image representing head pain

Head Injuries & Your Right to Compensation

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Regardless of the severity, the physical, sensory, and cognitive symptoms can be very upsetting. If you or someone you know has sustained a traumatic brain injury due to an assault, slip and fall, auto accident, or sports incident, contact an attorney at Casale & Bonner, P.C. by calling 570-326-7044. We can’t cure a brain injury, but we can help ease the difficulty associated with medical bills and other costs.

Mild & Severe TBIs

A concussion is classified as a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is often missed initially. This classification is assigned when a force or impact to the head causes loss of consciousness and/or confusion and disorientation lasts fewer than 30 minutes. Medical imaging may be normal, but the victim may experience headache, difficulty thinking, frustration, memory loss, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and other problems that can last a year or more. While called “mild,” the effects can be very difficult to deal with.

A severe traumatic brain injury may initially present as a mild TBI. In the hours or days following the injury, the victim may exhibit dilation of one or both pupils, clear fluid draining from the nose or ears, weakness, lack of coordination, severe confusion, agitation, and other symptoms.

Causes of TBI

Any blow to the head can cause TBI. The extent of the damage is determined by the nature of the injury and force of the impact. The most common causes of TBI are falls, auto accidents, sports injuries, violence (assault), and combat injuries. Shaken Baby Syndrome also causes head trauma.

Schools can help by ensuring that all students have the latest and safest protective equipment when participating in sports and that coaches strictly enforce rules that prohibit students that show signs of concussion from returning to the field. A study by Boston University showed that 110 of 111 former NFL players showed signs of repeated head trauma and brain damage, even with high-quality protective helmets. Football isn’t the only sport with a high incidence of TBI. Cycling, baseball, basketball, scuba diving, soccer, skiing, and hockey also contribute to the high TBI stats.

Outcomes

People who have sustained traumatic brain injuries may develop seizure disorders, buildup of fluid in the brain that causes brain swelling, infections, damage to blood vessels, ongoing headaches, vertigo, paralysis, altered sense of smell or taste, swallowing problems, hearing loss, inability concentrate, memory loss, outbursts, depression, and more. Research has shown that TBIs can lead to degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

Statistics

The Pennsylvania Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board has compiled some statistics pertaining to TBI. In a 2015 summary, the Advisory Board reported that over 245,000 people have brain injury-related disabilities in Pennsylvania. Over 2,200 die from brain injuries annually. Nearly 50,000 people are seen in emergency rooms every year following brain injuries. Almost 36,000 Pennsylvania youths of ages 19 and under have sports-related brain injuries every year. Over 8,500 of the victims of TBI have disabilities that are long-term or last throughout their lives.

Your Legal Representatives

If you or someone you love has sustained a traumatic brain injury due to the action or inaction of another person, the lawyers of Casale & Bonner, P.C. will help you file a lawsuit against them. Monetary compensation cannot take away the pain and heartache of TBI, but it may ease the financial burden associated with ongoing medical care. We hope that by holding the person/people responsible for their action/inaction, they will recognize their wrongdoing. This may provide some comfort to victims, knowing that the parties have been held responsible and will, hopefully, act with more caution in the future. Call Casale & Bonner, P.C. at 570-326-7044 for more information.

Can Your Criminal Record Be Sealed?

Clean Slate Legislation

Recently, Pennsylvania legislators passed a law that allows some criminal records to be sealed, rendering them invisible to some searchers — including prospective employers. While this law may be advantageous to you, you may not be benefitting from it. Find out why, and how to ensure your record is sealed. As always, if you need personal assistance with this or any other legal matter, call Casale & Bonner, P.C. at 570-326-7044.

Are Your Criminal Records Visible?

When you’re applying for a job, an apartment, or school, you will likely be subject to a background check. These checks yield results that include criminal records. Therefore, a criminal record can adversely affect your ability to get a job, become enrolled in classes, or even rent a place to live. Governor Tom Wolf has approved Clean Slate to allow people with records of convictions that are 10 years old — if they have had no more convictions — to have their records sealed.

Who Is Eligible?

