Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Nursing home neglect lawsuit follows premature death

As the loved ones of Pennsylvania residents age, the so called golden years could become a time of suffering for some. Having to place a parent or grandparent who needs constant care in a nursing home is a difficult decision, particularly when nursing home neglect and abuse appear to be increasingly common. A lawsuit was recently filed in another state, alleging such neglect.

Reportedly, a woman sued a lawsuit a nursing home, alleging failure to provide care of an acceptable standard. According to court documents, the plaintiff’s mother, who had a stroke history and suffered weakness and Alzheimer’s dementia, was admitted to the defendant’s facility in 2011. The daughter claims her mother suffered both physical and mental neglect and abuse during her stay.

It is claimed that the defendant failed to provide adequate medical care and that this lack of treatment led to the patient suffering injuries which led to her premature death in 2015. The plaintiff asserts that her mother’s death denied her of parental companionship, guidance and instruction while causing mental and emotional pain and suffering. Also, it brought about hospital and end-of-life expenses.

No amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a beloved parent; however, a person who has suffered such a loss deserves financial compensation to cover damages based upon evidence of nursing home neglect. Those in Pennsylvania confronting similar situations may find the support and guidance of an attorney helpful. A lawyer who is experienced in dealing with cases involving nursing home neglect can navigate a civil lawsuit, pursuing financial relief for the client as well as a sense of justice.

Source: flarecord.com, “Dunedin nursing home accused of negligence in resident’s death“, Jenie Mallari-Torres, Dec. 4, 2017

Dangerous toys could lead to products liability lawsuits

It is only natural for Pennsylvania parents to want to protect their children from harm, but many of them also rush out to buy every new toy that comes onto the market. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission tries to prevent dangerous toys from landing on the shelves, some are only identified as hazardous after thousands of them have been sold. Vigilance by parents is required to keep their children safe and avoid the need for filing products liability lawsuits.

Reportedly, the CPSC recalled over 6.5 million individual toys — in about 30 recalls — over the past year, and although it is necessary to keep a lookout for toys that are recalled, parents may not be aware that they might already have a toy in their home by the time the recall is announced. Furthermore, toys bought online, and even at car boot sales, can put children in danger. The CPSC’s safety standards include size requirements of toys and their parts, toxic substance limits, choking hazards, warning labels, noise levels, and accessibility of batteries and magnets.

Going into the holidays — a time when parents typically want to make their children happy by buying the latest releases in toys — it may be wise first to check recent recalls and other warnings about risky toys. Some of the risks this year include the presence of dangerous levels of lead, balloons that pose choking hazards with no warnings on the labels, small detachable parts and computerized toys that could violate the privacy of children. Detailed information is freely available online.

Pennsylvania parents whose child was injured by a dangerous toy may be unsure about the viability of a lawsuit to recover damages. They can consult with an experienced products liability attorney who can assess the case and explain their rights. If they have grounds to sue, the lawyer can help them to establish negligence and determine whom to name as defendants when they pursue recovery of financial and emotional damages.

Source: uspirgedfund.org, “Trouble In Toyland“, Dev Gowda, Kara Cook-Schultz and Ed Mierzwinski, Accessed on Dec. 6, 2017

Construction workers’ accidents: Fatal fall claims 1 life

Employers in Pennsylvania and other states must protect their employees from all known hazards. Workers in the construction industry typically face multiple life-threatening risks every day. Falls are regarded as the cause of a significant percentage of fatal construction workers’ accidents, and roof workers are particularly vulnerable.

A 20-year-old construction worker died in a workplace accident in a neighboring state. Authorities say the incident took place at about 8 a.m. on a recent Sunday. Reportedly, the young worker fell from a warehouse roof that was approximately 60 feet high. The circumstances that led to the fatal fall are yet to be determined, and no other employees were injured in this incident.

The report did not indicate whether the deceased employee was wearing fall protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating the accident to determine the cause of the fatality. Furthermore, general compliance with federal and state safety regulations on the construction site will likely also form part of the inquiry.

When lives are lost in construction workers’ accidents in Pennsylvania, the surviving family members of deceased workers may be eligible to claim death benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance system for the state. Some families choose to seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to navigate the benefits claims for them. Not only will they receive compensation to cover the expenses of end-of-life arrangements, but they may also be awarded survivors’ benefits in the form of wage-replacement packages to help with day-to-day living expenses.

Source: snews.com, “Worker Killed in Fall at Warehouse Construction Site“, Nov. 19, 2017

Safety group seeks recall of Pacifica with alleged auto defects

Pennsylvania owners of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica may be interested in learning that the Center for Auto Safety is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to order the recall of these vehicles. According to the safety group, over 50 Pacifica owners have experienced a sudden loss of power and stalling with no warning. Although the manufacturer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says no injuries or accidents have been reported to them, the group is asking NHTSA to investigate the alleged auto defects in the Pacificas.

