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Judge Awards N.J. Woman $1.4 Million for Injuries Caused By Stage-Diving Performer at Rock Concert

A Vorhees, N.J., woman has been awarded $1.4 million in damages by a U.S. District Court judge in Philadelphia for serious injuries that she suffered when she was struck by a stage-diving singer while attending a rock concert at the WXPN’s World Café Live music venue on Feb. 23, 2010.

The woman, Kimberly Myers, now 46, suffered a cracked skull and other injuries when Angelo “Dr. Madd Vibe” Moore, the lead singer of the band, Fishbone, dove from the stage during a song and jumped into the crowd below, falling on top of Myers and other concert-goers at the West Philadelphia venue, according to a Feb. 25 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Myers “has had severe and persistent medical problems from the injuries she suffered,” according to the report.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/dwphotos

The judge in the case, Judge Jan E. DuBois, ruled in favor of Myers after hearing testimony in the trial and ordered Moore and the band’s bassist, John Norwood Fisher, to pay $1.1 million in compensatory damages, the story reported. Moore was also ordered to pay Myers $250,000 in punitive damages.

“Moore, who refused to answer questions at his deposition regarding his use of illicit drugs on the date of the incident in question, intentionally dove from an elevated stage despite knowing that stage diving in and of itself poses a serious risk of harm to audience members,” DuBois wrote in his opinion, according to The Legal Intelligencer. “Further, Moore exhibits little remorse or impetus to change his conduct,” DuBois said. “Moore continues to stage dive at almost every performance and exhibits nothing but apathy … towards his victims, whom he repeatedly characterized, during his deposition, as ‘predators’ out to steal his money.”

The band, Fishbone, “continued to perform as if nothing had happened” just after Myers was injured by Moore’s stage-dive, DuBois wrote in his ruling, according to a Feb. 13 story in The (Camden) Courier-Post.

Myer had previously received injury settlements from another band that played that night, Silverback, and from the University of Pennsylvania, which operates World Café Live, the story reported.

Similar injuries have been received by other concert-goers in the past, and had been sued at least once before over similar conduct, the judge told the court, according to The Courier-Post story.

“Moore testified that every couple of months an ambulance is called to the concert venue,” DuBois wrote in his ruling, the paper reported. “Moore and Fisher also use stage-diving to publicize the band, such as by including stage-diving images on album covers and promotional T-shirts.”

DuBois wrote in his ruling that “Moore’s primary concern when he is stage diving is with own safety and with the potential for what Moore believes to be frivolous lawsuits filed by ‘predators’” who seek money for false injuries, the judge wrote, according to the paper.

Since the incident, Myers now suffers from memory problems, shoulder pain, and autoimmune problems that led to lupus, the paper reported.

In her lawsuit against the band, Myers alleged that Moore jumped off the stage on the night of the concert “without any warning” and dove into the audience near where she was standing, causing her injuries, according to a March 3, 2010 story published by on Philly.com. “The lawsuit charges that Moore did not apologize to Myers and that instead, the band ‘continued its performance as if nothing had happened.’”

Myers’ lawsuit acknowledged that the band had a history of stage-diving, but added that she was not familiar with the band or its performances. “The suit said that World Cafe, however, should have been aware of Moore’s stage-diving past and was liable for Myers’ injuries because the venue should have warned the audience that diving might occur,” the Philly.com story reported.

The incident that left Myers seriously injured is certainly an unusual one when compared to vehicle crashes, workplace injuries and medical malpractice injuries suffered by plaintiffs in typical personal injury cases. But the case underscores 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 personal injury 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.

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Family of Western Pa. Driver Killed by Tractor-Trailer Awarded $5.5M in Wrongful Death Case

As he drove his Chevrolet Cobalt in Mahoning Township, north of Pittsburgh, on Aug. 18, 2008, 22-year-old Mark McConnell II was tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time. As he drove, a tractor-trailer parked on the side of the road pulled into his path without warning, causing a heavy collision that killed McConnell.

