Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nearly 50,000 patients die annually from traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that tiny blood vessels in the brain can offer clues to better treatment, according to an article from UPI’s Health News.

In the study, researchers examined the brains of 27 patients with traumatic brain injury and 14 healthy people using specialized imaging. They assessed the change in blood flow in response to an injury, and the strength and function of the small blood vessels. They also performed seven neuropsychological tests, and interviewed the participants about cognitive and emotional symptoms, including headaches and depression.

The research showed that “changes in the blood vessels may be linked to a range of cognitive symptoms after a traumatic brain injury,” reported the article. Researchers noted that understanding these changes could be the key to more effective treatment patients with TBI, even those who have been suffering for years from symptoms.

When someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of an accident, being able to recover damages from the negligent party who caused the accident can help with future medical needs. To set up an appointment to discuss your legal options,contact us online or call 215-751-0100.

Why Do ‘Slip and Fall’ Accidents Happen?

From misjudging steps to sliding on oily or wet surfaces, there are many causes of “slip and fall” accidents. But there’s one cause that’s highly preventable, according to a study by insurance provider CNA—and that is the type of flooring. The article in Claims Journal reported that half of the floors tested in a study failed to produce enough friction. That means businesses leave themselves open to potential accidents because of a poor floor purchasing decision.

The report indicated that retail and real estate businesses are most at risk for slip and fall accidents. According to the study:

  • 40 percent of such accidents occurred on entry flooring
  • 33 percent happened on parking lot surfaces, and
  • 27 percent happened on sidewalks leading to business entrances

Less than one percent occurred on interior floors.

The study also uncovered that, over time, slip and fall claims occur more frequently. The report advised business to take steps to minimize the potential for accidents, including choosing flooring that is slip resistant, testing it under wet conditions, and using cleaning agents recommended for that floor type.

Did you or someone you love suffer injuries from a slip and fall? Contact us to discuss your legal options: send us a message online or call 215-751-0100.

Opioid Crisis in the Nation – and Pennsylvania

The nation’s opioid crisis seems to be an unprecedented level with no remedy in sight.

In fact, a seemingly ironclad case against one of the country’s largest drug distributors hit a wall due to the government’s reluctance to prosecute, reported a recent 60 Minutes segment.  The company in question, McKesson Corporation, was apparently distributing millions of highly addictive opioid pills to pharmacies, including shady Internet operations, without due diligence, according to the segment. Yet the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was unable to hold the company fully accountable.

Nine DEA field divisions and 12 U.S. attorneys worked on the case for two years. Special agent David Schiller and his team sought to “fine the company more than a billion dollars, revoke registrations to distribute controlled substances and put a McKesson executive behind bars,” reported correspondent Bill Whitaker. But the DEA attorneys did not want to take on the lawsuit. Instead, McKesson was fined just $150 million.

It would appear that no community is immune from the opioid crisis. We are currently representing the family of a college student, Cody Albert, who died tragically from an overdose. Albert went into respiratory arrest after ingesting a fentanyl patch prescribed for a friend’s mother. The friend, Zachary Ross, was a known addict, yet obtained the prescription from a local pharmacy anyway. “He is among five people who since 2011 have been charged in state or federal court with supplying drugs that led to fatal overdoses in Lackawanna County,” reported the Times-Tribune.

If you have a wrongful death matter you would like to discuss, we are happy to offer a free initial consultation. Just contact us online or call our office at 215-751-0100.

Elder Abuse Act Passed

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017 was signed by President Donald Trump in October after passage by voice vote in the House and Senate.

The Act addressed goals championed by the American Bar Association (ABA) and its Commission on Law and Aging, whose research showed alarming trends in elder abuse in the form of financial exploitation; emotional, psychological, emotional or physical abuse; and neglect. Commission research also showed that just one in 14 cases of abuse is reported to authorities.

The new legislation provides for:

  • The designation of at least one U.S. attorney in every federal judicial district to prosecute elder abuse cases
  • Training on the investigation and prosecution of such cases
  • Appointment of an elder justice coordinator in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Data collection and coordination
  • Enhanced criminal penalties for telemarketing or email marketing fraud
  • Provide for victim assistance by the DOJ

While all of the above involve for criminal prosecution, certain instances of elder abuse may provide an opportunity to secure damages in a civil lawsuit. To schedule a free, private consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania elder abuse attorney, call 215-751-0100 or e-mail us anytime.

Are Schools Liable for Sports Injuries?

It’s sports season at schools around the country. As sports teams kick into high gear, so do the possible sports-related injuries. When players are injured, should the school be held responsible? One recent decision said “no.”

In the incident cited by the lawsuit, Sheldon Mann was playing football for the Palmerton Area School District when he was hit hard, reported the Daily Item. Despite showing concussion-like symptoms, he was put back in the game where he suffered another violent hit. Sheldon was ultimately diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Sheldon’s parents sued the school and the coach. They claimed that, by requiring him to continue to play after the first hit, the coach violated his “constitutional right to bodily integrity,” with the article noting that “[t]he law provides that a local agency such as a school district could be liable under the constitution for creating a danger to a citizen who, like a student, was under the control of a government body.”

The lower court ruled in favor of the coach and school, dismissing the case. When brought to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the article noted, the judge ruled that, “while there was ‘ample evidence’ to suggest the coach was guilty under a state-created danger theory of liability, the parents and student still could not prevail” due to “qualified immunity,” meaning in 2011, when the injury happened, the dangers of concussions were not fully known.

