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What are the different types of sex crimes in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth laws make any offenses involving sex a negative stigma that lasts. Sex offenders must register in a database, where the details of their conviction are available to anyone.

While these extreme consequences are mostly warranted, some sex crime charges are based upon false claims or weak evidence. Therefore, if you find yourself fighting a sex offender case knowing you are innocent, you should hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help defend you. They should be able to shed light on the prosecution’s faulty arguments and show the jury why they should pay attention to any reasonable doubt.

Sex Offenses Under Pennsylvania Law

Rape

Rape is the act of forcing sexual intercourse against a person’s will using threat of force or any force, in general. Sexual intercourse includes vaginal/anal/oral sex and any penetration by objects. In the latter’s case, the charge may be referred to as “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,” even though the consequences will be the same as a rape charge.

Rape can also include circumstances where the victim cannot give consent. For example, they may not be able to give consent to sexual intercourse if they are unconscious, drugged by the offender, or has a mental illness that makes them unable to give consent.

Rape is also used to define any sexual intercourse with any child aged 12 or younger. The offender would be charged with rape of a child, and if the child received any injuries, they could also be charged with rape of a child with serious bodily injury.

Any rape charge is a first-degree felony.

Sexual Assault

A sexual assault charge is given to any offenders who had sexual intercourse or deviated sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent. Sexual assault charges include anything that is not covered by rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges.

Sexual assault is a second-degree felony.

Aggravated Indecent Assault

Aggravated indecent assault charges refer to an offender accused of rape, penetrating, or causing the penetration of a person’s genitals or anus by a part of the body for any reasons other than hygienic, medical, or law enforcement purposes.

Aggravated indecent assault is a second-degree felony. If the victim is younger than 13, it is a first-degree felony.

Indecent Assault

If a victim came into contact with seminal fluid (such as semen), urine, or feces without giving consent and the action was taken to satisfy sexual desires, the offender can be charged with indecent assault. This is also the case if the victim was too young to consent.

Indecent assault is a second-degree misdemeanor if there was no consent involved. It is also considered a second-degree misdemeanor if the victim was younger than 16, and the offender is more than four years older.

Indecent assault is considered a first-degree demeanor if the contact between the victim and offender was forcible or by threat of force, if the victim was drugged, unconscious, mentally unable to give consent, or younger than 13.

If the victim of the indecent assault was younger than 13 and the prosecution can prove an indecent assault course of conduct, it was a second/subsequent offense, or certain other conditions apply, the offender may be charged with a third-degree felony.

Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure refers to a person exposing their genitals in a public place. Typically, indecent exposure is a second-degree misdemeanor. However, it may be considered a first-degree demeanor if the offender knew (or should have known) that children under 16 years old were present.

For more information, speak to a qualified, experienced attorney today. With over 20 years of experience, Attorney Leonard J. Berger, Jr. can help you achieve the best possible outcome and fight to protect your rights. Serving the Pittsburgh, Washington, Greensburg, Butler, and surrounding Pennsylvania communities, call Attorney Berger at 412-498-1929 today.

Uber and Lyft Accidents: Can You Sue Rideshare Companies for Injuries

In 2020, rideshare drivers made 6.9 billion Uber trips across the U.S. While you may think of convenience when talking about rideshare apps, it’s also important to acknowledge the dangers.

Unfortunately, “Uber and Lyft are behind a sharp rise in U.S. traffic deaths,” according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Millions of drivers and passengers have suffered severe injuries as a result of these accidents, making it crucial to be aware of your rights.

If you were in an Uber or Lyft accident and received injuries, read on to learn more about your rights to sue.

Suing Your Uber Driver

The two most common scenarios following an accident involve drivers being sued for negligence and intentional torts. In most cases, torts are brought in with a negligence theory. There must be proof that the defendant (Uber driver) failed to act as a reasonably safe and careful driver in these types of claims. In these, the plaintiff (passenger) will not have to prove the driver’s intent. In a different way, some plaintiffs will bring intentional torts if the defendant drove with “reckless disregard for human life” or with purpose.

