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Throwback Thursday: NO Granny Snatching?!

We've all heard of kidnapping, but what in the world is "granny snatching"?! Read more from our Throwback Thursday post below!

Information taken from Daily Local News article written on 7/23/2012 by Janet M. Colliton. Full story can be found by clicking this link.


Recently, the Pennsylvania legislative bodies passed a ruling outlawing "granny snatching" in Pennsylvania.  Formally known as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, this law would address issues surrounding legal guardianship. Before this law was passed, instances of family members taking elderly relatives out of nursing homes or other facilities across state lines while legal guardianship battles were occurring was a fairly well-known occurrence.  This act, known as "granny snatching", was a significant problem for places like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 


The example given in the Daily Local News article gives a good example of the problems surrounding granny snatching: "Suppose, for instance, you apply for guardianship in Pennsylvania for your mother who has lived here all her life. Another relative or acquaintance, without your knowledge, signs her out of a personal care home or takes her from home and makes arrangements to transport her out of state. That person files for guardianship in another state. Without a uniform act where each state recognizes the other state's proceedings, the result could be a nightmare.  Decisions made in one jurisdiction might or might not be enforced in another. Each state could have conflicting orders."


As a result of these problems, many states passed the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. A nationwide legal guardianship law is also being considered so that all states operate under a consistent system. This national law, called the Uniform Guardianship Law,  would establish the concept of a "home state" for proper jurisdiction initially which will reduce confusion later on if the person under guardianship moves across state lines.

$30 Million Settlement in Allegheny County!

Recently, an Allegheny County family was awarded $32 million dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit that killed their six-year-old son.  The suit was filed against a driver (and his employer) who hit a car that the boy was traveling in.  The car the child was in was pulled off to the side of the road due to car trouble, and was hit so hard that it went into the median of the road. The other passengers were injured as well.  The driver who hit their car was charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless endangerment, and speeding. He is also facing serious jail time.  The driver was on the job for a masonry company, and his employer was violating their own policy by letting the driver use a company vehicle with a prior history of DUI.  For more on the story, please read the original Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article here.


Attorney Doug Stoehr is an Altoona based personal injury lawyer who takes claims for many clients who have been injured in automobile accidents.  He also takes cases for victims of distracted driving accidents in Altoona, Blair County, and the seven surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. For more information on his central Pennsylvania practice, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com

String your lights, trim your tree...avoid premises liability?

Wow, there is a lot to think about as the holiday season rolls around! Prepping your tree, stringing your lights, and planning holiday parties is a lot to add to an already large seasonal to-do list.  Are you staying safe as you carry out your Christmas prep?  Forbes.com listed the most common holiday accidents and how you can avoid them!  Staying away from premises liability claims from others who visit your house is one good reason to take a look at that list!  
In talking about holiday parties and premises liability, there is a lot to think about, too!  When throwing a party or inviting friends over, most people are concerned with cleaning their homes, preparing the food, and making sure that there's enough to drink.  Although these things are important, it is also important to remember that, as hosts, you are responsible for what your guests ingest at your party.  Many hosts believe that, if their guests are 21 or older, they should be able to consume as much alcohol as they want without hosts having to monitor them.  This is a common misconception.  If a party attendee leaves the party drunk and causes injury or accident to themselves or another person, the hosts are partially responsible for the injuries.  This is true not only at a home-based party, but also at such public gatherings as graduation parties, wedding receptions, and other celebrations.
As a host, it is important to monitor your attendee's level of drinking and make sure that they are not over-imbibing.  If they do become intoxicated, it is your responsibility to find them a designated driver or call them a taxi. If you choose not to do this, you could face very serious legal ramifications later on if accident, injury, or police involvement occurs.  Be smart when both hosting and attending a party.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania.  For more information on his firm or to talk about your potential legal claim, please call his office at 814-946-4100.  