While there is a provision in Clean Slate for automatic record sealing after a 10-year period, only certain offenses will be sealed. Misdemeanor records will be automatically sealed after 10 years if the defendant has had no new convictions. Second and third-degree misdemeanors are included in this automatic process. Some first-degree offenses are now eligible to be sealed, excluding violent and sexual offenses, among a few others. In cases where you have more than one first-degree felony or an additional felony, you will not be eligible for the automatic process, and you will have to wait longer than the stated 10-year period. The eligibility guidelines are difficult to understand. Please consult one of our lawyers for assistance in finding out whether or not your case can be sealed.

Your Convictions Are NOT Expunged

Keep in mind that your records have not been expunged. Your criminal record remains in the criminal justice system and is visible to law enforcement, employers who must consider these records per federal law, and any employer that uses FBI background checks. If your records have been sealed, feel free to respond to questions — except those from criminal justice agencies — as if the offense did not occur.

Is Clean Slate an Automatic Process?

Right now, your number-one consideration is to ensure that you have paid any and all court fines and costs. All fees must be paid before you are eligible for Clean Slate. Beginning in January 2021, Clean Slate will be an automated process for those who are eligible and have paid all of the fees associated with their case. Until then, you must petition for your records to be sealed. This is a process best accomplished with legal assistance. We are happy to help you determine your eligibility and file your petition.

Clean Your Slate

Remember, Clean Slate does NOT expunge your record. You may continue to seek expungement even if your record is sealed. Review the Clean Slate legislation for details, and give one of our legal experts a call at 570-326-7044 for assistance.

Attorney Spotlight: Robert Cronin, Esq.

Robert Cronin, Esquire is an Associate Attorney at the Lycoming County office of Casale & Bonner, P.C., a law firm located in Williamsport, PA, that represents individuals in many areas of law. Attorney Cronin focuses his practice areas in criminal law, estate planning, estate administration, and family law, and has handled cases in Federal Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, as well as in 11 county courts in Pennsylvania, including Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, Centre, Northumberland, Union, Snyder, Perry, and Columbia.

Q & A With Robert Cronin, Esq.

Attorney Cronin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Prior to working at Casale & Bonner, I was employed as an Assistant Public Defender in Lycoming County, PA, where I represented indigent clients from 2006-2010 and from 2012-2015. From 2010-2012, I was employed as an Associate Attorney in two different private law firms, where I handled criminal cases, family law matters, estate planning, and estate administration, among other types of cases.

Let’s talk about your time in the service. What branch were you in?

I was in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Where and when did you serve?

I served in the Middle East (Kuwait and Jordan) in support of Operation Spartan Shield from February 2018-November 2018.

What type of work did you do when deployed?

I was the Trial Counsel (military prosecutor) for Task Force Spartan and the 28th Infantry Division. The trial counsel 1) advises commanders and staff in all areas of military justice; 2) prosecutes courts-martial arising within the unit; 3) coordinates with law enforcement agencies on pending cases and investigations within the unit; 4) represents the government at Article 32(b) investigations and administrative boards; and 5) reviews adverse administrative actions, Article 15 punishments, and other military justice matters arising within the unit.

Why did you enlist?

Operation Spartan Shield, Judge Advocate Training, Fort Hood, TX (February 2018)28My core values are God, Family, and Country. I know that God has called me to be His beacon in my community. As a youth, I knew it was my calling to be an attorney and help those in my community. Knowing I could do more for my community, I joined Borough Council in 2010. But when I walked by an Army National Guard advertisement at Bowman Field in 2014, I knew I was being called to do more for my community. By joining the National Guard, I was able to follow my calling as an attorney, serve my country, continue my civilian career, and still be present for my family.

How did your family feel about your enlistment?

Prior to deployment, I told my family I was scheduled to deploy. Tryston, my son, replied, “Daddy, I want you to deploy. I can’t be selfish. I want you to be there for all the boys and the girls in the world.” Though Tryston is only 9 years old, I felt confident knowing that a young man like this was able to provide some of the support and care for Sara, my wife, and Kerensa, my daughter, they would miss while I was deployed.

When I was going through my pre-deployment training, I was talking to my dad, Matt, on the phone. He told me he was proud of me. This is what every child (regardless of their age) hopes to hear from his parents.

Do you recall your first days? What were they like?

I attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, SC from January-March 2015. There are a number of memories I have from Fort Jackson, including when I first stepped off the bus (Google “Army Shark Attack” and you will see how new Soldiers are received in the Army); picking up a drill sergeant’s hat off the ground after he threw it (I recommend you do not pick up a drill sergeant’s hat. My arms are still sore to this day from “beating my face”, doing push-ups.); conquering my fear of heights by rappelling Victory Tower (and subsequently getting caught crying by a drill sergeant. Another recommendation, don’t let a drill sergeant see you cry); getting lost during Land Navigation (yes, I was THAT guy); firing a weapon for the first time (ever!); and low crawling underneath a live fire simulation. However, what made me proud the most was how I got faster, stronger, and smarter during the 11 weeks. I started performing better than many of the late teenagers and early twenty-year-olds attending. At some point, the drill sergeants recognized my leadership qualities. I started to advise other trainees, which earned me the nickname “Dad” from them, sometimes as a term of respect, other times to remind me to be a little less bossy (most notably, someone said, “We have our own dads, Dad. Stop dadding us. Don’t you have your own kids to dad?”). Some of my classmates to this day still call me “Dad”.

From Basic Combat Training, I attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) through the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a traditional student. A traditional student completes OCS during his or her IDT and AT over thirteen months. The entire class is housed together during their weekends and must go through aggressive training regarding infantry tactics and techniques. We shut off communication from the outside world for several days as we are training each month.

I have been assigned as a trial counsel with the Headquarters Support Company (HSC), Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHBN), 28th Infantry Division since July 2016.

In May 2017, I attended Direct Commission Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, before attending JAOBC at the Judge Advocate Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) in Charlottesville, VA. I successfully completed school at TJAGLCS in September 2017.

Where were you stationed?
While deployed, I was stationed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and New Joint Training Center (New JTC), Jordan.

What were your first impressions of the Middle East?

There are only two locations in the world that have hit 129℉ in the world, Death Valley, CA and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. There is a reason why only a few people live in Death Valley. From May-August, the temp did not go below 100℉. The weather made physical training difficult (though not impossible, as I was able to complete 26 running races (including a Boston Marathon Shadow Run), complete 3 swimming competitions, and compete for the German Armed Forces Infantry Badge). It was very sandy. Since being home, I have found sand on everything that I touched while deployed.

What are some of your most memorable experiences?

During training leading up to the deployment, I earned the nickname GI JAG (a knock-off of GI Joe). I was required to lead officers and enlisted Soldiers through 14 warrior tasks and 4 battle drills as their platoon leader. Because of what I learned through OCS and the confidence I gained in the three years of military up to that point, I was successful in leading all my fellow Soldiers through their training tasks.

While in Jordan, I also had the opportunity to visit Elijah’s Hill, Jesus’ Baptism Site, and Mount Nebo. While at Jesus’ Baptism site, I had the opportunity to renew my religious beliefs through a Baptism ceremony in the Jordan River.

Were you awarded any medals or citations?

While deployed, I was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for my service as Trial Counsel for the 28th Infantry Division. Additionally, I received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device. Prior to my deployment, I had previously been awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.

Were you able to stay in touch with your family while deployed?

Yes. Camp Arifjan and New JTC both had wi-fi services available. I used Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Additionally, the USO and Red Cross had morale phone lines available.

We’d love to see some photos. Do you have any you can share?

Casale & Bonner, Robert Cronin Attorney
A picture with a few of my DCC/JAOBC classmates (From L-R, CPT Timur Shakya, CPT Michelle Cumberland, 1LT Robert Cronin, and CPT Kihann Jackson).

Casale & Bonner, Veteran
28th Infantry Division, Ft. Hood Texas, 2018

Operation Spartan Shield, Judge Advocate Training, Fort Hood, TX

What did you decide to do after the war?

In August 2015, I began work at Casale & Bonner, P.C. This firm prides itself on having attorneys you know and being the firm you can trust. This motto is significant to me because it is consistent with my priorities. Another reason I have such great admiration for this firm is the way everyone has welcomed me with open arms. They have been nothing but supportive of my military career. It is with great pride that I return to practice at this firm, primarily working in Estate Planning, Estate Administration and Criminal Law.