Suing the Rideshare Company

Suing a multibillion-dollar rideshare company will undoubtedly be more complicated than those mentioned above for a couple of reasons listed below.

  • Differences in Jurisdiction

There are significant differences between state and federal laws, and therefore, liability laws and accident insurance differ between the jurisdictions. It’s also important to note that rideshare apps are relatively new, and technology is typically ahead of the law. Because of this, many jurisdictions are still trying to understand how to go about the various legal claims passengers can have against apps like Uber and Lyft. So, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced, qualified lawyer.

  • Respondeat Superior and Independent Contractors

Because Uber and Lyft hire “independent contractors” instead of “employees,” the legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior” complicates matters further. Under respondeat superior, the torts’ responsibility lies on the employer for any employees that were negligent and “performed within the scope of the employment.”

If rideshare drivers were considered employees, respondeat superior would allow injured passengers to sue the rideshare companies directly, in addition to suing the driver. On the other hand, independent contractors are not treated as agents or employees of the companies. So, injured passengers will be less likely to sue Uber or Lyft for their driver’s negligence.

Suing Uber or Lyft

If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, you can still sue Uber or Lyft under certain circumstances. For instance, Uber and Lyft are legally required to perform proper background checks and screenings on any drivers working under them. Therefore, any failure to do so may allow you to sue, depending on the laws of your jurisdiction. Also, Uber and Lyft are responsible for inspecting the drivers’ vehicles. So, if the rideshare company failed to inspect a car properly and a mechanical failure caused the accident, you may be able to file a claim.

To discuss your rideshare accident with a qualified, experienced attorney, call Leonard J. Berger, Jr. today. With over 20 years of experience, Berger Legal can help you achieve the best possible outcome and fight to protect your rights. Serving the Pittsburgh, Washington, Greensburg, Butler, and surrounding Pennsylvania communities, call Attorney Berger at 412-498-1929 today.

The Leading Cause of Motorcycle Accident Fatalities

In motorcycle accidents, head injuries are a major cause of death. Fortunately, helmets have proven to save many motorcyclists’ lives and are projected to save hundreds of more lives if accepted universally.

Traumatic Brain Injuries That Result in Death

TBIs, also known as traumatic brain injuries, are damages to the brain caused by trauma. Because TBI symptoms are not always immediately detectable and can develop over time, it’s in your best interest to seek medical attention immediately following a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, many symptoms caused by TBI do not indicate the severity of the injuries. Sometimes, what seems like an insignificant bump can actually be fatal if left untreated.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

People who suffer from mild TBI typically experience brain cell dysfunction. Common occurrences include passing out or feeling general disorientation without becoming unconscious. Head injuries can often make people with mild TBIs hypersensitive to light and sound. Other symptoms of TBI include headaches, nausea, and vomiting. It’s important to keep in mind that these headaches can take anywhere between weeks and years to fade away.

Also, people with TBIs often deal with sleep issues. In some cases, a person can feel drowsy throughout the day and unable to sleep at night. In others, they tend to sleep longer than usual and still wake up feeling fatigued.

Severe Brain Injury

Like those with mild head injuries, people suffering from moderate to severe TBIs often experience many of the same symptoms. However, it’s important to note that a more severe traumatic brain injury can cause slurred speech or general confusion. They may also see changes in their personality, such as aggressiveness or irritability.

On the worst end of the spectrum, severe TBI patients can experience seizures. Make sure to look out for dilated pupils in either one or both eyes. They might also communicate feeling numbness or weakness in their fingers and toes.

Traumatic Head Injury Complications

  • Degenerative Brain Disorders

Those who have suffered multiple brain injuries, or one severe trauma, are at a higher risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia pugilistica. Unfortunately, the effects of one’s head trauma and a degenerative brain disorder can take years to occur, and the patient will start losing simple brain functions. These include being able to control your movement, thinking, and memory.

  • Personality Changes

Sometimes, severe head injuries can cause a person to behave entirely differently than before the trauma. The most noticeable personality changes following head trauma include irritability, uncontrolled anger, depression, and radical mood swings.