Throwback Thursday: Your Rights and Dog Bites

Every year nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs, and close to half of those victims are children.  1 in 5 people that are victims of dog bites require medical attention, which equates to about 900,000 Americans that received medical attention for dog bites in the past year. 
In 2012, dog bites accounted for approximately one third of settlements of all homeowner's insurance liability claims.  Pennsylvania ranked fifth in states with the most dog bite insurance claims. 


Pennsylvania law does not impose absolute liability on an owner for dog attacks, not even in respect to a dog having vicious tendencies of which the owner is aware.  The plaintiff will need to prove negligence in order for the defendant to be found accountable for any injuries sustained because of a dog bite.  In order to prove a dog bite case, historically the claimant had to prove that the dog had bitten at least once in the past.  However, the law in Pennsylvania now is the following:  If a dog has any vicious propensities, regardless of whether it has bitten in the past, the dog's actual bite upon you can serve as the standard for determining whether the owner was negligent.

Liability for a dog attack may even fall to a landlord.  A landlord may be held liable for injuries by animals owned and maintained by a tenant when the landlord has knowledge of the presence of the dangerous animal and where he or she has the right to control or remove the animal by retaking possession of the premises. 

Your claim for damages based on your injuries or disfigurement will be based on a theory of negligence, and will be very complex.  You need an attorney that has experience in handling the difficulties of these types of claims.   We will review the facts and analyze the law to provide you with a thorough evaluation of your claims. 

If you or a loved one suffered an injury or disfigurement from a dog bite, please do not hesitate to contact the law office of Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr.  Attorney Doug Stoehr has experience in handling dog bite cases, and will thoroughly evaluate your claim.   Call us today at (814) 946-4100 for a free initial consultation. 

Pick Your Toys With Care This Holiday Season!

Have you shopped for Christmas for the children in your life?  Be careful what you buy!  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has posted this guideline when shopping for toys this holiday season.  Toys can often get recalled, especially around the holiday season. This year, there have been 25 toy recalls; last year, that number reached almost 175.  For the 2014 calendar year, there were almost 200,000 injuries related to toys and 11 deaths.  So, what can you do to keep your children safe?  You can start by following these guidelines, many of which can be found on the CPSC's website.  
  • Read the labels and make sure the toy you've picked is actually appropriate for your child's age, cognitive level, and level of mobility.
  • When gifting riding toys, always include helmets and padding with the gift.
  • Don't give small children any gifts involving magnets! 
  • Research the toy online to find reviews, tips, and warnings from other consumers.  Sometimes, word of mouth is the best way to find out whether a toy is safe or not.
  • Unsure about whether a toy is safe or not?  Skip purchasing it and choose something else that you don't have reservations about. 
  • Beware of low-cost products.  In many cases, you get what you pay for
  • Want to learn more about from last year's annual CSPC Toy Report?  Click this link for the full document!
At our law office, we always recommend researching any products before you buy them.  It is also important to know your product's warranty and guarantees!  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving Blair and the seven surrounding counties in central Pennsylvania.  He takes cases for product liability.  For more information on his Altoona, PA area firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100 to set up a free initial consultation.  

Police Misconduct and Victims' Rights

Most of our law enforcement officers work tirelessly and diligently to keep our homes, community, state, and country safe.  However, police are people just like the rest of us, and can sometimes make poor choices.  

Do you know your rights if you've been a victim of police misconduct? Sometimes, police officers can violate your civil rights, such as using excessive or unreasonable force, falsely arresting and imprisoning, and maliciously prosecuting.  Although the police obviously have the right to arrest when they reasonably believe that an individual has committed a crime, this does not give them the right to arrest someone without probable cause.  Additionally, in the case of excessive force, FindLaw.com's website states that "If the amount of force was reasonable, it doesn't matter that the officer's intentions were bad. But the reverse is also true: if the officer had good intentions, but used unreasonable force, the excessive force claim will not be dismissed."  

