courtroomThere are many things that can harm your slip-and-fall injury case. Sometimes, some of those things don’t have anything to do with the facts of your case. Your case can get derailed due to non-compliance with procedural rules. Your case can also run into trouble for other things like a failure to provide discovery materials mandated by the court. All of these things highlight how there is more to your case than the facts, and the odds of achieving success can be enhanced by retaining the services of a skilled Pennsylvania premises liability attorney.

Recently, a plaintiff named Ruben found himself in such a situation. Ruben filed a premises liability lawsuit as a result of the injuries he suffered in a slip-and-fall accident. During the preliminary phase of the case, in which each side exchanges information with the other (which is called the “discovery phase”), the defense asked for copies of Ruben’s medical records. Ruben, however, didn’t send those records to the defense, even after a second request. The trial judge threw out Ruben’s case entirely as a sanction for failing to provide the defense with properly requested materials.

The Superior Court threw out that dismissal, which gave Ruben a renewed opportunity to pursue his case. That court explained a strong rule in Pennsylvania law, which is that, since dismissal is the severest of sanctions, it should only be used for the most egregious examples of misconduct.

acupunctureIn your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation case, it is important to be aware of which kinds of treatments may entitle you to an award of benefits, and which may not. Specifically, it is important to be aware that a treatment doesn’t necessarily have to cure or permanently improve your medical condition in order to be something that allows you to obtain an award of benefits. Simple management of pain can be enough, even if the positive effects of the treatment last only a couple of days. To make sure that you are getting the full award to which you are entitled, be sure to retain an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney.

The case of Anthony, an employee of the YMCA, was a recent example of how even short-term benefits could be the basis of a winning case. Anthony suffered a work-related disc herniation in his neck. The employee’s treating physician was a licensed doctor, board certified in “physical medicine and rehabilitation.” The doctor was also a licensed acupuncturist. The course of treatment that the doctor prescribed and carried out for Anthony included a muscle relaxant and also acupuncture.

Eventually, the employer and its insurer requested what’s called a “utilization review.” This type of review is a tool, provided within Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law, that allows an employer to request a review of medical treatment provided to an injured worker. Employers may often exert their option to request a utilization review as a means of trying to save money on a case.

ladderYour injury case can get derailed in many ways. One of the keys to success is making sure that you have retained knowledgeable Pennsylvania premises liability counsel who can guide you around these potential pitfalls and lead you instead to your day in court. With the help of diligent representation, you can ensure that your case meets all of the law’s requirements and that each step is completed on a timely basis. These things can be extremely important because, in some situations, non-compliance or delayed compliance can defeat your case entirely.

One example of this situation was a lawsuit filed by a roof worker named Douglas. Kevin had hired Douglas to do some work on the roof of his home. At the end of one day’s work, the men noticed that a sweater and a hat remained on the roof. Douglas allegedly offered to retrieve them. Kevin placed a ladder in position, and Douglas started up. As Douglas reached the roof, the ladder slipped, and he fell all the way to the ground. The fall caused Douglas to suffer serious and permanent damage to his right ankle and heel.

As someone who has been hurt in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident, you may be wondering what a case like Douglas’ case has to do with a case like yours. The reality is that, sometimes, the issues that prove to be “make or break” in a case can be things that have little to do with the facts underlying your injury. Instead, they may center on procedural rules and have implications for a wide variety of civil cases, including yours.

overwhelmed manPeople may have various reasons for taking on the legal system without an attorney. Perhaps they think they can do as good a job as most lawyers. Perhaps they do not wish to divulge the details of their personal affairs with someone they don’t know. In a lot of situations, people decide they cannot afford an attorney. The result of many cases teaches that the opposite is often true:  that you can’t afford not to have legal representation. That includes taking on your disability benefits case. Your benefits are undoubtedly very important to you. Make sure you arm yourself with the knowledge and skill of an experienced Pennsylvania Social Security attorney.

