. Weitzman, the host of "Court Radio."

This is an exciting moment for MyPhillyLawyer and Court Radio as we expand our help and expertise to more people across the Delaware Valley and the country.  I’ve been hosting the show since its start, along with my co-host and fellow attorney David M. Rapoport. Each week listeners can call in with their legal questions to 215-263-1003 in the Philadelphia area or they can also email their questions to us at AskDean@CourtRadio.com. Participants are asked to only ask or submit ONE question each time so that all callers have a chance to discuss the legal topics that are on their minds.

Listeners who are outside the Philadelphia metropolitan area can listen to Court Radio over the Internet as well. The broadcasts can be heard on web sites for Old School 100.3, Hot 107.9 or  Praise 103.9. You can even listen to past shows and their featured guests by downloading or listening to stored podcasts.

Each week, I bring in a special guest to answer your legal questions and provide information on a dizzying array of legal topics, all with humor, good advice and at no charge to callers. Recent show topics have covered a myriad of legal topics, including car scams, landlord tenant issues, workplace discrimination, birth injuries, auto insurance, medical malpractice and much more.

This Sunday Sept. 8,our in-studio guest for our show will be Pennsylvania State Rep. Jordan Harris, who will discuss his recent legislation, House Bills 908 and 909, which would allow the expungement of some criminal records for some former offenders.

This issue is a very pertinent matter for many people. Our topic, Re-Examining Expungement –Should a Criminal Record Follow You For Life? – will raise intriguing questions about whether or not past mistakes should ever be removed from a person’s record within the legal system. One in five Philadelphians have criminal records.  Some persons have served their time and have stayed out of trouble with the law; but are still dogged by their record which bars them from employment and other opportunities. Some 122,000 city residents have been released from prison between 2009 and 2012, and the city’s poverty rate has increased from 24 percent to 28 percent over the same period, according to statistics. Harris will discuss why he feels it important for certain criminal records to be expunged and discuss why it is crucial for the bill to be passed.

In November 2011, MyPhillyLawyer celebrated 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.

Court Radio is brought to you each week by the law offices of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., which is known throughout the Philadelphia area as MyPhillyLawyer. 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.

I welcome you and personally invite you to listen in each week to Court Radio and to participate in our discussions. We’d love to hear from you and discuss your concerns and the legal issues that you might be facing.

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. 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.

The compassionate and skilled attorneys and staff 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 or is involved in a wide variety of other legal matters. 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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Recent Fatal Falls in Sports Stadiums Spur Design Attention; Lawsuits Likely

When 30-year-old Ronald Lee Homer Jr. accidentally fell to his death from an upper level of Turner Field in Atlanta earlier in August while he was attending a baseball game, the 42-inch-high railing he apparently fell over became a key topic.

He knew the stadium well as a longtime regular attendee, according to a story by The Associated Press.  The 6-foot-6-inch-tall baseball enthusiast was apparently waiting out a rain delay in a fourth-level smoking area near a 42-inch-tall railing when he somehow fell 85 feet to his death in a parking lot below, the story said.

“While it’s not clear exactly why he fell, police say the death around 8:30 appears to have been an accident and didn’t involve foul play,” the story reported. “At least four witnesses told police that no one else was standing near him when he fell.”

A man watches a sporting event in an indoor stadium. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Jitalia17

There have been other fatal incidents like this one in recent years in stadiums. In Georgia alone, two other stadium falls occurred in the past year, causing one death, according to The AP story. “Isaac Grubb, 20, of Lenoir City, Tenn., died after falling over a railing at the Georgia Dome during a football game between Tennessee and North Carolina State on Aug. 31, 2012. Authorities said he landed on another man seated in the lower level, and that alcohol was involved.”

In a non-fatal incident in September 2012, a man fell about 25 feet over a staircase railing at a Georgia Tech-Miami football game in the Georgia Dome but was not seriously injured, according to the story. “In May 2008, a 25-year-old Cumming, Ga. man suffered head injuries when he fell down a stairwell at Turner Field during a game between the Braves and the New York Mets and later died. Police found that alcohol was involved.”

In July 2011, a well-publicized case involved the death of a baseball fan, firefighter Shannon Stone, who fell to his death at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, when he reached out from his upper level seat to try to catch a ball tossed his way by a player, according to related AP story. Stone’s 6-year-old son was with him when the accident happened. In that stadium, “the guardrails in front of the left-field seats were 34 inches, well above local and international building requirements,” the story reported. “After Stone’s fall, the Rangers raised all front-row railings that were above field level to at least 42 inches, with some being raised by more than a foot. The new raised railings in the $1.1 million project included beveled tops and leaned slightly inward, making it safer for fans in front-row seats throughout the stadium.

Under present laws, stadiums must meet strict safety guidelines to ensure the safety of attendees, according to the AP story. “The International Building Code is the industry standard, adopted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It calls for railings in front of seats to be a minimum of 26 inches. Protective railings in open-sided areas, such as concourses on the outer edges of stadiums, have a minimum height requirement of 42 inches.”

Certainly, not all incidents and accidents, including falls, can be stopped, but perhaps more must be done to ensure that people can attend events in stadiums without real possibilities of death or serious injury just because they showed up for an event.

Are stadiums across the United States safe enough today? This is a question we should all be asking after a string of unrelated fatal accidents over the last few years. Yes, the likelihood of such an accident appears to be remote compared to auto crashes, medical malpractice injuries and other tragedies, but asking the questions today is certainly warranted due to the recent death of Mr. Homer.

Surely, as stadiums look at their existing designs and safety precautions, they will likely make some corrections to resolve any shortcomings they might find. Those changes could set precedents for lawsuits that come out of these kinds of cases, because by making changes, the stadiums will be acknowledging that there were potential and perhaps contributory safety problems in the first place. It is likely that legal actions, including lawsuits, will follow these kinds of cases.

If you’ve ever read the back of an admission ticket for a sporting event, including a baseball, hockey, football or basketball game, you’ve certainly seen all the legal disclaimers that say that you accept the risks of attending and don’t hold the team or venue responsible in the event you are injured. Even though those disclaimers are presented, they don’t always preclude a victim from suing in the event of an injury on the premises. Generally speaking in Pennsylvania, these kinds of ticket disclaimers are adequate to prevent you from suing a sports team or venue if you are injured by a flying object during a game, such as a baseball, hockey puck or basketball. By accepting the terms of the ticket, you’re also not able to sue even if you are injured by a player who leaves the game field accidentally and falls on you as they participate in a game.

The ticket disclaimer is a legal agreement that says that you accept the risks of being there and hold the venue and team free of responsibility in the event of a game-related injury. By accepting the disclaimer, you agree to pay attention to the game and protect yourself and guests from any injuries by being aware and responsible. But what if you go to a game in a stadium and the seat you sit on buckles and you fall and are injured? What if a rowdy, drunk fan gets in your face and beats you up? What if you trip on a broken step and fall and are injured?

In those kinds of cases, that ticket disclaimer means nothing. In cases like these, even with a standard disclaimer, you can sue the venue and team for your injuries, medical bills and pain and suffering because they were not accepted risks of the event that you attended.

Of course, being observant of potential dangers and using care and common sense when attending events in public stadiums can go far toward protecting people from possible dangers or death. But sometimes, no matter how much care people observe their surroundings and the conditions around them, tragedies do occur.

If you or a loved one is ever injured in a stadium accident or incident, be sure that you get professional and competent legal advice from a lawyer who is qualified in personal injury law. The compassionate and skilled attorneys and staff at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in such an incident anywhere in the United States or is involved in a wide variety of other legal matters. 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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