  • Changes in Sensation

When brain tissue becomes disturbed, sensory issues can occur as a result. Things like dizziness, double vision, difficulty balancing, ringing in the ears, loss of taste or smell, and difficulty controlling hand and eye coordination are all common in those with brain injuries. While some of these issues can be resolved over time, others may have to endure these complications for years or the rest of their lives.

  • Cognitive Issues

With a significant brain injury, some can have difficulties with thinking, reasoning, learning, remembering, and keeping their attention. They may also find problem-solving, organization, planning, and multitasking more complicated than it would have been before the accident.

  • Medical Complications

A traumatic brain injury can cause a person to develop seizures, vertigo, and frequent headaches immediately following an accident or years after. In cases where the cranial nerves are damaged, people can suffer facial paralysis or numbness. Other medical complications following traumatic brain injuries include hearing loss, difficulty swallowing, and blindness.

  • States of Consciousness

Unfortunately, some of the most major TBI complications include changes in one’s state of consciousness. For example, a motorcycle head injury can lead to extreme outcomes for the person, including falling under a coma, vegetative or minimally conscious states, or even brain death.

To learn more about the leading causes of motorcycle accident fatalities, call Leonard J. Berger, Jr. today. With over 20 years of experience, Berger Legal can help you achieve the best possible outcome and fight to protect your rights. Serving the Pittsburgh, Washington, Greensburg, Butler, and surrounding Pennsylvania communities, call Attorney Berger at 412-498-1929 today.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury FAQ

What is a personal injury?

A personal injury is a severe and harmful act to a person (or persons) due to someone else’s negligence. Personal injury law typically involves various accidents such as car/truck/motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, product/premises liability, workplace accidents and injuries, spinal cord and brain injuries, amputations, pharmaceutical negligence, failure to diagnose cancer, toxic torts, birth or neonatal injuries, child abuse, and wrongful death.

How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

If someone else’s negligence caused you to be injured or become injured at work, you should speak to a trusted and experienced attorney to look at your case. Working with an attorney will allow you to determine whether you have a personal injury case.

Who will pay my medical bills?

Most people worry about how they will pay the medical bills following an injury or accident. So, it’s important to note that the answer will vary depending on your case. While some auto and health insurance companies may cover medical costs, you might be left to rely on the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Because of these complexities, it may be best to discuss this matter with an attorney so that you are aware of all your options.

When should I contact a personal injury lawyer?

If you have been injured at work or as a result of another person’s negligence, you should highly consider contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations that refers to the period of time you are allowed to take legal action, and you do not want to pass the deadline if you are unsure. In some cases, the statute of limitations begins at the time of injury in personal injury cases. Therefore, it is in your best interest to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you have been injured, so they can determine if you have a valid case.

How much is my case worth?

The most important thing to remember is that you should never trust a lawyer or law firm that gives your case a dollar value right off the bat. More often than not, they are doing one of two things. They are either making unrealistic promises or undervaluing your case so you can settle for less and quickly. The reality is that it is almost impossible knowing what kind of settlement to expect until there is a full investigation on the extent of your injuries, medical costs, future expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Therefore, you should be careful to hire an attorney that will take their time in understanding your case. This way, you can be confident you receive full and fair compensation rather than settling for less than you deserve.

What is a contingent fee?

A contingent fee means that the law firm will only charge you if they win your case. Typically, this fee is a percentage of the total settlement or verdict amount.

If I think I may have a personal injury case, will Leonard J. Berger, Jr. be able to help me?

We would be more than happy to discuss your personal injury case. Get in contact with our office today to schedule a consultation. We are confident we can help you achieve the fairest outcome possible.

If you would like to discuss your personal injury case with a qualified, experienced attorney, call Leonard J. Berger, Jr. today. With over 20 years of experience, Berger Legal can help you achieve the best possible outcome and fight to protect your rights. Serving the Pittsburgh, Washington, Greensburg, Butler, and surrounding Pennsylvania communities, call Attorney Berger at 412-498-1929 today.

If you or your loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, a DUI or been involved in any accident , you should immediately call Attorney Leonard J. Berger, Jr. today at 412-498-1929