Now, more than five years later, his family has been awarded $5.5 million in damages by a Lawrence County, Pa., jury, which finally brings an end to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit that was filed in the matter, according to a Jan. 14 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The verdict on behalf of McConnell’s parents, Vickie and Mark A. McConnell, came after the jury found the tractor-trailer driver, Andrew V. Johnson, 30 percent negligent and his employer, Guru Global Logistics LLC, 70 percent negligent, the story reported.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

Johnson’s truck “was idling on an on-ramp leading into an intersection while he waited inside for instructions from one of his joint-employers as to where he would be traveling,” just as the crash developed, the story reported. “At the time Johnson began moving toward the intersection, court papers said, Mark McConnell II was driving on a perpendicular route in his car. The plaintiffs alleged that Johnson, in crossing the intersection, failed to heed a stop sign and flashing red lights as he crashed into McConnell’s vehicle. The force of the impact forced McConnell’s car across the intersection where the front driver’s side of the vehicle collided with two utility poles.”

McConnell was trapped in his vehicle following the crash and was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, where he went into cardiac arrest and died, the story reported.

“Johnson’s court papers claimed that Johnson had come to a stop at the intersection and had looked both ways before crossing,” the report stated. “Johnson’s papers also alleged that McConnell did not heed the flashing yellow lights in his lane of traffic, and was speeding when the two vehicles collided.”

The defense also claimed that the collision between the two vehicles caused McConnell’s car to rotate clockwise and effectively bounce off of Johnson’s truck into the utility poles.

After hearing the facts of the case, the jury awarded the McConnell family $2.1 million for the loss of their late son’s future earning capacity; as well as $3 million for loss of services, society and comfort; and $365,000 for conscious pain and suffering, the story reported.

McConnell lived in Edinburg when he was killed, according to a 2008 story about the crash in the New Castle News in New Castle, Pa.

McConnell’s tragic death potentially could have been prevented had the defendant made a better effort to safely check for traffic before pulling his rig back on to the roadway.

At the same time, there’s something else notable about this large verdict compared to what are usually smaller wrongful death awards from juries in more conservative parts of Pennsylvania away from the Philadelphia area.

“This is the largest Lawrence County verdict to have been reported by The Legal over the past 20 years, according to information compiled in The Legal’s annual magazine, PaLaw,” The Legal Intelligencer report continued. “According to PaLaw, Lombardo v. Gardner, a $2.79 million medical malpractice verdict in 2006, was formerly the top Lawrence County verdict.”

This is a very interesting development for prospective plaintiffs who are seeking damages in clear wrongful death cases in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the past, large verdicts like these were typically only awarded by juries in Philadelphia, where such amounts don’t cause juries to balk, but this and other recent cases are showing that those old patterns are changing. For plaintiffs, this is a positive sign across Pennsylvania in recent years.

It’s a trend that we’re seeing locally and it is evidence that victims of accidents, wrongful death and also medical malpractice who have suffered catastrophic injuries are able to win significant and fair verdicts when the evidence is clear and convincing – no matter where in the Commonwealth that the case is heard.  It means that plaintiffs can now go to court with the facts on their side anywhere and receive substantial and deserved awards for their serious injuries caused by the unfortunate actions of others.

These kinds of cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle accidents 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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Paraplegic Man Receives $6.6 Million Settlement from Two Bars That Served Him Alcohol

An East Stroudsburg, Pa., man has received a $6.6 million settlement from two bars that served him alcohol before he drove drunk and crashed his vehicle into a tree.

The man, Jason Mercado, had played team softball before the crash in May of 2010 and went drinking with his friends after the game, according to a Dec. 11 story in The Legal Intelligencer. Mercado had filed a dram shop action against the two bars, alleging that they should not have continued to serve him after he became visibly intoxicated.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

One of the servers at the first bar, Pub 570 of East Stroudsburg, Pa., was his friend, however, and “gave him free drinks and served him and his friends several beers and shots, according to court documents,” the story reported. “A hostess and another bartender testified Mercado appeared drunk,” according to a memorandum filed by the plaintiffs.