Is there anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Another reason I joined the National Guard was because I had come across a number of clients who were Veterans. These individuals many times had suffered from mental health illness or even drug addictions. At least one time, I was concerned that we would lose one of my Veteran clients to drug overdose before I could do enough to help him. On average, there are 22 suicides a day by Veterans. It is my goal to ensure that all Veterans have someone who can show the proper care for them they need. I want to do what I can to help stop the premature death of these Veterans. If you are in need of help, I am always available. You don’t need to be a client to have my time and attention.

Amazing! Thank you.

To make an appointment with Attorney Cronin, call Casale & Bonner, P.C. at 570-326-7044.

Personal Injury Law

The Reality of Abuse

The Case

Sexual abuse cases can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Many are particularly difficult because all too often a child is victimized. High profile cases are even more difficult; we have represented cases involving both. At Casale & Bonner, P.C. we don’t shy away from cases that are tough. We step in to help our clients seek justice and the compensation they deserve.

Our firm represented a child who had been abused during early adolescence by a trusted authority figure. It was a high-profile figure, with a reputation for being altruistic and admirable. These cases often occur in settings that are supposed to be supportive and safe, but instead, are often the location where children became easy prey for otherwise trusted, known, and respected adults.

We file claims in the best possible venue for our clients. We consider all possible defendants to include in the case to maximize the compensation for the victims, our clients.

We coordinate our efforts with other law firms who are often representing other victims; hire experts and validate claims to determine their validity and severity.

While we fervently wish we could have protected our client and other victims from these heinous abuses, we are satisfied to have obtained closure and settlement, often in the seven-figure range; helping our client to begin the healing process.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Darkness to Light, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. In 90% of child abuse cases, the victims know their abuser. Children aged 12-17 are victimized at a higher rate than adults. In 2000, children were sexually assaulted at a rate 2.3 times higher than adults.

Emotional and mental health issues are often the first sign of abuse. Abuse survivors are 30% more likely to develop serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and stroke. Many have non-life threatening medical problems like fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, and more. Academic problems and absenteeism are both common symptoms of sexual abuse. To build our client’s case, our staff obtained and studied voluminous records detailing our client’s medical and psychological treatment, along with his school records. All of his records were consistent with the expected results of a victim of sexual abuse.

We Represent You

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, urge them to seek help from a medical and psychological professional. When they’re ready, we’re here to represent their rights. Our team’s diligence, expertise, knowledge, and aggressive representation will go to work for you. Call 570.326.7044. Casale & Bonner will take on the toughest cases — our clients deserve the best.

Don’t Drive Under the Influence

In Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the US, DUI is a very serious crime. The penalties are stiff and the charges will negatively impact your entire life. At Casale & Bonner P.C., we don’t want you to suffer through the consequences if you don’t have to. Step one in staying away from a DUI charge is education.

What is DUI?

DUI, or driving under the influence, is the charge brought against a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs — even prescription drugs.

Anatomy of an Arrest

If a police officer sees any behaviors that lead them to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will pull you over. The first thing they will do is make observations: check if your eyes are bloodshot; listen for slurred speech; smell for alcohol in the care; etc. Typically, they will then ask the driver to exit the vehicle.

Roadside testing may include standing on one leg, walking and turning, and a breath test for alcohol intoxication. If the results of any of these tests give the officer probable cause to believe you are impaired, they will arrest you for DUI. You will be handcuffed and placed in the police vehicle for transportation to the closest place for blood testing. You may receive your Miranda rights at this time.

When you arrive at the local hospital or other blood collection station, you will be asked to submit to a blood alcohol test (BAC). You do not have to give consent, but be aware that in Pennsylvania, you do not have the right to refuse. If you do refuse, there will be consequences including suspension of your driver’s license for at least a year. This year is the result of your refusal, not the DUI charge. If you are found guilty of DUI and receive drivers license suspension time, this will be added to the refusal to take the BAC time. Please be aware that during this time, you do not have a right to a lawyer. You must make this decision on your own, knowing the consequences.

After the test, you will likely be detained and have a right to call Casale & Bonner at 570-326-7044 for legal advice and representation.

Avoiding DUI

The best idea is to avoid driving under the influence altogether. If you are drinking or imbibing in any kind of substance that impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, don’t get behind the wheel. Ask a friend who has not been drinking to give you a ride. Call a taxi or Uber. Find a way to stay off the road. The best defense is a good offense. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car and you can’t be pulled over.

Contact us with any questions or to retain our services.