Would you like to learn more about what your rights are after police misconduct? Please call our office at 814-946-4100.  Our Altoona, PA area law firm has handled similar cases and will review your case to see what your rights are! Douglas V. Stoehr serves personal injury clients throughout western and central Pennsylvania. 

Holiday Gift Services Makes Great Difference For Seniors in Doylestown Area Community

Wow, what a great idea to help our state's nursing home residents during the holiday season!  A Doylestown-based nonprofit organization called Wrapping Presence recently spent the day helping area nursing home residents pick out gifts from new and donated items to wrap for Christmas and Hanukkah presents.  This is a really special service, especially for those residents who cannot physically or mentally get to a store, pick out presents for their family and friends, and stand in line.  The staff at the nursing home spent several weeks ahead of time figuring out what their residents may be interested in giving as gifts, and tried to coordinate the donations to meet their wishes.  The donations of gifts and money towards gifts had been a year-long fundraising process, culminating with this event where the seniors were able to pick out their gifts.  The event was arranged with the help of over 650 volunteers who work with 19 nursing homes in the Doylestown area. 


This is a great service for our state's nursing home residents, especially considering that many of them suffer from seasonal or ongoing depression.  Every year, thousands of these elderly Americans make their way into nursing homes or other residential care facilities.  Although they may have moved there for a variety of reasons, most of these people experience some kind of psychological distress during their stay in one of these facilities.  Some of the most common shared types of psychological distress experienced by these residents are depression and loneliness. 


According to researchers, when elderly patrons are first admitted to nursing homes, many undergo a period of depression within the first 10 days. This is more severe in people who are coming from a home environment as opposed to those that are coming from a hospital environment.  Experts think that this period of depression is due to part to a loss of autonomy, loss of personal possessions, and a lack of familiar environment.


The adjustment process from home to a nursing home can take anyway from three to six months, and some residents never fully adjustment or get over symptoms of depression. Exciting and life-affirming activities, such as Wrapping Presence, helps seniors gain back some of their independence and joy.  


Depressed residents are often disengaged or disinterested in activities most of the day and do not seem to want to participate in either formal or informal activities put on by the nursing home community.  It should be noted that, unfortunately, your loved one's depressive symptoms could also be a result of abuse or neglect at the hands of the nursing home staff.  Although not all depressive symptoms are a direct result of abuse, if you suspect that an elderly loved one has been abused while in the care of another, it could be time to take legal action.  
 
If you would like more information about this page or Attorney Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

How To Avoid ATV & Snowmobile Fatalities

Are you being safe when you ride your ATV this fall? Hopefully, if you plan to ride your snowmobile this winter, you will keep safety in mind as well.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend, an unnamed victim lost his life while riding his all-terrain vehicle.  Near Pittsburgh, in Beaver County, an ATV driver passed away after he drove his vehicle off a trail and into a pond.  The site of the crash was in an old mining area, where the victim was not with the rest of the group of riders that he had started off with.  Unfortunately, he was trapped under the vehicle for an extended period of time before the emergency response teams could get him out.  Our sympathies go out to the victim and his/her family.

So, how can we avoid accidents such as this? Here are a few tips that may help you out:

  • Avoid driving alone! If you start out with other riders, stick with those other riders.  
  • Always go out with your cell phone fully charged and let others know your riding route and when you plan to be home.
  • Stick to designated trails and riding areas.
  • Avoid riding at night and during periods of poor visibility. 
  • Wear bright colors when possible--bright orange, green, and yellow are good choices.

Many Pennsylvanians enjoy using ATVs and snowmobiles nearly year-round.  However, these off-road vehicles are potentially dangerous vehicles for many of our state's youth.  Improper ATV use is leading cause of serious injury among Pennsylvanians.   Attorney Doug Stoehr of Altoona, PA handles cases involving injury as a result of accidents involving off-road vehicles.  For more information about Attorney Doug Stoehr and his central Pennsylvania practice, please call his law firm at 814-946-4100.

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