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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pennsylvania Court Addresses Exception To "Coming & Going" Rule

Traveling from home to work is typically not a circumstance in which employees are covered under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. The “going and coming rule” holds that an injury or death sustained by an employee traveling to or from a place of employment does not occur in the course of employment, and is therefore not compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Pennsylvania Court Addresses Exception To "Coming & Going" RuleLutheran Senior Services Management Company v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Miller) involved an injured worker who had a serious motor vehicle accident while traveling to work. The injured worker was a salaried employee and the director of maintenance for a nursing home.  He often made special trips on his days off to address emergencies and other occurrences. The employer established the practice of providing “comp time” for him based on the time when he was paged to the time that he returned home.

On one occasion when this employee was ill, the employer called and reported that a security camera was malfunctioning and in need of repair. No other maintenance employee was available so this employee left for work and was then involved in a bad car accident.

The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim that was denied by the company’s insurance carrier. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) granted the worker’s claim based on the conclusion that “Claimant was sick on March 13, 2014, and except for the special need of the Employer to assure [that the] surveillance cameras became operative . . . Claimant would not have gone to work.” Thus, the court carved out an exception to the “going and coming rule.”

The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) affirmed the decision of the WCJ on appeal. However, it granted the claim on a different basis than the WCJ. The WCAB found that the facts of the case represented “special circumstances” more so than a “special mission,” and that, regardless of the underlying rationale, the facts represented an exception to the “coming and going rule,” and an award of workers’ comp benefits, in this case, was appropriate.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the decision after examining the nature of the “special circumstances” exception:

“We focus on the fourth exception, as that is the exception relied upon by the Board. ‘Special circumstances’ have rendered compensable an injury sustained during a commute where: (1) the employee is requested by the employer to come in; (2) the request is for the convenience of the employer or in furtherance of its business; and (3) the trip is not simply for the convenience of the employee . . . Further, the request by the employer can be direct or express, on the one hand, or implied, on the other, to qualify as a special request by the employer.”

The fact that the “comp time” policy applied to door-to-door travel demonstrates that it should be included and that such activity was not just a part of the employee’s normal work day. Workers compensation benefits were therefore properly awarded.

Since James Powell, Sr., founded Powell Law in 1906, our attorneys have represented all types of workers in workers’ compensation cases. Powell Law’s decades of experience make it the clear and obvious choice for representation in workers’ compensation matters in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!

 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What Does Dismissal With Prejudice Mean In A Workers' Compensation Claim?

Claimants for workers’ compensation benefits typically receive one opportunity to file a claim, litigate the relevant issue, and obtain a final decision. A claimant may appeal a final decision but may not restart the process from the beginning and retry the case in its entirety. This rule of law generally applies to the different evidentiary standards within the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.

What Does Dismissal With Prejudice Mean In A Workers' Compensation Claim?When a worker withdraws a claim petition “without prejudice,” the injured worker may refile the same petition again as long as it is filed within the applicable statute of limitations. However, if a worker’s petition for a claim is dismissed “with prejudice” then the claimant may not file a petition again at a later date, even if filed within the time period prescribed by the statute of limitations.

At times, a claimant may withdraw a petition hoping to refile it later only to be opposed by the employer’s attorney who may be ready and willing to defend the claim. The basis for such opposition may be that some witnesses may have left the employ of the company since the accident. The attorney and employer’s insurance carrier would thereby be prejudiced if the injured worker was allowed to file the same petition in the future.

In this situation, an injured worker who offers reasons for a delay and does not ignore the required deadlines would indicate to a court that any prejudice to the employer or insurance carrier was not the result of the bad conduct on the part of the injured worker. Thus, the court would typically dismiss the petition “without prejudice” and the claimant could yet again file for benefits at a later date.

Accidents happen in the workplace. Other circumstances may also arise in the workplace causing worker injury. At Powell Law, we effectively assist clients throughout the entire workers’ compensation claims process. Powell Law has litigated Pennsylvania workers compensation actions and obtained benefits for injured Pennsylvania workers in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area for over a century. Consult an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!


