Blogs

Workplace Injuries are on the Rise.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed that there’s a long way to go when it comes to workplace safety. From 2015 to 2016, there was a seven percent increase in fatal injuries and, for the first time in nearly a decade, workplace fatalities surpassed 5,000. As reported by the Insurance Journal, this is the third consecutive annual increase in workplace fatalities and the largest increase since 2008.

Here’s how the statistics panned out. Of the 5,190 deaths reported in 2016, transportation incidents were the leading cause of death, followed by workplace violence. There were increases in fatalities from exposure to harmful substances or environments (22 percent) and in deaths related to overdoses (at least 25 percent). There was also an increase in the number of overdoses.

Fatal injuries were up in various industries, too, including leisure and hospitality which, with an increase of 32 percent, reached an all-time high. The logging industry also recorded an industry high at 135.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. Protective service occupations, such as law enforcement, experienced a 32 percent increase in fatalities.

“America’s workers deserve better,” noted Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). She noted that the government will use a combination of enforcement, compliance assistance, education, and training and outreach to help combat these increases.

If you or a loved one was injured in a work accident in Pennsylvania, or if a loved one was killed, there are actions you can take. Even though workers injured on the job often turn to workers’ compensation, if that injury resulted from a defective product or someone’s negligence, you may also be able to recover lost wages or medical expenses through a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact us to learn more: send us a message online or call 215-751-0100.

Overmedication in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents in the U.S. are overmedicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs that may not even be approved for their conditions, the Reading Eagle recently reported. While the use of antipsychotic drugs is down significantly in recent years, advocacy groups have still been calling for tougher measures against improper use, and those appeals were reinforced last month by a report released by the international human rights nonprofit Human Rights Watch detailing the problem.

Antipsychotic drugs are approved to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the article. In nursing homes, these powerful prescriptions often are used to sedate residents with dementia, even though the drugs are not approved for that use. The article reports that elderly dementia patients treated with these drugs face a higher risk of death and suffer other consequences.

“Antipsychotic drugs alter consciousness and can adversely affect an individual’s ability to interact with others, reported the article. “They can also make it easier for understaffed facilities, with direct care workers inadequately trained in dementia care, to manage the people who live there.” The article relayed the story of a California woman with an 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In the article, the woman claimed that “her mother, during stays at three different nursing homes in recent years, was sometimes left neglected for hours at a time in her wheelchair after being given antipsychotics.”

Do you have a loved one who you believe may have been the subject of nursing home neglect, or who suffered ill effects from overmedication? To discuss your legal options, contact us online or call us at  215-751-0100.

Overworked Drivers Lead to Trucking Accidents

U.S. truckers, who work to exhaustion for little to no pay, may be today’s indentured servants, according to USA Today. The news outlet conducted a four-part investigative report which  showed the incredible hardships encountered some truck drivers in the nation, many of whom are poor immigrants and who speak little English.

The first part of the series revealed that truckers are often forced to work long hours against their will. Some companies even put up gates to keep drivers at work, or refuse to pay them until they finish shifts, taking care to falsify records to fall within safe driving hours. The second part of the series alleged that the retail giants that use trucking companies don’t hire the workers directly and therefore claim they are not attributable for these labor abuses. The third part examined how drivers are cheated out of fair wages by having to pay for truck expenses. Sometimes at the end of the week, they owed money to their employer rather than the other way around.

The fourth and final part of the series explored how truckers, worked to the point of exhaustion and well past federal fatigue limits, are effectively impaired on the road. “They dispatch truckers for shifts that last up to 20 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes with tragic results,” reported the article.

If you were involved in a trucking accident, and need advice as to whether you have a case, contact us online or call us at  215-751-0100.

Train Derailments Prompt Federal Call for Sleep Apnea Testing

Pennsylvania has seen its fair share of train derailments in recent years, including the fatal Amtrak crashes in and around Philadelphia in 2015 and 2017. Causes range from human error to safety lapses, mechanical failure, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea was the probable cause of two recent New York-area derailments, prompting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to call for “the federal government to regulate the testing of the disorder as it relates to commuter railroads,” as reported by Newsday recently. According to the article, Schumer criticized the Department of Transportation for failing to require sleep apnea testing, noting that the cost of the crashes far outweighs the cost of testing. One person died and more than 200 people were injured in the New York area derailments.

If you have been a victim of a train or vehicle accident and would like to speak to an attorney, we offer a free initial consultation. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100 to arrange an appointment.

Federal Government Penalizes 32 PA Hospitals for Allowing Injuries

The state of Pennsylvania reduced Medicare payments for 32 hospitals to penalize them for high rates of infections and injuries, according to a recent news report. The article cited that hospitals were fined for infections related to catheter and intravenous lines, certain surgeries, MRSA and c-diff infections, and injuries such as bed sores and hip fractures from hospital falls.

While such penalties are intended to encourage hospitals to prioritize reduction of the incidents, the story went on to note that seventeen of the hospitals fined had also been penalized the prior year.

An analysis by Kaiser Health News shared that hospitals that treat lower income patients are more likely to be fined, calling the penalties “controversial” because “hospitals that treat sicker patients and those that do a better job of identifying infections” are punished. Patient advocates argue that while the system is not perfect, it helps hold hospitals accountable.

If you have been a victim of what you believe to be injury from medical malpractice, contact us online or call 215-751-0100 to discuss your legal options.

Uber and Lyft Accident Coverages

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft continue to grow in popularity in Pennsylvania. Their increasing use has led to a new law about the insurance coverages needed in the event of an accident, according to an article in The Legal Intelligencer.

