Articles Posted in Legal Services

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The O’Connor family got a little more for Christmas than they expected when a hibernating possum popped its head out of their Christmas tree. In 2005, the O’Connor family brought their Christmas tree home and fully decorated it, only to find the sneaky critter nestled in the tree’s branches on Christmas Eve. Click on the video below to watch a clip of the O’Connor family describing their Christmas surprise on The Early Show. Merry Christmas to you and your family from everyone here at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates!

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ATT151597.jpgAttorneys Kovalcik, Hykes, and Miller attended the Lehigh Valley Labor Council’s annual holiday party which took place on Dec. 16 at Mezzaluna Sports Bar & Grille in Allentown. All invited guests were asked to bring educational, non-violent toys to the event that were donated to the Allentown Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, council president Greg Potter presented a check for $200 to the Boys & Girls Club which was funded by the members.

ATT151592.jpgIn attendance at the event were various union leaders, including Dennis Hower, vice president of Teamsters local 773, union members, and political dignitaries. The event provided an excellent opportunity for networking and the sharing of holiday cheer.

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Last week, we blogged about Philadelphia’s ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Now Pennsylvania will follow suit as local Schuylkill County legistators support a bill before the state House that would ban texting by all drivers.

In an article in the Nov. 11 edition of the Republican & HERALD, state Rep. Neal Goodman, D-123, said, “According to transportation experts, there is nothing more distractive and dangerous than texting while driving. They say that cell phone use is a close second.”
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The bill, known as House Bill 2070, was approved by the House Transportation Committee on Nov. 10. Violations would be punishable with a $50 fine. Fines would double to $100 for offenses that take place in a school zone, active work zone, highway safety corridor, or emergency response area. Only motorists contacting 911, drivers in stopped traffic, or drivers with their vehicles in neutral or park would be exempt.

Goodman and state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, both support the bill. State Sen. David Argall, R-29, said he voted in favor of a similar senate bill in July, and that he would support the passage of the bill through both chambers.

Just like litter laws, police may not catch everyone. But distracted drivers can be dangerous drivers, so the hope is that this new bill will make motorists think twice before texting while driving.

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3702192600_fe40b5c84e_1.jpgWe’ve all seen it in the news: an accident involving a tractor trailer that brings traffic to a halt. Perhaps you’ve even been held captive in your own car when a truck overturned on a Pennsylvania interstate. It can be an inconvenience; but for those involved, it can mean life or death.

Tractor trailer accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

Speeding: Trucking companies get paid to deliver their cargo on time and they bid against each other based on who can ship the freight the fastest and cheapest. To deliver their cargo on time, drivers must drive fast and aggressively, making for very dangerous conditions on the highway.

Overloaded trucks: When a truck is overloaded, it puts stress on every component of the truck, which can lead to catastrophic failure. Overloaded trucks cannot maneuver effectively, which can cause accidents when turning, stopping, or starting. Overloaded trucks can also degrade roadways and bridges.

Driver fatigue: Unrealistic schedules can force drivers to be on the road as much as 77 hours a week, legally. They may drive above and beyond that by forging travel entries in their log books to appear in compliance with all rules and regulations.

Improper maintenance: Maintaining a large truck can be expensive. Trucking companies try to cut maintenance costs, but less maintenance can raise the possibility of accidents from equipment failure.

A large volume of tractor trailers travel through Pennsylvania because it is home to a number of major transportation corridors, including Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike), 78, 80, and 81. These highways are convenient because they connect the eastern part of the country with the southern and western areas. Transporting materials and products over the nation’s highways has become a regular way of doing business. But if proper safety measures are not followed, there can be deadly consequences.

An accident with a tractor trailer can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. If the accident occurred while you were away from home and traveling through unfamiliar territory, the situation can become even more complicated. Not only can it be difficult to find a local law firm, you need to find a firm that can handle the legal intricacies of a tractor trailer accident. Many of the offices of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates are in direct proximity to Interstate 81, near Frackville, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton; and Interstate 80, near Lock Haven, Williamsport, Bloomsburg, and Stroudsburg.

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Halloween party 2009 021_1.jpgThere were tricks and treats on Oct. 30 in anticipation of Halloween at the law offices of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates. Staff members dressed in Halloween attire, enjoying spooky games, ghoulish goodies, a pumpkin-styled cake, and punch. Festivities included a pumpkin decorating contest, with prizes going to “Scariest”, “Prettiest”, and “Funniest”. A Happy Halloween Eve was had by all.

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On Oct. 27, the attorneys and staff of the Frackville office of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates put down their paperwork and turned over a green leaf when they embarked on an afternoon nature hike through Wolf Creek Waterfalls, outside of St. Clair. The falls is a prominent spot on Broad Mountain, one of two true mountains in Schuylkill County.

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The hike was led by “Porcupine Pat” McKinney, the Environmental Education Coordinator for the Schuylkill Conservation District.

Attendees viewed colorful fall foliage, a Pennsylvania trademark, as well as unique plant life indigenous to the area including sweet fern, bluestem grass, and blueberry and huckleberry. As mentioned by Porcupine Pat, the site is a great habitat for bear, deer, and turkey. One of the more captivating views came from the top of the Wolf Creek Waterfalls, which was overflowing with water compliments of a few rain showers that recently passed through the county.Waterfall pictures 107.jpg

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On Sept. 11, Attorney William A. Kovalcik and Attorney Valeen D. Hykes attended the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s 25th annual fall section meeting on workers compensation at Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA. The program provided an excellent opportunity for attorneys who practice exclusively in the area of workers’ compensation to be updated on new developments in the law and to network with other attorneys. This year’s program included a presentation on the anatomy of the spine as well as other medical issues for workers’ compensation practitioners.

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_tur56~1.jpgMichael J. O’Connor announced the addition of Attorney Valeen D. Hykes to the attorney team at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates.

Hykes received her Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Hykes began her career in 2007 as a law clerk working for Maro & Maro, P.C., Norristown, PA. She also researched current laws affecting health care savings accounts for First HSA, Reading, PA. Hykes passed the bar in 2009.

Before receiving her degree, Hykes was a research analyst and legislative fellow in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, working directly with the House Education Committee and the Commission on Rural Education. She was also a legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Attorney Hykes is a member of the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Berks County Bar Association.

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We’d like to thank a client from East Stroudsburg, PA for providing us with the following positive feedback on his experience with Michael J. O’Connor & Associates: “You never really know what you’re going to get into when calling a law firm. However, this firm went above and beyond and I will recommend your services to anyone that needs legal representation in your area. Thank you so much for your professionalism, care, and concern.”

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