How do drugs impair safe driving ability?

  • By Vipin Dhuliya
  • 20 Sep, 2017

Alcohol is a type of drug that we are allowed to use recreationally, but only to a point. Because of alcohol’s effects, in Pennsylvania it is illegal to drink beyond a certain level and drive a car.

The reason for this is obvious: alcohol impairs a person’s ability to drive safely. But what about other drugs?

Though talk about drugged driving  is not as common as for drunk driving, someone high on drugs is at serious risk of causing a terrible car wreck if he or she gets behind the wheel. This includes many prescription drugs that you may be taking on doctor’s orders. The fact that a driver is not abusing a controlled substance does not excuse his or her decision to drive while impaired.

Just how your ability to drive becomes impaired depends on the drug you took. Marijuana, which is now fully legal in several states, can slow your reaction time and motor skills, and affect your ability to judge time and distance. Cocaine and methamphetamine can cause aggression or recklessness in motorists. And sedatives can lead to drowsiness and dizziness, similarly to alcohol.

Despite this, scientists are not sure how much is “too much” when it comes to marijuana and other drugs and driving, the National Institute on Drug Abuse admits on its website . For places where recreational or medicinal marijuana use is legal, this makes setting a legal limit a challenge, and police lack reliable roadside tests.

This raises a significant public safety issue, and suggests that many drugged drivers are not caught until after they have crashed into someone. Fortunately, victims can take action to get justice against drugged drivers in civil court.

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By Al de Levie 11 Dec, 2017

While Christmas trees bring a touch of joy and merriment to the holiday season, they also pose an increased risk of house fires if they are not handled properly. Christmas trees are blamed for hundreds of fires each year. The  United States Fire Administration  states that Christmas tree fires tend to be more dangerous than normal fires, with 1 out of every 32 Christmas tree fires resulting in death, as opposed to the average one death per 143 in non-Christmas tree related home fires.

You can help to stay safe from  personal injury  this holiday season and prevent a Christmas tree fire by following these six tips.

1. Purchase a Fresh, Green Tree

If you are buying a live Christmas tree this year, make sure to pick one that is fresh. Check the tree to be sure all of the needles are green. Brown needles and needles that fall off the tree when touched are signs the tree is dying and not getting enough moisture. Fresh, green Christmas trees have more moisture and are less likely to catch fire.

2.  Make Sure to Place Your Tree Away From Any Hazards

Where you place your Christmas tree is often determined by where it looks best in your living room. However, you can reduce the risk of fire by placing the tree at a safe distance away from fire-hazards.


Between 2011 to 2015, more than 25% of Christmas tree fires and 80% of Christmas tree fires resulting in death were caused by a Christmas tree that was too close to heating equipment. That is why the  National Fire Protection Association  recommends placing your tree at least three feet away from any heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles and heating vents.  You should also make sure to keep your tree away from candles. According to the most recent statistics from the US Fire Administration, two out of every five fires involving Christmas decorations were started by candles.  

3. Keep Your Tree from Drying Out

Keeping your Christmas tree watered will extend the tree’s life and make it more resistant to catching fire. The  US Fire Administration  recommends checking and watering your Christmas tree every day to make sure the tree does not dry out.

4. Make Sure to Check Your Christmas Tree Lights for Defects

The  National Fire Protection Association  reports that the leading cause of Christmas tree fires is faulty electrical distribution or lighting equipment. This includes decorative lights, faulty wiring and overloaded plugs and cords.

Check your old lights and make sure none of the bulbs are burned out. If they are, make sure you replace them with working bulbs. If sections of the light simply will not work even after replacing the bulb, do not use them. This could be a sign of problems with the internal wiring. You should also check to make sure the wires are not frayed or exposed in any way.  

Of course, even if there are no problems with your Christmas tree lights, you should always make sure not to leave them on when you are asleep or away from home.

5. Throw Away the Tree When It Starts to Die and Dry Out

Many people tend to hold onto their Christmas trees long after Christmas into the early weeks of January. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 37% of Christmas tree fires actually occur in January.  

Once your tree begins to die, you will not be able to keep it moist. Dry trees catch fire much easier than fresh, green trees. If you’ve had your tree for a while, make sure to check the tree regularly for brown spots and needles that fall off the tree when you touch them. This is a sign the tree is no longer taking in water and needs to be thrown out.

6. Take Steps to Keep Your Tree from Falling Over

Christmas trees may also catch fire or  harm family members  if they are caused to fall over. If you have dogs or cats, make sure to keep them away from the tree. If you hang edible ornaments on your tree, like candy canes, avoid placing them near the bottom of the tree where small children can grab and pull at them.  