Under PA Senate Bill 984, transportation network companies have a responsibility to make sure their drivers and passengers are covered by insurance. Either the company or the driver can provide that insurance, but it has to be in addition to the driver’s personal policy, noted the article. The transportation company also must cover any gaps in insurance.

The law requires certain levels of coverages for various situations, such as when passengers are present or when they are not but the driver is logged into the transportation network. At minimum, the driver must be covered by a bodily liability policy of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident and $25,000 in property damage. When passengers are present, there must be $500,000 for death, bodily injury and property damage, $5,000 in first party medical benefits for the driver, and $25,000 for passengers or pedestrians.

If you or a loved one are involved in an Uber or Lyft motor vehicle accident, we offer a free initial consultation. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100.

Opioid Crisis in the Nation – and Pennsylvania

The nation’s opioid crisis seems to be an unprecedented level with no remedy in sight.

In fact, a seemingly ironclad case against one of the country’s largest drug distributors hit a wall due to the government’s reluctance to prosecute, reported a recent 60 Minutes segment.  The company in question, McKesson Corporation, was apparently distributing millions of highly addictive opioid pills to pharmacies, including shady Internet operations, without due diligence, according to the segment. Yet the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was unable to hold the company fully accountable.

Nine DEA field divisions and 12 U.S. attorneys worked on the case for two years. Special agent David Schiller and his team sought to “fine the company more than a billion dollars, revoke registrations to distribute controlled substances and put a McKesson executive behind bars,” reported correspondent Bill Whitaker. But the DEA attorneys did not want to take on the lawsuit. Instead, McKesson was fined just $150 million.

It would appear that no community is immune from the opioid crisis. We are currently representing the family of a college student, Cody Albert, who died tragically from an overdose. Albert went into respiratory arrest after ingesting a fentanyl patch prescribed for a friend’s mother. The friend, Zachary Ross, was a known addict, yet obtained the prescription from a local pharmacy anyway. “He is among five people who since 2011 have been charged in state or federal court with supplying drugs that led to fatal overdoses in Lackawanna County,” reported the Times-Tribune.

If you have a wrongful death matter you would like to discuss, we are happy to offer a free initial consultation. Just contact us online or call our office at 215-751-0100.

Elder Abuse Act Passed

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017 was signed by President Donald Trump in October after passage by voice vote in the House and Senate.

The Act addressed goals championed by the American Bar Association (ABA) and its Commission on Law and Aging, whose research showed alarming trends in elder abuse in the form of financial exploitation; emotional, psychological, emotional or physical abuse; and neglect. Commission research also showed that just one in 14 cases of abuse is reported to authorities.

The new legislation provides for:

  • The designation of at least one U.S. attorney in every federal judicial district to prosecute elder abuse cases
  • Training on the investigation and prosecution of such cases
  • Appointment of an elder justice coordinator in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Data collection and coordination
  • Enhanced criminal penalties for telemarketing or email marketing fraud
  • Provide for victim assistance by the DOJ

While all of the above involve for criminal prosecution, certain instances of elder abuse may provide an opportunity to secure damages in a civil lawsuit. To schedule a free, private consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania elder abuse attorney, call 215-751-0100 or e-mail us anytime.

Are Schools Liable for Sports Injuries?

It’s sports season at schools around the country. As sports teams kick into high gear, so do the possible sports-related injuries. When players are injured, should the school be held responsible? One recent decision said “no.”

In the incident cited by the lawsuit, Sheldon Mann was playing football for the Palmerton Area School District when he was hit hard, reported the Daily Item. Despite showing concussion-like symptoms, he was put back in the game where he suffered another violent hit. Sheldon was ultimately diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Sheldon’s parents sued the school and the coach. They claimed that, by requiring him to continue to play after the first hit, the coach violated his “constitutional right to bodily integrity,” with the article noting that “[t]he law provides that a local agency such as a school district could be liable under the constitution for creating a danger to a citizen who, like a student, was under the control of a government body.”

The lower court ruled in favor of the coach and school, dismissing the case. When brought to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the article noted, the judge ruled that, “while there was ‘ample evidence’ to suggest the coach was guilty under a state-created danger theory of liability, the parents and student still could not prevail” due to “qualified immunity,” meaning in 2011, when the injury happened, the dangers of concussions were not fully known.

Do you know someone with an injury that you believe is the result of someone’s negligence? Contact Shaffer & Gaier online for a free consultation, or call us at 215-751-0100.

Research Discovers a Way to Prevent Infections in Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

A new study in Nature Neuroscience has identified why the immune system tends to shut down in patients with spinal cord injuries, opening them up to potentially deadly infections.

Led by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the eight-year, multi-site study found that nerve pathways between the spinal cord and the adrenal glands, along with a hormone-mediated link, contribute to abnormally low white blood cells and spontaneous pneumonia. “This could lead to new treatments to prevent or reduce infections in patients suffering with these injuries without antibiotics, thereby reducing disability and mortality,” said principal investigator Dr. Jan M. Schwab, Ohio State Neurological Institute.

If you have a loved one with a spinal cord injury that you think may have come from someone else’s negligence, we welcome you to contact us online or call us at 215-751-0100.

Our Services

img

Our Latest News Posts

Workplace Injuries are on the Rise.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed that there’s a long way to go when it comes to workplace safety. From 2015 to 2016, there was a seven percent increase in fatal injuries and, for the first time in nearly a decade, … [Read More...]

Overmedication in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents in the U.S. are overmedicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs that may not even be approved for their conditions, the Reading Eagle recently reported. While the use of antipsychotic drugs is down significantly in recent … [Read More...]