Reportedly, drivers say they have experienced instances in which the power steering of their Pacificas failed. They say they could not accelerate or decelerate. An executive of the safety agency says stalling is known to lead to tragedy, and it is not only the occupants of these minivans who are at risk, but also the occupants of other vehicles that might crash into the stalled vehicles.

The safety advocates demand the recall of the vehicles and the provision of alternatives for the owners while the manufacturers find a manner to resolve the problem. Reportedly, over 150,000 of the particular models were sold in the United States. The complaints filed with the NHTSA include cases of vehicles that lost power while they were still relatively new, while others only developed problems after traveling thousands of miles.

Pennsylvania vehicle owners who have experienced auto defects that led to accidents or injuries may have questions about their grounds for legal claims. An experienced product liability attorney can assess the circumstances before determining whether there is a viable claim. If it is viable to pursue financial relief, the attorney can navigate the lawsuit to recover financial and other losses.

Source: windsorstar.com, “U.S. safety group demands recall of Chrysler Pacifica“, Trevor Wilhelm, Nov. 21, 2017

What to do about a workers’ compensation denial

You never expect to suffer an on-the-job injury, but you know that this could happen when you least expect it.

If you are injured on the job (or become ill) you need to understand your legal rights. You may come to find that filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is an absolute must, as you are unable to return to your job in the near future.

Here’s the problem: Just because you make a workers’ compensation claim does not mean you will begin to receive benefits. Instead, you could find yourself reading through a denial letter.

Here are some of the more common reasons for a workers’ compensation denial:

  • You did not file a claim for benefits in time
  • You did not report the injury to your employer in time
  • Your employer fights the claim, such as by stating you did not suffer the injury at work
  • You did not receive medical treatment after the injury
  • You are unable to prove that you were injured on the job

These are just a few of the many things that can make it more difficult to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

What to do about a denial

If you receive a workers’ compensation denial letter, you have one of two options: Go along with it or file an appeal.

If you know you deserve to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you need to file an appeal in a timely manner. Yes, this means you have to put more time into the process, but it’s something you need to do if you want things to work out in the end.

Read your denial letter from start to finish for a better idea of how the appeals process works. It will outline the steps you need to take.

Collect any documentation that supports your claim and can help you win your appeal.

In a perfect world, your initial workers’ compensation claim would result in receiving benefits. However, you know that this may not be the case. If you find yourself in this spot, learn more about your legal rights and how to file an appeal.

Nursing home neglect deemed cause of businessman’s death

Robert Frankel, a well-known Pennsylvania businessman, died in a nursing home in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17. He was the father of Dan Frankel, a member of the state House of Representatives. At the time, the medical examiner declared the cause of death to be accidental asphyxiation caused by the compression of the 89-year-old man’s neck. However, the Health Department ultimately concluded that nursing home neglect was to blame.

According to the report, the patient’s Alzheimer’s disease caused severe cognitive impairment and mobility limitations, along with other physical issues. Side rails, which are sometimes used to help patients to reposition themselves, were ordered to be fitted to his bed. However, the elderly patient had apparently developed severely painful sensitivity in one hand. Investigators concluded trying to adjust the side rails with the use of only one hand was dangerous.

Frankel was found shortly before midnight by a nurse aid while checking on residents. Reportedly, he was lying on the floor with his neck caught between the side rail and the air mattress. He was not breathing, had no pulse and was pronounced dead by a nursing supervisor.

Any Pennsylvania family who has lost a loved one due to nursing home neglect likely has grounds to pursue a claim for monetary damages against the facility. An experienced personal injury attorney can help. To prevail, it will be necessary to prove that the facility was negligent in a manner that caused or materially contributed to the death. Once accomplished, a civil court will consider documented claims for financial losses.

Products liability claims may follow fire extinguisher recall

Manufacturers can be held responsible for harm caused by defective products. Consumers nationwide recently learned that the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced recall action after receiving almost 300 reports of malfunctioning fire extinguishers. Pennsylvania consumers who suffered personal injury as the result of such a defect may have grounds for filing products liability lawsuits.

Reportedly, almost 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers were recalled by the manufacturer. It was determined that the extinguishers might malfunction during emergencies. CPSC records indicate that the 291 incidents of such failures included 16 reports of consumers suffering injuries and one fatality.

Further reports say the injured victims suffered burn injuries or smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish fires. The person who died was a Pennsylvania man whose extinguisher malfunctioned when emergency workers tried to use it during a car fire after a collision. Kidde says the problem is with the nozzle of the 134 model which can detach or get clogged. The company will replace any recalled extinguishers at no charge.

When defective products cause injuries to consumers in Pennsylvania, financial relief may be pursued. Injured victims — or the surviving family members of deceased victims — can file products liability lawsuits in a civil court for recovery of medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. However, the basis of personal injury lawsuits is negligence, and establishing it might be challenging. Many victims of defective products choose to utilize the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate such claims for them. A lawyer can also determine which parties to name as defendants.