Do you know someone with an injury that you believe is the result of someone’s negligence? Contact Shaffer & Gaier online for a free consultation, or call us at 215-751-0100.

Research Discovers a Way to Prevent Infections in Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

A new study in Nature Neuroscience has identified why the immune system tends to shut down in patients with spinal cord injuries, opening them up to potentially deadly infections.

Led by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the eight-year, multi-site study found that nerve pathways between the spinal cord and the adrenal glands, along with a hormone-mediated link, contribute to abnormally low white blood cells and spontaneous pneumonia. “This could lead to new treatments to prevent or reduce infections in patients suffering with these injuries without antibiotics, thereby reducing disability and mortality,” said principal investigator Dr. Jan M. Schwab, Ohio State Neurological Institute.

If you have a loved one with a spinal cord injury that you think may have come from someone else’s negligence, we welcome you to contact us online or call us at 215-751-0100.

How Dangerous Are Pennsylvania Amusement Rides?

After an Ohio State Fair ride recently fell apart in midair, a Pennsylvania journalist took a deeper look at the safety of rides in the Commonwealth. His findings, published in the Morning Call, revealed exactly how little information is publicly available.

In Pennsylvania, there are 1,400+ amusement ride inspectors certified by the state Department of Agriculture. Most inspectors are private, however, and evaluate rides at the amusement parks or carnivals where they work. Despite that fact, the system seems to be working, noted industry officials. “State data from last year show six of 496 reportable injuries on Pennsylvania amusement attractions were related to mechanical issues. The others were attributed to rider behavior, operator error or a combination.”

Inspections are scheduled every 30 days or when a portable ride is reassembled. Yet the Department of Agriculture website does not provide details, only the inspection date. Plans are to redesign the site to be able to publish additional information. In the meantime, concerned consumers can look for a placard displayed at the ride with the date of the last inspection. Consumers also can seek records from their state regulator through public record laws.

If you or a loved one has been injured on an amusement ride, it’s best to consult an attorney who is experienced in that area of the law. Shaffer & Gaier is happy to schedule a free, private consultation anytime. Call 215-751-0100 or send us a meeting request through our website.

PA Nursing Home Fines Jump in 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is cracking down on nursing home safety, as evidenced by a jump in fines, reported Lancaster Online. State records show 108 penalties and $774,750 in fines for roughly the first half of 2017, as compared to 18 penalties and $65,750 in fines for all of 2014. The increased oversight is part of a philosophical shift that the department announced in October 2016.

The department has been taking anonymous complaints and visiting nursing homes more frequently. Offenses range from technical violations for water that’s too hot to more serious penalties where inadequate care resulted in harm to residents, and sometimes death.

If you suspect an elderly loved one in a nursing home may be the victim of neglect, talk to an experienced elder injury attorney. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100 so we can talk about your legal options.

Injured PA Workers May Receive More Benefits

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court changed how injured workers are evaluated, opening the way for extended workers’ compensation benefits. “The court’s decision eliminated the practice of using the American Medical Association guidelines to place a cap on benefits paid out to severely injured workers,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Until now, workers’ compensation law allowed companies to revisit injuries two years later and evaluate them as a percentage based on the AMA guidelines. If an injury fell below the 50 percent threshold, companies could reduce or cap the payments.

It’s important to note that a work injury doesn’t always fall solely within the realm of workers’ compensation benefits: if the injury happened because of a defective product/equipment or someone’s negligence, you could receive damage awards for medical costs, missed work or pain and suffering.

At Shaffer & Gaier, consultations are always free. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100, and we’ll discuss the details of your case.

U.S. Department of Labor Reports on PA Fatal Work Injuries in Pennsylvania

The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report on fatal work injuries in Pennsylvania in 2015. Overall, the number of work-related deaths decreased from 179 in 2014 to 173 in 2015. Nationwide, that number totaled 4,836.2015 Fatal Work Injuries

Each year, the study breaks down those numbers by type of incident (transportation-related, falls/slips/trips, equipment contact, violence, or “other”), type of industry, worker occupation and whether the worker was full-time or contracted. The figures are also broken down by sex, race and age.

Overall, the private construction business saw the highest number of industry-related fatalities in Pennsylvania (35), with falls, slips or trips being the major cause. Transportation/material moving and construction/extraction had the highest number of occupational-classified fatalities at 50 and 42, respectively. Pennsylvania worker deaths in 2015 included 33 individuals who were classified as contract workers. 92% of work-related deaths in PA were males, 80% were white/non-Hispanic workers, and 60% of the deaths were 25-54 years old.

In some cases, work-related deaths can be the subject of a lawsuit if it involved negligence or a product defect. To schedule a free, private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania work injury attorney, call us anytime at 855-289-1660 or e-mail us.

Our Services

img

Our Latest News Posts

Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nearly 50,000 patients die annually from traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that tiny blood vessels in the brain can offer clues to better treatment, according to an article from UPI’s Health … [Read More...]

Why Do ‘Slip and Fall’ Accidents Happen?

From misjudging steps to sliding on oily or wet surfaces, there are many causes of “slip and fall” accidents. But there’s one cause that’s highly preventable, according to a study by insurance provider CNA—and that is the type of flooring. The … [Read More...]