Friday, May 19, 2017

A Primer On The Types Of Medical Malpractice Claims, Part 2

If an injury associated with any medical procedure or treatment may have been avoided by the use of the accepted standard of care by a physician, a person may be entitled to compensation for medical malpractice based on a legal theory of negligence. Not every medical procedure that fails to produce desired results is an incident of medical malpractice, but such an occurrence nonetheless requires that an experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney review the matter for merit and the presence of liability.

A Primer On The Types Of Medical Malpractice Claims, Part 2Misdiagnosis

Many studies have indicated misdiagnosis of a medical condition as the leading type of physician error. Further, the five most misdiagnosed diseases or conditions are infections, tumors or masses inside the body, heart attack, blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), and heart disease.

Misdiagnosis may occur with complex conditions since patients may not possess the typically expected list of symptoms. Because of a misdiagnosis, a physician may waste time treating the wrong illness or condition, thus creating life-threatening consequences.

Mistakes in Prescribing or Administering Prescription Drugs

It is easy to administer the wrong amount of medication. Medical malpractice relating to the prescribing of medication is extremely common. Errors in administering medication may result from providing the wrong medication or from administering too much or too little medication. Any errors, even a typographical error, in the chain of control of the medication may result in a patient being administered too little or too much medication.

Emergency Room Negligence

Because of the hectic nature of emergency rooms, the occupation of an emergency room physician is fraught with challenges. The standard of care in an emergency room will usually not be as high as the standard of care in a doctor’s office or other less chaotic environment. Despite the fact that the law of medical malpractice may allow an emergency room physician some allowance as to the standard of care based on the circumstances, emergency room physicians may still be held liable for a patient’s injuries caused as the result of sub-standard care.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury as a result of an accident or incident of medical malpractice, including medical error, contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Primer On The Types Of Medical Malpractice Claims, Part 1

Most medical malpractice lawsuits may be listed under one of the following main categories of negligence by a physician:

  • Surgical errors
  • Negligence related to pregnancy and childbirth
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Errors in prescribing or administering medication
  • Emergency room negligence

A Primer On The Types Of Medical Malpractice Claims, Part 1Surgical Errors

It is not uncommon for surgeons or anesthesiologists to make mistakes during surgery. The most common surgical errors are failing to control bleeding, damaging a nerve, and leaving a foreign object like a medical sponge inside a patient. Surgeons have even performed the wrong surgical procedure or performed the operation on the wrong part of the body or on the wrong patient! The most common locations for surgical errors are the spine and gastrointestinal tract.

Anesthesia-related negligence typically involves administering too much anesthesia, too little anesthesia, or the wrong type of anesthesia to a patient.

Negligence Affecting Pregnancy and Childbirth

A vast number of risks and negative results are inherent in any pregnancy and delivery. Medical negligence affecting both the mother and/or child during pregnancy and childbirth is still a problem in the world, even in the twenty-first century.

However, simply because a pregnancy and/or delivery may not go as planned or expected does not mean the physician committed malpractice. Some of the leading types of medical malpractice during pregnancy and childbirth result from the following:

  • Anesthesia administered negligently during labor or a Caesarian section
  • Excessively long labor that causes injury to the mother and baby
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Gestational diabetes of the mother
  • Hemorrhage of the mother during pregnancy or labor
  • Placental abnormalities such as placenta previa or placental abruption
  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature babies
  • Shoulder dystocia or other nerve injuries of the baby during labor
  • Surgery performed negligently during a Caesarian section

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury as a result of an accident or incident of medical malpractice, including surgical errors or negligence during pregnancy or childbirth, contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

An Easy Primer On Medical Malpractice

Incidents of medical malpractice occur every day in Pennsylvania. No matter what causes the injuries associated with any medical procedure or treatment, if such injuries could have been avoided by the use of the accepted standard of care, a person may be entitled to compensation. Filing a claim for medical malpractice requires a lengthy analysis as it involves the review of medical records such as X-Rays, medical charts, doctors’ notes, and any other documentation substantiating a claim.

An Easy Primer On Medical MalpracticeMedical malpractice, like most personal injury cases, is typically based on the legal theory of negligence. An injured patient must prove that the physician did not act reasonably or with the skill and care that a reasonably qualified doctor would have demonstrated under similar circumstances. Unlike other states, Pennsylvania law places no limits on compensatory or punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.

