Restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and other businesses may be held legally responsible when water or other fluid accumulated on a floor causes people to slip and fall, injuring themselves. In fact, this is a common cause of slip and fall accidents throughout Pennsylvania. A skilled Pennsylvania slip and fall attorney can help those hurt in a slip and fall accident recover damages from the responsible individual or entity, which in many cases, is the property owner.

Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall legal cases brought by injured individuals require proving that the business owner or individual in charge of the property knew of the condition or should have known about it, based on the circumstances. Legally, the injured individual, as a plaintiff in a personal injury claim, must show that the defendant property owner was negligent. Since slip and fall cases proceed as a type of injury claim titled “premises liability,” this means that the status of the victim is important to recovering damages. In a situation involving injuries suffered in a business, the victim is an invitee, or someone who was invited onto the property for a commercial purpose.

Because of the legal status of those invited into a business, such as a restaurant, the property owner owes a different duty of care than in an ordinary negligence claim. For example, business owners are required to regularly inspect their property, and if they identify dangerous conditions, they must repair them or place an obvious warning. An owner that fails to meet this duty of care may be held responsible when visitors suffer injuries due to their violated duty.

According to Pennsylvania law, the “coming and going rule” maintains that workers who are commuting to and from their place of employment, and suffer injuries, are not entitled to compensation.  This rule has been maintained throughout the Commonwealth, but there are exceptions that may apply. If an exception does apply, an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can petition for the court to in fact hold that the commute was “within the course of employment.” The injured worker would then be eligible for benefits under the law.

Exceptions to the general rule that workers injured during their commute are not eligible for benefits were analyzed in a recent case.  The court there held that the claim for benefits should be denied, since the employee in that case was injured while dispatched to one of several potential work sites.  The court held that she did not have no fixed place of work, within the meaning of the exception for the “going and coming” rule.

In fact, the exceptions to the going and coming rule are:

In order to secure Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration requires that applicants show they are disabled, based on the Administration’s definition of “disability.” In earlier blog posts, we have written about the importance of meeting all of the criteria in order to successfully secure benefits.  The disability requirement essentially rests on demonstrating an inability to engage in work, or gainful activity, for at least 12 months. In addition to making clear that a physical or mental disability hinders an ability to work, the duration requirement must be met.
Next, it must be determined that claimants qualify for Social Security programs.  There are different requirements depending on whether individuals seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Pennsylvania Social Security attorneys can help claimants file for Social Security disability benefits. Generally, applicants will be required to present a strong work history. The work history report is a form, available online through the Social Security Administration website. While it is more difficult to apply for Social Security disability benefits if you do not present a strong work history, it is not impossible. In essence, it may be more difficult to prove what you have earned and show that you qualify for Social Security benefits.

Generally, for the work requirement, individuals must have worked one “quarter” each year over the past decade.  The requirement is a sliding scale. For those workers who are not yet old enough to have worked 10 years, or who are nearing retirement, the requirement is lessened. To calculate the duration you have worked in terms of quarters, individuals receive credits that count toward their benefit coverage.

Continue reading

When determining compensation after an accident in Pennsylvania, victims may find it difficult to set a dollar amount on the emotional pain and suffering they have endured.  Injury settlement amounts depend on a variety of factors and often require a professional assessment by medical doctors, vocational experts, and others who can strengthen a claim for damages.  In many cases, Pennsylvania injury lawyers take part in settlement negotiations, and insurance adjusters will need to determine the value of the case.

broken arm

Generally, those individuals who suffer injuries caused by the negligence of another party have two years to bring a legal claim for damages. Abiding by the statute of limitations is necessary, since Pennsylvania courts will not hear cases filed after this period of time.  After asserting a claim against a defendant, the individual or entity’s insurer will use the alleged injury as a starting point to determine an appropriate amount of damages.

In many situations, insurance adjusters categorize injuries into soft tissue injuries or hard injuries.  Soft tissue injuries are generally described by the patient and only involve muscles or other connective tissues. These are generally less serious than hard injuries, and when assessing the value of these claims, insurers reason that soft tissue injuries are not usually permanent, despite the pain the victim may endure.

Continue reading

Riding a motorcycle requires abiding by Pennsylvania laws regarding the use and operation of the bike.  Whether a rider chooses to use a motorcycle for transportation or recreation, certain state regulations, such as motorcycle helmet laws, are important to protecting the rider’s safety as well as the safety of others on the road.  Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyers are familiar with the importance of abiding by these laws. Particularly in the unfortunate circumstance of an accident, it may be important to show compliance in order to successfully secure damages in a legal claim for compensation.

motorcycle helmet

According to Pennsylvania law, persons age 21 and over are not required to wear a motorcycle helmet if they have completed a safety course approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or if they have been licensed for at least two years to operate a motorcycle.  For riders 20 years old or younger, helmets must be worn.

The minimum performance requirements for helmets designed to be used by motorcyclists have been set forth by Pennsylvania law, which clearly indicates how helmets should be labeled, among other things.  These helmets must provide a field of vision indicated by law and must cover at least to the center of the ear. Other details are set forth within the state regulations.

