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How you may be Liable if a Trespasser Slips and Falls on your Property

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Many of us are home today enjoying the snow day. Some of us may shovel the
walkways or snow blow the driveway. However, with this wintery weather comes
an additional liability that many landowners do not know they owe other people.

Generally, landowners do not owe a duty to trespassers other than to avoid
“affliction of willful and wanton harm.” Still, there are exceptions to this general
rule. One exception to this rule is when there is snow or icy weather conditions.
Landowners in Pennsylvania typically have up to 24 hours or a reasonable time
period (depending on local laws) after the snow stops falling to begin to remove
it, clear it, make the property safe or provide a warning about the dangerous
conditions on the property.

A long-standing doctrine in Pennsylvania is known as the “Hills and Ridges”
Rule. A landowner may be liable for injuries caused on his property if he
unreasonably allowed ice and snow to accumulate naturally to dangerous
elevations, resulting in small, uneven hills and ridges of snow and ice. The hills
and ridges must unreasonably obstruct travel or create a danger to pedestrians
on the land. The landowner must have known or had reason to know that the
snow or ice was accumulating to such a dangerous amount. Additionally, for a
plaintiff to have a claim against a landowner, the hills and ridges of snow or ice
must have caused the plaintiff to slip and fall and cause injuries to the plaintiff.
Under this rule, landowners are not liable for injuries of another person if the
person slips and falls due to generally icy conditions, such black ice or freshly
fallen snow. Moreover, this rule only applies to natural accumulation of snow and
ice to unreasonably dangerous elevations. It does not apply if the accumulation
was caused by an artificial source.

D’Amico Law, PC is a general law firm situated in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
We offer a wide variety of services including estate planning administration,
divorce, mediation, custody, corporate law, personal injury and minor criminal
matters. If you have questions about this article or any questions regarding your
legal needs contact us at 610-444- 4555.

St. Patrick’s Day.

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St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday full of parades, parties, corned beef and booze.  Before you decide to get behind the wheel of your car after drinking whiskey and green beer at a St. Patrick’s Day party, here is what you should know if you get pulled over and charged with a DUI.

Drinking and driving over the legal limit is illegal and comes with harsh penalties.  In Pennsylvania, there are three levels associated with the Driving Under the Influence Law, or commonly known as DUI.  The levels are based on a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content level, or BAC, combined with a driver’s prior offense, to determine the penalty imposed.

The lowest tier, known as General Impairment, includes BAC levels from .08 to .099%.  If a driver’s BAC level is within this range, penalties include: up to six (6) months probation, a $300 – $5,000 fine, license suspension for twelve (12) months, court ordered treatment, alcohol highway safety school, five (5) days to six (6) months jail time, ten (10) days to two (2) years prison time, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or a 2nd degree misdemeanor on your record.  The more lenient penalties are imposed on a driver with no prior DUI offenses or one (1) prior DUI offense.  The harsher penalties are imposed on a driver with two (2) or more prior DUI offenses.

The middle tier, known as High BAC, includes BAC levels from .10 to .159%.  If a driver’s BAC level is within this range, penalties include: a $500 to $10,000 fine, license suspension for twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months, forty-eight (48) hours to five (5) year prison time, alcohol highway safety school, court ordered treatment, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or a 1st degree misdemeanor on your record.  The more lenient penalties are imposed on a driver with no prior DUI offenses or one (1) prior DUI offense, while the more harsher penalties are imposed on a driver with two (2) or more DUI offenses and three (3) or more DUI offense.

The highest tier, known as Highest BAC, includes BAC levels of .16% or higher as well as for drivers who refuse breath or chemical testing and drivers under the influence of controlled substances.  If a driver falls into this category, the penalties include: a $1,000 to $10,000 fine, license suspension of twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months, seventy-two (72) hours to five (5) years prison time, alcohol highway safety school, court ordered treatment, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or 1st degree misdemeanor on your record.

Additionally, there is a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for first time DUI offenders.  Drivers who are accepted into this program, which is dependent upon their criminal history, must follow certain conditions such as community service, alcohol education classes and treatment.  Additionally, drivers will have their licenses suspended from thirty (30) to ninety (90) days. After a driver has completed the program successfully, he or she can request that the Court dismisses the charges and have his or her case expunged.

There are a special group of drivers who have a lower threshold of being charged with a DUI.  A driver under the age of twenty-one (21) years can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .02% or greater.  A driver of a commercial vehicle can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .04% or greater. A driver of a school bus can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .02 or greater.

D’Amico Law, PC is a law firm located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, servicing clients in Chester County and surrounding counties.  D’Amico Law, PC offers legal services in the areas of DUI law, minor criminal matters, estate planning, personal injury, family law matters, family law mediation, corporate law and estate administration.  For information concerning DUI law or other professional legal services, contact our office at 610-444-4555.

Family Law Mediation – An Excellent Alternative to Divorce and Custody Litigation

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One common misconception regarding divorce and custody matters is that the issues have to be litigated in court.  Did you know that even though you may be dealing with a divorce or custody issue, you do not even need to set foot in a courtroom? One way to avoid timely and expensive litigation is to participate in mediation.

Mediation is a voluntary process that occurs outside of the court system and can be a successful alternative in divorce and custody matters.  It is a confidential informal process where two parties discuss their issues with each other in front of a third-party neutral (the mediator).  Mediation encourages parties to address the underlying interests of the family in order to resolve their issues rather than using the court system to litigate issues between the parties.  The parties attempt to collaborate and come to an agreement on their own. The mediator’s role is to actively listen to both parties and attempt to clarify the issues, aiding in communication and better understanding between the parties.  If the parties are able to come to an agreement, the mediator prepares the agreement. While a mediator may also be an attorney, the mediator is not acting as an attorney while in mediation. A benefit of having a mediator who is also an experienced family law attorney, is that the mediator can advise the parties on the applicable law which assists the parties in making decisions on their own and not seeking a court to make decisions that effects their lives.

The process encourages the parties to be future-oriented regarding resolution of issues.  The parties are urged to communicate and understand one another which promotes a more peaceful relationship moving forward, and, in cases involving child custody, typically results in a better co-parenting relationship that ultimately benefits the children.

Most parties find mediation a great way to retain control of their personal matters.  Remember, if a judge or master is required to decide your matter, then you are asking a third-party (who more likely than not) has never met you or your children to determine what is best for you and your family.

D’Amico Law, PC offers a wide variety of services, including divorce and custody mediation. The attorneys at D’Amico Law, PC are experience family law attorneys and certified mediators who handle both private and court-appointed family mediation matters. The Mediators at D’Amico Law, PC can walk you through every step of your divorce and custody matter without setting foot in Court.  If you are interested in mediating your divorce and custody issues, please call 610-444-4555 or email us at info@damicolawpc.com to learn more about our mediation services.