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Hollidaysburg Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Injuries might develop days after an accident

Car accidents can cause serious injuries, some of which may not be apparent at the moment the accident occurs. It is not uncommon for Pennsylvania drivers to first experience the symptoms of a physical injury after several days have passed. Headaches, for example, might develop several days after a motor vehicle accident, and could indicate serious problems in some cases. Among the other common symptoms that develop later are back pain, personality changes, numbness, and shoulder or neck stiffness or pain.

In more than half of rear-impact car accident injury cases, injured parties report pain in the lower back. Lower back pain is reported in almost three-quarters of side-impact crashes that result in injuries. People who experience changes in personality days after a crash may have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Signs of TBI include impaired memory, thinking, movement, depression, problems with hearing or vision and personality changes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the third leading cause of TBI in the U.S.

Glare is a morning and afternoon road hazard

Most Pennsylvania drivers have been temporarily blinded by bright sunlight at one time or another. Unfortunately, glare caused by the rising and setting sun is a factor in many morning and afternoon accidents. The danger is most severe when cars emerge from tunnels or pass buildings or other objects that have provided temporary shade, but there are steps that careful drivers can take to mitigate the risks.

A pair of good sunglasses is an obvious first line of defense against potentially blinding light, but even the darkest glasses may not be enough to fully protect drivers when the sun is especially bright. In these situations, sun visors, which are found in virtually all passenger vehicles, can be used to block out the sun and greatly increase visibility. These visors usually have features that allow them to be moved to block sunlight coming through either the windshield or side windows.

OSHA focuses on trenching and excavation safety

Construction workers in Pennsylvania often face safety risks on the job, especially when they are dealing with trenching and excavation projects. While any type of construction job can lead to workplace accidents and injuries, collapses and cave-ins can be particularly dangerous and even deadly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 130 workers on these projects lost their lives between 2011 and 2016. Most of these injuries occurred among private employers, with 80 percent linked to private construction firms. In an even more worrying development, a full 49 percent of these workers were killed between 2015 and 2016 alone.

These trenching and excavation accidents took place at different types of job sites. Of the private construction deaths, 40 occurred at industrial sites, 39 at private homes and 21 on streets or highways. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a National Emphasis Program to combat the issue. The agency announced that one company would be fined $400,000 for its safety violations leading to likely trench cave-ins while workers were on the job. Another company was fined $250,000 for failing to use cave-in protection.

Class-action lawsuit calls electric scooter companies negligent

Companies offering transportation services with dockless electric scooters promote these devices as cheap and efficient ways for city dwellers to get around. However, scooters also present safety hazards to people in Pennsylvania. A class-action lawsuit filed on the West Coast on behalf of people who have suffered scooter-related injuries details a long list of complaints.

The lawsuit accuses Bird, Lime and their manufacturers of gross negligence. According to the court filings, the defendants inflicted injury or property damage on scooter riders, pedestrians and other members of the public. Plaintiffs attributed their broken bones, facial cuts, torn ligaments and dental damage to accidents with scooters. Their injuries arose from tripping over scooters left on the ground, riding scooters or being struck by scooter drivers. The lawsuit calls upon scooter companies to increase their warning messages and improve safety.

What happens if I fall during holiday shopping?

The holiday season is hectic for retail spaces, with busy shoppers running in and out searching of gifts. Add melting snow dripping off everyone's footwear and into the aisles, and it can be a dangerous place.

If you slip and fall while buying presents for loved ones, it can result in a serious injury. What should you do if this happens?

Including charitable gifts in an estate plan

When people in Pennsylvania think about planning for the future, they may wonder about how they can include their plans for charitable gifts into their broader estate plans. While many people want to focus on passing on their assets to their family, others want to place a strong focus on philanthropy. Even more want to combine both in one comprehensive estate plan. Continuing that giving after they pass away can be a key concern for people who have contributed to charities throughout their lifetime.

Charitable giving can provide benefits on many levels from tax incentives to personal fulfillment. Continuing a generational legacy of giving can also help make families come together around their philanthropic support. When planning to include this type of gift in a will or another estate document, it can be important to select a cause that is personally important or moving. In addition, a person can also identify the specific assets he or she would like to pass on. Charities can always accept cash gifts, but property, securities and even art can also be of great value. Donor-advised funds can provide guidance to smaller recipients who may be unsure how to handle these items.

Tax law changes and divorce

Married Pennsylvania residents who are thinking about divorce should understand how the changes created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could impact life after marriage. Certain provisions of the TCJA, specifically those that deal with child support and alimony, may make divorces more expensive for those who separate after 2018.

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the manner in which alimony is taxed will change for new divorce filings. Divorcees who have to pay alimony will no longer be allowed to deduct the payments from their taxable income. Furthermore, alimony recipients will not be required to report the money they receive as part of their taxable income. This is a reverse of the current tax association with spousal support.

How will social media affect my divorce proceedings?

Social media provides society with both benefits and downsides. There is something to be said about social media's role in the number of divorces that occur every year in the United States. There may be some sort of correlation between social media usage and the divorce rate.

While this remains to be proven, the way you use social media can certainly affect your life during a divorce. More and more divorce court proceedings use social media as a source of evidence when deciding how to rule. Social media provides a real look at how people operate in their lives, making it a decent tool in divorce proceedings.

Workplace gender disparity and divorce

Pennsylvania residents who work with several members of the opposite sex are more likely to get divorced according to a study published on Sept. 25 in the medical journal Biology. Previous research has revealed that men tend to favor shorter relationships when alternative sexual partners are abundant, but these studies focused on living rather than working arrangements. The new study explores how gender ratios in the workplace affect relationships as this is where most people spend the majority of their time.

A research team from Stockholm University pored over Danish population data gathered over more than three decades to find out if workplace gender balance affected divorce rates, and they discovered that spouses who had plenty of prospective partners to choose from at work were more likely to end their marriages. Researchers found this trend in workplace sectors dominated by both men and women. However, they noticed that the link between workplace gender disparity and divorce was higher among men.

The downside to using unrecorded deeds

In Pennsylvania and throughout the country, it is possible to create a deed to a house and have it recorded at a later date. This may be a technique that is helpful for estate planning purposes. However, there could also be problems with this type of strategy. For instance, there is a chance that the deed is lost, misplaced or thrown away.

Individuals who are on an unrecorded deed do not legally own the property. Instead, it is the grantor who owns it until the deed is officially recorded. In the meantime, there could be a lien placed on the home by a lender or by other creditors looking to collect from the owner. If the title to the home isn't free and clear of liens, it may be more challenging to record the new deed and transfer ownership. One final issue to consider is that the home may be transferred to another person when the current owner dies.

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