The disability case of a man named Kenyotta shows just how valuable capable counsel can be. Kenyotta filed a disability claim and was judged to be disabled in 1993. Twenty years later, he was deemed to be no longer disabled. Kenyotta asked a disability hearing officer to review the decision, but the outcome remained unchanged. He appealed to an administrative law judge. His hearing before the ALJ was scheduled for Oct. 27, 2015.

Kenyotta didn’t hire an attorney. The importance of this decision was amplified because he did not show up for the hearing. He sent a letter asking for a postponement of the hearing and explaining why he could not attend. The letter, dated Oct. 27, 2015, said that Kenyotta was indigent and could not afford transportation to the hearing. He also made reference to an epileptic seizure and “an ongoing continuous relapse of [his] disability condition.” The ALJ determined that Kenyotta did not have a valid basis for missing the hearing and dismissed his case.

calendarIn any personal injury or wrongful death case, the law only gives you a limited period of time in which to assert your rights and seek compensation. Wait too long and your opponent is entitled to seek (and obtain) a dismissal of your case. In any type of wrongful death case, then, it is important to act with all due speed. That includes retaining an experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney to provide you with representation in your case.

While the law does limit the amount of time that you have to sue, and it is important to act within that timeframe, it is also important not to let your opponent “start the clock” in your case before it’s time. One recent case that offered useful information about the statute of limitations in wrongful death and survival actions was a tragic story from southeast Pennsylvania.

The specific facts of the case involved allegations of medical/nursing home neglect, but the resolution of the case matters for anyone who might need to bring a lawsuit asserting claims of wrongful death and survival related to medical professional negligence. In the case, Elise was admitted to the hospital in the summer of 2005 after a fall at home. Two weeks later, she was moved to a nursing home. Elise’s doctor ordered a flexor bed and frequent repositioning to deal with her bedsores.

gavelObtaining supplemental security income (SSI) benefits is not as simple as merely filling out an application form, asserting that you have a disability, and then handing over certain information. The process involves very specific rules and very exacting requirements regarding the proof you need in order to obtain an award of benefits. Wherever you are in the process, if you are seeking SSI benefits, it is worth your while to retain the services of a knowledgeable Pennsylvania Social Security attorney.

An unfortunate example of how challenging the process can be was the case of Suzie. Suzie was a woman with multiple medical ailments who applied for SSI in 2012. In her claim, she asserted that she had been disabled for five years due to a collection of problems, including epilepsy, neck and shoulder injuries, partial loss of her right arm, a lower back problem, and COPD.

Suzie had a lawyer at first, when her case went before an administrative law judge (ALJ) and her claim was originally denied. After that, though, she decided to proceed onward through the legal system on her own. She appealed to the federal district court and was not successful. She then took her case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but again, she did not achieve a successful result.

doctorsMedical negligence cases can be complicated when multiple medical providers and numerous mistakes in providing care are involved. When such a scenario occurs, and death is the result, it may require bringing a wrongful death lawsuit that names multiple hospitals, multiple doctors, multiple physicians’ groups, multiple nurses, and others. These providers may be located in various cities (or even multiple states), adding an extra layer of possible complexity. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help guide you through this potentially complicated process during this most stressful time.

One case in which that scenario took place was the death of 17-month-old Gianna. Gianna’s parents took her to an Allentown hospital in September 2015 when the child was suffering from coughing and vomiting. The doctors at the hospital diagnosed her with a respiratory infection and sent her home. The parents followed up at the pediatrician’s office, where a respiratory infection was again the diagnosis.

Two weeks later, though, the girl wasn’t getting better. The parent took her to the pediatrician and to the hospital. In both instances, the child was sent home without any more tests being performed. On Oct. 4, almost four weeks after the first hospital visit, another chest x-ray was performed, and the child was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. Gianna was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Philadelphia.

doctorWhen someone dies due to the wrongful conduct or wrongful inaction of others, especially when those actors are medical care providers, the law potentially creates two different types of legal claims:  wrongful death and something called “survival.” The wrongful death action, as the name implies, compensates the plaintiff for the premature ending of the deceased person’s life. A survival claim focuses on the conscious pain and suffering the deceased endured in the hours and moments preceding their death. If you’ve lost a loved one due to the errors or omissions made by others, you may have a case for wrongful death, for survival, or for both causes of action. An experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help you assess your case.

