Thursday, January 27, 2011

More issues involving gas industry truck traffic

As my regular readers know, I am often pointing out the issues that have been created by the significant increase in truck traffic in Northeast Pennsylvania, specifically Bradford, Tioga, Sullivan and Susquehana Counties. I have written about many of the truck accidents that occur every day. But one of the issues of increased heavy truck traffic is the damage done to the roads. From The Towanda Daily Review:

Gas industry trucks are expected to cause additional damage to roads in Bradford County during this year's freeze-thaw cycle, an assistant maintenance manager with the state Department of Transportation.

"We expect some ... road breakage" to occur during the freeze-thaw cycle, said Warren Knapp, assistant maintenance manager for PennDOT in Bradford County.

Knapp said that he hoped that when the gas companies "see the road beginning to fall apart," they would take the pro-active step of ceasing to drive on the road so that area residents can continue to use it.

Knapp made his comments at a summit meeting on traffic and road issues that took place Tuesday at Bradford County's 911 center.

The summit meeting, which was organized on behalf of the Bradford County commissioners and the Bradford County Emergency Services Department, was also attended by officials from the state police and several gas drilling companies, all three Bradford County commissioners, the Troy and Towanda police chiefs, the Wysox and North Towanda fire chiefs, and representatives from the Bradford County Emergency Services Department and Bradford-Susquehanna EMS Council.

During last year's freeze-thaw cycle, there was "some very, very severe road breakup" in areas of Bradford County, with other areas receiving lesser damage, Knapp said. The damage has since been addressed, Knapp said.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New settlement documents required by Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor and Industry

For all my Pennsylvania workers' compensation colleagues out there, the Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, has promulgated new Compromise and Release forms that must be used when you settle a case. You can find the new document here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Engineers injured in fall from collapsing stairs awarded $7.8M

In many workers' compensation cases, the work-related injury is caused by a another person or entity. In these types of cases (usually called "Third Party lawsuits) the injured worker can file a negligence claim against the person or entity that was at fault. Actually, many of my personal injury cases are really Third Party cases and have come to me originally as workers' compensation cases that I have determined were caused by someone else's negligence.

You may ask...why file a Third Party case when you have a valid workers' compensation claim? The main reason is that under Third Party negligence lawsuits, the plaintiff can seek pain and suffering damages. But under workers' compensation claims in Pennsylvania, the injured worker is only allowed to recover lost wages and medical bills.

The following case synopsis is an example of just such a Third Party case that was filed in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and was provided to me via

Two engineers who fell from a collapsing staircase in a research plant recovered a $7.8 million verdict. Clifford Decker and David Gillingham were working on project for Consol Energy Inc. when an exterior steel staircase, the only exit from the building, suddenly collapsed and sent them falling 14 feet to the ground. Decker fractured his femur and hip and Gillingham suffered a torn rotator cuff and shoulder impingement. The plaintiffs claimed that the 40-year-old building wasn't properly inspected. Consol Energy argued that there was no notice of a problem with the staircase, which was used numerous times without incident and showed no signs of deterioration.

Decker v. Consol Energy Inc.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The dangers of law suit loans

In the personal injury cases that I handle, often times clients ask about lawsuit loans. It's not surprising because in many instances people are out of work due to their injuries and let's face it, most people live pay to pay check. Once that pay check has stopped due to an auto accident injury, and there's no other disability insurance, then people become desperate to pay their bills during the time it takes to move the lawsuit through the courts-- which could take years.

The New York Times has published an article on the dangers of these types of loans. I try to discourage clients from going this route, but sometimes it's the only way to survive, to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. It certainly is proverbial "double edged sword."

The business of lending to plaintiffs arose over the last decade, part of a trend in which banks, hedge funds and private investors are putting money into other people’s lawsuits. But the industry, which now lends plaintiffs more than $100 million a year, remains unregulated in most states, free to ignore laws that protect people who borrow from most other kinds of lenders.

Ernesto Kho had pressing needs of his own. Medical bills had piled up after he was injured in a 2004 car accident. So he borrowed $10,500 from Cambridge Management Group, another company that lends money to plaintiffs in personal-injury lawsuits. Two years later, Mr. Kho, a New Jersey resident, got a $75,000 settlement — and a bill from Cambridge for $35,939.

But if you're considering a law suit loan, read the article carefully and consult your lawyer for a clear understanding of the implications.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Worker suffers 'traumatic injury' at gas well site in Sullivan County

From the Towanda Daily Review:

An individual suffered a traumatic injury Friday at a gas well site just west of Shunk in Sullivan County, the Sullivan County director of emergency services said.

There was a rig at the well site, said Sullivan County Emergency Services Director Sean Thibodeault, who added that he did not know if drilling was under way at the time.