Of course, it is not always possible to keep your pets and children away from the tree. Make sure to use a large, sturdy tree stand that will not tip over easily. If possible, try to anchor the tree to a wall or ceiling. This can be accomplished by placing flat weights near the wall and tying them to the tree. Alternatively, you can install cup hooks on the walls on either side of the tree or the ceiling above the center of the tree. Once installed, the tree can be fastened to the cup hooks using clear fishing line.

All of us at the Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.


At the  Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie, Esq.,  we have years of experience handling cases for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of fires throughout the Commonwealth. We have handled cases from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties to Allegheny County, including Blair County, Centre County, Lycoming County, Montour County, Mifflin County, Cambria County, Cumberland County and Dauphin County. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a fire, please call our firm – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – at 844-777-2529 (Toll-Free) for a consultation. One of our team members will be in immediate contact with you. We maintain offices throughout Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, State College, Bellefonte and Lock Haven, and we are willing to meet any clients throughout the Commonwealth.    

By Alvin de Levie 08 Dec, 2017

Supporting the Temple University Campus Safety Department’s Holiday Party for Children

Attorney Alvin F. de Levie is proud to support the  Temple University Campus Safety Department’s  annual holiday party for deserving children.  

Each year, the  Temple University  Campus Safety Department helps to brighten the holidays for children from local churches, schools, and homeless shelters. The Departments invites hundreds of these deserving children to their annual holiday party. The children are treated to a host of festivities, including food, song and dance performances and a visit from Santa Claus. Each and every child also receives a gift, and prizes are awarded throughout the afternoon. Last year, over 300 children were able to attend the party.

Attorney de Levie has supported the holiday party for years. We feel it is important to show our support for these young members of our community and the wonderful people at Temple University who work so hard each year to make this event happen. This year, the party will be held on Sunday, December 10, 2017. If you wish to make a donation, checks may be made payable to Campus Safety Services and sent to 1101 W. Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19122.  For more information, including contact information for those who wish to volunteer, please visit the Temple University Campus Safety Department’s  events  page.

About the Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie

At the  Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie, Esq.,  we have years of experience handling cases for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries throughout the Commonwealth. We have handled cases from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties to Allegheny County, including Blair County, Centre County, Montour County, Mifflin County, Cambria County, Cumberland County and Dauphin County. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, please call our firm – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – at 844-777-2529 (Toll-Free) for a consultation. One of our team members will be in immediate  contact  with you. We maintain offices throughout Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, State College, Bellefonte and Lock Haven, and we are willing to meet any clients throughout the Commonwealth.

By Al de Levie 08 Dec, 2017

The Ten Deadliest Jobs in America: No. 10 - Supervisors in the Landscaping Industry

According to the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the 10th deadliest job in America is to be a first-line supervisor in the landscaping industry.  Working in the landscaping industry can put you and your loved ones at risk of receiving a catastrophic injury. The  personal injury attorneys  at Alvin F. de Levie & Associates can help you get the help you deserve if you or a loved one gets injured.

Why are Supervisors in the Landscaping Industries so Prone To Injury?

While it may come as a surprise that supervisors would be at higher risk of suffering a  catastrophic injury  than the employees they supervise, first-line supervisors are often deeply involved with the workers on the ground. First-line supervisors are responsible for making sure the employees are meeting their deadlines, and they usually must provide workers with assistance in performing their duties to make sure their jobs get done on time.  If a supervisor is performing the actual landscaping work, it is likely he or she is doing so under the stress of deadlines and other management duties, increasing the risk of injury from accidents and faulty equipment.

Supervisors are also required to move from jobsite to jobsite to monitor the activities of their employees. Always being on the road driving from one place to another dramatically increases the risk of being involved in a transportation-related accident. According to a report by the  Centers for Disease Control,  the most common cause of fatal injuries among landscaping supervisors was transportation-related.  

What Are Common Causes of Injuries and Fatalities in the Landscaping Industry?

The CDC has separated the leading causes of injury in the landscaping industry into several different categories, including:
Workplace Falls: Those working in the landscaping industry are continually at risk of falling. Workers often fall from trees and ladders during maintenance. It is also common for workers to fall into holes and trenches, or to trip and stumble on tools or other objects.  

Exposure to Extreme Temperatures or Dangerous Substances: During the summer months, landscapers are working for long hours outside during the day, putting them at high risk of heatstroke and other injuries. According to the Hershey Medical Center, symptoms of heatstroke include extreme confusion, seizures, rapid pulse, and unconsciousness. Without immediate medical care, heat exhaustion can cause severe or permanent injury and even death. Landscaping workers and their supervisors are also surrounded continuously by dangerous, toxic substances. These include pesticides, fertilizers, and other landscaping chemicals.  Workers are also subjected to toxic vapors and fumes from the gasoline and oil used to operate their equipment.  