The bartender continued to serve Mercado alcohol even after he told her that he was very drunk, and she told him that she would give him a ride home, the story reported. The bartender then later drove him to a second bar where he appeared “visibly intoxicated, according to court documents, but he was served another one or two beers anyway.”

Mercado later fell asleep at the second bar, Sticks N Stones Bar & Grill of East Stroudsburg, but awakened later and was unable to find his friends, the report stated. He found his car keys on a table nearby and began to drive home, the story reported. Soon after, he crashed his Jeep into a tree, causing a neck fracture that left him a paraplegic.

Mercado received $5.65 million from Pub 570 and $950,000 from Sticks N Stones Bar & Grill to settle his claims. The plaintiff alleged in his damages claim that the owners of both bars had told the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board when applying for liquor licenses that they would be managing the bars but that on the night of the incident, neither own was present, the story reported. Instead, “allegedly inexperienced bartenders and staff were running the operations,” the story said.

The case is an unusual one certainly, because the plaintiff injured himself by driving drunk. But at the same time, under dram shop laws, bar owners and other people who make a profit selling alcohol are responsible for the consequences of continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is over the limit. Dram laws also apply if the person who is served alcohol is underage. By serving additional drinks to someone and then allowing them to leave the establishment in that condition, tavern owners can be held responsible for injuries to others. If a person is visibly intoxicated, the law says that a tavern owner should cease serving alcohol at that point.

Pennsylvania’s Dram shop liability law is named for a “dram shop,” which is a 1700’s term for a tavern that sold alcoholic drinks by the then-popular dram, which is a small unit of measure. The dram laws are there to help victims and their families when they are hugely impacted through the deaths of loved ones at the hands of drunk drivers whose drinking binges are not halted by the keen observations of restaurant and bar staff members in a moment’s notice. Dram shop rules exist to protect society as a whole and to punish bars and restaurants that continue to serve alcohol to customers who are already intoxicated.

Tavern owners must know that continuing to serve patrons once they are intoxicated is not acceptable, and that they will be held accountable. In this case, under these very unusual conditions, the dram shop laws were upheld.

With the holidays here, this case is a stark reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving as well.

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. It is critical to have an excellent legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

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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$9.5 Million Settlement to Victims of Texas Vehicle Crash Caused by Impaired Truck Driver

Two Texas families will share in a $9.5 million settlement reached in the case of a commercial truck driver who was driving while intoxicated when his tractor-trailer rear-ended several vehicles in an intersection in Victoria, Texas, in March 2012.

Several people were seriously injured in the crash, which occurred when a tractor-trailer being driven by Johnny Raymond Rodriguez failed to stop as it approached the intersection of U.S. 59 and Upper Mission Valley Road on March 24, 2012, according to an Oct. 15 story by The Victoria Advocate newspaper. Rodriguez’s tractor-trailer then crashed into two pickup trucks that were stopped on the roadway, causing a chain reaction crash.

Rodriguez, who drove the gravel truck for his employer, A.W. Trucking, of Victoria, was cited for intoxication assault and reckless driving by police after his blood alcohol content was measured to be .071 percent and .065 percent some three hours after the collision, the paper reported. The truck was owned and leased by Jet Maintenance Inc. of Victoria, according to the police report for the crash.

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

Injured seriously in the crash was Calvin Stovall, 44, of Victoria, who drove the first pickup truck that was struck by the speeding tractor-trailer, according to the police report. Also seriously injured were two members of a Corpus Christi, Texas, family, who were traveling in another pickup which was in front of Stovall’s pickup. Maria Olachia and her 14-year-old son were seriously injured in the crash, the report stated.