Brian Grove, senior director for corporate development at Chesapeake Energy Corp., confirmed that the well pad site where the injury occurred was a Chesapeake Appalachia location.

Grove said that the injured person worked for Patterson-UTI Drilling Co., which is a contractor hired by Chesapeake Appalachia. The person was working at the site when the injury occurred, he said.

The injured worker was transported by helicopter to an area hospital, Thibodeault said.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Key Questions To Ask Your Social Security Disability Lawyer

No one would perhaps contemplate the possibility of having to hire a social security disability lawyer. But as fate would have it if you or your family member is incapacitated to engage in any gainful activity you should immediately file a claim for social security disability benefits. You should hire the services of an experienced social security disability lawyer to ensure that your claim is approved at the earliest without any hassles.

Make inquiries and zero in on a competent and reputable lawyer. Most lawyers offer an initial consultation free of charge. You should utilize this opportunity to have a free and frank discussion with the social security disability lawyer and seek clarification of any doubts or apprehensions that you might have.

Interview with Social Security Disability Lawyer

Ask the lawyer about what cases he normally deals with and whether he has prior experience in dealing with similar cases. You would not want a personal injury lawyer to deal with your social security disability claim. Enquire about the law school the social security disability lawyer graduated from as someone in your family, friends, or social circle might have passed out from the same school.

You should also question the lawyer about the number of years he has been practicing and his performance in social security disability claims. It is not possible for any lawyer to have a hundred per cent success rate, therefore, quiz him about the satisfaction level of his previous clients and not the success rate. You can ask him to furnish any testimonials to validate his success or satisfaction rate. Social security disability lawyer should be able to explain the reason if he does not wish to disclose any information.

You should ask the lawyer whether your claim stands a good chance of being approved and if yes, the time it could take before you start receiving the payment. Clarify from the lawyer about his professional charges and any other expenditure that you might have to incur on the claim. Make sure that social security disability lawyer gives you a specific reply or a tentative timeframe and does not beat around the bush. It would be better to hire a lawyer who works on a contingency basis.

Approval of a social security disability claim will take months or even years and it is important that your lawyer keeps in touch with you and regularly provides updates about the status of your claim. Ask him how often he is going to update you and the mode of communication. Busy lawyers tend to delegate cases to their juniors. Ask the lawyer who in his/her office is going to deal with your case regularly. A good lawyer answers all your questions patiently and will seek further details regarding the claim.

Your future depends on the outcome of the claim while your lawyer might treat this as just another case in his/her practice. Interview the social security disability lawyer and hire his/her services only if you feel confident about his/her attitude, aptitude, and approach.

Make an educated decision when looking for the right social security disability lawyer. It's wise to konw what you need to qualify, what to do if you've been denied a claim, and things to be careful of when filing. This ssd lawyer site will break down each medical condition in an easy to understand way, and will help you win your claim!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feds Lower Painkiller Dose In Vicodin, Percocet

Because many of our Pennsylvania workers' compensation clients suffer from chronic injuries that cause constant, debilitating pain, this article jumped out at me.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will cap the amount of acetaminophen in the drugs at 325 milligrams per capsule. Current products on the market contain doses of up to 700 milligrams.

Acetaminophen is a ubiquitous pain reliever found in Tylenol, Nyquil and thousands of other medicines used to treat headaches, fever and sore throats. The ingredient is also used at larger doses in prescription combination drugs that mix it with narcotic drugs like oxycodone.

Those products are not dangerous by themselves but can cause toxic overdoses when patients combine them with a second acetaminophen-containing drug like Tylenol.

This is good news for people with chronic conditions that rely solely on these drugs to merely get through the day. Many of my clients feel that, when it comes to these drugs, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. They know that narcotic medications are bad for them and can cause other health problems, but the pills are the only way they can cope on an hour to hour and day to day basis.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Athens, PA IR plant closes after 100 years

Nothing lasts forever. Here is the story from the Sayre Morning Times.

After more than 100 years, Ingersoll-Rand in Athens, the worldwide company’s oldest manufacturing plant, closed its doors for the final time.

With only a handful of employees remaining, the old whistle was blown for the final time in a special ceremony inside the plant. The few employees then walked to the front of the building where Norm Catlin lowered the IR flag for the final time.

Some employees surmised that Chesapeake Energy, new tenants in the building, may soon raise their flag in place of the Ingersoll-Rand one.

Kim Quinn’s husband had worked at IR since 1993. Standing with her father, who had worked at the plant for 35 years, she wiped tears from her eyes, reflecting on more than three decades of memories

“That place brought a lot of income in for families. Kept us off the welfare line,” she said.