Source: wsav.com, “CPSC recalls nearly 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers“, Nov. 2, 2017

Many TBIs caused by construction workers’ accidents

In Pennsylvania, hard hats are worn to protect workers from suffering head injuries. However, they cannot prevent traumatic brain injuries if employees walk around without them on. Construction workers’ accidents can cause life-changing brain injuries to unprotected workers. However, hard hats do not prevent all brain injuries on construction sites.

When a worker suffers a blow to his or her head or even an injury that penetrates the skull, damage to the brain can disrupt normal brain functions. TBIs could vary in severity from concussions, which are usually mild, to severe brain trauma that can cause permanent disabilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires hard hats to be worn wherever a danger exists of heads bumping into fixed objects, being struck by falling objects or receiving unintentional electrical shocks.

OSHA says the construction industry poses the highest risk for traumatic brain injuries, and they often occur when workers do not think they need hard hats. The agency says falls are now the leading cause of brain injuries, with vehicle accidents coming in second. On construction sites, a significant percentage of falls happen on uneven or wet surfaces or where out-of-place objects pose trip hazards.

Victims of construction workers’ accidents that caused traumatic brain injuries will be entitled to benefits from the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance program. Navigating benefits claim under such circumstances can be challenging. Fortunately, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help with the claims process to obtain the necessary medical care and financial assistance victims deserve. Benefits typically cover medical expenses, and the severity of the injuries will determine the award of additional benefits.

GM agrees to settle after another auto defects probe

Following several other settlements, automaker General Motors Co. recently agreed to yet another one. This time, the company will settle a state attorneys general auto defects probe in all 50 states into what is deemed to be the mishandling of a defective ignition switch that apparently caused many injuries and numerous deaths in Pennsylvania and other states. GM will pay $120 million in settlement of this latest case.

The company acknowledged being aware of the safety problem with the defective ignition switches in approximately 2.6 million vehicles for about 10 years. However, it failed to admit to it during that time period and only initiated recalls in 2014. Additional recalls involving ignition switches that rotate unintentionally are also addressed in this settlement, bringing the total number of recalls covered to seven and affecting over nine million GM vehicles.

The faulty ignition switches can unexpectedly slip out of the run position, deactivating safety features such as airbags and more. This defect is reportedly linked to 124 fatalities. According to allegations by the state attorneys general, GM misled consumers for years by knowingly marketing vehicles with deadly safety defects.

Any victims of accidents caused by auto defects in Pennsylvania can seek recovery of damages through the civil justice system of the state, and the same goes for families who have lost loved ones in such crashes. However, taking on a conglomerate such as GM might be intimidating without the support and guidance of a savvy personal injury attorney. A lawyer with experience in navigating products liability lawsuits can work on establishing negligence and presenting documented claims for financial and emotional damages with the goal of obtaining a full monetary judgment.

Source: Fox Business, “GM Reaches $120 Million Ignition-Switch Settlement With State Attorneys General“, Mike Spector, Oct. 19, 2017

Fisher-Price voluntarily recalls vibrating infant seats

New parents in southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond undoubtedly have their own tips and techniques for soothing fussy babies. But it’s quite likely that some involve the use of different types of products designed to calm crying infants.

However, if one of those go-to products is a vibrating infant seat by Fisher-Price, caregivers just lost a resource in their baby-soothing arsenal.

Recall announced

Earlier this week, Fisher-Price announced a voluntary recall of its Soothing Motion Seats. All told, the company is recalling 63,000 of the seats, including all four of the following models — DYH22, CMR35, CMR39 and CMR37.

While no injuries have been linked to the line of baby seats, the company reports that the motors in the vibrating seats can overheat. This poses a danger of the baby seats catching on fire, as reportedly occurred in one of the 36 cases where the models overheated.

Pediatricians’ recommendations

No one wants to criticize the methods used by new, sleep-deprived parents desperate to catch 40 winks unpunctuated by their infants’ cries. But it is worthwhile to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants who fall asleep in car or infant seats be “moved to a crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as is practical.”

Doing so promptly reportedly reduces the risk of babies succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Also, moving sleeping babies to their cribs offers wee ones better sleep hygiene environments.

Nationwide retail recall

The affected infant seats were sold nationally since November 2015 at multiple retailers across the nation like Amazon, Toys ‘R Us, Target and Walmart. Parents, caregivers and others who purchased or own a recalled seat can contact the manufacturer to be reimbursed in full. The number for Fisher Price is 800-432-5437.

Company taking proactive stance

There can perhaps be no worse optics for a company than to continue to manufacture and sell a product that can potentially cause a baby to get burned. Obviously, Fisher-Price executives realized this and launched the recall before any child (or others in close proximity) suffered any injuries or damages from these malfunctioning infant seats.

This is a good example of a company proactively getting out in front of a problem. Failure to act promptly may cause catastrophic damage to the public, and ultimately, to a company’s carefully curated brand and image as an industry leader.

Unfortunately, not all corporations engage in full disclosure by announcing voluntary recalls before the product in question wreaks havoc. If you experienced injuries or other damages from a malfunctioning product, you may be able to recover financial damages from the liable parties.