The Department of State requested and received a temporary limited suspension of the Pennsylvania statute which requires physical presence of notaries for all notarial acts relating to a statement or signature on a record. Because of the potentially fatal nature of COVID-19, particularly for older persons, trust and estate attorneys have been inundated by requests to provide clients with legal instruments relating to end-of-life planning. Many people are frightened by the prospect of not being able to rely on others to handle their affairs if they become incapacitated. Yet, it is increasingly difficult for attorneys to meet with their clients. [...]
A writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Alfred Lubrano, recently reported that the Trump administration is proposing a new Social Security rule change that could cut off thousands of SSD /SSI recipients. Older people and children will be the ones particularly targeted. The proposed rule changes the methods by which a disability review would be undertaken. Senator Bob Casey (D. Pa) was quoted as saying that the Trump administration’s proposed rule will make it more difficult for disabled people to receive benefits. Individuals already receiving benefits are subject to a review to determine if their conditions still meet the rules for determining [...]
Workers injured on the job and receiving workers compensation benefits are bombarded by TV advertisers encouraging them to settle their cases. We advise against moving too fast to do so. Settlement of a claim should take place only after careful thought and consideration and only if the money to be paid is the right amount. Call us for a free consultation and analysis of your claim.
Legislation was recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to increase minimum auto insurance limits required for Pennsylvania registered automobiles, a much needed and long overdue change. Currently, minimum limits in Pennsylvania require $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for liability coverage and $5,000 in medical coverage, requirements that were set in the 1970’s. The proposed change would require $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for liability coverage, and $15,000 for medical coverage. Increased minimum auto insurance coverage limits will protect drivers and injured victims alike. Minimum amounts currently in place are clearly insufficient to cover most car accident injuries. Often [...]
Oftentimes a work injury is caused by a person who is not a co-employee of the injured worker, or by a company that does not employ the injured worker. For example, a baggage handler for American Airlines who runs onto the tarmac to add a bag to the plane is hit by a truck operated by a United Airlines employee. In that situation the injured worker receives worker compensation benefits but also has the right to sue United Airlines and its employee in the county court system seeking more in the way of money damages that what workers compensation pays. [...]
Dogs are often described as man’s best friend, and with good reason. They can be great companions and are often thought of as members of the family. In Pennsylvania all dogs, even the family pet, are required by law to be properly controlled. Unfortunately if a dog is not properly controlled a dog attack or dog bite can occur and may result in tragic consequences. If you are a dog owner or if you or a loved one suffers an injury due to a dog attack, know your legal rights and responsibilities. A claim against a dog’s owner is permitted [...]
Last year, Pennsylvania law enforcement officers issued a record number of citations for distracted driving. More than 5,000 motorists across the state were ticketed for texting while driving, wearing headphones while driving, or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial vehicle. Distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous problem that has gotten worse as cell phones have become more omnipresent in our lives. More than 400,000 people each year are hurt in motor vehicle accidents linked to inattentive drivers, and our law firm has secured financial settlements for hundreds of people who have suffered serious injuries in such cases. [...]
The federal government is currently replacing every Medicare card in the United States with a new, more secure card. This is part of an effort to help prevent senior citizens from falling victim to identity theft. The new red, white, and blue Medicare cards will no longer include your Social Security number. Instead, they will display a unique, 11-digit Medicare ID number. However, scammers are using the card replacement process as an opportunity to rip off Medicare enrollees. Identity thieves positing as government employees are calling senior citizens asking for money, bank account numbers, or other personal information. In one [...]
Our office receives multiple calls a week from people who have been injured in a fall at a store or other property, slipped on ice, or tripped on a sidewalk/defect on pavement. The mechanism of falling often causes severe injuries. If you are the victim in a slip/trip fall or with someone who has fallen, you should: At the scene, try to document the cause of your fall immediately, before it is fixed. For example, did you slip on an icy sidewalk where ice was permitted to form from a dripping drainpipe? Did you trip over a defective sidewalk or [...]