Continue reading

Requesting a residual functional capacity questionnaire can be an important aspect of a successful claim for Social Security benefits.  Pennsylvania Social Security claimants must ensure that their treating physician appreciates the seriousness of their medical conditions. Significantly, a treating physician must understand that these medical problems affect their ability to function.

Treating providers should be willing to express to the Social Security Administration (SSA) the severity and the nature of medical conditions.  By describing the extent to which an individual is affected by their medical condition, it will be clear how the condition affects an ability to function at work.

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is defined as the most that an individual is capable of performing, despite their physical and mental limitations.  Determining a Social Security claimant’s RFC helps the SSA assess the persistence and severity of symptoms.  This determination comes after it has been established that an individual has been suffering from a medically determinable impairment.

Social Security Disability benefits are available to individuals with multiple sclerosis.  While some men and women suffering from symptoms of multiple sclerosis use walkers or wheelchairs, others experience long-term remissions and can work successfully.  Doctors may assess individuals with multiple sclerosis and determine that the symptoms do not prevent them from working full-time. In turn, this makes it challenging for those individuals to secure Social Security benefits.  However, there are ways for Pennsylvania Social Security claimants to strengthen a claim for benefits that may otherwise be borderline.

Reporting symptoms to health providers is critical.  Doctors should be made aware of how multiple sclerosis affects daily tasks.  By documenting all of the medical symptoms and providing these records to the Social Security Administration, a claim for benefits will be strengthened.   Since disabilities are evaluated by Social Security according to medical criteria, it is important to particularly note the effects of multiple sclerosis on the musculoskeletal system, for example.

Loss of function that affects people impaired by multiple sclerosis can include a range of symptoms. Examples of symptoms that can specifically affect an ability to work include:

Recently, the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor issued a news release indicating that the Administration had fined a Pennsylvania hospital $32,000 for exposing employees to workplace violence and other hazards. These findings were a result of the agency’s inspection, conducted over the course of more than one year. OSHA had received a complaint that made clear employees had been exposed to workplace violence and did not have clear access to restrooms.

Under the General Duty Clause, OSHA cited the Psychiatric Hospital for violations. This clause indicates that every employer must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or injuries. Additionally, the Clause requires that employers comply with occupational safety and health standards and rules, according to the OSH Act of 1970.

Specifically, the investigation of the psychiatric hospital by OSHA found that the hospital had a number of incidents in which violence had been committed by patients against employees. In some cases, the employees were bit, scratched, or punched, and in other situations, they were struck with objects, often leading to serious injuries. According to the citations, nurses and mental health technicians who provided inpatient care were exposed to serious physical injuries.

A “specific loss” benefit is available to workers who lose a body part, according to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, “for all practical intents and purposes.”  For injured workers, it can be challenging to prove a specific loss injury, which is a permanent injury.  It is considered a question of fact, to be determined by a workers’ compehandnsation judge, whether an injury has led to the permanent loss of the use of a member, including a hand.  Then, to determine whether the loss is permanent, for all intents and purposes, requires looking at the law and assessing medical evidence supporting such a loss.

A recent Pennsylvania workers’ compensation case dealt with this exact issue, when a worker had hurt his thumb, index, and middle fingers while he was using a table saw in the course and scope of his employment.  He sought benefits from his employer, including for the specific loss of his index fingers.

Supporting evidence in a workers’ compensation claim may include the worker’s own testimony, hospital records, and medical testimony.  In this specific case, the injured worker had provided his own testimony, as well as hospital records that showed he significantly injured his index fingers.  While the worker had retained his finger, it had received two pins that were eventually removed.  His finger was greatly damaged and had limited use.  The worker explained that he could not do “almost anything” with his right hand and that he could not perform construction work.

A tragic mobile truck crane accident at the Pennsylvania State University campus has allegedly led to a Pennsylvania injury lawsuit based on claims of negligence and loss of consortium against the crane manufacturer and the contractor. The device involved in the accident, a mobile truck crane, was used for construction on the Penn State campus. One individual, a worker, was killed, and another worker suffered serious injuries when, during its operation, the jib of the crane fell to the ground. Both men were employed by a subcontracting company, which had been hired by the contractor defendant to perform work on the construction job.

construction site

As is common in personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff in this case sought damages based on his accident-related costs. The facts indicate that the contractor in this case had rented the mobile crane from a manufacturer. Additionally, the manufacturer had supplied an operator to control the jib. While the plaintiff, the injured worker, had been working on the project, the jib struck him and caused injuries to his right arm and wrist.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the United States Department of Labor, investigated the incident. The agency determined that the incident was caused by the mobile crane operator and the employees who stowed the jib. Specifically, OSHA noted that the employees had failed to follow proper stowing procedures, which led to the jib collapsing and causing the plaintiff’s serious injuries (as well as the fatality of another individual). The manufacturer was cited $7,000, and it paid this amount.

Continue reading