In Pennsylvania, any health care provider may be held legally responsible for incidents of medical malpractice. A health care provider is defined as a licensed individual or entity that provides medical services or treatment to patients. A health care provider includes individuals such as doctors, nurses, specialists, dentists, and even midwives. Medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and emergency care centers are also considered health care providers.

To recover damages for injuries caused by a negligent health care provider, an injured party must file a medical malpractice suit within two years of discovering the injury, or two years from the date the injury reasonably should have been discovered. A party may not file any medical malpractice suit more than seven years after the date the negligent act or omission occurred, although Pennsylvania law provides some exceptions to these filing limitations for minors.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury as a result of an accident or incident of medical malpractice, including surgical errors or negligence during pregnancy or childbirth, contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 3

Some accidents are unavoidable and caused by the negligence of the victim rather than the carelessness of some other person. Pennsylvania accident victims may recover damages for any injuries resulting from the carelessness or negligence of another.

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 3This is the continuation of a short primer on the types of personal injury claims. The first two parts addressed the different types of personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, defective products and incidents of medical malpractice. This third part summarizes personal injury claims that arise from construction accidents, slip and fall accidents, and dog bites.

Construction Accidents

Federal law and regulations mandate minimal safety standards and other safe construction procedures for job sites. Construction areas are dangerous despite the presence of safety precautions and are considered to be one of the most dangerous occupations where accidents involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death are common.

Slip and Fall Cases

Injuries may occur from a slip (or trip) and fall accident. Such accidents typically result from spilled liquids, ice or snow, defective sidewalks, stairways and other defective conditions on property. Individuals that are injured as a result of a slip, trip or fall may recover from a negligent party for any injuries.

Dog Bites

Pennsylvania law requires dog owners to restrain and control their dogs to prevent attacks and dog bites. Any person injured by a dog may recover for any injuries arising out of a dog bite or attack.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from any type of accident, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our attorneys, past and present, have represented motor vehicle accident victims for 110 years. Call today!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 2

Not all accidents result in legal claims or injuries. Some are unavoidable and actually caused by the negligence of the victim rather than the carelessness of another person. Pennsylvania accident victims may recover damages for any injuries resulting from the carelessness or negligence of another. Individuals with personal injuries may recover past and future lost wages, past and future medical bills and reasonable compensation for pain and suffering.

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 2This is the continuation of a short primer on the types of personal injury claims. The first part addresses the different types of personal injury claims arising from automobile, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents. The second part summarizes personal injury claims that arise from defective products and incidents of medical malpractice.

Defective Product Cases

Defective or dangerous products cause thousands of injuries every year in the United States. Individuals may recover damages if injured by a product that is defectively designed or manufactured, or that does not have proper warnings or instructions. “Product liability law” contains the legal rules regarding responsibility for defective or dangerous products. The legal theories related to defective products are distinct from typical personal injury theories of liability, sometimes making it less difficult for an injured person to recover damages.

Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical mistakes, whether from surgical or anesthesia errors, are the third leading cause of death in the United States following cancer and heart disease. Deaths from medical mistakes are estimated at 250,000 annually. Patients injured as a result of improper medical care may have a valid medical malpractice personal injury claim.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of accidental injury, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our attorneys, past and present, have represented motor vehicle accident victims for 110 years. Call today!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 1

Accidents happen. Not all accidents result in legal claims or injuries. Some are unavoidable and actually caused by the negligence of the victim rather than the carelessness of another person. Pennsylvania accident victims may recover damages for any injuries resulting from the carelessness or negligence of another.

A Primer On The Types Of Personal Injury Cases, Part 1Individuals with personal injuries may recover past and future lost wages, past and future medical bills and reasonable compensation for pain and suffering. Here is a short primer on the types of personal injury cases related to the use of a motor vehicle.

Car Accident Cases

Automobile accidents are the most common type of personal injury case. Drivers injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence may seek compensation for personal injuries.

Truck Accident Cases

Trucks on Pennsylvania’s roads and highways may present serious dangers based on their weight and size. Motorists injured in a truck accident caused by the carelessness of the truck driver may seek compensation for personal injuries.

Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Cases

Motorcyclists and bicyclists are at the mercy of other motorists who may not only act carelessly but may simply fail to see and realize that they are in their vicinity. Persons injured in a motorcycle or bicycle accident may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other losses.

Pedestrian Injury Cases

The driver of any type of motor vehicle has an obligation to anticipate with caution the presence of pedestrians. Many of these cases may be particularly tragic since they involve children. Persons injured in a pedestrian accident may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other losses.

Distracted Driver Cases

Distracted driver claims are increasing on a daily basis. These may include allegations of injuries caused by texting, using a cellphone, radio or GPS system, attending to children, eating and drinking, or simply talking while driving.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our attorneys, past and present, have represented motor vehicle accident victims for 110 years. Call today!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reporting A Work-Related Injury

Workers injured on the job must report their injury to receive workers’ compensation benefits. A common concern among employees is that they will lose their job if they file a workers’ compensation claim. This concern arises from their reluctance to possibly upset an employer or cause some disruptive disturbance on the job. Pennsylvania employers with one or more employees are typically required to have workers’ compensation coverage regardless of whether the employees are part- or full-time workers.

Reporting A Work-Related InjuryPennsylvania law clearly provides that an employer may not fire an employee because the employee filed a workers’ compensation claim. While Pennsylvania workers’ compensation statutes do not provide an explicit remedy for employer retaliation for filing a claim for benefits, the state does recognize a common law action for retaliatory discharge.  Employees may not be demoted, have their pay reduced, or have any other retaliatory action taken against them for exercising their legal right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Prompt reporting of a work-related injury is crucial to receiving any workers’ compensation benefits. An employee must report any injury or work-related illness to an employer or supervisor immediately including when and where they were injured in the course of employment.

Failure to notify an employer may result in the delay or denial of workers’ compensation benefits. Once a worker has lost a day or shift of work because of a work-related injury, an employer is required to report the injury to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation by filing a first report of injury. An employer may choose to either accept or deny the claim.

Accidents happen in the workplace. Other circumstances may also arise in the workplace causing worker injury. For 110 years, Powell Law has litigated Pennsylvania workers compensation actions and obtained benefits for injured Pennsylvania workers. At Powell Law, we effectively assist clients throughout the entire workers’ compensation claims process. Consult an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Safety Around School Buses

According to the National Safety Council, more than 25 million students ride school buses each school day. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and Pennsylvania motorists share responsibility for keeping these children safe while on or around school buses. It is important for motorists to know the laws regarding school buses, as well as practice safe driving habits

Safety Around School BusesMotorists who violate Pennsylvania law may incur serious penalties, including a $250 citation, five points on their driving record, and a 60-day driver’s license suspension. Here are some useful safety tips for driving in the vicinity of school buses and information on the unique traffic regulations applicable when encountering school buses.

Pennsylvania law requires motorists to stop at least ten (10) feet away from a school bus when its stop sign is extended and its red lights are flashing. The law further requires motorists to stop behind a bus when meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a stopped school bus has its stop sign extended and red lights flashing.

Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also remain stopped until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. However, motorists are not required to stop and may continue moving without stopping for a school bus if they are in the opposing lane of traffic separated by a physical barrier such as a concrete or grassy median or guardrail.

It is important to not only stop for a school bus but also to remain stopped until all children reach a place of safety. Motorists must wait for any children who exit the bus and may cross the street in front of a waiting vehicle.

Parents and students must be aware of the following essential safety tips when riding school buses:

  • Children should never run after a school bus or cross the street outside of a crosswalk to catch a school bus. Children may avoid these situations by arriving at the bus stop in a timely fashion well before the arrival of the school bus.
  • Children should wait for the school bus in a location that is a safe distance from the road.
  • Children should only cross the street at intersections and walk at a distance in front of school buses sufficient to ensure that drivers may see them.
  • Children should never cross the street behind a school bus.
  • Children should remain in their seats and avoid any conduct that may distract their bus driver. They should refrain from shouting, playing loud music, walking in the aisles, and placing their arms or head outside of the vehicle’s windows.
  • If a school bus has seat belts, children should always use them.

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our attorneys, past and present, have represented motor vehicle accident victims for 110 years. Call today!


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