Transportation-related Injuries: Transportation-related injuries, which the CDC claims account for around 33% of all fatal landscaping injuries, are also a constant threat to landscaping works and their supervisors.  The injuries can occur when transporting tools and heavy machinery or when traveling between work sites. These injuries also include injuries that occur while operating equipment such as ride-on lawn mowers. Ride-on lawnmowers can be extremely dangerous: a woman in Clearfield County was recently killed while using a ride-on lawnmower when she was thrown from the lawnmower after striking a retaining wall.  

Contact with Equipment or Objects: These types of injuries occur when landscaping workers and their supervisors are struck by objects, such as falling tree limbs. They also include injuries caused when workers are hit by their equipment. These injuries typically occur when workers are using equipment to trim trees and bushes, clear land, and digging. The CDC has estimated that contact injuries cause about 25% of landscaping fatalities.

What to Do if You or a Loved One Has Been Injured While Working in the Landscaping Industry?

If you or a loved one has been injured while working in the landscaping industry, you need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Work injuries can present complex legal issues. Depending on whether you are an employee of the landscaping company or an independent contractor at the time of the injury, workers’ compensation laws may limit your rights to sue someone in civil court, and your employer may get to decide what kind of care you receive.

Further, when equipment failures and defects cause an injury, you may have claims against the manufacturer for their failures in manufacturing the equipment or their failure to warn of the dangers posed by the equipment. In any case, insurance companies will likely seek to place as much of the blame on you as possible, arguing that you knew the risks involved in the work or that you weren’t careful.

At the Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie & Associates , we have decades of experience handling injury claims for those who suffer catastrophic injuries throughout the Commonwealth. We have handled cases from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties to Centre County, Clearfield County, and Allegheny County. If you have suffered an injury while working in the landscaping industry, contact us – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – at (844) 777-2529 for a consultation.
By Al de Levie 06 Dec, 2017

Pressure Sores

Of the many injuries caused by patient neglect, pressure sores (also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores, and decubitus ulcers) are one of most frustrating.  While  pressure sores  can cause devastating, life-altering injuries, with only a little bit of effort, they can often be entirely prevented by caretakers.

At the Law Office of Alvin F. de Levie, our  personal injury lawyers  have decades of experience handling claims against hospitals, nursing homes and other caretakers throughout the Commonwealth whose failure to merely move a patient from one position to another has caused our client’s needless pain, suffering, and deformity. We have reviewed and handled cases from Philadelphia County to Centre County, Huntingdon County, and Allegheny County.

What are Pressure Sores?

Pressure sores are caused by external pressure on the skin. This pressure often comes from lying or sitting in the same position for too long. The pressure compresses the blood vessels in the skin, depriving the skin of oxygen and nutrients.  Over time, this leads to the swelling and eventual death of the underlying tissue.

Initially, the sore presents as a large, red, warm, painful bump on the skin (stage I pressure ulcer). If left untreated, the victim will begin to lose skin in and around the sore as the underlying tissue begins to die (stage II pressure ulcer). Advanced pressure sores (stages III and IV) can spread far into the underlying tissue, destroying muscle and bone, and posing a risk of serious infection. Victims of advanced pressure sores are at risk of suffering permanent damage to their nerves and bones which may result in paralysis or even death.

Those who are confined to hospital beds, nursing homes, wheelchairs and others who require assistance to move around are at the greatest risk of developing pressures sores. According to a  CDC Data Brief  from 2009, 11% of nursing home residents suffered from pressure ulcers. A person can suffer pressure sores in any confined setting, from small-town hospitals like Mt. Nittany Medical Center to big city Hospitals like Jefferson University Hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

How Can Pressure Sores Be Prevented?

Typically, the easiest way to prevent pressure sores is to just redistribute the pressure by regularly moving the individual to a different position.  This may involve moving a person from their back to their side or having a person who has been sitting too long lie down.  In a hospital and nursing homes and other such settings, policies are generally in place that requires immobilized patients to be moved at regular intervals.    

The  Penn State Hershey Medical Center  recommends that caregivers and family members routinely check at-risk patients daily from head to toe for signs of new pressures ulcers.  Catching a pressure sore early can mean the difference between a smooth recovery and a lifetime of pain and disability. The Hershey Medical Center also recommends that patients and family members who suspect they have found a pressure sore should refrain from scrubbing the sore too hard, using talc powder or strong soaps, as these materials are abrasive and may cause further damage to the sore, leading to additional tissue loss and potential infection.

Recent studies have shown it may also help to use specialized support surfaces, such as high-density foam mattresses, sheepskin overlays, and pressure-redistribution mattresses.