Do Not Go At It Alone A recent Government Accounting Office study showed across the nation that claimants who had representatives such as an attorney at hearing, were awarded benefits at a rate nearly three times higher than individuals who appeared without representatives. This is due in large part to a representative’s ability to gather medical evidence and other records to fully develop and help the individual present their case to an administrative law judge. This report also studied decisions made by Administrative Law Judges and concluded that judges who joined the Social Security Administration between 2007 and 2015 awarded [...]
Our office recently concluded a complex trial that was able to be settled after the jury empowered in the case heard three days of testimony. Our client was the Estate of a man killed in an industrial explosion here in Beaver County. Our client was working at the facility on July 22, 2010, when the explosion occurred. Evidence showed that the defendant corporation had rebuilt one of the refinery columns 12 days earlier. The plaintiff’s engineer opined that the defendant negligently left foreign material, in the nature of excessive refractory mortar, inside the column. The plaintiff contended that the refractory [...]
Not so good news out of Washington for those applying for Social Security Disability benefits. It is taking longer to get a hearing date. In our area, for example, the wait time is now about 14 months. The Judges are tending toward denying more claims. The number of cases pending per Administrative Law Judge is increasing while the number of Judges is decreasing. At the end of November 2014 the number of cases at the Administrative Law Judge hearing level nationwide surpassed one million. Despite this news we continue to fight the fight for our clients applying for Social Security [...]
The Social Security Administration issued a new Ruling dealing with evaluation of claims for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The revised rule appears to be positive as it added additional criteria to be considered.
Statistics from 2013 published by the Social Security Administration concerning appeals from Judge decisions to the Appeals Council are quite revealing. Only 1 % of the time did the Appeals Council overturn the Judge and award benefits. 17 % of the time the Council sent the case back to a Judge for further review but did not award benefits. 82 % of the time the Council dismissed or denied the appeal. This underscores the belief that winning the case at the Judge level is all important.
In March 2014 the Commonwealth Court ruled that a County Court Judge had no authority to order an insurance company to compromise a lien it had against a worker’s third party recovery. Jurisdiction over a dispute concerning such a lien rests with the Workers Compensation judge.
The Commonwealth Court recently ruled that an insurance company that stopped paying wage loss benefits to a worker without obtaining an agreement to do so, or without filing the proper forms, should have to pay additional money as a penalty for its actions. Injured workers receiving compensation should always look out for themselves and not believe everything the insurance company has to say, particularly about payments.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently granted benefits to a police officer for mental stress cause by a mental stimulus. Known as “mental –mental “ cases, these are the hardest cases to prove. The case involved suicide by police officer. Prior case law required a showing that such conduct had to involve abnormal working conditions. The Court seemed to deviate from this requirement in granting the officer a disability award.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided a case that will have a huge impact on how insurance companies try to reduce or stop paying benefits to injured workers based on the “availability of work”. Many workers are faced with a possible reduction in benefits because an “earning power assessment” and “labor market survey” have been prepared showing the existence of jobs at certain wage levels. Although it was possible to defend against this effort, doing so was hard. With the new decision in place workers can now inquire about the actual availability of the jobs mentioned and tell the judge [...]
Recently we read about an interesting case where an injured worker was asked by the insurance company to complete a form about work the worker was performing. The injured worker signed and returned the form but did not date it. The insurance company suspended payment. The judge said because the form was not dated the insurance company was right to suspend payment. The worker appealed. The Commonwealth Court upheld the judge and the suspension. This case points to the trappings that are part of the workers compensation system. For a free consultation about your case call or email us.
The Social Security Law Judge allowance rate ( i.e. awarding benefits to a disability applicant) for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2013 was 47% , representing a 40 year low. Put another way 53 % of the time judges across the country are denying benefits. This was according to testimony given by the Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration at a hearing before a House of Representatives subcommittee in November 2013. Email , call or visit our offices for a free consultation regarding your Social Security Disability claim.