“A written statement was taken by the witness who saw [Rodriguez] driving recklessly on Business 59 just prior to the crash,” the police report states.

The $9.5 million settlement was reached Oct. 11 when officials for both A.W. Trucking and Jet Maintenance agreed to the deal, the paper reported.

While Rodriguez’ blood alcohol content was below the legal limit of .08 when measured at a hospital several hours after the crash, “the law says drivers of passenger or commercial vehicles may be arrested for driving while intoxicated when they are found to have a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or ‘do not have normal use of their mental or physical faculties because of the introduction of alcohol,’” according to the newspaper. “A driver operating a commercial vehicle who is found to have blood-alcohol content of .04 percent could also be given a citation or have their license temporarily suspended,” the paper continued.

Stovall will receive $5.4 million from the settlement for his injuries, according to the newspaper. “He has undergone numerous surgeries to his back and continues to be treated for a head injury.” The Olachia family will receive $4.1 million for their injuries.

These kinds of incidents and injuries happen every day when innocent victims are hurt in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. 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 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 Wrongful Death Case of Motorist Killed by a Drunk Driver

As she drove her vehicle through an intersection in Springfield, Ill., on July 21, 2012, 22-year-old Quana S. Poole’s van was struck by a work truck being operated by a drunken driver. The work truck driver ran a red light and smashed into Poole’s vehicle. She died the next day from her injuries.

More than a year after the fatal crash, her family has reached a $1.6 million settlement in connection with her death, according to a story in the Springfield-based State Journal-Register.

Poole’s vehicle was struck in the intersection of Monroe Street and Ninth Street by an MB Heating & Cooling work van that was being driven by Alex L. Robertson, 27, of Waverly, Ill., according to the story. Robertson, who was operating the work truck while drunk, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence, the paper reported.

A work truck driver who drank alcohol and then operated his vehicle killed a 22-year-old woman in Illinois in July 2012. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Lecic

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Poole’s mother, Melissa Williams, a month after the accident, according to the paper.

About $1.5 million of the settlement is being paid by the insurance company for MB Heating & Cooling, where Robertson formerly worked, the story reported. Another $140,000 is being paid under the state’s Dram Shop Act by the Guitars & Cadillacs Saloon, where Robertson had been drinking before the crash, according to the State Journal-Register.

“Robertson had been drinking at the tavern for about two hours after he had completed a service call and drank for an hour at the site of the call, according to documents filed in connection with the suit,” the paper reported.

Dram shop actions make bar owners and other people who make a profit selling alcohol responsible for the consequences of continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is over the limit. Drams laws also apply if the person who is served alcohol is underage. By serving additional drinks to someone and then allowing them to leave the establishment in that condition, the tavern owner can be held responsible for injuries to others. If you’re visibly intoxicated, the law says that a tavern owner should cease serving you alcohol at that point. The law is trying to remove the incentives for them to continue to sell additional alcohol to an intoxicated person. Because they’re making a profit by selling alcohol, they want to sell as much alcohol as possible because that’s how they make money.

Pennsylvania’s Dram shop liability law is named for a “dram shop,” which is a 1700’s term for a tavern that sold alcoholic drinks by the then-popular dram, which is a small unit of measure.

In cases like these, bars that allegedly served alcohol to visibly intoxicated and or underage persons should be held responsible if the intoxicated persons are involved in vehicle crashes after they leave those establishments. That’s why we have dram liability laws on the books. The dram laws are there to help victims and their families when they are hugely impacted through the deaths of loved ones at the hands of drunk drivers whose drinking binges are not halted by the keen observations of restaurant and bar staff members in a moment’s notice. Dram shop rules exist to protect society as a whole and to punish bars and restaurants that continue to serve alcohol to customers who are already intoxicated.

Tavern owners must know that continuing to serve patrons once they are intoxicated is not acceptable, and that they will be held accountable.

These kinds of incidents and injuries happen every day when innocent victims are hurt in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. 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 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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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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