What to Do If You or a Loved One Suffers Injuries Caused by Pressure Sores

You need an experienced  personal injury lawyer  because even the most apparent claims can be met with strong opposition.  Pressure sore cases can be extremely complicated, especially in cases where the victim is suffering from pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to pressure sores, such as those with diabetes or severe spinal cord injuries.  In those cases, it is easy for the defendants to place the blame on the victim or the pre-existing condition to argue the pressure sores were inevitable, regardless of the kind of care the patient received.

Alvin de Levie and his team have decades of experience fighting for the rights of those who have suffered injuries from pressure sores caused by the neglect of hospitals, nursing homes, and other caretakers. If you or a loved one has suffered from pressure sores personal injury as a result of negligence,  contact us  today at (844) 777-2529 for a consultation.

By Al de Levie 04 Dec, 2017

Auto Accidents and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage

After an  auto accident , the victim typically sues the driver who caused the accident to recover their medical bills and other damages, such as pain and suffering. Sometimes, however, the victim finds out the other driver was carrying only a minimal amount of insurance which does not cover the full extent of the victim’s damages. In other cases, the driver may either not have insurance at all, or just flee the crash scene before you can obtain his or her information. In either situation, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage will allow you to pursue a claim for damages with your own insurance company.  

Our  auto accident attorneys  at Alvin F. de Levie & Associates have tried and handled underinsured motorist and underinsured motorist claims and fought insurance companies throughout the Commonwealth, including Centre County, Lehigh County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Luzerne County and Clinton County, just to name a few.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (“UM Coverage”)

As the name implies, underinsured motorist coverage provides a specified level of coverage when the defendant does not have enough insurance to cover the full value of your injuries.  Pennsylvania law only requires drivers to carry a minimum of $15,000 in liability insurance for injuries caused by car accidents. Many drivers choose only the minimum amount of liability insurance to pay lower premiums. If you are in an accident and suffer $100,000.00 worth of damages and the maximum amount the defendant’s coverage is $15,000.00, it is doubtful you will be successful in securing and executing a judgment against the driver for the additional $85,000.00. You will likely never be entirely compensated for your injuries.  

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, however, an auto accident attorney can help you file a claim with your own insurance company to recover the additional $85,000.00 in damages. If the insurance company disagrees with you, you can file suit against them just as you would the driver to fight for full compensation. Filing an underinsured motorist claim will not affect your premiums or your insurability.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UIM Coverage”)

Uninsured motorist coverage works similarly to underinsured motorist coverage, except that in these cases the other driver either does not have insurance at all or has fled the scene before you can obtain any identifying information that would allow you to file a claim with his or her insurance company. In the case discussed above, you would seek the full $100,000.00 in damages from your own insurance company as if you were making a claim against the defendant driver. Again, filing an uninsured motorist claim will not affect your premiums or your insurability.

Purchasing Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Unlike coverage for injury and property damage liability, Pennsylvania does not require drivers to purchase either underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. As explained by the  Pennsylvania Department of Insurance,  both underinsured motorist uninsured motorist coverage is optional. However, Pennsylvania requires insurance companies to offer these coverages to applicants and to make sure the insurance company informs the driver he or she may reject these coverages. The rejections must be signed and placed on separate forms/pages in the application for insurance coverage.

While you need not purchase insurance coverage under Pennsylvania law, we highly recommend that you do. We’ve seen countless cases where a Plaintiff’s recovery is either severely limited or completely denied because the other driver either did not have enough insurance or did not have insurance at all.

You Need An Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

Underinsured and uninsured motorist claims can be tricky. First, determining how much coverage is available to you may not be as simple as checking your policy. Pennsylvania law requires that, if you do purchase  UM or UIM coverage , the coverage amount cannot be lower than your liability coverage unless you sign special forms. If these forms do not conform to law, you may be owed additional UM and UIM coverage. Even if you did not purchase coverage, the insurance company might not have obtained the proper rejection forms from you. In that case, you may be entitled to benefits even though you did not purchase them due to the insurance company’s failure to follow the law.

Once coverage is determined, you still have to prove your damages to the insurance company like you would in any lawsuit. Additionally, if you are filing an uninsured motorist claim because the other driver fled the scene, you will have to prove you were hit by another vehicle, as the insurance company may believe you caused the damage yourself.

At the Law Offices of Alvin F. de Levie & Associates, we have decades of experience handling uninsured and underinsured motorist claims. In fact, in an underinsured motorist claim that went to Mediation in 2016, we obtained the fourth highest mediated settlement in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Contact  our firm today at (844) 777-2529 for a consultation. One of our team members will be in immediate contact with you. We maintain offices throughout Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, State College, Bellefonte, and Lock Haven, and we are willing to meet any clients throughout the Commonwealth.

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