Any time you lose a loved one due to the mistakes or wrongful inaction of another party, it is excruciatingly painful. That pain is even worse if those responsible were medical care providers. The case surrounding the death of a hospital patient in suburban Philadelphia in 2008 was an example of that. In late November and early December 2008, Marvin was a patient in the ICU. Doctors ordered a feeding tube inserted into Marvin. The first attempt resulted in an improper insertion. The second attempt resulted in the same problem. The tube was inserted into the patient’s lung, rather than his stomach.

Another doctor made a third attempt in the late afternoon of the following day. A radiologist reviewed an x-ray and wrongfully read it as showing the tube ending in the man’s stomach, when it actually terminated in his left lung (again). For eight hours, from 11 pm to 7 am, Marvin received 50 cc’s of nutrition and 420 cc’s of flush through that tube. As the patient got worse, another x-ray was ordered a little before 5 am. The results (showing the tube’s incorrect placement) were not reviewed until 8:13 that morning. Marvin, tragically, had been dead for more than an hour by that time.

customer service employeeIn a legal action, sometimes achieving success is about successfully preventing your opposition from doing what the law says they cannot do as part of their case against you. For example, when an employer seeks an order ending an employee’s workers’ compensation benefits, the employer cannot go back and re-argue the issues decided in the original case. The ruling in favor of terminating benefits must not rely upon any conclusion that runs contrary to what was decided in that original case. For example, if the judge in your original case decided that you suffered a workplace injury, the basis for cutting off your benefits years later cannot be that you never suffered any workplace injury at all. When it comes to these and other elements of your case, it pays to have skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation counsel who can advance your arguments and protect your rights.

Kimberly was an employee whose employer attempted to make such an argument in her termination of workers’ compensation benefits case. Kimberly was a customer service operator for a major energy company. One day in 1996, the company received a bomb threat. The building was evacuated, but Kimberly’s supervisor told her to stay and continue taking calls. One month later, the employer received another bomb threat. After the second threat, Kimberly began suffering health problems. These included sleeplessness, hair loss, and fear of going to work. In 1999, a workers’ compensation judge concluded that Kimberly had suffered three threat-related mental injuries, including PTSD, depression, and panic disorder. The judge awarded her benefits.

Twelve years later, the employer asked for a termination of Kimberly’s benefits. An employer is entitled to seek and obtain an order cutting off your benefits if it has sufficient evidence that you have completely recovered from the injuries you suffered. Kimberly’s employer concluded that the former call-taker was fully recovered from the mental injuries she suffered in the 1990s. Regarding the woman’s panic disorder, the employer’s expert opined that she never had such a condition. Panic disorder, according to the expert, was caused by genetics rather than a specific trigger event (like the bomb threats). The expert noted that Kimberly had an unrelated heart condition and that the condition may have caused palpitations that seemed like symptoms of panic disorder but were not.

quarryAny time an accident claims the life of a loved one, it is a tragic loss. When that loss happens because someone else acted improperly or wrongfully failed to act, the pain can be that much worse. In those situations, though, the law does allow your family to seek compensation and hold accountable those whose misconduct led to the tragedy. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania wrongful death attorney can help you in these times. While you focus on your personal matters, your attorney can be there to take care of your legal matters and protect your rights.

An example of such a loss was the case of a worker named Wesley. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader recently reported on Wesley’s death at a rock quarry in Susquehanna County and the settlement that came from it. One day in December 2011, the rock crusher that Wesley was operating became jammed. When Wesley climbed outside a protective railing and over the mouth of the crusher in an attempt to clear the jam, he fell into the machinery and was killed.

In a case like Wesley’s, the facts can seem daunting. Should the family sue the employer, the manufacturer of the crusher, or others for Wesley’s death? Did the fact that Wesley climbed outside the protective railing and over the mouth of the crusher mean the family could not prevail? All of these questions involve intricate analysis and decision-making with which a knowledgeable attorney can provide extensive help.